Thursday, July 30, 2009


My sister looked around as we ate our picnic lunch, "Lifestyles of the poor and unknown." Well, we certainly weren't the Rich and Famous, and that day as we sat near the ocean at a picnic table, in the drizzle and eating soggy tuna fish, I think we all felt a little poor and unknown or just a bit pathetic.

I still have the same picnic cooler. I still force my family to eat picnic lunches versus fast food when we travel. I like it a whole lot better. When I was little I would have done anything to get to eat at McDonald's; now I do anything to not eat there.

What is stirring these thoughts? We are off! It is our last vacation before the school year takes my husband away again. I love vacations. My parents gave me that, along with the green cooler. But when I vacation, I also like to be removed from the strange blog/facebook matrix world I sometimes exist in. So, until my return.....

Just know, the most encouraging thing you can do for me as a writer/blogger is to chime in every now and then, make a comment, become a follower. When this happens my happy, writing heart sores, and I want to write more.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Of This I Have No Doubt

The thoughts keep spilling out of me. What should my first line be? There are so many directions I could have this blog take. Mainly, I want the world to know how amazing my sister is. She is a mother to a boy, age nine. This boy is not your normal son. He never quite makes eye-contact. His words and phrases are robotic, repeated.

I watched him the other day make his way through my house. He enters the backdoor. He has a certain window he always opens. He heads next to my cracker stash, maybe gets some sour cream for taste. Then he goes upstairs to use the bathroom, his preference, and then he always ends up in the back bedroom where he rolls and frolics in the bed covers. I went to see what he was up to, and there he was, his little 9-year-old frame standing up on my hope chest, with the comforter hanging from his body like a Christmas pageant Shepard. He was smiles and laughter. "OK, come here. Jump! It'll be fun." He thought it was.

The older he gets the more odd he seems. He is autistic to the core. Classic autism. As time progresses it gets harder and harder to be his caregiver, and yet my sister does it with grace and dignity.

She gets frustrated by all the information out there on how to "heal" your child of autism, the therapies, the foods/diets etc. Where are the resources for those who are living with autism? Our pastor was talking about true character, that when hard times come the true character gets squeezed out like a sponge. Her character is squeezed out on a daily, constant basis. There is never a break.

On top of being autistic, he has Pica, so he eats everything and anything. It is like he is sensing his world through taste. The other day he was doing this to a brick in their backyard. Nothing is truly safe. He's tasted her furniture, her piano, dirt, the sandbox, toothbrushes, wood chips, paper clips....

She keeps doing what she does, loving and parenting. She's the first to admit she's not perfect. She has her moments when she cries to God and asks why. When she doesn't want to do it anymore, but she does. (Didn't Christ even do this in the Garden?)

She is a woman of amazing character. I think her reward in heaven should be great, and it will be; she looks forward to the day when her son can relate and be made perfect. She has no doubts that he will be in heaven with her someday, even if he never utters a prayer. I have no doubts either.

I told her that 100 years ago people would have seen him and labeled him the crazy child, the wild child. Most likely he would have been put away somewhere.

She said that at times you feel like inside there is no one, but then you look into his eyes and you can see his soul. This is true.

I've never cried about my nephew. We knew from a very young age that something was not right. He was less than a year old when we all noticed he wasn't hitting major developmental markers. Even as an infant, when you held him, he seemed distant and removed.

I finally cried the other day. I realized that I loved him. He is part of my family. He is my sister's son, and I grieved the loss of not really getting a normal connection with him. I think I have kept my emotional distance as a way of coping.

That is what every parent lives for, connection. That is why we all get so giddy when we see our baby's first smile. When they talk. When they ask us questions. When they tell us their stories.

This never will happen for my sister, although she does say there is a unique bond between the two of them.

I am completely humbled by her. She may be a mere 21 months older than me, but she is an old soul and a mentor to me as a mother. I love her dearly, and so wish I could fix or change her burden, but I can't. I can listen. I can sympathize. I can be encouraged in Christ as I watch her live.

We often hear people say that they feel God calling them to the mission field, teaching, nursing, politics, volunteerism, but you never hear a mother say, "I think God is calling me to give birth to a special needs child." No, instead we pray for a healthy baby.

Yet, I have always heard the heart of my sister say, "Your will Lord." Always.

