Oliver says.

Ever since Oliver started talking, he’s had an extensive vocabulary and come up with the craziest one liners. He never fails to crack us up or leave us shaking our heads wondering where he even comes up with this stuff!

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The other day while he was getting dressed (which is like a 40 minute process, by the way), I noticed his underwear were looking really snug. Possibly because they’re size 2/3 and he’s 5. Maybe.

I said, “I think you need some new gitch, Oliver.”

And he replied, “Whaaa! How dare you doubt my gitch!?”

I couldn’t do anything except laugh. And leave him be in his tiny gitches.

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This morning we were having a snuggle and I was telling him how it was only about a month until he started school, and what was I even going to do without him, I was going to miss him.

And he said, “But just, here comes the best time of my life!”

Well you can’t argue with that positive approach to school. He’s so excited to start kindergarten, I can’t help but be excited for him too. He wanted to pack his backpack up as soon as he got his letter from his teacher at the beginning of the month. When I told him he could bring his quilt I made him to use for quiet time at school, he told me he loved me more than he ever has. Simple things like that make Oliver extremely happy.

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I’m happy he’s happy.

Swimming.

Last week we did swimming lessons. It was our first time doing lessons during the summer term, and I loved it. I’m pretty sure the kids did too. Five mornings in a row is so much better than once a week for ten weeks, am I right? Plus it’s hot out, so you don’t have to worry about changing clothes as much. Everyone went in their bathing suits, and sometimes we didn’t even change out of them after lessons- just headed home or to a different pool or park. Super nice.

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Everyone did really well at their lessons, and I’m proud of what good swimmers they’re getting to be. Hopefully they’ve gotten more confident too. It was Ivy’s first time doing lessons. I don’t usually do lessons when my kids are that little, but there was space in Oliver’s class, and she was super keen to go, so I thought what the heck. She seriously loved her classes, and got so much braver in those five days. On Monday she was too nervous to put much more than her mouth in the water, but by the end of the week she was dunking her whole head under the water. I give all the credit to the sequinned dollar store change purse I bribed her with. Worked like an absolute charm. I guess her teacher probably helped too.

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Oliver came leaps and bounds to and is getting much more confident in the water. He is definitely my most cautious and nervous kid in the water, and I’m really happy with the progress he made. I’ve got him and Ivy signed up for another session at the very end of August so hopefully with lots of beach and pool time before then, he’ll pass his session.

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It was a super busy week because the kids also did VBS every evening. I think I nearly killed them, waking them up for swimming in the morning and keeping them up past their bedtimes for VBS. They all had lots of fun though, so I really didn’t hear any complaining, although I noticed quite a few yawns. We had some good naps during the week too.

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I told them that on Friday we would go celebrate finishing lessons, and that they could pick where we went for a treat. I suggested BDI, and was really looking forward to a butterscotch dipped cone, but then they vetoed that for slurpees. I was disappointed to not get ice cream, but the slurpees probably saved me a couple bucks, so I went with it. I even let them get the big cups, even though I knew they’d only drink half probably. They were pumped.

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Good work kids!

Hecla.

Gah. I feel like I have major summer catch-up to play here. But I’m too busy doing summer to stop and write about it. Which is the way it should be, I guess!

A couple weekends ago we camped at Hecla. Neil and I camped there for our one year anniversary TWELVE YEARS AGO but otherwise we hadn’t been back.

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The forecast was super dicey, saying rain, then not so much rain, then rain, then not so much. We decided to just play it by ear and if it looked like junk we would just stay home, because camping in a tent in the rain is not good times. But Friday morning came along and the weather network told us there was just a 40% chance of less than 1mm of rain. Totally manageable.

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Halfway into our drive it started raining. Then raining hard. We mentioned turning around, but we had driven so far already. We thought about stopping at the hotel there, but we’re too cheap to actually stay there, so it woudn’t really be any kind of solution. So we just powered on. By the time we actually got to the campsite it was merely drizzling, so we quickly set up camp and had our supper, which was just a barbeque chicken and buns, so didn’t require a fire or anything. It actually stopped raining enough that Neil suggested I go find some firewood. By the time I got to the campground office two minutes later it was actually raining pretty hard. And that was that.

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It kept raining pretty much all night and most of the next day till four pm. There were little breaks, enough to go to the  marina and grab a coffee, and stop at the playground, and even take a couple drizzly bike rides, so it wasn’t the worst ever. Our tent stayed dry, and the kids were actually very happy to play in it. Neil read several hours of a Star Wars book to the kids. Some of us napped. At one point we went to the school house in Hecla Village and did a craft, which was probably Neil’s worst part of the trip, because crafts.

