Sunday, June 27, 2010

Luke Doesn't Nap Anymore

Why do we even have beds for little people under the age of 3? I've lost track of time...but Luke quit taking scheduled naps quite a while ago. You know that phase of childhood--where the toddler just runs his or herself on raw energy until they collapse? Yep, we're 5 for 5 with this phase. Luke did not disappoint.

Even at bedtime, he usually prefers someone else's bed. James was the lucky candidate on this particular night.
At least Luke is obedient. We'll ask him to come lie down for a diaper change. Only sometimes Karen or I will get distracted with something else and forget we told Luke to come lie down. We have found him several times in this position:

I suppose sitting exerts some energy as well. He uses these chairs to catapult himself onto our bed. He's good entertainment awake or asleep.
I'm not sure why he would have chosen the middle of the kitchen floor. Perhaps he asked someone to open the one heard...and he got tired of waiting?
This one is another unique position. He'll pull the piano bench up to the computer to watch. But no one was around when we found him like this. Good thing he doesn't squirm when he sleeps. Those wood floors have no buoyancy.
But here's Luke when he's wide awake! Two year old little people are by far my most absolute favorite. I'm glad we have one more coming up through the ranks before we're done with this phase of our lives.

Here's a bonus video footage. Luke jumps out of his seat in the car whenever he sees an American flag. And the way he says it is worth recording. Luke says, "Mewica flag." This isn't his best example...but it's what we've captured on record so far. And apparently, this particular flag he's referring to is Mark's. So it's "Mawk's Mewica flag."

Friday, June 25, 2010

Innocence Lost

It was midsummer this week. And we celebrated in traditional style. It was even more authentic because a strong storm had knocked the power out.

"If you want to introduce this delightful summertime custom into your family's repertoire of pastimes, begin by telling your children that legend says that on Midsummer Night, the fairy realm holds its annual revels and is visible to human eyes (if you're lucky enough to notice), as William Shakespeare reminds us in A Midsummer Night's Dream. And the fairies expect a party." --Mrs. Sharp's Traditions So we pulled out Anya's tea set and provided the fairies a muffin, raspberry, and jelly bellies...with a cup of juice. If we provide refreshments, the fairies provide a gift.
This year, however, Mark saw the gift "the fairies" (i.e.: Karen) were making out in the garage. So did James.
It's tough growing up.
Mark was pretty upset to learn that fairies weren't real...or Santa...or the Tooth Fairy...or...and I wasn't prepared in the slightest for that kind of conversation. But we had it. Mark wanted Karen to lose her privileges for 24 hours for lying (that's the consequence in our home for lying). He told us that he had some doubts all along...but still believed. He took it pretty hard.
Anya came up to Karen a few weeks ago and stated/questioned, "Fairies aren't real, are they?" Karen answered truthfully and shared the importance of childhood fantasy and make believe and imagination. Anya took it very differently than Mark. She knows Santa and fairies aren't real, but enjoys believing simply for the fun of childhood. I wish I could remember what that phase of life felt like.
But Mark's ok now. And he has promised not to spoil it for the younger ones. James never said anything. I think he still wants to believe, too.
This year we also found that the fairies moved into one of the trees in the backyard. Anya was the first to discover it.
The light by the door turns on at night to let us know when they're home. :)
I think this is one of Anya's favorite celebrations. She was holding onto one of her fairy dolls while looking out the window watching for the fairies to begin dancing in the yard at dusk.

What if adults exercised a little more childhood innocence?

Saturday, June 12, 2010

2nd Annual Family Campout

Last year we finally got a tent that was big enough for our entire family. And we're determined to do at least one, if not two or three, campouts each year. This year we chose to go to Luray Caverns (the largest cave system east of the Mississippi) and enjoy a little portion of the Shenandoah Valley.

