Friday, July 20, 2012

Enjoying the Summer Days, Weeds and all.

As July hits each year the weeds strive to take over our walkways & yard. Each year they usually win for weeks at a time. Then we go out as a force and with muddy hands pull them out the best we can, make a bonfire for sticks and fill the compost up with garden debris.

This year after a big lightning storm we were left with multiple huge trees down in the yard. After feeling a bit hopeless to tackle so much we went out with a bag of marshmallows as reward and armed the bigger boys with saws. Three hours later our yard was on the way. We still have a weekend of burning, cutting and stacking ahead of us but that first day of work is always the hardest.

Getting our vegetable garden ready to plant last year

Seeing the kids work so hard, and all that Sheff can accomplish so quickly reminded me to be grateful for all we DO get done and stop worrying about the weeds that always seem to win.

We are going to tackle the yard jobs the best we can, buy some extra s'mores fixings and invite people over to share in the process. Soon enough the snow will fall, making sure to enjoy summer days, weeds and all.

1 Peter 4:9 Cheerfully share your home !

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Being Fit, ENERGY as a Family Priority

Last night as I was sweating on the treadmill I was thinking about how to raise daughters with a positive sense of self and a healthy desire to be fit. It is not an easy thing to do. I actually see the influence of their brothers being the motivating factor in playing pick up games, races and eating what they want.

Growing things, taking care of flowers and gardens are a wonderful
way to teach daily health, I am trying to do more every year!
I would think everyone at some point is found worrying about food and fitness. The happiest I have ever been in this area is now as a mother. In part the context is so important. My happiness is based less on my self than any other phase of life. Being a good wife, being a good mother and being a good friend are the building blocks of daily life. Finding time to pray, exercise, make good meals and keep a clean home map out my day. A good book, show or conversation are the icing.

Looking back at being a girl growing up, I wouldn't go backwards if you paid me! To navigate self esteem in a culture so based on things external is tricky at best.

My girls see me make food choices & fitness choices while weighing other priorities. If I had childcare or unlimited time, I could see fitness becoming too important, being obsessive. Needing to have it fit into the other pieces of the daily puzzle allow it to be simply something I do when kids are in bed in between laundry and seeing Sheff. I get on the treadmill and my goal is to run through one Netflix show most days of the week, around 2 to 4 miles. If I do weights it is in the living room with with lots of little helpers mimicking me:)

After having Lucy I wanted to get back into great shape. It's fun to feel great abut how you look but even more key is to have...ENERGY! Being in running, dancing or hiking shape gives me stamina for the long summer days of needing to keep up with Costco trips, beach days and simply maintaining the home front.

I stuck a pair of size 26 jeans on the shelf in my closet and thought "Those will be fun to go dancing in, lets make it happen!" My biggest tricks are lots of natural fiber. Forget the calories and fat, look at the fiber and enjoying the meals. I agree after each baby you have to work to get your tummy feeling good, I wrap right after birth and I drink water like I am running a daily marathon:) Farm boxes are a great way to cheat and not think. Just eat a farm box choice daily for lunch. A huge plate of Kale with sesame oil and a little Trader Joe's spicy peanut dressing is yummy! I cut up a big onion to fry with it and the kids eat the onion. Broccoli slaw is another easy raw green as is marinating cucumbers (my kids eat these like chips). If we eat McDonalds for lunch we will grill extra veggies for dinner. If we splurge on Pizza we have a protein shake for the next snack. No extremes just never letting processed foods tip the scales.

As a mom I want my kids (daughters and sons) to see me balancing my health as a family priority. There will always be days I feel yucky, but with so many eyes watching I want to show gratitude, self control and flat out loving life as a daily mantra.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Life's a Beach

There is a country song that has the refrain "Some beach, somewhere..." I am on that beach with the kids this week. I am choosing the literal interpretation, beaches are a highlight of family time. We have been getting out daily to swim, build sandcastles or splash in the wading pool.

Look out world James is 12!
Last week when the heat hit advisory highs we hunkered down and felt very American in our multi TV air conditioned home. Sheff whipped up 3 levels of wooden storage in the basement so the kids have been helping me sort clothes and holiday decorations so everything can be stacked in the new storage. Love it! Feels like I am shopping at Costco finding the new size Ballet slippers.

Finding sea treasures in Maine

Doing summer activities with 8 kids is so much fun. Sheff took kids to John's game last night (I was at Church book club, it included wine and was heaven talking about books with smart women). Sheff said  at the ball park they found an empty field and made up games. Having grown up an only child, nothing makes me happier than seeing them play together. Summer lets them relax into being each others friends around the clock, going to the beach making a deserted baseball field into a fun zone.

Sisters on the beach
Loving summer, loving this time with the kids all home. As kids come and go with their own camps & activities I always look forward to the moments we are 10 strong as a family, even getting ice cream is better when we are all together.

The beach comes with the sand, mess, wet suits, spilled chips but the time together playing is what I choose to remember.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

17 Kids for a Hike!

All of us other than Mrs. Otis, taking the photo!
Yup, we took 17 kids on a 3 mile hike. 1.5 miles each way. It was hot, long and ...we did it!

This weekend we went up to our friends the Corniea's cabin near Backus MN.

Mickey holding Lucy with Mark on the tree swing at the cabin

The trickiest part are the bookends of getting away. The packing, cleaning and subsequent unpacking: whew, it is a workout. But the time hanging out as two families just having fun are truly some of our kids best summer memories. The kids pair up beautifully they have 6 boys and 3 girls, we have 5 boys and 3 girls.
Can you tell Otis vs Corniea? Some are tricky from  the back!

I attempted to have the kids pack for themselves (Gretchen does this with her brood but admitted it does work better to pack for the youngest 5 ). Mickey packed 2 pairs of sweatpants. Yup, that is it,  no boxers, no shirt, no swimsuit, no toothbrush and mind you it is 90 degrees out this weekend. Thankfully I had packed swimsuits for everyone or he would have been swimming in cut off sweats all weekend.

And actually he probably would have been fine. That is one thing I have learned by being a mom of a big gang. No time to sweat the small stuff. You can hike in flip flops, share one water bottle (just keep refilling in), sleep on the floor and make a "sleepover square" with four kids in one spot, make a meal out of odd leftovers, make car games with your imagination with no room for anything other than family members and guarantee good behavior with the promise of making extra pancakes for bait.

On Saturday we drove north to Itasca State park to see where the Mississippi River originates. What an amazing place! As Sheff said it should be on everyone's bucket list. First, the bigs walked the river while Gretchen and I stayed on the path with the 3 youngest. The dads waded the river  and met us at the start of the Mississippi where it flows from Lake Itasca. We swam and managed to herd our families in for family photos near the sign. Then we took a hike to the watch tower you are allowed to climb!

The hike was a bit of a comedy but we did it. Two kids forgot shoes (amazingly not Matthew! It was Mark and Bridgey) So we purchased $4 flip flops in the gift shop and headed out. We battled the bugs, the heat and the dirt and earned our Pizza and Summer Shandies.

How lucky we are to feel totally normal with our big broods together. King of the mountain on the raft, fishing, holding baby brothers and sisters, cleaning, cooking, praying and counting heads are all just part of our time together. We captured some great moments!

Hope everyone is busy making wonderful summer memories!