Badlands NP

The weather was nice, Harper didn’t, have school, the entrance fee was waved and it’s my birthday so we went outside to Badlands National Park. We did a few small trails including a juniper forest and massive canyon but mostly we climbed and explored.

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The Holiday Express

I’m a borderline crazy Christmas person. Having kids creates a new level of magic in that you are responsible for creating it and in return receive the pleasure of watching it all unfold.

This year we finally made it onto the historic 1880 Train‘s Holiday Express. The ride was out of Hill City, about halfway to Keystone you arrive at “The North Pole” and pick up Santa. On the way there they pass out delicious hot chocolate and sugar cookies. I was shocked at how good they were. After Santa boards the train he comes around and talks to each child while handing out silver sleigh bells. The cost isn’t cheap but for under $100 for our family it was a special and you can’t put a price on memories.

Notes/Tips:

  • You can bring food/drinks onto the train, we went on the 4:15 so I knew my boys would need more then a sugar cookie so I brought snacks in containers.
  • The trains are mildly heated, meaning on a cold night you’ll be comfortable but with your coat left on. Remember you don’t get on the train without waiting in line outside and it’s in Hill City which is probably a few degrees cooler than Rapid.
  • The speaker system on the train is awful and with so many kids you are unlikely to hear what they are saying, therefor you’ll want to read (or watch) The Polar Express before your ride.
  • While it’s a great ride for all ages, our 3 year old loved it the most so I’d say if you only plan on going once, wait for that 3-4 age range. Our 5 year old, who loves trains, had fun but was a little unimpressed afterwards.
  • If your family has a busy schedule or you feel particular about the times book your tickets early, as in November or the first week of December.
  • Take the train during the summer as well, it’s a great experience.IMG_0341.JPG.jpegimg_0334-jpgimg_0086
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Parenting and Presidents

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To all my friends using their children as tools of guilt and shame the outcome of this election: stop. Stop the “how will I explain this man to my kids.” Your kids are hardly influenced by what our president elect says but they do hear what you say, what the television is saying and they are listening to those evening conversations between adults. We set the tone for how our children interpret the world and the adult issues happening now.

I am a child of 1986 (barely a millennial) and I don’t remember either the Reagan or Bush presidencies however I do remember President Clinton. I remember him lying to us on TV and admitting that he lied. I remember learning about the Lewinski dress, not fully understanding the meaning behind a stain or what exactly happened besides the fact that he lied to everyone and we couldn’t stop talking or thinking about it. I remember the news, the scandal then the middle east and I remember learning about impeachment before it was taught in social studies.

The news is still good, because despite his remarks and mistakes I know that what he did was wrong both in action and intention and I am not a worse person for having him as a president. I have no strong feelings towards him at all.

Our president should not be the ideal that we hold ourselves to. The president isn’t even a daily discussion in our house but Jesus is. Jesus is the standard we hold ourselves and our children to, He is what we strive to model our actions and thoughts to and when my children face difficulties in life I want them to look to Jesus not “What would POTUS do?”
Presidents come and go they are mere men that will make multitudes of mistakes just like the rest of us. If the president becomes an idol over Jesus, no matter how great he or she may be, then something is wrong.

I’ve been absorbing myself in the Netflix series The Crown. In The Crown, Queen Elizabeth contemplates her role in governing and returns to the standard set in the British constitution: that there is the dignified and the efficient. The efficient is there to govern the people but the dignified is what the people uphold themselves to, an ideal. Our government, the elected body is there to be the efficient, let them pass laws and govern our country as we see fit and it is up to us to be the dignified, let us be the ones to uphold our moral code and show our kids what it takes to be a decent human being.

 

My First Day as a School Parent

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I just dropped Harper off at school. Didn’t cry a single tear, not even almost. My heart swelled with love and pride for my kind-hearted boy.

As soon as we walked onto the playground Harper put his backpack down next to a tree and said “it’s okay mom, you can go now, I’m okay by myself.” I laughed and told him to go play, I wanted to stay a little. I watched him swing, going high without a push, I watched him yell and wave at the kids he knew and I knew he was more then ready to be there.

He’s going to do great and have a blast being in school, he has always thrived in groups. I, unlike many moms facing kindergarten for the first time, was ready for him to take this huge step, my biggest issue is understanding how is it possible that I am old enough to have a kid in school? I feel like I just graduated and was married last year, now I have 3 kids and one is old enough to be away from me all day? It’s mind boggling and at the same time a reminder of how exciting life is, cliche but also how quickly it goes. I remember when he was a baby I’d think about this day and consider that I’d be fairly young, as I was only 24 (6 days from 25) when he was born, thinking I might be one of the younger moms. However now that that day has arrived (probably due to having 3 kids and being a parent for 5 years now) I don’t feel young, I feel thrusted into middle age by the 3 that proceeds the zero as well as the fact that I have a kid in school.

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Walking home, alone, I wasn’t sad. I wondered how we got to this place- How was I old enough to have a kid in school?! I mentally tried to recall everything I’d put in his backpack, did he have his snack, the party money, all his school supplies- what did I forget? Am I trustworthy enough to be a parent of a school aged kid? I now have to be responsible for making sure he does his homework, wakes up early enough and eats enough even when I’m not around. And now all this stuff matters and truly affects the outcome of his future! I feel like I just got past the fear of SIDS with him and now I’m suddenly worried about creating good homework habits.

