Showing posts with label Family. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Family. Show all posts

The Happiest Place On Earth



We decide to skip the trolley.  After waiting in line for the ferry to leave Disney World for over an hour, I do not want to wait in another line.  "Let's just walk," I suggest, and I hope the parking lot is as close as I think it is.

We trudge across a nearly empty parking lot to a bridge that crosses over one of the many channels of water in Orlando.  Clouds cover the stars, but we can see the moon peeking out on the edges, a handbreadth up from the horizon.  We cross the bridge and I notice how the moonlight shines across the water through the trees.  The sound of junebugs are everywhere, and birds that are strange to our ears call from these little patches of nature in the middle of all the cement.

"Let's pretend we are explorers, and we just landed in the New World," I say as I push the stroller, trying to distract the big kids from their aching feet.  "See that little water channel, and those trees?  It would be like that everywhere.  And there would be birds calling, and crocodiles in the water, and maybe a panther in the trees!  Can you imagine what it would have been like to be here then?  Would you be scared?"

My oldest son's eyes light up as he considers the possibility, while my daughter looks happy that this is just a pretend game.  Up ahead I hear laughter, and I glance up to see Derek with our preschooler in one arm, and our near-kindergartner in the other.  They grin at me over his shoulders, and I grin back, listening as my oldest two beside me discuss how they would protect themselves in the jungle.  

And that's when I finally feel it.



We've been in the "happiest place on earth" all day, but here in this moment, walking on aching feet through a dark parking lot as if we are conquering explorers, this is when I feel the most magical.

And I realize now that we don't have to travel across the country and have "magic" manufactured for us.  We had tried that all day, and it was a failed attempt.  No, those blessed, happy, magic-filled moments can happen anywhere with a little imagination and gratitude, whenever I open my eyes to them.  They can happen with sore feet and damp hair, they can happen at home or far away, when we are doing something exciting or when we are so tired we are merely longing to be tucked under cool sheets.  

Just being with the people I love most in the world, laughing and walking along together, that is the happiest place on earth.  That is a beautiful blessing given to me by God Himself.



That is magical all by itself.

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I wrote this after our trip to Florida in August, and now seemed like a good time to share it, since my month of memory-keeping is almost over!  You can read all my posts in this series by clicking on the picture below.


Nutrolls And Gatorade And Hunting



One of the ways I bonded with my dad growing up was through him teaching me how to hunt.

Hunting is something that has been tradition in my family for generations, and it started with necessity.  Hunting is an inexpensive way to put meat in our freezer.  My grandpa started hunting when he was a teenager for that very reason, and he and his brother taught their children how to hunt, and they taught theirs, and I guess that's where it became a tradition.  We still hunt today for mainly of the same reasons - to fill the freezer being high up on the list.

Another reason we value hunting so much, contradictory as it may seem to those who don't understand it, is because of a love for God's creation.  We love getting out in nature, seeing the sunrise, hearing which birds wake up first, finding tracks of animals we aren't even trying to find.  We do it because it's a great way to get out there, and we do it for the sake of conservation.  Many people don't realize how many animals would starve and die over the winter if their populations are too high at the start of it.  It's why there is a Division Of Wildlife - to study these things, and help keep ecosystems in proper balance.

It always irks me to see how hunters are sometimes portrayed by authors or producers who don't have a clue.  I've put books down because of a portrayal of hunters as careless idiots with guns who just want to kill something.  The ignorance is stunning to me.  The hunters I know, who I've grown up with, are some of the most careful and most respectful people you will meet with regards to firearms and nature.

When I was twelve my dad took me hunting for the first time.  I had a cow elk tag, and he woke me up early and we made the trek out into the woods.  Snow crunched under my feet, and my lungs burned with the cold morning air at the exertion.  I hung on to the straps on my dad's backpack so he could help haul me up the hill.

Every now and then he would spot a track, sometimes elk, but I remember specifically seeing mountain lion and bear tracks too.  He would whisper and point them out to me, and I'd whisper how cool it was and grin.



I got an elk on that first day of my first hunt.  It was a very exciting moment, and a particularly large elk, so it was great to contribute to the family's food like that.  But my favorite part was grinning at my dad after a successful hunt and seeing he was grinning back at me, and resting together on the snow as we split a Nutroll candy bar and drank a jug of Gatorade.

You just don't even know how good a Nutroll and Gatorade can taste until you've worked so hard for them.  I went hunting with my dad all through my growing up years, and a Nutroll and Gatorade was always our victory meal.

My dad taught Derek how to hunt, and now Derek provides for our family too through hunting, and he's planning to take our kids when they are big enough.  So the tradition continues.

I haven't been hunting since I've had kids.  It was too hard to go since we'd have to find a babysitter.  But as I watch the leaves turn and the frost returning this year, I'm feeling that itch to get out there again (not to mention the meat would help a lot in feeding five hungry kids).

