Thursday, August 28, 2008

A Camping we will go....

We're off tomorrow for a long camping weekend at Bull Shoals-White River State Park and boy, am I excited! Bull Shoals is a lake in Arkansas that's terrific, it's great for swimming and boating, it's really beautiful with tons of rocks and cliffs and beautiful trees with some beaches thrown in there. And the White River is THE trout fishing place. The water is cold, like the trout like, and where they dammed the river, it became Bull Shoals Lake. And it's not very wide and very very shallow so you can just wade in ..... IF you can stand the cold!

The campground is an Arkansas State Park and a bunch of the campsites are along the river, kinda high, where the cold air coming off the river makes the temperature just wonderful even in August when it's unbelieveably hot here! It's terrific to be able to just go down some stairs and wade right into the river to fish, my boys love it so much, and I'm hoping we will be able to catch enough fish to cook! YUM!

So everyone have a good weekend and enjoy the weather while it's still summer!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Football is here

I have a son, Jake, who is playing 7th grade football this year. I can't believe that 3 years of Optimist club football went by so fast; now it's the big league, or at least the middle school league.

We had a fundraiser for the booster club on Saturday night, it's called the Steak-Out, they have burgers and introduce all the cross country teams, the volleyball teams, they have football scrimmages and volleyball scrimmages, etc. And they introduce the 7th grade football players. It's like they are entering an exclusive society, the hope of the football team for tomorrow. They introduce them, they boys run through a cool blow-up tunnel that's blue and white, our school colors, then the high school varsity players have made a tunnel that the 7th graders run through and slap their hands and other manly (boyly??) things.

It's a big deal, the kids think it's the greatest, like they are being initiated into a secret club. And Jake had the biggest grin on his face that I've possibly ever seen. Like he was in heaven and didn't even know it existed before now!

He's proud, I'm proud, his father is beyond proud, and his brothers just wanted to leave:) But it was his big moment and we're all excited and proud for him! I hope I still feel this way after I have to watch him get hit by guys who are bigger than he is!

It's Finally here.....

The first day of school.

I had to walk my little redhaired boy to his kindergarten classroom and entrust him to the care of his teacher, who barely knows who he is, for an entire day. Or for 186 days, depending on how you look at it. I have to let her know what it means when he starts sucking his thumb during the daytime, how it means that he's either very tired or anxious. Or that he won't remember or think to go to the bathroom unless you tell him. That he won't be able to find his way back to his classroom from anywhere in that huge big school. Who won't, under any circumstances, get up from his chair if you tell him not to, even if his pants are on fire. Who is loving and sweet and huggy and precious to me.

How can I tell her all that in one short conversation? It all comes down to that, the letting-go and surrendering our most precious possessions to the teachers who hardly know who is who, who don't yet know their personalities or their anxious moments or their worries.

And it's not just about this one:

It's about taking this one to high school, yes high school, and leaving him there. A place where kids aren't little anymore, where there are bomb threats (thankfully just a very few), where the police come and arrest kids during the school day, where there are kids driving cars to school, and where safety is something that every mother and father worries about every single day. Where names like "Columbine" go through your head everyday and all you really want is for them to be safe.

We took them all, all 4 of them, on the first day and I got to walk in Tyler and Kevin, who started 4th grade, and I actually didn't cry until after I got back into the car. But it was hard to tell if I was crying because of taking Tyler to kindergarten or Ryan to high school or Kevin to 4th grade or Jake to 7th grade.

I'm all by myself now all day. Last year or the year before I would have been delirious with the idea of having so much time to myself, but now I'm kinda lost. With kids in preschool a couple of days a week, by the time you get them there at 9 when it starts and have to pick them up before 2:30, sometimes it's just enough time to get a shower, go to the store and unpack all the groceries. But now it's serious time, every day, all day. And you can only clean the house so much...

So I have to find myself, find a routine, figure out what needs to be done the most and do it first, then get all the other things done. I'm lost without any of them here, but I guess I will get used to it! Probably by the end of school it will be driving me crazy that they are home all day.

But for now, I'm praying about my life and what to do with it. I never really got to find my "what I want to be when I grow up" job before, I've been a stay-at-home mom for 12 years nearly. So now I get to/have to figure it out. It should be a fun journey!

Monday, August 11, 2008

I love a rainy night....

