Friday, August 26, 2011

Church Camp @ Cove Palisades

Boy Two with a tiny lizard that he caught; one of the hundreds that the kids searched for and chased over the week.  We also saw jack rabbits, garter snakes, buzzards and mice, none of which we caught.

Girl and I in the kayak.  She fell asleep!
Our church usually spends one long weekend a summer at a campground and this year it was at Cove Palisades on Lake Billy Chinook in Central Oregon.

While I seem to have (or, at least, want to have) fond memories of tent camping with my family as a kid, I realize as an adult that there is nothing fun about tent camping with small children.  Nothing.

That said, the other families all brought their RVs and we happened to benefit from their relative luxury, which made the experience bearable.  That, and the camp hosts were a retired couple from our church that made everything easier: from collecting excess wood and giving it to us for our campfires so we didn't have to bring our own; to advising us on which of the shower stalls were the best; to sharing their air pump when we forgot ours; to opening up the laundry facilities early (Laundry facilities!  While camping!!) so I could do two loads of laundry the morning my son had an accident in his sleeping bag.
Boy One in the little raft he commandeered for himself.  He was very good with it!
Camping Cons:

The dust.  It was everywhere.  It coated everything.  The kids threw it in the air in handfuls when they had nothing else to do.

Forgetting the pump to your air mattress at home.

Five people in a four person tent.

Not having room for a decent sized ice chest and having to make do with a miniscule plug-in fridge.

Night critters chewing on all your Tupperware containers so that you eventually have to throw them all away.

Husband having to work all day Friday and missing out on a day of fun that he really needed.

Exhaustedly falling into bed at 9pm every night, and getting up every morning at  5:45am.  I felt so old.

Girl with one of the many bugs that she found, picked up, and tortured.  No fear.
 Camping Pros:

Five entire days away from home.

Seeing my husband relax enough to enjoy himself - it's been years since he's been that relaxed.
Boys and their sticks.  There were many.  They were coveted.

Boy One driving the paddle boat with a dear friend from church.
 My children spending two entire days in the water and loving it.

Life jackets for the whole family!

Our pastor taking each of the kids out on the Wave Runner as many times as they wanted and even letting them 'drive'.
Someone sharing their homemade smoked fresh salmon.  Deliriously happy.

Finally getting a chance to talk with the two women in our church that I'm closest to.  Honestly, it's been years since I've gotten to talk with them.

Boy One getting to take the paddle-boat/ kayak/ raft/ wave runner out as much as he wanted, asserting his independence, learning his strengths, gaining more self confidence.  He bloomed before my very eyes.

Taking the kids to explore the Lava Tubes in Bend.  We were prepared with torch lights and warm jackets and the kids were delighted with the trek.  That is, after the teenagers ahead of us in the cave stopped making scary noises.

My husband declaring "This isn't just camping, it's our vacation" and taking us out to dinner at Mazatlan in Madras on Thursday night instead of my having to prepare something back at camp.

Boy Two declaring "I like the green stuff!" and heaping the lettuce onto his tacos.

Daddy learning how to drive our pastor's Wave Runner.
BLTs with avocado as camp food.  Why didn't I think of this earlier?

Scattering quarters around our campsite as we left, knowing that our camp hosts rake the sights and get a thrill out of finding the spare change.

 Knowing there is a Fred Meyer in every Oregon town, just in case you need to make a run to the store one or all of the days that you are vacationing.

Thursday, August 25, 2011


My daughter started early making her own hair decisions.

She wanted pigtails instead of barrettes.  Then she wanted butterfly clips with elaborate hair styles (think Princess Leia).  Then she decided to grow her bangs out. (Waaahh!  She was so adorable with them!)  Then she wanted to leave her hair down, with the possible little braids at the front to keep the growing bangs back.  Then came, TODAY.

Cue dramatic music.

She had been talking for a few weeks about wanting to cut her hair because, let's face it, the twenty minute morning ritual of hair styling was a bit over the top.  It's the same morning hair routine that I remember vividly from my own childhood.

