Summer Wrap Up

August 27, 2014 at 2:14 pm (Family, GOJ, MJ, Parenthood, PJ, WJ) ()

Every time someone asks my kids what they’ve been up to this summer, and this is a favorite question of adults to kids and other adults alike, my kids’ response is “Nothin'” and a shrugging of their shoulders.

I started the summer practicing, and really have always used, an “Embrace the Bored” parenting style. I don’t over schedule my kids (generally). And I don’t feel the need to prepare specific activities for home either. We have plenty of toys, plenty of yard, plenty of books, plenty of craft supplies. Go.

I have a box for our unfolded socks that is labeled “Are you bored? Fold socks.” Translation- don’t talk to me about nothing to do or I’ll find something for you to do. My kids know that mentioning boredom will get them either an instruction to do a chore, a recitation of my motto “Only boring people are bored”, or a lecture on how being bored is a privilege of the rich. Or all three.

Still, I know what irks me about them being ho-hum about their summer is that I wish we’d done more. There were days we lazed around and bickered all day, and I knew we’d be better off getting out, but just didn’t quite have it in me. In practice, “Embrace the Bored” seemed to lead to kids stretched out on couches, clearly bored, but smart enough not to say so. What do bored school-aged children tend to do, I found? Not find a great book to read, but pester various siblings until they find the sibling that yields the biggest reaction. The littlest one, interestingly, is happiest to occupy herself. You can usually find her at the kitchen table, drawing.

I can’t say I’m ready to give up “Embrace the Bored”. I’m not sure why there was not much taking up of interesting projects or play this summer. Perhaps that’s just my point of view. Maybe there was internal processing going on that will bear fruit later, during those hours sprawled on the couch, repeatedly and unfruitfully asking for more screen time (my rule was an hour after your morning chore was done, no more until Dad gets home and we may decide to watch something as a family, may not).

I do wish I’d arranged a few more get-togethers with some of the boys’ school friends. They did play nearly daily with their neighborhood friends. That may have gone a long way to feeling “fun”, more than anything you can pay to go see. But arranging such things is not really my forte, and I was also looking for a job all summer. So I was trying not to commit to anything too far out, such as a camp they could have done with friends. We mostly did family day trips. Even then, some of us like to leave the house more than others. The same kids that complain we didn’t do much this summer have to be dragged out of the house more often than not.

At any rate, all these Nothin’ replies and my usual self-criticism had me feeling some major Mama-guilt about their summer. So I made a list*. Turns out, it wasn’t Nothin’. I had a lot of fun at some of these activities, and I believe the rest of the family did too. Maybe it’s just that the older kids get, the less they know how to do Enthusiastic well. Teenagers are not known for their enthusiasm. Maybe we should have done much less and we’d have gotten over the Bored hump. Maybe many things. My conclusion after some reflection is that we tried to do some fun things, and you win some you lose some. They can choose to believe they had an awesome summer, and they can choose to believe it sucked. Like all things, I can’t control what anybody else thinks.

I will show them this list, though, so in case their teacher asked, they might have something to say. ūüôā

*Here, for the record, so you don’t believe what you hear from my kids, is

What We Did This Summer (June – August 2014)