Of this I have no doubt.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Simply Summer

Some things are just simply summer...summer reading programs at the library, swimming lessons, sprinklers, slip 'n slides, eating raw beans from the garden, crickets at night, shorts and blackberry picking, the rattle of the canner and its steam, sunsets, heatwaves, dripping Popsicles....summer.

We are in the thick of it, the direct middle. Since my family is bound to the school year calendar, this is when I begin to notice the school supplies displayed in stores. I desperately ignore the impending doom. This is when I panic because next month is August, then it all comes quickly to a stop. Instead of living January to December, I visualize the world turning August to September.

It just seem more accurate, more right. Shouldn't the year be put to sleep when you bring in the last harvest? September signifies that for me. It is when I do my last bit of beans, get in one last taste of a fresh peach. It is when my mums bloom while the rest of my flowers begin to fade. The amber hues rejoice. The grass is rough on my toes; we've stopped watering. We are waiting for the rains of October to green it up again.

I always look forward, but I'm getting better at living in the current. There is still a lot of summer living left. There are plenty of evening swims to be had. I'm giddy with anticipation, soon I will be devouring the orchard of its plums and pears. I can't wait to smell the ripe grapes in the warm evening. There are plenty of nights to sleep with the window open and listen to the crickets sing and discuss.

The tractors have yet to sir the earth and dust the world with their discs. I can remember crossing the fields right after the first plow. I was a child and needed to play with my neighbors. They lived two fields away. My ankles would twist with delight over the large clods of dirt. It was the subsequent plowing that made the dirt smooth and soft, no shoes needed.

As a child, summer seemed endless. It felt like a whole year past in those three month. It felt like I grew up and became a whole new person for all my friends to see once school came around again.

Even as I type this now, I can smell summer breeze through my office windows, breeze in and sit next to me as I ponder it all.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Books That Barf and Davy Crocket

OK, our two favorites from our last trip to the library are:

My Little Sister Ate One Hare. Reasons: it is the only book where a child is eating ants with underpants, along with other nasty things, and then barfing it all up at the end. What child wouldn't think that was the greatest thing ever! Barf!

And Davy Crockett Saves the World...this guy is the bomb. He has muscles pouncing out of his buckskin, hair the gets fried by a comet, shaves with an ax, and a bear named Death Hug. I guess my boys are suckers for hyperbole! They laugh and think he is quite amazing.

Happy Reading!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The Bookseller of Kabul

I realize I'm a little late in my discovery of The Bookseller of Kabul, but it is a must read!

I don't want to only learn about the times I lived through by watching historical movies or reading history books. I think it is important to know what is currently happening that is making history. When my grandchildren need to interview someone who lived during the US involvement Afghanistan, I want to be able to be an informed narrator. I also want to know, so I can be an informed participant in this country and our democratic system.

We may be the United States of America, but Afghanistan is making its mark, and has for generations.

This book gives us a glimpse into the family structure of this culture so opposite of our own.

The author, Asne Seirstad, is a journalist. She has reported from Chechnya, the Balkans, and Iraq. This book is an international bestseller.

Why? Well, I know why I liked it:

1. It is nonfiction, but reads like a novel. She weaves the members of this particular family, Sultan's, like a good fiction read--with twists and turns. You want to know what is going to happen next. You want to know how one member of the family will effect another. You find yourself cheering for certain characters.

2. It makes me so grateful to be born in a country that gives women choice and equal opportunity. Growing up I could to whatever I wanted. I could express my wants and my desires, process my thoughts with my father and my mother. My husband also views me as an equal in our marriage. We are in this life together. What a contrast my experience as a woman has been in comparison to the women of Afghanistan. I almost felt like I couldn't breathe when I read of their experiences. It went beyond the description of the burka. They have no choices, no opportunities. No choice in who they marry, if they get to go to school, what jobs they do around the house, where they shop, when they shop, where they go, what they see, if their husbands take another wife etc. At times I wanted to scream for them.

3. I learned things I never knew about the US involvement in Afghanistan. Things I was frustrated by. As much as I wanted and want to see this country become democratic and these women liberated, it does seem a bit hopeless. What a waring country, waring for hundreds of years. What a mess. The United States comes in and tries to solve it all, and we the American people want it solved quickly. Is this realistic? But can we do nothing?

