Adventures

Simplicity Among the Rhubarb

Sometimes there is nothing like the taste of a rhubarb stalk plucked straight from the garden to put life back into perspective. A few days ago I was in the garden enjoying the sunshine and pulling some weeds. My five-year-old daughter was digging in the dirt and helping pick lilacs and irises for the dining room table.

She nibbled fresh rhubarb and made a surprised face at the tartness, then promptly went back for more. My thoughts went back to my own childhood, eating sugar snap peas and rhubarb straight from the garden. I would ride my bike down the gravel road to my grandparents’ house where I gladly accept an invitation to spend the night for no reason at all but to enjoy their company and the ice cream my grandma would always serve up as a bed-time snack.

That’s the simplicity of summertime, and something I realized my soul needed. I often find myself yearning for cleared schedules and fewer things. I want time to get bored and to just breathe.

There will always be plenty of tasks keeping us busy, be it work, household, volunteering, family responsibilities, and more. I am reminding myself to take in the moments that only summertime can offer. We will eat s’mores for dessert and watch hummingbirds in the backyard. We will walk to the ice cream shop too many times and get really good at golf (okay, maybe not that last one, but I’m trying.)

We will accept that we can’t do it all. We will take joy in what we can do. Life is better when you stop to smell the roses, or, in some cases, stop to taste the rhubarb.

Adventures

Five!

The baby of the family turned five Sunday and we celebrated with pandas, gymnastics, and donuts. Snowy weather prevented my parents from bringing the most adorable panda cake pops made by my mother so we settled for donuts. The kids had a blast running off energy.

One of the most fun parts of being a mother is watching as our little one’s personalities develop and grow. I am forever surprised and amused by how different two sisters can be. They are both so very lovable in their own ways.

The girl is excited to start kindergarten in August. She loves ballet, Calico Critters, her heart blanket, and, of course, pandas. She is sweet, funny, and sometimes a bit stubborn.

She ended a wonderful birthday with some big sister snuggles. Soon we will be taking a family vacation to Washington, D.C. to see real pandas. Anyone who knows our girl knows what a big deal that is! Happy birthday to the little one who makes our family complete.

Adventures

To Be Needed

“She didn’t seem to have trouble leaving you,” the kindergarten screener told us as we sat on tiny stools at a kid-sized table. I felt a small jab in my stomach. My soon-to-be-five-year-old is ready to start kindergarten. Heavy sigh.

When my husband and I brought her into the classroom and began filling out registration paperwork, she happily skipped away down the elementary school hall with one of the kindergarten teachers. She was confident. She was unafraid.

At first I might have secretly wished she would have been a little apprehensive. I anticipated I would need to at least give her a hug and say an encouraging “you’ll do great!” Then I asked myself if I would rather have had her cling to my leg in tears or refuse to participate. Of course the answer was no.

There are so many times when parenthood presents us with mixed emotions. We want to be needed, yet we are tired of preparing yet another bowl of cereal or reading that eighth story at bedtime. We want to raise capable kids ready for the world, yet we still want them to need our hugs and to pick them up when they fall down.

Soar, little one. I will be here for you when you need me, but also when you don’t. You are loved.

Adventures

Seven!

We celebrated our oldest daughter’s seventh birthday last weekend with an ice-cream-themed party at a park in our little town.

My mom has made all seven of my daughter’s birthday cakes and continues to do an awesome job.

Our girl is a kind and sweet soul. She is determined, enthusiastic, and funny.

She is blessed with a great group of friends who came to celebrate the day with her.

We gave away ice cream dishes and frozen treat-themed erasers.

The weather was great and the kids had a blast.

Happy birthday to our dear seven-year-old. I hope the next year is filled with fun adventures for you!

Adventures

All 50 by 40: Michigan (Mission Accomplished)

I finally did it. I visited Michigan, which means I have officially visited all 50 states, almost two full years ahead of schedule. My husband, daughters, and I rented a condo on Lake Michigan for a few days over the Fourth of July.

We enjoyed swimming, playing games, miniature golfing, a butterfly museum, and lots of ice cream. I grew quite used to strolling along the beach at sunset every evening after dinner. We were in Michigan during the National Cherry Festival which meant pie, delicious roadside cherries, and a carnival.

A highlight for us was hiking Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. The sand was so soft the kids could roll around in it. Hiking through it gave us a good leg workout, which I needed because it is no secret I enjoy eating on vacation.

So now what? I have no intentions of starting over and visiting all 50 a second time around, but I do want to revisit a few favorites. We are also looking forward to some international travel in the next couple of years. Also, we want to spend more time enjoying the beautiful area we call home.

Thank you for joining me on this journey!

Adventures

Four!

