Sunday, February 3, 2008

Ahhhh ... yesterday was so nice. It started out not so great, as I woke up really groggy and felt that way the whole morning, while Tim was working in the lab (on a Saturday, ick). However, in the afternoon I dropped by a stamp party where a friend of mine was getting rid of lots of her stamps, and managed to net a whole bunch of stamps, for cardmaking and scrapbooking, for an almost embarrassingly low price. We were going to go out to Elgin afterward to visit my mom, who's still staying out there, but when I called her to confirm, she was just about to lie down for a nap and sounded absolutely beat.

So ... rather than stay home and do our same ol' same ol', we piled into the car anyway and went exploring. We discovered Bull Creek, on the Greenbelt less than ten minutes from our house, and even though Ian protested, every single one of us ended up having a blast! (A note on the protesting: When Ian was about three and a half, my brother came to stay with me in SC while Tim was away in France. We decided to take the little prehistoric nut to a dinosaur puppet show, but since he's a bit, uh, sensitive, the whole thing was pretty much an unmitigated fiasco as he spent all the carnivore-attacks-herbivore scenes diving UNDER his seat (but refusing to be taken out, go figure). After the show, we ambled down Main Street looking to redeem the experience with some ice cream, and Ian began chattering happily away about the puppets, the show, etc. Peter's deadpan comment to me was: "Wouldn't it have been great if he actually enjoyed it DURING the show?" So now we've made progress. He enjoys things DURING the experience, we're just working on the BEFORE part. You know, trying to inject a little optimism, a little faith that his parents are not dragging him into the depths of misery when we embark on an activity outside the home.)

Anyway, that was a lengthy tangent. I guess what I was feeling, as I waded through the frigid creek and helped Caroline select rocks for plunking into a quiet pool, was that it was so soul-restoring to just spend time outdoors, on a perfectly sunny day at an uncrowded creek with the kids, not worrying about or distracted by anything, but just enjoying being there together. During the week, I feel like I spend so much of my time as the policeman ("no hitting your sister," "I've already asked you to put on your shoes," "someone's jacket is lying on the floor!") or the giver-of-unwelcome-directions ("It's time for your copywork!" "Your morning chore is to clean the bathroom sink and counter," "Your computer time is up!" etc.) It's necessary, of course, but not that fun. Not so bonding. And what I've learned is that countering all that takes planning and effort. Some of the fun family times do just happen spontaneously, but more often time can just drift by without the "seasons of refreshing" that add joy to our life together. It's easy for the weekend to fill up with errands (especially because I try not to do too much shopping with the kids during the week), with house projects, with visiting relatives ... and not with purposeful times that aren't for instructing or problem-solving but just for relaxing and playing together, for building a friendship with our kids.

I took a ton of photos; here a couple favorites:

(This is what Caroline looks like when I tell her to smile for the camera)


Tim said...

Ahhh Nature! Balm for the soul. Glad I was there to share it with you, my Love.

Louisa said...

I love the look on Eliza's face in the top picture. And WHERE are Ian's front teeth??

MoreThanJustaMom said...

It is tiring (but necessary, as you said) to be the policemen - some downtime away from all that is always refreshing (and equally necessary!). Sounds like a great Saturday!