One thing I realized about myself as mother today, I am a mama bird. I’m not a tiger-mom, helicopter-mom, mama bear, dragon-mom or any of those slightly terrifying parenting pictures. I love my kids, I keep them safe and close but when they are ready to fly I push them out and watch them fail or soar. And it’s at that point that I find the most enjoyment, watching them grow and become people, individuals outside of us.

 

 

Oils Saved Me Last Night

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First off, I’m not a huge oil person. My supply consists of less than 10 bottles of a few different brands of essential oils. We use them mostly as aromatherapy in a diffuser but occasionally for headaches, sinus problems and soothing, I am a firm believer in scents being tied to memory so I tend to use a few special ones on my kids blankets and slings.

I’m sharing this because last night I witnessed something miraculous.

Harper has had a wet cough these last few nights, Willem developed it last night as well. I had already been up once to tuck Harper back in after a bathroom trip when I heard him crying and coughing in pain. He cried “my ear, my ear hurts” in between coughs and I sprung into action. First was the cough, grabbed the vicks vapor rub, next was the earache, I measured out some Motrin because western medicine… then I grabbed oils.

Olive oil is my go-to, years ago in my avoidance of a doctor appointment for my own severe earache I called the nurse and she told me to add a few drops of EVOO in my ear. The oil conditions the ear drum bringing the right kind of moisture to it while it gets any water away from the drum. Having gone swimming yesterday I wasn’t sure if Harper’s earache was from his cold, pressure or swimmers ear but in any case the EVOO would only help.

Lavender is an oil that we have never used in our house besides in a diffuser or bath was my miracle in a bottle last night. I had read somewhere on the internet that you could use it to help treat an ear infection and in the middle of the night with a kid in pain you are willing to try many things. While the EVOO soaked into Harper’s ear I did some quick google research. I dropped about 10 drops of lavender EO onto a cotton ball and placed the cotton ball on Harpers ear (not in it, just on top). He immediately stopped crying and was asleep within the next minute! Not kidding. I almost wish for my own earache just so I can feel it for myself. From now on I promise my family we will never run out of lavender.

Lemon was the follow up. Not sure how exactly this one works but after witnessing the lavender working I was fully on board the oil train. Following my google research directions I mixed a few drops of lemon into my hand with a bit of carrier oil, in my case the EVOO because it was next to me and fully acceptable (who needs to go back downstairs looking for coconut?) then starting from where the ear meets the jaw, massaged the oil down the neck.

One of the first things I asked him this morning was how his ear felt. Harper looked at me, touched each ear as if to figure out which one had bothered him to start with, then shrugged me off saying his ears feel fine.

I’m no oil expert nor am I a fanatic but that cotton ball of lavender did something incredible for me and for Harper last night.

Harper is Turning 5!

Today starts Harper’s last week as a 4 year old! Four has been the most challenging age so far mostly because he has truly started testing limits with blatant defiance, luckily it’s all a normal part of growing up and his big heart is always underneath the layers of naughtiness.
Without getting sappy and remembering the last year, the last 5 years and how much my boy has grown I’ll get to the point. I asked Harper some his annual birthday questions, the answers where as to be expected.

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Did God Make Poop?

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Harper is just about to turn 5 and his brain is working full speed. He’s picking up social cues, learning the alphabet and digging into theology.

Harper has been asking a lot of questions about God. This is good, we want him to question, to learn and to put things together. This is also insanely annoying at times:

Mom did God make that bathtub? Why?

Mom did God make me? Why?

Mom did God make dirt? Why?

Mom did God glass? Why?

I try to treat each question with respect both to Harper wanting to learn and to God, not wanting to dismiss the importance nor the message that yes, God made everything or at least gave man the knowledge to make it.

Last night I asked Harper if he wanted to pray at bedtime. He said yes and continued on:

Dear Jesus. Mom did God make the sky?

Yes

Why?

To put something above us

Where does God live?

He is everywhere

No, like what city does God live in

Oh, He lives in heaven

Where is heaven?

It’s a special city that we go to live in when we die. Now Harper lets say prayers.

Okay. Does God make poop?

God gives us food and we eat the food and our bodies turn it to poop so kind of.

Does God make pee?

God gives us drinks and our bodies turn them into pee.

But, does God make potties?

Yes God makes potties.

This is the point where I’m not annoyed and pray for Harper over his questions because we just need to go to bed. I was able to stop the questions but only temporarily because the next morning he started asking more:

Mom why do we have to die?

Because we aren’t made to live on Earth forever in our bodies, that’s why we grow and get older.

But everyone has to die?

Yes eventually

Why?

Because God wants us to come live with Him in heaven.

Like your old grandpa? He’s in heaven with God?

(We stopped at my grandparents grave sight around Christmas and I had explained to Harper that they had died and what that meant)

Yes like my grandpa.

So when is that boy going to heaven?

What boy Harper?

That boy, my older cousin?

I don’t know. (and I don’t know what or who he was talking about, it’s slightly creepy but to be fair he’s had a lot of confusion about what exactly cousins are- he asked if a girl we walked by at target was his cousin… so who knows who or what he was referring to).

This has continued. I stopped writing this yesterday and of course at bed time there were more “did God make…” questions that I tried to have grace in answering but again told him it was time to be quiet. Even in playing he asks me if God or Santa made each toy. I’m hoping this “phase” (oh how I’ve loved that word as a parent) is almost over but if you have and quips to deal with 5 year old theology, please, please share it with me.