August 25, 2012

Dear Bennett, Month 35

Dear Ben,

There's a game that we like to play together called "Scavenger Hunt."  It's really good for when I'm feeding Claire or trying to keep your mind off of getting into trouble.  It's pretty simple:  I call out a shape or color or letter and you have to go put your finger on an object that matches my description.  For instance, I'll say "go find an orange triangle" and you'll run all over the place looking for the puzzle piece or block that is both orange and has three sides.

The best part of this game is that every time I give you a challenge you respond immediately with, "Oh, that's easy."  And then you run off to find it.

Oh, that's easy.

There are so many things that come easy to you.  You're smart, strong and capable.  There are things, however, that don't come as easily.  Like . . . sitting still.  And obeying.  And not hitting.  There are moments when I see teeny glimmers of hope.  There are times when I ask you to do something and you respond with "Okay, mom."  Or I ask you to NOT do something and you say, "Alright."  These moments don't come along very often, but I treasure each one.  And someday, these moments will come easily, too.

 One of my favorite things to watch is how well you play with Claire.  She LOVES you and she looks as if she won the lottery each time you walk into the room.  You sometimes play a little too rough, and I have to step in, but she doesn't really seem to mind.  I walked into the room yesterday and you were sitting on the chair and she was sitting on the floor below you.  You were gently popping her in the head with the sole of your foot, just enough to make her rock back a little.  She laughed each time you did it and the game persisted for about 10 minutes.  It was so funny to watch.  You two have a very special relationship.

You have a fun relationship with Jack, too.  You look up to your big brother and get upset when he doesn't let you play with him or doesn't acknowledge what you have to contribute.  When you're getting along, though, you two invent games and stories that entertain your dad and I to no end.  Together, you invented a game this week called "Come and get me whoopsie."  One of you yells "come and get me" and the other runs after him.  Then the caller jumps out of the way and yells "whoopsie" as the runner flings onto the bed.  So, so funny.

I love you so much, Ben.  I love your honesty and your playfulness.  I love how you take care of your sister and how much you admire your brother.  I love it that when I ask for help, you jump at the chance.

There are some things about being your mom that are difficult, but loving you is not one of them.  Loving you is easy.


August 14, 2012

What I shouldn't be doing . . .

. . . is blogging.  I have approximately ONE MILLION projects on which I should be working, but this sad little blog has been neglected long enough.  It's hard to remember a time in which I wrote here daily.  It was a different life. 

Here's a hodgepodge summary of the last two weeks:

Jack's at VBS right now, so I've been working the last few nights from Panera.  Our church does a fantastic job and I'm so glad that it fell after camps were over so that we could bring Jack.  He asks every night if we'll be able to do it again next year!

Our summer youth camp season ended on August 3, which is the earliest it's ever ended.  The last week was rough, for so many reasons, including, but not limited to, the fact that all three kids had a mystery virus that caused alarmingly high temperatures for all of them.  That wasn't fun.  Summer is a crazy time and being forced to slow down and take care of them ended up being a good thing, but was still stressful.

The Sunday after camps were over, we left on vacation, but now we're back at it.  We have tons of cross country camps, soccer camps, rental groups, etc. and  we have adult and family retreats from the end of August through the beginning of October.  And then we start planning for winter camps, spring retreats and next summer.

Vacation . . . I don't really think "vacation" is the right word for a trip with three young children.  Don't get me wrong.  We had fun.  It was just a lot of work.

I didn't pack my usual bag of games, toys and snacks for the ride up.  I just bought a few new DVDs.  They love to watch movies in the car and I wasn't going to fight it.   All the way there.  All the way back.  Claire slept and played with the toys I handed her.  4 1/2 hours with no stops . . . easiest trip ever.

We rented a house near the campground where Kyle's entire family camped.  And while it was fun to go to the campground and beach, I was SO glad to be in a house and not in a tent or a trailer.

Claire is full out crawling and pulling herself up now, so I think a dusty campsite would have been rough.  And I'm convinced that my two-year-old ran out into the road every time we were there, simply to see the panicked look on my face.  The house was perfect for us and we enjoyed getting away. 