Charter boat fishing off Westport for salmon (SUCCESS!)
Set up, played in, and maintained our 18 ft above-ground pool
Hosted my Aunt Elly and cousin Chris (in his twenties and therefore way cool for all of my kids) visiting from Alaska
Celebrated my Grandpa John’s 90th birthday camping in Corvallis, OR
Returned two weeks later to celebrate his life in memorium
Visited the Flying Heritage Museum three times, including their annual air show and the last flight of the White Knight)
Bought and lit fireworks for the first time
Visited my parents’ home in Port Angeles
Hiked to Marymere Falls
Had Date Night at Diamond Knot Brewery
Attended gymnastics classes
Backpacked up the Elwha River
Camped with family friends at Flowing Lake- canoed, fished, tubed, and attempted waterskiing
Played at Wild Waves
Celebrated Willa’s 4th birthday at Birch Bay Waterpark
Petted animals, ate junk food, rode ponies, and watched the Logger Show at the Evergreen State Fair
Boated with cousins on Lake Sammamish
Celebrated Father’s Day with a ferry ride and drive to Point No Point Lighthouse- fished
Toured Whidbey Island, visiting the Coupeville Arts Festival and toured Fort Casey bunkers and lighthouse
Hosted and attended several bbqs with friends
Hosted a family party for Willa’s 4th birthday
Attended a Glow Birthday Party at Jump Planet
Played at Auntie Laura’s house on Lake Jane twice- kayaked, swam the lake and in her neighborhood pool
Visited the library at least once a week
Swam at Rattlesnake Lake
Loaded and emptied the dishwasher ~130 times
Shopped for, fixed, and consumed ~360 meals and snacks
Dirtied, washed, sorted, and folded ~180 loads of laundry
Read at least one full book geared for adults
Read many many books geared for children
Climbed to the top of Guemes Island with friends
Celebrated Backwards Day
Swam at Lake Washington with cousins at least twice
Caught our first crab
Camped at Blue Mountain with Dad’s co-worker and son
Went to the Fremont Solstice Festival
Played at Edmonds Beach a couple times
Watched the Bothell Fourth of July Parade
Flew to San Diego for a job interview
Swam at McCollum Pool
Spent a couple days watching our road get repaved
Replaced electrical cables in Mark’s truck and got it running again (both boys helped)
Had friends over and played in the pool and Xbox (many times)
Attended eight doctors visits (caught up on all the check-ups and multiple specialist)
Attended three dentist visits (Holy Cavities!)


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May- Heather’s Brain Download

May 30, 2011 at 8:13 pm (AJ, Family, MJ, PJ, Twins, WJ) (, )

May is always crazy busy in the JaRuud household.¬† Three birthdays and Mother’s Day, all with requisite multiple celebrations, meals, present purchasing and opening, card making, and general merriment.¬† Add this year our life shift to me working again, and it’s a wonder I’ve made it through with a smile on my face.

We went camping this weekend near Blewett Pass.¬† I went late and left early, leaving truly 90% of the camping work to Mark.¬† I wouldn’t feel comfortable sticking him with that all the time, but it was really¬†nice to arrive to camp with a tent set up and leave this morning (to go to work) with only my clothing bag and no kids.¬†

People keep giving me sad looks when I tell them I have to work on Sundays.  (So far anyway) I feel no such dissapointment.  Case in point: on weekdays I get up at 5:45, spend over two hours getting myself and four kids ready to leave, and drive an hour to drop off kids at three different places.  Today, I was able to rise a full hour later, 100 miles away from work, and still arrive at the exact same time.  And then I just work four hours.

I tried to get Willa to sleep for a nap and bedtime yesterday in a tent.¬† Her apparent reaction:¬† “Mama, what the hell-¬†what is this place?¬† Where’s my bed?¬† Why is it cold?¬† Why is it light out?¬† You think I’m going to sleep here?¬† Uh unh, no way, no how.”¬† I’d nurse her and nurse her but she’d startle awake when I tried to stop no matter how asleep she’d seemed.¬† I wasn’t successful until I put her in her familiar carseat.¬† My theory- with my others, especially the boys, I always nursed them to sleep and we traveled with them all over carnation.¬† They never cared as long as they had me.¬† Willa hasn’t nursed to sleep in quite some time.¬† She hasn’t seemed to need it, and sadly, I’m just always needed elsewhere.¬† She nurses and then I leave her awake, and if she’s sleepy, she’s asleep in minutes.¬† But this means, she’s less attached to me and more attached to her own bed.¬† It makes me a little sad.¬† I’m going to tell myself it’s just who she is and try to lay off the mama guilt that I can’t do as much for my fourth child as my firsts.

I’m just happy to nurse her at all.¬† Last weekend, from Friday through Tuesday, she went on a nursing strike.¬† SOOOOO¬†not fun.¬† I felt like I was a first time mama with a¬†newborn again, which no confidence we would ever get the breastfeeding down.¬† No sleep from trying to nurse, getting bitten, and then pumping at all hours of the night.¬† Without the help that often comes with having a new baby.¬† No, instead, I was trying to juggle a family birthday party and full time¬†work and houseguests¬†and… and… and.¬† Yes, I’m fully aware all of this may have actually caused said nursing strike.¬† It turns out I had all the right instincts about what to try, and she¬†finally came around just after I took her to the doctor and determined she was medically fine, no ear infection or other problem readily apparent.¬† Same logic applies as that this weekend we put up tarps to (successfully) avoid it raining.