4. Seierstad's ability to describe moments and singular places is phenomenal. I will forever have etched on my mind the women's bathhouse, the trip through the long tunnel, shopping in a burka, Bibi Gul and her fatness, Aimal's concession stand, and the utter ache of Leila.

I hope that I've persuaded you to pick up this excellent read. Your eyes will further be opened.

Camping....Is It Worth It?

It takes at least two days. Our washroom slowly fills up with all manner of packing....suitcases, boxes, sleeping bags, tents, water jugs.... My husband and I make a perfect team. I make the lists. (Although during this last camping trip the famous line was, "We need to put that on the list for next year.) I pack all our essentials to the backdoor. He makes the essentials fit in the van. I think he has the hard part; since I am spatially challenged I leave that to him. This year we removed two seats from the van to make it all fit. I thought we packed a lot when we introduced an infant to our traveling lives, but I'm thinking two growing boys demand even more: bike, tricycle, dump truck, tractor, soccer balls, goals....these last items don't fit nicely in a box.

Then we drive. We arrive. We play. We get dirty. We don't just get dirty, we are dirt. We become one with the dust and grime. We pretend that our daily swims in the lake are baths, but they really aren't. Why do I even pack a cosmetic bag? I never use it. I barely get a brush through my hair or toothpaste in my mouth. I did pack shoes for the boys, but they never wore them. They rambled through the woods with bare toes. My oldest asked, "Why does the blood come out of the skin?" I need to bring two boxes of bandages for next year's event.

We sleep, a bit. The air mattress helps; one has a slow leak. I end up with two boys in one tent and my husband with one in the other. We miss each other. He tried to send a text message to me in the middle of the night. I hear the beep, but can't locate it in the folds and layers of sleeping bags and blankets. It was deep down in the diaper bag. It was a sweet text. I read it the next day; I would have liked getting it in the night as we both lay awake, being perfectly still to keep our kids asleep.

Bedtime? It is dictated by the sun. Morning? Dictated by the crows. Sugar limit? S'mores have no limit, neither to red vines and gummy bears. Trail mix? They pick out the M&M's.

The camp cleanup takes even longer than the set up, but it is all part of the experience. We arrive at home, totally tired yet strangely refreshed. Even the baby is dirty and needing a bath. We soak and scrub. My feet will never be the same.

My washroom is again crowded with stuff, stuff to be washed and sorted. Stuff to be stashed and put away until next summer.

Yet we all love it. It is about family and being in the moment. I asked my oldest what his favorite part was. "Everything, I just liked everything. That's all."

Me too.
But it is worth it. We love it. We plan on doing it again and again.

Monday, July 20, 2009

More posts to come.....had a great vacation at the beach....many thoughts....

Friday, July 17, 2009

White Crosses and Gambling

The two things I noticed on my drive through the mountains of Montana, and a bit of the Big Sky part, were all the white crosses.

When we first crossed the border, we were not greeted by the typical Welcome to....sign, but rather a large, blue sign explaining that wherever there has been a road fatality, white crosses have been placed.

The next thing you notice is the speed limit.....70 mph on a country road. In Oregon, and I think most states, the limit on a highway is 55 mph. I am wondering is speed is the reason for all the fatalities? Is some organization hoping that seeing all these white crosses will cause people to voluntarily slow down? I'm wondering if native Montanans have gotten used to the crosses; for a visitor it was quite noticeable and very disturbing. At one bridge there were 17 crosses. Some were big, most were small. Was it a large family with many children? A church youth van on an outing? Who were the faces behind these crosses? What was their story.

White crosses were as frequent as mile posts. I asked a friend who has a relative in Kalispell about it, and she said that the choice to speed is a high value in the state. That even if you do get pulled over, you just carry some cash in your pockets because it is very easy to pay the police off when they pull you over. Interesting. A few years ago the speed limit was 90 mph, but the federal government refused to give funds for road improvements until the state lowered the speed limit.

The other noticing I had were all the gambling establishments. Not, spanky new ones that you'd find on the various reservations in Oregon, but dives with names like, LuLu's. On the main drag of town it seemed like every three storefronts was a casino. This really cheapens the landscape, so I am grateful that gambling is not legal in my state. Who gambles at all these casinos? The state population isn't that large. Is it the same few people? It was rather depressing thinking of how this addiction is destructive and robs families of so much, even when it is just the destructive pastime of one family member.

