Saturday, September 10, 2016

Summer Snapshots, Part 2

One of biggest things to happen this summer was Mom's first ever trip away from the kiddos.  I wanted to see my Mutti (maternal grandmother) who was in Tennessee visiting from Germany.  I had hoped that somehow we could all go, but after the three hour car trip to the beach, I was ABSOLUTELY POSITIVE that a two day road trip was a seriously bad idea.  (Not to put all the blame on Austin, but that little pistol is just too young to be in the car with other humans for long periods of time.)

My sister Sara (see above) volunteered to babysit, and I flew up to visit and had a great time reconnecting, not just with Mutti, but with my aunt Marina and uncle Ken and the cousins.  It was a very refreshing time and those two nights away did me a world of good.  I think it was the first time I had just "chilled out" in four years.  ("Chilling out" is not one of my strengths, and my present circumstances would make it difficult even if it were something I did well.

There was soooo much good food and fellowship, and especially food.  Good thing I managed a run in beautiful Tennessee to burn off some of the delicious calories.

While I was there, we reminisced about some of the trips we had taken in the past, including one to Yugoslavia.  
When we were all much younger.
Left to right: Angie, Marina's friend; Aimee; Marina; Mutti, Anna
And I guess it was cold.
 This, of course, led us to discuss FOOD, and when I got back home, I ordered some Ajvar sauce and made Cevapcici.  Not quite as good as on the Yugoslavia trip, but still pretty tasty.  And I ate the Ajvar on eggs for the rest of the week.

(This, by the way, led to a general flurry of ethnically-inspired meals, much to the kids' delight.  They're pretty adventurous eaters and full-time working Mom's meals tend to be pretty basic.  "What's for dinner?"  "Food.  Let's eat.")

There were also a few injuries and illnesses...

...which were cured by stitches, medicine, and post-doctor Frosty consumption.

Austin also tangled a comb in my hair while I was playing a card game with the older kids.  Letting him play with my hair SEEMED like a good way to keep him occupied.  Never again.  It took me 15 minutes to untangle it.

In July, we did the Texas Too Hot race at the Boerne Lake.  Nathan won the 5K, but I decided to do the 15K which was, much like the "letting Austin near my hair with a comb" incident, a very stupid decision.  It should have been called the Texas Too Hot, Humid, Hilly, and Horrible.  It was crazy.  The 15K course was sadistic and I'll never do it again, although now I at least have a great story about the race that I'll never do again.

Finally, we finished off the summer with OLYMPICS.  And that led to many nights of this...

Hope your summer was wonderful and that everyone is starting off the school year strong!

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Summer Snapshots, Part 1

Well, it's the official "last weekend of summer."  Of course, school started here two weeks ago, so that seems a bit of a misnomer at the moment, but it's still a great excuse to post a few random notes about our summer adventures.

We kept it low-key, with as much outdoor time as possible.  I struggled with some light-sensitive headaches which sometimes kept us all inside, but we still managed quite a bit of active fun in the sun.

I finished off the last school year by running a 10K with my sister (her first!) and watching lots of soccer.

Aimee and Sara

Carsten and Random Opponent

There were school awards.

Megan and BFF Kinslee

And...we bought a new car!  I was a little nervous about the downsize, but I have not once regretted the decision.  I love being able to park wherever and I am so thrilled to be back in a Honda.

There were chess games over breakfast.

And swimming.  Lots of swimming.  Austin learned to jump off the diving board and he spent many happy hours doing just that.

Austin demonstrating proper goggle wear.  "They need to push down my ears, Mom."

We explored nature.

Boys looking at something very interesting.

 And we went to the beach!

Which child did NOT understand the point of the picture?

The three sand castle building kiddos.

Sunrise walk.  Note absence of teenagers.

Have a great week!  More summer adventure recaps to come.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Stefan (and Every Runner)

Stefan is six.  And if you've been following this blog for awhile, you know that endurance activities aren't necessarily his natural forte.  Because he has to wear shoes.  He hates shoes.  And pain and suffering and discomfort.