What I wanted, during the nursing strike, was somebody to understand my plight.¬† Mark was helpful and fed Willa bottles when I was frustrated, but he didn’t seem to get how awful it was making me feel to keep offering such a sensitive (physically and emotionally) part of me and getting rejected.¬† He kept saying “Poor Willa” and I wanted somebody to say “Poor Heather!”¬† Actually my mom did and I’m grateful for that, but I was a wreck; I seemed to need it hourly.¬† I have treasured the “extended” nursing the other three and I have shared, and I was NOT going to give up easily.¬† My naturopath actually told me “at ten months, maybe she’s done with the boob.”¬† Numerous books and google searches will tell you, a baby will almost never self-wean before 18 to 24 months.¬† I honestly wonder if I should be thinking about switching doctors… is that crazy of me?¬† It was just such a blatantly false piece of information, and I’m glad I didn’t trust it.

Friday before camping was the boys’ “friend” party.¬† For the first time, we forked over the cash to have it outside¬†our house.¬† It was a fun, but I’m not sure if it was truly worth the money.¬† It doesn’t feel like we created the memories that we have past years at home.¬† Though the boys came home happy, neither has mentioned a word about it since.¬† Yes, we had more kids than we would’ve at home, but other than that… I think maybe next time if I want to spend money on a party I’ll use it for a house cleaner beforehand.¬† Or afterward!¬† But check out the giant squid cake we made!¬† (I have many more birthday pictures but I can’t find the cord to download them.¬† Grrrr.)
Squid cake

Yes, our cake “plate” is a Rubbermaid bin lid.¬† And yes, I’m well aware it is a major phallic symbol.¬†

For their birthday, their class made them “birthday books”, with well wishes and what-I-like-about-you’s¬†from each classmate.¬† Two of Auden’s gave me pause-¬†“What I like about you is that your brother is Parker.”¬† “You are lucky to have Parker as your twin.”¬† While I agree with the latter, it makes me worry a little about their twinship¬†and being in the same class.¬† (In their current program they have to be in the same class.)¬† It’s wonderful to have somebody to do the things you don’t know how to do, but it can’t last forever.¬† Right now Auden reads for Parker and Parker makes friends for Auden.¬† It’s been fascinating to watch… my own personal twin study.¬† (I know it’s not really a study with an n of one-¬†just anecdotal.)

How glad am I that I have another day to savor before we all go back to school and work?  Very!


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Push and Pull

November 6, 2010 at 10:11 pm (AJ, Family, MJ, Parenthood, PJ) (, )

One might have predicted this.

Back in my partying days, I had a friend who smoked (and drank) way too much. ¬†His girlfriend, also my friend, took the tactic of forbidding it. ¬†It’s the Camels or me, an ultimatum.¬† My approach was different. ¬†Forbidding them just seemed so… well, harsh.¬† (Or perhaps I knew that since I wasn’t having sex with him, threatening to withhold it wasn’t going to get me anywhere.)¬† I would try to coddle him along with less smoking, hiding his cigarettes so that his next one would be delayed.¬† But if he really looked pissed, like he needed one, I’d give in. ¬†Trying to explain it one day, I told my friend, “I don’t do Tough Love.”¬† That oft-repeated quote, it explains a lot about my parenting style.

I don’t mean I’m permissive.¬† Though my husband might disagree.¬† I make them clean their room and do their chores and homework.¬† I get my fair share of “you’re so mean”s. ¬†(Recently I found a piece of paper that Auden wrote on: “I hat my mom”. ¬†Good writing for him, but I won’t pretend it didn’t make me sad.¬† When I asked him about it, he didn’t even remember writing it and claimed it was Parker.¬† I know it wasn’t, as Parker still only writes lower-case a’s if forced.)

