Monday, August 22, 2011

Life Lessons

When I look back over my life, it's the small, almost insignificant moments that are the ones that still remain with me. It's not the pot-boiled-over-obvious-moments but, the seemingly quiet events and happenings that made the biggest impact on me as a person and have molded me into who I am today.
Now that I am grown with children of my own, I know that I have to treat every minute and every moment with care because I don't know if that's going to be the one that speaks loudest to those around me and stays with them hours, months and years after it has passed.
I have held off on writing about one particular event that happened last month because I couldn't find the words to describe how full it made my heart really feel. I didn't know if it would settle deep into the recesses of my son's being but, after weeks of hearing him talk about that particular day, I know it did.
I don't know if he'll remember this moment a month from now or five years from now but, because it burned a marking on my own heart, I hope that it will.
This special moment took place while we were down in Georgia.
My father, an avid fisherman, took my son to catch his very first fish.
 (Getting geared up in the fishing vest P-Pa bought Hunter. 
A must-have for any fisherman.)

***(Click here and copy/paste this link into a new window so you can listen to this song while reading the rest of the post.)***
 (Hunter waited patiently while P-Pa loaded up the fishing boat.)
 (As you can tell by his hands, he was eager with anticipation.)
 (P-Pa talked to Hunter about the sounds he was hearing, how to paddle a boat
and what they were going to use to bait the hook.)

 P-Pa let Hunter paddle the boat,
 and steer the motor.

 (This is one of my all-time favorite photos. I captured the moment--he is looking
right at my Dad with eyes of full admiration and my Dad has no idea he's being watched.)
 (Hunter felt the need to check the water conditions often.)
Hunter really practiced patience as we waited for the fish. He kept attempting to lure the fish by singing, "Here fishy, fishy. Eat that worm!" over and over again.

And persistence paid off...

 (Just look at the delight on his face!)
 (....and my dad's face.)
 After a brief lesson on a fish's mouth, 

 we unhooked him, said goodbye and set him free so he could swim back to his family.

 While walking back to the car, we encountered this friendly fellow which topped Hunter's thick-frosted cake with a big, fat cherry.

Not only did my dad teach Hunter the importance of patience but, how to use a steady hand, and that the very best things in life are worth waiting for yet, they don't always come in the biggest of packages.

That day was a gift to my son as well as me because my dad taught my son one of life's greatest lessons--how to fish.
"Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime."
-Chinese Proverb

One day we will have a boat and we'll go out on the ocean and ride a pony on that boat but, for now, I'm just as happy if only with my memory of two of my favorite boys in our own little boat. (Thank you Dad! I love you!)

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Squeezing Every Last Drop Out of Summer

I'm sitting at our kitchen table on my favorite bench and listening to a fairly aggressive rain storm outside. I feel protected in our safe little home surrounded by photos of my favorite friends and family, the scent of limes and cucumbers (thanks to my new addiction to Scentsy), and watching large raindrops as they slowly roll down our living room windows.

I appreciate the sunshine just like any other girl but, a rainstorm is always a welcome change every once in a while. Besides, we wouldn't appreciate the sun if we didn't have the rain and God proves that every time he closes another dark storm with a beautiful sky spanning red, orange, yellow, green, purple and blue. Which reminds me of this song that my mom sang to me as a child and still makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. (Just wish they had her voice on YouTube).

As summer 2011 is closing the book on its final chapters, I wanted to share how the Menonis have been squeezing every last drop out of it....

1) Having parties because what's a season without celebration?
Dave led a mean game of Horse for the guys. All dads were required to make a shot holding a little person and all non-dads were required to borrow a little person in order to make a shot because its all about being fair.

(My beautiful friend Erica just had a baby girl named Kate. Don't you just love that name?)
 (These pants barely made it back to normalcy after 15 washes.)
 (I love catching a moment and I did.)

 (My Tuesday girl, Carly.)
You can't go wrong with parties that request guests bringing their favorite appetizers because you are introduced to a whole new world of great eats.  

2) Swinging on friends' swings.

3) Enjoying our beach.

 4) Talking to the bunny that lives in our yard every morning, afternoon and early evening. He is used to us and will linger just a bit longer each time before he hops off much to the delight of my kids due to his wiggling white cotton tail.
5) Making sure Daddy knows how special he is. 
6) Hosting the annual end of year Joggers Club brunch. The members have been so good to me the past two years either taking the brunch on or providing pot luck since I've got my hands full with two little ones.
 (Hunter letting us know that the regaee music was loud but he liked it.)
 (Sissy eating her favorite post-run snack--a tie-dye bagel.)
 (Dave handing out thank yous to our committed team of Coffee Chris and Bagel Sue who show up with the goods in hand every single Saturday morning come rain, snow, sleet and once hail.)
7) Playing multiple games of Chasing Balloons. Dave blows a balloon up robust and round then lets go sending it flying rapidly around as it releases its hot air. 

Its all fun and giggles until one goes missing and then there are often tears involved. 

Fortunately, we are usually able to recover them sometimes high up in trees....
 ...then we are happy again.

