Thursday, July 28, 2011

What To Do? What To Do?

Almost everyone knows this already but.....MY KIDS ARE GONE FOR A WHOLE WEEK!!! This is a first. They went to my Dad and Sally's house on Monday morning for Cousin Camp on Anderson Island. There are 3 adults and 10 kids at their camp. They are having a blast but are a little home sick. Later this afternoon they are being dropped off at my mom's house. They'll be there until we pick them up on Sunday. I hope they can make it that long..... I may have to do an emergency pick up if they're freaking out. I don't think they will but a week away is a long time!

Now in Adult Land a week is not a long time. It is awesome! Bob and I have been having a nice time. I haven't done much really. I think two weeks would be better, one week to decompress and one week to be productive. I am just beginning to feel like taking on a project.

It's pretty weird being home without kids. It's quiet and there isn't as much that has to be done. By farming the kids out I have eliminated 9 of the meals that I have to make daily. I have only filled up the dishwasher once and we even had friends over for dinner yesterday. When I put something away, IT STAYS THERE! I don't trip on shoes when I come in the door and I don't have to yell, "Put your shoes on!" when I go out the door. As a matter of fact neither Bob nor I have lost one or both of our shoes. When we go to put on our shoes we know where they are. That cannot be said for the kids when they are home.

On Monday I just kind of sat around in a daze. Eventually I motivated and went for a stair climb with Rebecca and out to lunch. When Bob got home we went out for dinner at a local brew pub. It was so nice. After dinner we went to the liquor store to stock up the Scotch Cabinet. On our walk home we ran into some friends (with kids) and chatted it up for about an hour. We even broke out the scotch and passed around each bottle to compare them. It was hilarious. We spent the rest of our evening on the deck. It was nice that we didn't have to stop and put kids to bed. And, it was quiet.

Tuesday I got up and made lasagna, I cleaned up a bit and then I went on a bike ride! I haven't been on a bike ride in AGES! AND I had a Groupon so spend at a bike shop in NW Portland. I took a nice relaxing bath when I got home and then....wait for it.....wait for it..... I got an hour and a half massage! Hello! That was awesome. Bob and I had the lasagna out on the deck with some wine....divine! Such a treat! And then we went to Midnight in Paris. We LOVED it. And because we were downtown and we didn’t have to rush home to a sitter we went to the Brasserie Montmartre because we were feeling a little French and had a fancy drink and an appetizer. Such fun.

Wednesday I slept in……yes, yes I did. When I came down stairs I opened the refrigerator and the 2 gallon lemonade container had cracked and leaked into the meat and cheese drawer. Ordinarily this would have pissed me off. But here in Adult Land it was merely inconvenient. I cleaned it up, made breakfast and headed out to do my Meals on Wheels Route. I delivered my first two meals, hopped into my car, turned it on, put it into “D” and then didn’t go anywhere. Nope….the car just revved up and didn’t go anywhere. Again, ordinarily this would have pissed me off but here in Adult Land I just called AAA and then I called Rebecca. She had a bit of free time and came and helped me deliver the rest of my meals. That’s a pal! Later I went out to lunch on my own on my bike. Then I went to Fred Meyer and got a few things including a new bike seat. Honestly, those small seats were not made for my butt and I was feeling it.

So now we’re up to last night….Greg and Rebecca came over for dinner. Since I made the giant lasagna we had more of that for dinner. We all sat out on the deck drank wine and then broke into the scotch again. By 11 pm Rebecca and I were done…. It was great fun and I was feeling it this morning.

So today I slept in, really slept in. My friend Becky came over at 11:30 and picked me up for lunch. What a treat! It was great catching up and spending time with her.

And now….here I am. I talked to Sophia today and she really wants me to come pick them up on Saturday instead of Sunday. She is really feeling home sick. She said, “All I want to do is come home and have a snow cone with my mom.” I think it’s sweet that she just wants to do the ordinary summer stuff. Bob and I will have to talk about it…. I love my babies. I do miss them but I have really enjoyed not having the responsibility. I have loved the freedom to do whatever I want, whenever I want to do it. I feel calm. Even with the 2 mishaps on Wednesday my attitude was….oh well, these things happen. It didn’t ruin my day it didn’t even make me frustrated. I want to carry this feeling forward but I am not sure how to do it with 3 kids around. I love them so much but they frustrate me too. I try very hard to be calm around them but it’s hard, really hard.

Kees pushes buttons, Coulter is very reactionary and Sophia is turning into a t’ween. They all leave their stuff all over the place, they fight, they would eat junk for every meal if I let them, they don’t like any of the stuff I cook, they can never find their shoes or their coats but I love them. More important than any of that stuff, they love each other, they play nicely together most of the time and they are friendly to other people and are very well behaved. They’re smart and funny and I do miss them.

I’m not sure when I will go pick them up but I know it won’t be the same quiet, calm place that it’s been around here. I have absolutely loved the quiet and I absolutely miss my babies. I miss their little hands on me. I miss the smell of their baby heads after they have been playing outside. I miss our morning snuggles in bed. I miss their laughs. I know it won’t be much longer and I believe a break from the kids is healthy. It definitely gives one perspective.

