Showing posts with label to do. Show all posts
Showing posts with label to do. Show all posts

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

ft. lewis / ocean shores / more car problems

Remember when I said I would never buy a mini-van?

I would like one now, please.

We picked up the car Friday night, drove to Washington Saturday morning, drove home today, and went straight back to the car mechanic.

Our Subaru is in a state of extreme rebellion. And it's not even that old! Well, it's a 2008 model, but that's new for us! Jon's car is a 1998 model!

I do have to congratulate the Subaru on getting us to and from Washington. It did not break down on the side of the road, which I am very grateful for.

The kids love our annual trip up to Ocean Shores to see Jon's parents. This year we took a little detour on our way up so that Bennett could experience the Ft. Lewis Military Museum.

The museum is on a military base, so we had to be prepared to get on the base, which we talked about and planned for, and still nearly failed at. We needed various forms of documentation to gain access to the military base, but when we placed our vehicle registration in the folder of forms and documents we did not realize it was for Jon's vehicle. Thankfully we had a vehicle registration ticket in the glove box of the Subaru. I was so worried we wouldn't be able to go in, but it all worked out, and Bennett's attitude was wonderful.

Most kids would fall apart at the thought of a promised fun event snatched from their hands, but Bennett just says, "Well, we'll see. Let's just wait and see." And then when we were finally let through Bennett said, "You had the right password, Dad? Great!" His attitude is 1,000 times better than mine. I'm taking notes.

Bennett ran around the military museum hollering his head off, "look at that gun, look at these tanks, look at this sword!" I momentarily felt bad because my 4-year-old is really into weapons and military life, but there are a lot of things I can teach him about life, our country, and other countries in the pauses between yells of excitement so I've decided not to let it bother me. Military tanks are his thing right now. When he was 1 it was the moon. When he was 3 it was construction machines. Who knows what the next interest will be and when it will strike.

(Who knows ... that reminds me of a story: as we were leaving on Saturday we stopped at the store to get sandwiches for lunch. I was waiting with the kids in the car and pointing out various interesting things. I pointed to a horse trailer, we talked about horses for a moment, and then Bennett said, "I wonder where they're going."

"Who knows?" I replied.

"Well Mom," he said, "They do. They know where they're going.")

After we visited the museum we drove out to Ocean Shores for a few days. The kids are enamored with their grandparents house as it sits on a canal, has a fire pit for roasting marshmallows, play house, tire swing, canoe and plenty of wildlife watching opportunities. Jon's dad rigged a sling-shot in the play house so Bennett spent a lot of time bouncing between the tire swing and sling-shot.

Next fun trip: camping. I was hoping for the Redwoods this year, but I never actually planned the trip, so right now we're just scheduled to go with my family like we have the past couple of years. Next summer I'm determined to get a Redwoods camping trip planned.

Jon and I agree that camping is a lot of work, but really fun for the kids. We also think that people who don't grow up camping have a hard time learning to love it because it's so much work and they don't have stores of fond growing-up memories. I'm talking real car camping here. No trailer. Tents and sleeping on the ground, but there are showers. Do you like to camp? Did you grow up camping or did you learn to love it as an adult?

Saturday, June 18, 2016

adventures with ainsleigh: sesame street live

Ainsleigh girl LOVES Sesame Street. When we went to the library this week she couldn't find any Elmo books so she walked up to the desk and said, Elmo?" to a librarian, who quickly stood up to help her. And she's already planning an ElmoAbbyZoe birthday party.

I assumed our family would all go to Sesame Street Live together, but B refused to participate so I took Ainsleigh by myself. I was not looking forward to going to Portland by myself on a Friday evening, but I knew Ainsleigh would love the show so I bought the tickets.

Getting to the show was a bit of a disaster, but we made it! I feel so bad for Jon when he has to deal with the completely confused, slightly hysterical wife who isn't exactly sure where she is and calls in a panic to make sure she is in the right place. Maybe I should've called my dad instead. He's used to the hysterical daughter's lost in Portland phone calls; he's been receiving them for years from my sisters and I.