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By four the sun came out for the first time in over 24 hours, and we were so happy! We hiked to the light house and ate a million wild raspberries. Honestly that place should be called raspberry islands because they are taking over! We had a long bonfire, cooked hot dogs, and ate smores, and talked and played until we all put ourselves to bed. We had a good sleep, but when we woke up and Neil checked the forecast, it was calling for rain again, right away. We scrambled out of the tent, ate a quick breakfast, and packed up asap. We got going just as the rain hit, again.

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Even though the weather was less than perfect, we actually did have a really good time camping. Being together like that, it’s just the best, and I’m glad we all love it so much. Although, I’m going to be honest here, I’m starting to be that lady that’s all “I’m just too old to sleep on an air mattress.”

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A day at the lake.

Yesterday we spent the day at a friend’s cabin. We had the best time!

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(Oliver said the dance party was the best part.)

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Seth and Ben have a history of being quite wimpy when it comes to swimming in lakes. Beaches are fine, but they never want to jump off of a dock or swim in water over their heads. I was expecting yesterday to be like that, but Ben sure surprised me. He was in the lake, jumping in times a hundred. I could tell he was a little bit nervous, and he was with kids he doesn’t really know, but he just manned up and did it, and he sure had fun. He got out only when he needed to warm up a bit, and then would be right back in again. He went back in again after supper, and this morning he told me he wished we were still there because he wants to jump in the lake some more. I’m so proud of him, and so happy that he had such a good time!

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Seth absolutely refused to jump in, no matter who double dog dared him or called him chicken. He was the oldest kid there, while every other kid, including Ivy and Oliver, was in the lake, but he would not do it. As much as Seth likes to tell me that he doesn’t need swimming lessons anymore, that he can swim just fine, etc., I don’t think he’s a really confident swimmer. He CAN swim just fine, but he IS afraid when it comes to jumping in “deep ends”. Hopefully next week’s lessons plus the rest of the summer of swimming will cure that. At the 11th hour yesterday, with cake and ice cream on the line, he FINALLY jumped in. And then of course jumped in ten more times, because it was fun! Yeesh!

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Even Oliver and Ivy swam around in the lake like brave little fish. Oliver can be a huge baby about almost everything, including water splashing on his face, but he did it and was having a great time. Ivy wasn’t afraid of anything, of course, and wanted to be jumping on the floatie with 10 other huge kids. I didn’t let her because I know she would have been bounced right off straight into the lake, and that would have been the end of good times for her, life jacket or not.

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Anyways, another highly successful summer day. We ended it off spotting three white-tailed deer on our way out of West Hawk. Ivy named all three of them Deerie. We waved good-bye to Deerie times three, and drove home. Everyone crashed hard in the van, and slept soundly all night. It was a record breaker over here this morning, as Seth was the first one up, at EIGHT THIRTY. Seth has slept past 7:30 approximately three times in his life, so I was pretty surprised. Oliver was the last one up at 8:50, and we all hung out in bed until 9. Just lovely.

Cheers to summer!

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Summ Summ Summatime.

Dear Lazy Summer Mornings,

I love you. Please don’t leave me.

Seriously, though, the last couple mornings I haven’t been woken up until an absolutely dreamy 8:30 am, and I’ve stayed in bed till after nine! Guys, I love being lazy. It’s my jam. And I’m not minding kids sleeping in, taking my time getting out of bed, and drinking coffee on the deck in the morning sunshine. Not minding at all.

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Random kids are showing up during the day, which just makes me so happy. One of the very few things I feel like I missed out on during my rural childhood, is neighborhood friends. The fact that kids can come and go here, or bike to the park that’s always crawling with school friends, makes me so happy. Plus, there’s the benefit of that weird kid math, where adding more kids actually makes things quieter and easier around the house. I love that!

It’s only July 10th, but summer is killing it this year. I’m so happy we have so much left still.

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Seth is 9.

Today is Seth’s ninth birthday. It’s weird how there’s absolutely no trace of little kid left in him. It’s been gone for awhile now, really. He’s just a big kid who does his own thing and takes care of himself and doesn’t really need me anymore. It’s fine, but it’s kind of weird. He very rarely ever comes to me spontaneously for a hug or a kiss, although he will oblige me briefly if I appear appropriately pathetic. I have to assume this situation will only get worse.

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But, even if he doesn’t need me, he’s a good kid, my nine year old Seth. He’s turning into a lover of routine and efficiency. Every morning he has his “chores” that need to be done: get dressed, make bed, put laundry away, brush teeth, feed Dog, empty dishwasher. It’s like he’s always trying to beat his previous time, and having everything done as quickly as possible is a real source of pride for him. I absolutely never have to remind him to do these things, and I’ve never once heard him complain about them. This is possibly because these are first thing in the morning chores, and Seth is tortured by laying in bed a moment past 0700. Asking him to help do dishes or sweep the floor after supper is almost always met with complaint, coupled with a sudden urgent need to use the bathroom.

