Camping with the fab five

Someone told me at church today “If you go back and listen to old school Gary Smalley messages he said once ‘if you want to give your child great memories and bond as a family, go camping’.  Well, good thing something wonderful may come of our super challenging but super “fun” weekend.  Upon looking for this information online, I found this quote from him, which rings so true:

The real secret to becoming a close-knit relationship is shared experiences that turn into shared trials.

~ Gary Smalley

After a less than lovely and three hours later than planned departure (don’t ask), we were on our way with nearly everything we owned (except the portable crib for Finn which we wouldn’t know until bedtime).  After sticking it out to make almost three whole weeks with no fast food, we broke down and had McDonald’s on the way for dinner.  We got to the campground around bedtime and stayed up later than our norm getting all set up.  There were cousins which made everything more fun.

No computers, no dirty bathrooms that needed cleaning, no agenda besides to have fun.  It was great.  Until I realized we’d left the crib for Finn at home.  We figured we’d just make him a bed and he’d sleep on the ground on his sheepskin.  Notsomuch.  He threw the fit of his life.  I packed it up and went to the van with him.  We spent the entire night in there.  Me sitting up making sure he didn’t fall off the seat where he’d finally fallen asleep after a couple good hours of him screaming.  Afraid that any noise I made would wake him I tried to freeze and sleep for about 6 hours.  Instead of sleeping, I stared at trees and listened to him breathe and looked for signs up daylight.  There is something very un-fun about being awake when everyone else is asleep.

Some coffee and some happy campers beckoned me to choose happy and get on with the adventure.  We searched for crabs and found hundreds.  Finn chilled in the Boba on daddy’s back and looked positively exhausted, which made me slightly annoyed because really, he got more sleep than me.  By a longshot.

My sister, who is a rockstar, braved camping not with a needy 16 month old and four other kiddos but instead with a growing baby in her belly and her own two littles.  She deserves an award.  We both do, here is our game face the morning after camping, night one:

Our two girl cousin buddies enjoyed each other as always…

and all the boys ‘helped’ put up Nana and Papa’s tent on day two of camping fun:

Finn loved him some Papa…

and for that matter so did Kyler…

then everyone joined in to play “crawl to the beach like a crab” or something like that…

Ruby watched the silliness and stayed warm in her winter hat, because well, you know, this is still Seattle:

Daddy figured out how to build underground tunnels in the wet sand and everyone thought that was awesome…

It’s been just over a week.  I swore I’d never do it again at about 3 AM both nights while Finn kept me from sleep.  But you know what?  Our kids would tell you it was the best ever and a super fun weekend.  These are the things that memories are made of.  And as my sister so astutely observed ‘the terrible awful just sort of melts into the wonderful’.  One minute I was curled up in a ball in a van seat with a baby who wouldn’t sleep and shortly after I was sitting at the beach listening the absolute glee while my children found crabs of all colors and patterns and delighted in the simplest things.

It is that truth that leads me to say that probably, we will do it again.  Maybe we’ll do it a little better or maybe not.  But we will try again, we are crazy like that.

Simple summer fun

She’s carrying her seventh baby blessing and I recently miscarried our sixth.  We have quite the clan of little people when our tribes are together.  When she comes I feel no pressure at all to clean house or hide all the laundry.  We both educate our children at home so during the year we have less time for these lazy sorts of days but oh my goodness do we enjoy them when they come.  Last Thursday was one of those that we never wanted to end….

and my all time favorite summer photo (possibly ever) because it seems to exude everything ‘summer’?

Farm boy birthday

Kyler has always had a thing for John Deere green and all things tractor.  Even a year ago I didn’t dare to dream really that we would actually live somewhere that warranted having a John Deere of any sort.  But here we are and we couldn’t have asked for a more fun birthday evening for our 6 year old!

Tractor rides with some pals,  some awesome slip and sliding on a giant sheet of black plastic with dish soap poured all over it and finally some good weather – it was a great night.  We are so thankful for this middle child, our third born and for all the entertainment Kyler provides for our family!

On “garbage in…garbage out”

It is after 11.  I just ran down my stairs like it was nothing.  A month ago you would have thought I was a sixty year old by the way I hobbled down the stairs at the end of the day. 

