Thursday, July 31, 2008

Kids and TV

A friend asked about my kids and TV. That's an interesting question because I don't really have an official "policy" as such. Hubby and I kind of feel it out as we go. We do end up watching quite a bit of TV but it goes in cycles. Some weeks we hardly watch it at all, going multiple days without ever turning the set on and some weeks, like this one where the kids have colds, we let it run most of the morning.

When I was a kid we didn't have a TV at all. I grew up not watching TV and frankly I didn't miss it until I got into school and found I really could not relate with a lot of my peers. They would talk about this or that cartoon and I would be totally out of it. It was frustrating and contributed to my problems making friends. Occasionally I would get to watch TV at Grandma's house or at a friend's house when Mom was visiting and I viewed it as a rare treat. We got a TV when I was 12 but by then I didn't have a lot of time to watch programs. I remember liking Star Trek: TNG and Chip N Dale's Rescue Rangers. We also began watching videos as a family in the evenings, which actually turned into a positive thing because I don't remember very many family activities prior to that. Hubby's TV experience was similar. They owned a TV set but were limited to one program a day that they got to choose, beyond that it was the news etc.

So now, with my kids, I let them watch stuff that is not too scary but still watch most things that are popular. Normally I try to limit the time each day spent watching because I too have read research that says too much TV inhibits imaginative play and exercise, which is true. I try really hard to simply distract the kids away from it rather than setting a hard and fast "Thou shalt not watch more than one hour per day or thy brain will rot and fall out of thy head" rule. As far as the scary parts in Disney movies go, I have discovered an interesting phenomenon with Natta. She is not frightened by violence or evil witches, she is fascinated. She would happily watch the battle scene in Pocahontas over and over and would wander around the house singing the accompanying song. It gave me the creeps so I discreetly removed that one from the rotation to be viewed later.

There have been times in the past, though, when I needed to use the TV as a babysitter, much as I did not want to. When I was pregnant with Seth and so sick, I needed everything I could get my hands on to entertain Natta so I let her watch as much TV and video as she could. (When I say TV, I often mean videos/DVD. The only TV channel we ever watch is PBS because it has consistent kids' programming, it is educational and I am too cheap to pay for cable. But we watch a lot of Thomas the Train and Disney movies on DVD.)

As long as my kids still seem to be getting enough exercise and developing their language and imagination I really don't worry about it. Knowing popular TV and movie characters has gone a long way toward Natta relating with her peers as it's a common ground. A kid on the playground sporting a Lightning McQueen shirt advertises an instant friendship to my little fan. I like the educational shows too, especially the ones that work on reading readiness.

I certainly don't defend our TV watching or recommend either for or against it. I think it is something each family needs to decide for themselves. Our family watches the right amount for us. Since Natta would much prefer to be out doing something it hasn't been an issue so far. If Seth gets "addicted" we'll deal with it when that day comes. Until then, I think I'll go enjoy Sesame Street where Natta is singing along with the Alphabet Song.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

The Oldest Bible in the World

The Codex Sinaiticus is the earliest Greek copy of the Bible containing the New Testament, handwritten in the fourth century. Now scholars have made it available for the world to view and study here. I love this, seeing history up close, even if it is only online.

Maybe someday if I go to Europe, I can visit London or Leipzig and see the real thing, one of the most ancient copies we have surviving of the entire Bible. I can see the patient men in my imagination, sitting at a wooden table in their greek robes with quills and parchment spread before them, painstakingly copying the scripture, slowly, carefully in script so precise it could have been printed. I imagine them rolling up the pages and traveling for weeks to a new Christian church somewhere in Europe or North Africa and unrolling the precious treasure, a church's own copy of portions of the Bible.

Now, 1,500 years later with a flick of a button, anyone in the world can view the exact same piece of parchment. And although I cannot read the ancient Greek, I can appreciate what this book did for the men and women so long ago who went before me in the faith, who worked tirelessly for the spread of the Gospel and to preserve sound teaching and the canon of the scriptures. Gratitude fills me, too, for the scholars throughout the centuries who faithfully preserved these old manuscripts through wars and changing beliefs. Sometimes it is the quiet, faithful preservation of such treasures that makes an impact on our hectic modern world, as much as the showy preaching or flashy worship services. God's word is timeless.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Basement Tower

As I posted yesterday, our Tower Library now lives in the basement to make room for Natalie's new sleeping porch on the third floor just outside of our bedroom. The trouble is, we still call it the tower. Is it grammatically possible to have a tower in a basement? Well, we do.

It took all morning but I got the bookshelves arranged. Since they are arranged in a semicircle, they still give the impression of a round, tower room. They form the outside wall for the music area, a barrier to keep curious children away from the expensive musical instruments. We discovered that the ceiling and ductwork pieces are so low, we did not need any additional bracing to hold the bookshelves securely upright.

Good thing recycling and reusing what you have is so in vogue right now. An unfinished wall makes a perfect rack for our old VHS tapes!

Hubby set up his old drafting table as a desk. Behind it is the unused oil tank that once serviced the house before the gas furnace was installed. A shelf built on top of the tank creates a nice, high table. It would look better with a coat of paint...

A little red bookshelf for office supplies came from a neighbor's yard sale.

Unfortunately Hubby has to share his office space with three somewhat quiet friends who seem to need an unusual amount of floor space. Knowing his penchant for robots, these three will likely have names and faces before long.

Upstairs, here is Natta napping in her new sleeping porch. We discovered this morning what a treat it is to have her just outside our bedroom because she came in for a snuggle before I even got up.

We bought her a new night light. Guess what she picked? A character from Cars of course!

I installed a rope light along the stairway to prevent any falls from trying to use the stairs in the dark. It also provides Natta with another night light.

Seth's room received a nice new-to-us dresser. The kids were spilling out of their shared dresser so I'm thrilled to have the extra storage space.

Last of all, we moved Seth's crib and put all of the toys away in his room. Without Natalie bugging him, he fell asleep immediately at nap time today. I think I am going to love this arrangement!

This house is forcing us to make creative use of space. It is not actually very big and making the three separate floors work for us has been something of a challenge. Still, when we find a solution like this that seems to be working so well, I feel a sense of triumph. Rather than having a huge, fancy house with multiple bedrooms, we work with what we have and still make it quite comfortable and practical. It just goes to show that a little thinking can go a long way.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Sleeping Porch

Ongoing problems getting the kids to sleep have dictated that we find a better solution. Since we have the space it seems silly to continue having the kids share a room and put us through the hours of headache every night where Seth keeps Natta awake and Natta whines about it, then turns around and baits him. Enough is enough.

