Saturday, June 23, 2007

One year done, one year to go...

Our oldest son, Jeremy, left one year ago for Okinawa, Japan. He joined the Marines in October of 2005 and after completing bootcamp and then technical training, he headed out to Okinawa for 2 years. This week marks the halfway point.

I found this photo that we took of him the week before he left for technical training:

Jeremy in uniform

To put this year absence into perspective, here's what Elizabeth and Miss T (the cat that just had kittens) looked like this the last time Jeremy saw either of them:

ELE and Miss T

Here's one of Him holding Elizabeth while he was home:

Jeremy and Elizabeth

And this is what Elizabeth and Miss T look like today:

ELE todayMiss T and kittens

A lot changes in a year! Boy we sure miss Jeremy and hope that the next year goes by quickly!

Love on your kids while you can...before you know it they grow up and leave home!

That felt good!

I actually didn't work for 5 days! This was the first time in nearly 3 years that I really got away! I took 8 of the kids (Jeremy's in the Marines and stationed in Okinawa, and Jason works full time but couldn't take the time off, so he stayed home with Daryl who also couldn't take the time off now) and went camping!

We left suddenly on Sunday - we had planned to leave on Tuesday, but one look at the weather forecast showed me that earlier was better than later! So we quickly packed up and took off around noon. We got to camp around 7 pm and set up as quickly as we could.


We spent most of Monday running errands and washing clothes at the laundry mat - we left so suddenly there wasn't time to catch up on laundry (for some reason we always seem to have a lot of laundry to do around here ;) ).

That allowed us to have a great day on Tuesday (the best day of the week for beach fun)

all but one

- we did beach combing out on the spit - saw a couple of large star fish, one purple and one orange, and ton of anemones, mostly green and purple, more little crabs than you could ever count (yes, that's a brave mom (me) holding that crab - it did try to pinch me, but I learned young how to hold a crab!) and the highlight of the day - a sea otter (the pictures didn't turn out, bummer!)! It even climbed up on the rocks to eat a fish and stare at us!~ It was sooooo cool!


Then after lunch we went to the sandy part of the beach and the kids got to play in the waves and in the fresh water creek and learn about "estuaries" and what makes them special!

They even got to help a few stranded fish (very tiny) from a tide pool that was rapidly evaporating and set them free in the ocean again!

That night my sister, Lisa, came out for the campfire and we got surprised by a very bold raccoon - we turned around and at first I thought it was a child, but it was a large raccoon standing on it's back legs! It wandered around and then climbed a nearby tree to watch us the rest of the evening!

Wednesday we got to spend some time at my mom's house - the kids love to play in Grandma's toy room. We also tried some new variations on Smores that night - one with chocolate frosting instead or or in addition to hershey's chocolate, and the other was adding peanut butter! Both were good - I preferred the peanut butter ones, but Jonathan thought the chocolate frosting with hershey's was the best!

Thursday was our planned return day, but at 5:30 am we awoke to the cries of newborn kittens!

new kttens We had taken our very pregnant cat with us, hoping she would wait until we got home again to have her kittens and didn't want to leave her home alone to have them either (it was a really tough decision) . Well, she had 5 kittens by 7:30, so the kids and I went back to grandma's, leaving Jessica behind to make sure that the mom and babies were doing OK and to get some zzzzs (she played midwife to Miss T all morning). I caught up on emails and notified those who needed to know that I was going to be gone an extra day. We then spent a soggy afternoon/evening at camp playing games.

Friday was packed up and cleaned up and headed for home. We got home around 4 pm and crashed - no unpacking, just glad to be home!

Lots of memories, and lost sleep, but it was a great time and we are already working on planning our next get away!

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

So...they are going to build the house...

...over there?

Reuben, our 7 year old is the resident thinker. He gets real quiet, thinking so hard, and then it always begins with a "Soooo..." and out comes this awesome conclusion to all the hard work!

Today, our builder came out to widen our driveway to prepare for the driveway for the heavy equipment that will be frequenting our place as we start to build our new house (yes we are all excited - our 1700 SQ FT mobile home is getting a little tight). And on watching the builder cut down trees and clear out brush, Reuben came to the conclusion that we were going to build our new house right on (or maybe he though next to) the driveway! That would make our UPS, FedEX, and Mailman happy, but no, we are not building there!

He was much relieved when I told him that no, we were not building over there, but in our backyard instead!

Friday, June 1, 2007

Lesson Learned

OK, I have come to realize that a vacation is not are easy as it looks! It's so fun to plan a "get away", but it takes so much work to get ready, especially if you are leaving the majority of your family behind!

