Tuesday, July 27, 2010

It's the little things!

Really it is the little things that matter.  A smile, a certain laugh, saying, "I love you!" and much more. Recently I was reminded of this and continue to be as I spend time with good friends and family. We lost a vibrant, most outgoing friend to cancer just about a month ago today.  During the three years she battled cancer Byron and I kept a realistic view about her life as well as our own. We have had wonderful opportunities to be there for this family through multiple quick transitions and are amazed at how well our friend and his two daughters continue to astonish us with their strong sense of family, life, flexibility, and appreciation for the little things.

A little note saying, "I love you!" was neatly placed on a coffee table. I noticed it while looking after Ty at our friends house.  On this little card were these words written in red ink above a cartoon caption glued to the paper. Below the cartoon were the words, "Love Jules!" That was her way. Always taking the time to write little notes, send a card for even the most mundane reason, and sharing how much she truly appreciated something.  I pointed to it and looked at Byron saying, "It's the little things that matter!" We smiled.  

This note though not written to me nor Byron, but to her husband, reinforced in myself that not matter how insignificant you might think an action is, it really matters. It was comforting to us. Those are the things you miss the most when they are gone.  As we all grow older and start our own families those little insignificant events provide meaning to our lives and fill our lives with love, memories and laughter. Saying a prayer before going to sleep, tickling each other, saying, "I miss you" and even sending a text message once in a while saying, "I am thinking about you" or a pic message with a caption.  Those little things come in many forms of communication. A painting from your son, a hug, reading a book, a routine, and little tiny something just because.  

Despite the hard times or change that we all may face at one time or another these little things help us get through them.  I stand in awe of those whom I have known to pass on and the massive impact they have had on my world. I stand in awe of those whom have remained after loosing someone and continue to impact my world in wonderful ways, providing me with new insights into my own life, time for reflection, and the ability to continue to do those little things!

Live, Love, Laugh!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Road Trip(s)!

This summer we planned to exhaust our entire month of July on vacation. What a great idea! So Byron and I planned a trip through the Redwoods in California our second road trip as a family. National parks have so much to offer and what  a great idea to spend vacation driving with family. This is our opportunity to play games, experience new sites, chat and spend time together only to capture many of the events via photos and movies. (don't worry I will post a few here).  First stop Grants Pass, OR for lunch. Then we drove through the Northern part of the Redwood Forest on our way to  Crescent City, California where we would check in to our hotel on the ocean and do our daily driving from there.  Fully equipped with hot tub, swimming pool and a view we were set! Can I just say it is fascinating to drive through the Redwood forest. I was not prepared for the magnitude of the beauty that we were to witness. I have never before seen such ginormous trees so tall, so wide, and  breathtaking!

Crescent City, California had much to offer us. We were able to spend lots of time on the beach playing in the sand, rocks and driftwood. We had a view of a working lighthouse and visited the lighthouse during low tide on one of our walks. Ty played the drums on the driftwood and sang many songs, he threw rocks in the ocean and played in the water as well.  Of course he has no fear of the ocean so it is a rule to hold hands with mommy or daddy!  We spent three nights in Crescent City and each day we spent driving to and exploring different parts of the Redwoods!  We toured the Mystery of Trees and even drove through a live Redwood tree. Thank God for Byron's ability to drive his rig. A standing ovation was provided by the others watching this event!

"I working!"
Not much side clearance!
The next portion of our trip was designated for the Southern part of the Redwoods near Elk Meadows. We were hoping to see some Elk after speaking with the US Forest Ranger. However, we only were able to see a few fawn, and young deer oh yeah and a buck with velvet on his horns! We spent a few moments capturing their play.  


After the family of deer we made our way to hike in the valley of Ferns. Good thing we brought the truck because we were able to maneuver the deep streams with ease on the way to the hiking spot. This was  a neat hike. We spoke with the ranger who stated that the Fern Valley was filled with walls of 5 different kinds of ferns. She also warned us that the path was not a dry one. We would be crossing different levels of streams and hiking up streams.  Good thing I put on my hiking boots and Ty had his water shoes on. Byron made it with his flip flops.  Afterwards we spent a few minutes warming up in the truck!