To this end we are dismantling the tower library tonight and moving it to the basement. Then we're setting up a Lightning McQueen-themed sleeping porch for Natalie. I had thought of putting Seth up there so as to be close to our bedroom but I quickly realized it would mean packing him up and down the stairs many times a day and thus the Natalie Sleeping Porch idea was born. Her joy at being the one chosen for the distinction of getting the new bedroom knows no bounds and she is eagerly helping her Daddy pack books into a box to haul down to the basement.

A trip to Goodwill earlier this evening resulted in a dresser for Seth. Soon Natta's bed and dresser will fill the space just outside of our bedroom on the third floor. I think having a little space of her own will be a great delight to my daughter. Invading Seth's room to play with their shared toy collection won't bother him one bit and it will keep the cleanup on the main level of the house.

As our family wiggles in our new space, finding the best uses of each room, I feel like a little girl re-arranging her doll's house. Without Hubby's strong back and unlimited patience, however, I'd be without a hope in the world as far as furniture moving goes. This is one big doll-house!

Stay tuned for pictures of our new basement library and third floor sleeping porch.

Slow and Easy

I don't normally do this but this morning I am just letting the kids veg out and watch PBS. Seth still has a nasty chest cold and everyone is tired from the weekend. So it's Sesame Street all the way for us today! Oh yeah, also Clifford, Dragon Tales and Caillou. Yes, even Caillou. Now that Natta is older we can talk about Caillou's behavior and what is acceptable and she is much more willing to do what she knows is right rather than imitating Caillou's hissy fits. Also, since my health is so much better, I don't find his active mother so intimidating. We are able to get out and go to the park or the store at least as often as Caillou does, so Natta's adventure-meter stays nice and high!

Please say a prayer for little Sethie though. He is miserable today: a deep cough and very achy. He won't eat at all and this morning he fell asleep on our hardwood floor. Pray too that I don't get this one because I always seem to get it twice as bad as the kids and I don't think I can handle being out for several days again.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Tap Your Ruby Heels Together Three Times And Say...

Today was the coda on a three-movement symphony. It was the winding down, the closure, the realization of exhaustion and the transition back into real life. We tried to get up slowly, allowing the kids to roam and chatter but pacifying them with PBS cartoons and documentaries of Amtrak journeys until almost eleven. We fed them bowls of oatmeal and took turns napping on the couch. Finally we did the obligatory packing and cleaning and took our leave of a cabin we'd hardly enjoyed and simply used as a motel. Since that was the only time we'd see it this summer it seemed a little odd that we had not even found time to hike or swim or sit and enjoy the lovely view.

Promptly after leaving, Seth fell asleep and remained that way for an hour, well on into the lunch hour when we stopped in town for some refreshment and to stretch our legs. Leisurely driving home, we took time to stop at one of the historical sights along the way which of course set us to talking about the history of our area and then on to the history of our country and such interesting topics as the history and culture of the Appalachian Mountain folk. This absorbed us much of the way home but Natalie, growing bored, fell asleep in her car seat, he head lolling to the side in a most uncomfortable posture.

All the way, I felt the tug of home, of the comfort of Kindlewick Cottage and the calm tranquility of our house. This was my first big homecoming since getting moved and settled and I was pleased at how homey it already felt and how strongly I felt I belonged there. I could tell that the kids felt the same way for their countenances brightened as we took possession again of our residence and they rediscovered favorite toys and games. Our lonely kitten vociferated his pleasure at seeing us again in prolonged Siamese yowls and would not let me up from my chair until I had given him a full 20-minute massage and facial scrub. Tonight we busied ourselves with unpacking and rediscovering afresh our favorite haunts. It would almost seem that we had been away a matter of weeks instead of mere days, we are all so delighted to be home. Tomorrow begins another week, a week of adventures, of growing and learning, of playing and naps, of ups and downs as all the time we feel the sweet presence and peace of home.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Memories Without A Camera

This year's family vacation memories will be preserved in words rather than pictures since I completely forgot to pack our camera. Several times I missed it at a particularly adorable-child-moment but since it was actually the only item besides clean socks that I forgot to pack, I counted myself pretty lucky.

Early yesterday morning we loaded our station wagon with supplies and kids and headed North. Destination: Silverwood Theme Park. Although our kids are a tad young to appreciate such a venture, Hubby had never been there and I had not gotten there for almost ten years. Also I did a website for my friend Jilann recently and she was wiling to barter with me for entrance passes which sealed the deal. Our family vacation would be Silverwood this year.

We arrived uneventfully although somewhat late to meet our friends who were offering not only passes but slave labor in the form of their two daughters to wrangle my kids for two days. It did not take long for their services to be needed, for, in the 95 degree heat my daughter got heatstroke and had a major meltdown. Jilann took her home to cool off where my daughter actually threw up twice. Poor little kid, she'd had too much. But since Jilann had the kids, Hubby and I rode the roller coasters all afternoon, cheerfully abandoning our progeny and their zookeepers to their fate. When we did finally go pick them up, Jilann had given Natta a bath and even fixed us dinner. I bow to her in awe. I would have been hiding under my bed.

That day was one of the times I really needed my camera because we had splurged a little early on and gotten Natalie's face painted. She had a spotted puppy painted on her face, a round black spot over one eye and a little red tongue drooping down her chin. After the bath, however all that remained was a ring of black around one eye, giving her a comical too-much-eyeliner-on-half-her-face look.

During dinner in which she continued to peer innocently out from her eyeliner, we ate out on the deck where Jilann's pet peacock (!) had proceeded to defile the deck in several areas. Natalie was incensed by this, especially when she accidentally stepped in it. One would have thought it was acid-laden the way she screamed and shook her foot. Seth as usual calmly looked on, accepting bites of dinner that Hubby placed at intervals into his rosebud mouth. That kid never lacks dramatic entertainment.

Speaking of dramatic entertainment, Jilann's girls have a kitten who, to all appearances, is possessed by pure evil. We did not realize its sinister nature until after dinner when finding a scrap of food on the deck, it suddenly erupted into a growling frenzy and clawed every available creature within a three-foot radius that might possibly steal its morsel. I tossed it a few more bites to the amusement of everyone at the table. The kitten pitched a growling fit over its bites, scaring even the hungry dog away from its tidbits, which included of all things a tomato. I have never in my life seen a kitten growl so fiercely over a bite of tomato.