The natural landscape of Montana is a draw for visitors and residents. I would love to go back and explore, but the two above noticings did cause me to be a bit reflective and solemn.

I'd love to hear your thoughts on Montana and places you've visited there.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Top Ten Glacier Happenings

10. Going-to-the Sun Road: this is pretty much what you do when you come to Glacier. In Yellowstone you see Old Faithful. At the Grand Canyon you peak over the edge. In Crater Lake, you take a boat trip around Wizard Island. This road in Glacier is amazing. I can't believe it was constructed in the 1930's. A little scary, 100 feet had recently been washed away, and there are melting snow waterfalls raining down next to your car as you travel up to Logan Pass. Very steep and not for those who have a fear of ledges. There are many pull-outs for photo opportunities, but the best photos can be purchased in the gift shop at the top. I found all the amateur photographers hanging out of their sun roofs and passenger windows a bit funny.

9. Sitting at the top of Logan Pass in a sudden hail storm and eating a packed lunch in your van. Also smelling a very ripe diaper while you do this and since no one wants to get out, you freeze, and change the lad.

8. Running from your vehicle to the visitor center at the top of Logan Pass.

7. Hiking the short Logan Pass Trail, so we've heard... we were freezing and decided against it. We did hike to Avalanche Lake the next day. I was thinking 2 miles total when I read the 2 mile sign. But that was just 2 miles there and didn't include the 1 mile we had already hiked. I was very proud of myself, packing 35 lbs. of child a total of 6 miles only 4 months after giving birth! But, I was totally not proud of myself when my camera battery died before we made it to the lake and ultimate view. Boohoo, I only have shots of us on our way to Avalanche.

6. Visiting St. Mary's Chalet! Beautiful architecture. Very windy though, at least the day we visited.

5. Almost seeing a bear. Seeing instead all the amateur photographers hanging out of their sun roofs and passenger windows.

4. Deciding to drive around the park from East Glacier to West Glacier, hoping the way back would be faster than the road over since our kids were exhibiting PTSD from being in the van so long, a total of 6 hours.

3. Realizing we were a little lost and ending up on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation.

2. Noticing that everyone on the Rez was lined up in all manner of car waiting for a parade....thinking/joking that it might be buffalo stampede.

1. Deciding to join the locals and wait for whatever they were waiting for.....not buffalo....wild horses! It was awesome and worth the detour. It was a kick-off for a rodeo in honor of a local rising rodeo star who was tragically killed two years ago. I actually got chills seeing the Blackfeet Indians run the wild horses through town. They were excellent horsemen. A local teacher filled us in on the local traditions and horsemen excellence. This teacher was from Wisconsin. He applied for a job in Browning not knowing it was a reservation until he came. He interviewed and accepted the job. He had been teaching for 35 years. Guess he like it.

This experience in Browning again stirred deep questions in me about my ancestors' treatment of Native Americans. The chains of cyclical poverty were so obvious and sad, and yet there was a sense of pride and community too.

I'm a huge fan of Sherman Alexi. He is my second favorite author of all time, John Steinbeck being my first. If you are unaware of what life on a reservation is like read either Reservation Blues or Adventures of a 1/2 Time Indian....or watch Smoke Signals.

Funny, the best thing that happened to us in Glacier was the one thing we didn't plan on. I love that about travel.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Swinging Bridges, Reststops, and Meltdowns....

Things were looking good! Our drive from Idaho into Montana, destination Glacier, was going quite well. Our infant was taking his morning nap in the car, and the older two seemed interested in the views out the back windows of our van. A few "Jesus Songs" completed the atmosphere.

We drove along side the Cabinet Mountains, beautiful. Two things made our six hour long drive to Glacier doable.....a soccer game at a rest stop and a hike.

We pulled in so I could nurse the babe, and the older two had an exciting game of soccer with dad. We have two balls, one for each of the boys. These helped make our trip more enjoyable. We played a lot of soccer.