I mean that I don’t see the point in being forceful and demanding when trying to get the children to do something. ¬†Recently it’s come up with reading. The boys are just on the cusp of reading.¬† They can sound out words if they’re short and use short vowels.¬† I find it incredibly exciting, because I remember the way the world opened when I learned to read.¬† Mark tries to get the boys to sound out parts of their bedtime reading.¬† My feeling is bedtime reading is for relaxation, and learning to love reading at bedtime.¬† Not for frustration.¬† I don’t want to push them so hard they start to hate books.¬† I’d rather “pull” them along by encouraging sounding out at other times, and by reading books at bedtime that demonstrate how great books are.¬† Books that capture their interests, and that I enjoy also: If You Find a Rock, Henry and Ribsy, Y is for Yowl. Thursday night the boys and their dad had a giant blow-up over bedtime reading. He made them read “baby books”, with short words, and practice reading. ¬†They’ve all gotten over it, but I still think it was a set back in reading and parental relations. ¬†His way might get them reading faster, or it might not. Not if they learn that reading is a hateful chore.

Reading came up again last night. I found Junior Pictionary for $2.99 at Goodwill (score!) and we played it, the boys and Mark and I, after Greta went to bed. Loads of fun, it was.¬† I enjoyed both seeing how they guess and watching what they’d draw.¬† It was the most fun I’ve had in quite a while.¬† No, really, it was.

It took them a while to get the concept of drawing objects around the object you are having somebody guess.¬† Auden’s “tooth” looked like a plain ol’ rectangle, for instance, until I suggested he draw a few more and the mouth around it.¬† It didn’t take long though- Auden drew our specific fridge complete with crap cartoons from the Economist and magnets from places my MIL has visited and artwork from 2008 and notices for museums events last summer stuck on the doors (OK, not quite that detailed) and an arrow to the ice machine for “ice”.

The pushing them to read came up again, though. ¬†I’d have them look at the word to draw¬†and see if they knew it.¬†¬†But if they couldn’t sound it out pretty quickly, I read it to them. ¬†I didn’t want to hear any whining about not wanting to try, spoiling the fun. ¬†Mark, however, did his thing, spending a while each time working with either kid on “banana” or “vacuum” or whatever it was. ¬†They did balk a little bit and I was starting to get a little annoyed (without saying so).¬† But after a few turns they just expected it.¬† This night the pushing was effective, looking back on it, because they were so excited to play the game. ¬†It worked because of the fun, not spoiling it.

[Sidenote story: Auden misheard/read “sand” as “send” and tried to draw that.¬†¬†How would you draw “send”?¬† I think a lot of people born before, say 1990, would draw somebody sending a letter.¬† Auden made a valiant attempt to depict sending an email, but I never got to send.]

Are you a pusher or a puller with your children (if you have them)?  We probably have to accept that we can change some, but our natural tendencies are going to come out in this aspect of parenting.  Our kids are lucky enough to have both.

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We’re doing WHAT tonight?

November 6, 2010 at 5:16 am (MJ)

I mentioned to Mark yesterday that the place I met my mother for coffee was right by to Greta and Willa’s new naturopath.¬† His reply: “What new naturopath?”¬†

Um, the one I told him my midwife recommended and later asked him if we should switch to and later described to him in detail after we went, two times now.  Could you have resisted sanctimoniously pointing this out?  I could not. 

Now I wonder, has he heard any of the stories I’ve told him about our days lately?¬† He actually seems to blame me (ME!), saying “Just because my eyes are open doesn’t mean I’m awake.”¬†

I’ve determined this man requires the following if I expect him to attend an event:

  • Tell him¬†as it’s scheduled, say a month out.¬†
  • Tell him the week before, “OK, remember we’re going to Soandso’s house for dinner Friday”.¬†¬†
  • Remind him a few days before AGAIN.¬†
  • Text him a reminder¬†the day of.¬†

Anything less, he’ll claim “You never told me you planned dinner at Soandso’s!”¬† The last two reminders are the only ones he pays any attention to I think.¬† The first two are just so I can feel like I’m keeping him in the loop.

The thing is, we have¬†a half hour every day together, between the kids’ bedtimes and Mark’s bedtime.¬† He gets up for work at 5am, so I generally don’t talk to him in the morning.¬† One half hour to talk without interruptions or the background jibber jabber.¬† I’ll admit we don’t utilize it wisely.¬† Usually, we collapse on the couch.

Is there any hope for decent conversation before our fourth child turns ten?

Either way, I can wait if I have to.  I do like the guy, and he just made me the nicest margarita.