Later that night we drove down to the Lake and stayed in Grandpa's cabin. Natta slept like the dead, having gotten her sickies taken care of but Seth coughed and wheezed well into the night, causing me to have a panic attack because I thought he was asthmatic again. I had Hubby so worked up he was ready to take the poor little guy into town to the ER (an hour away) when Seth suddenly settled down and fell asleep. We discovered later it was just a cold.

Well into the wee sma's we fell asleep too and morning came far too early. This morning both Hubby and I were so grouchy that it's a wonder we're still married. A visit to a nice coffee shop in town took care of this problem and we both felt somewhat ready to face the day. Some cough/cold medicine for Seth and we felt almost back to normal.

Mom and Dad met us at the Park and the girls were with us as well, so we made quite a merry party. This time Natta seemed to continue feeling okay, but Seth deteriorated as his cold medicine wore off. By dinner time he was a limp ball of dough in his stroller, set to patiently endure whatever else we threw into his day in the form of travel or rides. He did emerge from his stupor long enough to enjoy the carousel ride, but only because one of the colorful landscapes painted on the whirling ride contained a moon.

Natalie, on the other hand, had a wonderful day. The girls took her on ride after ride: Dumbo, the train roller coaster, the airplanes, the kiddie ferris wheel, the tree houses. She rode the "big real train" around the park three times and gloried in the carousel. Her Papa and Mama (my parents) ended the day with a rousing water gun fight in which she shot two big buckets of colored balls at a boat. Seth loaded the balls.

We were exhausted but happy when we pulled into the cabin for our second night after dropping the girls off at their house. The memory of that twilight drive along the lake, the sun sinking into fiery clouds, the silhouettes of the trees reflecting in the lake and the soft strains of the kids' lullaby CD playing will be forever etched in my mind when I remember this summer.

Friday, July 25, 2008

His Favorite Thing

"Mooo!!!" My son shrieks with glee when he encounters a white disk in his story books. In the early evening sky, he is the first to spot the pale sickle hanging in the twilight east. His primary goal at the Library is to pick our a book with pictures of the moon in it; we have found that Christmas books fit the bill nicely. He even found a scientific book about the moon on the used bookshelf at the coffee shop and spent a happy ten minutes browsing the black-and-white photographs of the moon's surface.

The moon has a face like the clock in the hall;
She shines on thieves on the garden wall,
On streets and fields and harbour quays,
And birdies asleep in the forks of the trees.

The squalling cat and the squeaking mouse,
The howling dog by the door of the house,
The bat that lies in bed at noon,
All love to be out by the light of the moon.

But all of the things that belong to the day
Cuddle to sleep to be out of her way;
And flowers and children close their eyes
Till up in the morning the sun shall arise.

Robert Louis Stevenson

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Her Favorite Thing

Whenever we go to the park, Natalie would happily spend all of her time on the swing. Abandoning the sand box, she has now gravitated toward the swing as her occupation of choice. Since she has not yet mastered the art of propelling herself on the swing, she recruits anyone she can find to push her, be it her own or other parents at the park. Anyone strong enough to lift her into the thing and patient enough to stand and push will do. She has made quite a number of new friends in this way. Long after I am worn out and retreat to the mom's bench, she is still chattering away on the swing, pushed patiently by a cajoled parent or teenager.

How do you like to go up in a swing,
Up in the air so blue?
Oh, I do think it the pleasantest thing
Ever a child can do!

Up in the air and over the wall,
Till I can see so wide,
Rivers and trees and cattle and all
Over the countryside -

Till I look down on the garden green,
Down on the roof so brown -
Up in the air I go flying again,
Up in the air and down!

Robert Louis Stevenson

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Kitten in the Window

With great misgivings I pushed the red lawn mower through the back gate and onto the side lawn. I bent and peered at the black blob of an engine, aware that somewhere a button existed for priming the starter. I found a likely suspect and pushed twice. Then I squeezed the handle, held my breath and yanked the cord. To my utter surprise the thing roared to life, shooting dust and bits of grass out its side.

I have not been the family lawn care provider in the past. I tried once and decided the pain in my wrists and back was not worth it, forthwith delegating the task to my patient husband. Today, however, I was determined. The front yard was not only small, but also flat. I could do this.

As I began circling the tiny lawn, I felt like She-ra, Wonder Woman, conqueror of all things domestic. In passing I admired Hubby's work on the patchy places, which he fertilized and overseeded and which was beginning to grow.

After mowing the yard and the strip where I discovered that mowing there was flirting with death as passing delivery vans roared past mere inches from my hind end, I quickly weeded out the front flowerbed and watered my pots to complete the "someone actually lives here" look of our cottage.

All the time, I was unaware that I had a fascinated audience. I told ya I feel like I live in a fishbowl. Really, there is always someone watching every move I make.

In weeding I found a really neato-looking plant among our front bushes. I decided to leave it. Might be valuable.

Doesn't ivy on a chimney just say "cottage" to you? Like is it almost a little TOO cliche? But at the same time how can you not love it? It makes me feel like I live next door to C.S. Lewis or something. You know, England, early ninteenth century and all that? Maybe there is a country in Hubby's wardrobe instead of a guitar case.

Once the lawn fills in the place will look pretty good. Okay, I'm off to check that wardrobe. Peace.

The Ubiquitous Bathtub Picture

u·biq·ui·tous [yoo-bik'-wi-tuhs]
existing or being everywhere, esp. at the same time; omnipresent: ubiquitous fog; ubiquitous little ants.

The Bathtub Picture. Yep, everybody's got 'em. They're everywhere. And every single one of them is the absolute cutest one in existence! At least this one is. That tongue just kills me!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

On Legalism

Recently in a forum I like to read there has been a thread on secular rock music and the inherent dangers in the lyrics. Most agree that some bands (I believe Black Sabbath was one named) admits to and relishes demonic influence in their music. The argument takes place over such bands as The Beach Boys or Elvis and whether their lyrics are actually influenced by evil or if they are harmless blather about life, relationships and the like.

After a particularly heated post wherein someone posted the lyrics to two well-known "oldies", pointing out systematically where they were unduly evil or violent and as such should be shunned and avoided by the Christian community, youth in particular. Here is my response to him:

You're probably right, but the funny, strange, sad thing is that the fruit of people's lives tends to speak to the opposite. From my experience, kids who already have rebellion in their hearts listen to and love these types of things. It isn't the music that does it, it is a byproduct of what they already chose.

