As my kids get older, the quality time we have as a family and even just alone is a minimum. Each day someone has something going on that takes away from the other two. After a whirlwind first month of school and getting into our crazy schedule, I am seeing little lights at the end of little tunnels that were once very dark.
I love the time each week I get to have one-on-one time with each of my kids. By far my youngest gets the best quantity of my time since she has me to herself every afternoon. But it is during this time I get to see how she is maturing and changing each day. It is during these afternoons that I love to snuggle with her and let her be her.
I love my weekly dinner dates with my son. Yes it is usually McDonald’s but I will take a burger and fries with him over anything any day of the week. He is the only male in the house. He is the middle child. He is the one I feel I need to learn how to connect with the most since I am obviously not a male myself…ha! In our short little date, I find out so much about what is going on in his mind and his world. This is where I am hoping the lines of communication begins and he knows he can tell me anything.
And as my oldest is changing and trying to find her way as an almost “tween”, I live for our late night drive to and from her one dance class. I put my pride and guilt aside and recruited help on one night where it is just her and I. It gives us a chance to just have girl talk. I am not just mom but a confidant. I hesitate to use the word “friend” here. It is such a fine line to walk with any child. But I think (or hope) that keeping that line drawn will create a special and unique bond that is even better than a friendship. I see how she is entering into the years of struggling to find herself and to find where she fits in on top of peer pressure and everything else that comes with growing up and I am scared for her. I know I wouldn’t want to be growing up in this day and age. It is during this time, I see the amazing young lady she is and this is when she truly confides in me.
I am very proud of myself that I have been able to put aside my guilt, my pride, my desire to do it all aside. Because let’s face it I can’t and no one can. I am taking full advantage of my weekly dates more and more as each week passes because I see the small changes they make for each of them and for me.
My late husband loved nature. He was an avid hunter. He loved to fish. If he got stressed with work or needed alone time, he headed directly to the mountains. It was his happy place. It is NOT my happy place. But our kids seemed to have inherited his love of the outdoors. As soon as they could walk, he would slowly take them down to the creek near our home. Many Saturday mornings (when it wasn’t hunting season) he would take Ella and Hunter to the creek or up to the mountains where he would spend hours hunting. Just two weeks prior to his death, he had taken them up to the mountains for a hike and to shoot their BB Guns. It is a memory my daughter holds very close to her heart.
I try my best to keep this love of nature alive in our family. Unfortunately my children really haven’t been exposed to what they would have been if my husband was with us today. They know how to fish to a point. They know about animals from their tracks to what they eat and their habits. They have not been exposed to hunting and only have a vague memory of how it was such a huge part of our life at one point. I mean my wedding and honeymoon were planned around hunting season! Their births were planned around hunting season too!
So how do I keep this love of nature alive in our family especially when I am not a huge van? Besides relying on my in-laws to expose them to the great outdoors, I will venture to a local state park as well as head down to the creek near our home a few times throughout the year. I put on my big girl pants and suck it all up for them! I suck up the smell. I suck up the bugs. I suck up the dirt. I suck up rodents we come across. I suck it all up because my kids love it!
Yesterday I decided I had put off heading to a local state park long enough. My gosh it is literally 15 minutes away and it is pretty beautiful. It is smelly, buggy, and filled with all things nature lovers love! So we packed a lunch, put on old shoes, bathing suits, and even brought the dog (oh I despise wet dirty dogs) and jumped in the van and headed to the state park. The kids were so excited! They knew exactly which path to take and we started looking for a good spot near the creek so they could get in and just start exploring the water. As we are about to head down the one path, Hunter noticed some rustling in the bushes. There I am thinking to myself “Oh s#*^! What is it and what am I going to do?” We look over and there are 2 adorable baby raccoons. Ummmm…aren’t raccoons nocturnal? We look as they scurry off.
I figure cool excitement for the day. We lay down a blanket near the bank of the creek and they head into the creek. Mazy and I sit on the blanket to watch and relax. Then a few minutes later Ella yells out “Mom the raccoons are here!” They are all excited and are not afraid at all. They watch them and the only one of my kids to even be remotely concern is Hunter. I decide I will take the dog down into the water and snap a few pictures. Well this is where the fun began!
These cute little buggers decided to hang out and they decided to head over to our blanket and start drinking the dog’s water from a pouch I had sitting out. Hunter grabbed what was important~ THE FOOD and later the other bag with towels in it. He stood far away. I stood on a rock with the dog in the middle of the creek. The girls weren’t scared at all! These little adorable things decided they wanted the pouch and actually took it and climbed up a tree with it! I’m standing in the creek laughing because this would only happen to me! Hunter was ready to go but the girls were able to convince him to stay after we headed to another area.
As I think about all of this, I can’t help but laugh. As much as dread being one with nature, it was a pretty cool experience and the kids are still talking about it!
If you could be anywhere today, where would you go?
Just me….a peaceful island with white sand and crystal blue water!
With the my kids….Disney (parks or a cruise)!
I just keep thinking how time is slipping through my fingers and before I know it we will be starting school. I love the structure that comes with a school year but at the same time we are so busy with everyone’s activities that we lose the much-needed time to connect some weeks. I find the more stress I am under or if I am not my best emotionally, I tend to not be the best mom for my kids.
I want to make the best of these last days of summer to really connect as a family. I found this 30 Day Challenge from iMOM.com and I am going to try it. I learned a lot from the 3 Positives for 5 Days Challenge, so I am sure I will learn even more from this challenge as well. I am just hoping it will help me to refocus on priorities that seem to get forgotten during the this thing called life.
Is it just me or did this summer completely fly by? I was looking at the calendar and realized in 4 short weeks school will start! I have no idea how this happened. We have done nothing I had hoped to do yet. Not that there was much planned because I really wanted this summer to be unstructured and to focus on the little things. And we have been doing just that. A lot of swimming and spending quality time with their grandparents and sitting down every night at the table for dinner. I have to say that is the one thing I miss when our life is constantly go-go-go~ sitting as a family for dinner every night. We have been able to have great conversations and uninterrupted family time during these meals. And there has been that much complaining from Mr. Picky Eater either!
But I have so many other little things I wanted to do~
Date Night with each of them
Sparklers (on my counter since the 4th of July weekend)
Time to make these last 4 weeks count!
The endless week and weekend of craziness have come to close and now I feel summer can officially begin. My goal is to do some unexpected fun thing each day. Today I surprised the kids with ice cream for lunch. They thought, for a brief moment, I was the “BEST mom in the world”. It was short-lived, as will anything a parent does, and the whine came back later in the evening. But I enjoyed sitting in the ice cream shoppe and just gobbling down ice cream and chatting with the kids. They were laughing hysterically as some elderly man began to talk to us and asked if he could be one of my kids because I allow them to eat ice cream for lunch 😉
I want this summer to be about simple things. The simple things that can create a lasting memory. Life and every day responsibilities seem to consume me sometimes. I forget to enjoy the every day moments I am given to spend with my children. If I can schedule summer tutoring, summer camps, doctor appointments, etc I certainly can schedule in moments that will become lasting memories. My goal is for these simple moments to be just that…simple.
Ice Cream for lunch/dinner
Water Balloon Fight
Camp Out in the living room
Catch lightning bugs
Explore the creek
Sit outside and look at the stars
Go for a walk
What are some simple things you like to do with your family?
My fur babies
A good memory
The smell of new baby
Doing something for someone else
My “mindless” TV shows
What are some things that make you happy?