The problem with a trip like last night's is that I don't like doing it at ALL. It's far out of my comfort zone, it involves a lot of anxiety for me, and I have to pray constantly so I make it through without losing my mind.

Let me explain my journey so you can understand why I dread things like this: Last night I had to get to a transit station (over an hour and a half drive in heavy traffic) get on the train, get off at the correct station (nope, didn't manage this one), get us dinner, find the show, get on the correct train back to the transit center, locate our car and drive an hour home. That's a LOT for me to handle on my own with a two-year-old.

It was intense.

But I don't want my kids to think we don't do things simply because they scare us or are out of our comfort zones. I already see a lot of those tendencies in B. And while I want him to be comfortable and feel safe, I also want him to understand that sometimes we have to stretch ourselves and do things that feel hard.

We had our dinner, we made it to the show after wandering around for a bit, and we were there with plenty of time to make ourselves comfortable and sit for a minute before the show began. Of course Ainsleigh loved the show. She danced and she yelled for her favorite characters; any time the stage was minus a character or two she yelled for them by name until they came back out. She wanted the entire cast on the stage at all times! We bought tickets via Groupon and our seats were excellent (no one wants to drag their kid out at 6:30 on a Friday night - why?!) so Ainsleigh even got to shake hands with a couple of characters. She had a blast. And that's what made me step outside of my comfort zone and take her to the show. I knew she would enjoy it and that it would be a happy memory for her (until her brain ditches the memory in favor of something more pertinent!).

One of the most challenging moments was getting out of the building after the show. Toddlers were throwing themselves on the ground left and right as they faced the prospect of leaving their friends behind. Every child - including the ones whose parents spent $150 on food and souvenirs - flipped out over the confetti and streamers that shot out of the confetti guns at the end of the show, so there were hoards of over-stimulated children dragging streamers behind them as they trailed their parents out of the arena, crying, whining, and begging for food. I stepped on at least three streamers  dangling from toddler hands while I tried to find a restroom and get us to the exit closest to the train stop we needed. Word of advice: do not wreck an overtired toddler's streamer. Do everything in your power to avoid stepping on or near it.

On our way home we had to stop at a transit station for a fare check. As the transit police poured on the train to check everyone's tickets, and haul a few people off, a man sat down across from me and struck up a conversation. We talked most of the way back to the station. He attends a church I went to a few times in college. We both have four-year-old boys. Neither of us are very good at navigating train systems in the city. Chatting with him was a nice break from the crazy pace of our trip. And he wasn't a total creeper, which is so often the case with guys who strike up conversations on city trains. When the train arrived at our transit station he hopped off and rushed ahead to help a woman with the boxes she was struggling to carry. He was a nice guy, and it was reassuring to know he was nearby as I hurried to the car and changed Ainsleigh into her pajamas in preparation for the inevitable knockout on the way home (she was asleep three seconds after I started the car).

As I drove home I thought about how lucky I am that getting to a Sesame Street Live show is one of the hardest things I have to do. We live in a safe city, we traveled to a safe city to attend a fun show, and while there I wasn't worried about being out and about in the city by myself with my daughter. We are so lucky to have the means to do extra things with our kids, and buy special dinners, and a couple souvenirs to remember the day. When I get overwhelmed I try to take myself back to a place of gratefulness. Anxiety makes my problems feel huge, but I find that calling up thankfulness helps me center myself and it reminds me that in a global sense my problems are small and manageable.

I don't just want Ainsleigh to remember the show. I want her to remember the people I asked for help, and how nice they all were, and how I wasn't afraid to approach anyone for help even though some of them didn't look like we do. How I get by in unfamiliar situations is to ask questions of those around me, and I want my kids to learn they can do the same thing. I know the kids are too young to remember me asking directions as we wander around Portland, but I hope as they observe me they begin to understand that help doesn't just look like us and that we can be friendly to all people. We don't live in a very diverse area, and I think that makes our trips into Portland even more important. I don't enjoy the trip, but I hope by making the trek a few times a year my kids will begin to grasp that the world is wide and they can venture out into it even if they are scared because there are kind people everywhere, and they don't have to look, act, or speak a certain way to be kind.