But I have seen many kids driven to that rebellion by the senseless legalism of many Christians around them who allow fear to rule their hearts instead of Jesus. The fear the devil and the evil influence so much that they make strict Phariseeical (sp?) rules regarding what children should taste, touch, handle or listen to. They go so far overboard with it that the kids realize it's all a bunch of hooey and those same kids end in in rebellion and destruction. It makes me so sad to see.

I'm not saying we should promote worldliness. But there is a certain amount of absurdity that creeps in when we allow fear to rule our lives and we fear corruption from even such benign lyrics as these. We don't need to fear. We don't need to be conspiracy theorists. It should not shock us that the devil has his fingers in every part of secular society. It belongs to him after all. But we need not fear him because we have already won. The victory we have in Jesus far outstrips the pathetic wiles of the enemy. There is no way we can shield ourselves from every aspect of the World. Why get our knickers in a twist of we hear Elvis over the store PA system? Let's instead pursue Jesus and the taste for such secular things will die. We don't need rules on not listening to music if we are so engrossed in pleasing our Lord.

I'm not saying I have arrived yet, but that is my aim.

Having been raised Christian and observed Christianity from the inside for my entire life, I have to say that I think we Christians tend to miss the boat most times on such issues. If only we would cultivate a taste for the glorious things of the Lord, we would find ourselves ruined for the things of the world in any form, no matter how benign. But when that does not happen to the degree we hope for in another we instead impose and outward form of rule-following that at least pacifies our consciences with regard to partaking in fleshly pleasures. How great instead if we were to fall on our knees and intercede for the craving to grow in our own heart to the point that it excludes any worldly thing which could potentially harm us? How if we were so sated with the things of God that we could indeed rub shoulders with the devil himself and not even notice or be drawn to his temptations? I think there is such a place and the distance we see in our own lives from that place is not a result of lack of supervision but rather a need manifesting in our own hearts for the increased exposure to those things of the Kingdom of God which would satisfy our hearts and make us aware of the true love and victory in which we walk.

The old chorus sums it up best:

Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in his wonderful face
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of His glory and grace.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Ok, maybe not the WORST feeling

Call it exaggeration. Call it artistic license. Call it just plain dumb. Of course losing your wallet and not realizing it until you're standing in line at Wal-Mart facing a frowning checker and a long line of restlessly shifting customers behind you is not the absolute WORST feeling there is in the entire world. I can think of lots of feelings that are worse. For instance you could also be getting eaten by fire ants while you're there at Wal-Mart.

So in re-reading yesterday's post, I felt an intense need to clarify to the blogging world out there that the title was chosen purely out of literary oversimplification, not out of genuine emotional analysis. Just in case you were fooled. But of course none of you were.

There, I feel better.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

The Worst Feeling

I waited in line at Wal-Mart, happily listening to my daughter chatter. I had done so well, getting a replacement toy for the kids when theirs had broken and I only had one spontaneous purchase, some fabric that was on sale for $1 per yard.

When I got to the front of the line, the checker rang up our two items and I looked in my purse. No wallet. I looked harder, dug frantically. No wallet. WHERE WAS MY WALLET??? The checkbook was there so I decided I would write a check then hurry home to look for the missing wallet.

I handed over the check and what do you know, it was my turn for an ID check. I had no ID because of course my license is in my wallet. I shamefacedly apologized to the checker who refused to accept my check. Since the amount was only $20 I would have thought she could accept the check, but she stayed firm. I returned the toy and the fabric to her, much the confused consternation of my disappointed daughter. We went out to the car and looked under each seat. No wallet. I called Hubby and he searched the house. No wallet.

So I drove (very carefully) home and together we searched to no avail. Now he is at the church looking there in case it fell out of my purse or was stolen or grabbed by a curious child. So far it has not turned up, nor have any rogue charges appeared on our bank account's website. Likely I just left it somewhere but this week was so crazy I cannot for the life of me think where it might have been. For now the wallet remains missing in action.

EDITED: 1/2 hour later the wallet is found among the camping gear. I think I'll go back and see if I can retrieve the toy and fabric! :)

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Trial Run

Last night we went tent camping... overnight... as a test to see how the kids would do. Yes, we stayed over night. As in we slept there, in the woods in a tent. I hadn't planned to do this until next year. Where did my judgement lapse?

We had a delightful evening roasting marshmallows and eating Oreos then went to bed (all of us in an 8' square tent) hoping against hope that the kids would sleep. As expected, Seth cried all night. In this area alone Natalie has traditionally been an easier child than Seth. She will sleep anywhere and stay asleep as directed. Seth, on the other hand, uses any excuse to resist going to sleep and being in a pack-n-play in the dark breezy woods offered him the perfect excuse. I tried every trick in my book. Finally, convinced that he was not cold, hungry, needing snuggling or thirsty, I stuck him in his playpen and let him cry. He finally gave up and fell asleep around dawn. It's amazing how tenacious my kids are!

Other than not sleeping we had a fairly good trip. We went up to McCrosky park again so I didn't bother taking the camera since the pictures would look exactly the same as July 4th. I got to indulge my pyromaniac tendencies and Hubby got to play a lot of guitar and read his book. We went for hikes and looked at wildflowers. I cooked pancakes. The kids played with their trucks in the gravel and hauled loads of pinecones for my fire.

Now we're home doing three hurried loads of laundry to get rid of the campfire smell. We had an easy dinner of macaroni and cheese then the kids and Hubby plan to go to the grocery store. Seldom has my own bed looked quite as attractive as it does tonight.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Tunes in da 'Hood

Every year, our little town has a music festival called Rendezvous in the Park. Last night was the opening night over in East City Park, just yards from our house. I didn't know what to expect or how late it would run so it was with interest I watched the proceedings.

The first thing we noticed were the numerous tents being set up in the park. When we walked to the playground yesterday afternoon, we made our way around them and watched the stage being set up with lights and racks of big speakers. Drummers tested their kits and trumpet players warmed up with running scales like waterfalls.

As we sat in our darkened living room later, the music wafted in through the open windows. Although not as loud as I had expected, we could hear the bass as if a car nearby turned up its stereo. Hubby walked over to see what was playing and said it was a Rock/Ska band.

The kids had a rough time settling down. I'm not sure if it was the music outside or just the long day they had, but it was nearly eleven before both of them were finally asleep. To my surprise, the concert ended at 10:30 and the ensuing traffic died down shortly after that. I was expecting the festival to last until midnight at least. If tonight's concert ends at the same time, I will be surprised, though. Friday night and all that.

