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Archive for the ‘adventures’ Category

Having children is a life of moments strung together. The moments are sweet, happy, sad, hilarious and they all combine to make parenthood what it is, a crazy rollercoaster with no exit.

Some moments are sweet.

Every night, while Ries reads to the boys, we are currently on Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, I lay with Wash in his bed. He is too young to be still for 30 minutes of reading, so I snuggle with him and that keeps him in his bed, most of the time.

Last week, he placed his little hands on my cheeks and turned my head towards his. He turned those big hazel eyes on me and said, “Mommy, Jesus yuves you. God made you.”

Of course, I completely melted and replied, “Jesus loves you too. God made you too. And Mommy loves you.” And then I kissed his chubby cheeks all over, inhaling his little boy smell while my heart burst.

It is moments like that, these tiny glimpses of his loving soul, that I have to remember when I try not to strangle him as he elbows his brother repeatedly in the face at the grocery store while the deli ladies laugh.

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From yesterday:

Nothing says “Top o’ the mornin’!” like your four year old barfing in your doorway at 4 am. It was that kind of day here.

Luckily, Gideon was only sick the once and after a day of convalescing in front of the TV, he is quite recovered. I only hope the rest of us have escaped the germs.

The exciting incident also led me to scrub the floor, we have laminate in most of the house, from our bedroom to the bathroom. I figured while I was on my hands and knees I should finish the job and now I have clean floors. I hate cleaning the floors, but they do look nice.

It continues to be a zoo at my house. Who knew two large dogs and two boys had the ability to sound like the entire wild Africa section of the zoo? Sometimes, I think I live in the ape house. Not the monkey house, mind you, because monkeys have TAILS.

So here is wishing you a barf free week. May your floors be clean and your sleep uninterrupted.

p.s. We are now a barf free zone.

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Vacationing with children always has its own joys and challenges. I love taking my kids to new places. Seeing something with their eyes, for the first time, is an amazing blessing I will never tire of. It makes up for all the work that goes with having kids along for the ride. Gone are the days of care free travel.

This morning, Gideon and I got up well before the sun since we are still on Central time. After some coffee and peanut butter toast, about all we had at the house this morning before our trip to the grocery store, Gideon went down to wake up Daddy and Wash.

I looked out the window and it was snowing. Not huge delicious flakes, but small beautiful fluffs of delight. I ran down all three flights of stairs, we are in the basement of the house, calling for Gideon. We threw on some coats and dashed out to see the snow.

It was wonderful. Gideon and Ries ran around the house, playing in the snow that was already on the ground. My heart was so full of the mountains and winter that I was content in a way that made me want to clutch the moment to remember later when I am back in Houston, sweating and cursing.

There are things that everyone knows about themselves. Things we learn over the course of our lives, about ourselves, about others, and about the world. Almost as long as I have had the memory of contentment, I have known that the mountains is the place my soul lives.

Even so, this is the first time I have been in the heart of the mountains in winter. The views work on me the same way the summer valleys do though they are covered with snow and brown grass and not green waves with flowers. I would not trade this place for any other place. It is not the Grand Tetons specifically, almost any Rocky Mountains will do.

There were other moments in this first day of a week of mountain adventure, but for me, the moment of seeing that first mountain snow eclipsed everything else.

The kids are asleep and it is time to open a 90 Shilling and say slainte to this day.

Good Night, from Jackson Hole, WY

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I can’t tell you what happened at the Bachelor party, but I’ll show you.  We wanted to make sure to kill as many brain cells as possible for Y’s bachelor party so we headed to high altitude where we would get less oxygen.  A bunch of the guys flew on over to Colorado and met for some general naughtiness.  Good stories, none bad (except the 3 hour delayed flight, boo!), but my man card prevents me from divulging any of them.  Regardless, here is one of the many amusing pictures from the river portion of our adventure.

Rafting (or is it swimming?) in Idaho Springs, CO

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Our pumpkin, a large warty specimen, was extremely hard to carve, but Ries applied his muscles and Gideon took all the credit.

Saturday night, we all went to a family Halloween party which always has great costumes. We went as zombies.

This year was the first year that Gideon went Trick or Treating. It was cute. Here is the trick or treating group, consisting of Ries, Pullo, and Darth Vader aka Gideon.

Ries said Gideon did well though he did need to be prompted to say “trick or treat” a few times. I did hear that Gideon once used the phrase, “I want some candy!” but reverted to the accepted standard after that. After he got the hang of it, he started tattling on other kids who did not use the proper greeting for candy.