I will savor our last couple days of quiet and calm. I have a fun week planned for next week with my babies. When I see them this weekend I will open my arms and take them in…..all in…their feel, their smell, their sound their love but for now I will bathe in the peace and quiet of our calm home.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Onward Ho!

We wrapped up our time in Fossil on Sunday Morning and started on our next leg of the trip. The next stop was Priest Lake. 

Our long time friends, the Thompsons, had invited us the first time about 10 years ago when the house was built. Due to babies being born and then, well, being babies it was too tough. And it's about 8 hours from our house with only a couple stops. Given that I have been travel training the kids for the last couple years, I felt they were ready. 

From Fossil it was about 6.5 hours.....piece of cake. We arrived at about 7 on the 3rd and were greeted with open arms. Man, it has been too long!  To our surprise their daughter Nicole was there. The last time we saw her she was about 10, she's a Sophomore at WSU now. Time flies! We got settled a bit, had a bite to eat and went to see some fireworks. What fun. 

Over the next couple days we did all the lake stuff. We went out on the boat and pulled the kids on an float thing. Sophia and Kees spent very little time in the boat since they were dragged behind the boat almost the entire time.  Kees kept wanting to go faster and Sophia was right there with him.  Coulter was beaming as the "captain" of the ship. Wayne was great with him and let him steer all the way across the lake. So cool.  My babies were so happy and Bob and I got a real charge out of watching them. Anne talked about when Nicole was younger and had many of her summer birthdays on the lake.  Lucky girl. 

My favorite thing was sitting on the beach at the marina. It was a perfect set up. There was a building with a bar area and bathrooms on the back side. In front of that was a lawn with some lawn chairs and a little sandy beach. There was a creek feeding into the lake and then another beach beyond that. The kids were having a real adventure. They called the further beach Treasure Island. They played so nicely and the adults got to just sit and talk and lay in the sun. Ah peace, quiet and great company. We liked the beach so much that we spent part of each of our 4 days there and he kids were equally as happy each day. That makes life much easier. 

Another one of the kids favorite things was riding the 4 wheelers. We could get all 5 of us on 2 ATVs. Bob scouted out the trails and then we all went for a ride. The first time was  great. We figured out a few trails, ran through a few puddles and even got stuck in some deep mud.   Coulter got a little nervous but he didn't know that his mama has been stuck in the mud 4 wheeling before. I rocked it out and we were off and running again.  

The second day out we decided to see some things that Anne had recommended.  Wayne gave us a map, got us oriented and they set us free. We saw a cool old growth forest. Cool trees, unfortunately it was also the ULTIMATE mosquito habitat.  We read all the information markers at lightening speed while hopping around and slapping each other. It was comical.  Next we went up the mountain for a beautiful view. It doesn't get any better. Blue skies, 75 degrees and peace and quiet. Nature at it's best. 

Each evening we had cocktails out on the deck. The view was amazing with the lake below and the mountains beyond that.  Heaven.  Anne and Wayne were so gracious and generous.  We are extremely blessed to have such great friends in our lives.   

Anne and Wayne were gracious enough to let us stay at their place for a couple nights on our own.  The first night we let the kids watch a movie while we read outside. The second night there was a big storm. We raced around and brought in all the fabric stuff and watched it roll by. It was powerful and beautiful at the same time. The power went out....for 3 hours. It came back on, the kids cheered, another storm came and it went out again 5 minutes later. The kids groaned.  No sweat. We played ping pong in dimming light and then drew pictures. Bob and I read and the went to bed. So relaxing. 

Today we packed up, cleaned up and set our sights on home. The kids and I have been gone almost a month.  We tried to be good stewards and leave everything as clean as possible. I hope we did a good job. 

It's always fun to see friends that you haven't seen for a while. At times you don't know how it will go. I was pretty sure it would go well and it did. It was as if no time had passed and that's as good as one can hope for, like we'd been doing things together for all the in between years. Again I know I am blessed. 

And the kids had a great time too. They were well behaved and played outside a lot. They watched some TV in the evenings but during the day they used their imaginations. It's a thing of beauty. This is the first trip we've taken where we didn't bring any toys. They didn't need them. 

So I will call this one a complete success. We're now 20 minutes from home and there's hardly been a cross word for almost 8 hours.  Bob said he thoroughly enjoyed himself and feels relaxed. It usually takes him a week to really wind down. This time it was a couple days. Thanks again Anne and Wayne, we love you guys and your beautiful place. Let's not wait 10 years again. 

Monday, July 4, 2011

Happy Times in Fossil

We are in full swing at the Wheeler County Bluegrass Festival. Day two started with an all you can eat breakfast with the whole family (Bob got here safely) benefiting a local scholarship fund. It was a good cause. 

