Friday, November 4, 2016

Camping at Gooseberry Falls

We camped, and you can't NOT blog about that, if you have a blog. I want this recorded in history in as many places as possible, it is that rare of an occurance. Why rare? I mean, I love it. It is always a great family memory-builder/bonding, and oh such a relief to be out in nature, see the stars and sit around a campfire... But... Will the weather cooperate? Who to go with? How will we keep everyone warm? Do we have sufficient clothing for exploring and sleeping plus spares for if/when someone falls in the lake or pees their pants? What food will we pack in and what do we need to take to prepare it? Many considerations.

Of course, it is totally worth it.

We went with the Davis family, and their girls are close in age to Riley and Joe. They played so well together that we were able to just relax much of the time. Plus, we shared meal responsibilities, cutting the work in half.

*Thanks Dave and Selena for letting me pilage your pictures for this post. I'm sure I'll revisit when I'm missing summer/nature/campfires/down time. And also to remind myself that I do like camping, when the next opportunity rolls around :)
Rustic mountain men and thermal underpants. Also muscles.
The "secret trail" in the "magic wood" had a lot of appeal for the little ones.
And evening walk before dinner.

 The Davis' did dinner - brats, foil veggies and fall squash soup. Yum. Then s'mores,
So that night, it was cold. About 37 degrees Farenheit?

There was much cuddling - Dave and I each had one kid in our sleeping bags with us, and the extra, Joe, had about ten blankets piled on top. His description of that night: "toasty!" My description: could have been worse. Definitely could have been better. (next time: hats!) But definitely could have been worse.

But what a glorious morning! I thought of Grandma Smith telling us about camping and frying bacon outside with a campfire... It was still shivery, but we had a lot of fun frying up breakfast - bacon and potatoes and eggs - sipping hot chocolate, and chasing away a brazen little red squirrel who thought he had free reign of the pans! The kids ate and, again, played in the mystical forest next to our camp. They adopted a sizeable rock as a baby and took turns toting it around, "feeding" it, covering it up with "blankets" (pine needles) and basically, why do we ever bother buying toys for our kids? They had the best time with that rock...and it somehow made it home with us, shoved under the front seat.

Cuties! Photo cred to Selena!
Another from Selena's camera

 Henry didn't want to nap in the pack-n-play, but the hitch carrier? Yes, definitely, for like an hour and a half. 

I'm glad Selena thought to get a group picture. Don't we look like a party??
Lake Superior is a short distance from the campground, a good hike for, say, a group of six very small children, and their four handlers. With a very rewarding view.
Pebble beaches make for more difficult angels, we found.
From Lake Superior, the hike continues on to Gooseberrry Falls. We took a slight "scenic" detour. I'm not saying I'm not adventurous, but I never left the trail before I married Dave, is what I'm saying. And now our hikes always end up..."scenic." haha :)

And that's it! That's all I've got! A fun weekend! Then we packed up and headed home. Ahem, DAVE packed up. He spoils me - I'm more than happy to shepherd our flock if someone else will do the packing up. The kids passed out the second we got in the car and didn't wake up till we were almost home. THEN we stopped at Culver's for dinner and everyone was so rested and giggly, we had a very nice time + frozen custard. I like my crew. I'm trying to remember some jokes or something, but I just remember laughing a lot.
I like my crew.

Saturday, September 10, 2016


Wednesday, September 7, 2016:

Today we sent our firstborn off to Kindergarten.

Well, today, I accompanied her to Kindergarten to meet the teacher, get to know the place, ride a bus, and so forth.

It was devastating and exhilarating all at once - a clear marker of the passage of time, the end of a very special chapter. On the other hand, "Hey kid, we kept you alive all the way to Kindergarten! Go us!" We're also entering a whole new school community and so far I like what I see. We talked to everyone: teacher, bus driver, principle, custodian, other students, other students' parents, PTA people. The head of the PTA assured us PTA here is "nothing like that movie. Have you seen Bad Mom's? So funny. But no, no, not like that." I keep hearing about this movie. Might have to check it out. Riley's teacher was warm and ultra-organized and displayed excellent class management (for all the education majors out there, high praise :). I got all signed up for volunteer stuff and field trip stuff. 

In pictures:

Girlfriend lost her tooth yesterday and woke up to money from the tooth fairy. "Is this American money, Mom?" haha - it's from a song on the radio. Recently they've taken to singing, "green, like American money." Or "Camerican" if you're Joe.
A video from the day before that:

 The tooth poster on the wall made Riley feel better about having lost a tooth (that and the tooth fairy money) so she is smiling in pictures again (yesterday she didn't even let me take her picture and send it to Dave.)

 The real test will be tomorrow. Putting her on a school bus and saying goodbye for seven hours...Joe was feeling a little left out I think today so we are going to do something fun tomorrow. A movie, perhaps.