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October 20, 2010 at 4:20 am (MJ, Parenthood)

A few unrelated notes from our weekend:

On Mrs. G’s¬†suggestion that Sun Chips¬†are good for keeping a marriage alive, Friday night I came home with a bag.¬† I showed him the post, too.

“Look, we can see if¬†our [compost] worms will eat the [100% compostable!] bag”, I said.¬†

Our compost worms?¬† They don’t even know who you are,” replied Mark.¬† This being a thinly veiled dig (ha) at me for not helping once in the garden this year.¬†

“True, I don’t bury our¬†compost,” I admitted.¬† “Perhaps I was too busy paying the bills”.¬† Zing!¬† The last time Mark paid a bill was a few months before he moved in together with me.¬† Meaning his finances were one of the first of his messes I cleaned up.¬† (Don’t misunderstand,¬†he’s cleaned up plenty of mine.)¬† Not his strong suit, money management.

“Friendly”¬†banter ensued about who does what around here.¬† An interesting consideration, really, how much we should leave as only one party’s responsibility.¬†¬†In the corporate world I worked in, we had a back-up for every task.¬† Mark and I probably overlap more on what we’re capable of than many couples.¬† I do more around the house now, but Mark is quite capable of all things domestic, and chips in when he notices something piling up.¬† Our biggest exclusive jobs are all things outside (him) and all things money-related (me).¬† These have held true whichever one of us held an outside job, or when both of us did.¬† I maintain that if I died he would be more screwed than I would be if he died.¬† Beyond the obvious emotional upset, of course.¬† It would be a long time before lack of pruning caused serious ills to the family, but lack of paying the water bill is a different story.

On one level it seems like having a few chores that are exclusively one partner or the other’s would work out.¬† A hundred years ago most chores were assigned by sex.¬† But it seems that in this marriage, we both could use a little help.¬† (Or perhaps we are both just oh so slightly overwhelmed at times by the work that four children and a house entails.)¬† My husband’s solution:¬†“If we could just get the worms to pay the bills…”


Watching Parker make it up a long (0.6 mile) steep hill on his bike filled me with pride.  At his perseverance and at his athleticism.  Watching Parker go down the same hill filled me with fear.  At one point, going at a tremendous speed, he caught serious air, as the kids used to say, from the dip of a driveway.  He has always been good at knowing the limits of his body, and he was fine, but whew!  There is no doubt he is a big kid now.


Friday morning I took one look in the fridge and realized something needed to be done.¬† Mark had brought in from the garden-I-never-visit a cup containing tiny tomatoes and tiny green peppers on many successive days.¬† Having also quite the crop of corn in which only half the kernels matured, I decided chili was in order.¬† Out came a few varieties of dried beans to soak.¬† Greta and I spent a good while chopping, her taking off stems and taking the role of QC (Quality Control) by selecting those to donate to the worms.¬† Saturday morning I began boiling the beans.¬† A little behind schedule, sometime late Saturday afternoon I added the vegetables.¬† Said good-bye to Mark who was off to perform the good duties of library book returner and baseball game watcher.¬† Added some spice, tinkered around the house.¬† Told the older three kids they could make forts with not one, but two couches worth of cushions.¬† I was feeling generous.¬† Apparently we are a lazing family because I’ve just counted them up to 19 cushions!¬† 19!¬† Enough for three children, yes?¬† “But you need to work out any troubles with sharing the cushions yourselves.¬† If things end up with screaming or hitting you’re done with them.¬† Do you understand?”¬† Happiness ensued for a time.¬† Another piece of background here is that I have a cold, and a baby with a cold and a growth spurt, and I really hadn’t slept well in a number of days.

A small disagreement over¬†the footprint for¬†each child’s house broke out.¬† I swooped in and went through the drill that always goes something like this: “Greta’s screaming because she wants a place, right?¬† Can you find her a place?”¬† “That’s your place?¬† OK, Greta, how about if I help you make a nice little spot here?”¬† “Oh, Parker, you like this spot I made better?¬† Well, I made it for Greta.¬† Greta, you still want your brother’s old spot?¬† OK, problem solved.”¬† You will notice, I did not enforce my initial condition for playing with cushions.¬† Mistake.¬† As there was not¬†too¬†much screaming, I let it slide.¬† Then five minutes later, I played referee and let it slide again.¬† Really, it’s hard¬†do anything sometimes without making Greta scream.¬† Make her breakfast, for instance.

