Wednesday, August 26, 2009
Wow, what a week [two as one of the weeks was preparing]- a road trip to Yellowstone Park-our first with our children.
Our daughter's boyfriend Stefan from Germany was with us and he was baptized into our large family life- eight of us squeezed into a Chevy Minivan - with all our gear.
Can you say Family Fun on steroids.
Why do I love road trips so much with my family>? Is it the adventure? Is it that there is no computer to call me away or neon lights for my children or commitments or friends or responsibilities or the constant feeling that I need to update my blog?
I think it is likely all of that but mostly it is having my entire family, all of us together, the joy the laughter the craziness the interaction the togetherness, the excitement of seeing and experiencing a new part of the country together.
Our first stop took us to Cousins Restaurant in The Dalles Oregon for breakfast and a family had their two young children [age 4-5] playing their hand held video games during breakfast and it seemed sort of sad to me, that this couple was not interacting with their children.
Sure, our table was the crazy one, with conversations of noticing the tractor in the
restaurant and what was the best thing to order on the menu and how the hot chocolate tasted and what we would be seeing and who had the best seat in the van (if that was possible) and I just looked at my family and listened to my family and savored the moment.
The entire camping road trip family vacation to Yellowstone and the Tetons was one of savoring.
Savoring beauty surrounding us, the Yellowstone Park wonders, the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, the river winding through the Grand Canyon, the Tetons, the Natural Bridge, the rivers, the wooded campgrounds.
But, really what I savor even more or at least just as much is my children's reaction to all we were seeing and doing.
And my 6 year old's comments, or question, "Where are the yellow stones?" - so, the entire trip we kept looking for yellow stones.
I savored listening to the excitement when our youngest would see the hot springs welling up and finding sticks and the bubbling water and Old Faithful and I watched and listened to the sweetness.
I thought of Mary the mother of Jesus treasuring in her heart what people were saying about Jesus in Luke 2:19. And I too was treasuring for an entire different reason, but treasuring nonetheless, like a mother does her children, I treasured in my heart these amazing moments with my family. The entire 8 days together.
I did not want to think about this possibly being one of our last all of us together family vacations for a while, as Rachel is 19 and Ryan just turned 18. I would not allow my joy to be stolen away, but for a moment the thought came to me. Yes, it made me melancholy as I tend to be anyway.
But this is the ultimate melancholy,that my kids are growing up and creating lives of their own...
I am so enjoying my older children (and my young ones of course as well!), it's just that with the older ones I have these amazing conversations about life. The inspiration I gain from their knowledge, their wisdom, their insights, their thoughts, their ideas, their idealism, their love for the Lord, their love for the Word of God, their love for reading His word together. I am learning from them. I am reminded of my dreams. And having 8 full days together, of late nights at the campfire, and on hikes and walks in God’s beautiful creation was nothing short of a gift.
One I will continue to treasure in my heart.
Thursday, August 6, 2009
So, last night it is not the video games or the tv or the computer that is keeping my 6 year old son up (and to be honest, thankfully, there has not been a whole lot of that for him anyway).
Instead it is the call of the hammer for my 6-year-old son.
It was 11 pm and he was still hammering away.
Just one more tile, Mom.
We are redoing some broken tiles and some windows in our house this summer and it is taking all of our time and it is fun and exciting and exhausting but the most fun is watching my little Augustin get so enthusiastic about helping with the project. Demolition was the task last night. And he was right there, with hammer and small bar -
When I tucked him in at about 11:30 last night, he said, "Mom, wake me up early so we can continue the demolition. I want to help Ron and Sam and Mat and Billie.
Indeed, this morning, my 6 year old was up on his own when the workers got here about 8:30 and he was ready to observe.
Another extraordinary ordinary.
Oh, to be a like a child to see the wonder in the everyday simple moment of a construction worker doing his art.
I am so loving having my daughter home for the summer. I know this because I rise several days a week, at least three, to ride my bicycle with her to her job in Oregon City, where she works for Clackamas County as a temporary summer employeed.
She rides her bicycle every day to work because she has no car. We did not get our children cars for their 16th birthday as some parents do (that is a whole other topic of a column).
But I think even if Rachel had a car she would still ride her bicycle to work. She likes the exercise, she likes to feel like she is in Germany, and she likes to feel as if she is saving the planet. All of which she is doing, one ride at a time.
It really is invigorating. And I made a commitment to ride with her Monday Wednesday and Friday. And two of those days, I take her out to Coffee Rush for a coconut mocha for me and a coconut latte for her.
