Posts Tagged ‘raising boys’

Kings Canyon Camping Episode 4: RACCOON RECONNAISSANCE

October 30, 2012

After the rain puddled under the boy’s tent, they were invited into the tent trailer with all seven of us girls.  Two came; one decided the van was a better option.  Fine.  Freeze your buns off, Superman.  And most cyclists sleep with their bikes, right?

As the sun slid behind the trees and the darkness of night emerged, Austin was making his car cave cozy.  The back hatch of the van was open as he was arranging and reorganizing camping paraphernalia.  After walking over to the fire area for a while he went back to the van and saw something move on his sleeping bag.  Immediately assuming it was a prank by his brother, he said, “Keeve, what are you doing?”  Then the raccoon jumped out and my strong and brave 16-year-old man child screamed like a girl.  Well, a girl with a low voice.  The varmint left…. temporarily.  Later I noticed the boy’s tent was still unzipped and went to remedy the situation.  There were muddy raccoon paw prints all over the sleeping mats.  Great.

Thankful for my athletic ability and throwing accuracy, I could generally make contact with a pineapple size pine cone and a raccoon, but they still came back!  GAH!  And after the first two nights, I was no longer an animal activist.  I had turned into an NRA fanatic…. without the gun.  We piled ammo next to our camping chairs.  The question became: How many times does a coon need to be hit in the head with a pine cone before he doesn’t return?  The answer: we never found out.  More than six or seven.

Nora sat in her chair by the fire pleading, “Please don’t throw things at the raccoons.  I want to see one.  I have never seen a whole raccoon.  Please don’t throw pine cones, Mom. I want to see the body.  Stop scaring them away. I have NEVER seen a whole raccoon. Just wait till I see it ALL, then throw stuff.”  Good grief, child. That is what the zoo is for!

Night #3 it was me against the critters.  The youngest six children were bedded down.  The other mama and two eldest were gone washing dishes.  I piled my cones next to me and sat by the fire waiting.  It took about three minutes before I turned and saw a large striped bandit hauling away a backpack that had been left out.  I bombarded him and screamed bloody murder.  Six giggling children could be heard in the trailer.  Sheesh.  He dropped the back pack, but made off with a plastic bag of something.  I grabbed the pack and threw it in the trailer.  Meanwhile, I saw another masked face making his way to the bear box… I threw large sticks and pine cones as he retreated from my screams.  More laughing… but no help in defending the fortress.

Then horror of horrors, the propane lantern ran out of fuel and darkness enveloped me….. I had no night vision and groped around for a flashlight while hearing the approaching critters.  The headlines in the Kings Canyon Newsletter the next morning could have very likely read: “Crazed camping woman goes ballistic and keeps entire camp group awake after quiet hours.”  I didn’t care.  At all.  I found a lame flashlight, the firestarter and was changing the propane tank at the picnic table when my nemesis climbed right up on the other bench and looked across the table at me.  FOUR FEET FROM MY FACE!  Three days later my throat is still sore from the ear piercing, guttural yell, “GIT OUTTA HEEEEERRRRREEE!”  It must have been quite terrifying because he never came back.  Good.

At that point, my son returned to find knocked over chairs, pine cones and large sticks scattered around the camp, a propane tank on the ground and his  hyperventilating mother trying to light the lantern.  Aerobic workout for the day… check!

Raccoons: 1 bag of sunflower seeds.

Me: 1 terrifying memory that will likely pop up in nightmares for years to come.

Please stay tuned for upcoming episodes of Kings Canyon Camping.

16 Years Ago Tonight…

September 13, 2012

Sixteen years and two days ago, I went to the hospital to have a baby.  But the baby, despite his gargantuan size, was feeling quite cozy and decided not to come out yet.  So, with the IV still in my hand, I was sent home for a “good night’s sleep”…. whatever.  I felt like I had swallowed a watermelon… I was measuring 43 cm across the giant mound.  It was TIME!  It was actually nine days PAST the due date, but my four children NEVER paid attention to due dates.

