Monday, July 29, 2013

The Nature Trails

Come for a walk with me...

out to the land behind our house that we used to call our "back acreage."

It's still our back acreage, but for a period of time this spring it was known as the "tractor trails."

And now, it is mostly just referred to as " The Nature Trails."

While the boys run and weave in and out of the loops, we come back here to plot and plan.

And when our minds are exhausted from all the planning, from all of the trying to figure out the future...

we come back here for the quiet.

To look for butterflies, listen to the birds, and feel the breeze.

After a walk through here I promise you, you will come out feeling refreshed.

These pictures were all taken at the end of June.

The purple cow vetch in these shots have been replaced by pasture thistle.

The common milkweed had bloomed and the Indian paintbrushes and prairie cinquefoil have come and gone.

We are awaiting the blooms from the mullein and the next set of milkweed, hoping to properly identify its type.

The boys have eaten the majority of the black caps...

and so these days they are more concerned with finding the latest deer bed and deer trails.

We all have our reasons for walking these trails (nearly) daily...

but I think at the center of it all is to be filled with the peace that nature always seems to provide.

Wishing you all a peaceful start to your week.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Soul Fever

I'm not sure why I didn't connect the dots sooner, but I suppose that's kind of the way it always is: Hindsight is 20/20 - even in parenting.

We've now entered Week 6 of our Summer Schedule and as I've mentioned before, Collin and I are still struggling a bit. Specifically, we're still trying to figure out how to fit a work-out into our day.  We were in such a good routine before this schedule change and so this has been disappointing. I anticipated the kids having some difficulty with the change, Keaton in particular since it meant no longer going to school three days a week and attending swim lessons and t-ball (each once a week.) But the first couple weeks went pretty well and he loves being at Busha's so I figured he just fell into this new routine seamlessly.

Then a few weeks in I started noticing meltdowns and him getting easily upset over what would usually be a small thing.  On top of that reports were coming home from Busha's of a "rough day".  Not what we like to see, we like Busha's reports of a "grrrrreat day!". But yet, I didn't connect the dots.

Maybe we're in a downward cycle with him, I thought. I've heard kids go through a cycle each year with good behavior prevailing for about six months followed by not so good behavior for six months. I've seen this hold true in the past with our kids.

Maybe it's me, maybe I'm not being a good enough mom, I wondered.

Maybe he's just a brat.  I hate to admit it, but yes every once in awhile this thought crosses my mind. (In Keaton's defense it crosses my mind with ALL of my children, not just him.)

Maybe, maybe, maybe...

And then last week I received an email from The Nourished Home, a parenting website, that was titled "What I do when my kids get sick" - I didn't have any sick children but I read it anyway.
  • suspend the normal routine,
  • slow down,
  • keep them close,
  • give them the nurturing and nourishment they need to recover, and
  • we'll return to the normal routine once they're better.
And then Laura asked:

Do you follow this same process of slowing down and suspending routine when your child is out of sorts, overwhelmed, or emotionally distressed?

And everything started to click.  Keaton wasn't sick, not physically, but he was, as Laura described "emotionally off kilter" he had a Soul Fever.

I mentioned to Amanda that I thought I needed to stay home with the boys this weekend and she responded, in regards to Keaton, that yes, he is a homebody.  

I never thought of him that way before but instantly more things were clicking.  The comments following our trip Up North about it being good to be home, him constantly declaring his love for our new house (and his hope that this one won't also burn down), his constant questioning that we aren't going to leave this house, right Mom?

Home is such a secure place, especially for children, and we hadn't been spending enough time here.  Our new schedule took us out of the house on three different occasions during the week, weekends, like summer weekends tend to do, were quickly filled with activities. 

Suddenly, I was connecting the dots.

So I canceled all of our plans.  We slowed down. We spent the weekend at home. We read books, made pancakes, did art, and played outside.

As I sent the kids off yesterday morning I held my breath, hoping it had helped.  Upon their arrival home I received my confirmation - it had been a grrrrreat day!