I love our morning bicycle rides. The sunrise this summer has been splendid. The fresh air, the conversation. The everyday feel of life, the moment, the wonder, the sweetness of having this time with my daughter. I thank God every day, every moment, as I ride with her.
When we arrive at Coffee Rush, we are greeted by Angela and two other workers at the coffee shop depending on which day it is. The music is soft folk rock which I enjoy. We talk about small things, and family, and church, and faith, and school, and frustrations, and future, and careers, and passions, and callings, and health, and American culture compared with German culture, and relationships, and community.
Daily conversations, moments with people, with family, with friends, with loved ones, cannot be planned necessarily. You just have to be there for them. To be available. Forget this quality time. You need time. And time is what I love having for my family. Taking the time. To just be. To sit after dinner to talk instead of rushing off to do dinner or the internet. To have tea in the evenings together, to make tea first off, then to sit on the deck or the couch to sip and see who will join you. To just be.
Rachel's job is going to be over for the summer in a couple of weeks which is so hard to believe. I do not want summer to end. I want to hold on to it, to keep it close, to never let it go. I know I cannot, but what I can do is savor it, and write about it and take lots and lots of photographs and treasure this moment close to my heart.
Monday, August 3, 2009
So much of life I tell my children is adventure and this week 7 of summer 2009 is an example- My sister had invited us over for swimming and scrap booking and sipping ice tea and I told my children that our Week 7 adventure. The cousins have so much fun together, whether it is playing volleyball in my sister's pool, playing Risk in the living room, hiking at the Gorge, going to the Zoo, playing Risk for three hours or going to the park. It is about family and being comfortable together and being accepted and being able to be yourself.
Whenever anyone says "wow" you have five children, all I have to do is tell them that my sister has 9 children~! It is quite the gathering and I love it.
More cousins made up this week's adventure. My husband's sister was in town from Idaho and we met them at the beach for my in-law's 50 th anniversary early celebration. Gearhart is such a cute little town, just past Seaside Oregon. It was great to watch my children run in the waves, run after seagulls, chase one another, ride bicycles and be so patient smiling for a hundred photographs that gramma wanted.
Yesterday I sent my twins, 11, off to junior high church camp with Rolling Hills Community Church. They are incoming 6th graders and this is the first over night church camp they have gone to. I so wanted to be there as a leader but I am speaking at a writers conference this week, and I was a bit nervous sending them off for some reason. My boys are outgoing and make friends easily but I was still apprehensive. Will they feel a sense of belonging, will they make new friends, will they find friends they can pal around with, will they grow closer to God, will they feel comfortable, will they like it?
The leaders of the junior high are all so nice and they really have been encouraging about having my boys go and I am so happy about that. The twins got involved in the junior high program right away this summer going to the weekly Sunday night Bible study Roots and the movie nights and Guts, the outreach.
And, they really wanted to go to camp, so much so that they began earning money to go. All summer, doing chores for me. That excitement was really sweet to watch. Everyday, Wesley would say how much money I owed him for the chores he did the day before and he'd ask, what can I do today to earn money and he set up a canning jar in his bedroom, the quart wide mouthed kind and he put his money in there and he counted it every day and it was so cute and so innocent.
Maybe that is why it was so hard to let them go, I wanted to be a part of it, to see them participate. I am the kind of mom that likes to be a part of every part of my children's lives and I hate to miss anything, but with a family of 7 it is hard to do it all, plus I work from home. The church set up a blog for parents to check out how things are going and I saw that blog today-what fun! it helped me feel connected and a part of the camp, though miles away.
Here is the website:
Sunday, July 26, 2009
This week my twins were at Boy Scout camp in Washington and my youngest was at a Fun in the Sun camp while I was working away having a new website created and getting bids on replacement windows and working on house projects and preparing for my class I teach this week at the Oregon Christian Writers Conference. So, did I have my weekly adventure with kids –
I can tell I am a legalistic person because when my youngest (age 6) and I went on a walk this week to Sourdough Willy’s for a sticky bun and some cherries, I said to him, “This can be our adventure this week” and he said, “No camping with Daddy will be.”
Okay, so Dad gets to have the adventure with the kids this week.
But really, so much of my life could be called an adventure of the week.
I like to live deliberately as Thoreau said and pointing out the adventures of life and that the very thing we are doing is an adventure and celebration helps me feel that I am living deliberately and with purpose as I believe God would have us do.
