Monday, July 29, 2013

Balancing Revelry and Responsiblity | Ithaca, NY with children

My kids are fighting incessantly lately.
They fight at daybreak over who pours the milk, over getting seat belts fastened in the car, about who said what and who had it first, and anything else that really doesn't matter one bit.

Since hiking Bald Mt. was the ultimate in high-spirited family time, I had high hopes for this weekend to be a break from the bickering that's driving me bananas.

It turns out living in CNY is a prime launching pad for exploring the State's parks, mountains, lakes, etc. Anything involving water always wins with our crew. I've heard 'Ithaca is Gorges' and my husband played football there in college and spoke of it fondly, so a day in Ithaca was in order.

Wowza! A stunning surprise around every bend!
We chose Robert H. Treman State Park, lesser known than Watkins Glen. You can follow the winding trail past waterfalls from the upper rim of the gorge to the bottom, where you can swim beneath a waterfall in a stream-fed pool. It's spectacular! 

With three pairs of little legs to look after, I settled for glancing in awe & dashing to protect them quite often. Other hikers paused, taking in the incredible surroundings with sacred silence. You learn to pause for picking up rocks and sitting in caves when you're a parent. 

There were countless little things to appreciate around me: the layers of rock, the winding pathways, the height, the depth, the wonder of it all!
Yet, how can I marvel as I turn a rocky corner to discover a waterfall, when my preschooler is running out of sight & ignoring can't hear my voice over the rushing water?

This is motherhood. The balance of responsibility and revelry.
Sometimes you just plain can't enjoy the small, beautiful things around you. You literally can't.
You're chasing, feeding, gathering, planning, filling, cleaning, teaching, warning, etc. I'm settled into this difficult role now after 7 years. I have found my way, relishing the rewards and ignoring the out-of-touch judg-y folks on the journey, for the most part. Still, moms miss things.

On this trip, I felt taunted by a particular gal about my age, hiking with her dog. She passed us by a few times, each time with a pep in her step and a grin on her fresh face. Her whimsical way was so different from mine (holding a 2 year old and warning adventurous siblings).

Even amidst such magnificence, my kids whine & argue-albeit less than at home-they still need to go potty and be alerted and I'm liable. We had a couple embarrassing moments on this particular trip, (including all swimmers out of the water and all eyes on me & my determined child).

But you know, most of the time, the novelty is enough to distract them from their typical shenanigans  and sometimes it wears off sooner than you'd hoped.
It's worth the effort.
I may just have to re-visit all the spots we discover with preschoolers one day when they're away at college. And then, I'll likely ache in their absence.

Appropriately adjusted expectations and lots of snacks are the most valuable things in my pack. 

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Thursday, July 25, 2013

Thankful for: distractions, self-motivated spouse, toilet paper surprise

I'm thankful for...
1. Coverage of the royal couple leaving St. Mary's with baby George Alexander Louis distracted me through 3 miles on the treadmill. They do a killer job at appearing like a "normal couple". Considering the unfathomable scrutiny, she is stellar!
2. Summer 1/2 day camp. Kids come home wiped out. I'll have quite a job when the 6 weeks is up.
3. Printable $4 off coupon added to another $4 off coupon made my razor $1.80 at Target, with 5% off debit card. Real victory was remembering to bring the coupons.
4. Cute hats hide unwashed, swimming pool hair.
5. seeing my kids all lined up in birth order. There's something about it. Naturally happened several times this week.

6. Clara singing along with me for her bedtime songs in the rocking chair. Seeing her big brown eyes, even in the dark room.
7. "Lilah, please set this pack of toilet paper up in your bathroom", (expecting a drop off) and later finding this:

8. Documentaries on Netflix. Midwives. Fat & juicy. Some too provocative to recommend or continue watching.
9. self-motivated husband tackling house work
10. Road trips. Less than an hour from home, but feels like vacation.

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Thursday, July 18, 2013

Lessons from our family camp & climb

Our family camped and climbed mountains in the Adirondacks earlier this month.
I learned a few things:
1. We are certainly cabin people. Should probably donate the tent.
2. You can never have enough tarps, firewood, bug spray, & snacks.

3. Frozen food is your friend. Frozen water bottles serve double-duty: ice blocks in the cooler & cold refreshment.
4. The unplanned can end up to be the most memorable
swimming in pjs at the break of dawn
5. Keep sleeping quarters off-limits until bedtime. Sand-free zone.
6. One can survive, even thrive without cell phone coverage and screen-free entertainment 
7. Climbing a mountain is a killer exercise in appreciating the journey as much as the destination.
My husband carried our 35lb 2 year old on his back, it rained buckets the night before, and our kids had never climbed before so we had very realistic expectations. It could be too muddy, too challenging for us to make it to the top, but we're going for it!

My little trailblazers met every challenge and we made it up and down in good spirits! No whining and remarkable recoveries from missteps and bloody knees.

The top was exhilarating, don't get me wrong. The 360 view of mountains and lakes at the summit were certainly rewarding for the hard work. But the journey was most memorable to me. The way we worked together and supported each other was inspiring.

The courage in my children's steps across boulders and around exposed roots made me jubilant!

For months my husband & I have been evaluating choices for our family's future. I've grown quite weary of the process. Disappointments this past year have taken a toll on me.

I'd rather go to sleep and arrive than face the threats of the unknown to my security and comfort.
Hiking was therapeutic and timely.

The Lord directs the steps of the godly,
He delights in every detail of their lives.
Though they stumble, they will never fall, 
for the Lord holds them by the hand. 
Psalm 37: 23-24
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Wednesday, July 3, 2013

thankful for (a collection of good moments & things)

1. a house full of family. out of forks. sink full. playroom ransacked. brewing another pot.  
i'll never take it for granted. 

2. bedtime spilling of the day's details by my 7 y/o. hanging onto every word. significant questions taking me off guard. why doesn't he do this before sunset?

3. Anthem Lights covers. "mom, can we just hear the end of this?" before turning off the ignition.

4. River walking adventures.
5. Farm-to-table produce

6. The Moth podcast

7. Day escape to Skaneateles (below). Doug's [famous] fish fry & fresh strawberry sauce on vanilla custard.
8. Flattering words, timely spoken.

9. sweaty heads, tired little bodies, asleep before the next parent can come in to say good-night

10. strawberry rhubarb pie

11. [Literally] Hosing away the bad morning. Looking up to see these three lined up together.
12. concert tickets

13. friends. praying friends. new friends. familiar friends. good friends.

14. movie dates with my super man (thumbs up) and our monsters (thumbs up).

15. summer reading goals eagerly approached

16. Qwirkle saving rainy days. Only need to identify shapes & colors to play.

17. 5 tasty summer salads 

18. two year old's sentences. the delight & surprise they bring us all.
19. Essie plumberry

20. chalkboard love notes

"Those who control their tongue will have a long life; opening your mouth can ruin everything...
Godliness guards the path of the blameless, but the evil are misled by sin...
The life of the godly is full of light and joy, but the light of the wicked will be snuffed out.
Pride leads to conflict; those who take advice are wise...
Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a dream fulfilled is a tree of life...
It is pleasant to see dreams come true, but fools refuse to turn from evil to attain them
Walk with the wise & become wise; associate with fools and get in trouble."
Proverbs 13: 3,6,9, 12, 19-20 (NLT)

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