Happy Birthday Baby Boy

Dear Jude,

You're one! You survived, we survived - let's celebrate! Except you're sick with a 100+ fever and only happy strapped on my back in the kinderpack while I rock back and forth. Luckily I can sway and type. These are the types of skills you gain when you have four kids.

But sad sick birthday crankiness aside, you're a pretty awesome little kid.

Loves: Food, almost all food but especially fruit. The only thing you have really rejected was you're birthday cheesecake. It made you cry. But I think we'll try again when the fever is gone and that might change.  Oh, and green beans. Those are suspicious. But tomatoes, beans and pb&js are some other favorites and you've finally decided you like eggs. But not as much as blueberries. If you see blueberries, you immediately reject all other foods. We normally pick a bunch and they last in our freezer until march or april but we're already out because you eat them daily.

Other things you love include baths, but not being forced to sit down in the tub. Cars and pushing things around. Anything - boxes, carts, tables, chairs. If you can push it, you will. That's true about climbing as well. You love to climb. You've been kinda fussy inside lately, probably because I keep stopping you from climbing all the things and opening all the drawers and lazy suson and spilling all my food and just generally impose limits on all your fun plans. So inside you like to be held or worn unless of course your big siblings are entertaining you. Otherwise, you prefer to be outside. You love to be outside. You love the sandbox and have finally stopped eating sand. You love to push toys around. You love to go up and down the little set of stairs to the yard. I hold my breathe each time expecting you to fall because you insist on climbing down face first but you haven't ever falled. You love to follow the big kids around and will climb up the hill all the way to the tree house, climbing dome or chicken coop just to see what they are up to without even glancing back at me.

Which is funny because at other times you are super clingy. You don't like church nursery anymore unless I am sitting down and talking to someone without even attempting to look in the direction of the door. You like to play with daddy as long as I'm not in the room then you are a fair weather friend. I know it's just a phase and before long you'll be prefering other to mommy but for now I appreciate the love. You really love your siblings though. They can make you smile and laugh when nothing else seems to work. And you love to make them laugh. You've recently turned into a little comedian and you love it when they laugh at your antics and you'll repeat it to make them laugh again. And even if the action itself isn't that funny the second (or third or fourth time), when they know you're doing it to make them laugh, it makes it funny and everyone obliges you by cracking up.

You want to be in on all the action. You love to be out and about, are a great road-tripper and don't seem to realize you aren't a big kid yet.

You love to play peek-a-boo, to be tickled, to clap and copy people pointing. You love to share you food with us even if we don't want it (we have to take it and at least pretend to eat it or you just keep insisting). You're starting to love books - both being read to on my lap or just sitting by yourself and flipping the pages.

You started walking last week but prefer to crawl still, most often the bear crawl. No need to damage your knees! You can say da-da but don't really say it much.

You're starting to sleep through the night which is nice. I didn't realize how nice until the last few days when you haven't because you're sick. I'm ready to go back to that. You still take two naps but can do one if we are on the go a lot that day which is quite a nice stage.

The last few weeks you've really seemed to grow up and I love watching your little brain work. You love your car ramp toy and your ball pounding toy and like to do them over and over again. You also spent about 10 minutes yesterday putting pegs into your peg car and dumping them out again. We have another little game we play together where you walk your bouncy ball over to the laundry basket and drop it in and I clap for you. It's a fun one.

My favorite thing you do is when I pick you up, you rest your head on my shoulder and pat my back. You have me wrapped around your finger and you know it. We call you Jude the Dude, Jude-y (probably should probably stop that one soon), Little Pookie and Baby boy. I might stop that last one externally but not internally, you're my baby and you always will be. You're everyone's favorite Jude! Happy Birthday!


Colorado Road Trip Part 3 - Homeward Bound

Oops, I thought I posted this weeks ago. I hope nobody was waiting with bated breathe to see if we made it home :-)

All good things must come to an end and such it was with our trip. The kids were so upset when it was time to go. So many tears! It almost made me want to never go on a roadtrip again level sad faces. But luckily we had a really fun stop just a few hours after we headed out - The Great Sand Dunes National Park!

Great Sand Dunes National Park (MacKenzie - 5 stars, Craig - 5 stars)

(Yes, Norah's wearing pajamas. We left the cabin around 6am so we could get to Dunes before it got too hot. She put on clothes before we went into visitors center I promise)

The visitors center was small but a good stop to get started because we picked up Junior Ranger booklets for kids and learned a bit about how the dunes were formed and what we might find there (bugs not found anywhere else! Black magnetic sand!) then it was time for the dunes.

 I'll be honest, when we first got here I was worried it's be a bust of a stop. Kid's attitudes were bad and made worse by a thick application of sunscreen, then we had to walk through the creek to get to the dunes and the bugs were so bad. BUT we persevered and it didn't take long for everyone to start smiling. It was so neat! I wish we had gotten a sand sled but I was worried the younger ones wouldn't be able to do it and it would be frustrating. Next time (and we do hope to go back) we'll do the sled but even without it, they had a blast.