We spontaneously decided to stop at Kootenai Falls which had a swinging bridge. We only hiked about a mile in and a mile out, if that. It doesn't take too long to get to the swinging bridge, which was the goal. Getting to the falls would have taken longer. Our oldest ran across the bridge first, bouncing the rest of us in his wake. It was a favorite for me because I like to see my husband be a bit out of his element. I learned after about six years of marriage that he has a fear of ledges, so this bridge qualified as a ledge. (I discovered this four years ago when we hiked to the top of the Mayan Ruins.) It was a bit unnerving watching him cross with a wiggly baby in the front pack. The middle son and I took up the rear. The bridge has a five person limit per crossing, so our whole family could cross at the same time. When you arrive at the other side there is a large sign commemorating 12 lives that have been lost in the river near this spot. I told myself they were all deaths related to those who chose to swim in the turbulent waters below and not those who tried to cross the bridge and somehow lost footing and went tumbling below.

It was a beautiful hike and a perfect leg stretcher for those traveling to Glacier.

The only mistake in our travels was waking my second son from his car nap to eat at Subway in Kalispell. He is a beast when he is woken up prematurely. He screamed the whole 35 mins. we were in Subway. Finally, his daddy took him out to the van to scream and let those inside munch in peace.

The drive from Kalispell to Glacier is very short, so we were lucky that he cheered up sooner than later. We weren't looking forward to making camp with the "beast" on the prowl.

We needed a full hook-up for the Grandparent's 5th wheeler, so we weren't able to camp inside Glacier. We ended up at a KOA just outside the actual boundaries. I now know why as a child my parents rarely took us to these luxury campgrounds...a bit spendy, but actually very worth it with young kids. My oldest remarked, "I thought we were going to a park. Where is the park?" This is what he asked after we went through the gates of Glacier. So, our KOA, located in West Glacier, had a real playground with play structure and sand volleyball venue. It also had a pool, which was a total success. (Until my youngest made a "deposit" in it one night.) And

Note: I saw three different people clean the bathrooms near us in one afternoon, so I am a big fan. It was great to have flushing toilets and warm showers.

Our oldest loved riding his bike and making friends and even though we were surrounded by other trailers, instead of forests, it fit our kids' likings well. I don't have any regrets.

Another kid highlight was the Canadian Visitor Center located in West Glacier. It had stuffed animals and a large dinosaur. My husband explained that the animals died and were stuffed for the displays. Our oldest stared long and hard at a Canadian Mountie mannequin, "Who killed him?"

That was pretty much a full day for us. We traveled north on 95 out of Coeur d'Alene, east on 200, north again on 56, and then east all the way on 2.

The entire drive was very scenic and felt like we were traveling through the set for A River Runs Through It. I love that movie; it is still one of my favorites. I love the themes, but also love the setting of the mountain rivers of Montana. I'm always a sucker for movies set in the Roaring 20's...having Brad Pitt's boyish grin was also a plus when I first viewed this movie a good two decades ago. This was very pre-Angelina.

Next.....The Park Itself...

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Millie and Mudgy in Coeur d'Alene...Great Vacation For Young Families

"I see it! There's the moose!" my two older boys shouted as we searched for Millie and Mudgy a fictitious mouse and moose who play hide-n-seek along the banks of Coeur d'Alene Lake.

Coeur d'Alene is an excellent place to take young children, and an excellent way to see the city on the lake is to view it through the eyes of Millie and Mudgy. We've been reading Susan Nipp's book detailing this playful duo since February, so they were more than eager to find the five moose/mouse statues that scatter the downtown area of this Idaho resort destination. We hauled our own copy of this book from statue to statue, hopped in and out of the van, and took pictures to document our findings. One does not need a copy of the book to play hide-n-seek. Just start at the library and next to each statue is a page excerpt from the book showing you where to head next.

We chose to drive to three of the five statues, but it is an easy walk to all five and a fun way to see the resort area. You could make it a day event, perfect for preschool children. Bring a stroller or carrier if your wee ones lack the mental stamina to walk the whole route. Often my kids poop out even though they are more than capable. We've witnessed the stop-drop-and-drag many times in our family, which isn't a fun way to spend a vacation, so be proactive! I am a huge fan of the Ergo Carrier. My oldest, who is four, still fits nicely and is easy for me to pack this way.