Ironically, it was the Canada Cup hockey game that night….. and it was playing on the TV in the hospital.  And my husband was enthralled in watching the grown men on thin blades of steel, balancing on slippery ice, using weapons to hit a rubber puck at the net. Thankfully, my friend Barbie had come to visit me on the supposed night of my birthing… and gave me a ride home…. with the IV still in my hand…. for my “good night’s sleep.”

We went back to the hospital on September 13th, in hopes of delivering a child.  We never found out the sex of our children until we could see proof with our own eyeballs.  So, we were unaware that it was our first SON…. and unaware that he had the largest head ever to travel through a birthing canal.  The memory still makes me wince and sit delicately on my chair.  After much pushing and pulling and prodding and probing, Austin was born at the stroke of midnight.  The doctor asked us if we wanted his birthday to be Friday the 13th, or Sept. 14th…. that is how I heard it anyway… and we chose the 14th.  For 16 years, September 13th has held a special place in my heart as the day I almost had a son.

He looked like a hockey player who had recently lost a fight at the blue line, due to some of the prodding and probing… but we loved  him anyway.  Looking back, this was the first of four or five times the skin would be missing on his face.  It should have been a red flag for me as his mother, but no.

Tomorrow Austin turns 16…. but it could have been today.  Oh, the power in the hands of a mother on the birthing table.

Happy Birthday, son.  You have shown yourself worthy of being a fighter to overcome insurmountable odds… from the very beginning.  I’m so proud of the man you are becoming.  My buttons are bursting, almost as badly as September 13th, sixteen years ago!

Announcement Time

June 21, 2012

Before Announcement Time, let me just say “Top of the mornin’” to my Irish readers.  You came out en masse today… welcome!

Now for Announcement Time.  Beware, son #1!!!  Son #2 has grown an inch in the last 2 months and will be taller than you THIS YEAR!  We have warned you about this occurrence for many years.  It is now upon you. (And the parents grin in delight.)

The yellow extension to the 15 year old growth chart was introduced this week.  Son #1 is 5 feet 7 3/4 inches.  His father is 1/8 of an inch taller at this moment.  It won’t be long til that’s over.  Son #2, who is two years younger is only 3/4 of an inch behind his elder sibling.  Oh, this is going to get gooder and gooder.  Both boys passed me up, but I will always be taller than my girls.  The elder has hit a screeching halt at ALMOST 5 feet 4 inches.  The younger is not destined to be a giant…. her birth mama was 4 feet 11 inches.  We are praying for at least 5 feet!

This awesomely decorative growth chart used to be a nice rectangular poster.  It used to hang on the back of the laundry room door…. the only other door in the entire house on tile floor…. for precision measuring.  Then the dog, who was locked in the laundry room for her own safety and the safety of the carpets and furniture, tore up the growth chart much to my dismay and anger.  I picked up all the shreds and painstakingly taped them back together.  This was MY Offspring’s Growth History, for goodness sakes alive.  So now the chart is safely on the back of the master bedroom door.  It gets real cozy when I drag the kids in the microscopic bathroom to measure them.

I’m secretly hoping to have to add another extension card one day.  Currently it stops at 6 feet.  We do have a possibility in the ranks………. please stand by for several years.

Teenage Boys are Strange Creatures

June 9, 2012

Just when I think I have my teenage boys pegged for life… they turn over a new and refreshing leaf that does this mama’s heart good.  It’s happening in repeating stages right now.  I’m not sure why, but I’m not voicing any of these questions aloud, so as not to disturb the force.

It all started about a month ago.  Holding my coupon envelope while pushing my grocery cart through Safeway, my cell phone rang. It was my 15-year-old son.  He was calling to inquire about the correct procedure for washing his comforter.  Glory be!  I explained that it is exactly like a load of clothes.  BAM!  I could hardly breathe for the clean-laundry-loving juice pumping through my veins.