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He continues to read voraciously, usually downing a chapter book or two a day. This is probably one of my favorite things about Seth, probably because it reminds me so much of myself. I was the same way as a kid, and now I’m jealous of the hours he has to devote to laying around reading every day, although I still try to squeeze some reading in whenever I can. Seth and I, sitting on the couch, just reading, it brings me a lot of happiness.

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He’s a good big brother. And the worst. He can take such good care of his siblings, or be such an obnoxious jerk to them. By them, I mean mostly Ben. Although they both still get along really well almost all of the time, sometimes Seth is such a master at pushing Ben’s very sensitive buttons.

He still loves his Lego. He started building his birthday sets this morning, then we were out all day. He seemed almost tortured at a certain point in the day, because he just wanted to get home and finish building, he said. He even told me he didn’t want to play video games today because he just wanted to build. That’s basically a miracle because he’s also obsessed/addicted to Minecraft. Sometimes he wants to talk about Minecraft, and I try so hard to act interested, but it’s like torture. I just don’t get it. But the Internet told me Minecraft is good for kids’ brains so I’m just holding on to that. We don’t do much screen time around this house anyway, so I’m sure it won’t kill him. Just please don’t talk to me about it anymore. That’s what your friends are for. (He and his friends are currently planning on producing Minecraft YouTube videos, which I think would be super fun, but I have no idea if any of them have any idea how to do that.)

He loves soccer too. His spring season went so well this year, thank goodness. Last spring was a total bust due to a variety of factors, but this season was a hundred times better. I love seeing him having so much fun and being so passionate about something. He’s gotten so much more confident on the field over the last year, and I’m really proud of him. He’s signed up for a soccer camp at the end of this month, and he actually told me he’s really excited about it, which is highly unsual for Seth when it comes to any time commitments outside of being at home. I’m excited for him too.

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Today we celebrated with birthday pancakes, as per usual. That was a stupid thing I did a couple years ago that has now somehow turned into a tradition that involves me getting out of bed and making pancakes with icing and sprinkles and candles before everyone is starving. It’s not the worst, I guess, and I’m not gonna lie, I like my pancakes with sprinkles on top four times a year. He opened his presents: Pokemon from his brothers, Halo lego, a soccer net, and a new ball from us.

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After breakfast we checked out the Lego store that just opened up here. Lots of inspiration in there- so much to look at. Then my mom and dad babysat Ivy while the rest of us went to see Jurassic World. Yes, we were those people who brought their five year old to Jurassic World. Oliver seemed completely un-phased while I actually yelled out loud on at least three occasions. Clearly we’ve done something wrong parenting-wise there. We ate popcorn and Mars bars for lunch and we all loved the movie. Seth said it was the best movie he ever saw.

We picked up some groceries for his birthday party tomorrow, and then we went to A+W for Seth’s birthday supper. I told him he could pick anywhere he wanted, and I was sure he would pick a pizza place, but I was very happy when he chose A+W. Miraculously, coupons arrived in the mail exactly yesterday, and we fed our entire family supper for the same price as our popcorn at the movie. That is not an exaggeration. At all. What the what is with the stupid expensive movie popcorn? That’s why we only buy it twice a year or something. Anyway, Seth had a good birthday, and I’m happy he got to do the things he wanted to. We just had a big thunderstorm and I’m hoping the sky is getting all the rain out of it’s system so we can play outside with his friends tomorrow.

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(Ivy’s face!!)

Happy birthday, dear Seth. I love the big kid that you are.

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ps. 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8.

We bought a van.

As much as I love my Mazda 5 for it’s fuel efficiency and it’s smallness, we were feeling like we needed some more space. You know, so I could actually put groceries in the car and stuff.

So we bought a van. And we’re in love.

We love it so much we just drove around in it and took pictures. Obviously.

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Welcome to the family, Van. You’re going to love it with us.

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Oliver’s first soccer season: a smashing success.

Although we try our hardest to discourage our children from any extra-curricular activities, sometimes they just really want to do something, and then we have to just suck it up and go to soccer FOUR NIGHTS A WEEK while we count our blessings that Ben didn’t want to play this season.

That being said, it really wasn’t that bad. It’s only an hour, most of the games were here in Oakbank, and Seth and Oliver loved playing soccer. This was Oliver’s first year ever, and honestly, we had no idea how it would go. Neil reminded me that we’d never really seen Oliver run before, as Oliver’s default setting is relaxed, or, some may say, slow.