Today, I don't buy Nutrolls or Gatorade.  I just can't imagine snacking on them in my living room or car.  They will forever be reserved for me as the fuel I'll pull out of my backpack, as I'm sitting on a rock in the brisk fall air after a hard morning of hunting.  That's how they taste best.




Gone Fishing (And 3 Reasons You Should Go)



I have a vague memory of my parents taking us fishing once when I was a kid.  My dad's cousin knew a spot.  I remember walking there in the evening, mosquitos hanging in the air, the purple shadows and blue water.

I don't remember if we caught anything that time, but I remember the feeling of being out there at night, hoping we would catch something.

That fishing experience is largely eclipsed in my memory, however, by a Canadian fishing trip when I was twelve.  We drove for days up to Canada, then took a float plane to finally arrive at a little fishing lodge.  Sportsman's Lodge, it was called.  We woke up early, put on our rain gear, and ate Red River hot cereal for breakfast.  Then our native guides, Cecil and Roger, took us out on the water in two boats.

Now that was fishing.

We caught so many fish we had to throw some back before lunch each day.  When the sun was high, Cecil would pull our boat up onto some sandy island, start a fire, and cook up the walleye we caught.  If you have never had fresh-fried wallet on a Canadian shoreline, have you really fished? I've never tasted any other fish that was so good.

I still think of that trip and hope that I can take my kids on a fishing trip like that before they are grown.  

But in the meantime, we try to fish down here, where it's a lot harder to catch something.

Wyatt has been dying to go fishing for a couple summers now.  This was a classic case of saying "We'll try to go soon," until the summer was over and we realized we still hadn't gone.

We finally decided last Sunday was the day.  We packed up some fishing gear, packed a lunch, and went out to attempt fishing in a bright blue sky, in the middle of the day.  Actually not the best fishing strategy,  at all.  But it was just for fun, after all.















The wind was blowing something terrible, and the water was low at the lake.  But we trudged down to the shore anyway.  The kids tore off their shoes and stuck their toes in the water while Derek threaded the fishing line.  We were casting into the wind, the waves were lapping at the shore, and we only got one small nibble.  But we were outside in the sunshine, watching the pelicans having more luck than we did, playing in the sand, enjoying the quiet.

It was pretty magical.

If you've never tried going fishing, you really should give it a go.  Here are a few reasons to go fishing with your family:

1.  You really don't need that much gear.

We did most of our fishing with a $13 fishing pole, taking turns.  We also had to purchase a fishing license, fishing line and bait, and we had a net we had previously, but that was it.  I don't think fishing has to be too expensive, especially starting out.  You don't need top-of-the-line gear to have fun. It's more about the experience, in my opinion.

2.  It's a great way to get outside.

Fishing is a really relaxing way to enjoy nature.  You only have to walk as far as you decide, and then the rest of the time you are sitting or standing on the shore, so there is minimal physical exertion.  But you still get to see the beauty of God's creation up close and personal.  I think it's one of the easiest ways to do something "outdoorsy", especially with kids.  Fishing from the shore is even better with a family, because if the kids get bored, they can run around  a bit.

3. You'll make memories even if you don't catch anything.

Whether you catch anything or not, you still had a chance to enjoy nature and just be together in the outdoors.  And those near misses can be just as bonding as catching something.  All the way home our kids bemoaned the fact that some fish nibbled on our line and stole our bait, and I know they'll remember that.

Have you been fishing lately or ever?  Did you like it?





Dear Big Toe | Little Letters


Dear Big Toe On My Left Foot,
What happened to you?  You look terrible.  I can't figure out what is going on.  One minute you're fine, the next minute you are tingly and twice your normal size, and the situation has quickly morphed into ugly black and blue bruises.   Did I do something wrong?  Did I hurt you in some way?  Whatever I did, I'm sorry.

Dear Picture Of The Big Toe On My Left Foot, 
You do not do the injury (is that what it is?) justice.

Dear Weather, 
You are really throwing me for a loop, you know that?  Please just let me know if I need to return the kiddie pool you prompted me to buy last week.

Dear Bath And Body Works Sale,
You got me.  Again.  And now I'm left asking myself, is it truly a need to have hands that smell like "Beach Cabana" in the summer?

Just kidding, I'm still saying yes.

Dear Hannah B.,
Please send Luke P. home already, before we all regret it.

Dear Fellow Bachelorette Watchers,
If she sent him home this week, don't spoil it for me!  I haven't watched Monday's episode yet.

Dear Children Of Mine,
I hope you always know how delighted I am to be your mother.  It's like a never-ending treasure hunt. Sometime I look at you and I'm just amazed by how individual you all are - fun quirks to your personalities, new interests you are developing, hidden talents I get to glimpse.  If I had to dream up my own set of five unique children to be mine, I know for a fact I couldn't have dreamt up better than you.