Mom calls for Girl "Let's do your hair."
Girl reluctantly abandons her play and come to sit on the stool. 
Mom arranges her arsenal of hair styling supplies and grabs a brush in one hand and hair conditioning spray in the other.
Tilt Girl's head up.
Brush.  Brush.  Squirt.  Brush.  Screech. 
Tilt Girl's head up.  Brush.  Screech.  Squirt.
Tilt Girl's head up.
Squirt.  Screech.  Brush.
Finally have all the tangles out.  Use the painful end of the comb to make a part. 
Redo part.  Tilt Girl's head up.  Make another part.
Mist hair with water.  Comb.  Tilt head.
Divide portion of hair into equal thicknesses.  Braid - tightly. 
Bind ends with rubber band.  Rubber band snaps.  Find another and bind hair again.
Begin the process again with the other side of the head.
Using various clips, butterflies, bands, bobby pins, hair pins and flowers, design and secure hair in elaborate styles, all the while tilting Girls head up.
Spray liberally with hair spray.
Repeat every day without killing each other.

Girl decided to end the cycle of madness and cut her hair.  And she trusted ME to do it for her!

After only fifteen minutes she had a quite respectable haircut that I must admit looks charming on her.
She even insisted that we walk down to her soon-to-be kindergarten and show the office manager (whom she esteems for her great fashion sense).  Gosh, she's so cute!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Like sands through the hour glass, so are the days of our lives...

This morning Girl and Boy Two decided to play Mom and Dad Drive The Car with the mats from the van. 

They arranged the mats in the driveway and Boy Two took the position of Dad in the driver's seat, and Girl sat in Mom's passenger seat.  They took this very seriously.

Boy put his arms up where the steering wheel would be and started the 'drive'.  Girl, apparently mimicking Mom, immediately put on pretend hand lotion.

'Dad' turned the 'car' right, then left, leaning way over to each side like a race car driver.  'Mom' screeched and encouraged 'Dad' that "We're here!" every few seconds.

Eventually, 'Dad' pulled into his desired destination: McDonald's.  Sure, why not.

'Mom', of course, put on more hand lotion.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

I'm still alive, I just have nothing to say

For some reason, August brings out a blah attitude towards chronicling our lives.

Not that there is anything altogether exciting to report.

Girl had her annual echo cardiogram and pacemaker check appointment in the big city.  Now that she has turned five she is completely comfortable with whatever they need to do to her.  She'll lift her shirt for anyone.

The pacer technician re-set her pacer to beat as low as 60 bpm and it tops out at 180bpm.  I was shown a chart that measures her usage of the device: she regularly gets her heart rate up to 180bpm.  I'm gad they didn't have a chart of how high my rate goes.  I think she would top me.

They also re-set the sensitivity so that the lower wires (this is as technical as I get) are no longer reading the upper wires and delivering the wrong information.  It makes it appear that she has an arrhythmia.  We don't need to add that on, too.

The echo showed that her heart is still hanging on as they designed it to.  Her cardiologist drew us a picture comparing what a normal heart looks like and what her's looks like: it's difficult to compare the two.  He commented that Girl's heart is utterly unique: there isn't another one designed like it in the world. 

I don't know why, but this makes me smile.

A few days after the appointment Girl turned five years old.  This made me feel a little odd, since I distinctly remember my own fifth birthday (and, moreover, the evening before when I received not one, but two spankings.).  Reflectively, I guess I should have put more effort into making it seem memorable for her but I shamefully admit to being the World's Worst Birthday Planning Mom. 

My children's birthdays usually end about ten minutes before bedtime when I have had just enough time to slap some frosting on the still-hot-from-the-oven cake, cut it into pieces, serve it to the children, then bemoan the apparent facts that not only did I forget to get any ice cream, but I also forget to sing and let them blow out candles.

My children will probably need therapy after having grown up with me.

But back to Girl's birthday: she picked out her own presents of Disney Princess play sets (the ones that come with the prince included: she's no dummy), and also was gifted with Princess dresses, a backpack, a thermos, coloring pages, the works.  Disney certainly makes its share of money from my daughter's unflagging interest.

And to close, the cute anecdotal and ongoing conversation between Girl and Boy Two.  Girl will declare throughout the house, "Who wants to play the princess is getting MAR-ried?!"  And Boy Two will distractedly counter that with, "I'm playing the DINOSAUR learns how to FIGHT!"