Rendezvous lasts all weekend so we could run over and take in some of the music. True, we didn't buy tickets, but if you don't mind not being able to see the stage, sitting just outside the fence is a great seat to hear everything. Every year they get world class, sometimes grammy-award-winning bands. They play everything from pop to rock to country or even reggae. On Sunday they wind up with a big orchestra concert.

Just one more thing I love about living in a town that appreciates culture. It is almost as if someone grabbed a little bit of, say, Portland and dropped it right here among the wheat fields.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Sunshine and a Good Night's Sleep

For the first time in weeks, I woke up before my kids. The last two nights I forced myself to go to bed at 10:30 instead of our usual midnight. This morning everything looks brighter and I feel much more able to handle everything. It is amazing how a couple of good nights of sleep helps my outlook.

Today I'm watching a friend's two kids so I'd better go get ready. Just wanted to update and thank you all for your prayers lately and let you know that although I still do struggle with depression from time to time, it is on average so much better than it was a couple of years ago. After the years of medication and treatment, I have finally been able to go down to just herbal supplements. I praise God for His healing touch and thank Him that the "bad days" like this last week are so much fewer and farther between. It's a long process, not a quick fix, but there is hope.

For me, my mood is most often tied to getting plenty of sleep. I foolishly try to push past my limit, staying up talking or reading a book but without fail I pay for it. The pattern is so consistent, I wonder why I don't learn my lesson and just go to bed on time! Alas, when temptation comes, usually in the form of a good book, I almost always give in.

Thanks, friends, for your prayers and encouragement. A listening, sympathetic ear means the world to me. :)

Wednesday, July 16, 2008


Today at nap-time I pushed myself to find something constructive to do. The odd thing I hit upon: curbing the Houdini tendencies in my dog to the point where I can just let her out the back door without putting her on a rope. Yep, I fixed the fence. For the third time. This fence would keep a horse in just great (as long as it did not jump), but it does nothing to keep my slithery little Pomeranian in. Although the rail fence is covered with wire, she still manages to crawl through the three-inch holes. A couple of weeks ago I bought some tie-wire and have been going around putting wire across every hole that is big enough for her to squeeze her little body through. Today I finally came to the end of all the holes.

With trepidation I cautiously let her loose then hid in the laundry room to watch her through the window. At first she sniffed around, enjoying her freedom, then she started in on the fence. I saw her systematically walk along the perimeter, checking all of her favorite escape spots. Each time I rejoiced as she poked her nose in then pulled it back out again; another foiled attempt.

It makes me feel good inside to accomplish something, to finish a project, to cross something off a mental list and say to myself: there, done. I feel strong and smart. I solved a problem. I conquered the dog and the fence. If only I could take a hammer and nails and some tie-wire to all of life's other problems. Maybe to God they are just that small, easily fixable with some heavenly tie-wire. It's a comforting thought.

When Life is a Grind

All around me life looks sunny and bright but this week a heaviness has descended on my heart that I can't seem to shake off easily. I go through the motions of my day, feeding and wiping children, watching play times, going for walks. But I see it through a haze, a shadowy darkness that saps the energy from my limbs.

I'm not sure why the old enemies suddenly hit me this particular week. I'm enjoying my new house, I love the sunshine. Nothing new or unusual has happened. For some reason I seem to be pondering the deeper things in my life, the worries and problems that repeatedly got shoved onto the back burner during the surivial-mode of moving and getting settled. I guess this means I feel like I am not in survival mode, living day to day and getting myself just through one more day trying not to think about anything else.

Now all of those "anything elses" have come roaring to the front and I feel helpless to confront them. These are those kinds of nagging problems that you chip away at for years and never seem to get anywhere on them. The problem of money and debt, the problem of kids' school choices, the problem of my own future and finding a niche for myself where I can be happy and feel a balance between taking the best care possible of my family but also feeling like I can be myself and have enough mental challenge and stimulus that life looks interesting again.

These years as a stay-at-home-mom loom before me like a long, dreary succession of days spent sitting on a bench at the park, being interrupted in whatever I am doing hundreds of successive times, of having a million conversations about whether we are going right or left and whether Sethie needs a diaper change. There is such a love-hate relationship with being "only" a mom. I adore my kids. I love taking the very best care of them. I delight in teaching them and influencing them and watching them grow and change. But deep inside myself I feel unhappy and unsatisfied. There is a personality inside me that is not content to give up everything to others and lay dormant, never being able to get out away from the duties of maid and nanny. The only way I can quiet this pacing beast within me is to remind myself of the importance of the work I do and the amount of love I feel for my children.

There are other, deeper things which can't be shared but which make my heart feel so heavy. I know now in my heart which I knew on the surface all along: that a move and a new house can't solve all of those problems, those deep things which tear at my heart which I frantically try to give to God but which still somehow nag at the back of my mind as soon as my body lacks sleep and succumbs to them. This is the week where life is a grind and it takes all of my willpower to put one foot in front of the other, plodding through the muck of depression that relentlessly comes back to try to beat me down no matter how I fight against it.

So I keep fighting. I continue to pray and take the best care of my body that I can, getting exercise, eating right, taking supplements. I will keep up the fight, if only for the sake of my precious family even when the thick blackness threatens to overshadow everything else and hold me in its grip. I would appreciate your prayers for those things which are too deep to even write about or put into words, those things that threaten to overwhelm my heart, those things that only God can solve.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Grandparents At The Park

During the party, Hubby's folks along with his younger brother, who don't get to see the kids very often, took them over to the park to play which absolutely thrilled my kids. They emailed me the pictures from the trip, which makes me wish I had gone with them; it looks like they had a fantastic time.


From 3:00 PM to 8:00 PM yesterday we hosted an open house party and invited everyone we could think of that lived anywhere near. I think we sent out 90 invitations. After an intense amount of internet research I discovered that a person ought to expect about 10% of the invitations to actually result in attendees at any party. I was surprised to realize this as I have had a traditionally difficult time getting anyone to come to a social event. People I knew were usually just too busy to come. I realize now I probably sent too few invitations. Oddly enough, I was quite relieved to find out this dismal statistic since I thought people just didn't like me. Instead, I found out it is not just me and if I want a huge party I need to send out a thousand invitations and put a notice in the paper. That sounds like TOO much of a good thing, however!

We got a good turnout, about 12% to this party. All afternoon a steady stream of friends and relatives. My mom, bless her generous heart, brought a large amount of supplemental food. Between her contributions and our gourmet preparations, we weren't lacking in the food category!