What a beautiful place! Ty enjoyed the water oh yeah and taking pictures. Here are a few pictures that he took while riding on mommy and daddy's shoulders at any given point during part of the hike into Fern Valley!

Not too bad, a little blurry but he was able to capture our trail and had so much fun doing so.

From Fern Valley we left Hwy 101 and headed East towards Redding. Amazing that while on this part of the trip we left the 66 degree sunny weather on the coast and minute by minute we increased temperatures! By the time we made it to Redding, California the temperature was a whopping 109 degrees.  Shasta Lake never looked so refreshing.  We made a few pit stops along the way for lunch, potty breaks and just to stretch.  We past through Redding for a 1/2 hour drive to a small town called Dunsmuir.  This is a wonderful little town just below I-5 in California. There we were visiting a friends parents for a few days and enjoying the California mountains and lakes!  Of course Dunsmuir also has one of our (Byron and my) favorite restaurants so we had to eat breakfast there. Ty was able to  meet Larry and Christie Ashcraft.  This town is also very much a railroad town. Larry has been a train engineer for 30 plus years for Southern Pacific (I believe). He is getting ready to retire. Of course Ty early morning as Larry was called to drive to Kalamath Falls, OR that morning, had to go down to the train tracks and wave goodbye.  We walked a block down the road to the station and saw the train arrive, the shift switch and to hear the train whistle blow! Such excitement.

On Friday  July , 16th, 2010 Christie took us out for our 6th anniversary dinner at the Train cars. Dinner on a real train. Of course it was parked. Ty was enamored. "Momma I eat on the train!" Christie could do no wrong after that! Thank you Christie!  

This Restaurant has great food. It is a family run business open only from April through October and then closes for the winter and for the family to provide the necessary upkeep.  Not only do they have a restaurant but behind the restaurant are little train caboose' that have been remodeled into individual places for staying the night. A caboose hotel! They are beautiful inside and of course has AC a necessary must here.  

After a few nights in Dunsmuir, CA and 99 degree weather, we decided we would head up to Ashland, OR (only an hour and 45 minutes away) to settle in for a weekend wedding. We made necessary arrangements to stay in Ashland one extra night in order to cool down a bit with a swimming pool and AC in the hotel.  Ty met up with his cousins and spent time in the pool. We relaxed and celebrated our 6th anniversary that evening with dinner and drinks!  On Sunday the 18th, my friend Jennifer married Byron's cousin Loren. The wedding well, is over! What an expensive portion of the trip. All in all our vacation was wonderful. We enjoyed each other, exploring new places and seeing new things. Ty was a trooper and potty trained the entire time he even pooped in the potty too!.. More on the power of potty another time!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

The Power of the Potty

Ty must really be smart or as Byron states, "Mama you have sucker written all over your face." Ha ha ha.. for a while now we have nonchalantly encouraged the use of the potty chair with Ty. He would go prior to bath time and occasionally when we asked if he needed to go. This was prior to our fully engaged plan of potty training that we have engaged in this past week. Two nights before we began our plan to really potty train I was reading a book to Ty (Cars and Trucks and Things that Go, of course) when he looked at me and said, "Mama I go poot in the potty." Of course I looked at him and confirmed what his needs were. He assured me that he needed to go. So I scooped him out of bed and we went into the bathroom where he sat on his potty chair for a little bit. He looked up at me with this sheepish smile on his face and said matter of fact, "I go watch T. B. with daddy on couch." I looked at him realizing that I had been had by this smart boy who already knew the power of the potty and said, "No, it is time for bed." He folded his arms and said, "Ahhh man!" We then got situated with the P.J.s and went back to his bedroom. Oh to the power of the potty!

