Friday, February 2, 2018

Look What Stephan Found!

My last post was from four days after June was born. June is now 19 months old. I can say, with no hesitation and doubt, that this has been my longest break between posts. I promise you, my dearest readers, that this hiatus was not intentional. Life with a family of six is pretty busy. Not in a terrible, exhausting, woe-is-me type of way; but in an active, busy, on-the-go type of way.
    Y'all, so much has happened in the past year and a half! I wish with all my heart that I could catch you up on everything, but I have the worst memory ever, as I have oft written of, so that's an impossibility. That's the reason I started this blog in the first place, all those years ago. Sitting on the couch next to my husband, The Office on the TV, our first baby just starting to make his presence known with tiny kicks and flicks in my belly, I grabbed our little blue laptop and signed up on this very blogging website and started writing. I did it knowing full well how short term my memory is. I did it because I wanted to tuck away as many memories as possible in a way the would last forever. Or, however long the internet lasts.
    Y'all, I'm so very glad I did.
I had completely forgotten about his old site. I was completely content with my pictures on Instagram and their short captions summing up the events of our days. Especially since I've signed up on this super cool app called Chatbooks that prints me lovely little photo albums of the pictures I post on  the 'gram. I have, like, 20 now, and I love them. I actually think I've blogged about that before. Can't remember, because it's been so stinkin' long...
Stephan was the one that looked up this old blog. I am so glad he did. I've been reading through my old posts for three days now. There have been tears and giggles and sighs of nostalgia, but mostly tears. I've seen pictures of my babies and places I've been and things I've done that I have not seen in years. Because of this blog, I've been reminded of things that happened and precious memories we made as a family that I had completely forgotten about. Because of this, I decided to *try* to restart the blog. I want to keep the magic going.
  And thus, here I sit, next to my husband, Friends on the TV in the background, ready to dive back into the exciting world of blogging!

To start, I'll try to sum up the past year and a half as succinctly as possible. I'll see what pictures I can include to sweeten the deal for you, my erstwhile readers.
In may, Stephan and I journeyed to the place I've always wanted to go, my dream destination, in order to celebrate 10 years of wonderful matrimony. The kids stayed at Bebe's and Papa's, which was easy, since we were temporarily living there anyways while Stephan was completely redoing the floors throughout our house. Disneyworld was AMAZING, and our house looks awesome. Also, we've been married for 10 years now. Wow.

last June, Witten graduated preschool. The following September, that big kid started kindergarten. Until June 2nd of this year, we have a preschooler, a kindergartener, and a 2nd grader. Still kinda hard to wrap my mind around.

We've been on several fun camping trips this past year. Our camper is perfect for our family.

This past August, we got a cute little puppy on a whim. You see, Stephan's always thought that Alaskan malamutes were cool dogs. So, when we saw one at a pet store, we kinda had to get him. He's a super good boy. He has also gotten HUGE. Stephan named him Dak.

Our babies have gotten so big! Also, it snowed this past January, which Noah prayed for and loved to be in. Belle not so much. hence, the lack of her presence in this picture.

Last month, I turned the big 3-0. Despite the fact that it was a foreboding age, my beloved threw me the bestest birthday party EVER!! We ate delicious food with wonderful friends.

Stephan completely surprised me with a wedding band to go with my wedding ring.

I have only felt this much happiness five times before: the birth of each of our babies, and the time Stephan gave me my original wedding ring while on one knee.
Best.  Birthday.  EVER.

 So, that's it for now, guys. Stephan has fallen asleep and is snoring raucously, poor, sick baby June is having a hard time staying asleep, the dog is incredibly flatulent, and it has gotten impressively late while I've been trying to sum up this past year and a half, so I'm going to sign off, wash my face, brush my teeth, and go to bed.
  Again, I'll try my best to keep up with life. But for now, I bid you all, fair readers, a good night. God bless you all!

Holy COW that dog stinks.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Curse you, Hormones

Y'all, this is ridiculous.