If you need rain, let me tell you who to call: US! Let me explain.....

We made our second trip to Branson this year on Friday, instead of the beach in Alabama/Florida as we had planned, so we could use the free tickets I won to Silver Dollar City/Whitewater/Celebration City. (that's another post altogether!) We didn't get to leave until Friday after 4 because the 2 youngest boys were to find out who their teachers were for this year. The class lists were posted at 4. So we waited around. Bart had a couple of conference calls until almost 4, so that worked well. The boys and I spent the day getting the travel trailer ready, clothes and food in the camper, all manner of toys and paraphernalia that a family of 4 boys needs for a long weekend.

But I digress.... we arrived here Friday night about 8:30 and the weather was WONDERFUL! It was dark, mostly, and only about 75 degrees and not humid at all, unlike when we left home where it was 98 or so and very very humid. We got all setup and all, ate dinner and went to bed.

The next morning, we got up to get ready for SDC, I cooked some breakfast, everyone showered and dressed and we left. It was still only about 75 degrees maybe, and there were quite a lot of dark clouds around. We fell into the unbelievably long line of cars going to SDC, it wasn't very far, but at 12:30 on Saturday, everyone seemed to be going at the same time!

We parked on the "back 40" of the parking lots, at least it seemed like that, and realized we had forgotten Tyler's stroller. Now granted, at 5 years old he doesn't need it. But as long as he wants to ride in it and it keeps him happy and keeps him from complaining when his older brothers want to ride the scary/fast/thrilling rides, I'm going to take that stroller on trips until the wheels completely fall off. We hop on the tram from the parking lot, get to SDC, bypass the ticket line and go on to the turnstiles. We had a great time walking through the park to go to the Grandpa's Mansion which is like a funhouse. I found a really great store with primitive decorative stuff which I LOVE! I managed to purchase a few things while the boys were entertaining themselves in the fun house, then we played some checkers and I watched my 5 year old beat my 12 year old! We meandered to the Christmas shop where I found an adorable snowman bell for our tree.

(aside: I've made a habit of buying an ornament everytime we go somewhere on vacation or on a trip of any kind and our tree is completely bursting! When I was younger, my parents owned a gift shop that had ornaments and Hallmark stuff. They started buying my sister and me an ornament every Christmas so when we got married, we had our ornaments to start our tree with. I have done that with the boys, also, but I have bought one ornament that's fairly distinctive to the place we have been on our travels. )

Anyway, we gobbled some dinner/lunch at a great restaurant with wonderful fried chicken, mashed potatoes, etc., then guess what? The rain started! When we were here on 4th of July weekend to use our free passes for the first time, we had a torrential downpour on the day we came to SDC. It pretty much rained the entire time we were in Branson, soaking our towels, outdoor rugs, and the chairs that we set under the awning of the camper for our campfire or just for hanging out in the campground wherever we are staying.

And today was no different. I took Tyler and the rental stroller and went in search of the ponchos that they sell at every theme park in the world when it rains. I managed to find one that would fit over him and most of the stroller and then one for me. The older boys and Bart had gone to a water balloon catapult type thing and were laughing like maniacs while throwing water balloons at each other. When they finally had to give up and let someone else have a turn, that's when they decided to ride the Lost River of the Ozarks which is a water ride that you get completely soaked.

Keep in mind that the temperature had dropped with the rain, of course, and it was now a balmy 65 degrees and frigid rain falling, still. It had been raining for approximately 2 hours now and there was no end in sight. I finally talked them into leaving the park then, everyone was leaving, and a lot of the rides were closing, but mostly WE WERE FREEZING! Have you ever said that in August before? Me, neither!

We drove back the short distance to the camper, after getting to ride in an open air tram through the rain (just like July 4th weekend) which just added goose bumps on top of goose bumps! And still it rained. It rained almost all night, off and on hard rain and then sprinkles. I had to haul the wet stuff down to the laundromat because really, who wants to have sopping wet clothes hanging around until Tuesday? NOT ME!

The next morning dawned with very dark clouds, breezes and a high temp of about 75. I wore a jacket all day with my shorts, Tyler wore a long sleeved shirt while we shopped at Branson Landings, which is fabulous!