When it comes to potty training boys I have heard many things like, "you should wait to potty train boys, they are difficult to potty train," and, "wow potty training already?" There is no hard and fast way to potty train. I have consulted many of my mama friends for advise. Though I am partial to those who give advise specific to boys ;-) Long ago we purchased a potty chair and left it in the bathroom. When asked by Ty, "What dat mama?" We would answer that it is a "big" boy potty chair. He seemed proud. Knowing that going to the bathroom is a personal and emotional thing at times for kiddos we decided that he (Ty) would let us know when he is ready.  Gradually we began having him sit on the chair prior to taking a nighttime bath. Eventually Ty went pee and we praised. He beamed with pride.  As time has gone on (months) Ty began to potty on the regular toilet sitting backwards facing the rear of the toilet as if he were standing up like boys/guys do.  Again the praise! Again the rewards (thank you Jelly Bellies).

Now we (the family 7 day care) have all been practicing the same thing for consistency and are really into the potty training this summer. Day 8 with (one day off because we had a play date). Praise, consistency, and rewards.

Toilet training is such an amazing developmental thing. There is no training for parents unless you seek it out from your doctor, advise from other moms, purchase crazy books, videos etc. What I find interesting about this is that "they" train you about breast feeding, giving birth among other things but you are left to fend for yourself with one of the most interesting developmental tasks of all. Knowing that toilet training is tied to emotion, and readiness brings a different kind of stress to all involved. We (Byron and I) don't want to pressure but reassure. We don't want to go backwards after making progress either. It is a fine line to always know where you are at and how to respond to the 2 year old ways when you (parents) want them to potty train but they are resisting. We have to be consistent. We have to know the power of the potty!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010


It amazes me the amount of preparation it takes to get ready for something when you have a two year old. The things we never used to think about when we were childless are now things that are in the forefront of our mind. Questions must be answered like do we have enough diapers, extra clothes, wipes, pull ups, swimmers, blankie, binky (in a pocket of course) sippy cup, drink? How long is the drive? What stops should we make? Where is the best bathroom to go to? What is on the route that is easy to pull into? How long can we be in the car? Do we have the right toys, books, movies to take with us? It is almost like moving every time we go on more than a 20 minute drive somewhere. Has mom had enough coffee?

Preparation is not always about the things that we must have with us it is about mentally preparing too. This process begins when the idea of doing something pops into our (Byron and I) heads and continues up to the time we give a verbal direction to Ty. For example we give Ty a pre-warning about everything that we do, "Ty when we get to the daycare you will leave your binky in the car." Or, "Ty in 5 minutes we will be at ....... I will need you to listen to directions." Surprisingly I have found that if I give one or two pre-directions in preparation for the action Ty has a seamless transition (most often but not always).  As a parent our brains continue to prepare before one event and during another. It is constant.

Being prepared as a parent provides us and Ty the structure to successfully make it through, and enjoy any activity even as mundane as grocery shopping! Ty is a big helper so when cleaning the house if I prepare Ty before a major project and have something that he can help participate in things go smoothly.  Boy does he do well. He is prideful in his work and has a good work ethic.  He works on things that we have not asked him to work on or fix! (Not that they need fixing or worked on ;-))

Parenting requires us to be prepared mentally, physically and with tangible things.  It is certainly an art in which most mom's and dad's would agree is tiring but well worth it!

Saturday, July 3, 2010

The importance of GAMA's and PAPA's!

Besides the ever so wonderful Toy Story montage that our family ends up watching at any given point in time, Gama's and Papa's are very important to Ty. Whether he Skype's with them or visits with them or is babysat by them, Gama's and Papa's are talked about much in this family. There is the wonderful repeated conversation (over and over) about the whereabouts of Gama's and Papa's.  "Momma where Papa?" "At Work, At Home?" "Momma where Gama?" "At work, at home?" Each Gama and Papa have their own specialness.

Papa Williams: Flannel Shirts, Blue pickup truck, mischief with tools, shop, playing outside
Papa Johnny: Cars, Mack, watching movies, going to the car to find a present in the front seat, Skype
Gama Williams: Pillow cases, babysitting, playing with cousins, horses rides, Disney movies
Gama Gracie: Cameras, peek a boo, art supplies, Skype, outside play, Lucky, phones

I am sure there is much much more if I really took the time to think about it. We have been blessed to have two Gama's and two Papa's that are very much involved in our son's life.  Ty absolutely loves it.