I smelled burning.¬† To get the veggies cooking, I’d turned up the chili just a smidge higher than I usually would’ve.¬† Two days worth of work and all the remaining bounty from the garden, all inflicted with the taste of the beans that were seriously scorched at the bottom.¬† I was mad.¬† I wanted to cry.¬† I was hungry.¬† My four children started screaming, some about unfair couch cushion portions, some in need for milk.¬† I wanted to scream myself.¬† What to do, what to do?¬† Have to make this better…?¬†

Cookies, I thought!¬† (I am nothing if not an emotional eater.)¬† There’s cookies in the car!¬† I grabbed the car keys, the smallest child, and headed out past the Cushion Wars unnoticed.¬† Plunked in the passenger seat with my sleeve of cookies, whatever hormone that is that comes with nursing (Oxytocin, maybe?), a cuddable baby, and the commiseration that is Facebook,¬†things got better.¬† About halfway through my sleeve of cookies and¬†five minutes¬†into this break, I spied my three children, dressed for outside play, exit the front door and head around through the backyard gate, looking like they were on a mission.¬† Nice, I thought.¬† They decided to get some fresh air.¬† They aren’t fighting anymore.¬† No hurry to get inside.¬† Though they aren’t supposed to go into the front without a parent knowing, they did go straight to the backyard.¬†

Another five minutes, the remaining half sleeve of cookies, a few more deep breaths for me, a burp for the baby, and I headed back in. 

“Mooooom, where WERE you?” Auden cried.¬† Oh no, they were worried about me.¬† Crap!¬† “We looked all over for you, even outside!”¬† Oh, that’s what their mission was.¬† Much assurance that Mama would never leave them followed.¬† And hugs.¬† Have I mentioned that I love my Auden boy?¬† Mr. Responsiblity and Mr. Sensitive.¬† (Not that I’d label my children, right?)¬† He had the phone, and a scrap of paper that he’d written my sister’s phone number on that he keeps in his wallet.¬† He also keeps his dad’s business card with all his numbers in his safe.¬† Yes, he’s six, and he requested a safe (it’s his own padlocked drawer in a file cabinet).¬† To my knowledge, he’s never actually dialed the phone without parental help though.¬† But good thinking.¬† Appropriate to call your (local) aunt and say, “Auntie Al-Gal, I can’t find my mom!”¬† We had a good talk about different emergencies and what to do.¬† When you’d call your aunt, when you’d call 911.¬† I don’t think I caused any lasting worries.¬† But I won’t be leaving them, even just to hide in the car, without telling them, again.¬† And Mark came home with pizza.


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A Camping Alphabet Post

September 19, 2010 at 4:48 pm (AJ, Family, GOJ, MJ, PJ, School, WJ)

I’m the volunteer¬†“librarian” in Auden and Parker’s class.¬† Last week’s theme was alphabet books, which inspired this post on this weekend’s camping trip with Auden and Parker’s school.

A is for Auden, my favorite babysitter for Willa.¬† He’ll willingly sit next to her while I do things like go to the restroom or fetch water.

B is for Bailey’s, what I’m drinking in my coffee this morning to recover.

C is for coffee.  Which I needed Saturday morning and did not ever get.

D is for downpour, of the long-lasting kind.

E is for eagle, an animal our family is constantly on the lookout for.¬† It’s actually pretty amazing how often we can spy a bald eagle around here.¬† Me, I forget to look up, but the generally boys have less to pull their eyes downward.¬† Exactly the way it’s supposed to be.

F is for fort, that the boys and friends had ever so much fun making.  Bonus for mom is the exhaustion that carrying huge driftwood logs all day entails.

G is for Greta, a girl of her own mind.¬† You know how you see moms walking away from their children, saying, “OK, I’m going now,” and the kid eventually runs to catch up?¬† This does not work with Miss G.¬† I can get out-of-sight a hundred feet away, peek to look back,¬†and Greta¬†is still¬†squatting to look at rocks, completely unconcerned for her safety.

