Sunday, May 20, 2012

Summer O' Fun

When Adam and I were considering the possibility of moving last spring, I was a little sad that G might miss out on some of the fun kid stuff Bartlesville has to offer in the summer. I know that sounds a little crazy, but there are a few things in this town that I truly, truly love and I wanted the G-man to enjoy them too.

I love the Pathfinder. It's beautiful; a slice of nature in the middle of town. I haven't taken any pictures this year, but last spring--oh my--it was my favorite place to be.

This spring, we've made a lot of trips to the Pathfinder too. It's the perfect place to take G-man for walks. He can run and explore and listen to the birds. Our neighborhood doesn't have sidewalks, so I feel so much better letting him have some freedom since there is no threat of cars. We don't usually go very far, but it's so much fun. We take turns yelling as we walk through the echo-y tunnel under the street. We take turns chasing each other. Graham feels the bark on the trees and stops to look at bugs on the path. We talk about the birds we hear and the squirrels we see. It's a perfect little outing. 

A couple weeks ago we ran into a couple ladies we knew who told us there were hundreds of butterflies at the bridge. 

What could be more fun for a toddler than hundreds of butterflies. BUT the bridge is a half mile from where we were starting our walk. That would mean a mile round trip and G's little legs certainly couldn't make it. I couldn't pass up this opportunity, though, so we made the trek. It was totally worth it. There were so many little butterflies that Graham just sat down on the path and watched them walk around. There were a bunch of them gathered around a damp spot, so we talked about how the butterflies were getting a drink. That prompted G-man to "share" some of his water by shaking his sippy cup upside down. It's was really cute. We stayed for quite a while just watching the butterflies. I tried to be brave when they flew all around us even though I was a little freaked out when they were swarming my head and landing on me. Graham really didn't like it when one landed on his leg, but he thought it was really neat when they landed on my feet. I secretly hoped that our long "rest" would mean that G-man would make the whole walk back. He didn't. I ended up carrying him most of the way. We were both sweaty by the time we got home, but it was just so much fun I wouldn't have traded it at all. 

At the very end of last summer we discovered the Splash Pad. It was OK, but since my little man didn't start walking until November, he didn't love it. Crawling on textured cement isn't very pleasant and getting sprayed in the face without hope of quick retreat just wasn't G's thing. But I knew this summer would be different. It's just starting to get hot, so when I heard the splash pad was open, I knew we needed to try it out again. 

Graham was thrilled to put on his swim suit and his sunglasses. He's such a cool kid. It definitely took him a while to warm up and the water was really cold, but pretty soon he was squealing with delight. He spent a lot of time standing on one of the ground spouts and letting the water spray out between his toes. I love what fascinates little kids.

I'm so thankful that Graham doesn't mind getting water in his face. That has made the splash pad a success the couple of times we've gone. What was not successful were the number of big kids running amok with no supervision or attention to the little guys trying to play too. They may steer clear once the pool opens, but we may just simulate the water sprays with our sprinkler at home instead. I was nervous most of the time that G would slip and fall or get run over by a 12 year old.

The crowning jewel of summer fun in Bartlesville is the Kiddie Park. Yep, that's what it's called. Kiddie Park. It's AWESOME! We've been lucky enough to have friends with kids as long as we've lived here, so we've made lots of trips to the Kiddie Park with them. In the 1950's, during the Baby Boom, lots of towns across America purchased Kiddie Park kits and built amusement parks for kids. There are only about 15 left in the country and one of them is in Bartlesville. It's geared for kids between ages one and five or six. The rides are small and slow and cheap. Since G didn't walk last summer, he didn't get to experience the wonder that is Kiddie Park. This year, though, he is at the perfect stage to have a taste of of the fun. It's open from 7-9pm and doesn't cost to get in. You buy tickets--25 cents each--to ride the rides and their catch phrase is "the last train ride is free." We didn't plan to stay that late, but since it's free to get in, you don't feel bad only riding a couple rides before heading home for bed.

We decided to go last night and Graham loved it. The evening was so pleasant. Kiddie Park was packed, but G waited in line patiently and wasn't scared at all. G-man only ended up doing three rides, which was the perfect amount, and we finished our trip with a family train ride. We spent less than $3 for the whole outing. Seriously, how great is that?

I know we would have found some gems no matter where we ended up living, but I'm glad we get to share Bartlesville's summer fun with Graham now that he's old enough. Let the summer o' fun begin!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Grown Ups

I can't believe we're about to be a family of four. How weird is that? I suddenly feel really grown up. And even though I'm way past the point of entering adulthood (I'm clinging to my status as a young person), somehow having two kids makes me feel like I need to be responsible. Ok, I would consider myself responsible, but not in the "oh those people are parents" kind of way. I guess when you work with kids, you see their parents as parents and yourself as just a mom to a little kid. I know, it makes no sense.

I had lunch today with one of the girls who was in my bible study as a high schooler. She's in college now and seems so grown up compared to how I remember her. Our conversations are no longer about prom and boyfriends and frustrations with friends. Today we talked about her semester abroad and what she wants to do as a career and how difficult it can be to make your own way in the world when it may look different than what your family expects. Real conversation. Adult conversation.

When she stopped by our house afterward it dawned on me that we are really adults. We own a home. We have a lawn guy who gives us advice on re-seeding the bare spots in our grass. I do LOTS of laundry. We just bought a dining room table that can seat up to 10 because we actually need to seat that many people sometimes. I host baby showers. We think about our retirement. We watch the news. We are about to have TWO carseats in the backseat of our car.

When did this happen?

When did we go from being a fun, young couple to being grown ups?

Is being a grown up really that bad?

The answer for me is two-fold. There are a lot of great things about being young and trendy and cool and carefree. But there are also a lot of great things about being a real adult. I'm more secure in who I am. I put down some roots, the horror!, but not in a way that limits change. I feel more grounded in my faith, which gives me a freedom that I didn't experience when I was young. My worldview is broader. As crazy as it may sound, I'm more likely to take certain risks. Granted, I can't just hop on a plane and fly across the world at the drop of a hat, but I'm not afraid to go where God leads even if it seems bizarre.

So as I continue to prepare for girly girl to arrive, I am struck with a sense of amazement that I'm going to be the mom of TWO. Our family is growing. Wait, I have a family. Wowza! This grown up thing takes some getting used to. But it's fun. It's scary and weighty and overwhelming sometimes, but it's fun. Life is an adventure and I'm thankful I get to live it!