The star of the food table was the fresh homemade Pico de Gallo that I concocted with the garden-grown cilantro. But close on its heels were the cream puffs (not from scratch), the almond bark and the lunchmeat rolls. I made my little flowerpot desserts and we had stuffed croissants and a gourmet cheese plate. Nobody went home hungry.

My two biggest worries were that the house would get too hot and that I would get prematurely exhausted. Neither happened, which made my day a rollicking success. The house stayed quite comfortable. We put fans in the windows and also kept the window air conditioners on. So in spite of the almost 90 degree weather it was pleasant inside.

My energy levels were the best that they have been for years. Each week it seems my health creeps a little bit back toward normal. For me it was almost a personal celebration, not just of our house, but also my return from the horrible depression and chronic fatigue that have plagued me for the past 5 years. Even after the party when Hubby's Grandma insisted we clean up and do all the dishes right away, I was still able to work like mad for another hour and not feel exhausted. I was so thrilled I could have done dishes all night.

Talking to all my friends was by far the highlight of the day. Some friends from our old church who we rarely see any more came by and it was wonderful to catch up, compare how our kids have grown and swap job and mommy stories. Hubby turned to me in surprise as we went to bed and commented that he was actually hoarse from talking all day. I fared somewhat better as my vocal organs get plenty of exercise from conversations with Curly Miss every day.

I took very few pictures as my time was mostly taken up with greeting guests and replenishing the fast-disappearing food. Without my mom and sister's help I would have fallen behind completely. So the result is that I only got a few pictures. I'll go ahead and post them and hopefully later some of my family members can replace them with better shots from their cameras.

Hubby's Grandpa J and hubby's brother who is working on his pilot's license. Hubby's parents and brother flew up for the afternoon in their little Cessna. It has been a lifelong dream of my father-in-law to fly his own plane and to hear him talk about it, you would think he is a twelve year old with a new toy.

My Mother-in-law who is not crazy about flying in tiny airplanes. She eventually scraped together the courage to release her death grip on the armrests, she told me, but I'm not sure she is excited to take another air trip any time soon. Also pictured is Grandma J who is graciously helping my daughter get some dinner. Without the help of others, my children would have starved even in the midst of bounty yesterday.

Hubby, on the left, talking to our neighbors. They allowed my children to play at their house the during the morning so we could clean the house. My mom, behind them in the doorway stepped there right as I took the picture, so she didn't get a chance to smile and she'll probably hate this photo. I wish I had a good one to show because she was my right-hand, doing more work than probably anyone else there to make sure things ran smoothly.

One of the gifts a friend brought over was this gorgeous fruit basket. Hubby wanted to take a "still life" photo with the wine. For our party he set up a mini wine tasting for whoever felt so inclined.

Grandpa B loves the kiddos and spent quite a lot of time reading stories and playing with them. The kids basked in the attention, especially Curly who would gladly have someone giving her one-on-one pampering for every waking hour of the day.

Don't tell anyone, but I think Hubby's brother was secretly enjoying the story too.

Hammy, the fabled Siamese Attack Kitten gets a snuggle from my Mother-in-law.

The aftermath. The kids and pets went to sleep almost immediately afterwards. Piper had just a little too much fun being made much of by the guests and having a rousing mock-battle with the kitten.

Just Like Magic

There is a little household cleaning agent that I seldom use but always try to keep in my stock. Getting ready for the party I put it to good use on my antique sewing machine cabinet.

It's called Old English Dark Wood Furniture Polish. It contains wood stain along with the polish that covers scratches and discolorations like magic. I was shown this by a pastor long ago when I helped at her house and I have never forgotten the secret.

Here is the dilapidated condition of my antique sewing machine cabinet. Not only is the top terribly water-damaged, but there is a large scratch down the front of the right door. Although I would love to have the time and energy to refinish it properly, I decided I wanted a quick fix before our party. So I whipped out my Old English and went to work.

Now the blemishes don't stand out and shout at you. The finished parts are a glossy sheen. Although the picture makes the color look quite a bit darker, it is just the angle and the whole thing is actually the same color it was before, except the scratches and dings no longer show.

At some point I would like to get it totally refinished. But for now, I enjoy the facelift.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Busy day!

The party went super. I'll post about it tomorrow and show pictures but for now I am bushed! We opened some housewarming presents, wrote thank you cards and lolled around after doing stacks of dishes. It's odd to post about the clean-up before the actual party, but there you go, life is odd sometimes. Goodnight!

Friday, July 11, 2008

A Day in the Life of... Me

9:00 Awake and realize the kids slept in an hour and a half longer than usual. WOO HOO! Plan to take a shower first thing. Kids wake up.

9:30 Promise kids we'll go to the park after we're all ready. Kids want oatmeal. Cook a bowlful, cool with milk and add plenty of brown sugar. Serve. Kids want yogurt. Spoon yogurt into dishes, find child-sized spoons and serve. Kids want milk. Hunt down sippy cups, valves and lids. Pour milk into assembled cups. Kids want cereal. Pour cold cereal, remove milk from fridge for the third time and drench cereal. Serve to child who insists that a different flavor of cereal is actually what she wanted. I give the "hairy eyeball" and she retreats to eat cereal served.

10:00 Realize Hubby put Seth's sheets in the washer at some unearthly hour in the middle of the night. Transfer to dryer. Tell kids we can't go to the park until I take my shower.

10:30 Seth's diaper is dirty again, Natta can't find her shirt. Help kids get dressed.

10:45 At last get in the shower. While there Natta asks three questions, slams my door twelve times and comes in to go potty. Seth gets stuck in his highchair and wails.

11:15 Phone rings. Hubby cheerfully announces that since we're at the park he'll meet us there. I was in the middle of dressing and my hair is a wild, wet style of punk. Poor hubby gets a good growl and wonders why Mommy is so grumpy.

11:30 Hubby comes home and changes Seth then takes the kids to the park. I finish dressing and do my hair, at last done with my shower. I make a picnic lunch to take to the park.

12:00 Join family at park. Feed them lunch and supervise playtime.

1:00 Convince whining children it is time to go home and take a nap.

2:00 Happily work in the kitchen on my flowerpot desserts for tomorrow's party.

Tonight we'll get groceries and work on cleaning the house. Tomorrow we'll have lots of food, a very clean house and then, party time!! I can't wait! My neighbor across the alley graciously agreed to watch the kids for an hour and a half so we could work faster.