I'm pretty sure we'll be back next year for Sesame Street Live, and we won't get lost because I know exactly what to do now! And there's another life lesson I want my kids to learn: doing things out of your comfort zone builds confidence, and when you believe in yourself and your abilities you can do anything you set your mind to.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

fish fest // out and about with kids // meeting jeremy camp

On Friday night J said, "So, we've been invited to Fish Fest." (a big all day concert put on by a local Christian radio station - The Fish)

"We don't have tickets."

"No, our friends, they won tickets. And they invited us to go."

"It's tomorrow."

"I know, they have these VIP tickets. They won them, I guess. At an auction or something.

"It's going to be hot. What about the kids?"

"They're taking their two-year-old."

We thought for a moment.

"Let's do it," J said. "I don't want to be people who don't do things just because we have kids."

In the morning we packed up the kids and went to the park. This concert happens every summer in the Portland metro area. This year it just happened to be in Salem, and our friends just happened to win a four pack of tickets at a benefit for a local homeless shelter.

We were so lucky to have special tickets. We didn't have to wait in the very long line (it took almost three hours for them to get everyone through the gates) and were able to grab a spot in the one tented area. There's no way we would have lasted all day in the direct sun with kids.

It was a long day. A long, hot day. We had fun, but I don't know if we would go again. The venue was overcrowded (7,000 people or so in the field at Riverfront Park - they had to move the barriers back to accommodate everyone) and the food/water prices were - of course - a lot (no outside food allowed, but we brought food for B because he can't eat anything at a place like that).

How it looked when we arrived (this is the VIP area)

How it looked right after we met Jeremy Camp. We're standing at the outer barricade. Wall o' people.

It was a little bit like living in an anxiety dream for me (so many people! the heat! someone in front of us eating peanut butter candy!) but being able to sit in one place most of the time helped. It's nice to have a baby too. I sent J out to get food and water. "I'll just sit here with the kids ..."

We didn't know most of the early bands, and when a rock band came on we had to walk the kids to the other side of the venue because the volume was VERY LOUD when they came on and we were worried about Ainsleigh. Everything was delayed so the one singer we really wanted to see we didn't get to watch all the way through. But our tickets allowed us to meet him in person which was nice.

I'm not really into people. Does that make sense? J and I said, "Oh, that's fun, we got to meet Jeremy Camp," but it didn't make the event for us. And when our friends went to meet the band Mercy Me we passed because it was late and we wanted to get home. Jeremy was nice though! I really like his music. His first wife died of cancer shortly after they got married. The songs he wrote from that period of his life I really connected with after we lost Charlotte.

 It's really hard to get a good picture (quickly) with this many people (and kids). Here is our conversation about the above picture:
"Why is my face so fat, J?"
"I don't know why. That's your pregnancy face."
"What?! It's true."

The kids did really well considering the heat, the cramped conditions, and the fact that people would not sit down (even though they were asked to) so we couldn't see the stage. B only had one accident - how about that! - at the very end when he was exhausted.

I think the sheer exhaustion we all felt today is reason enough to avoid doing this again. J fell asleep on the living room floor this afternoon. We left early so we were home by 9:30 or so, which is when we normally go to bed, but sitting out in the heat and having to limit our water intake drained us (water was expensive and the lines were long. We had a really hard time staying hydrated.)

BUT! But, but, but, it is great to see that many people loving and worshiping the Lord. Sometimes being a Christian can feel a little lonely, like there aren't many people in the world who share my views and perspective. It was nice to be with people who love Jesus like I do. It's pretty incredible to see so many people praising God and lifting their voices to the heavens together.

Pat on the back for getting out with the kids, but I think we'll make it a one time experience.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

"where the machines?"

I've been trying to make a serious effort to slow down and move at the pace of my toddler whenever I can. This morning we had a quick appointment for Ainsleigh. I noticed road work down the block when we left, but I didn't say anything because I didn't want to hear, "will there be more machines?" the rest of the drive.

