Wednesday, June 27, 2012

A Cabin Weekend

We are very lucky to have access to Christian's family cabin in Alma, Colorado a few miles outside of Breckenridge. The cabin belonged to Christian's paternal grandparents and is now shared by aunts, uncles and cousins. The cabin is a place where childhood memories are made for the Driver clan.

This past weekend marked Grace's first visit to the cabin and Jack's return to this peaceful, beautiful location. The fun began with the drive up accompanied by Foster the People, Fun, Zac Brown Band and interspersed with other of our favorite songs. Jack and Grace love to sing in the backseat and are quick to request their favorite song "You Raise Me Up." Grace is so darn cute clapping her hands after each song ends while Jack belts out the words to the songs he knows and asks the names of the songs he doesn't. These are the moments I dreamed of when I carried these little bundles in my belly, car trips with smiling singing kiddos.

About halfway up to the mountains it struck me that this is our first trip up without our beloved Radley. Radley loved the freedom of the cabin. He spent his days running to the point of exhaustion and digging into the bottom cabinets to devour forbidden food. We have so many funny memories with that sweet, crazy dog and we felt his absence.

After arriving at the cabin we decided to try fishing. Looking at the photos below it seems like fun was had by all.

Fun was had by most, but what the pictures do not show? Jack having more fun throwing rocks into the water than participating in the actual fishing, Grace trying to eat the bait, and me running around too uptight about someone being gouged in the eye with a fish hook to have fun. Christian however was as cool as ever. He just ignored our crazy while he drank a beer and watched the water.

The evening ended with an "adventure" in which Jack and Grace walked too close to the stream trying to imitate Christian's rock skipping and I stood nervously by waiting for the bears to attack.

Saturday offered a morning of fun in Breckenridge where we braked for lunch at the Breckenridge Brewery and stopped in to hear symphony practice in the theatre.

After naps, we journeyed out to drive the Mosquito Gulch trail. Christian drove while I read descriptions from a brochure matching roadside markers. We were well on our way when we noticed smoke clouds over the mountain ridge. Soon after we were turned around by a police officer blocking our way. A wildfire had started and we were headed straight into it if we tried to drive over the pass. We turned around and will have to save Mosquito Gulch for a future cabin trip.

We returned to the cabin, after stopping to throw more rocks in the stream, just in time to cook dinner. While Christian cooked our hotdogs and hamburgers; Jack, Grace and I watched a chipmunk eat dandelions.

While cleaning dishes after dinner, I spotted a deer out the window and ran to gather my family to watch the deer up close through the kitchen window. Jack was amazed and it was the perfect end to a typical cabin day.

The laid back charm of the cabin makes me love it. I am more than a little tense most of the time and the cabin forces me out of my over controlled life. Children don't sleep, we eat hotdogs or frozen pizza, we don't wash our hair and sometimes take cold showers. We get dirty and throw rocks in the stream down the way, we find adventures to fill our days and take detours. But mostly we escape from the real world and enjoy our time together.

My hope is the cabin will remain the family for years to come and one day Jack and Grace will bring their future families to make memories.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Small Boys are Called Jacks?

A conversation with my little guy at nap time...

Me: I love you. You are my favorite boy in the whole world.
Jack: That's a no.
Me: What? Who's my favorite boy?
Jack: Daddy!
Me: Daddy is my favorite man.
Jack: What's a man?
Me: Grown-up boys are called men.
Jack: And small boys are called Jacks.
Me: Yes sweet boy, they are called Jacks.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Mommy Books - A Review

The book market is full of parenting books and it seems a new genre has emerged. I would label the genre "bitching books." I am really not a fan of the word bitch. It seems supremely degrading to women but I just can't help myself but give this genre the name. Two books I read recently that fit into this category are Confessions of a Scary Mommy by Jill Smokler and My So Called Life as a Proverbs 31 Wife by Sara Horn.

On the surface the books could not seem more different. The first is secular and full of potty mouth. The latter is Christian and proclaims to be inspired by the beautiful Proverb describing a Biblical wife. Smokler is a stay-at-home mom and Horn is a working mother. Neither are worth your time or money.