But, at the San Antonio Road Runners Fun Run (free!!) at McAllister Park recently, he ran a total of FOUR miles.  That's a long way for a person with little legs.

The event is basically three runs- an 800 m., a 1 mile, and a 2.5 mile (sometimes 3- it depends).  Anyone who completes all three gets a little trophy.  Stefan wanted that trophy.

I took all of the kids, and I had figured that I'd be spectating with Stefan and Austin after they ran the 100 m. kids' run.  But being around a bunch of runners is motivating even to tiny tots!  I ended up running the 800 with Austin and then, Stefan was convinced that he was going to run the 2.5 mile race for the trophy.

So I ran with him.  In jeans.  Not my smartest clothing choice ever, but it won't be a mistake that I repeat.  The sacrifices we make for our children!

The race was very hard for him.  He'd already run over 1.5 miles that morning in the other races, and he started out tired (but motivated).  He kept a running commentary (Stefan is a talker!) throughout the race, and everything he said has been said (or thought) by every runner in every race.

At the start: This is great!  I'm going to get a trophy.  I'm chasing the [lead] guy on that bike.  Is that a deer?  It's pretty out here.

A little farther:  This is hard.  I think I should walk.  

I CAN'T do this.  That little girl just passed me.  I am last.  Well, second to last because you're behind me, Mom.

Is that lady behind me?  I'm not last!  I'm going to run.  

She passed me!  I'm not doing this anymore.  Carry me.  [I told him runners don't get carried.]  Then just leave me here.

Did your watch buzz?  How fast am I going?  That's so slow!  I'm terrible and I'm slow!  I am NOT good at running.


Do they have a trophy for second to last?

Is that the end?   No, it's not the end.  Why did I sign up for this one?

It's the finish line.  I can't make it.  It's too far.

I am never doing this again.

Where's my trophy?

This trophy is cool.  I did it!  When I do this next time, will they give me another trophy?

Saturday, January 16, 2016

New Year Reflection

The start of a new year always puts me in a reflective mood.  I like to look back on the past year and think about the changes and evaluate what went well and what didn't.  I like to look forward and set goals for the next year.  And I didn't want to let the year slip away without sharing at least a few of those reflections here.

2015 was a year of change for our family.  Change has, of course, defined our family for many years, and the 3 1/2 years since Bryan died have brought massive transformation.  I think, though, that the change of 2015 was unique in that it represents our family getting settled into what will be our new normal.

The Lord has been gracious in allowing us to make our changes somewhat slowly: first a move, then mom working part-time, then the kids going to public school, and, now, mom working full-time.  Each step has been challenging at first and then more manageable as time went on.  (The only step, ironically, that ended up being extremely easy was the kids transitioning from homeschooling to public school.  They did great from day one.  They love it and they're thriving.  This was the step that I was most concerned about, but I suppose I had forgotten that children are far more resilient and open to change than we adults are.)

Now that I'm working full-time, my children are growing in independence and maturity in some beautiful ways.  It's not always easy- in fact, it's extraordinarily difficult.  Raising seven children alone is a full-time job all by itself.  I really do have two full-time jobs at this season in my life.  But now, I don't just tell my kids that they're an indispensable part of our family team- they really are.  If anyone fails to pull his weight, everything crashes.  They are beginning to see that life takes work and that leisure is a welcome reward for that work.

We still have a long way to go.  There are a lot of areas in which we can, and indeed, must, improve in the coming years.  But life has taken on a new dimension, a new direction.  The Bain family isn't living in  a state of transition anymore.  We are, believe it or not, settled into our new life.  The years to come will bring many more changes, I know, and I look forward to seeing what the Lord has in store for us in the future.  But for now, we're where we ought to be, and although life is exhausting, it's good.

As we feel more established as a family, I hope to share more here about grief, loss, suffering, and moving on; about single parenting; about family identity; about approaching life as a mission and a calling.

Thank you for your faithfulness in reading my scribblings, however sporadic they might be.  May your lives see many blessings and much growth in the coming year.