H is for Heather has a Headache.¬† When the sun appeared at noon, we were beachcombing with no sunglasses or hats.¬† Within an hour, I had a headache from squinting.¬† Within another hour, I had a really bad headache and was dragging four children back to the campsite so I could puke in the bushes in peace.¬† I certainly have experience with the combo of camping and throwing up, but it’s supposed to also involve whiskey and a rocking good night beforehand.

I is for insane, my mental state when I agreed Mark should go down to the Husky-Nebraska game from the camping spot.¬† Had I calculated between tail-gating, driving, traffic, and the game itself I’d be left alone for EIGHT hours with four kids of widely varying interests and walking speeds, I would not have said “Oh sure, honey, you’ve wanted to go to a game forever.”¬† Or more realistically, as he really has wanted to go forever, we would not have gone camping.

J is for just barely, the way I held it together.

K is for Krispy¬†Treats, our contribution to Saturday night’s potluck.¬† (Parker’s contribution- I couldn’t think of K.)

L is for living room, where we had our cosy fire on Saturday night.

M is for Mark, who was a sight for sore eyes when he returned from the game.¬† How grateful I was at that moment that I am not a single mom.¬† Sometimes I love my husband because he’s my Man, sometimes I love him because he’s¬†Help. Picture “Oh, Help” as¬†asked for¬†by Julie Andrews in The Sound of Music.

N is for new friends.  All the craziness was worth watching my boys develop friendships with kids they will know for years to come.  And I met some very nice parents, also, although I had to get past my anxiety that they were all wondering what in the world I was doing there with four children by myself and beholden to their help.

O is for Oreo.  What is a mother to do to contain her four children while she vomits?  Give them Oreos in the tent!  Crumbs be damned!

P is for Parker.¬† Parker, who loves life to its fullest, then crumples and still needs his Mama’s fullest attention.

Q is for quit, which is what we did Saturday evening.  I have never made the decision to come home a day early from camping, but in this case- best decision EVER.

R is for Ranger Dave.  A very nice guy invited to give an instructional beach walk.  What happened instead, however, was a sit-quietly-at-a-picnic-table-listen-to-me-ramble.  My children were not amused.  School on a Saturday?  Too much to ask.

S is for Survivor Games, which Parker played with fifty other kids from his school.

T is for tent.  Thank goodness for rain flies.

U is for Urine.¬† Middle-of-the-night urine in sleeping bags, daytime urine puddling in shoes.¬† Urine, urine, urine.¬† Greta did not once use the actual campground bathrooms the entire time we were there, if that’s any indication of the clothing changes we had.¬† Though I’ve considered her potty trained since last January, I finally put her in a pull-up around the time I started throwing up.

V is for van.  A mini van is to be celebrated when packing up camp in the dark rain can be done by throwing it all in the back without rolling a camp pad or stuffing a bag.

W is for Willa, my sweet sweet easy baby.  Oh my goodness how I love this little (big!) bundle of fleece in my lap!

X is for the pedestrian X-Ray, which we did not need to examine the fish spines we found on the beach.

Y is for yurt, which we were not staying in, unlike many of the families.  But now we know how to spell it!

Z is for the zealous love that I feel for this camping family of mine.

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July 9, 2010 at 10:30 pm (AJ, Family, GOJ, MJ, PJ, WJ) (, )

I’m not sure these types of posts read well, but I feel the urge to write and it can only help my waiting-and-waiting-for-a-baby mental state.

Pretty much all from yesterday, ten things that bring me great joy right now:

– Having a husband who listens- at least some of the time, and more so when I’m 40 weeks pregnant…

– My sister Laura, who’s been helping me with my children from Day 1.¬† She moved in with us for the summer when we had newborn twins.¬† Yesterday she, my kids, and I hiked down to Lake Washington.¬† She took a crying Parker back up the trail after we were halfway down for a Band-Aid.¬† Without her, the trip would’ve ended there.¬† I wasn’t physically going to make it back up and start again, and Parker wasn’t going to brush off his injuries.¬† [Reminder to self: Pack Band-Aids for all walks, no matter how short.¬† 2/3 of my children needed them.]¬†¬†Auntie Lala carried Greta in the water, which I couldn’t have managed with my pregnant sense of balance, the rocky ground, and the boat wakes.¬† And, she chased Greta down in the grocery store parking lot during our post-hike popsicle run.

– Auden and Parker, who made the steep climb up from the lake in the 90 degree heat without a hint of whine.