My belief is each of these women submitted book proposals to publishers with a grand idea of getting real about being a wife and mother with a promise to be witty and a tab bit provocative. Maybe these authors had a gem of an idea but they both failed royally. The books were cheap and the humor was bad. Both women spent pages complaining about their husbands, whining about motherhood and bitching about the unfair expectations for mothers.

Give me a break. Why is being honest about motherhood all of the negative stuff? From where I am sitting I rarely hear gratitude from women about the privileged lives we live. And I am one of the worst offenders. If either of the books offered anything positive it was that it made me realize how I am part of the problem and makes me never want to complain about my life again.

It seems a provocative and innovative book about being a wife and mother would be one that focuses on the blessings. I get that parenting is hard. I get that being a wife requires compromise. I also get that being a wife and mother are the absolute most important things in my life. They are truly the most beautiful aspects of who I am. Looking back at my full life it seems everything I have ever done has lead me to this time and place and helped shaped me to do this job.

Is it hard work? Yes it most certainly is but it is good work. Books like these that focus on the negative are not redeeming to women. They cheapen our role. They compromise our grace. They weaken our image. I am proud to be a wife and mother and even on its worse day I wouldn't trade it for anything. I think we would all be wise to remember that our lots in life could be much worse. It makes me feel a little sick to see privileged women whining about their privilege.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Cooking With My Kid

Many of my friends love to cook; it is their passion. I am not that mom. I do cook but more out of necessity than desire. I cook because I like to eat. However, Jack and I actually do enjoy cooking together. He is so cute trying to stir, measure flour and crack eggs. Often more food ends up on the floor than in the bowl but we have fun trying.

I also cook because I want to feed my family well. Handing out processed pre-packaged food is much easier than preparing snacks from scratch. My family certainly eats the processed junk but I try to supplement the unhealthy processed stuff with homemade items.

Here are two easy recipes I make for my kids often: pancakes and green smoothies. The internet offers a million and one pancake and green smoothie recipes and here are my versions adapted from various other versions.

Jack's Green Smoothie

1 banana
1/2 cup frozen peaches, mangos or pineapple
1/2 cup fresh spinach or kale
1/2 to 1 cup water
a few pieces of ice

Put all ingredients into the blender and blend until smooth. Pour into cup with lid and straw and let your kids enjoy.

Note: Jack's favorite color is green and he thinks this is a super treat. I try to only offer this to my kids a couple of times each week and every time I act like it is super special like ice cream.


1/2 cup white flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 heaping tablespoon sugar
pinch of salt

Mix dry ingredients together in a bowl.

1 1/4 cup milk
1 egg
1/3 cup pumpkin puree, pear baby food, or other mashed up fruit like a banana

Mix these three ingredients together in a separate bowl. Add wet ingredients to the dry ingredients. Heat griddle or pancake pan on stovetop over medium heat. Spray pan with cooking spray. Pour pancake mix into small pancakes in pan and cook until bubbles start to form. Flip pancakes and heat for about another minute until cooked through. Serve with butter, maple syrup or whatever toppings your family enjoys.

Note: A friend taught me that pancakes make a great snack the next day for hungry children and they travel well. Let leftover pancakes cool, put in a snack bag and place in the refrigerator. Just grab and throw in the diaper bag for a snack on the go.

I hope you enjoy the recipes. Seriously if I can make these things, you can too.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Big Bootie

Jack is potty trained, an easy process compared to my beliefs regarding potty training. He basically trained himself over the last year and a half. He wears his big boy underpants and goes potty as needed with the occasional accident. Accidents seem to happen especially when he is playing hard or like a few weeks ago, prior to an illness. Overall he is very successful at managing the potty.

Given the potty training success, last week Jack decided it was time to start wiping himself and pulling up his own clothes. It may sound weird but this kind of makes me sad. Yes, it is nice to have one less butt to wipe but it also demonstrates his constant maturing. I want to freeze time and hold on to my babies.

The potty process also lets Jack's sense of humor shine. He is so funny. He likes for me to sit in the bathroom with him so that we can have "conversations" while he poops. We talk about trucks and Christmas and friends. He makes the most astute observations while on the potty.

Last week after a trip to the potty Jack was attempting to pull up his underpants and out of the blue says, "how do I get this big bootie in here?" I laughed so hard. I hope his humor gets your Monday off to a great start.