For now I breath a sigh of relief but I know I need to be ever vigilant in watching for the signs creep up again because a Soul Fever, it needs just as much love and care as a physical fever.  

Friday, July 19, 2013

this is summer

The room was darker than usual when I felt his little hand on my back.  The two younger boys had joined us at some point during the night and while I didn't know exactly what time it was I knew it had to be after 6 am because my alarm had already gone off.  I scooted over and he climbed up next to me, a somewhat surprising move as he usually wants me to get up and get moving. It was the dark, the dreariness, I'm sure.  While normally this may make for a depressing day this morning the dark meant one thing: the rain had come.  Relief was here!

This week has been miserable, weather-wise, as I'm pretty sure it has been for most of you as well.  Well, except for Sarah, living in south-Texas who is reading this and thinking, Babies!  We do this everyday! :) But for us mid-westerners oh!  it has not been fun. Collin has been roofing this entire week and every morning I help him load the kids into the car and look at him and ask, how can you work in this??!!

On Wednesday morning Kira called and asked if we'd like to meet her and the kids at the splash pad, something we've been meaning to do all summer and yes, it felt like the perfect day for some wet and water. The kids had a blast running from one spray thing to the next. Even Nolan, who hasn't been quite as thrilled about water as the other two, had a huge smile on his face. There were a couple of breaks for snacks and then more running and playing and we finished the afternoon with ice cream cones and a train ride.

As I piled three damp, worn out kids back into the car I thought: this is summer.  Yes, there is heat and humidity and sweating, oh, so much sweating, but there is also swim trunks and sunshine and ice cream cones. And really, who doesn't love an ice cream cone?

Thursday, July 11, 2013

good to be home

Can't catch my breath.

That's how I would describe these last four weeks.  

School ended the first week of June and we had one week off before our summer schedule began: Monday night swimming lessons, Wednesday morning swimming lessons, Thursday evening t-ball.

It's not that much and yet, it totally threw us for a loop.  

The first week of a new schedule is always bound to be difficult.  The second week was also birthday party preparation week.  The third week was our 4th of July mini-vacation. And here we are, in the fourth week which included a rushed deadline and required me to be in Milwaukee for work.

So, we have yet to find our groove.

Our Fourth of July was spent going to the parade, watching a Snowshoe baseball game, and staying up late for fireworks.  The boys, again, loved the fireworks.  Even Nolan sat still for the first 45 seconds (that's a long time!)

We got home on Sunday afternoon and as soon as we walked in the door Keaton sighed and said: It's good to be home.  He repeated that sentiment no less than half a dozen times before the car was unpacked.

As I sit here mentally frazzled from the past four weeks I find myself looking forward to the slower-paced weekend ahead and hoping we can find some much needed down time to finally regroup and recharge.  It's in moments like these that I have to wholeheartedly agree with my four year old;  sometimes it's just good to be home.

Wishing you all a nice weekend.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

We'll be 4th of Julying

This guy turned three (THREE!!!) on Friday and we celebrated on Saturday "down on the farm." I love party planning but party preparing is another story.  The stress. The (inevitable) heartaches. With each one I swear it is the last.  And then I saw the look on his face and the squeals of joy when he saw me hanging the  farmers hats and bandannas and I knew right then we'd be doing this again next year. I know it is worth it.  It's worth it because it makes them so happy.

I was hoping to write his birthday party post before we left but a couple of stressful days at work followed by lots of packing and cleaning to do tonight and I'm afraid it will have to wait.  Why?  Because we have some 4th of Julying to do.

Parades.  Fireworks. Snowshoe baseball!  Swimming at the lake. Paddle boating. Fishing.

We're heading up to the cabin for an extended weekend and we're all just a bit excited.  

The 4th of July activity I'm most looking forward to??  The parade.  I'm not exactly sure why, except that we don't see many parades and last year's was so fun.  A big congrats goes out to Amanda who guessed correctly and will (hopefully) get her star pick in the mail tomorrow!

Wishing you all a fun and happy 4th of July!