I arrived home that day to find three large garbage bags stuffed full of clothing in the loft.  Inquiring minds want to know, so I asked a few children if they knew what the bags were for.  Seems it was my same comforter-washing son.  He had gone through his closet AND dresser and removed all the clothing that was too small, stained, holey and nerdy.  Never in his 15 years has he performed this action.

Then I glanced in his room.  Miracle of miracles.  I could see the carpet under his bed!  It is usually hidden by piles of smelly shoes, biking gear, magazines, dirty and/or clean clothing.  It was spotless.  I was speechless! Unbelievable.  I thought it would take a college roommate or his wife to convince him of his slobbish ways.  I’m not sure what happened to bring about this change, and I’m not disturbing the force and asking any time soon.  The amazing thing is that it is still that clean… a month later.  It was like BAM! he grew up.

I was basking in the realization that 50% of my sons were now considered not slobs.  Wow!  I realize 50% is not a passing grade, but I was at 0% just a month ago.

THEN it happened.  I was in Walmart picking out avocados that were ripe to perfection when my cell phone rang.  It was my 13-year-old son inquiring how to launder his comforter.  I about dropped to the tile floor in Wally World in shock and disbelief.  I explained that it is exactly like a load of clothes.  BAM! I could hardly breathe for the clean-laundry-loving juice pumping through my veins.

But, unfortunately, that is as far as son #2 got in the goal of living a tidy, laundered, clean lifestyle.  But he’s two years ahead of his brother in the comforter category. Yet, I have hope.

 

G R A D U A T I O N ! ! !

June 4, 2012

We did it!  We successfully got one whole child through homeschooling.  This is a monumental achievement for a homeschool mom.  We wonder all along if this day will ever come.  We hope and pray that we aren’t wrecking the kids by doing this ourselves.  And that right there is the key…. I never felt like I was doing this by myself.  It was me, and my terribly supportive husband, my co-op mamas, our support group, the state organization (Arizona Families for Home Education) and mostly God, who called us to this way of life and education 12 long years ago.

I have no regrets for choosing homeschooling.  All the sacrifices and tears have been worth it…. every little bit.  I do have a few regrets involving course choices and follow through, which we all encounter our first time.  I have learned from my mistakes and have already made corrections for guinea pig #2 who just finished his first year of high school.

I liken the homeschool journey similarly to childbirth.  The painful memories diminish as the joys grow each day.  Truly my happy homeschool experiences outweigh the horrible ones 100 to 1, for which I am stupendously thankful.  Our family is close and we love each other.  We love being together.  We love playing games together and they don’t end in yelling matches or wrestling fights.  We even love vacationing together.  Secretly, the kids even love learning together, but they try to keep this under raps.

The great news is that I am still looking forward to planning next year!  I still love homeschooling.  I love being with my kids.  I love learning and teaching.  However, it is with great relief in my ever-loving-heart that I have exactly 81 days of NOT homeschooling ahead of me.  They will be busy days of summer movies, packing and planning for college for our graduate, swim parties, a 9-year-old birthday celebration, a marriage retreat, a relaxing vacation to the beach and then Tahoe, the homeschool convention and a visit to friends in Kansas and Colorado.  I have waited for THIS DAY…. June 4, 2012 for a Loooooooong time.  It arrived.  I am beyond elated.  :o)

American History Ends!

May 14, 2012

Yes, the Mayans were right!  2012!!  THE END!  American History was the topic this past year for my homeschool class of high schoolers… and it ends day after tomorrow.  We started in 1440 (Go ahead and guess why we started there!) and ended in the 1970s.  I told the kids if they want to find out what has happened in the last 42 years, they are on their own!  The Vietnam War ended and we were done.  Kaput.  Finis. 

We did add a bit of culture and art to the study to keep it interesting (for me!) and we debunked several idols from these youngsters’ minds.  “Like what?”  you ask.  Well, it seems of few of them were drawn to the hippies…. the Jesus people… the Kennedy’s… the Beatles… all for glamorous reasons.  Then we studied some of their lifestyles, choices, outcomes and habits.  Not too glamorous after all.  Perfect!  That is why we homeschool!  To look at REAL history.

