Monday, October 28, 2013

Camping So Cal Style

A few weeks ago, we went "camping" with our friends from Evan's class at school.  I say "camping" in quotes because I like to overuse quotes because they're awesome and also because we didn't stay the night.  I also enjoyed poking a little bit of fun at my big city friends for how organized, controlled, undirty, and comfortable their camping style was...but I really had no room to talk because we went home for the night instead of roughing it in the "woods" (toilets, running water, paved parking...a couple next to us even left in a huff when they realized there weren't hot showers on site).  Actually, the reason we left is because all of our camping stuff is in Flagstaff (or who knows where by now...we left it in Jeremy's old office at our old church because we were pretty sure we would be coming right back to Flagstaff and we hadn't needed it the whole year we were in California....go figure!).  If anyone is heading this way and wants to bring it to us, we'd appreciate it :) 

So wonderful to be back in the woods again!  I think I said it like 20 millions times to Jeremy.  It was a beautiful day!

Sam made a friend and they got to know each other in true "guy" practically ignoring each other

Annie and her friend, the fashionista, Paulina.  They are so cute together!  (read: there's going to be a lot of pictures of them in this post).  You can guess which one might be a little more bossy.  

Sam and the other boys were so happy to be wild and free.  The neighbors in the campsite 5 feet from us, not so much.

See, our friends even have stylish camping rocking chairs!

And a tent they set up "purely for show" (that is an exact quote).  They fully intended  on sleeping in their Suburban, but wanted to have the full "camping" experience.

Deluxe padded bed setup inside.

My glamorous camping buddies, Fabiola, Michelle, and Julie.

(Really, I warned you about the cuteness)

What does the raccoon say?

Ring-ding-ding-ding-dingeringeding! Fraka-kaka-kaka-kaka-kow!

I was having fun pretending to be an official photographer, practicing taking sunflare photos or whatever.

There was mostly just a lot of sitting around relaxing (because we weren't about to go off on a hike and leave all that valuable camping equipment unattended).

Julie and Steve

Fabiola and Francisco

Michelle and Max

Again with all the cute!


Last one, I promise!

Sunset, glow sticks, fire...what more could you need?  Oh, that's right, scary stories of creepy people lurking in the woods due to too many episodes of Criminal Minds being watched by one of my friends (I won't name names) :)

And, we even ended the night with gourmet cupcakes and s'mores made in an official s'mores roaster.  And no one was eaten by a bear or murdered in their tent, so it was a success!

And hey, the last time I went camping was in my friend Christy's backyard this summer and we let the kids sleep outside while we sat inside on the couch, ate ice cream, watched movies, looked at high school yearbooks and slept in who am I to talk about "camping"!

Friday, October 25, 2013

A Post About Values and What Happened Yesterday

A few years ago, I attended MOPS Convention (which they have finally renamed "MomCon" as I have thought they should for a long time but whatever, no one asked me), and heard a speaker talk about family values...not in the way you would think.  He didn't talk about "conservative" values or assumed acceptable morality in a predominantly Judeo-Christian society, but instead pointed out that values are really just what we deem important.  (Now at this point, we could have a hearty discussion about relativism and values and what's really our family's one and only value, but let's keep this on a practical, day-to-day, family-management level)  He named quite a few "good" values that a family could have: kindness, helping others, cleanliness, achievement, fun, etc.  He then made the case for why trying to major on ALL possible "good" values is overwhelming and actually impossible.  Instead, he encouraged us to decide what values make our family unique or are the most important to us.  Some families do a lot of sports, others go on a lot of vacations, some families decorate like crazy for holidays, other families value simplicity, some focus on fostering uniqueness among the individuals in their family, some focus more on shared interests and activities.

Anyway, yesterday I had the opportunity to make some decisions based on my values in mothering.  Other mothers might have done things completely different than I did.  In the morning, I swore I was going to finally deal with this:

But then, I had the chance to go to a pumpkin patch with Annie.  Because I value fun and festiveness, we went (in full costume, I might add)!

Annie was slightly terrified of this turkey, and there is something sick inside of me that finds it secretly funny when my kids are scared of things that aren't actually dangerous.  Other mothers would not value that at all.  It's not very nice.
This was Annie's reaction when she found out she could hold not one, but two bunnies!

Again, I found a small sick pleasure in seeing these two little girls surprised by a curious goat.
Pig in a blanket!  Ha ha ha ha!
I held and bounced that baby pig for quite awhile until I realized I was starting to forget that it wasn't actually a human baby.  Most of the other mothers weren't interested.  I said it's cuz I come from farm people.
Then we had a few minutes to kill so instead of getting a pedicure or running a productive errand, I went dumpster diving for cardboard boxes with Annie.  See, it's all about values.

