Saturday, July 31, 2010

The Sanfords go Camping

This summer the Sanfords are getting out there. It is time to start tackling all the things we've wanted to do (or used to do) but thought would be too hard with little ones. The Big Guy, our youngest, is 3 now and we thought camping should be next on our list.

So off we ran this weekend to the state campground. Well "ran" doesn't quite describe it. I packed and prepped for two days for our one day adventure. Does this truck look like we're just going for one day?

Scott and I readily accept our limitations as parents. For example, we wilt under the amount of talking that three children do. And when you expose three kids to a totally new experience, you have to be prepared for a zillion questions. Very quickly, the number of questions became oppressive. "Are we there yet" was just the first of them. "Can we go to the river" "When can we have s'mores" "Are we going to cook our dinner on the fire" "Where am I going to sleep" "Why can't we play in the soot in the firepit" and on and on and on. I thought we were going to lose our minds. Our saving grace was that we were camping with friends and our girls were able to ride their bikes back and forth between the campsites while we got our campsite all set up. Once everything was set up, it seemed the question-train slowed and we had more time to answer the questions they did have. Then we tried to cook dinner over the fire.

Who thought it would be a good time to give three children poking instruments, a hot dog, and point them toward a fire? It was stressful. They had to get close enough to the fire to cook their hot dog, but not so close that they were falling into the fire. They have NO patience for actually waiting for the hot dog to cook. But what happens when you take their hot dog and try to cook it for them? Yowsa...lots of tears. Soon dinner was least for them. I don't think Scott and I had even cooked our hotdogs when the girls were wondering what to do next. I think we threatened them with NO SMORES if they asked for some (again) before we finished our dinner.

The evening campfire was fun. We roasted marshmellows and made smores. It seemed like 8 pm turned into 10 pm before we knew it. It was time to break out the flashlights and take the kids down to the pit toilet for a bathroom break before laying down for the night. There is some thing so nostalgic for me about walking to the campground bathroom. It made me laugh; it is so not scary and I remember as a kid being frightened about every sound in the wood. We even had some german shepherds come up behind us on our walk to the bathroom and the kids couldn't see them until they were right behind them. I know that would have freaked me out as a child. It was fun to think of my younger self and what my parents (well, my dad anyway) must have gone through with me.

I really loved sleeping in the tent with my kids. The 5 of us were packed in there like sardines. It was great laying in the dark with them and listening to the raucous sounds of the campground. I loved hearing the kids ask "What was that" everytime an errant flashlight shone onto our tent. I giggled listening to Spunky Girl tell me her greatest fear was the river overflowing its banks and carrying us away. It was so great...and then we realized that our air mattress had a hole in it and our bums were hitting the ground. It wasn't long before both Scott and I were laying on the hard ground. We suffered until 2 am, united in our misery. Even that misery had a level of charm to it. Every contact point in my body hurt as I lay against the ground and yet the overall experience delighted me. It was almost as if it wouldn't have been camping if there wasn't some mishap involved.

Scott proved himself a hero when he began re-inflating the air mattress with his lung power at 2 am...with us still on top. I didn't believe he had enough hot air to lift our bodies off the ground, but he did and it was just enough time to get me back to sleep. By morning time I was in laying there in pain again, but I knew at that point I could solve the problem by getting my bum out of the sleep bag and starting breakfast...if I really wanted to.

It turns out that I didn't need to cook breakfast because our friend Lindsey cooked the whole thing. Bacon, eggs, coffee, water for hot was awesome. Apparently all that wasn't enough for the boys, though, 'cause they followed up breakfast with some early morning marshmellows. Lucky for me the kids were out on a bike ride and couldn't beg for some too.

We cut our camping trip a little bit short and left mid-afternoon on the 2nd day, but we had good reason! My sister gave birth to little Colin early Saturday morning and I wanted to go visit them all in the hospital. Of course, the little guy is as cute as a button!

All in all, camping was a success and we are looking forward to going again...but probably not til next summer. Can you believe it is only 28 days till school starts again? August is filling up and I don't think another trip to the woods will fit. I gotta start thinking about school shopping instead!

Friday, July 16, 2010

Thanks Mo Williams

Spunky girl had a hard time with reading this year. Her kindergarten class offered her a tutor and we worked hard every day on reading, but it was a challenge. One of the things that makes it the most challening is that children know they can't seem to get something that their classmates are succeeding at. They know they are in the last reading group. They know some of their classmates are reading chapter books. And that knowledge makes them feel bad about it and makes trying harder.