My boys are always more motivated to run and walk on their own when they are racing and competing, trying to find something before the other, so finding Mudgy and Millie was the mental motivation we needed to get them walking. The highlight of this adventure was and is the fourth spot, which takes families to the play fort in the city park. It is a pretty incredible play structure that puts all other parks to shame. The only downside is that my oldest is fast, so I was constantly losing site of him. I'd catch glimpses of his bright, blue shirt dashing from slide to tunnel to climbing apparatus. Don't go outnumbered, and if you do, make sure your husband isn't spending the time texting his soccer players.

There is much to do in Coeur d'Alene for families. I would highly suggest it if you're looking for a fun, doable vacation for you and your young ones.

Here are some other area vacation happenings/suggestions:

1. Hike Tubbs Hill
2. Go Carts, my oldest is still talking about this

3. Triple Play, if the weather isn't cooperating
4. Honeysuckle Beach in Hayden...a bit more kid friendly than the huge swimming area on Lake Coeur d'Alene---although that is pretty good too, and both have life guards on duty
5. Of Course, Mudgy and Millie and the city park
6. 4th of July! The fireworks are amazing and the downtown very festive and fun
7. Silverwood Water and Theme Park
8. If you have time, drive to Sandpoint and let your mouth drop at the enormity of Pend Oreille, Lake.

9. If you love water sports, this is the vacation for you and your family. If you love to ski, go in the winter and go to Schweitzer or one of the other 4 ski resorts in the area.
I'm not a big skier, but I've spent some time on various Oregon slopes, and Schweitzer makes Oregon skiing feel like a major waste of money and energy. The Idaho snow is amazing! My experience with Oregon snow is a bit icy and painful. Idaho snow is made for those of us who fall a lot and need a nice, soft place to land.

We love our summer trips to Northern Idaho: my kids never want to leave.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Travels with Three Boys, 4 and Under.....

Travel Tips:

Drive at night! Buy NoDoz! We make the 8 hour drive from our house to Hayden Lake, ID at least two times a year, and we always drive through the night. My tip is to leave around 4 or 5 pm, stop somewhere in the Gorge for exercise (This year we met up with our cousins who were heading back from their annual summer trip to Idaho and the Grandparents.) and something to eat, and then push all the way through to the end destination! Our kids sleep. This makes it a calm ride and somewhat relaxing, way more than if we were to drive through the day and have them get fussy and our middle son wakes up like a beast from his car naps. It is better to have him conk out for the night and transport him to a nice, comfy bed for the wee morning hours.

We have been doing this trek for 10 plus years, six without kids. We always prefer the drive at night. There is not a lot of scenery on I-84, past the Gorge. Well, we do enjoy the various signs like Dufur and Biggs. But the real treat is our conversations together. We actually find that we get some quality time, and now that we have three young boys, that quality time is even more precious. So I really do enjoy it. Often we listen to a book on tape. Well, they used to be on tape, then CD, and now Ipod. There have been some pretty funny ones. The people who read those books are quite serious in their auditory dramatics. The love scenes always crack us up. It is hard to take a sultry, female voice very seriously as she describes rippling muscles. Since the invention of the Ipod our listening choices have gotten better, but back in the days when we had to choose from the local library section we heard a lot of bad romances and murder mysteries.

This last trip we got in to Idaho at about 1 in the morning, so my husband and I were able to get a few precious hours of sleep before waking up and being "great" interactive parents to our boys. I also am able to sleep a bit in the van, so I usually let my husband sleep in the next morning while I get breakfast going for our trio of hungry men.

I think travel with a 5 month baby is at its prime. He's still sleeping a lot, only being breast fed, doesn't crawl yet etc. So, he's fairly easy. We didn't have to pack him a lot of extras. He loves looking around and seeing things and people, so he loved our hikes and excursions. He did get a bit tired of the car seat, but then he'd just doze off. He's very compliant and has a good even personality. He's only 15 pounds, so not too bad to pack in and out of trails.

My other secret to long drives with small children....fruit snacks for the kids and sunflower seeds for the dad. I prefer a stash of chocolate or red vines. Oh, and the portable DVD player! This is a must. Don't let the kiddos know it is there until they are starting to get restless and trying desperately to fight off sleep, then whip it out, pop in Pixar Cars and they are instantly in a trance soon followed by sleep.