It finally happened. The day I have been anticipating with great urgency and longing for so long has come and passed. My fourth child, my little surprise, is here with us, safe and sound.
   Considering how bad things could have gone during her birth, I am not exaggerating even a little bit when I say I tearfully thanked God tonight that June was safe and healthy and alive today. What happened was this: Signs late in my laboring pointed to there being an issue with her umbilical cord. Her heart rate dropped drastically with each contraction. My amazing doctor watched her monitor like a hawk and checked me repeatedly, just waiting for things to progress just enough so that I could push the baby out to safety. As soon as I was able, she set me to pushing. The longest labor I have ever endured ended with the longest delivery I have ever pulled off. (It was still pretty quick, just longer than the others. And by that time, I was exhausted, so it was pretty tough).
  With a pop and yet another gush, out came my baby. Immediately, the doctor announced the issue: the cord was wrapped three times around her neck. Like a scrub-clad cowgirl, Dr. Newton whipped that cord off of my tiny baby's neck in no time. And then came the big reveal.
   It's a girl!
 With teary eyes, I looked up at Stephan and said, "It's June! June's here!"
Stephan was crying happily as well. My aunt, who was there taking pictures for us, was wiping away tears between shots. I glanced at my mother who, for the first time, was able to be present for the birth of one of her grandchildren, and saw her sobbing wildly with a huge smile on her face. After all the praying and anxious waiting we had been doing in that delivery room, hearing our second baby daughter cry heartily was the best thing in the world.
 Since then, adjusting to her presence in our lives and the addition of another to our family has been pretty routine, as far as my past experiences with bringing home kids has shown me. Unlike the first to and even better than the last one, this little baby took to breastfeeding right away. Like, seriously, she was rootin' and latching on not even two minutes after she was placed on my chest. Of course, my excitement was premature, as she soon fell off the best breastfeeder in the world bandwagon when my milk didn't come in right away and she got frustrated. We're still working on that...
 As for her siblings; they are in love with her. Even Belle, who I thought might be too young to truly grasp what's going on (her title of "baby" being yanked from her and bestowed on the newest girl in the family), loves to kiss June and give her snuggles. The boys argue over who's turn it is to hold her. Just tonight, they begged me and Stephan to let them sing her a lullaby before they went to bed. I couldn't bee happier with how well they're taking to having another baby in the house.

    Since we've been home, we've had meals and groceries brought to us, people volunteering to help however and whenever they can, and a fantastic amount of moral support in the form of encouraging words and prayers. In short, thus far, transitioning from a family of five to six (six!) has been relatively smooth and enjoyable.

So, why the title, you might be wondering. Well, perceptive reader, it's because hormones are trying their best to ruin these first few, precious days for me. 
  How? I'll tell you how!
I'm sad about the weirdest things.
 I'm almost done with the small pack of newborn diapers they gave us in the hospital when June was born. That makes me sad.
I'm less sore and more capable of picking back up my full slate of house-managing responsibilities every day.
 That makes me sad. ( not because I don't want to take up my mop and resume active housekeeping, though I'm not entirely thrilled about it).
June's gross little umbilical stump is already loose and looks like it might fall off in the next two days.
That makes me sad.
June's stinkies are already transitioning from nasty, green-black tar, to a brownie-batter consistency. A very good sign that I'm succeeding at this breastfeeding thing.
And that makes me sad?
     I'm sure you don't have to hazard too many guesses before you stumble upon the reason for my melancholy. It's the relentless, unstoppable progression of time! Sure, sweet baby June is only four days old and still quite the floppy newborn, but I know all-too-well how quickly this stage in life flies by! My first born, my tiny, premature baby Noah, whom, at the time, I thought would never grow up because those days of just me and him staring at each other and doing little else seemed to crawl by, is six years old now.
I'm sad because I cant stop thinking about how quickly life moves nowadays. It doesn't help that I really, really, really enjoyed the wonderful, nurturing attention all the fantastic staff at the hospital gave me, Stephan and our baby. (I almost cried leaving the hospital because I knew that that would be the last time I was walking those hallways as an outgoing patient with my new baby in my arms. I'm almost crying thinking about it!) It really is like a mini vacation with the worst introduction and the best souvenir.
  It also doesn't help that I have three other children to keep me busy and remind me of how brief every moment is. You guys, Belle was my baby girl two seconds ago. Now, she's HUGE! I'm in the midst of planning her second birthday party, yet when I sit in the red rocking chair in her room, there are four pictures of newborn Belle above what will soon be June's crib, and it feels like those were taken just yesterday! (aaaaaand I'm crying again).
   These past two nights have been tough. Nothing crazy; just your classic newborn adjusting to night time/ daytime routines kind of stuff. As I sit in bed with my squirming, screaming newborn, who has suddenly forgotten how to breastfeed, I naturally get frustrated. But, dear readers, you'll be happy to know that I've learned. I've finally learned! Now, instead of resorting to the book's response of letting her cry it out, I've been tucking her in close to me and praying over her until she finally falls asleep. She'll figure out this whole night vs. day thing eventually, but the chance to hold her tiny body close to mine and watch her succumb to sleep will pass all too quickly, this I know for sure. There will be times when I will lay her down and let her learn to self soothe, but it wont be this night! And now that my milk has come in, I do believe even these long, tiring nights are reaching their end. And that makes me sad.

