Aug 22, 2011

Where Is That Balance?

I think one of the hardest part about life is balancing how you spend your time. Last week my uncle (on my birth father's side) passed away. He was a very blessed successful man with a lovely family. The type many people might be envious of. He was very kind, had a positive attitude, always. Which is why his death is somewhat of a surprise. He was extremely healthy before his surprising diagnosis of esophageal cancer. For awhile it looked like he might beat it, because if anyone could beat this nasty cancer it was Rich. Sadly things turned quickly at the end as things sometimes do. He will be sorely missed. Life deals the unexpected.

With Rich's passing and my friend Karin's recent passing I have given some thought to how I spend my time. Every moment is precious, and the reminders of this are everywhere if you pay attention. You don't have to have a friend or family member pass on to be reminded of this fact.

It is easy though to get caught up in activities that waste our time.  My children are growing up before my eyes, they are an ever present poignant reminder of the passage of time, and sometimes I feel I'm missing it.  Luckily I take a lot of photos. As I type this I am downloading another batch of 348. But even that sometimes feels like a waste of time, because I'm sure I take too many photos. But recording the moments of our life is important. Looking back, especially when sometimes you are too busy to enjoy the moments as fully as you'd like while they happen, is important. And it is also important for someday life will be different than it is today and then I know I will treasure the images of what today seems so ordinary.

And there is a lot of ordinary that has to happen to make those extraordinary moments possible. Every day cannot really be lived like it was our last, but yet we don't want to look back on our lives feeling like we wasted it. There is a delicate balance to doing it right.

While on "vacation" we loaded the thatched moss into garden bags. About 30 of them.

Dug out the soggy wood chips from under the kids' swing set. We found the problem. They'd lined the area with PLASTIC. Effectively creating a wood chip swimming pool. Why they didn't use landscape fabric I have no idea. You'd be surprised how many wheelbarrow loads this was. Backbreaking work this is.

Steve brought the soggy chips back into the "woods" on our lot. I spread it and raked it. It's 8" deep in places. I also pruned the dead branches from under the canopy so the kids don't get their eyes poked back there. I think it will make a nice woodland play space which they might need since clearly it's going to take 5 times longer to do this job than expected and I have no idea when we might be able to even start work on the playhouse. I'm afraid Evie will be too old by the time we get it done. After 3 full days of yard work we were beat, and the area isn't even prepped to bring in new chips. Where is that balance?

But despite working all the time over the last week we've had some "moments". These are the small things I record with a camera because I would otherwise forget them. Maybe this is what it's all about. Finding the extraordinary in the ordinary.  

 Ainsley very pleased with herself for beading her fingers. I wish you could hear the giggles.

The kids reuniting after Harry Potter Camp. E&A had a GREAT time! Ainsley is so loved!

A visual reminder of why camp is so great for kids. She knows I'd kick her butt for writing on her arm like this but camp is a chance to spread your wings a bit and learn independence at a young age. 

The joy brought from sharing a friend's care package of Japanese foods. Isn't this chocolate filled Koala cute?! You'd think it was treasure. A small act of kindness and generosity from a new friend.  I was a lame parent and just sent a couple e-mails (camps do that now). Little did I know some other parents would write real letters and others send care packages with cool stuff like Harry Potter Legos, books, cookies, or a stuffed owl. 
The kids begged to go to our favorite restaurant,  Ruby's Diner, and we were shocked and saddened to find it is now closed (unless you live in California)! This was the special place we'd go after ballet recitals and last baseball games where the kids would watch the train go around the restaurant and play with their vintage paper cars. Instead we got home we lounged in the yard and had lunch on the patio. We conducted a mini science experiment with ants and fallen potato chips. If you really look close ants are fascinating to watch. Interestingly we discovered they liked the soggy potato chip that Ainsley slobbered on far more than the regular one and somehow managed to work together to drag it down into the hole in the crack of the patio. 

We also found ants can't be tricked very easily, even if you break up the chips to make them easier to carry they aren't eager to go into the plastic cup to get the pieces. They are smarter than you'd think. And brave too. Would you go out to gather food with creatures 1000 times bigger than you overhead? Watching ants sounds crazy but it was fun.
Evie taught Ainsley how to make the car go back and forth on the chain. I was pretty impressed. I couldn't help but think it was a good Occupational Therapy activity. What has happened to me?

Evie stopped to smell the gardenias. And I took some time to photograph it.

The fun of swimming with your dad in the pool.

The time a hot air balloon flew right over our house, close enough to see the passengers.


 How happy a bowl of delicious strawberries can make my kids.

The kids dressing up Ainsley as a fairy because I made them turn off the Wii and computer. (I too am trying to limit my computer time.) I say, as I type this blog post.