Dear Homeschool Conference, 
Well, you've gone and pilfered my money again this year.  I took account of the damage to my bank account when I got home, and it wasn't pretty.  It was still worth it though.  You did give me a ton of biblical resources for discipling my kiddos, including books to satisfy my rather voracious reader.  I got to pretend to be a student again and take a ridiculous amount of notes, which makes my little nerdy heart happy.  And you encouraged me by reminding me of all I can gain through this effort to homeschool my children.  That's pretty priceless.  So I forgive you for tempting me with a bunch of books I didn't know we needed.

(Wyatt, with me when we visited you, Homeschool Conference.)

Dear Harvey,
Please stop shedding now.  I just am not sure how much longer I can take the constant vacuuming and picking tufts of hair off the side of the couches.  But I still love you.

Dear State Parks,
I always thought you smacked a bit of desperation.  Like you were shouting at potential tourists "Look!  Come here!  We have state parks!"  National Parks are one thing, but really, state parks?  Now we are just trying too hard.  I'm writing today to say that I was wrong.  There is a reason for your existence after all.  We've visited a few of you now, and I must admit, you are really pretty.




Dear "How Not To Die Alone" Book,
I had some issues with you.  Language!  Language!  Do I need to pull out the soap?  BUT, you did provide me with a great little Ella Fitzgerald playlist, so I guess I don't not like you.

Dear Grammar Nerds,
Yes, that was a double negative.

Dear Library,
If you were to compile a list of the top fine-payers, would I make the list?  Just wondering.  Also, is it normal to be willing to accrue the fine if it gives me a couple extra days to finish the book?  How many of your average patrons know that if you forget to return a book for 20 days, you will get charged a $40 dollar replacement fee, but that the fee will magically just disappear if you do happen to return the book?  I think this knowledge proves that I must be an avid library supporter.  Also, my husband always gets a break on paying the fees if I send him in there to sort it out.  I, on the other hand, never get a break.  I know he's more charming than me, generally speaking, but you do see the five little duckling-children trailing behind me, right?  Future taxpayers that will help fund your library, and I birthed them.  Just saying.

Dear Blog Readers Who Are Reading This Right Now,
How's June treating you so far?

Dear Blog Buddies,
Feel free to write a "Little Letters" post if you are so inclined!  And thanks to Brittney, Michelle, Rachel, Heather, and Bekah for joining me over the last month! Your posts made my day(s)!  Good old-school blogging solidarity there. ;-)








The Summer Album: The Sequel


Let's continue with my recap to our summer, shall we?  See yesterday's post for Part One.

Our 10-Year Anniversary

We celebrated our 10 year anniversary this summer!  Anniversary trip is still to come, but we did go to a fun local restaurant/petting zoo/park to celebrate.  The kids ran around and played, and we ate Southern comfort food.




Ballet Class For Gwen

Gwen has been dying to do ballet all year, and was beside herself with excitement when we finally signed her up!  She loved it so much.  We will probably be doing another class for her in the future - it was so sad to see her disappointment on her last day of ballet.  Clarice also dressed up in ballet clothes and tagged along a couple times.




Art Projects On The Porch

A lot of the summer looked like this - just having around at home and goofing off.


Naps

We took a lot of naps.


Lots Of Birthday Parties For Friends And Family

There were a lot of birthday parties this year.  We went to splash pads, and a couple bouncy house parties (one coming up this weekend).  


Trip To Six Flags

A friend of mine got a season pass to Six Flags, and invited me to go with her for a mom's day out!  Derek and I went to an amusement park a couple years ago, and we got sick on a few of the rides but found our sweet spot by the end of the day, so I figured I'd be fine.  My friend and I had a ton of fun, riding all the roller coasters and getting a chance to talk uninterrupted by children!  I did get nauseous between rides though and had to sip a lot of water - why are adult stomachs not as hardy as kid stomachs?  It's just not fair.  I'm bringing Dramamine next time.


$1 Movies At The Theater

Some of our local theaters do $1 kid movies over the summer, so we went to see a couple of them!  I want to go more next summer, it's a fun day out for all of us and it's a nice little break for me!



Campfire In The Backyard

They finally lifted the fire ban toward the end of the summer, so we had a backyard campfire strait away!









Camping On The Porch

We also threw in camping on the porch, because why not?





Trip To See Dinosaur Footprint Fossils

We had an opportunity to hear a creationist geologist speak at a nearby area with dinosaur footprint fossils.  His talk was more geared toward the adults, and I found it interesting (until we had to dive out because the sun was becoming a little too much for Georgie).  The kids were fascinated by the dinosaur footprints, and we all wished we could search through those rocks on the side of the road for fossils.







Last Hoorah For Summer Camping Trip

We decided to take a camping trip on the last weekend before we started school this week!  We went to a KOA, and it was amazing.  They had a water park included in the price of the campsite, so we spent several hours there, letting the kids play!  The water wasn't very deep, so I could just let them go off by themselves while I watched.  It was so much fun!  We also snuck in a hike and trip to "Whit's End".  We got one more campfire in before the summer ended.  It was lovely.










Now Autumn is officially welcome to start!
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