When we got home I thought about carrying on with our day and finishing up the last few tasks before our camping trip, but I knew a quick side trip would make Bennett's day. I walked the kids down to the area where they are fixing the road. Bennett stood on the corner and screamed, "excavator!!" while Ainsleigh napped in her stroller in the shade.

One of the employees approached. I thought we might be standing too close, so I walked back to where the stroller was. "Hey!" he called out. "Your little guy seems to really like machines. You should head down to public works day at Riverfront Park. It starts in 20 minutes."

I thanked him for the suggestion, thought about it for a couple seconds, then decided to go for it. I hustled the kids home, threw a few things in a bag, and drove to the park. (Please ignore the kiddos too small sun hats. I obviously did not pack carefully!)

I spent the first hour - or so - at the park trying to convince Bennett to climb up on various machines and enjoy the full public works day experience. He kept asking for something to eat, but I told him, "you ate on the way here. Look at the machines! You can climb inside!"

We went back and forth, back and forth. We stood in line, he refused. I put him on various machines, he refused to try it out. Other kids were all over the machines. Horns would blare randomly as kids found the appropriate button and leaned in.

I finally took him aside and said, "Bennett, look, I'm frustrated. I changed our entire day so we could do this and I'm sad you're not having fun."

"I want to eat." he said.

I finally listened and took him over to the eating area. We couldn't eat the free lunch that was provided, but I had food for him. After sharing an apple and observing the fun for a while Bennett was ready to brave climbing on a machine.

Here's Ainsleigh just before we sat down to eat. I was about to call it and head home. Both kids were so miserable.

At first there was a lot of this: I'm doing this, but I'm not happy about it!

I am slowly, slowly, slowly learning Bennett. To me he is gregarious, to the world he is shy and reticent. (His pediatrician didn't hear him talk until Ainsleigh was born.) Once he knows someone he chit chats the day away and loves them to pieces. Until then it's all silence and safety in mama's arms.

Today was almost another carousel or bounce house experience, but Bennett found his bravery and I am really proud of him. And I have another experience to pull from my memory when I wonder why he isn't loving an activity I thought he would enjoy.

One employee helped me immensely today. He saw how scared Bennett was to have him around so he said, "I'm just going to check something ..." hopped down and walked away. He gave us a few minutes alone, which made Bennett comfortable enough to climb up in the truck. And once he tried one he wanted to try them all. Except for the biggest one. He just couldn't handle that today. Maybe next year.

Bennett LOVED the giant fish. He disappeared inside for a good long while. I eventually had to go in and fetch him.

Pardon my face in this one. I was talking to one of the employees about the machine. I don't want to crop it because I think it's fun to see Bennett on such a big machine. 

There it is! That's what I was hoping to see!!

I think the kids had a good day overall. I'm glad I didn't stay home and clean the house. Who cares if it's messy, we'll be gone! The kids won't remember today, but at least I can show them pictures and talk about it. I don't think they would enjoy a slideshow of me mopping and doing dishes. Sometimes it's important to let plans slide so memories can be made.

You must check if your town has a public works day. Everything was free today - including lunch - although canned food and cash donations were accepted for the food bank. The nice thing about the donations was the lack of pressure. I've been to suggested donation events where you have to enter via a gate. I think that makes people feel like they have to donate. The economy is rough right now and I know a lot of families are struggling. It is wonderful to be able to do something for your kids, but it can be difficult. Days like this allow everyone to enjoy a day out without stressing about costs, or kids asking for expensive food or souvenirs. Well done, Salem. 

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

day out: OMSI

My mom and I set out with great bravery today. We took five kids three and under to the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry. The museum has a great play area (with doors, one way in, one way out, enclosed) for kids 5 and under. We did well considering how many little ones we had, but I am exhausted! 

I escaped to the baby area with Ainsleigh for a few minutes. She loved the fish tank.

Definitely save the water area for last. The kids got very wet.