Another homeschool mom (who might just be crazier than me!) and I sat together today and did some planning for next school year… which we decided will start two weeks after all the public schools here in Arizona.  Because we can!  Yet another reason to homeschool!  We were at an Abeka display/sale in a nearby hotel.  If you don’t know anything about Abeka, it is a Christian based curriculum that is EXTREMELY thorough… so thorough that it actually contains TOO much school work for the average kid to endure.  It is great, in my humble opinion, as a “pick one topic each year” curriculum.  So we used it for American History and I loved it.  Next year we are using it for spelling and vocabulary.

Anyway, back to the two of us rockin’ cool moms sitting at the table amongst sold-out Abeka moms. We had another curriculum opened that teaches Godly character… and we were talking through a list of national parks that we hope to visit this coming school year.  We were discussing weather and what time of year would be best for us to go to each one.  She was explaining, and I was listening, all the science teaching that can be coordinated with the findings at each park.  We were planning our weeks of study at home… and our week at each park.  Eventually we noticed that the workbook moms sitting around us were all staring lustfully at our plans.  One finally blurted out, “I want to school with you two!”  hahahaha…. why do you think we do this?  We don’t want to be bored!  We don’t want to use ONLY books!  We don’t want to wear out the kitchen table!  We want to live learning!  I wanted to scream “Abeka is boring!  Look out the window at what God made for you to enjoy!”  But I didn’t.  The salesman was quite an impressive figure and I wasn’t sure I could take him, if need be.  The looks in their eyes solidified WHY we do what we do!  My friend whispered to me, “I think they just do school at home,” implying that they aren’t truly “homeschooling.”

We want our kids to love learning, to see creation as an organized and amazingly ordered system that WORKS, to appreciate great men and women who have endured and suffered and succeeded and lost and lived out their beliefs. But most importantly, we want them to know God.  To love God.  To serve others.  To use their individual talents for the kingdom.  THAT is why we do what we do!

Beachcombers R Us

April 26, 2012

We spent last week at Monterey, California and God blessed us with unbelievable weather for April on the coast!  Sunny and gorgeous!  My friend, Connie, got our whole family hooked on searching for sea glass…. I’m not quite sure why it is so addicting.  Possibly because it is FREE and the colors of glass are so amazing.  We found this little cove, after much climbing and crawling over large rocks, where the waves were bringing new pieces of glass with each crash and roll.  After my entire tennis shoe went under the water, in pursuit of a huge green treasure, even I joined the freezing barefoot ranks and took the plunge.  Usually I prefer to view the water, not feel the water.

The majority of our discoveries were green and brown….. 7-Up and beer bottles in past lives.  But we did find some rare gems in PINK!, red, yellow, white and royal blue.  My 15-year-old son saw a shining royal blue bottle in a thrift store and asked if we could buy it and throw it in the ocean…. for our next visit in three months!  GREAT idea!

What do we do with the sea litter, you ask?  There are mini jars at the beach house that have sorted-by-color sea glass…. so I added my finds to that happy color display.  For homeschooling we count this as math…. sorting.  :o)  It could also be categorized as history, science and social studies.  Whatever we call it, it was the BEST kind of schooling, in my humble opinion.  The rest of the family brought home their glass pieces …. I’m not sure why.  Possibly because they were FREE and the colors of glass are so amazing!

And no, we didn’t color coordinate our clothes with the ocean… it simply worked out that way.  It was a matchy-matchy sort of day all the way around.

Keep Your Small Children Off the Streets!

March 21, 2012

It’s that time of my life again…. I’m getting old fast.  My little blond haired son who stuttered and yelled every word while he ran instead of walking anywhere…. just got his driver’s permit.  He was three-years-old about six months ago.  How does this keep happening to me?  In the past few years, every time he would comment on my driving (like suggesting that I could have made it through the light I stopped at) I would tell him to add two more months past his 16th birthday for a possible driving date.  Funny how he stopped commenting about six or eight months ago…. hoping I would forget all the months that were added. I have not.  What do you think I am?  Old?