The entire weekend the boys have begged to go to White Water. But until 4:00 today, the temperature had not gotten above 75 degrees. And we all know that since school starts on the 18th, they cannot come home from vacation with a cold, can they? So we have put them off. We have used our free White Water tickets one time all summer. And we won't use them this trip at all due to the cool weather. Our next planned trip here is in November when the boys have a couple of days out of school and White Water will be closed, but it's too cold then anyway!

Am I complaining? No way! I never thought I would be wearing a jacket out in August, last night it got down to 61 degrees! We have had the doors open and the windows in the camper open to catch this beautiful fall-like weather. I have enjoyed it so much and apparently when we head home tomorrow, the weather in Conway will still be cool and rainy. Savor it while you can, I sure am!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

The first day of school is coming....

We have been busy around here, buying school supplies (yes, $276 worth of them) for 4 boys, from lists that are longer than my arm it seems. And please tell me what kindergarten child needs 12 glue sticks? I mean, seriously! But they were on his list, so we bought them. Along with the 2 packages of regular crayons and 2 packages of twist-up crayons, the mountains of pencils and erasers and folders (not paper, but plastic ones) and paper and specific kind of notebooks and binders and post-it notes and pens and red marking pencils and 3 ounce cups and baby wipes and tissues and cap erasers and backpacks and lunch boxes.....SIGH

It makes you tired, doesn't it? It does me, first Walgreens for their ad stuff which they didn't have much of, then Wal-Mart to finish out the list, although they only had 1 package of twist-up crayons... then Kohls for backpacks for the high school boy and middle school boy because with the amount of stuff they have to carry around, they have to have a heavy-duty backpack!

I know times have changed and all, but all I remember buying was some pencils and loose leaf paper and that's all I remember! I don't remember teachers being so very specific about "only plastic folders, not paper" and "2 inch binder, no other size." And the worst part of all is that after the first couple of days of school, they will all come home with things that each specific teacher wants them to have just for her class (that we haven't bought already), like a stenographers notebook or index cards or something like that. It doesn't seem like much, but when you multiply that times 2kids that have 7 classes apiece and 2 more kids who have 1 teacher but may have a GT teacher or music or PE or something else... it really really adds up. Even for families with 1 child, it adds up.

I haven't even said ANYTHING about buying new school clothes, because heck, after buying all these school supplies, who has any money for new clothes? But the good (??) thing is that here in Arkansas it will be hot for several more months, they will be wearing shorts to school probably until into October sometime. So their summer wardrobe will have to work, it has been over 100 degrees for I think over 2 weeks now and it's just too hot for long pants!

Basically where we live, the boys wear shorts from mid-March until probably mid-October, and suddenly one day it will be cold and they will have to find pants that fit, and let me tell you, that is no easy task! It's impossible of course, for growing boys to wear the same pants more than one year, so I try to anticipate what size they will be! HAHAHAHAHA

If you have sons, you know that's a joke! One of my friends has a son who grew 9 inches in one summer. Nine inches. With the younger 2, I can at least make a good shot at figuring out what size they need, because when they are 9 and 5, they don't skip many sizes. The 14 and 12 year olds, that's another story. Oh, my word, how those boys grow! They are both taller than me, which, granted, isn't any big shakes. They are at least 5'6" each, have feet bigger than is imaginable, and are fast catching up in size to their father! I know my 14 year old skipped 2 shoe sizes at one time once. And that was from a 10 to a 12!

We have 11 more days and counting for school to start, it's a mixed blessing of course, for me since my youngest is starting kindergarten and I will be feeling the quiet of an empty house for 5 days a week instead of just the 2 days that he was going to preschool in the spring. The house will get cleaner more often, the dinner will be cooked and planned better, and probably more laundry will get done. I hope to get a lot more sewing done, but I would trade it all for one more year with Tyler at home. Sounds sad, I know, but when you've been a stay-at-home mom for 11, nearly 12 years, it's hard to switch gears.

But switch gears I must because I won't hold Tyler back. I won't let him know how much I will miss his sweet face or fixing him his peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Because kids grow up. They just grow up. I don't have to like it, but I do have to let them go. And buying $$$$ worth of supplies is the first step towards it. It took us all weekend practically to acquire all these necessary items, but acquire them we did. And I promised myself not to get crazy when Tyler brings home 11 unopened glue sticks the end of school next year!