Friday, September 7, 2012

Most embarrassing, yet perfect Labor Day

Labor Day began as one of the most uncomfortable situations in my entire mothering life. Eric and I planned with some friends to go rafting/canoeing down the Wisconsin River. They found a fun beach with these sandbar "islands" close enough to wade to, and we set our GPS's to "Go!" When we got there, however, we found the trail to the beach closed: we would have to walk over a mile to get there. So Eric and the others went upriver to put in the boats. I said that I would walk with my kids down to the beach and meet everyone there, once they'd paddled down. 

The walk took 45 minutes, mainly because I was carrying between 1–3 kids on my shoulders/back/hips the entire time! They were exhausted, and so was I. So when we saw the sand we were ecstatic. The two older boys ran ahead, but then turned. "MOM!" Jacob shouted. "Why doesn't anyone here have any clothes on?" Oh my. Oh no! Oh yes, it was. It was that kind of beach. There were about 100 people there, all without a stitch on.

I couldn't walk back--it had been too difficult getting there. Even if we had turned around, no one would be there to pick us up--Eric was boating down the river. So I guided the kids along the side of the beach, hushing their "whys" and keeping their eyes toward the river. We stood in the middle of the river for another 45 minutes until Eric finally came--it had taken him much longer to get there than either of us had imagined initially! The irony of as modest a person as I in such an immodest place shook me to the core--as soon as I saw Eric I bawled for relief!

I didn't take any pictures on the beach (!), but I had to document us escaping the crazies:
After regaining my composure, I loved the quiet ride upstream. We have a little motor on our raft, which basically neutralized the current so we could row. It took us a couple hours to get back up to our friends!
We made lunch over the fire and explored with our friends. The swimming was warm,
and the boating was great (we have two rafts--this is the "baby" one that the kids love).
Michael even got interested in fishing and kept casting
and casting
and casting!

Eric: "Michael, you're getting to be quite the fisherman."
Michael: "No, I'm not a fisherman 'cause I didn't catch any fish."
Eric: "Sometimes it takes all day to catch a fish. You're still a fisherman because you're fishing."

But then he caught one! I couldn't believe it--we had just taught him to cast that day, and he was doing it all on his own.
Michael, explaining how heavy the tug had felt on the line: "I thought it was a shark!"
It wasn't a shark, thankfully, but it made a fine lunch later.

Soon after the triumphant catch, it was time to go home. 
We hitched up the small raft to the big one and headed upstream again, with Eric at the motor and me at the oar.
As we were almost to shore, a thunderstorm swelled up and we hurried in and packed up in good time.
Jacob documented.
Amy, in the van to Eric: "This day was like life, wasn't it? Unexpected and strange things, but such good times that it's overall very, very good."
Eric: "Yes."

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Tramp campout

First I wanted to go camping. Then I thought we'd just set up the tent in the backyard. Then Eric suggested that we just let the kids sleep on the trampoline. Yes! I'm pretty sure that's a Mormon childhood rite of passage. They loved it. 
Especially with tiki lamps!
I ended up going out there with them, and it wasn't a bad night's sleep at all.

Funny kids

On our recent trip to Devil's Lake, Zachary collected a large armful of "seaweed," which he dried on the beach and then took home in his lap. When he heard that my visiting teachers were coming over, he set up a stand: "Zach's fresh Seaweed and tomatoes." He was the sole keeper of the tomatoes this year--he planted them, then watered and weeded them all summer! He was also the sole procurer of "seaweed." 

The prices:

Normal: $0.50
Awesome $1.00

He made two non-family sales that day, a personal record!

Another thing that made me laugh: when I put Max down for a nap one day, I accidentally fell asleep. When I woke up twenty minutes later I couldn't find any of the other kids! Finally I discovered them in the van. "We're having a trunk party!" Michael explained. They gave me a plate and a package of fruit snacks. Adam even traded me a Velma for a Scooby so that I would have all the "guys."

Family walks

One thing that I love about Madison is that there are so many perfect weather days: calm, room-temperature, earth-scented days. This is a conservancy just a few minutes from home: 
The boys are beginning to like identifying plants: Queen Anne's lace, thistle, clover, oak trees--simple things--but the boys love knowing them. They were especially excited to notice these grapes! 
Of course Zachary had to 1) collect some to sell to me later at exorbitant prices and 2) harvest the seeds to plant in our garden.
For a child, life seems a string of simple pleasures like this:
And this:
And this:

Eric's MR2

These are pictures taken in the middle of the night as Eric put new struts and shocks on his MR2. If Eric can't understand how I can mop the floor at one in the morning, I'm aghast that he could spend half the night trying to pry off a rusty bolt.
And he got it! 
The shocks are on now. It's a smooth ride, although two of the kids voiced disappointment that he didn't jack up the car monster-truck style.

Boys and boulders

There are few things more essential to a boy's happiness than a rock. Last week the boys and I drove up to Baraboo to boulder along Devil's Lake. Immediately and innately, they began climbing. At first they were thrilled to go just above my head.
Then the older boys ventured farther
and farther
and farther until they were just little happy specks shouting, "Take my picture!"
After a full two hours of bouldering, I corralled them in. I didn't need to ask them to smile for the picture.
We hiked down to the beach and built a fire and roasted hot dogs. We swam in the lake and built a clay kingdom out of some artist-grade clay that we dug out of the beach. The kids were clay gray from top to bottom. "MOM!" Michael shouted. "My swimsuit used to be blue!" 

I also forgot to register the kids for school that day. I called Eric at 5:30 and told him to jet over to the school and do it (before 6:00!). I secretly wish that he had forgotten, too: if they weren't at school, we may have been bouldering again today! I miss them dearly.