Free Chores At A Cost

Coming back this year, as you know, I was scared.  I was nervous about many things, but maybe the biggest was being overwhelmed.  When my anxiety does hit, it's hard to not feel like the whole world is crashing down.

Thankfully my anxiety has stayed under control and things have fallen into place really nicely the last three weeks.  That said, there are some things we have changed to assist in maintaining my sanity.  I wake up with Josh and be sure to shower before he leaves for work; the boys have enforced quiet time in the afternoons so I get a break; and the twins have started helping out more around the house.

If you could come over, this is what you would see.  What you won't see is the medal I deserve for tolerating the standards my six year olds have, when inside my own personal standards are drowning in their tears.  Having the boys do chores (and take responsibility for some things) means that once they have done a job, I really need to leave it alone.  (Even though I really want to re-fold, re-sort, reorganize.)

So when I asked Logan if he could put Candyland away without spilling all the cards (can we just take a minute here and agree that Candyland is the second worst childhood game ever? Chutes & Ladders, of course, being the first. How do you even win that game? It's a trap, I tell you.  Forty-five minutes later you're still playing because that jerk of a little girl stole cookies AGAIN and slid down the big pink slide just when you were about to win!) Sorry... where was I? Oh, yeah, Candyland. So he put the game away, and I had to laugh when I entered the playroom later and saw how he "put it away".  

It's the same with their laundry.  I will wash and dry it, but it is their responsibility to fold it and put it away.  They put things in the correct drawers (shirts, pants, pajamas) but let's just say they don't do it how I would do it.

The first week it took a lot of resisting to just leave it. To let them own their work and struggle to find shirts because their folding leaves something to be desired.  Now I'm just relieved that I don't have to do it.  To make the chore more fun, I let them listen to music when they do it, and it's amazing how much they enjoy that.  (Hilarious side note: their favorite song currently is Ridin' Dirty. Oh my god, listening to them sing along kills me!)

They dress themselves, brush their teeth, make their bed everyday, clear the table after mealtime and clean up the playroom.  Adding laundry to their chore list has lightened my load incredibly.  Another one I added? Putting away the dishes.  It takes them a little longer than if I did it, but it's one less time I have to touch the pots & pans!  Obviously with their laundry (and making their own beds) it doesn't look as good as I would like it to (I mean, they are only six) but the only 'cost' there is perfection.  This morning when Jack was rushing through putting away the dishes, he broke one of my favorite tiny Anthropologie ice cream dishes.  He was apologetic, and I was heartbroken.  But as Josh and I discussed before he left for work, if a broken dish here or there (or an insanely wrinkled stack of size 7 shirts) is the cost of having our boys learn responsibility and be contributing members of our family, then that's a price we're willing to pay.


Fishing with Daddy

While camping, the boys had their first experience fishing with real poles. Josh bought them this year, and the boys were ecstatic to get to try them out.  Unfortunately it was a windy morning, so casting was a bit of a challenge, but Jack did great.  He was cheerful, a quick learner and super patient.  Logan on the other hand, cast his line into the water, promptly looked at Josh and asked, "Did I catch a fish?"  He struggled to listen and kept getting his line tangled.  So we may have only one fisher on our hands.

It was a gorgeous way to spend our last morning camping, and I took full advantage of all that natural beauty, snapping pictures like crazy.  Having little boys is challenging, exhausting work, but days like those, I'm grateful for them because they get me outside, into nature and push me into the moment.



Ape Caves

One of our traditions while camping is to head up to the Mt. St. Helens area and hike the "Ape Caves".  They are actually a series of tunnels created by lava, which are pitch black, wet & dark.  When I was little we always carried flash lights, but this year we had headlamps, which was awesome!

This year it was my mom, Roxanne & Blake, their two boys, plus Josh & I and our three boys.  It was super fun and I am so glad my boys are brave & not afraid, even when we stop in the middle and turn off all the lights to experience total darkness.  Such great adventurers they are!

"Oh darling,
let's be adventurers."



Cougar Swimming

It's hard to pick my favorite part of camping.  But swimming... swimming is definitely in the top three. Right up there with sitting around the camp fire and star gazing.  When you see these pictures, you will see why swimming is a favorite.

I mean, the water. The trees. The sky.
It looks fake!

It helps that my boys are fish. They love the water, and that makes swimming a super fun family activity, which makes my mama heart happy.

{See me? In the boat on the left? Soaking in the sun, baby!}

Camping at Cougar

One of the things we look forward to most during the summer is our annual camping trip at Cougar where I grew up camping.  I have so many memories there, it feels like magic sharing that place with my  kids.  

This year we camped with my mom & nephew; my sister, brother-in-law & their two boys; Josh's brother & his fiance, plus her brother.  It was so much fun!

"The boys"
Wyatt, Logan, Ferris, Milo & Jack

Night walk

My mom "Nanny" & Milo
(My dad couldn't join us this year because he was with his parents visiting his aunt in North Dakota.)

Star gazing


I love mornings at camping.  I love the sun coming through the trees, I love the birds chirping, and I love the anticipation for what the day holds.

Extreme close up

The guys...
Being manly.

Milo & Ferris
{Photo by Logan}

Uncle Blake

Ferris & Logan

We heart Smores!!!

This is what a lot of our camping looks like.
Children running amok.
Crazy, loud chaos.

Love these boys!!!


My sisters boys are so beautiful.  Just like all my boys were born in June, hers were both born in October, two years apart.  They were filthy, so one night she decided to bathe them. At camp. In tiny tubs.  Oh man it was hilarious.  And the boys loved it.


Alvin & Wyatt have an especially close bond.  Those two love each other so much.  This night at camping (after spending just the day up at Cougar with us) he helped Wyatt "build a dog house" with some lumber we'd brought for campfire.

My mom's dog Sadie.


The next three photos were taken by my nephew Isaiah:

I especially love this one of Sadie.

Ferris really loves Wyatt.  He thinks he's such a cute little buddy.  Wyatt thinks Ferris is pretty funny and cool, too.  


The boys found a really cool bug the last day we were there.  It kept them entertained for quite a while.

This one is such a character.  I love all the pictures I got of him at camping.

Ferris (well, actually both my sister's kids) are so photogenic!

See? Gorgeous!

I have three more posts in the works from our time camping.
Hopefully I will get them ready & post them over the weekend.
Happy Friday!