    I'm not trying to bum anyone out, readers. I'm especially not trying to discourage soon-to-be mommies with my list of woes. If anything, I want to encourage those new mommies, and everyone else, to be in the moment! Look up from your phone. Put down your cameras after the fifth or sixth picture. Soak in what's happening around you and how you feel in that moment. Try your best to imprint as many specific details in your mind as possible, so that when you blink and realize a few years have passed, you can close your eyes and recall those memories with as much clarity as possible.
  And praise God for the good and the bad moments. He's got this crazy, awesome plan laid out for us that only He knows the full picture of, and He's using every moment to prepare us and shape us for what lies ahead.
  And hug your babies, no matter how big they are.
"Behold, children are a [a]gift of the Lord,
The fruit of the womb is a reward." Psalm 127:3

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

The "Why" of Christmas

Yes, I may have just wrapped my first Christmas gift of the season with a glue stick instead of tape because I can never find my scotch tape when I need it. No, you may not judge me!

But seriously, though, why does the Christmas season have to be hurried? Who decided to cram weekends and weekouts with parties, activities, and obligations? I bet it was the same fool who invented the Elf on the Shelf. Or his great great great great grandfather, or something.
  Please don't get me wrong, I love gathering together with friends and/or family for fun parties and doing special activities with my precious children as much as the next mom, but putting them back to back to back to back is taxing on anybody! Heck, my mom was listing her calendar of events for the month of December to me the other day, and I got tired just listening to it.
  I think I would better be able to handle all this fun-having if so much wasn't expected. Expected of me, expected of the party, expected of my kids,... just expected! You can't just host a Christmas party by cleaning your house and setting out the appropriate amount of seating and snacks; you have to make sure your home is beautifully and festively decorated and smells like warm sugar cookies and cinnamon and that you have enough theme-appropriate dishes you could stuff everyone at your next church pot luck. And when invited, you cant just show up at these events without an impressive, pintrest-worthy appetizer that will have people praising your culinary skills and asking for the recipe later. And if the lights you put up in your front yard aren't synchronized to music of some sort and costing you and arm and a leg and some sleep, don't even bother decorating, you slouch!
   My satirical tirade is not at all meant as a slight to those of my dear readers who actually do all the above with joy, gusto and aplomb. I'm simply trying to express how I feel in times like these. I do not have the gift of organization. Or planning. Or a good memory. So for me, all the seemingly simple additions to the usual party or gathering; such as buying/wrapping/bringing gifts, remembering all the ingredients for each platter I pledged to bring and having it prepared in time, or which day/what time the events are happening, is a stressful burden on my usually frazzled brain!
    And on top of all of the bonus tasks the holidays bring, I have to keep my house clean (-ish) and my family fed! Just writing about it makes me want to curl up in bed and take a nap.
   But I don't want this post to make me out to be a Grinch. I definitely don't want to cause anyone reading this to suddenly realize how much Christmas stresses them out and despair! Because the honest-to-goodness truth is I love Christmas! The whole Christmas season! Christmas parties are always fun and entertaining. I love how special all the decorations everywhere makes this time of year feel. I love the smell and tastes and sounds and songs that I always associate with Christmas time. (If I smell a pine tree in mid-June, I feel like it's Christmas for a few seconds, despite the Texas summer heat!) And, as I've already said, I love spending special time with my family and my friends.
   Most of all, dear readers, I love that we are celebrating the most mind-blowing, unbelievable, inconceivable birthday in the history of history. When I stop, slow my mind down, and dwell on the real reason why we're celebrating like we are, I am amazed.
     Friends, let's take a quick rabbit trail:
I am pregnant. Inside me, a life is forming, helpless and small, that is completely dependent on me for its survival. Even after the birth of said life, this tiny newborn baby will be the most helpless it will ever be in its life. Are you envisioning a tiny, new baby right now?
    Now try, if you dare, to envision the creator of the universe. The Alpha and Omega. The First and the Last. Try to picture the second person of the Trinity, through whom all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. A being that holds together the very existence of creation.
    All that glory- that bigness that is God the Son condescended Himself to become just like the helpless life that is currently the size of an apple in my womb. God didn't just become man, He was born. Jesus, the Son of God, was once Mary's newborn baby. Forget the humble manger, the lowly stable, the smelly shepherds being the first visitors- Jesus Christ, the very Word of God, was a newborn! Born to live a perfect life that I never could, then die a sinner's death as I deserve, then defeat death and rise again so that I can trade my sinful rags for his perfect righteousness and live forever with Him!            
 That's mind-blowing! That's life-changing! That's definitely worthy to be celebrated in a big, drawn-out way!
Without Christmas, there would be no Easter. Without Easter, there would be no hope. I love celebrating Christmas AND Easter because of what we are celebrating, not how we are celebrating. And my husband and I are trying our darnedest to teach our children this important truth.
  Oh, how easy it is to get swept up, carried away with, and overwhelmed by the business of this season. May it be, Lord, that through it all, we can show our children the true reason why this month of the year is distinguished from all the others. You came as a little baby, sweet and small, born to be the King of all. We are celebrating You, and what You did for us! Thanks for doing that, by the way.

