Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Home sweet home!

After 2 days of driving, 5 jam-packed, fun-filled days with family, 2 more days of driving, 2,400 miles total, we are back home in Colorado. I think I need another week off just to recover from vacation!
The kids were great on the drive to Kentucky, scary good. Rylan was enthralled with his car DVD player and watched movies almost the entire trip. Caroline never realized she was spending two whole days strapped in her car seat and was a happy girl most of the time. We found a nice rest area and a Dairy Queen with a huge indoor playland for the kids to run off some energy. We spent the night in a great hotel in Kansas City and it was wonderful to relax in the pool and hot tub after a long day of driving.
Kentucky was steamy hot and humid! I am such a wimp about heat after living in Colorado for two years. The best part was cooling off at the pool and the kids loved swimming. Caroline was crazy about the water and totally fearless with her water wings on. She loved to lean back, dip her head in the water and float. She climbed the stairs to the water slide in the big family pool at least a half dozen times. She would hit the water, go under completely and emerge with a huge grin on her face. Rylan was more cautious and tried the slide once with a lot of coaxing. With his water wings and a noodle, though, he felt braver in the deep water.
There were so many fun things to do on the farm and it was neat to see the kids enjoy some of the same things I did as a child. We patted the horses, waded in the creek, caught lightning bugs, loved on the dogs, jumped on the trampoline, played with cousins... The kids stayed up til 9:30 or 10:00 each night, partly because it stays light so long in the summer in KY and because they were having too much fun to slow down.
It was wonderful to see my family; all the members of our large and growing family. There are now seven cousins, aged five and under, which makes whole family get-togethers very loud and rambunctious. Almost too much noise and craziness under one roof. It was hard to realize as badly as we all want to spend time with each other, we may have to make adjustments so it can be more enjoyable for everyone.
I loved seeing all the cousins together, each so unique in their personalities and looks, but it was definitely a more peaceful reunion in my imagination than in reality!
I was also amazed at the differences in my kid's personalities as they responded to all the new faces and experiences. Caroline was shy for about the first 20 minutes then I don't remember a frown or a whimper the rest of the trip. She thrived on the activity and being around other people. The horses, dogs, trampoline, pools, and Nana's toys all delighted her to no end. She bonded with her aunts who hadn't seen her since she was a baby. She played hard all day then fell asleep as soon as she hit the bed.
Poor Rylan was the exact opposite. He was totally overwhelmed with all the new people and having to share "his" Nana and "his" toys (really Nana's.) He screamed, threw ugly fits, got into fist-fights with his cousins, whined, cried, and was generally exasperating to be around for the first few days. For an introvert who thrives on routine, this trip really turned him for a loop. Once I got a little of my patience back, I could empathize with him, for I certainly know where he gets these traits. Rylan's cousins were amazingly patient with him during this nastiness and I will admit his behavior did improve a little by the end of the trip.
One of my goals was to take pictures of all the cousins together for the first time. My dad is a very good photographer and we had a lovely location at Spindletop. The boys wore solid color shirts in either red, white, or blue depending on family, and I had made matching 4th of July themed dresses for Caroline and Katherine. They turned out very cute even though I don't think we got a single picture of all seven kids looking at the camera at once.
One of the highlights of my trip was our girl's afternoon on Wednesday. Bethany, Anna, and I spend the afternoon relaxing by the pool, then ate a delicious dinner on the patio at Cheddars. The evening was cooling off, we had the patio to ourselves with a waterfall in the background, and best of all, uninterrupted conversation. It was so lovely to truly be able to enjoy a meal and the company of my sisters.
I also had a wonderful visit with my dear friend Emily at her house on Thursday morning. Lately we have been able to see each other about once a year and it was great to catch up and see how her kids have grown.
We left Saturday morning and by the return trip, the kids had figured out we were in it for the long haul each day. Caroline was fussy, Rylan complaining, and us adults sick of being in the car, too. Caroline and I shared a queen bed in the hotel which included her falling off in the middle of the night and waking up about 6:30 am to climb all over me. Not very restful. We made good time, though, and seeing Pikes Peak and feeling that cool mountain air was welcome indeed.
We have been busy unpacking, settling back to a routine and getting ready for Grammy's visit on Saturday. Oh, and Rylan surprised us with goopy eyes today. Yes, he has pink eye for the first time! I have no idea where he got it, except maybe gross gas station bathrooms or kid's playlands along the way... Like a good mom, I bought a pack of M&M's to bribe him through the 5 days of eye drops, 3 times a day...