Next, we picked up the boys from school and drove to the Discovery Science Center in Santa Ana to meet our friends, Julie and Stephen.  Because I do not value a clean car but I do value happy car rides, I threw snacks at the children in the back seat.  Also, I don't value punctuality as much as I do costumed-children, so we donned costumes in the parking lot (sorry for making you wait, Julie and Stephen).  And also, I value free parking, so we had a little hike to the museum.  A side benefit is a little exercise, right?
There is a special Spooky Science exhibit right now which was really fun.  They also have a show where they do spooky science experiments and a scavenger hunt with a prize at the end.  There is a 3-D maze, fun with mirrors, a Ripley's Believe It or Not exhibit, not to mention all the normal fun stuff (which I learned is called "edutainment")

On the way out of the museum, we paused to take photos...for fun and also for my ulterior motives of having another good long, skinny picture for my Facebook cover photo.  Not such a good value, but it is handy having a crafty mind like mine.

(We could have been learning about planets or something educational but it's more fun to just take silly pictures.)
While we were goofing around out front, two moms with kids in costumes walked up to the closed museum.  Because I am nosy curious, I asked them if there was a special event inside.  They said something about a photo shoot and went inside.  We hung around playing a little longer, and then seriously, because I value my kids being brave enough to ask questions and talk to adults, I told Sam that if he wanted to go ask if they needed more kids in costume for the photo shoot, he could.  He did and they let us in!  (Luckily, I had slipped a Superman costume in my purse in case Evan changed his mind about wearing a costume like Annie and Sam had).

I don't always think things through past the fun of the moment and only after we were settled in and meeting the other kids did I start to wonder if we were sort of crashing the party.  The PR rep for the museum gave me a quizzical look when he shook my hand, asking me who I was.  Awkward!  In any case, the kids got to stay for the photo shoot and basically play wherever they wanted on the bottom floor of the closed museum.  They had a blast, and even though I never figured out if we were tacky party-crashers or not, I enjoyed talking to the other two moms and watching the kids play.

The whole thing kind of reminded me of a book I loved in 5th grade, where some kids run away from home and hide out in a museum:
(Oh, and I guess there's that one popular movie about the same thing :))
There were venomous spiders on display and I got the creeps when the kids were messing around with their cages and I wondered if the tops were locked on.  They were.  Phew! 

Annie went off with the photographers and was gone for a long time and I started to worry that they inadvertently took her to the display that had caused her sheer terror (and me a little giggle) earlier in our visit:  An animatronic statue of the world's tallest man...who stood up and sat down every couple of minutes.

The two other mothers, who are standing in front of the bright screen in the background of the picture above, turned out to be popular mommy-bloggers in Orange County.  We had a fascinating conversation about the blogging world and what it takes to make a name for yourself or to make money from your posts.  I admired them (their blogs are and, and at the same time, decided that I value the ability to write freely and from my heart and post way too many pictures of my kids, even though it would be amazing to be a "professional" blogger.  I think I am too self-centered to be trusted with any amount of fame or fortune!  By the way, I stole the picture of the world's tallest man from the second blog.  Thanks, Carrie!

In the course of the spontaneity and photo-shoot-crashing, I hadn't really thought about dinner (there was some pizza, but I told the kids not to eat too much because they clearly hadn't expected us) and homework and the fact that the car was parked far away and it was now dark.  I don't value safety as much as I do not-whining children, so I let 2 of the 3 kids walk all the way back without shoes on because that was what they wanted.  I'm sure we were a sight to dragging costumed-clad children with no shoes across two major intersections, anxious to see if my car had gotten a ticket or been towed.  It hadn't, phew again!

And when most moms would have called it a night, I drove our snack-strewn, cardboard-box-laden, tired-children-carrying minivan to Chik Fil A to see if we could cash in on the last fun, free activity of the night: free kids' meals for superheroes!  We made it, got our food, and subjected Annie to one more fit of (humorous) terror...this time over a human dressed in a cow costume.

So, in conclusion, some things I don't value as much as other moms: cleanliness, time-management, sleep (the kids still had homework to do when they got home!), safety, and possibly etiquette.  But I do value: festiveness, imagination, spontaneity, confidence, and flexibility.  The greatest of these is fun and togetherness, but this still remains:

Oh, stink.