July 31, 2010

The Skier and the Scaredy-Cat

If you know our family, you may have made guesses as to who's who, but maybe these pictures will tell a different story for you.

Ski?  Why, yes, I would love to try!

Man, this horseshoe ski is sweet.  This is so easy!

No big deal, Friends.  I love this stuff!

My sister sure has some guts.  Look at her go.  I wish I were that brave.

But, alas, this is as good as you're getting from me, folks.  I'd love to ski.  Behind the boat?  Hun-unh.  No way.  Not today.  I just want to "pretend ski."

And if I can ski, why not tube, too?  This stuff is so easy!  I am, after all, "just a little fishy in that water, aren't I, Mama?"

That's right folks!  My timid little princess tried skiing for the first time this weekend!  It was awesome to watch her.  Hubs keeps trying to discredit the whole event by explaining to everyone that he held her up to get started and that all she had to do was stand there.  True enough.  But I am still so proud of her for trying!  I couldn't believe she did it.  She usually doesn't want to try anything new that involves either risk or failure.  If she's not confident that she will nail it on the first try, forget about it.  And, to make me eat my words, she fell off the first time and got right up and did it again!

Noah on the other hand was having none of it.  He was content to play with the ski and run around with it as long as the water was only a foot deep.  Behind the boat, yeah, right.  

Do you think I was smart enough to video any of this monumental event?  Nope.  Didn't even occur to me.  And while Sophia will tell you that was her favorite part about being at the lake this weekend, I absolutely could not coax her back on the ski to get some video footage.  Oh well, something to shoot for quite literally - pun fully intended!

Tales of Traveling, Part 2

In order to prevent extreme boredom, I think I'll share the second leg of summer traveling mostly with pictures.  They pretty much tell most of the story anyway.

Except for the crazy Nielson way of traveling.  We arrived back to church from our Kansas trip at just about 12:00 noon on Saturday, July 3rd.  We cleaned up at church, waited for all the high schoolers to depart and headed home.  We made it back to our house around 1:00.  The next few hours were a bit of a blur involving ONE load of laundry, changing the oil in the van, cutting Hub's hair, going through the mail, balancing the checkbook, holding the mail for the next two weeks, mowing the lawn, taking Kansas stuff out of the suitcases to make room for the MN and SD stuff I had piled on the floor before the first part of our trip, repacking the van, feeding Phoebe, watering plants, waiting for the buzzer on the dryer, and heading out of town just 3 short hours after we arrived!  

That's right.  3 hours.  That's how long we were home in between trips.  After all, we needed to be in MN by 1:00 on Sunday, July 4th.  For one very important reason.  

That's right, Friends.  Please don't forget that our annual trips home each summer are ALWAYS planned around the Twins schedule.  And how much more so this year, in our desperate attempts to see the new stadium.  THANK YOU to my dad for making it possible for us to get into this sold out 4th of July game without having to scalp tickets.

Okay, I'm really not that bad of a mom.  The (other) real rush to get to MN, of course, was this:

My brother and sister-in-law had Noah and Sophia (in addition to their own two small people) for the last 3 days of our Kansas trip.  We are so grateful to them for generously doubling their craziness and loving on our kids in our absence.  And really, I'm not a bad person for going to the baseball game with Hubs first before seeing the kids, right?

The remainder of our time in MN went something like this:
Sweetest P got to meet her cousin Mackenzie for the first time.  Cousin M was born just 4 days after Sweetest P!  And Oma had all kinds of time to love on the two sweetest baby girls I know.

We spent all kinds of time here:
We were, after all, in the Land of 10,000 Lakes.  (Did you know it's actually 14,000 some?)  And sadly, in all that time, this is about the only picture I have to show for it.

With the youngest two watching:

Strangely enough, this trip also involved a lot of this:
We rode rides at the Mall of America.  We rode rides at Como Zoo.  We rode rides at Oma and Opa's.  (If you count riding the tractor with your self-proclaimed "crazy uncle" a ride.)  All firsts for my kids.  And now I'm screwed because for the first time, they know what rides are about and there's no going back to that blissful state of money-saving ignorance.