Family trips are so much fun and memory building times, but they also require a huge effort to plan and get ready for!

So why even try? All the work for a "little" fun, and then twice as much work when you get home catching up on the laundry that you didn't do while away!

Here's why - looking back on my life, I seldom remember everyday things - oh there's a few times I remember - games played with someone, or an everyday event (like locking myself out of my parents home - that happened a lot to this latch key kid), but the memories that stand out clear are the times we got away from everyday life!

As I grew up, my parents took us camping - I mean way up in the hills, no campsites, no outhouses, driving for miles and miles on logging roads way into Mt Rainer National Forest! I remember riding behind my Dad on dirt bikes, getting swung in the hammock until I was sick, nearly drowning while my parents watched in horror across a mud flat (in which they sunk up to the knees when they tried to cross to save me - finally my Dad whistled (and boy could he whistle loud) and my brother heard and came running and pulled me out of the water - for some reason that memory is very clear to me!), camping at Birch Bay both when I was little (one such time my sisters accidentally broke my arm and I remember that clearly too even though I was under 3 YO) and also camping there with my parents and my best friend, Hildred, after all the other kids had left home, watching my dad rollerskate at the rollerskating rink at Birch Bay and riding a tandem bike with him there too - both the rink and the bike rental are only a memory now, traveling from Iowa to Washington following the Lewis and Clark Trail with my folks after my first year at college, and camping for a week with my parents at Silver Lake when my oldest was just 2 years old.

And so I have continued the tradition by camping with my family - Baker Lake is out favorite, Church Campouts, doing the Oregon Coast with my dear neices, Shelley and Leah, when my oldest three were so little, taking my nephew, James, up the Mount Baker Highway and camping with no outhouse or campsite - and floating down the river with him! Camping at Whidbey Island with another neice, Mandy and then taking her to Baker Lake and then to Eastern Washington too. Traveling to Mt Rushmore and back in 11 days, risking life and limb (long story - a book I'll have to write someday on how many things can go wrong in one vacation and still live to tell about it!), camping with Mandy again when she was married and had her first baby up at Baker Lake for nearly a week, and so forth.

So why am I waxing nastalgic? For many reasons, but mostly because life is brief, and memories of loved ones is so valuable.

This is a tribute to those I have loved, whose memory I cherish, and who have gone on before me.

James, my oldest nephew, who took his life 9 years ago this summer. This is the baby whose cloth diaper (pins and plastic pants!) was the first diaper I ever changed, who I remember as the boy who loved to spend time with me and ate too much Grape Nuts the first day camping with us, loved to play in the Nooksack River even though it was freezing cold. The young man who came to stay with us so he could show us his dear little daughter of whom he was so proud, who sat with me and my mom through several days when my father was near death's door, and the young man whom I will never forget as long as I live.

Leah, my sweet neice, who I got to see when she was just born, hold her and help her momma when she was so new, who I dressed up as a clown on her first Halloween, who slept with me on weekends when her father was living at home again, who begged me to adopt her and her sister, who I dressed and fixed hair to get ready for church, who was my "almost" flower girl in my wedding, who did the Oregon Trip with us and slept in the tiny bunk above our heads in a trailer that was supposed to sleep 5, but was accommodating 7 for over a week, who spent her spring break helping paint siding for our new house (and was mortified when she got paint in her hair), who came again on a spring break to go to a Michael W Smith contest and learned to play poker betting with cheetoes, who came to live with us when she had her first baby at the tender age of 16, who spent countless Thanksgivings putting up with our puppet shows and costumes, who went on to graduate from highschool and be a loving mother to her little Kayla. Leah was taken from us less than one year after the birth of her little boy by a drunk driver in April of 2002.

And my father. A man who found the time to take us away from the every day life and share with us his love of nature - fishing, camping, meadows, deer, streams, fresh mountain air, and sound naps in the hammock. And especially keeping it simple - army canvas tents, army cots, army sleeping bags (all from the surplus store in Seattle), bacon, eggs and pancakes for breakfast, fried trout that we caught that day for dinner, big campfires and roasting marshmellows. He could also tell stories that will live in infamy - police stories of walking the beat in China Town, or Seattle Center, of hunting trips, fishing trips, garage sale finds, and great deals on size 15 shoes.

So on the eve of another beautiful summer, I want to encourage you to get out of the house, take time with your family away from everyday cares - the telephone, the TV, the radio, and make some memories, because someday that may be all you have and then they will be cherished memories!

Have a great weekend - make a memory and tell me about it!