We welcomed our youngest daughter’s fourth birthday with not one, but two celebrations. It felt like the right thing to do given all the cancelled plans, sadness, and disappointment 2020 brought for so many of us. So while we were celebrating our spunky four-year-old, we were also celebrating the fact that we were celebrating something. Does that make sense?

First we had a small party with a few friends and family members at my parents’ house. Of course the theme was pandas, and my mother did not disappoint with the super adorable panda cake. My daughter insisted on eating a piece of cake entirely covered in black frosting, and I wasn’t even about to say no.

Then we were off to Washington, D.C. for some history lessons, a chance to see real pandas, and, of course the American Girl Store. I have been an American Girl fan since the 1980s and having never been to one of the actual stores, I was in heaven. The panda viewing didn’t pan (pun intended) out due to the National Zoo still being closed until mid-May, but we still had a great trip.

If there was ever any doubt that I married the most patient guy in the world, my husband endured almost three hours in the ever-so-pink two-level store and bistro without so much as batting an eye. It was over-the-top girly gloriousness. That’s the only way to describe it.

We ate lunch followed by a dessert of pink and white birthday cake. The girls’ dolls had their hair styled and nails painted. Then we shopped. If you think American Girl dolls don’t have cat litter box complete with fake kitty litter, a scooper, and plastic cat poop, you’re wrong. Of course that’s one of the items the birthday girl chose.

Happy birthday to this sweet, stubborn, funny, panda-loving girl. She makes our family complete. We can’t wait to see what the next year brings.

Adventures

All 50 by 40: West Virginia

My quest to visit all 50 states was hindered a bit by the antics of 2020. Like many people, I canceled several travel plans during that year. After a lot of careful consideration (and vaccination) my husband and I decided we were ready for a family adventure.

We flew into Washington, D.C. and decided on a day trip to Harpers Ferry, West Virginia for some hiking, exploration, and of course history lessons. Harpers Ferry National Historic Park sits on the confluence of the Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers. Abolitionist John Brown was active there, and the area is full of historical facts.

Our daughters enjoyed going in and out of the old buildings. We hiked along the river at the foot of the stunning Blue Ridge Mountains. We saw a lot of turtles, too, which earned the area extra points with the girls.

I would love to come back to this area in the fall. I can imagine the beauty of the foliage then. To be honest, it just felt so good to explore a new place again.

The weather was gorgeous and crowds were light the day we were there. We took in a lot of history in Washington, D.C., too, but Harpers Ferry was definitely a highlight of the trip. That John Denver was right.

One state to go! I’m planning to cross off Michigan later this year, which will be two years ahead of schedule for this goal. Stay tuned for that.

The Updated List

Michigan (I have been to airports, but that doesn’t count)

Adventures

Six!

Last weekend we celebrated my oldest daughter’s sixth birthday with a My Little Pony celebration at Storybook Island. My mother made the adorable cake, and we had a nice, albeit scorching hot, afternoon with family and friends. It felt good to experience that joy.

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In a year that has had so many downs, my girl has been a light in our lives. She exudes joy and energy. Despite the changes to our school year, she completed kindergarten like a champ, and is excited to dive into first grade.

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Our girl is kind, social, and enthusiastic. She loves her friends, her sister, and science. She finds joy in the little things in life. I hope she never loses that excitement for life.

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Adventures

Three!

My youngest daughter turned three a few months ago. What was supposed to be an art class party with friends became a small gathering of family at my parents’ house. It was still a good day celebrating my dear baby, but I held off posting about the day for the reasons I wrote about here.

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Now, as we prepare to celebrate my oldest daughter’s sixth birthday this weekend, I have been reflecting on these important festivities. After a lot of thought, not posting about my youngest’s third birthday seemed wrong. So here are some (very belated) photos and thoughts.

I have posted about each and every one of my daughters’ birthdays. The posts serve as a reminder of how special parenthood is, and how (cliché-alert) quickly those little ones grow. Not only are their birthdays fun for them, but they mark two of the most important days in my life.

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Despite the change in plans, our girl rang in age three in her true purple-loving style. My mom made the adorable Minnie Mouse cake and we dined on pigs in a blanket and fruit salad. We love the baby of our family. She loves purple, watermelon, her blanket, her sister, Minnie Mouse, and Daniel Tiger. She is often serious, sometimes silly, and always set in her ways. Happy belated birthday, dear girl.

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(Photo by Green Owl Media)

 

 

Adventures

Love, Support, and What’s Coming Next

Thank you all for the outpouring of love and support after I posted about losing my grandmothers. I am reminded that we are really never alone in our grief. Others have been there. They care. The challenge sometimes is letting them care for us, letting ourselves be loved when we need it most.

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I will be posting more on memories and my personal navigation of the coping process in the months (years?) to come. However, I’ll also be posting some more light-hearted pieces in the next few weeks. I have some book reviews coming your way as well as some shopping posts and of course some adventures in parenting.

Thank you for reading!