Archive for May 2013

Our Escape to Tomah, Wisconsin

This past weekend we were privileged to be invited to Tomah, Wisconsin to attend a book signing by our friend, Roger Blakely, who has served many years in the Army and has more recently become an author. Ken and I had discussed heading up to Tomah for the signing, so when Roger personally invited us and told us he would put us up at the Cranberry Country Lodge, we committed to going. And I’m so glad we did.

It was one of those trips where everything seemed to work out perfectly. We were all healthy, the weather was beautiful, our vehicle ran great and we had no accidents or mechanical breakdowns. The kids got along great—for the most part–and everyone had good attitudes—again, for the most part—and we just enjoyed the trip. Maybe I’m just an optimist, I don’t know, but I think I’m a realist and we really had a nice time, so I had to write about it.

I love that cozy “northern woods” feeling I get when we head north in Wisconsin and enjoyed the beautiful scenery as we drove. Tomah was a cute little town and the museum where the book signing took place was quaint and interesting. The kids even enjoyed looking at the “old-fashioned” items on display. I think it helps that we have been watching Little House on the Prairie so they can relate a little bit to times past. We enjoyed refreshments and visiting with others there.

The kids with Roger at the book signing.

The kids with Roger at the book signing.

We eventually headed back to the hotel and checked out the aquatic center there. It was very fun and age appropriate for our kids. It wasn’t too crowded and kept them entertained for several hours. Soon it was time to get cleaned up and meet Roger and another couple for dinner.

The following morning we ate breakfast, packed up and headed to the Three Bears Lodge in Warren. As a guest at the Cranberry Country Lodge, we had a free day’s admission there. We were very pleased with the size of the waterpark and especially loved that we practically had the place to ourselves. I’m sure it will be a different story this weekend {Memorial Day} and beyond, so the timing was perfect. We have been to The Wilderness Resort in the Wisconsin Dells several times and this was a bit smaller than one of their indoor waterparks, but it was the perfect size for our kids. It was only open from 9am to 1pm that day, but that was just long enough for us. I didn’t take my camera into the water areas either day because I didn’t want to hassle with it, but now wish I would have gotten some good shots. You can check out their websites through the links I have inserted above if you want to look into them further. I would definitely recommend them for families with elementary-aged kids and younger.

We stopped for lunch at a local China Buffet and then started on our way back home. I’ll throw in a funny little Ella story here.  Anyone who has been around Ella much, knows that she love, love, loves chocolate like no other 7-year-old I know. As we were driving, Ken brought up the fact that my birthday wasn’t too far away and he told the kids that they would have to think of something to get or make for me. Ella piped up and said, “I know what we could get her.” Ken asked her what and she leaned forward and “whispered” to him from the backseat, “We could buy her a little piece of chocolate and wrap it up for her.” Ken “whispered” back from the driver’s seat, “but Ella, Mommy doesn’t like chocolate. You do.” And Ella sighed and said, “Oh yah, I forgot.” Such a silly girl. I got quite a kick out of that.

We ran into a little traffic and a rain storm, but neither lasted for long and we made it home before dark so there was still time for the kids to ride bikes before calling it a day. A bit of a whirlwind weekend, but so worth it! The kids and I will be escaping to Wisconsin again this coming weekend to celebrate Memorial Day with my family. Who knows what adventures await!

Humble Mother’s Day to Me

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Isn’t it funny how your kids can make you so proud, yet are so good at keeping you humble?

Take last Sunday morning for example.  I helped out in my kids’ Sunday School classroom, so I was let in on the “surprise” song which they had been practicing so they could sing it in front of the church congregation on Mother’s Day. As they were going over the words, I felt a little uncomfortable.  “She’s patient, understanding, and as gentle as can be” really aren’t the words I would use to describe myself at times, especially as I reflected on a couple of incidents that took place over the last week.

I looked at my kids. My son wasn’t even trying to sing, just sitting there with a bored look on his face. I wondered if it was just because he doesn’t like group singing or if he couldn’t force himself to say those flowery words about me. Our eyes met and I smiled and shrugged my shoulders at him. He shrugged back.

Then my daughter looked up at me and I shrugged and smiled at her too and she smiled back while happily singing along to the song. I wondered to myself, “Could she possibly mean those words?” As it turned out, I didn’t have to wonder long. They finished their final go-round of the little ditty and she leaned in close to me. I put my arm around her and smiled as she peered into my eyes and softly said, “Mama, you’re not always all those things.” Ha! There it was—the spoken words of what I was feeling. I laughed, but in my insecurity I told her that “most moms aren’t all the time” {and I wanted to say that she and her brother were the reason for it!}, but I let it go at that. I did share her words with others in the room and we got a good chuckle out of it. One other mother who was helping out said, “Yah, she said that to me last week too, but I didn’t want to tell you and hurt your feelings.” That’s my sometimes too-honest girl for ya! How humbling, yet funny is that?!

As I think about it though, it’s not all bad. I will continue to try to grow more patient with my kids, but it shows that we’re real with each other. Sometimes I raise my voice, freak out a bit, and get on them about things, but I try to admit it once I’ve lost my patience and apologize if necessary and tell them I’ll try to do better next time. Hopefully they can appreciate that and will learn that although none of us are perfect, we can always say we’re sorry and try to improve. Hopefully they are learning to follow my example of being ready with an apology when one is needed and being humble enough to admit it {that sounds kind of vain, but you know what I mean}. And hopefully someday we can all look back at a lot of this stuff that seems so frustrating and intense at times now…and laugh, and know it’s just a part of growing up, for all of us.

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My kids have both already given me a couple of wonderful homemade Mother’s Day cards, so I do feel loved and appreciated. I am so incredibly thankful to be their Mom!

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Dandelion Bouquets

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The weeks fly by, don’t they? I think we’re really done with snow for a few months now {“I think” being the key words there} and spring is upon us again. I’ve been busy working on my Grohing Up Together Facebook page and Etsy shop and had to take a bit of a break from my blog. I hope to be more active on here again soon.

But today is a beautiful day and we’re all hoping to enjoy some time outdoors. I was out trying to capture the beauty of my flower garden in snapshots and my kids wanted to stay inside. Until that is, my son heard the neighbor’s lawn mower start up. He has always loved our neighbor’s mower for some reason and is quickly dressed and informs me he is going out to watch “Mr. Gary” cut the grass. At this point, of course, I’m heading back indoors, but he doesn’t care, he wants to watch that mower.

So I sit down to upload some pictures and he calls me over to the patio door. “Mama, can you come here?” I turn to see he has a handful of fresh-picked dandelions for me. He tells me that he knows they’re weeds, but they’re still pretty, and a little sticky, and I take them and give him a kiss and a smiling “thank you.”

Just then my daughter shouts, “Can I go outside too?” I tell her that of course she can and she runs upstairs to change out of her Super Girl outfit and put on some play clothes. She yells down the stairs, “If I put on long sleeves can I not wear a coat?” I reply with another “of course” and get up to get another vase, because I’m pretty sure I know what’s coming next.

And after she has been outside about a minute, I am again called to the patio door to receive another {slightly larger} bouquet of dandelions, because one must compete with one’s sibling at all times.  🙂dandelion bouquet It’s a good day. A great season in life. A time to get up and get back outside and enjoy time with my kids while they still want me around. Dandelion bouquets won’t last forever.