 Ainsley looks great with a feather boa.

Today I was on the computer after a week long break, just around the corner from the table where Ainsley was having breakfast, and I heard her plain as day from the other room say "all done".  I am thrilled and hopeful that more words will eventually come.

So these are the everyday "moments" I record so I won't forget someday. Actually without my camera I'd probably forget by tomorrow.  Now I'm going to go and try to create some balance by singing Wii Glee with my kids. Have a great week my friends!

Aug 15, 2011

Glee, Bowling and Happy Campers

We recently discovered The Glee Project. We'd apparently been living under a rock and had never heard of the Glee show. I don't think the kids are old enough to watch it but they have been loving watch the Glee Project. Steve and I have been watching season one on Netflix. The kids had some Christmas gift cards they hadn't had a chance to spend so we made our way to Target this week and Evie purchased Wii Glee Revolution. What you might not know about me is that I sang in choir in high school. I am SO excited to play this game as a family.

Ainsley tried to get in on it too, using the Wii remote in place of the microphone. She likes to do everything we do. So cute! 

Then she crashed. Our ENT wants us to try having her sleep with the cap on more now that she's wearing her cap all days. She's made it 2 hours, but I think it's going to be a long time before she can sleep comfortably breathing through her nose/mouth.

Since our life is not typical we have to look for fun where we can find it. It's harder for us to do many typical things people do during the summer. And considering how much the kids have been fighting I think they are bored. Steve had the brilliant idea to go bowling as a fun outing for the whole family. So he arranged to take the day off. There is a really nice bowling alley in Bellevue.

Ainsley wanted to partake in the fun. We always do our best to let her try to participate even when it's challenging.

I had to positioned her hands and pushed them, pushing the ball down the lane.

 Luckily it made it down the lane every time. And we all clapped for her.

Then the food came. Assorted gourmet mini burgers with blue cheese and smoked applewood bacon for me. Chicken nuggets and fries for the kids. Mmmmm. That's when we lost her.

For a girl that doesn't eat table food she sure likes to try. Who wants to bowl when there are french fries and ketchup to dip them in?!

The kids made a big fuss about having to use the bumpers. I guess it feels like cheating, but come on?!  And yet Adrian was still VERY upset when he didn't do as well as he'd like and he wasn't even in last place. That poor kid HATES to lose.  Evie and Adrian are both playing soccer this year and started practice this week.  Life is going to get very busy. I hope it helps teach Adrian how to be a good loser. Or it's going to be a very lonnngg season.

This is the bar and bowling alley.

Afterward we went to the arcade next door.

I love this one. I guess Ainsley wasn't sure what to do with all these tickets.

She even had to "play" air hockey.

At the end we fed our tickets into the counter. All 1262 of them.

It was so dang funny to see Ainsley crawl off to the prize counter. She can move really fast when she wants to. I don't worry about what people think seeing a (nearly) five year old crawling in public. Of course the prizes are mostly junk. The kids ended up opting for balls and candy.

Ainsley got a foam sheep stress ball and she was so happy!

I thought you might enjoy seeing some of the amazing Chihuly glass art at Lincoln Square (the shopping center where we parked.)

I think this fountain is made of sheets of plexi-glass but it could be glass.

The next day we had to do some last minute shopping for items the kids needed for camp. Then we had to LABEL EVERYTHING, as per camp instructions.

It takes HOURS for two kids. And last year it made us late so this year I was determined not to repeat our mistake.

It was a nice drive to the middle of nowhere.

The Tacoma Narrows Bridge. That means you are getting close.

When we arrived there was a very very long line to drop the kids off. We were not late this year but kind of wish we were.....not really.

Muggle bug check. Did I mention it's HARRY POTTER camp?

They recreated the arrival at Hogwarts. First years went across on boats. Second and third years waited for the Night Bus. That's Evie and Adrian waiting by the road. 

The camp across the lake on the hillside, where they performed the Sorting Hat Ceremony. Steve and I dropped off the luggage and it was wonderful to hear the cheers of the kids. There is a palpable excitement there. We always leave a little jealous. Lucky kids!!!

Here are a couple pictures I downloaded from the Camp Colman SmugMug site.

Evie's cabin.

Adrian's cabin.

Adrian dueling some other wizards. Oh the fun they will have.

And the fun and silence I will have. It's just me and Ainsley.  Of course I will miss them but Saturday will be here before you know it.

Steve and I are going to be working hard around the house digging out and replacing the wood chips under the swingset, aka. the swamp, and hopefully starting the play house renovation (using the existing shed). Being a grown up is exhausting. I want a real vacation.