I have to work Monday and Tuesday nights, then I'll try to upload some pictures later this week.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Wrapping up Soccer Camp

Rylan, you had lots of fun at soccer camp....

pretending you were a dinosaur trapped in a net.....

playing games with the flags....

inventing a new game where you are allowed to carry the soccer ball, and.....

showing your baby sister how to kick the ball like a champ.

We are packing up for our drive to Kentucky next week. Can't wait to see all our family, explore the farm, and splash in the pool. I'll update again when we get back home.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Soccer camp day #2

We signed Rylan up for a soccer camp for 3-5 year olds through our church this week. The main coach, Steve Long, used to be an olympic soccer player and now works as a missionary reaching out to kids, mostly overseas through soccer. I really wasn't sure how Rylan would react since we have never put him in any "organized" sports before. But the cost was minimal and for only a 1/2 hour each day, I really thought this would be fun for him and a great place to start. The first day dawned cold and rainy so the kids met in the gym and simply chased the balls around for 30 minutes. What could be more fun for a 3-year old boy? Rylan had a blast, played well with the other kids, mostly listened to his coaches, and was very comfortable being independent from us.
Tuesday they moved outside and played a "game" where they alternated directions with the ball. I spent a lot of the time chasing his little sister who also was excited about playing "soccu, soccu." Several times she ran out onto the field, and when I tried to herd her back out of the way, the coach said we could let her stay and play. It was so cute to see this tiny little 18-month old try to kick the ball like a big kid. In two more years, we'll have to sign Miss Caroline up for soccer camp.

On the drive home Rylan exclaimed about how much fun he'd had. "Can I play lots of sports, Mom?"
"Sure we can try some different sports and see which ones you like best," I replied.
"Really, I can play football and basketball and tennisee?"

Monday, June 14, 2010

Soccer Camp Day 1

Rylan started his first soccer camp this week. It is being held by former professional soccer player Steve Long. Rylan loved it and can't wait to go back tomorrow!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Caroline pushes her baby in the stroller

Lately, Caroline has been much more interested in her baby dolls. Somehow she even seems to know they need to sit in the stroller a certain way. I love how she checks the baby's feet before they take off.

"Amazing Grace" Rylan style

For your viewing enjoyment: the vocal and instrumental talents of Rylan Clarke:

In all fairness....

...my little man is pretty cute, too, as he brought out all his tools to "fix" his lawnmower today.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Pure cuteness!

Couldn't you just eat her up with a spoon?

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Cub Lake Trail

All spring I have been eager to take a trip into the mountains and it couldn't get any better than my favorite place, Rocky Mtn. National Park. Neither Charlton nor I had to work on Saturday, and the weather was beautiful, so I packed a picnic lunch, picked out a trail in the park and we headed north.
I have learned a few things from hiking with kids. Two things stand out: #1 You may not actually get to hike on the trail you originally pick, and #2 You almost certainly won't reach your destination, so just enjoy the journey. Saturday was a prime example. We picked out one trail but realized that trailhead was still a mile away from our parking spot. So, the Fern Lake trail was a no-go, but wouldn't you know, we had parked right next to Cub Lake trail and it couldn't have been more perfect for us and the kids.
I think it was probably my favorite day ever in the park with the family. I am such a planner, but it was so cool of God to sweetly surprise me with this change of destination.

The Big Thompson creek was swollen from spring snow melt. Stones Peak, Spragues Peak, and Gabletop Mtn. can be seen in the distance. We crossed two log bridges over the creek near the start of the trail.

Charlton carrying Caroline in the torture device for parents..err baby back pack. I will be so glad to retire it after this season. It is a really nice backpack, but for some reason it just kills our backs to carry her 26lbs in it. Maybe we aren't adjusting it right or she is just too heavy, I don't know... I wish she could still fit in the moby wrap.

Rylan found lots of good places to poke his stick in the water.

My hiking buddy.

There were some great rocks to climb along this trail. Rylan was especially interested in rock climbing and was pretending he was a character from a movie (Tilon sp? from Kung Fu Panda.)

The west side of the lovely Moraine meadow. An enormous herd of elk was grazing just to the left out of my picture. Everything was so lush and green with a rushing stream running through the meadow, it made me think of Eden. We hiked along the trail to the right. If you continued for about 2 miles, you would actually reach Cub Lake.

These elk were grazing on an island and had to cross the high stream to get back to the rest of the herd. It was exciting to watch them forge through that deep, icy cold water.

Charlton and his kids.

