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Sunday, November 13, 2011

Camping with a baby

I was hesitant to participate in our annual ward camp-out this year. I didn't want to be 'those' parents who were foolish and brought a baby who cried all night. Tent walls don't provide much of a sound barrier, and I couldn't bear the thought of being responsible for 50 sleep-deprived people.

Our kids love camping and look forward to this tradition of camping with friends. I intended to send Mr. Kingsley and our three older children happily on their way to the camp-out while I stayed home and enjoyed a quiet (albeit lonely) evening at home with Diego. Diego really doesn't like being without a rocking chair during the infamous 'witching hours'.

Nathan couldn't bear the thought of being apart from each other for a weekend. Characteristically, he had a clever solution to the potentially-cranky baby problem. He packed along my rocking chair and set it up in the pecan grove where we were camping. (Okay, I'll admit, we DID feel a bit self-conscious carrying the rocker to our tent {like the people who can't handle camping without the luxuries of home....we might as well bring along a refrigerator and DVD player!}....but as soon as I sat in it with my baby, I didn't care what people thought.) Doesn't this look fun?

Nathan ingeniously purchased several boxes of glowstick necklaces to bring along and share with all the children. He and I sat at a table and passed them out to any child who could recite a scripture or Article of Faith from memory (or sing a Primary song if they were too little to memorize scriptures). All the children were so ecstatic to have a glow necklace. Their faces were lit with anticipation as they waited in line.We felt like Santa and Mrs. Claus on Christmas Day. It was so fun watching the children all get so eager to recite scriptures!

Dozens of children danced and played night games with their glow sticks lighting the way. It looked like a party with all the bright colors swirling around in the dark.

After the potluck dinner, stories, and games,  I sat in our tent and rocked my baby while listening to coyotes calling in the woods behind me. It was a surprisingly relaxed evening for me. Cuddling with my soft, warm baby while enjoying the nature around me was a perfect way to end the day.

Everyone slept quite well (even Diego) and we enjoyed playing all morning with friends before I ran away for a face painting gig.

I love the friendships we have been blessed with in our new congregation. Life is so wonderful! It was a delightful weekend to create family memories. I feel so very blessed.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

10 Things You Might Like to Know

1- Living with dial-up internet is frustrating. There's not much else offered in our neck of the woods (unless we want to pay $500 to install satellite internet, but it's not a much faster connection than dial-up, so why bother?). It takes literally 2 minutes to load anything I click on. If the webpage has a picture, my computer will take around 5 minutes to load the page. If there's multiple pictures, it's best to forget about that webpage altogether. Facebook doesn't really work here.

2- Matthew loves to play 'chicken' with our rooster, Pavarroti (by the way, I found out this rooster really IS Italian! Minorca birds come from an island off the coast of Italy. Cool, eh what?). Matthew will crouch down and crow at Pavarotti, who will then crow back. They'll have a vocal battle of sorts, crowing back and forth louder and louder until the rooster can't stand it anymore. He'll makes his feathers stand on end and charge right at Matthew, who laughs and runs away squealing. Last week Matthew ran shrieking past my bedroom window. Along the bottom edge of my window all I could see of the rooster was a bright red comb streaking by. Good times.

3- Yesterday the boys discovered that if they sit on the tire swing the rooster can't reach them. It's hilarious to watch the rooster dance around the swing trying futilely to peck the boys. The boys tease Pavarroti almost everyday now.

4- I finished another painting last night. There's good news and bad news. Good news: It's a study of Renoir's techniques and I discovered I love dry-brushing the canvas. More good news: I think it's the best painting I've ever done to date. Bad news: it's going to be given away this Christmas. It'll be hard to see it go. Sarah begged me to keep this one and give away an earlier painting....but I think it's better to give away my best work to the people I love rather than a second-rate item.

5- I LOVE this time of year with all the holidays. I play Christmas music every day and Sarah plays the MoTab Christmas Album everyday in her room. The house feels so delightful with the strains of music praising our Savior filling our walls. I love it.

6- Sarah's birthday is this weekend. It's on a magical day: 11-11-2011. We are having her friends come over for a Glittery Girls' Night. We're doing manicures, make-overs, and applying glitter liberally on everything. We're making jewelry for the party favors. She wants trifle for her birthday cake and we're doing a tea party. I can't believe my baby girl is growing so fast! I miss holding her in my arms and cuddling with her soft cheeks.

7- I haven't started my Christmas shopping yet.....usually I'm FINISHED with our Christmas shopping before summer even starts. This year the pregnancy and our move kind of threw off my groove. Surprisingly I don't feel stressed at all in this regard.

8- We try really hard to have a modest yet meaningful gift exchange and keep the focus of Christmas on our Savior, not on 'stuff'. This year we adopted a poem to guide our gift giving to our children: Something they WANT, something they NEED, something to WEAR, and something to READ. Four gifts and a stocking of treats and trinkets. Sounds good to me.

9- Our children are already asking if we're doing a Bethlehem dinner again this year. Every other year we do a biblical dinner by candlelight (flat breads, baked fish with rice, dates and raisins, savory yogurt dishes, cheese and olives, etc.) While we eat, I tell the Christmas story in a way that invites the children to imagine the story better. Just imagine Joseph's burden of responsibility as he searches for shelter, or imagine Mary having contractions during the long journey. We usually do this on Christmas Eve for a reverent way to end the night.

10- Yesterday Matthew volunteered to help Daniel unload the dishwasher. They danced and sang while they worked. It was so cute. I'm so happy to glimpse these fleeting moments of their childhood.