  In closing, dear readers, be encouraged! Have great cheer! Enjoy yourselves as we draw closer and closer to Christmas day. Through it all, remember why we're celebrating. It's a sure-fire way to truly be blessed by this Christmas season. 

Monday, November 30, 2015


The little love nugget in my belly made his or herself known last night.
As I lay in bed next to my husband, my hands resting comfortably on my tummy, I was startled from my reverie by a sudden, solitary, and tiny "thump"! It only happened once, and it was a teeny little thing, but I felt it so distinctly that I knew in an instant what it was. I actually jump and went "oh!"
  That scared Stephan.
 "WHAT?" He asked, flipping onto his side and searching me for a source of my sudden start.
I didn't look at him. I was too busy rubbing my hands over where my baby had bumped me and smiling like a fool.
  "I felt a kick!" I gushed. "Well, hey there, little guy!"
Stephan sighed, annoyed to have been worked up over nothing truly concerning, and flopped back onto his back.
   "Don't be calling my little daughter a guy." He groused as he settled back down.

And thus began my second trimester.

  But to reminisce for a moment;
Thanksgiving was this past week. I love Thanksgiving. I don't think it gets nearly enough credit or applause. Sure, it might not have a vast history or deep, spiritual meaning like its over-shadowing, subsequent holiday that is Christmas, but I find it to be just as warm and lovely.
  Like every other family in America, we celebrate Thanksgiving by gathering together with family and eating a lot of food. Unlike every TV or movie family ever, these family gatherings of ours are never tense, awkward, or filled with strife and yelling. In fact, they're happy, love-soaked events that always leave me feeling blessed to have the family I do.
  It's a rather big family. When we're all together, we need plenty of space to house our shindigs.
  Thankfully, Aunt Kristi's new home was plenty spacious for all the clan to eat together. And eat we did! So much food! Such variety! The deliciousness! it was a tasty event. Everyone got to reconnect and get caught up on the latest family news that might have been missed on facebook. One of my cousins practically proposed to his precious girlfriend! (But not really. For a moment, though, everyone got really excited!)
  Besides the wonderful food and joyful company, what I enjoyed the most was what happened right before we prayed and ate: Jack, my aunt's husband and one of the newer members of the family, proposed that everyone form a circle, hold hands, and take turns sharing what we're thankful for. That was a great idea, Jack. We've never done that before, to my limited memory, and most everyone was eager to share. The predominant and most reoccurring theme of thankfulness was salvation. Praise was given to God for the family there and away, the food we were about to eat, and the undeserved love He gives to us.
   My heart was warmed by the love. My tummy was warmed by the food. I laughed a lot. I hugged family members I haven't seen in a while. Then we bid everyone a farewell until Christmas.
    Oh boy! Christmas is coming!! I'll try to be regular with my blog updates through the month of December, but don't be shocked if that doesn't happen, dear readers. This month is gonna be busy! So, until next time, stay warm and enjoy the Christmas lights, friends! 