But for now I'm off to bed. Prrretty tired. This afternoon during Henry's nap Riley and Joe were playing nicely so I laid down to "rest my eyes" for a minute and they came into the room and told me, "don't come in the kitchen," and then ran off giggling and much clanging and banging ensued. I didn't even budge. I figured, even if they destroy the kitchen, it'll probably be worth it. Alas then Henry woke up so...they can destroy the kitchen another day.

Thursday, September 8, 2016:

This morning I couldn't sleep past 5 - thanks to Henry - so I got up and made cinnamon rolls, packed her lunch, filled out forms and read comforting scriptures. Riley was up early too. She wanted to eat first so she didn't get anything on her new school clothes. Orientation day she'd been very specific about her hair style - the braid, the ponytail, the hairband - but today she seemed very distracted as she went about her morning so I asked her (leading) if she wanted a ponytail and hair bow and she consented. Over breakfast we read a couple short stories from The Friend about being a good example, and somehow that relaxed everyone a little bit and the rest of our morning prep went smoothly. Didn't stop my heart from pounding when I saw the school bus pull up though.
Ready 1 hour before the bus was scheduled to arrive.
Copied from my Instagram:
Wow, I finally get it! That was freakin hard. So many feelings as I watched her climb the stairs to big for little legs, to sit in the front row window seat and wave and blow kisses and smile with that now gap-tooth smile. The blessing she got from her daddy this morning helped. And she'll be getting lots of prayers from this mommy! Please be safe! Please others kids be kind to her. Please Riley be brave and overcome your fears.
Please hold it together, woman! 😭
The rest of the day was a minefield of emotion...I kept tearing up over the smallest things. Her tea set on the play table. Joe walking forlornly around the play ground and asking if I knew how to play "rocket ship." Thoughts that ambushed me in the grocery store, along the lines of, "I wish I had made more positive reinforcements in her time at home - what if she doesn't have the confidence she needs in facing bullies or cliques, impatient teachers, etc?" A strange thought, considering Riley is actually more confident than most. It was a hard day.
Joe had plans - after Riley left, he went in his room and filled two backpacks with books and came out and wanted to read all of them while sitting in my lap. And we did! For 45 minutes! A rare experience for this brother to two!

I was flooded with relief when I saw her get off that bus though. In my head I knew she"d be okay, but it was still a huge relief when she alighted on the sidewalk looking whole and happy. She was glowing, actually. Joe and she had an ecstatic reunion - always good for a mother's heart to see - and then she started telling us about her day. I don't think she stopped for breath for a solid 45 minutes :) I made cookies like my mother before me. I wish she could have enjoyed them over a paper with a glass of milk, which was my tradition growing up (Dear Abby and the comic page....hmm...might need to subscribe to the newspaper someday). Well, she can't even read much yet, so there's plenty of time for that.

In videos:
(The one video of her and Joe after she'd got off the bus was filmed a moment too late - it was a precious joyful reunion, both of them shouting eachother's name and sprinting in for a hug. It was beautiful, one of the moments you witness with the feeling you won't ever forget it.)

Friday September 9, 2016

Sooo much easier today than yesterday. In the bus line she reunited with the same little girl she sat with yesterday - now a fast friend, apparently - and didn't even look back for a wave!

After catching up on some chores, Joe and I packed a picnic to a beautiful lake where we walked and ate and played on the playground.

Henry in the new carrier - the beco is much quicker to get into and out of than the Moby, and has the option of forward-facing the baby, which is excellent. However: a con to baby carrying made evident at Costco yesterday: you're in range. As in, if the baby is in a bad mood, tired of being in the carrier/carseat/stroller all day and doesn't want to be shopping, he can smack his spit-drenched paws on your chin while staring you down with his piercing gaze, and there's nothing you can do about it, especially if you are pushing a big cart and loading it with diapers and things while darting in for samples that your 4yo just has to have.... Nevertheless. Love the beco gemini baby carrier.

Then Costco and back home to meet Riley's bus. She was happy to see us but tried to dodge Joe's hug/tackle this time. Tried.

(Ready with the camera this time:)

I was trying to hustle them into the car then, as we had to go pick up Dave, but Riley had to give her new friend one more goodbye hug, as if they faced months apart instead of just a weekend :) The sentiment was was mutual - her friend was furiously whispering in her mother's ear and then the mother said she was asking for a playdate and she could she call me to work something out. It was super precious.

We were late picking up Dave.

So we survived this week and I am now hopeful that it is going to be a fantastic year. It is wonderful to see her blossoming into a more independent, autonomous human. Of course, it makes sense that she would like school. I mean, she's always been super social, and she loves organized learning, crafting - glue and scissors, oh my! - and she has been imagining and asking and dreaming about this for a while.

I'll be attending my first PTA meeting soon and have signed up to volunteer in classroom and on field feels like a milestone for all of us. Oh, and as for Joe - if anyone, especially someone with little boys his age - wants to meet up for a playdate, you would be doing us a favor! I'm not that good at playing rocket, turns out.

I guess I'll learn ;)