This week -yesterday- we went to our Sudan family friends again in north Portland and Rachel had organized once again and invited a few more of her friends and Breezy came again and even though not all of my children could come as is the case with kids of varied ages, I am calling this our adventure of the week. We had wanted to help lighten the load of our Sudan friends---there are seven children with the youngest age 2 ½ and the mom does not know English very well and we had hoped to help her clean a bit and assist her with groceries.
I know I always appreciated help when someone offered to help me with cleaning or with my children, especially when they were very young.
And I know how hard it is to keep a fridge filled for a large family and we have looked inside their fridge at their apartment and it is empty.
But the mom was quiet about our offer though last week she seemed happy about when we told her we were returning to assist her. Yesterday she just said that she is fine and does not need help and we of course were going to honor her. I know it is hard to accept help and we are just trying to be her friend. One of the sons said it is a pride thing and we are truly not trying to make anyone feel badly but only to help. I had to swallow my pride when I was on bedrest with the twins and friends offered to help me clean and my house is so hard for me to clean as it is—forget bedrest as an excuse. And my friends made me diners and took my children and I loved it and so appreciated it and it was in that spirit that we went to help our Sudan friends.
So, this time, we came up with a plan B.
Some of the group took the children to the park again for a makeshift sports camp like last week, while I offered to take the oldest son Jima to the store and he could pick out some items that the family might like and the mom was fine with that. My son Ryan came along to. Our entire family enjoys being with our Sudan family friends. I love to see all of my children interacting with people of varied cultures. To be in community with people of different backgrounds.
An adventure indeed.
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
I had to go to a writing meeting tonight so I was not able to eat dinner with the family, but I did not want to miss what was happening at home. I did not want to miss the ordinary extraordinary.
Rachel’s friend had come over and I had initially thought they were going to go out, but instead they sat at our island in our kitchen and I offered that they eat dinner with us and they said yes, and I wanted the meal to be nice and my home to be a warm place for my children and their friends and I wanted to be a part of this very every day moment.
At the time I offered to have my daughter and her friend eat dinner with us, I had not even made dinner but then it looked like they were going to just stay at our house and so I offered to make dinner and I wanted it to be nice and I wanted to sit on our deck covered with trees and listen to the creek that is next to the deck and participate in the conversation of everyday life.
I want my home to be a safe and comfortable haven for my entire family and I felt like things were not in order enough, so I quickly cleaned up and made a salad and had Ryan help clean up and I got chicken out to barbeque and I took the husks off of the corn on the cob ready to boil and I cleaned off the table on the deck so it would be nice and clean and I just wanted to stay…but I did not. I went to my meeting.
And hurried back home.
I told my friend Janice about this blog I wanted to write, about wanting to be with my children for the ordinary every day moments of life, about the importance of creating a home that our children want to be in. A place that is not rushed, a place where our children can talk about life and God and faith and worries and questions and whatever comes to their minds. A place where our children can share their thoughts and dreams and frienships and everyday life. A place where our children can laugh and be silly and be themselves and in our home there is a lot of craziness.
It is not about quality time only but it is about time. Having the time. Taking the time. About creating a safe place, a place of warmth, that our children can bring their friends home to, a place where they feel comfortable. And Janice said that is exactly what is important to her, that is exactly what she has tried to provide for her family these 20 years as a stay home mom.
Two days ago, I walked to Sourdough Willy’s with my oldest son 17 and my youngest son 6 and we got cherries which are amazing this time of year and we got sticky buns and danishes, apricot and cream cheese and it felt good to walk together in our neighborhood, it was just a moment, but one that I treasure and I try to tell my kids to treasure.
Last night we ate our dinner on the deck again. It has been amazing summer evenings and we had corn on the cob and sausages and spinach salad and the twins are at Boy Scout camp right now so there are only 3 kids at home. And I wanted to savor every moment. The laughter, the discussion, the conversation. Before the dinner, Rachel and Augustin had been putting dried mint leaves into a bottle together in our kitchen/ It was an everyday moment they were sharing. Rachel was going to do this alone after she had been drying the mint leaves from our yard but Augustin asked if he could help. So they did the project together.
And a day before the two of them had planted herbs in a planter. Rachel works with someone at the county who plants his own garden and she wanted to do some of that as well. She had done some last year.
I went to get my camera to capture some of these everyday ordinary moments of an everyday summer day.
That feels extraordinary.