And don't forget this:

If you exlcude sleeping time, I think we spent more time outside than in.

Which may result in this:
Which may result in an inconvenient, unplanned shower!

But the best part of this leg of our journey, was this:
All kinds of time with the parts of the frozen tundra we love best!

Peace out, MN!

July 29, 2010

Things to Remember in a Day

As a mom of many small children, do ya ever stop to ponder all the things you must remember in a day?  Today was a very typical summer's day for us, and I can't tell you how many times I thought about all the things I needed to remember.

My perfect mental plan was for us to get out the door at 10:00 to meet some dear friends at a park just five minutes from our house- at 10:30. Those of you who are not moms of small children are scratching your heads at this point trying to figure out why we needed a half an hour. Those of you who ARE moms of small children are nodding your heads in total understanding.

And for the record, it turns out I have learned just a few things about mothering small children, because here's how the morning schedule played out:
9:55- I hopped in the shower.  Now or never, right?
10:00-Comb hair with one hand (because we all know styling is a long gone luxury and combing now constitutes styling), brush teeth with the other.
10:05- Grab a green pepper, broccoli, carrots, meat and cheese out of fridge for lunch, add some ranch dip for good measure to insure that my kids remember I am a GREAT mom!  Finish packing lunch.
10:10- Round up all buckets/shovels/etc. from sandbox in backyard to take with us, while instructing kids to get on Crocs and start strapping themselves in carseats.
10:13 Fill water bottles.  3 of them.  Ice AND water.
10:15 Get Sweetest P out of bed, into carseat.
10:18 Grab camera, phone, crackers, swim gear, diaper bag, baby, sunglasses and head out the door.
10:19 Back in the house for my forgotten water bottle still on the counter.
10:20 Get Noah off his bike, into the van and strapped in his carseat.
10:22 Pull out of driveway
10:30 Arrive at park EXACTLY on time.  Super impressed with myself.  My friend is waiting for us, kids in the stroller, sunscreening many small children, 5 minutes ahead of me and putting me to shame.

DISCLAIMER: This schedule involves not one iota of exaggeration, and now you non-moms-of-small-children might understand why I allotted myself a half an hour to get to a park five minutes from my house!

So...back to that list of things I need to remember for today.  On this very typical summer day, it went something like this:
*swimsuits on kids-check
*dry clothes/underwear for later-check
*picnic blanket-check
*stocked diaper bag-check
*Sophia's vitamins-check
*knife to cut green pepper-check
*Ranch dip for veggies, so kids think I'm a GREAT mom-check
*water bottles x3-check
*water toys-check
*Crocs for kids to wear in very rocky water-check
*Money to ride the little train-check
*Make kids go to the bathroom before we leave.  Easier here than there-check.
*Have kids move bikes out of the way for Dad's car when we get home-check.
*Return movies to library: TBD.

We hit the road, my brain intact after all that hard work, and I'm feeling like Mom extraordinaire for remembering it all.

We get to the park, and as the day progresses, I realize the things I've forgotten:
*deodorant.  Note to self: must keep some in the car for exactly this reason.  Dear Jesus, help me not to smell.  Too much.
*To fix Sophia's hair before we left.
*To APPLY the sunscreen I ingeniously remembered.
*To GIVE Sophia the vitamins I remembered to bring along.
*When the last time my kids had a bath.  Which I discovered while fixing Sophia's hair.  At the park.  With mud on her head.  From the mud pit she played in last night.  (In my defense, there were showers at the mud pit, and I thought we had gotten it off.  Turns out I was wrong.  We missed some.)
*To make sure kids haven't REMOVED anything from the aforementioned stocked diaper bag.  Like burp rags.  For my favorite Sweetest P- who happens to be a VERY spitty baby.
*To take the chicken out of the freezer for dinner tonight.
*To CHANGE the baby's diaper with the again said diaper bag.  Now I'm feeling like a TERRIBLE mom.
*That Sophia WILL need to go to the bathroom 5 minutes after we get there, even if I did remember to make her go before we left home.  And every hour after that.  No matter what.  It's never convenient.  I may think teaching the kids to go in the river/stream we were playing in is the best idea I've had all day.  Until I realize what I've forgotten about this is that once they do so, they will announce to everyone and anyone that they have just done so.  And be so marveled at the fact that they can go in the water that they just might do so every 15 minutes just for fun.