We also taught him to say “thank you” after he got candy. Ries had to prompt for that a few times as well. Once after receiving candy, Ries asked Gideon, “Now what do you say?” Gideon replied, “Can I come in?” At least he asked first.

I stayed home with Wicket and handed out candy. She was well behaved and liked seeing all the kids dressed up.

Overall, we all had a great Halloween. Gideon had a blast and that is all that matters. Here is my favorite picture from Sunday.

To see all our Halloween pictures, visit my Flickr set here.

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The Smiths recently returned from a week long camping trip in the mountains of Colorado. While we do tent camp, we do not backpack camp. I have a friend that refers to this as “fat camping” because if you are not carrying it around you are fat and lazy. We tent camped with a king size air mattress (yes our tent is that big) and it is a good thing: All four of us slept on it every night, Ries, myself, Gideon, and Pullo (who kept our feet warm in the cold mountain air).

Here we are on our hike on Inter-Laken Trail in Twin Lakes, CO. Notice Pullo’s shoes in the photo.

Trip stats:

    Hours to travel there: 23
    Days it rained: pretty much every one, a shower at least
    Days it rained continuously and we considered leaving altogether: 3
    Generations on the camping trip: 4
    Tents: 2
    Popups and RVs: 2
    Cushy accommodations (aka RVs and popups) slept in by the “Old Folks”: 2
    Miles hiked: 5
    Miles driven during the trip: 3,018
    Spoiled dogs who required their own hiking shoes: 1
    Showers taken: one on Wednesday
    Baths taken by Gideon: 3, one in the fancy RV!
    Peeps harmed and consumed in the Great Campfire Roasting of 2010: 12
    Nights I had to leave the tent to go to the bathroom (outhouse really) and wonder if a bear would eat me: all of them
    Towns visited: Telluride (gondolas!), Mountain Village, Ouray (hot springs!), Leadville
    Hours to travel home: 20

It was a nice trip though it rained constantly the first three days we were in Telluride. We actually left that area Tuesday, after realizing that the rain would not stop and the tents had taken all the moisture they were going to deal with before the rain came inside in buckets. Once in Leadville, where we hooked up with my grandparents, the weather was amazing, with the normal mountain showers and sunshine.

We hiked Inter-Laken trail, a short 5 mile hike to an abandoned resort on Twin Lakes. Pullo wore his saddle bags and new hiking shoes and I think 5 miles is about all he is able to go. He was very pooped at the end of the day. Gideon made it about a third of the way and then was passed around for the rest of the journey.

We ended up in Leadville for their annual Boom Days festival which is a fun weekend of small town festivities, including a pancake breakfast, parade, and mining events.

I loved being in the mountains again. It has been too long since I have been surrounded by my favorite views. Gideon had a wonderful time being dirty all week and being spoiled by Grammy and Oma (whose idea of a morning snack is Green Tea and an Oreo cookie). The day after we got back, he cried and asked to go back to the campsite to Oma.

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This picture features Gideon in his new Big Boy Boxer Briefs with a green Skittle in his mouth. That’s right folks. No more diapers!

We spent last week in Potty Training Bootcamp. We basically used the Three Day Potty training method which involves a lot of nakedness and who does not love a little naked toddler running around the house?

Here is our experience with this method.

Overall, it worked great. I say worked because after 1 week, Gideon is potty trained. No more diapers (except at night) and he is now wearing real underwear!

You spend three days giving your child lots of water and juice to increase urination and then whisking them to the potty when they start to go. We also asked Gideon often if he had to go to the potty.

With a couple of exceptions, you are mostly homebound for three days. We used a combination of praise and Skitttles. The first day was very successful because both Ries and I were home to keep an eye on him. The second day, Gideon had two accidents and it happened both times because I turned my back for a second. They say you have to watch them like a hawk and you really do. You literally can do nothing but pay very close attention to your kid for three days. It was the worst thing about this method. I was exhausted by the end of the day, even after taking a nap with Gideon.

We started on Tuesday and by Friday, Gideon was telling us when he needed to go, holding it during errands out of the house, and waking dry from naps. I still need to ask him often if he has to go potty, just so he thinks about it. I heard that kids will often say no when they mean yes, but Gideon says yes when he does have to go.

Gideon is doing great. He does have an accident every once in awhile, but he goes whole days without an accident. He even did pretty well during church yesterday, though he was out of his normal environment. If you have been dreading potty training or are sick of diapers, I highly recommend this method.

Hallelujah, no more diapers!

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