After a good year and a half maintaining a pretty solid victory over food and especially sugar (most days), the past month or two have put me in a tailspin on the self-control department.  By tailspin I mean eat a whole one pound bag of sour watermelons.  Or a dozen Darcy’s Dinky Donuts THREE times in a week.  Or a slice of pizza at Costco AFTER eating a whole dinner at home.  It wasn’t pretty folks.

But food makes me feel good.  Or at least that is the assumption I was operating under.  Even if for a brief moment, it was tasty bliss and I liked it.  Like may be an understatement.  Love might be a better term. 

As I lost my normal “try to eat relatively nourishing and healthy food” paradigm and replaced it with “eat what feels and tastes good” any semblance of self control I was holding on to was vanishing.  But I wasn’t vanishing.  Oh no, I was increasing and it was the natural outcome of the age old principle of cause and effect which applies to nearly everyone and everything, except my husband because he can live at McDonald’s and look like the high school hottie I married 13 years ago.

I digress.  Now, I must give the disclaimer that there were difficult circumstances at hand.  But before that settles in too much, aren’t there always?  I mean really, there is always, always something tough going on.  So if I can’t get a handle on my food choices on a super tough day then when can I?  The other factor is that as a home educating, full time mom of five little people, I sometimes deserve a treat.  Yes, I do.  Problem is when I determine over the course of twelve hours that a ‘treat’ is earned by me merely making it through the day.  Is it a treat when I find a reason to indulge in a chocolate covered Haggen Daz bar on the way home from the grocery store and then to have another one after I unpack the groceries?  No, I think not.  I’m fairly sure that’s called gluttony. 

Ew.  Gross word.  I hate typing it out.  But that’s sort of where I feel like my intake was headed. And I felt AWFUL.  Tired, completely dependent on loads of coffee and moody.  Unpredictable.  Crabby and foggy and generally unpleasant.  After a few long days of this I decided a major course correction was in order.

I thought I’d try and see if I could spend the same amount of money on my weekly Costco trip but buy at least 75% fruits and veggies.  What would I give up?  I wasn’t sure but I made my list and gave it my best.  Besides the super cute bathing suit that wasn’t in my grocery budget I spent exactly the same and came out with 80% produce.  How would we survive seven days without my favorite chips or Darcy’s Dinky Donuts?  We would.  I committed to no harried fast food runs on the way home, to planning snacks to go and breakfasts so we weren’t starving once we were out and about.  And to no sugar, bread, carbs of any kind, sweets, dessert, crackers, etc – for me.  For the kids I would go easy and simply cut nearly all sugar (except the fruit popsicles I had stocked up on).

It has been one week.  After a very unpleasant day 1 and fairly tough day 2, I have not felt so good in a long time.  I have juiced the heck out of loads of vegetables and though they still hate that its green, the kids will drink their glass without complaint.  We have snacked on cherries, kiwi, berries, carrots, cucumbers and more.  No one has gone hungry.

My whole body hurts exponentially less.  My clothes fit a little better.  I am more fun to be around (I think).  I can get through an afternoon without standing in the pantry for ten minutes looking for something sweet to get me to dinner.  I have more time to play and clean and write and all sorts of other stuff when I know what we’re eating for the next meal.

Though I have read and learned a great deal about food over the past few years, this was a great lesson for me.  A great reminder that if I put gross stuff not intended to sustain and nourish me into my body, then I can’t expect to feel like I want to.  If I put yucky stuff in, I am choosing to feel yucky and act yucky because I feel so……yes, yucky.

Props to my endearing hubby who agreed to go without McDonald’s for one week just because I dared him to (and because I offered to make him lunches).  I hope he feels a tiny bit better from giving his (smokin’) body a break from the golden arches. 

Looking ahead to another week without donuts or sour patch kids…

Rainy day wonders

“Yes, its cloudy…yes, bring your jackets”  “But WHY are we going to the beach in the rain mom?!”  “Because we live in Seattle and we cannot be thwarted by bad weather or we will miss out on everything!”

We had a grand adventure on Tuesday – it was an unusually low tide and we ventured to the beach despite cold weather and rain on the horizon.  Anyone want to take a gander at naming all the creatures we found!?

The fabulous Fourth of July

I think that after the three big holidays, that the 4th of July is my favorite.  Especially after wrapping up our studies of Early American History this year (which I’m pretty sure I loved even more than the kids!).  There is much about the heritage and foundation of this great nation is rich and strong.  Getting to celebrate our freedom and appreciating the even bigger freedom we have as Jesus followers is such a privilege.