And that, my friends, about sums it up.  Things to Remember in a Day- or alternately titled: Why My Brain Just Might Explode.  Or so I feel some days!

Chillin'.  It's what I do best.

Watching the train pass.
Playing in the river/stream.

And yes, last but not least, I leave you with the documentation that if you teach your kids to pee in the water, they may do it frequently just for fun.  For clarification and redemption, the water was flowing downstream, and there was no one behind us!

July 24, 2010

Our summer travels lasted a grand total of 3 weeks.  That's 3 consecutive weeks.  We saw every part of the Midwest that I could ever care to see.  Mostly.  I nearly had a brain explosion in packing for each leg of our traveling all at one time.  But we had a great time, at each stage of the journey, and I am now back to our routine at home.

Of course we packed the computer.  And of course I initially intended to post all these flowering, beautiful, eloquent blogs while we were gone, chronicling each step of our experiences.  Yeah right!  By the time I hit the sack after midnight each night, there was nothing left in me.

So, instead, I'll give you the hindsight view of our 2010 Summer Adventures.

Step one began in Kansas.  But before I can even get to that part, I have to back up and give you the Prelude.  The Kansas trip was Tim, Phoebe, and me.  So...where does that leave Sophia and Noah?  In South Dakota.  And then Minnesota.  The day before we left for Kansas, Tim drove to Kearney, Nebraska to meet his mom, who then graciously took Sophia and Noah to the farm in South Dakota.  Prior to finalizing all these arrangements, I had been praying about what the best plan for our family was.  I was hesitant to leave the kids for so long (nearly 10 days in all).  I asked them how they would feel about being at Grandma and Grandpa's house without us.  Sophia's response, "Yoo-hoo!  When will it be?"  I wasn't sure she understood the part about Tim and I not being there.  So I reiterated that part to clarify for her.  "Yoo-hoo.  Can we go tomorrow?"  (This was back in April.)  Silly me for thinking I needed to worry about it!

Tim drove the 5 hours back to Colorado (for a total of 10 hours roundtrip) to pack up and get ready for the 9 hour drive to Kansas the next day.  Yes, this is the crazy life we live!

So we took 18 high schoolers, Phoebe, and one other adult chaperone to Wichita and Florence, Kansas.  We had an AMAZING time!  What you may, or may not, know is that I was much more involved in this trip than I have been for a long time.  This trip was right in my area of expertise in many ways.  Pretty much all my former lives came colliding together for one grand event.  Teaching.  Working at an inner city camp.  Working with high schoolers.  It was spectacular.  I had a ton of fun, and it was so neat to see how God used our roles on this trip to totally suit our giftings.  I got to do the things I am good at: organize, administrate, teach and lead.  Tim got to do the things he is good at: hang out, build relationships, shepherd and disciple.  We would both be thrilled to do it again.

Plus it was such a treat to have some special time with Phoebe!

If there's anything about that trip that sticks out to me, it would have to be "Bam-Bam."  Bam Bam was a second gradish deaf boy who came to camp.  We first met him in Witchita at our outreach events, and then he reappeared the first day of camp.  We were told that his two cousins who came with him could communicate with him.  It turns out that that "communicating" really meant pointing.  Which made me think about things that had never occurred to me before.  When you're an 8 year old inner city boy, how do you learn sign language?  Who around you has time to learn sign language?  Who will make the effort to learn it with you?  How do you communicate beyond pointing?  Who can understand you?  Who has any idea what is happening inside of you?  How do you function?  I know that we were at camp for just a few days, but I sure do hope that Bam Bam felt the love and peace of Jesus in that short time!

Trey (in the middle) is one of our high schoolers.  With campers Mason and Bam Bam.

Jacob "Bo Bo" with his craft for the day.

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