Solar Eclipse

Are you and your family excited about the upcoming eclipse?

Living in the Pacific NW, we know many families who will be making the trek to see the eclipse as it passes through Oregon. There is a lot of excitement, with talk of the upcoming eclipse on the news almost daily.

My family will not be making the trek. We were fortunate to have a lot of time hiking in the National Parks in July and need to stay put for the time being — though we did pick up some “Eclipse Shades” while we were there, and are looking forward to seeing a partial eclipse from where we live.

My boys asked me what the big deal was about the eclipse. “Why do so many people want to see it?” one asked. “Its rare, the moon will cross in front of the sun’s path and we won’t see the sun for a while” I explained. “The last total solar eclipse that went across the US happened when your mom was a kid.” That caught their attention. “Will we be able to see any of it?” my other son asked. “They say we’ll see a partial eclipse from here,” I shared. That seemed to satisfy them.

We don’t often get excited about seeing the sun and take it for granted. The eclipse has reminded my sons of the sun’s importance and even peaked their scientific minds in better understanding how our solar system works. It’s peaked my curiosity too. I don’t recall anyone making a big deal about the eclipse when I was a kid, and don’t remember making any effort to see it. I will make the effort this time.

Will your family be taking in the eclipse? Are you traveling to see the full eclipse or staying put?

Let’s Go Camping

When you think of summer what comes to mind? Playing on a Slip ‘n Slide, spending lots of time in the pool, going swimming in a lake, fishing, making homemade ice cream or something else?

My boys and I have never camped in the summer, but that’s going to change this year. We’ve camped before (see blogs on our camping trips in the past) but also in cooler months. I can remember camping as a kid and it was almost always in the summer months. Memories of bugs, relentless heat, and sweat come to mind. It’s probably why I’ve avoided it up to this point. Instead of doing traditional camping (and by that, I mean getting in the car and driving to a camping site) we’re going to camp in our own backyard. I realize this isn’t a unique idea, but it’s a first for us. Not having to drive anywhere and still being able to use all of your camping gear is appealing. And if the bugs bite, we’ve got a quick escape (either come inside or I can run to the store and pick up some bug spray). I know, I know…what fun is it, if you don’t have all the hardships that can come with a good old fashioned camping trip? Lots, I’d say. My boys are really excited about the backyard campout, and can’t wait to figure out how to convert of backyard so it is more ‘camp-like’ (I can’t wait to see what they come up with).

I’m reminded of my own upbringing and how the simple things: watching (and sometimes catching) lightning bugs, running through the sprinkler, going to a BBQ and just relaxing with people I loved holds a special place in my heart. These things were fun, relaxing, and created a moment that forced me to pause to appreciate how good it felt to be right where I was, without a care in the world.

When have you experienced those moments? How are you and your family enjoying the summer?

 

Sum-Sum-Summertime

We have officially entered summertime. School is out, the weather is warming and thoughts of vacation are top of mind. There is a lot to look forward to.

I heard Surfing U.S.A. by the Beach Boys playing on television this past week. It took me back to my childhood, reminding me of all the memorable songs I associated with summer vacation and enjoyed during the summer months. The images it brought up were so vivid, and good:  BBQs, fireworks, trips (camping, or traveling by car or air) to spend time with family and friends. The memories remain strong, much like Christmas or holiday memories, I crave to have new memories as good as the past, maybe even better. But there’s no guarantee of that, and all I can do is look for the opportunities to enjoy the summer and actually enjoy them.

It shouldn’t be so hard, especially if I’m humming or singing a little tune. Summertime, summertime, sum-sum-summertime, summertime.

How do you plan to enjoy the summer with you family?

Let’s Have an Adventure

What family vacations come to mind from your childhood?  Road trips? Camping? Visiting friends or family?

As a child, my family was a ‘road trip’ kind of family. We drove everywhere, regardless of the distance. Our trips were educational. We saw a lot, learned a lot, and after a while, got on each other’s nerves a lot. But we enjoyed the experience together and have many great memories as a result. As a young adult, I often felt like many of our family vacations were FFF – Forced Family Fun, but in reality, they were an adventure.

An adventure is defined as an exciting or remarkable experience. I can remember getting ready for our trips, packing our suitcases, and thinking about the games we’d play in the car. It was exciting, we were going to see and do something new. Even if we were going to see our relatives or go to a new place, our road trips were never quite the same.

This summer, we have planned many adventures for our family. There will be camping, long drives, and lots of time together. My husband and I can’t wait. The kids seem excited too. I wonder if they’ll think back and have fond memories of our time together, or if they’ll think of these trips as Forced Family Fun.

We are building memories, and I’m treasuring each one. To see my sons faces once we get to our destination, to see them enjoying finding bugs in the outdoors, roasting marshmallows over the campfire, watching waterfalls in awe, or seeing their joy as they jump into a pool, I’m not sure being a parent gets much better than these moments.