We puttered around camp making sure all our food was out of the sun for the day. Coulter and I got in a shower which was obviously really needed. The moment the water hit Coulter it turned into mud....seriously.  It's amazing how much dirt can be held on a 7 year old boy. 

At 10 am the kids all went to the Chick's Kid's Workshop.  I had to wind around town to get around the classic car show that was going on on Main Street. This is a busy place for such a small town. I finally got them to the right place. I went back to the base camp to collect our stuff and Bob for the day and then went to the stage area. 

Bob and I had a little time so we hit a yard sale and checked out the classic cars. We couldn't be gone too long because the kids were performing at 12:30.  Sophia and Coulter were in a band with Clara and Marshall.  Kees was too "shy." They named their band Red Tiger Bazooka. They had 3 songs worked out and started out with Old McDonald's Farm. All went well until Coulter had a guitar solo. He felt the pressure, panicked and melted down on stage. My poor baby covered his face and was crying. I had to go rescue him. The show went on but they couldn't do the third piece with out Coulter. He just couldn't do it. 

Now the song writing contest was in question. Coulter was instrumental in writing their song, Butterflies in Fossil and Clara said she couldn't do it without him. After a bit of encouragement and reminding him he didn't have to play the guitar he agreed to do it.  Everyone was relieved and excited to perform. Even Kees. That's something new. 

At 1:45 the song writing contest began and our group, The Baked Leeks, was on first. The group consisted of all our kids and both the Baker kids. They performed very well. It was awesome watching them all. I was beaming. There were 9 songs performed and then the voting began.  Votes were cast by giving a dollar to the collector for the group. Voting went on for about 15 minutes.  When the tally was done OUR KIDS WON!  56 "votes" and they got to split it 4 ways. Clara figured Marshall was being paid for other stuff so he was just back up.  The kids were ecstatic. They won, THEY WON. It was also good, especially for the boys, as they had spent most of their money at the little museum across from the stage. 

Coulter had gone from utter sadness and the feeling of failure to complete jubilation and felt full of success.  What a lesson. When you fail, get up and try again. 

Since then the kids have been back to the museum to spend their winnings. They've been playing with the other festival kids and having a blast. The adults have been just hanging out,  watching bands and relaxing. It's awesome. I can definitely see us doing this again. 


I like Bluegrass, always have but I've never been involved. Our friends the Bauer-Baker Family has been pickin' and a grinnin' for many years. They introduced us to Chick Rose who Sophia took a few lessons from before he passed away in March.  All this information is leading up to the fact that we're in Fossil Oregon at The Wheeler County Bluegrass Festival. 

We've been planning this for a log time. The kids, dog and I, along with Joleen (their dog), Rebecca and Clara packed up and headed to Fossil on Thursday afternoon. I have a big habit of trying to get a good spot wherever I go.  Part of getting a good spot is getting there ahead of the crowd. 

We homesteaded a great spot up on a bluff above the county fair grounds. It was at the end of the road so we were sure to have very little traffic. This is great for kids and dogs. And to Sophia's delight there were horses in our back yard and cows in the front yard. The boys thought that was cool but weren't as enamored. They all were running if you will.  The 3 adults (Clara is now included in this mix) set up camp. When I could hold Fia's attention long enough she helped too but really, there were horses that required her attention.    

After a few hours of set up with a brief pause to acquire ice and, ahem, cold beer we were set up.  A few more people joined us, we had a little "dinner" and a bit of music. While the weather was perfect at 75 and clear during the day, by 10 pm it felt like 10 below. We were freezing.  It was bed time.

Everyone brushed their teeth and then froze for a few hours in their sleeping bags. Sophia, who insisted on having her own tent, lasted about an hour. The next thing I know she's coming in the tent with her sleeping bag and the dog.  "Mom, I'm freezing."  I laid her down with me, covered her with my sleeping bag and her's and snuggled with her. She was out in a matter of minutes. What seemed like 10 minutes later Coulter came over. "Climb in."  It was crowded. 

We survived the night and got up at about 8:00.  We had a bit to eat, hung out around camp and even got a shower in.  Luxury. Again the temperatures soared and we hung out under the shade tent. The kids ran around free. Sophia met the county princess who was riding her horse in the parade preceding the festival opening. Oh bliss, a horse friend. 

Clara was on her game and was teaching all my kids to play guitar. Coulter says he's hooked. Coulter and Clara eventually wrote a song about Fossil. It was such fun watching them in the tent being creative. Clara would play and they'd make up lyrics and Coulter would write them down. Man that makes my heart smile.  Eventually Kees and Sophia helped write too.  Later it was Sophia's turn to learn a little guitar. They were on the lawn waiting for festivities to begin. Sophia learned a few things and was beaming.  

As I sit here writing I am planted in front of the main (only) stage. The first band is playing, we're in the shade with a little breeze and again the kids are exploring downtown Fossil and the Wheeler County Museum.....I think.  They're around someplace.  This is a happy place, a great experience and we're all having a fine time. And best of all we have 2 days left AND Bob joins us tonight.