Sunday, November 15, 2015

I Am So Upset

Y'all are about to get an eyeful of angry, 'cause I'm about to rant.

Not about cups or climate change or who is leading the polls, but about something truly near and dear to my heart.

I have written on this blog before about my love for lasagna. More specifically, my mother's lasagna. My mother makes dense, delicious, cheesy, meaty, saucy lasagna with love straight from the heart. When I slice into my mother's thick, hearty lasagna, I feel just about overwhelmed with tantalizing smells and happy thoughts. When I take a bite of this home made delight, I think of how loved I felt as a child. This meal needs no supplements; no Parmesan cheese or sprinkle of salt to boost the flavor, it's a culinary delight all on it's own. (Garlic bread is a permissible side. Salad is alright, too).
   It's because of my experience with and love of my mother's lasagna that I hold all other lasagnas to a very high standard. I've tasted some lasagnas that were almost as good. I've tasted some that were good in their own way. Most, however, fall miserably short of  my lasagna standards. The platter of which I shall now describe to you, dear reader, falls into the last category.
   (Reader discretion is advised: I'm not gonna pull any punches.)

My mom was kind and considerate enough to pick up a take-and-bake-type lasagna from a place she happened to drive by yesterday and bring it to me. I have eaten dishes form this place before, and they were rather good, so I accepted her kind gift with a truly appreciative "thank you". Also, it was a lasagna; a meal that I have been jonesing for for quite some time now. From the very get-go, however, I had about me my usual wariness of strange lasagna.
   A visual inspection of the dish appeared adequate. Plenty of sauce, a healthy sprinkling of mozzarella cheese on top, and I saw some meat peeking through in places, which meant that is wasn't one of those shady veggie lasagnas. (A travesty before God and man, whoever invented the meatless lasagna hated life and happiness). Feeling optimistic, I prepped the oven and baked the pasta.
  Then it all went wrong.
 The sauce had turned the noodles into more of a soup than a structured dish, a cardinal sin for any lasagna in my book. There were WAY too many huge, chunky tomato bits; another aggravating no-no for lasagna. But y'all, that wasn't even the worst of it. Not only was the promising ground meat I saw at the start sausage instead of beef, but some ignorant, ne'er-do-well, puppy-hating joker put artichoke and capers in this lasagna!!
  Y'all, I nearly cried.
I glared at my plate. I dug around, hoping to find a redeeming quality in this abomination of my childhood dinnertime fave. I gagged at at the thought of accidentally taking a caper and artichoke-riddled bite of lasagna. I scowled as I declared the whole meal a travesty to my husband, and then I stormed to the kitchen and glared even more at the remaining pasta.
   How DARE you get my hopes up like that, you wretched dish, and then dash them so completely! Sausage? Capers? Artichoke hearts?? I've had my lasagna with venison. I've had some with cottage cheese instead of ricotta. I realize there are ways to alter the traditional lineup of meat, noodles, and cheese that does not destroy the integrity of the meal. But this...this was unacceptable and churlish.

  Okay, I think I feel a little better. If Stephan doesn't want to finish this...this..."meal", then I guess the dogs can have it.

  Mother, if you're reading this, I appreciate you and your lasagna. Thank you for all the lasagnas you've made for your family. Thank you for passing on your recipe to me. I pledge to work at perfecting my lasagna platters until they reach your lasagna's level of deliciousness.

  If you're reading this and you enjoy your lasagna with artichokes and capers in it, we can still be friends. We just won't eat lasagna together, and all will be fine.      

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Of Fatigue and Nausea

Call me Myrtle.