What adventures do you have planned for this year?

All We Have to Fear

I’ve never gotten used to the fear I experience as a parent. I go to that worst-case scenario all too often when possible danger may exist.

To give you an idea, when my oldest was first born and go to sleep:

My first thoughts would be how precious, what a beautiful creature, I can’t believe I’m a mom. That’s right, I’m a new mom, I’m not an experienced mom, I have to keep my child alive and what if they stop breathing during the night? How would I know they stopped breathing? I’ve got the monitor on, but what if it doesn’t work for some reason or I don’t hear him? Should I not sleep and just watch them all night?

I experienced this when both my children were newborns. After no sleep for several days, my husband and I agreed sleeping in shifts would be one way to make sure we both got sleep and I didn’t worry incessantly that my child would pass away at any given moment. My extreme thinking wasn’t healthy, and didn’t allow me to fully experience the joy of being with my child. I was consumed with something bad happening at any moment.

Several months ago our family went to see The Wizard of Oz at our local children’s theatre. I was a little concerned that my children might not be old enough for the story. My husband and I were prepared to be asked questions about tornadoes, flying monkeys and wicked witches afterwards, and while they were curious about the monkeys and the wicked witch, they were particularly concerned about tornadoes. We talked about the tornadoes on the way home, and the boys wanted to know “do tornadoes really happen?” and “do they happen here?” You could hear the fear in their voice. We assured the kids that in the northwest tornadoes are very uncommon, and we have weatherman/woman who can warn us if one may happen.

We can’t protect our children from everything, and I pray we will never experience the wrath a tornado brings. I do want them to enjoy life and not be constantly worrying that something bad will happen. I don’t want them to go the worst-case scenario like I do. I want to teach them to lean into the joy they are experiencing, not fear that something bad is going to happen to them.  We plan to go camping again this year. You may recall we encountered thunder and lightning on our last camping trip. It was scary for my youngest son and me.  As we have talked about the upcoming trip, my youngest son has started to ask if a tornado could occur at the camp site. I can hear the slightest fear in his voice as he asks. I reassure him that there is little chance it will occur and if it does, mom and dad will do everything we can to keep everyone safe. I don’t want my son to fear the possibility of tornadoes, and take away from his enjoyment of our camping experience. Yes, bad things can happen, I remind myself, but mostly its out of our control, and much like fretting over a newborn as they sleep. All we can do is take precautions to make sure everyone is safe. It sounds so logical, reasonable and easy when I tell myself this. And so much harder to practice in reality.

There will always be some part of me that will worry about my boys, and likely always will, but I believe I’ve tempered my fears and am working to enjoy my time with them, and not consume my thoughts with the worst-case scenario. I can’t control what happens next, but can be there to participate and enjoy each moment as it happens now.

How do you handle your children’s fears? How do you handle yours?

Ca-Click

How do you feel when you have a special moment in your life?  A moment that you can recognize as special while it’s happening, that you want to remember for as long as you’re able?  For me, I try to be still, to take it all in and take a mental picture, attempting to remember every detail from what I can see visually, and also what I feel emotionally. Ca-click.

I have a surplus of these memories from my childhood—BBQs at a neighbors’ house, relatives or friends visiting from out of town, road trips to new places. Luckily I was able to add to my mental memory scrapbook just this past Memorial Day weekend. My husband, two boys and I headed out of town for the long weekend. My husband and I were somewhat adventurous with our plans for the family—camping one night, hiking the next day, visiting a museum, and finishing up with another hike on the final day.  We wanted the children to have a new experience, something that they will hopefully remember for a long time.

I have to admit, I was preparing myself for the trip to not be 100% enjoyable. We’d never camped with the kids and we honestly didn’t know how they would do. We’d hiked with them before but only briefly; we’d never done an hours-long hike like the one we were planning. We knew the museum would go over well because we had been there before and know it has a fantastic children’s playground. Still the fact remained that there was a considerable variety of things that could go awry. What my husband and I agreed on was to be very flexible (much more so than we normally are) and to be prepared for the worst.

Lo and behold, there was an unexpected storm–thunder and lightning included–that hit during our night of camping. Thankfully it only momentarily dampened the picture-perfect trip we hoped for; it quickly passed and the trip was all uphill from there. In the end it was a huge success. There were many times my husband and I looked at each other knowing just how special it was. We were enjoying our trip, and more importantly enjoying each other.

The children hiked 4 ½ miles the day following our night of camping.  The waterfalls along the trail were amazing; they were going at full blast. Our oldest son saw us taking pictures and asked if he could take one. He hadn’t tried out a camera before.  He snapped one picture, then another. You could see the delight on his face at his accomplishment. It was almost like he knew he would remember this trip as much by the picture as the mental memory that had just taken form. Ca-click.