Month: February 2014

Camping Done Right, 2014

We went camping this past weekend. This is the tent Jon and I shared with Evangeline. The older kids had their own tent, further down the site. It worked out wonderfully for everyone.

I have been on several camping trips throughout the years, but this one…by far…was the best. We headed out with 6 other families, early Friday afternoon. There were no ‘bad’ spots to pitch a tent. Everything was beautiful.

Bellows is a beautiful site anyway. It’s impossible to find a bad place to camp. But we were lucky to have a friend with base access, as it is a bit more private.

This tent was "Beach-Party Central" for the duration of the trip.
This tent was “Beach-Party Central” for the duration of the trip.

There were 6 families all together. Ten teenage girls, 4 teen boys, 5 infant/toddlers, and too many little kids to list. It was busy and awesome .

Evangeline enjoyed some big sister time with Raven, until Raven headed out to kayak with friends.
Evangeline enjoyed some big sister time with Raven, until Raven headed out to kayak with friends.

I’m not going to show the other families and children, because none of them would appreciate me posting their children online. It’s a common courtesy thing. So it seems a bit self-centered here, but that’s the price of being polite. (Ok, technically there is a photo of another person’s kid below, but you can’t see him.)

Lenore and a friend took the kayak out, and I had to call them back before they paddled out to "Bunny Island".
Lenore and a friend took the kayak out, and I had to call them back before they paddled out to “Bunny Island”.

We arrived Friday afternoon, and set up camp. The kids were wild. After lots of beach time, dinner of hot dogs, sausages, mac-n-cheese and other “camp” foods, they took off to the beach in the dark to go “crabbing”. Lenore and one of her buddies found close to 40 sand crabs. It was crazy. No crabs were harmed during the adventure, and all were released into the wild before we made them come back to camp.

Me, dancing with Evangeline before sunrise.
Me, dancing with Evangeline before sunrise.

The teenagers had their own tents, and stayed up late into the night laughing, running around on the moonlit beach, and just being kids. Most of the adults, (including Jon and I) made it to bed by 11:00. Around 4:00 am, Evangeline began to stir. Usually she goes right back to sleep, but she noticed she was in a tent. No chance of her going back to bed after this. She was up and ready to play.

This turned out to be a treat for me, because the moon was out and bright. Everyone gets so jazzy about the sunrise. Not me. I’m a moon fan. Everything was silver and glowing, and the waves gently rolled onto the shore. Evangeline discovered her shadow. We had about 45 minutes alone together on the moonlit beach before she began to tire. It will always be one of my favorite memories of the trip.

Day 2, really getting the hang of this beach life.
Day 2, really getting the hang of this beach life.

Day two, Saturday was fantastic. Kayaking, swimming, playing in the sand…just a wonderful lazy day with friends. We made the kids wrap up from the beach earlier this time because we wanted to have an early dinner and then sit around a campfire.

Lenore eyed the Banana Cream pie.
Lenore eyed the Banana Cream pie.

Saturday evening dinner was a potluck with everything from grilled steak, to spaghetti and meatballs. After dinner, the kids played out skits for the adults. Lenore played some songs on the acoustic, and everyone had s’mores. The kids did make it back down to the beach, but it was in quiet groups. Most of the kids crashed in their tents around 10, while the adults drank wine and sat around a fire.

Waiting for the sun.
Waiting for the sun.

Early the next morning, we took Evangeline down to the beach to watch her first sunrise. She entertained herself, and we snapped some shots.

Strolling along while waiting  for the sun.
Strolling along while waiting for the sun.

We’re not sure if she was excited to see the sun. I doubt it, but she had this fun reaction at just the right moment……so I’m posting it below.

THERE'S the Sun!
THERE’S the Sun!

Lenore came down to the water’s edge briefly. Although the water was pretty calm, and the waves were small, she wanted to go surfing. Surfing smaller slower waves is more of a challenger for her. Not sure why, because those are honestly the only waves I can get up on. After a quick breakfast of a dry oatmeal packet, (she refused to wait for the water to boil), she headed out. She forgot her rash guard, but that didn’t stop her.

Paddling out.
Paddling out.
Waiting for the set. She got luck with a couple waves, but they were small.
Waiting for the set. She got lucky with a couple of waves, but they were small.
Taking a break....
Taking a break….
Having another go, once she saw more wave action.
Having another go, once she saw more wave action.
Posing for mom, because I said so.
Posing for mom, because I said so.

We stayed and enjoyed the beach until early afternoon.  By then it was time to pack up and head home. The kids crashed in the car, and were lifeless blobs the rest of the day. Jon caught a cold, (I have no idea how) and I broke my toe while packing. Nevertheless, it was STILL the best camping trip I have ever had.

I wouldn’t change a thing.


Blackbird! We’re Getting There

Two weeks ago, the spring assignments came out for Lenore’s Performance Art class. She takes a weekly class offered through her charter school. It’s singing, dancing, and lots of music. Since Lenore is one of the only kids in the younger class who plays guitar, she was assigned a couple of guitar solos for the upcoming Spring Show in May. Blackbird by The Beatles is one of them.

My kiddo has never played a Beatles song until now, but she jumped right in. This past December, she had to play a Guns ‘N Roses song, and that’s a little more in her comfort zone. But the Beatles are new to her.

So here is a little preview with 2 weeks of practice. She needs to learn the rest of the song, add the lyrics, get faster…lots of work to be done between now and May. But it’s a damn good start. Yay Lenore! Daddy and I are very proud of you.

My Belle Evangeline Turns One Next Week

Evangeline turns one year old next week.
Evangeline turns one year old next week.