We just found out both sets of parents and some of the grandparents will come as well as a bunch of our friends. This is going to be one happening party. :)

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Living In A Fishbowl

The two months of living here at Kindlewick have been a real culture shock in some ways. I had thought that growing up on a busy street in the center of town would have been enough to prepare me for living here but I was quite mistaken. Sometimes I feel like we're living on the top of the fountain in Friendship Square, the most public location in town. Everyone in town drives by our house at one point or another, some daily, some weekly. I get comments all the time that someone saw us weeding the flowers or mowing the yard or getting in the car. With the hot weather necessitating having the windows open, I don't even feel like we have any privacy in our conversations. Most of the time this isn't a problem, but occasionally I feel a little bit overwhelmed at being on public display.

For example, I sprayed a weed-killing chemical on our grass recently and all I could think about was all of the opinions of people in town against chemical fertilizers and how we ought to use the "natural" stuff or dig up weeds by hand. I felt guilty working in my own yard. I try to tell myself not to care what people think but when people feel free to air their opinions or offer suggestions on anything and everything concerning our house, it gets a little old.

Another odd effect is that people feel free to drop by unannounced whenever they want to. The first time this happened I had to scrape my jaw off the floor because I am so used to living off the beaten track in trailer-dump-land that people don't want to make scheduled visits, much less drop by. The social part of me loves it when people stop by. My friend stopped on her bike ride to say hi. Another friend asked me to watch her boys while she had coffee "just because you're on the way". She had never seemed much interested in being friendly before, but I guess there is more to friendship than just chemistry. Like they say, "Location, location, location." So we to to enjoy a morning of social play solely because we live in a good spot.

Once in a while though, it gets a little awkward. Last night, right about dusk a neighbor who goes to our church stopped by with his daughter. We had just gotten home from the swimming pool and I, still in my swimsuit, was busily cutting my son's hair. With hair all over and the kitten spreading it around the house, I did not feel it was the best time to entertain an acquaintance from church, especially with me barely clothed. Another time, a friend stopped in and wanted to see the house just as I was ready to walk out the door. Still, these awkward instances are much fewer than the delightful visits where I completely enjoy friends who stop in.

In time, I hope I can get used to having people around all the time and quit worrying about what they think of our lawn or whether they can see in our living room window. Most of the time I like people so having them constantly walking by is not a big deal. Still, there is a part of me, the farmer part who loves the soil, my roots, wide open spaces and who hates to travel, that seems to need a place of privacy. A place to go where nobody is watching and no opinions are given on anything. As a child I used to sneak off by myself sometimes to play where I could make up stories and no one would see. Living in the dorms was fun but also stressful due to the lack of privacy and personal space. Same with living here. The social side of me revels in the company, the friendship, the people everywhere. But there is a small quiet corner of myself who craves some peace and quiet and privacy. I suppose I ought to try to take vacations of the sort where I backpack alone into the wilderness where there are no other people to find a time of refreshing. Then when I come back I can just enjoy all of the activity and the great friendships I have been forming living right in the middle of town.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008


Once again I sit at my front window, like Mrs. Rachel Lynde, and watch the world go by. Today it is especially entertaining as I have a sprinkler running on my front lawn that happens to cover the sidewalk and waters the grass strip beyond. Every few minutes someone will walk or ride by the house and joyfully run through my sprinkler.

They all seem to enjoy the experience; some even go back for a second run. Girls screech as the cool water hits them, boys laugh and push one another. They splash in the puddle created by a low spot in the sidewalk and raise their arms to the cool spray.

In my house, the air is still, quiet and cool. The dog snoozes on the floor and the kitten is sleeping as usual on the back of my neck. But outside the noises of a happy, hot July afternoon waft through my window: cars driving by, birds chirping, the distant sounds of the park... and every few minutes she sheer childlike joy of some passing adult who takes a minute to run through my sprinkler.

EDITED: Real life yet again... I was just informed by a friend that there is a city ordinance in place the prohibits watering between the hours of 10:00 AM and 6:00 PM. Thanks to her I was saved from getting a fine by the city. So from now on we'll wait until after 6 to run through the sprinkler! I already knew that watering during the heat of the day is less efficient but I wanted to give the grass an extra good soak this week in hopes that it would green up before Saturday. I'll have to remember to soak it at night.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

It's the Little Things

Before we moved into our new house, I bought this little iron bell at an antique store. To me it represented all of the hominess I craved in a "real" house. Last night we were going through some more boxes in the basement in preparation for our party on Saturday. I ran across this little guy in a box and immediately put him up by the back door.

It reminds me when I see it how thankful I am for our house. Our cottage may be small but it fits our family exactly right. I feel more at home here than I have for years and nearly every day I breathe a little prayer of thanks that we were able to get it and live here.

During this time when all of us feel the economic crunch, it is such a relief to be able to live in a place that doesn't overstretch our budget (thanks to my Dad) and even have the added blessing of living where we can walk most places and thus save the precious gasoline.

So in response to those who have asked me, "Do you like your new house?" the answer is a resounding "Yes! I love it." I love taking care of it and getting to know it like a friend. I love the thought that years down the road will see us living here, still, watching our kids grow up and likely complaining about all the junk we have accumulated!

How Does Your Garden Grow?

Our lawn is dying. We have tried dumping loads of water on it; we have sprinkled Weed-n-Feed. I cannot figure out how to revive it. Every day it looks more and more parched and the part that is green is mostly weeds rather than grass.

What should we do? Does anyone know how to revive lawns? Should we Roto-till the whole thing and replant it? Help, please!

Oddly enough, the back yard looks gorgeous and it gets no attention whatsoever. Why is this?


O! 'ware lest we forget that splendid realm
so often in the tender years was seen
yet to me now seems almost lost behind
a long grey veil of practicality

This morning I heard my children pushing cars along the wooden floor and it brought back to my mind in vivid detail the pleasure I found as a child in pushing a toy car along the floor. Yesterday I had wondered, with my jaded adult mindset why a simple toy car would be so much fun. There was no landscape, no character inside the car.

Today, however, all that is changed as I suddenly recalled the magic of imagination that I used to have as a small child. A simple toy car became the central object in a complex drama with vast landscapes, plans and story lines. Sometimes the fewer toys a child has, the more the imagination takes over and creates for itself the missing details in colorful relief, painting a picture of such completeness that nothing more in the physical realm is needed. I had almost forgotten this place of fairyland existed until today it was brought back to me by the sound of tiny wheels on a wooden floor, of little knees crawling after it, and the throaty chuckle of my child.