We hiked up to the overlook in Boyne City and it was beautiful.  Getting three kids up to the top (mostly the two youngest) was difficult though.

Ben and Claire started this way:

 And ended this way:

Yeah, that's Kyle carrying both of them.  Almost 500 steps.  Super fun for him.

But the view at the top of Lake Charlevoix was lovely.

We tried to get a "cousins" picture, but this was the best that we could get Ben to do.

I celebrated my 34th birthday while we were up there.  It was kind of a crappy day.  I just wasn't feeling well, and nothing really went as planned.  Kyle had scheduled a massage and facial for me that day, but I got a sunburn earlier in the week that would have made both of those things uncomfortable.

Oh, the sunburn.  I haven't had a bad sunburn in so many years.  I used to get them all the time.  I wear sunscreen constantly, but my back just wasn't used to that much direct sun for the 2 1/2 hours we were at the beach that day.  Even with SPF 50, I didn't stand a chance.  I had chills and felt sick almost all night and it made me uncomfortable for most of the trip.

Even though I got that sunburn, we did have some good beach time.  The boys played in the water with Kyle, I sat and dug a disturbing amount of sand out of Claire's mouth.  I sat at the edge of the water with Claire for a while and just let the waves of Lake Charlevoix splash over her legs and belly.  She was a little unsure at first, but seemed to really like it eventually.

We did get a chance to play miniature golf . . . which was pretty much the only thing Jack requested that we do while we were there.  Kyle beat us all.  I did get a hole in one . . . though I didn't even know it because as soon as I hit the ball, I saw Ben splashing in the bottom of the waterfall and ran after him.  I still kind of wonder if Kyle just hit it in the hole for me because it was my birthday.  At any point on the course where there was water, either Kyle or I had to be standing right with Ben to make sure he didn't . . . well . . . go for a swim.

I took family pictures for Kyle's sister and brother-in-law and nieces.  I worked on a few pictures while the kids were napping one day, but they're now sitting here as one of my unfinished projects.  It made me wish I had hired someone to come take our family pictures while we were there.  I have tons of great pictures of other people's families.  Very few of my own.

On our last day, we went to Petoskey and let the boys choose any toy (within reason).  Jack chose a puzzle and a license plate with his name on it.  I bought an educational toy for both of them to share.  And Ben?  Ben chose a push broom.

Seriously.  A toy broom.  And he had fun sweeping the streets wherever we went for the rest of the day.  I love that kid.

So, we're home.  We're getting ready to send Jack to Kindergarten and Ben to preschool . . . both of which I have anxiety about.  Our beloved babysitter of the last 3 1/2ish years let us know at the end of July that she was picking up more hours at her real job and wouldn't be available to watch the kids anymore.  I got the message in the dairy section of Walmart and tried to hold it together, but ultimately finished my shopping while ugly-crying.

It wasn't just that message. The message from the babysitter was just kind of the straw that broke the camel's back.  It has just been a rough summer.  We never really figured out a routine with babysitters and child care.  Logistically, camps were harder than they ever have been before.  I've been dealing with a neverending sinus infection and ear infections.  I just felt anxious and frustrated for a good portion of the summer.  And then three kids with mystery illnesses that last week?  It was just the icing on the cake. 

That said, I also think that this summer was the one that we saw more lives changed and more spiritual growth in our campers than we have in a while.  So, it was definitely all worth it.  I just need to keep that all in perspective.

August 2, 2012

Claire at 7 months old

Claire, 7 months old

At 7 months old, Claire . . .

. . . gives sweet slobbery kisses anytime we ask.

. . . likes to dance.

. . . loves, loves, loves bath time.

. . . sleeps from 6:30 - 6:30 and then naps for about 90 minutes in the morning and 45 minutes in the afternoon. 

. . . crawls forward and has chaffed knees from doing so.

. . . will eat pretty much anything like a champ.

. . . will sometimes wave when we say goodbye.

. . . makes a noise that sounds an awful lot like "hiiii" whenever we say "hi" to her.

. . . "sings" when the radio is on in the car.  Stops when we turn it off.

. . .  nurses only in the morning now.  Has bottles the rest of the day.

. . . does this funny little thing where she smiles and tucks her head down to hide her face when someone smiles at her.