– Living in the Pacific Northwest.¬† The heat of the last couple days reminds me to be grateful we don’t live somewhere this hot all the time.¬† I’ll try not to complain about our ten days of heat for the year, despite the coinciding of this year’s with my due date.

– No PNW list of yesterday’s joys could be complete without (if you have one)- our window A/C.¬† Even if it seems a little¬†tacky in the front window.

– Finally having the energy and gumption to make a decent meal.¬† The memory of last night’s chicken fajitas still makes me happy.

– Greta, who after all the day’s activities, went to sleep early SO easily in Parker’s bed.¬† She asks every day all day to sleep with one of her brothers.¬† Nevermind she’s fickle about which one and that they use it as a bargaining chip with her: “Greta, I’ll let you sleep with me if you give me that XYZ.”¬† There’s not anything¬†more precious¬†to a Mama than her children sleeping¬†together.
37/365 Sleeping quarters in the cabin
Sailing in the San Juans, July 2008

– Having my cell phone battery die yesterday and recognizing how much better I felt.¬† Various well-meaning family members keep texting, emailing, and calling me every day to see how I’m doing.¬† Fine, thanks!¬† Mostly woman who already have babies; don’t they remember?¬† With my previous pregnancies I was careful to fudge my due date a little and tell all a later date than true 40 weeks.¬† This time I didn’t think I needed that since I’ve never been overdue.¬† And I’m still not!¬† But as I’ve gotten close, I’m getting the¬†constant barrage¬†this time.¬† Yes, yes, I’m hormonal, and I know they are just excited.¬†¬†I’ve still decided to turn off my phone for peace of mind during part of every day.¬† (Which I know will just freak them out that I’m in labor.¬† Ha ha ha.)¬† There goes the phone now… seriously.

– My LightWedge, without which, I couldn’t survive the insomnia.

РWater- in the form of Lake Washington, wading pools, and clean ice cubes that no one has to think twice about consuming safely.

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ten things

June 17, 2010 at 9:06 pm (AJ, Family, MJ, PJ, School) (, )

Inspired by SouleMama, ten things that are bringing me great joy right now:

— Being almost done growing my last baby.¬† I can’t wait to meet you, Baby, and find out if you really are Willa Apple.

—¬† Two special boys with one half hour of kindergarten left!

—¬† The promise of a summer home with my four(!) children, with no other obligations other than exploring our world and each other.¬† Whatever comes next in our lives, this is unlikely to happen again- I’m going to have to contribute to our family’s bottom line somehow somewhere, sooner than later.

— Turkey sandwiches- I cashed in Mark’s “Thanksgiving bonus”, a $30 Butterball gift certificate,¬†for preparation of postpartum meals.¬† The last few times I’ve purchased a turkey I’ve gone with a more natural, non-salt-injected variety, but Butterball, you really do make a flavorful meat.¬† The below pic shows my bounty, ready for freezing.¬† Looks like we are yogurt fiends, which we are, but not that bad.¬† Only four of the yogurt containers contain actual yogurt.

— The thought of all the peanut butter cookies I’m going to eat this afternoon¬†to celebrate the last day of school.¬† I wanted to head outside the house for our Kindergarten Celebration, but Greta is couch bound with a stomach virus, so this will do for now.

— My Grandpa John, who has been in poor health lately, but is feeling better and turns 86 this weekend.¬† His life has shaped my life in countless ways.
Me and Grandpa John

Greta and her Great-Grandpa John
Greta and her Greta-Grandpa John.¬† You’ll notice the pant leg tucked into his sock.¬† He’d just gotten off¬†HIS BIKE, which he was riding with my boys.¬† And my grandma said his coat is the last of a family set she sewed FORTY years ago.¬† I may try to make things last, but I’m never going to top this couple!

— Effecient laundry appliances- As much as I might complain about the volume of puked on bedding I’ve lugged up and down the stairs in the last four days, I’m pretty sure I’d be complaining more if I had to lug it down to the creek bed, scrub it by hand, lug it back, and hang it to dry.¬† Although I’m sure the squatting would be great prep for¬†birth.

— Our backyard

— Last but not least: my husband, who despite his fear of all things sharp and medical, is tomorrow giving our family the best ironic Father’s Day present ever.

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