We got through the entire collection of Bob learning-to-read books (which are great) during the school year, but then found the jump into books available at the library a bit of a challenge. There are definitely books there for "beginning readers" but they still seemed a bit above her abilities. Often there was a lot of words on each page. Spunky girl would look at the 20 words on the page and not even want to try, much less read the whole book. Enter Mo Williams.

Mo Williams writes the Elephant and Piggie books and they are AWESOME. They are always about two friends, an elephant and a pig, and a conversation they have. Because the book is just a conversation, there is often only a handful of words on each page. The author tells the story not only with the conversation, but with the expressions on the faces and the different type faces he uses. Spunky girl can tell from the type-face if the character is yelling or giggling or sad. I Love That. She really enjoys being able to express what the character is feeling. And the characters are funny little buggers...just like her.

Spunky Girl has read 3 of the 7 books so far and she gains confidence every time she does. She'll tell people "I read this book and I read two other ones too". She is willing to read the book to other people and enjoys telling them the story. It makes my heart happy to see her delight in reading.

So, thank you Mo Williams, wherever you are. This grateful mom's got a kiss on the cheek waiting for ya...

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Its been ages

It has been ages since I last posted. I think blogging feeds upon itself. The more I blog, the more I can think of things I want to write about. But here I find myself...sitting at my computer...with plenty of time to write...and no inspiration. Clearly I've been gone too long.

So, while I wait for inspiration to strike, I'll update you on my kids.

Sweetness turns 8 tomorrow. She is definitely working on a new phase of life. The "tweens" run from 8 - 12 years of age and I feel an eagerness in her to begin the phase. We allowed her to pierce her ears for her birthday. She assured me last year that EVERY OTHER CHILD IN THE UNIVERSE had their ears pierced. I wonder how many children she's met from distant planets. My guess is not many. I'm sure she would have said something about the encounter. She loves to talk and tell me about the things her friends have said. If I dare suggest that perhaps she shouldn't believe everything she hears at school, she is barely able to cover her obvious impression that her mom is so not "in the know". Despite the new glimpes of attitude, she is still a beautiful child in looks and in heart. She's become empathetic to how I can be pulled in a zillion directions at once and wants to help. If only that willingness to help wasn't followed by a "Mom, how do I...?"

Spunky Girl is 6 now. She has the cutest freckles in the whole wide world and they rest below her stunning hazel eyes. Sometimes I just stare at her in wonder, but usually I'm too busy trying to corral her to just stare. =) She is still the snuggliest thing ever. She loves to come into my bed in the morning and sleep together for the last half hour; she isn't content unless both of my arms are wrapped around her (which of course means that one of my arms is likely losing all blood flow). She is always giggling about something, and usually something inappropriate. It is hard not to encourage her, though, when she's so darn impish. Hubby and I just cross our fingers and hope that she doesn't ascribe whatever objectional things she's saying to us. Then we can pass it off with a "where do kids these days hear this stuff?".

The Big Guy is 3. He's my little man, my cry-baby, my sweet son, and my joy. Three goods to one bad...that's not too horrible, right? We're trying to potty train him right now. It is a big ole pain in the butt. He's stubborn like a mule (whoops, 3 goods to 2 bad) and so it is very hard not to turn potty training into a power struggle. It does melt my heart when he says "just like a big boy, right?". Yeah buddy, just like a big boy. He stopped taking naps about 5 months ago, but I really need a few quiet minutes a day so I still put him down for a half hour. He kicks the wall the entire time, just so I'm clear that he's waiting for me to come get him. I suppose that is smart, though, because I suspect if he was quiet I would be tempted to leave him up there a little longer. There's nothing like one of his hugs and his whisper "I really love you mommy". It definitely makes up for him coloring on my sofa with green marker, or hiding the drinking cups in the toilet, or getting into my lipstick.

I sent my girls off to overnight Girl Scout camp at the end of June. I can get stressed by all the people needing my attention at once, so I was excited for them to have an adventure and for me to have some quiet(er) time with the Big Guy. It turns out I missed them like crazy. It was so quiet in the house that even the Big Guy whispered when he talked to me...and I could hear him just fine. I complain about not having a nanosecond to myself but then it was a huge culture shock to be down to one child. I had to keep myself busy to not think about how uneasy I felt about them being gone. There is an irony there...that I crave alone time and then have to keep busy during my (sorta) alone time till my girls came back. I guess the lesson is just to find the treasured moments in every day.

I'll leave you with one last picture of my kiddos, taken after picking strawberries. Note that, as always, Spunky Girl just has to be a little different and holds her bag of strawberrries on her head.