He went full guns into his soccer season though, and didn’t stop running once. I’m not gonna say he kicked the ball a lot, because that wouldn’t be true, but he sure did run. He ran around and around, back and forth, to his team and to the opposing team, often stopping to do some random dance moves or occasionally discuss strategy with a team mate. He wore a perma-grin through every single game, rain or shine. I could not be happier that he was so happy.

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His last game was on Monday and his little orange team kicked some serious butt. Oliver even scored a goal! His first ever! However inadvertent it may have been, he was sure proud of himself and we were sure proud of him too.

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I’m half happy, half sad that soccer season is over. We had a great spring, and lucky for us, Ben and Ivy want to play next year too! So I guess we’ll be up to eight nights of soccer a week or something like that… Can’t wait!

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Father’s Day was two days ago and I didn’t get my husband anything.

Why do holidays always come with no warning? All of a sudden it’s the day before and all the stores are already closed and you’re left feeling all “I suck at life” because you’re married to the best dad ever and you didn’t get him a single thing. And you bought your own dad nail clippers. (Dad, forget you read that. Also, act surprised next time I see you).

Lucky for me, Neil’s doesn’t care nearly as much about gifts as I do. All he really wanted to do for Father’s Day was take his boys skateboarding. Ben was on board with that idea and they went out for a bit on Saturday morning.

On Sunday after church we headed over to the Forks. We ate some still-hot cinnamon buns from Tall Grass Prairie while sitting on the riverbank in the sunshine. When cinnamon buns were done, we took the kids to the playground.

Playgrounds are where Neil’s awesome dad-ness comes through so obviously. He had the kids going in some elaborate imaginative play where they were all desperately trying to find the key to some treasure chest and that involved running around and hiding and shrieking and all kinds of other shenanigans. And Neil actually wanted to do that! Me, I do NOT play at playgrounds. I go to playgrounds to sit on benches and catch up on instagram while my kids play. Swings are my nemesis. But not Neil. The kids had the best time with him.

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Next up, SK8, so Neil could buy himself a t-shirt and I could tell myself that that was his father’s day gift. Ben got one too, because, cute.

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Then we headed over to the skate park to watch some guys skateboarding. Look at my cute kids. I mean, I can barely handle it. Their feet!

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Then it was home for some supper, and early to bed. Kids were pretty darn tired by the end of that day!

Neil really is such a good Dad. He loves his kids so fully. He gives endlessly of his time, even after working so hard all day every day. He never hesitates to be on his own with all four of them, and makes them supper, bathes them, and puts them to bed solo a couple nights a week. On Saturday he took them all to a car show, then home, then back out again to help a friend work on his driveway. He’s just awesome like that. I know the kids love being with him, look up to him, and respect him. They are lucky, lucky children to have Neil for a dad, and I’m a lucky, lucky woman to be married to him.


      

Basically, we’re all the luckiest.

Now I’ve said lucky at least one time too many and it sounds weird.

Happy Father’s Day Neil.

Also, #reality.

Oliver graduates from preschool.

Honestly I think things like preschool graduations are totally stupid. Why do we need to graduate from preschool, just to go to kindergarten? It’s dumb.

But I will admit that it’s still really cute.

Today was Oliver and Ivy’s last day of preschool before summer. They had a graduation ceremony for the kids who would be starting kindergarten in the fall (which was almost everyone! I think it was just Ivy and a couple other kids that didn’t graduate today).

They were very excited about going to their last day, having a party, and a graduation. Even though I’m going to miss my ONLY two hours of alone time every week, I’m excited too. I love summer holidays and I love hanging out with my kids. Mostly.

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(I just love this picture so much! It sums up their personalities just so perfectly!)

The little ceremony was super cute. They sang a few songs; Ivy was so enthusiastic, and knew all the words, and was so sweet, I just about died. Oliver actually participated, which surprised me. I didn’t know he knew any songs, or that he would ever voluntarily do actions to a song. It was nice to see! Mostly, though, even though I knew he was very happy, he maintained a look of barely tolerance through the whole event. That’s my boy.

IMG_1045IMG_1052“I graduated. No big deal.”

Ivy though, I think she was in love with standing in front of all those people. She had a lot of fun this morning.

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I managed to get one, albeit forced, smile out of my little graduate.

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He’s very much looking forward to kindergarten, and I’m excited for him. I know he’s going to love it, and have a lot of friends, because, in his own words, “he’s the friendliest kid in the world!”.

Congratulations on your graduation Oliver, and all the best to you in the rest of your school career. I love you baby.