Sand Angels!

Jude was a crawling fool in this sand. We kept letting him wander thinking he'd eventually come back to me but nope, he was having too much fun in the freedom of a large, pretty much baby proof space. And the sand wasn't hot yet (it was probably around 9am)

After a while the sun was warming us up and we were ready for the creek. The kids weren't sure they wanted to change into swimsuits but I convinced them it would be worth it. Plus we needed more bug spray so we needed to go back to the car again anyway. 

Pretty soon I was hearing "You were right, Mom! This is so much fun!" I rarely say "I told you so" to my kids but I flat out said "I told you so!" and they all laughed with me. 

It wasn't very deep but really wide and some spots were perfect for Jude to splash it while some were moving faster and great for Lucy and Jonah. Norah loved it all. And the bugs weren't that bad out in the water. 

They loved finding the black sand and trying to alter the course of the water.

And of course, just splashing around. Then we sat on the sand for a while, filled out the junior park ranger booklets and dried off. This was one of the more involved Junior Ranger programs we've done and they really earned their (really neat wooden) badges. 

We spent so much time at the dunes and creek that we didn't have time to hike. And I would have loved to stay here in the evening and see the stars (we had originally planned to stop on our way and do that but weather/schedule made us alter our plans). Craig and I both want to come back to this park and do more. 

Next stop of the day was the town of Kit Carson. This might have been fun if there were interpreters but while the trail was technically open, the buildings were all locked and kids were hot and whining so we didn't stay long....so we have our roadtrip moments just like you'd expect!

Later on that night we found this old school playground and took advantage of it to get some wiggles out of the kids. 

They all survived the slide but I had to bite my tongue a bit so I wasn't saying "be careful! be careful!" the entire time.

The next day was our last travel day and we were all more than ready to be home but we still had fun at the Wizard of Oz Museum in Wamego, KS (MacKenzie 3 stars, Craig 3 stars)


 It's a really cute little town complete with an Emerald green playground at the end of the yellow road. Our kids LOVE the whole book series and have listened to the full thing at least three times on librovox. Thank goodness for Librovox because while I love the movie, the books are a bit weird to me and not my favorite thing to read aloud. But thank you Phil Chenevert for reading it for me!

We had plans for one more stop but all four kids were asleep as we drove past and there was 0% change of us stopping with four sleeping kids and just 5 hours until home to go so it's going to have to wait for our next roadtrip that way.


Classics Challenge - Mike

For my Classic Comedy selection, I picked Wodehouse's Mike. I was really trying to start the PSmyth series but I think I misunderstood because PSmyth isn't actually in this book. Or I think he's in the second volume/second part which my book lacked. I'm still a bit confused. But anyway, I read Mike, which is about a young British boy, who, and I bet you could have guessed his, is named Mike. Mike heads off to school and there is a lot, and I do mean, a LOT, of talk about cricket. I think this book would probably have been much more enjoyable and humorous, if I actually knew something about cricket. I don't. Other than that it's kinda sorta like baseball but not really. And they wear white. Which is not a lot. But I muddled through.

Now, the non-cricket parts were at times funny. I've never been a young teenage boy let alone one at a boarding school, but I do feel like Wodehouse must have been because he seems to understand their thought process. And as long as I'm not having to parent one of teen boys (yet) I could laugh at his foibles. But overall, I was disappointed. I think I just need to give up on Wodehouse which breaks my heart. He seems just like the type of author I would love but when I actually read his books, I'm underwhelmed. Alas and alack, I think he just isn't a good fit for me, humor wise.

Classics Challenge - The Great Gatsby

The Great Gatsby. I can't believe I had never read it before.  Now I can say I have. It's not my favorite classic ever but I enjoyed it more than I thought I would. Or maybe it would be more accurate to say I didn't find it as depressing as I expected. That said, I still think it very clearly fits for the Classic Tragic Novel selection.

It was a quick and easy read but I am glad I listened along to the Close Read Podcasts. It slowed me down a bit and I know I would have missed a lot if I read it on my own. I actually didn't know much of the plot going in which is surprising given how popular the book is. My intial ideas abotu the book where mostly on the mood and themes and those were pretty spot on and I tended to focus on the ideas of reality and illustions.

It was an interesting reading for our summer trip to Colorado because it really illustrated the contrast between the characters life and my own. Spending time with my family kept reminding me how much I, well, like them. Long car rides can be tedious with small children and there were moments when I wanted to pull my hair out but 90% of the time, I was just so grateful for them all. And while I don't get to see my extended family nearly enough, they are lovely people and I genuinely enjoy catching up with them and talking. The whole trip just made me remember what's important, what's real - relationship and people. I felt such a profound gratefulness for the realness of my life and the people in it.