Before my 15 1/2-year-old got his permit, I mentioned to my husband that I’m not real comfortable riding with my eldest son behind the wheel.  The last time he drove the van was in 1999 and HE WAS THREE!  He hit a fire hydrant and the van got a hole bashed in the rear bumper. Yes, he went in reverse AND drive!  It’s all still so clear in my motherly-horror-of-horrors-memory.  Back to my comment to my husband.  He responded as a more-than-confident father, “He’s a great driver. He’s a guy. He’ll do fine.  He’s my son.”  I rolled my proverbial eyeballs. Our 18-year-old daughter did an involuntary sputter/choke/laugh.  She then questioned, “What does Dad know that the insurance companies don’t know?”  GREAT question.

Thankfully, my eldest son actually IS a confident and safe driver so far.  We have not ventured onto the highway yet, but his success in parking lots and side streets is quite good.  I’m actually feeling more confident now than when my very nervous and cautious daughter started this process three years ago. 

Two student drivers down.  Two to go.  God help us!

My Son Wears a Unitard…..

March 12, 2012

…. but thankfully, he’s not dancing with ribbons at the same time!  He is riding for a foundation called Team Winded that raises awareness of asthma.  We are THRILLED that he has this opportunity and gets to associate with top-notch individuals who are making Team Winded function!

That’s him on the right with the Night Rider glasses on.  I love the team’s orange booties because it makes the riders so easily identifiable on the track! Today was Austin’s first category four race.  Cycling begins at category five and they work their way up to one… and professional.  We’ve been told that it usually takes about ten years of riding to hit your prime… that will be age 24 for Austin.  It’s a long term goal, but he is passionate, determined and sturdy!

Here is an informative article about The Winded Foundation:  http://www.freedomwaymagazine.com/winded-foundation-works-raise-asthma-awareness

God has brought many amazing opportunities into this young man’s life…. this is by far one of the coolest!!!  Thank you, Team Winded (Jay and Tisha!) for sponsoring Austin and having the vision to grow riders! These guys range in age from 15 to 18 and Austin is one of the youngest on the team.

(Austin is third from the right above and in the middle below.)

Preparing for U.S. History

January 10, 2012

This is one of my favorite activities, even though it consumes my Mondays and Tuesdays every week.  That is also why there are usually no posts on here Mondays and Tuesdays… but a few occurences are worth mentioning today… as I step away from the Civil War for ten minutes.

1.  My 15-year-old son has been growing out his hair for a long time.  Yesterday he asked me a question I NEVER thought I’d hear… “Mom, do you know how to cut my hair in a mullet?”  What in the world?  It’s been 25 years since I’ve done a mullet, but I believe I remember how.  And then it happened… I was transported back to college in 1985… mullets everywhere.  The mullet went down a little rustier than planned (in fact I need to do some repair work tonight) but it made us all laugh until we cried.

 

2.  My 15-year-old son got some running TOE shoes.  What in the world?  They are red with black rubber on the bottom…. with a little strap just like Mary Jane’s to hold them on his hairy feet.  He’s been wearing them around the house all day “breaking them in”… for what, I’m not sure.  Maybe running.  But he’s a cyclist.

3.  Ringo the wiener dog is brain-dead when it comes to house/potty training.  Seriously… brain DEAD.  This will take a LOT of diligent work.  He also tried to chew the back of the Ethan Allen rocking chair.  Not good.  We initiated the use of the spray bottle today.  All I have to add is he’s lucky he’s so cute.

4.  Buying SparkNotes from Barnes & Noble online is cheaper and quicker than running down to the store to buy them.  Don’t tell my American History students, please.  A few clicks…. 44 printed pages… and BAM… I’m smarter than a 5th grader.

That is all for now.  Peace out!


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