 8) We were introduced to Sponge Bob Square Pants and the Ice Cream Man.
We found him to be very cold on our teeth but he still tastes sweet enough to talk about him every once in a while.
(One of my favorite expressions he makes.)
9) Monday play dates with our friends at the beach.
 (...and our superstar sitter, Kathleen, who can paint, design, craft and 
chase fast kiddies like nobody's business.)
 ...where walking the wall is one of our must-do activities.
 (I'm going to miss these little sun bonnets. This adorable one is by Lavender Bird Creations on etsyIf you think the hats are cute you should see the clothes!)
 (Our cutie friends Jackson and Owen which Hunter likes to call 
"James, Jackson, Owen" because Owen has hair like his favorite cousin James.)
10) Wearing our sunglasses at all times.
11) Chalk, chalk and more chalk. Because, nothing says "welcome to our fun home" better than a rainbow colored driveway.
 (Some of us like to color with reckless abandon...)
 (...while others prefer more specific letters, words and people art.)
 (...with sunglasses in hand of course.)
12) Making time for Girls Nights Out and thankful for a hubby that gladly lets me.
 13) Wearing Mommy's old baby clothes and looking better than she did I'm sure. (Thanks for making me take the time to go through these Mom. We've enjoyed them more than you know!)
 I love how many people have stopped to ask me where I got these too!
 13) More rides on the Radio Flyer.
14) Mastering the stepping stones at the beach,
 and recognizing that stony beaches aren't so bad after all.
 15) Less "need help" and more "Hunter do it" which tugs a little at my heart because I know its just one step closer to independence and less dependence on me.
16) Frequent visits to our favorite gelato store which typically transpires after a dirty beach or playground visit thus causing us to remove most of our clothing.
 (Somebody likes chocolate like her mommy.)
Gelato has one of two effects. It calms....
 ...or it makes us crrraaaazzzzzyyyyy!
 17) Making weekly pitchers of lemonade.
 Fresh squeezed is good but Country Time is pretty delish too.
 (Hunter insists on using this huge ladle although he gets frustrated each time it won't fit into the neck of the pitcher. I think that he likes that it 
gives him a bigger taste test.)
(Aaaah, perfection.)
18) What Big Brother do, Sissy do.

Big brother wears his sunglasses at night to watch a movie, 
so do I.
 Big Brother laughs hysterically at something, so do I.
 Big Brother points at something, so do I.
 Big brother howls and claps, so do I.
19) Discovering new ways to make each other laugh.

20) Creating new recipes. 
 (Asparagus and carrot quiche that Hunter made.)
21) Venturing out to our favorite playground where nature and beauty abound and there is always a new learning experience.
 (Handmade bird houses hang from trees on the playground walkway.)
 (Sissy prefers to drive her car there.)
And some things we relearn like the fact that we still can't go swimming in the watering hole.

 (Learning about moss...)
 (...and caterpillars...)
 (...and Monarch butterflies.)
Not only is there a playground but they have rock climbing as well. 
 Beautiful flowers surround the grounds.
 And it's usually so quiet that we get the swings all to ourselves.

 21) A new found love for imaginary play.

Hunter requests that we put a diaper on one of his "baby animals" in the morning in case he needs to go potty and he loves to bake cookies for us each day in the play kitchen.
22) Continuing our "5 Books a Day Challenge" (see button above to learn more).
23) Lots and lots of popsicles.  
 ...which make us squeal with delight.
 (She always needs to be right beside me which I kinda like.)
 24) We started the "Uncle Book". It's a small book where the kids and their Uncle Josh can draw pictures, write quotes, notes or anything else they'd like and mail it back and forth. 
There may be many miles between them but this little book will help keep them close at heart. 
 25) Making Grammy's corn. Hunter had his first ear of corn at Grammy's house and loved it so we have continued to make it weekly. 

 (Clearly it was a painting day.)
26) Starfish in the windows.
27) Animal Bingo.
Listen for the sound of the animal and, if its on your board, you win a point.  
 Someone in particular is a consistent winner. 
 (High Five Daddy!)
28) Daddy's stellar invention of "Chasing Geese". It keeps the kids occupied for over an hour and the only drawback is poopy shoe soles. 
(I love how she still wobbles like a drunken sailor when she walks. But then my strong gal just gets right back up and keeps on going.)
 (She kept chasing one bird in particular and kept yelling, "aaahhh! aaahhh!" and flailing her arms which I think meant, "I'm gonna get you whether you like 
it or not!")
29) Begging Daddy, Mommy or anyone else who will listen for a quarter so we can play the bubble gum machine at Joey's on the Beach. 

The machine is often broken which results in a major meltdown followed by Daddy acting as if the machine is really working and enthusiastically yelling, "Hunter! Look! Look at the ball, there it goes!" and then magically a gum ball appears in the small doorway much to the delight of one two year old. (It has become a regular occurance for Daddy to request a gum ball from the Joey's staff. While he tricks Hunter into looking for the ball rolling down the runway, he maneuvers the gum ball into the doorway.) 
Yeah, I know you shouldn't give your kid everything they want but I'd do this again and again to see the look of joy on my son's face.
(He will often chew it for a bit and then lay it down on the table for a few minutes and do it all over so he can re-experience that feeling of exuberance. Gum saver anyone? Fortunately, I just found my old one in my baby box. It's been dusted off because I know it will come in handy for this little guy.)
30) Turning Sweet 16. 

(Always a graceful little lady.)
31) Restaurant Openings that are NYC-worthy.  
 (Hunter loved the buzzer.)
Hellloooo Shake Shack--home of creamy-delicious shakes and best-ever Chicago dogs. I was a NYC-lover and now its right outside our back door to enjoy.
Sissy had her first tomato and, like her mommy, loves them. 

(When these boys heard they would be on a blog, they demonstrated their best poses. Little do they know my blog is huge on heart but small on network.) 
33) Enjoying lots of hose and pool time with our favorite neighbors.

....until we're ready for more Mommy time.  
34) Dressing pretty.
35) Wearing ponytails.

36) And just being us. Because that's the best way to be.
Summer rains and warm weather rainbows are quickly making their exits to welcome brisk winds with crisp apples and fallen leaves. I hope I look back and know that we squeezed every last little drop out of them while they were here. 

When summer gathers up her robes of glory,
And, like a dream, glides away.
~ Sarah Helen Whitman

Oh, and guess who started walking at a mere 9 months old?