Well, dear readers, it has happened again.
I'm not too terribly surprised, to be honest. The hubs and I were doing a pretty poor job of preventing it from happening. So it's no surprise that, after feeling a little off-pace for a few days, I took a test and saw a big, bold, blue positive glaring back at me. My initial reaction was "opps".
  You see, friends, Stephan and I have been blessed with three children. Because we had reached what seems to be the socially acceptable number of offspring to have in an American household, we had kinda figured that we were done producing kids. In my mind, I was preparing myself for what I thought was the next step in our family's five-year plan: becoming a foster family. Stephan, meanwhile, was preparing to buy a pontoon. Per usual, God looked at our plans and laughed.
    After the initial surprise wore off, it was very quickly replaced with a smile I couldn't shake. I was immediately excited about the new baby that had just made it's presence known. I rubbed my flat(ish) belly and said, "Well, hey there, little one! I'm really excited to meet you! I promise to take good care of you, while you're in my tummy and when you come out!"
  Then I called Stephan.
    "Hey, Stephan, you busy?"
  "No, what's up?"
     "So, you know that boat you wanted to buy?"
      "Weeeeeell, you might want to hold off for now."
(I've never been one for the pintrest-worthy reveals. This has pretty much been the pattern for all four times I've told Stephan he's going to be a daddy.)
 Much to my relief, Stephan was not upset about not getting to buy a boat us having another baby. Even though a few issues did quickly cross our minds. For one, where are we gonna fit the baby? God has blessed us with a beautiful, wonderful house in a great neighborhood, and it fits us perfectly. We have our master bedroom, the boys share a room, and Belle gets her own much better decorated room. We figured at first that, if the baby's another girl, she'll end up sharing a room with big sister Belle.

But then, we remembered that, like Samson of old, Stephan has God-given, super-human abilities. He'll just add a new room to the house and move somebody there. Until that time, just as we have done with the other three, we'll keep our new baby in our bedroom with us. You know, for peace of mind and easier middle-of-the-night feedings.
      Any other issues we could think of were minor and non-consequential. The biggest thing that Stephan was most concerned about was how we were going to tell everyone. As I have previously stated, I am not good with planning and executing adorable, memorable reveals. The last few times we've been pregnant, we've never had the patience or willpower to keep it in and ended up blabbing the good news to anyone nearby. So for this, our last pregnancy for sure this time, Stephan wanted to do something truly unique and special. It just so happened that Stephan had spent an admirable amount of money earlier this year on a ticket to go see his Cowboys play the Patriots in Dallas this October. With that in mind, he swore me to secrecy and laid out his plan. With a bright enough poster board and a little bit of luck and timing, Stephan hoped to let the world know of his forthcoming fourth-coming child on that massive screen above the center field at AT&T Stadium.
  Well, that plan didn't work. Also, I'm due in June, not July. Sadly, Stephan never got any screen time, so he ended up sending me the above picture and giving me the go ahead to tell people. I got to tell my parents in person, as I was there while Stephan was at the game. (They were ecstatic). The rest of my friends and family found out soon after when Stephan posted that picture on Facebook. Good ol' Facebook; the ruin-er of surprises. The good news is that the Cowboys lost, so we don't have to worry about naming our kid "Weeden". (WHEW!)
    Once the word got out, we received kind, congratulatory sentiments across the board. I honestly did worry a bit about people's reaction to our fourth pregnancy; having heard tales of other parents receiving  judgey, critical, even harsh responses to their consecutive pregnancy announcements, but we have gotten no such response, and are happy for it. Instead, we are preparing our hearts, our home, and our family for the addition of another.
    Unlike my pregnancy with the boys, but very similar to my pregnancy with Belle, I have been nauseous. A lot. It could be worse, of this I'm sure, so I'm grateful for the level of nauseated I'm feeling. Besides the upset tummy, I've endured several other classic symptoms of growing another person. Fatigue has been my favorite so far. Thanks to fatigue, I've been in bed and asleep by 9:00 most nights these past three weeks. (I like sleep).
    The kids are excited about having another baby in the house. Even little Belle will poke me in my squishy belly and say "baby!" (It's only precious or adorable when she does it.) Noah and Witten are coming up with names to add to our list of possibilities daily. So far, their favorites are Marco, Chip, or Ivan for a boy, and Joy, Georgia, or Emma for a girl. (I think they're taking the girl names far more seriously). The boys love to see images of what the baby looks like right now via my pregnancy app, and they are eager to share the good news with anyone who cares to hear it. All in all, there is a spirit of excitement and anticipation in our house. Also, every time I see a newborn, my chest constricts a bit and I squeal, either mentally or out loud, because I get to have one of those again!
New Noah

New Witten

New Belle
You're next, little one!

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Camping is for Cool Kids!

The Du Toits went camping!

