Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Week 8-9-10 Summer 2009 Adventure with Family - YELLOWSTONE ROAD TRIP

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

Entertainment for a 6-year-old as simple as a hammer

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.

And help.

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.

The everyday wonder of riding bicycles at 5:45 am with my daughter

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

Week 7 Adventure ~ Summer 2009 - Extended!

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.

Sending kids off to over-night church camp for first time

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:


Hidden Lake


Cousins bicycling at Champeog Park

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