Well, that is how it works for us. My sister-in-law's kids do not do so well at night. I never quite believed her, thinking that all children would eventually get sleeping, but it is true. We drove her oldest children this last Christmas and they were impressive in their stamina to stay awake. If that were the case, I would just gut it through and drive when the sun is high.....or give them something special to make them sleepy, teehee.

My next entries:

1. Millie and Mudgy in Coeur d'Alene
2. Travels to Glacier, Things To Do On The Way There
3. The Best Way to See Glacier with Young Kids
4. 100 Wild Horse Stampede, The Unexpected Joys of Family Travel (AKA: I love Sherman Alexi)
5. Thoughts On Montana, Big Sky Country

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

And We Are Off!

We are going on vacation! Woohoo. My husband and I are very opposite in many aspects, but we have a mutual love for travel. We are gong to Glacier. We aren't sure how long we will be gone. We are allowing ourselves the flexibility to stay longer if things are going great and leave early if the kids are losing it.

I'm sure it will give me much to write about, and I will be enjoying it all without being near a computer. I'll start blogging again once we return.

Until then....

Homeschooling Conclusion: Choice

Ultimately I am glad we have choice, freedom. I am glad each parent is given the right to parent and evaluate and assess. One form does not fit each child in this country. I would never want the homeschooling option to not be an option.

But I also wanted a chance to process and explain my inclination to not chose this for now for my kids.

My oldest starts formal preschool next year. We've been doing "homeschool" preschool this last year, but have decided to send him next year to a local preschool. I thought I'd never do this. I was SO against preschool and saw it as unnecessary. I still sort of do, but Kindergarten is going to be full day, and I felt it would be almost mean to go from no structured classroom experience to full day. We visited, and he loved it. He's so excited. I'm glad. He looked at the cubbies for the students and after reading each name said, "Where is my name?" I explained that he wouldn't get one until I signed him up for the class. His response, "Well, sign me up then!" That makes me more excited and happy for him. So see, I do change my mind. I did about preschool, maybe I will about this public school option.

My mom's been reading these posts and dialoging with me about my desire to go the public school route. She handed me a devotion she read a few mornings ago. Here is the line that supports my beliefs and decision, "Every study confirms that you, the parent, have the greatest influence----greater than friends, school, or media----in determining the character and direction of your child."

I'm glad that is true.

My Least Favorite Parenting Activity...

Maybe it is because I'm not authoritative in my parenting style, but potty training is my least favorite parenting activity. Right when I was feeling all smug about my skills, my second woke me with poo dripping down his legs. I followed the trail of brown, dripping poo like Hansel and Gretel. It lead me to the beginning of his journey, his bed. There on the pillow was his initial deposit. Lovely.

I was feeling so successful! I had come up with the solution, waiting until a child is closer to three than two. We did a potty day with Dad. I left with the other two boys and when I came back he was feeling pure were we. Previous to this day he would stand to pee and announce, "It's not working." And he was right. Nothing was coming out. But after a day with Dad and lots of juice, it was working. Then he had a little friend over to play that he adores, and who is potty trained. Well that seemed to seal the deal. They were bonded by their visits to the toilet. They were peeing in everything....their favorite being my watering can. I didn't care! They were doing it, and I was loving it.

I bought a special toy that I would show him, "See this? You get this if you go poop in the potty."

"I don't go poop in the potty; I go pee." This was the standard response followed by, "I want that," pointing to the enticing toy.

One day he had that look of guilt and concealment. He was about to go in his underwear. I said, "Let's go potty! Do you need to go?"

"Yeah." We rushed to the porcelain throne. He sat. He went. He got his toy! I announced this on Facebook, ooops.

That was the first and last time he did this feat. It has been almost a week. We have washed too many nasty pairs of underwear. "That's it! I'm putting him back in pull ups," his dad announced. I couldn't argue, but deep down I was hoping we weren't giving up. Or making some great psychological mistake.

He is still going pee, and he's still declaring, "I go pee, not poop in the potty."

I look in great irritation and say, "Well, Mommy, Daddy, Brother, Grandpa......they all use the potty."

This doesn't phase him one bit.

I really hate potty training. I wish it was as simple as putting on the underwear, giving a bathroom tour, and handing out a marshmallow of reinforcement. So far, with our first two, it has involved a bit more parental stamina than that.

I encourage myself with this truth, "Children learn to use the potty. It will happen. All is well. Breathe."