Little missy hikes on her own two legs and gives our backs a break. Caroline was feeling better from her virus, but still not 100% yet and our hike in the fresh air really wore her out. She did love seeing the elk and called them "neigh-neigh", her word for horses!

One of the highlights for me was seeing this elk calf. He let me get this close, then took off across the meadow to meet his mama who was anxiously waiting for him. For such a young guy, he could really move!

Hummingbirds were zipping and zooming all around us. This one sat still long enough for me to get a picture.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Feeling better

I tempted Caroline with her favorite foods Friday night, mac&cheese with cookies for dessert. I think you can guess how she was feeling..... Notice the lovely chocolate drip on her arm.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Summer sickness

Caroline spiked a temp on Tuesday evening and last night it climbed all the way to 104.3. I have never had a child with that high of a fever and it was a little scary. I couldn't believe how hot she felt. We just lay on the couch and cuddled because she felt so awful. This morning she was still feverish and acting like she felt bad so off to the doctor we went. The verdict: a viral throat infection. The doctor said her throat was full of pus and looked very inflamed. Unfortunately there is nothing you can do for a virus but let it run its 3-5 day course. We also learned it is very contagious. Oh joy! Rylan has been sweet and sympathetic to his sister, and thankfully still feeling fine. This morning I let them both cuddle on the couch with their breakfast and watch cartoons together.

Manitou Lake Park

On Saturday, Charlton had a guys' day out, so I was trying to think of something fun to do with the kids. It was supposed to be nearly 90 in the Springs, which is way too hot for me this early in the season. Also, I had been really itching for some spring mountain scenery. We left early and drove to a really fun donut shop in Woodland Park called the Donut Mill. Rylan enjoyed an entire chocolate iced sprinkle donut and Caroline and I shared a cinnamon twist. I forgot my camera in the car so I didn't get any pictures of their delight, but it was definitely a highlight of their day. Caroline didn't say much, but every few minutes she would gaze at me lovingly and stroke my arm with her cinnamon sugar covered fingers. I think that meant she liked her donut!
After a google search I found this park. It was more crowded than I had hoped and much windier than I had expected which was disappointing. I was kind of wanting a "get away from it all kind of experience" which wasn't very practical on Memorial weekend with two kids. And even if I did find such a magical place, we might have gotten eaten by a mountain lion!
My other mistake was hauling Caroline in our baby backpack while also carrying another backpack with our picnic. That turned out to be a huge pain in the back and neck. Rylan managed to walk the entire mile long path around the lake, but not without a good deal of whining. I did enjoy some pretty scenery but have to admit, I was glad to climb back in the car again!

A lovely view of the west side of Pikes Peak, a side we aren't used to seeing.

When is she going to grow out of the "put everything in your mouth" stage? We had just eaten lunch. (Last week, Caroline licked my toilet plunger after it had been recently used. I guess this is much better in comparison.)

My wild little woman. She was definitely not in the mood for letting me fix her hair that day so this is her all-natural wind-blown look!

I like this view of the kids even though they weren't looking at the camera.

The kids hanging out on a rock overlooking the lake and trying not to blow away.

Memorial Day

Memorial Day was especially memorable at our house this year. Charlton, Rylan, and Jesus shared a special time together so I'll let Charlton share exactly what happened in his own words:

"We were sitting on the couch this morning and he [Rylan] asked me to read him a story from the Bible. I asked which one and he replied, "about Jesus on the cross." So we read the whole thing. Afterwards I explained about the cross and salvation (in the best 3 year old terms I could think of) and felt prompted to ask him if he wanted to pray and ask Jesus into his heart. After some time he said yes, but wanted help praying. So, I prayed and he repeated after me. Afterwords, he said some funny things like, "I can't get my tummy open, how does Jesus get out," and "I asked Jesus into my tummy." So, the whole thing about Jesus in your heart is still a little confusing. I do believe it is possible for a 3yr old to accept Christ. At very least I believe the Holy Spirit awoke his heart. A great moment. Pray that God makes it solid in his heart."

I had to work Sunday night, so I was asleep for this conversation and didn't hear about it until later that afternoon. My greatest desire for my children is that they would know Jesus as their Savior. What an amazing answer to prayer! I know Rylan can't understand all the theology and importance of his decision, but I am touched by the evidence of God working in his heart and making it tender to spiritual things even at this young age. Even us "wise" adults could learn from the simple faith of a child. I know God has a special plan for each one of my children and the chance to see God's fingerprints so clearly on Rylan's life was awesome. Thank you Jesus for the gift of life.