Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Kids being kids

Let me preface this post by saying, many of our days are at home and monotonous. I am so thankful to be able to stay home with the kids but many days I lose my patience and am overwhelmed. My house is a mess (I often look around our home and think "Wow, it looks like 4 little kids live and play here!") So please don't look at this post and see a fun adventure and believe every day is like this one in the Southards' home. Most days are just like your days (if you are home with little ones). Cleaning up messes, breaking up fights, keeping a 16-month old from falling off the dining room table he now climbs or keeping him from pulling a fistful of hair from one of his sisters, watching tantrums unfold in a 2-year-old and reminding her I am the boss, trying to help a passionate 4-year-old understand his emotions and learn to control them, and helping a 6-year-old with her spelling words, build confidence in herself and to be grateful with all of our blessings.

But there are some days, we get out and explore. I love being outside and now Stetson is down to one afternoon nap, we have freedom to go out in the morning. This is the perfect time of year as fall is absolutely amazing here in Ohio. 

This past week, the kids and I were going to go for a walk in the woods. Where we live in Ohio, there are some amazing parks that have trails through the woods. There are so many we have yet to explore. This particular day we were just going to appreciate the fall weather, find leaves and rocks and let kids be outside enjoying nature.

We ended up finding a part of the trail I had not been on before and we found a place to get near the river and let the kids throw rocks into the water.

It started as nicely standing by the edge of the water throwing rocks and turned into, soaking wet, almost naked kids running around getting themselves so messy.

I have learned that kids are often having the most fun when they are a mess. So I have learned to get out of my box and let them be kids and get themselves messy. Even if it means, going home nearly naked and having to grab all new clothes before heading to a lunch meeting at church.

These are the days I love being at home, watching our kids be kids!

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Best week of my life

Ok, the title might be a little exaggeration but it was one of the best weeks in the last 7 years.

Steve and I got away kid free for almost a week!

Since having kids Steve and I have been diligent about getting away annually for a night or two, but there is something so different about being away longer. Due to me breastfeeding each of the kids so long, and then usually being due with another baby soon, we had not had many windows of opportunity to get away for longer. We did get away for an extended time after our miscarriage and my health scare 3.5 years ago, but I was recovering and didn't have energy for much adventure that trip. It was a great time to rest and rejuvenate, but I wouldn't classify it as fun. 

We fly a couple times a year and I had been waiting almost 7 years to fly without a child, to walk on the airplane with a hot drink, knowing I could enjoy it at my leisure and not have a baby or toddler crawling all over me.

Needless to say, I was a little giddy flying out with just my husband by my side.

We went out to Phoenix to spend 3 days with a counselor out there who specializes in working with pastors and their wives. So yes, the first few days were spent with a guy pointing out the areas of marriage and ministry we needed to work on (in regards to marriage I had a longer list than Steve) and it was still an amazing week! Steve and I value staying Fit (physically, emotionally, spiritually and relationally) so we welcome feedback from trusted sources on ways to improve in any of those areas. We really came away with some practical tools to implement in our marriage to grow more as "one."  I personally believe every marriage could use a tune-up every so often to stay on track and find ways to work together better. 

Top of Camelback Mountain in Phoenix

 This Florida girl had never seen the dessert before and those big cactus had me laughing. They looked like they belonged in a kids book. We hiked Camelback mountain (in Scottsdale) one morning which I was not at all prepared for. I wouldn't call it a hike, I would call it rock climbing, I felt like we were scaling boulders for the last half mile. We had a blast doing it and I felt a sense of accomplishment as we reached the top. Especially since one of the locals said he was impressed we were "tourist" because we had a such a quick pace up the mountain. There might just still be a bit of competitive spirit in this once-upon-a-time athlete, that I enjoyed hearing that comment. 

We then blitzed Sedona and the Grand Canyon in 24 hours. We did a sunset Jeep tour in Sedona.

It was fast and furious but being so close to the Grand Canyon I would have hated to miss it. Steve had been there before, but it was my first time. We did a short 3 mile hike at Grand Canyon that felt like a piece of cake compared to the hike at Camelback. 

My Mom flew in from Florida to watch the kiddos and we were so so grateful for her to allow us that time away. We had many other local friends helping her as we wanted her to have a great experience so she would come back and do it again! The counselor recommended we get away annually like this and we are all for that. It was so much fun being just husband and wife, without being dad and mom. One of the best things we can do for our kids is invest in our marriage, so even though one of our kids begged us to come home on day 2 of the trip, we let them know that is was super important for mommy and daddy to have time alone so we could kiss a lot. That made them cringe and not ask any more questions.