Stephan found and purchased this little rv trailer a while back. He's been fixing it up all summer. Twice before, we made super fun plans to take it out and put it to good use. Both times we had to cancel last minute, and our little rv had to wait.
Finally, the time was right! All the repairs were made, the plans were set, and the family was packed. Since it was our first outing with our new-to-us trailer, and we wanted to be cautious, we reserved a spot at a state park a little over an hour away. We went with some dear friends of ours who (praise Jesus) were expert campers and were completely prepared for this mini-adventure, instead of just mostly prepared, as I was. (Soap is a good thing to pack when you go camping. And trash bags. Who'da thunk it, amirite?)
The plan: Arrive, set up, hang out, spend the night, hang out until after lunch, then pack up and head home. Like I said: super short and easy. The mini van tugged that rv impressively well, though I doubt we'll be towing it to Montana anytime soon. We reached our destination and set up our camper with ease. And by "we", I mean Stephan. I helped Sheryl set up a canopy for eating under and chairs for chillin' around the fire.
Once the men had the rv's set up, I prepared the beds for the night and arranged our things as efficiently as possible.
   I love our little rv. Off the front, over the hitch, is a queen sized bed. Off the back is a full sized bed where the boys slept.  Belle slept in her pack 'n play, kinda, which we wedged in there as best we could. In the future, I think we'll just let her bunk with us, 'cause that's where she ended up. It was really quite sweet; getting to snuggle with my precious baby again.
    While renovating, Stephan replaced the floors and we washed the cushion covers, so the interior is homey and comfortable. The toilet-shower works perfectly, which was fantastic for me, since I have a tiny bladder, and for when we returned to the campsite after an impromptu swimming session in a super muddy lake. The microwave popped the kids' popcorn with ease, and the stove worked very well when Stephan grilled some sandwiches for lunch on day two.
   The time we spent there was wonderfully relaxed. After everything at our campsites were in order, our two families went for a leisurely stroll around our neck of the woods. for dinner, we grilled some hot dogs over the fire, and then we made some 'smores, of which the children at, like, one and a half combined. They were too excited about watching a movie in the rv to enjoy all this "outdoorsy" stuff.

So, while the kids watched Despicable Me on our tiny rv tv, us adults chatted around the fire. And ate more s'mores. I love s'mores!
     When the kids' bedtime rolled around, they happily prepared for bed and then settled down. Belle and Jana konked right out, but the older ones were so excited about their temporary sleeping arrangements that they were up well past 8:00. After a tired game of Phase 10, the adults called it a night as well.
   Though the bed we slept on is queen sized, Stephan had to pretty much sleep diagonally from corner to corner so as to fit his tall frame. That meant that I had to either curl up in a corner, or sprawl across Stephan's bossy knees if I wanted to stretch out. Besides the bed-hogging, it was a fantastically comfortable sleep.
    Bright and early the next morning, our kindly camping neighbors, the Brabons, had us over to their campsite for breakfast. we broke our fast with ample servings of bananas and strawberries and scrambled eggs, bacon, and toast.  After dressing for the day, we struck out for the playground, which just happened to be located right next to the swimming area of the state park's lake. Like loud moths to a flame, the children were drawn to the lake's muddy shores. The boys and Lucy practiced swimming, while Belle and Jana splashed, ate mud, and explored the shoreline.
   It was while I was following Belle down the shore that I came across a herd of tiny baby frogs. (Herd? Gaggle? Horde?) As I excitedly called for the others to come see the cute, widdle frogs, I watched, to my amazement and mild disgust, as one fleeing frog was snapped up by a little bitty ribbon snake not even three feet from where Belle and I were standing. The kids arrived just in time to watch a live baby frog get swallowed whole by a snake. Yay, nature!
   Anyways, as Sheryl and I watched the kids splash and play, the men snuck off to surprise us by renting two paddle boats for our families to enjoy. The kids loved it. Us parents quickly realized that paddle boats are a really bad idea, unless you regularly race in the Tour de France. The guys paid for us to have them for an hour. We lasted 25 minutes. But again, the kids loved it, so I'd mark that up as a camping win.
   After returning to our campsites, we rinsed of the dirty kids and then enjoyed lunch. Right after lunch, we broke camp, packed our stuff, loaded up, and headed home. Overall, I'd count this quick trip as a victory. We noted things we could change or do better next time we camp (and we plan to camp often), and we made some happy family memories. In summation: I really enjoy camping. When there's air conditioning.
The triumphant return