We did it: all five of us made it out on the trail this weekend. And we weren’t even on vacation! It was the same trail Aliya, Maia, and I took almost a year ago and I was impressed by how much they remembered. From the reason some trees had holes all over them (wood beetles) to the stump with the most sap to the places to watch out for cow patties, they remembered it all. And it was really cool to have them lead the way and be the experts for their mama and big sister. Aliya, especially, was thrilled to be out there.
There can be something exhilarating about tossing your line into the water, letting your bait drift for a minute, then feeling those first subtle tugs as a fish tests it out. Those moments between the first nibbles and the final bite that takes the bait are filled with curiosity, excitement, and hope. For me, thinking of those moments brings back memories of warm summer days and cool, crisp nights; cold rivers; deep lakes; mountains; family; forests; and fresh air mixed with the pungent smell of bait and fish.
With an invitation from Grandpa Robert and Nana Cin, we took the girls up to Courtright Reservoir to go fishing. Having been fishing with my side of the family once before, all three girls were ecstatic to head back out to the water and try their luck. We arrived in the evening of August 7, and they couldn’t wait for the next morning.
It’s easy to get caught up in our daily life. Work, school, doctors appointments, grocery shopping, meal prep…it really goes on and on. And the day-to-day of life in America becomes such a routine and feels like such a necessity to maintain, that we lose sight of or miss out on the things that we enjoy or make us happy.
Vacation is really a life-saver. It gives us permission to carve out time for ourselves and each other and let go (at least partially) of the constant stream of responsibilities. That’s why our family enjoys camping. It’s a perfect way to disconnect from the business of everyday life and screen time (email, social media, news, TV, etc.), and reconnect with the essentials. When the focus is shifted solely to spending time together, relaxing, playing, enjoying nature and being outside, eating, and sleeping…life almost becomes easy.
It’s hard to believe it’s been over six weeks since we were down in San Clemente, CA visiting with my dad (Grandpa Jon) and his family. Since then, Sarah’s had a dental implant and root canal, we’ve been camping, and are in the midst of a small school scandal. It’s no wonder I’m inclined to drift back to the calm, sunny days we enjoyed in beautiful San Clemente.
It was just me for five days. Well, me and the girls…and the cats…but in the adult category, just me. Sarah was off in Florida for a conference and got back late last night. I took a few days off work and took the role of solo parent while she was gone. And it was, in a word, awesome.
I loved having extra time with the girls, but I think what I loved most about it was the freedom. Since two of the three kids are homeschooled, there’s a lot of flexibility. Also, I’m usually juggling work and some aspects of the kids’ schedule and meals—which can be crazy-making—but this gave me the opportunity to focus solely on the kids and keeping the house in order.
It was ambitious. On a lot of levels. 10 days, three states, 1,000 miles up and 1,000 miles back. Oh, and we brought an RV travel trailer…which we bought right before the trip. All these things we had never attempted or experienced before. Like I said, it was ambitious.
Last week we were camping in the mountains at an annual event with friends and family, trying to keep the focus on the moment, our surroundings, and simplifying. This coming week, school starts. We’ll try to keep the focus on the moment, but somehow school raises the level of anxiety and stress about 100 notches—which has us questioning (again) if the path we’re on is the right one.
Isn’t that the constant in parenting? Assessing and finding balance. What’s working, what’s not? What do you change and what do you accept? How can we get close to everyone being happy and content? What can we do now to help our kids be the most well-balanced adults they can be?
The first week of summer is done and gone and we’re already halfway into the next. It feels like Team Hokama has barely survived so far. We started out tired, having returned from a three-day weekend trip to Sacramento celebrating Great Grandpa Vic’s 80th birthday. This seemed okay since hey, it’s summer(!), and there will be plenty of time to rest and play, right? Not so.
Last Tuesday afternoon (June 17), while Keana and Sarah were at Keana’s physical therapy appointment—yes, a couple more weeks before her sprained knee is back to normal—I was on a phone call and I heard Maia and Aliya busy playing. They can be quite the dynamic duo, busying themselves all over the house with this or that, and I didn’t think anything of their little chatter until I hear a BANG, CRASH, and Maia screams, “Papa! Papa! Help! It Hurts!” I quickly got off the phone and found Maia on the floor of the laundry room, on her back, one shoulder in the cat water dish. Aliya was standing by the dryer, door open. I tried to get her to tell me where it hurt amidst the sobs, but it was impossible. At that moment, she didn’t know what had happened, she was just in pain.
It’s going to be 100 degrees today. It was almost that yesterday. I can’t think of a clearer signal that summer approacheth. Around here though, the weather is a little ahead of the game—there’s still lots to be done before we can officially say Team Hokama is on summer break.
The kids have 13 days of school left, but they’re not really into “the countdown” yet in this stage of their schooling, though I know they’re ready for a long break. As usual, we don’t exactly have our summer planned out, but I’m sure it will all come together. The only definitive is our friend Adam is getting married in Medford, OR at the end of June, so we’ll be trekking up there for that. And we’ll be camping—somewhere, sometime—so that’s the “plan” so far.
Birthdays are some of those tough moments for me to capture in words. I can (and have in the past) just given an account of what happened, which is fine, but that approach doesn’t capture all the intricate, deep thoughts and feelings I have as I think about each kids’ birthday and what a big deal it is when any of us make it through another year.
Two different friends of mine had their first kids on Keana’s birthday this weekend, which was a great reminder at how far we’ve come. Keana is still the sweet, playful, beautiful, bright-blue-eyed girl she’s always been, year after year, but of course she’s maturing. Her thoughts, feelings, and understanding of the world continue to deepen every day and it’s really an honor to witness. She’s growing gracefully and takes all the new, exciting changes in her life in stride. She’s interested in everything growing up entails, and so far has embraced it all without fear. In fact, she’s happy to be growing up and seems to enjoy her increasing abilities and freedom.