Before we share how wonderful this weekend was (and it really was), we must first be honest and state that camping is sometimes over-glorified. :) Karen noted that the magazines never show the hikers and campers hot and sweaty...and rarely do you see little kids tagging along. :)Unless you luck out and get the perfect weather with 70s during the day and 50s at night...calling it the "great outdoors" is a bit of a stretch. It was hot and humid but at least there wasn't any rain. And we continue to learn how to be better campers with each trip. So by the time our kids are older and we can do longer trips, we'll be pros!

Mark, Anya, and James really are the best three amigos around. They've always been close and they tend to stick together no matter where we go. We found a campsite that was minutes from Luray Caverns. When we set up camp, the larger fire pit was in we chose a fire pit closer to the trees for some refreshing shade. :) We might be crazy and camp with a 9, 8, 7, 4, 2, and 9 month old...but we're not afraid to make life a little more comfortable while we're at it.
Eliza really liked the grass. And of course, everyone really likes Eliza. :)

Although it wasn't anywhere near bedtime, the kids enjoyed a little break inside the tent once everything was set up.
In Luray, there is a Carillon of forty-seven bells. And each Thursday in June there is a live 45-minute recital. It was absolutely beautiful--the setting and the music. We've included one of the many recordings we made at the end of the post. After the recital, we got to meet the Carillonneur, David Breneman. I wanted to take his picture (for this post, of course!) but when he exited the tower he was friendly but shy. And it was very clear he wasn't comfortable talking with people so I didn't want to make him uncomfortable by asking for a picture. We thanked him and that was what really mattered.
After the live recital, we headed back to camp and enjoyed the cool weather and fire before going to bed. There's something really cute about a 2 year old camper.
The next morning we headed to Luray Caverns. It's somewhere underneath this building! Inside the building, there is a door that leads you right down to the cavern. At it's greatest depth, we were 164 feet below the ground.
The tour itself was a strange morph between a live tour guide and an audio tour. It was kind of obnoxious because the tour guide walked us through the cavern but then stopped us periodically and told us what number to type in to our headsets to learn about what we were looking at. So it was usually quiet and we had to stay with our group. If we were running Luray Caverns, we would just let people go at their own pace and have tour guides throughout the caverns to make sure people were safe and keep everyone moving along and answer random questions. But we're just a family who had to sell our first-born to afford this overly-priced experience so why would they listen to us. :)
The audio tour was really fun for the kids. There was a kids version that had them look for different formations in the cavern. With the headphones on, Peter couldn't hear himself talk. So it was especially cute when Peter found what the audio recording told him to look for and he yelled it out. There were many giggles in the crowd. Mark chose to do the adult version and really picked up some cool facts. All-in-all, it was an incredible cavern.
Peter couldn't stop looking up at everything. And as you look through more pictures, you'll notice one other thing he couldn't stop doing the whole tour...

Anya was very studious with a bit of sass.
In the next couple of pictures, there's a small body of water in the background which gives the illusion that the cavern is much bigger in this area than it actually is. It was amazing to see.
The water is to the right of the walkway. Even seeing it in real-life, it was difficult to convince the eyes that it was a reflection because the water was so still.
Ok, can you pick up on what Peter needs to do by now? A long tour can feel like an eternity to a little boy who has to go to the bathroom! :) We're trying to break him of the habit...
Eliza slept through most of it. And everyone around us was wishing they could be in one of these by the end of the tour. Sometimes I wish I was a baby again just to remember what it felt like to be carried everywhere.
And look! A picture with the entire family! You can even see Eliza's sleeping head poking around my shoulder. Soak it in...because it's rare that we actually have a picture with the ENTIRE family. It may be another few years before you'll see one again.
We can't wait to learn where our tent will take us next year! Actually, we learned so much this camping trip about how to make things go smoother that we might do another trip this Fall so we don't have to wait another year before implementing some of those things we learned. Is that sick or what?!? :)
Here's the video of the Carillon. There were so many classical songs played that we were pleasantly surprised when we heard this tune...sorry, Blogger is having technical difficulties and I've been sitting here since 10AM waiting for this to load. I guess the computer won the patient contest.