Combine the two only with tremendous caution.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Parenting Other People's Children

This one is always sticky.

We have a neighbor girl (let's call her Jill) who was in Boy Two's kindergarten class last year.  Jill lives across the street and is the only child living at her house full-time so she is often bored and in need of other children with whom to play.  By default, my children have become her playmates of choice.

Because our little townhouse doesn't really have a back yard to play in, we spend most of our outside time in the common driveway and minimal surrounding landscape shared by our subdivision.  Thus as soon as we exit the house, neighbor Jill sees us and clamors for our attention.  My children (for the most part) love to play with other children and are flattered that others want to play with them, but tend to end up disappointed with the progression of the playtime.

For example:
  • Jill will invite Boy Two and (occasionally) Girl over to her house to play in the yard, but she never invites Boy One (whose feelings are characteristically hurt by this).
  • Jill will insist on playing with the majority of Boy Two's horses herself, but refuses to even let him touch the 'special' horses that she brings over.  Her rules for playing with her personal belongings are numerous and convoluted, subject to change without notice.
  • When Boy Two is excited he tends to stutter quite a bit, as he has so much that he wants to share so quickly.  Jill has taken to mocking his stuttering when she comes over.  He either doesn't notice or doesn't know what to do about it, but I have to restrain myself from being mean back to her.
  • Jill brings her own bike over, but will ride the boys' bikes whenever she feels like it.  When Boy One asked with mild protest why she was riding his bike and not her own, she flippantly retorted "Because I felt like it."  My kids have been trained to ask before they borrow, and this behavior shocked them all.
  • When Boy Two excitedly asked Jill if she wanted to know what he named his toy horse, Jill indifferently replied "Something dumb I'll bet."  I find it hard not to glare at her.
  • When Jill asked Girl if she could undo the carefully plaited braid that I had made in her dolly's hair, Girl said no but Jill did it anyway.  Then, when she couldn't make the dolly's hair do what she wanted, Jill took out her impatience and annoyance on Girl, as if it were her fault.  It was easy to see that this kind of scene had been played out in Jill's house often as she parodied her parents.
  • Jill refuses to take turns when playing games like Hide and Seek with my kids and often changes the rules to suit herself or just stops playing when she gets bored, which is often.  I know this is typical child behavior, but that doesn't make me like it.
I finally claimed the last straw the other day when Jill asked Girl to bring her certain tools from the garage.  I quietly reminded Girl in Jill's hearing that Mama's rules specifically forbid her from getting those tools.  Jill waited a minute, and then again asked Girl to bring her the tools, and Girl (ever wanting to be helpful) went off to the garage to find them. 

At this point I began picking up our things and told the children it was time to go inside.  Jill asked why, and I crouched beside her and told her that she was not being respectful of me and my rules by asking my children to undermine me, that it hurt my feelings, and that when she behaves like this it makes me not want to let her come over anymore.  I chose my words very carefully without any malicious undertones, but I could tell that she really took them to heart.  I helped her carry her toys back home and cheerfully thanked her for playing with us, all the while she remained quiet and pensive.

I greatly abhor reprimanding other people's children for behavior that I feel they should know better then to exhibit. 

I obviously understand that all children have the tendency to want to manipulate circumstances towards their own best interest.  I know that the heart is deceitful and desperately wicked.  I know that selfishness, self-absorption, self-satisfaction, self-promotion is the natural tendency of the human condition and is displayed by every human being ever conceived.  I know that God alone changes the human heart.

But I don't know what to do about other people's children.  How much should I protect my kids from the nasty behavior of other kids?  Should I refuse to let them play with all but the most perfect of children? 

Thus far I find it most affective to talk with my children about the behavior of other kids that my children did not like.  They admit that it doesn't make them feel good when others don't share their toys.  Or when kids change rules for games or not take turns.  Or when they say things that aren't kind.  This seems to be fairly effective, but I want so much to do more.

I can't protect them, but what is the best way to guide them?  To help them learn to make wise choices and not be swayed by the poor choices of their peers?

I hate this part of parenting.