Naively I used to promise myself never to lose the way to fairyland, never to forget to use my imagination. Alas, that bright land now belongs to my children, but there is still something I do possess, the "inward eye that is the bliss of solitude". Those beautiful flashes of memory take me back to a time when I was the one walking the footpaths of my own imagination.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Marital Therapy

One of the first things I did when I got married was learn to play Starcraft. In Hubby's estimation this is the best computer game ever invented so although it was complicated and took months to master, I figured it would be worth it in the long run. At first I did it solely for him, to enter his world and to have something to share with him that he enjoyed. I didn't count on getting hooked.

After a few months of playing through the missions by myself, I figured I had enough mad skillz I could take on my Hubby in combat. I got trounced. He thoroughly beat, humiliated and ground me into the dirt. I got angry and began to plot revenge. I also threw a little fit and refused to talk to him for a couple of hours.

I tried again later and again got completely humiliated. I threw more hissy fits. Hubby decided he didn't want to put up with my pouting and lack of being a gracious loser and so he decreed that henceforth we would always team up against the computer.

So that is what we did. For the next five years we have steadily been playing game after game, at first only playing two computers then gradually more and more opponents on larger and larger maps. I am happy to say that often nowadays I get a higher score at the end of a game than Hubby does, but I have a feeling he would still whip my tail if I were to go head to head with him.

An interesting thing has happened over the years, however. Every time we play we try to pick screen names that make each other laugh. Since we pick a new name for every game, the list of old names gets longer and longer. The other night we looked back at some of the screen names we had used in the past and saw a quirky sort of diary emerge of our entire marriage.

Of course many of the names we chose involve food and Starcraft characters, such as "Zerg In My Pizza" or some such nonsense. But many of the names refer to an event. There was "Bun In My Oven" one time, an oddly maternal name for a game where total annihilation is the ultimate goal. Another time the name referred to "My Barnacle" which was what I called Seth during the period of time that he was nursing almost nonstop. I vividly remember playing Starcraft with one hand while nursing my newborn in the opposite arm.

Remembering back to my expectations of marriage from a naive young twenty-something's perspective, I doubt I would ever think of using a computer game to foster a good marriage relationship. Such a thing would never even have entered my thinking. Yet as we have gone along the marriage road, Starcraft is almost always one of the things that can quickly restore a sense of harmony in our relationship. The ability to relax and have fun, to pull together in teamwork and jointly trounce an enemy, to work together to defend a base or build an army, these things have done much toward keeping us sane and healthy. We have gone so far as to develop a litany of inside jokes and Hubby suddenly announcing in a fake deep voice, "I do this for Aiur, not for you," will send us into peals of laughter, which we then smother and tell each other how nerdy we are.

Of course, there are the times we lose miserably then angrily blame one another, but usually we try to play an easy enough game on the last time through that we can win it and have a positive ending. Lately we have not played as often either, but when we do it brings the warm sense of shared purpose and memory that only comes from years of association.

Over the years I have developed a philosophy that life should involve occasional periods of recreation. Some people spend far too much time on recreation, of course, and they miss opportunities to better themselves or to help others. But once in a while, I think shared times of pure simple recreational fun is truly healthy in a relationship. And though we also play Scrabble, go for walks or do other activities, by far the most consistent theme of our playtime has been Starcraft. I highly recommend it for any new couple entering a marriage relationship. I have always secretly imagined myself as a much-sought-after marriage counselor and my secret method is that I send frustrated couples home with a copy of Starcraft and they come back to thank me with tears and hugs later as their marriage has been completely restored.

Buying Local

Yesterday Hubby and I decided we needed another pennywhistle so that he can play too. We wanted to do some harmonies. (He's actually getting to be a pretty good whistler himself, see here) So I googled Clarke Pennywhistles and came up with a cost of $10-$15 including shipping. There were several places online selling them, some for as low as $4.95 plus S&H. Instead of waiting for a week to receive a whistle in the mail, I decided to support our local economy and buy one in town.

This morning saw us merrily walking downtown with the big blue stroller. We got to Keeney Brothers' music store and unloaded the kids. They followed me into the store where I asked the clerk for a Clarke Pennywhistle. He walked to the glass case and pulled one out, handing it to me. I glanced at the price tag. It read $23.95!!! I just about dropped it! Even had only been $17.50 and I had thought it was steep.

Meekly, I paid the price, still patting myself on the back for supporting our local small businesss. Inside, however, I wondered if maybe for the good of our family's budget I ought to forget about the local economy and just go for the cheapest price. But the thought of losing the small businesses downtown and losing the walkable, friendly culture makes me sad. Like many residents here I paid the higher price today, paying both for a pennywhistle and paying for the small-town culture that I love.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Why "Whistler"?

Friends have asked me why I chose the name Whistler for my screen name. I always tell them it's because I play the Irish Tinwhistle. Celtic music is my favorite music to play and to listen to. So Hubby and I did a quick Celtic Set of tinwhistle tunes to show people what I like to play and why I chose my name.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Twenty Snapshots

For the Fourth of July, our family went day-camping at McCrosky State Park along Skyline Drive. Mostly for the benefit of the grandparents (and myself 20 years down the road), I have pictures of the trip to share.

As an explanation, day-camping involves camping with toddlers minus the sleep deprivation. We were there for a grand total of six and a half hours, I think.

Our trip began innocently enough. The kids read books in the car for the 30 minute drive to the campground.

Natta made funny faces for the camera.

Our destination.

The campground is on the top of one of the Buttes and the view is phenomenal.

The road up is quite twisty and herein was the problem. Halfway up, Seth got carsick. Like CARSICK. It was the airplane experience all over again. I was of half a mind to go right back home again!

I'm glad we didn't though, because once we got there we had a fantastic time.

Well, there WAS that one incident involving Natalie not wanting to use the potty... then using the potty... and missing... It didn't really spoil our trip though.

We put Daddy to work.

But Mommy was loafing.

Seth LOVES to have his picture taken. Then he wants to look around at himself in the back of the camera.

I tried hard to get both kids to pose in one shot but this was the best I could do.

Want some?

What a funny guy!

We saw some Syringa, Idaho's State Flower.

We spent a lot of time vegging out.

Mommy gets her picture taken too! Usually I am the one behind the camera.

Weather: cloudy and sunny. Perfect.

This is the result of camping with no nap.

This one had a leeetle too much fun.

The grand finale. I retouched this precious picture of my sweet little boy.