I may not be enticed by the same illusions that Gatsby, Nick or Daisy fall prey to but I do have my own I must guard against. Like the illusion of productivity. It's very easy for me as a homeschooling mom to fall toward the checking off of boxes trap and miss out on the purpose and relationships I'm supposed to be cultivating. Not just me with my children but them with each other and them with the world that they are learning about. So it was a perfect read for a summer vacation and I hope I can keep that lesson in my mind as we start up our second summer mini-term this week.


Colorado Road Trip - Part 2 - Pagosa!

I won't be too wordy here because the pictures are better. But we packed in the fun - hiking 

A selfie with the baby cyclops 

Family selfies get harder as your family gets bigger. 

Craig has longer arms so that was a bit better...

A stranger took pity on us and got a pretty good one although Craig's really got to work on his preschooler holding skills. You'd think he be better at it by kid #3.


I think last time we had to use a tripod. But our family has grown quite a bit since our last visit to this hike.  (But Jude wore the same red fleece jacket that Jonah is wearing below on this trip and that's the same chambray shirt I have on (it's my hiking shirt I guess!)


Downtown for some ice cream. Jude didn't get his own cup but don't feel bad for him for a second. There was a line of siblings waiting to share their flavors with him. 

The mini-golf trip that shall remain unblogged about except to say that someone hid under a bush for a good 5 mintues and more than one child was crying as we left...ah, the joys of vacations!

But fishing was a hit! Lucy caught her first fish here on this very lake on our last trip and Jonah and  here this trip on our first night of fishing. A storm was moving in so only to big two got to go out on the boat but Norah was patient and flexible. I was actually very proud of her.

And then she caught two on our next fishing night. The first when she got to go out on the boat with my Uncle Rick. Sshe said he helped her catch "a big fish. Not like other fish - a movie fish!" I'm not sure what " a movie fish " is but it impressed her. 

Then when the bigger kids got their turn on the boat, she got another with the help of a cousin. This one wasn't a movie fish - it was a cat fish. But she touched the side of it and was happy with that. 

I'm not really a big fisherwoman myself. Well, I do like fishing except for touching worms or fish which really makes the whole process difficult. But it was fun to have the kids do this with family that has a bit more skill than I do. I guess we'd better bring Jude back in a couple years for his first fish catching experience since they know what they are doing here.

No need to touch worms to enjoy the scenery which truly is one of the best parts of Colorado.

Another first was that I actually went to the Hot Springs. They are probably the biggest attraction of the town but I'd never gone before. It was a lot of fun. The 97degree pool was quite enjoyable. As a kid, cold pools never bothered me much but the adult me really likes the warm water. 

And clearly the kid's didn't mine the comfy temperatures either. 

Jude and stayed home for the trail ride but Norah was happy to be included with daddy and the "big kids" for a trail ride. One hour was just perfect for everyone but Lucy - she said she  could have gone longer. 

Walked around the town and river area

Visited the Rocky Mountain Wildlife center.

Here's my picture of the kid's looking at the center's cat that followed us on the walking loop. But Craig's perspective was a bit funnier because right behind them was this big black bear! But no, the cat was much more interesting.

  He (she?) was actually my favorite animal there. He got very close and was eating dandelions. I didn't realize so much of a bears diet was leafy stuff.

And of course, we had to go to the Red Ryder Round-up Rodeo!

Ah, the preschooler who insists on inspecting every picture someone takes of her. 

Fourth of July fun with the cousins. Eryn had gotten us all matching shirts and decoration which the kid's painstakingly arranged. 

Then we hit up the smalltown parade, made some patriotic desserts,

 telling "Alexa" to play the Star Spangled banner so they could wave flags before we finished off the night with their first big fireworks display. Every year I think we'll go to one then I realize how late they are and convince myself to wait until the next year. But this year, we did it. They loved the first half with Norah exclaiming "Oh, that's a pretty one! Oh, I like that one!" with each explosion. But either all the fun was exhausting or the back of a pick-up was too comfy because by the end they were all asleep. 

I can't give them too much grief because I definitely took my fair share of naps on this trip. Although I prefer this location: 

Actually, that's probably the best part of the trip. Time. We took hikes around the cabin, grilled, caught up with the family with popsicles and ladder golf in the afternoon and with smores around the fire in the evenings. My aunt helped Lucy and Norah set up a fairy area with twinkle lights in the woods next to the house (tricking the lights to come on with a towel bc otherwise it wouldn't get dark enough until after bedtime) and Jonah was a game playing fool. They learned card tricks (which still require a pretty big dispension of belief for the audience ;-) and new games like Speed and Spoons and we all just took a few deep breaths. 

One thing we failed at was getting a good picture. I only got one with more than half of the whole group in it and I won't be posting it online because I think a few of them wouldn't appreciate it very much (just the general, candid photo shot issues of blinking and middle of a sneeze looks kinda thing). Oh well, next time!