We can’t believe it has gone so fast, but our beautiful little Evangeline will turn one year old next week. It’s been a fantastic whirlwind of baby. Some good, some bad, and some hilarious. I wouldn’t change a thing. Sometimes I can’t believe we were given the opportunity to go through this baby phase again.

It hasn't always been smiles and happy portrait moments.
It hasn’t always been smiles and happy portrait moments.

Sure, my husband and I had our doubts that we could do this again. I remember once we had taken Lenore and a little friend to the Bishop Museum. They were 8  at the time, and I was 6 months pregnant and very tired. The girls RAN everywhere. They had so much energy. We had stopped to rest on a bench while the girls looked at an exhibit, and Jon looks over at me and says, “How in the HECK are we going to do this again in 8 years? They run all the time!” 

I just laughed because I felt the same way.

Let me go! I want to run the beach.
Let me go! I want to run the beach.

But here we are now, again, holding onto another little girl who is on the verge of running everywhere, and it’s not so bad. We even enjoy it. Evangeline is a ball of energy…fierce, happy, heart-pumping energy-and we’re glad to be part of the ride.

She loves watching her big sisters.
She loves watching her big sisters,

She has really brought the three older kids together. Sure, they still fight over angsty-teen things. But the one great unifier is Evangeline. They adore her in a way Jon and I never imagined. I can only hope they continue to show her their unconditional love. It’s really….awesome.

She adores her big sisters.
Big Sister holds her hand.

We’ll see what this next year brings. It all has gone so fast, I blinked and here we are. I’m not sad, well maybe just a little …..but that’s only because I’m selfish and want a sweet little one who needs me forever. I know those days are numbered.

My Belle Evangeline, thank you for making us so happy.
My Belle Evangeline, thank you for making us so happy.

So as this first year comes to an end, I can honestly say we can’t wait to head into the next year with this little sweetie. Happy Birthday Evangeline! We love you.

Someone Else Did It Better

These tiny shells are called Ni'ihau Shells. They are precious, and my favorite part of the necklace.
These tiny shells are called Ni’ihau Shells. They are precious, and my favorite part of the necklace.

Oh my, did I take on more than I could handle or what? This isn’t a rhetorical question. I completely got in over my head with this one.

Originally, I wanted to make Evangeline a special shell necklace for her first birthday. I had visions of grandeur in my head of me…meticulously and lovingly drilling holes in each shell and then every-so-skillfully weaving it into this lovely herring-bone pattern.

Screw that.

Drilling tiny shells with a roughed up sewing pin is hard. For me, it was down right impossible. You break enough of these little ones,  and you start to have a revelation after you cry about the $ down the drain. Why not pay someone who actually knows what they’re doing?

So I did just that, and I couldn’t be more pleased with her work.

Now all that remains for me to wire-wrap the shell, and add some leather cord to the ends of the baby shells. I have no idea how to wire-wrap a shell, but the nice woman at the bead-supply store talked me through it when I bought the wire. By the end of the week, I should have something nice for Evangeline to cherish when she’s older. Much older. Right now she couldn’t care less.

I’m not sure if we can still say “I made this”, if someone else did all the difficult work, but I don’t care.

It’s going to be a lovely necklace, and I’m still taking partial credit. (But someone else did a better job on he hard stuff than I ever could have.)

Evangeline Land

Welcome to "Evangeline Land"
Welcome to “Evangeline Land”.

The other morning, the girls had Evangeline in my room. They were watching the baby while I got some housework mostly complete. It was uncharacteristically quiet.

I shouted out a couple of “Are you guys ok, in there’s“, and every time I got a resounding unison, “WE’RE FINE!“…So I let it go. I wasn’t prepared for the site that greeted me when I walked in the room.

Welcome to Evangeline Land!

Raven and Lenore had covered our bed with every one of Evangeline’s toys. Every one. They had drawn a line down the center of the bed with yarn. Toys were situated on either side, and the baby was placed in the middle. The object of the game was to coax Evangeline to their side by singing, dancing, or entertaining  her with the toys. She loved it.

I think Lenore officially won the game, but clearly Evangeline is the real winner here.

When Evangeline was a newborn her three siblings fought over who was allowed to hold her. They fought for diaper changes, bottle feeds and snuggle time. We were sure once the ‘newness’ wore off this interest would fade, but it didn’t. My son Alex still makes Evangeline a priority every morning before he leaves for high school, and there are plenty of puppet shows, blanket forts and baby book readings spread out among all three of them. They keep a rotating schedule for who gets to hold her during Church.

I’m relieved because there is plenty of in-house fighting among themselves. Both Alex and Raven (the teenagers) snap at each other like baby turtles over random teen crap, and you can bet Lenore has mastered the art of being a pesky little sister. I don’t want anyone to think I’m trying to paint some rosy glow over my family. They fight like any other normal siblings.

But the great unifier of a 15, 13, and 9 yr. old in this house is Evangeline. She is one lucky baby. She may not have a lot of toys…(and she doesn’t–most of what is pictured are hand-me-down animals from her sisters), but that’s ok. I used to worry because we could not afford as many baby toys this time around. It just didn’t seem fair compared to what the other kids had when they were younger.

But Evangeline has something far more valuable than cute baby toys (although I admit sometimes I wish we could buy more). She has the love and protection of not one, but three older siblings who adore her. No matter the time, place and circumstance, these kids are dedicated to ensuring that everywhere is “Evangeline Land” for their baby sister.

All babies should be this lucky.

Lucky Baby!
Raven watches Evangeline to make sure she doesn't fall off he bed.
Raven watches Evangeline to make sure she doesn’t fall off the bed.