A lot of these pictures are blurry because TODDLERS

There were even musicians! 

The sand area was fun for everyone

I HIGHLY recommend OMSI for all ages, but if you have young ones this hands on play room is wonderful. There's a lot more to do, but we stuck to this one room. My mom has a membership so we're going to go back next week as a family for Charlotte's Day.

The kids absolutely lost it on the way home so I pulled over and tossed Bennett on the grass. He was yelling so loud I couldn't think or concentrate so I found a park, dropped him in the grass and told him to pull himself together. We played for a while then got back in the car.

I haven't been this busy in May since Charlotte died. Sitting in the sun with the kids this afternoon I let the sorrow of the month wash over me. I let myself miss her. I let myself be sad that we didn't have six kids with us today. Then I let the sadness go and enjoyed watching Bennett make Ainsleigh laugh so hard she was breathless. Sometimes I wish for a pocket, a space, where I can sit and just grieve, but other times I think holding it close for a moment and then releasing it is healthier. I have to remind myself it doesn't mean I love Charlotte less.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

day out: enchanted forest

A while back I got it in my head that I wanted to take Bennett to Enchanted Forest, a local theme park, before the new baby comes. I often fixate on an idea and decide it must happen, but the end result is always different than I expected/planned and I'm always left a little disappointed/confused.

Bennett is (nearly) 2. How could he not love a theme park full of fairy tale characters? Well, he did not. Now, I wouldn't say he hated the excursion, but shortly after our arrival he tripped merrily up to the 3 Bears house and the ensuing roars scared the pants off him. After that things were a little touch and go and he was not going anywhere dark or enclosed thank you very much. Bennett is so brave so often I sometimes forget he's still quite young. And he doesn't usually cling to me so it always surprises me a bit when he decides mama is the only answer. (Although there has been quite a bit more of that lately. I think he senses big changes on the horizon).

He liked the Alice in Wonderland rabbit hole and he enjoyed the Old Woman and the Shoe slide as well as the train but most of it he felt rather meh about. And J and I felt it was a little spendy considering all rides (of which B could only do one, poor thing inherited a slight lack of height) cost extra. We did pay $1.00 so he could "pan for gold" and he has been carrying the four rocks he found around all day so that was one win for everyone.

We also saw a terribly fabulous production of Pinocchio, which I thought we were going to have to abandon in the first few minutes as Bennett's lip was protruding quite alarmingly, but we stuck with the thirty minute performance and Bennett thought it good enough to high five Pinocchio at the end. I thought it was dreadful, but J said it was funny for kids and my annoyance at the play and its pop cultural references that flew over my head could be chalked up to general pregnancy irritation. He's probably right.

But it was fun to get out and spend time together as a family. When we go on fun outings we try to remember to thank the Lord for giving us the means and opportunity to partake. This summer has been full of fun vacations and day trips and we are blessed a thousand times over to be able to do the things I decide must be done.

I am painfully aware of how little time is left before the three of us become four. I know taking Bennett to a quirky local attraction will not make the transition to four any easier, but it makes me feel a little better to give him as much time and attention as I can before I have to shift my focus a bit.

This next week is a big one. Actually the next two are big ones. This week I have a prenatal with my midwife, a desperately needed adjustment with the chiropractor and a big, fat ultrasound/consultation with the maternal fetal medicine doctor. Everyone cross fingers and toes and send prayers that baby girl is growing well and we will be released to the midwife for the final stage of this pregnancy. Released to the midwife, now that's a strange phrase, but you know what I mean. Next Saturday the little ministry for those who have lost babies a friend and I are trying to start at our church has its debut at the fall kick-off for women. We'll just be sitting behind a table offering resources and talking to people, but that's still more than we've been doing so I'm feeling a bit anxious about that.

And then on the 9th my sweet Bennett turns TWO and at the end of that week we're having his birthday party. I keep thinking I have his birthday party to crank out and then I can just sit around until the end of October, but there's a lot more coming up after the 14th. I'm just not ready to think about it.


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