Tuesday, June 17, 2014

life lessons

alternate title: very much a soap box
montana // the little red house
Last week I loaded up the kids in the car and made the journey up to Montana.....aaaahhhh.....home sweet home. Robby had to stay back for work (borrrrrrring), but I decided to go anyway--you can't NOT go to Montana in the summer time.
The road home is a long one--a straight shot through the potato fields of Idaho, a windy ride through the plains, over the mountains, [insert summer rain storm], then plains again [watch out for deer!]....and then I'm home.
I love to drive--it's a time to enjoy the changing scenery and familiar paths, and an opportunity to sift through all the thoughts I am constantly thinking, yet never find enough time to give them the attention they need.
Lately I have been thinking a lot about these two tiny humans Robby and I are raising. Within the last little while they have quickly grown from my babies, into amazing little people who are smart and active and funny and always eager to learn something new. I don't know how I was so blessed to be chosen to be their keeper, but I am trying not to take the job lightly. It is up to ME as their mother to fill their childhood with good memories, and also teach them important lessons about life.

I think sometimes our technology driven "look-at-me-NOW" world distracts from what is actually important, because
we may be more concerned with how we appear to be, and don't concentrate enough on who we really ARE
I used worry that too many kids would have too many memories of mom and dad glued to their phone, but then I wonder if the kids are even paying attention--they too are locked and focused on some sort of glowing screen.

Why is this our world? 
Contradictory, I realize, since I type this atop my lap from my own glowing box, and you are reading it from yours. But where is the balance? We seem to be leaning heavier and heavier towards the technology side of the scale, and it's eating up our kids' time to "just be kids".

a-a-hem, so where were we going with this?
We were going to Montana.
How this all got started was every time I'm home I reminisce about my own "good old days", and all the fun that was had. My sister and I shared memories and stories and we even visited one of our old stomping grounds with our grandma and grandpa. (side note: it's so fun visiting your favorite childhood places with your OWN kids.)
I've decided that summer is the absolute best time to learn about all the finer things in life. We are unscheduled, we play, we have the time to do the things that make us most happy.

So I'm going to share our life lessons with YOU. 
Maybe you can apply them to your life--even if you don't have children--these are sure to fill your summer with good times and memories.
I may share them a handful at a time, maybe we will focus on just one for a week, but you are welcome to read and share your own ideas (I've learned that you guys out there in cyber world have the BEST ideas!)
You will find us using our imaginations, exploring, spending quality time together, and doing most of these things away from electrical outlets and cell phone service.

Here we go:

life lesson #1
eat ice cream. 
big dipper ice cream // the little red house
of COURSE this is the first life lesson--and truly, 
one of life's most important. 
We love ice cream. As a family we seek out the BEST ice cream little towns have to offer as we travel the west. We want freshly made, unique flavors, and the smell of warm waffle cones floating through the air (the smell, not the cones.) We want to order at the window and then sit in the sunshine as we lick.

life lesson #2
go home. 
montana // the little red house
Now I realize this is not possible for everyone. Some of you are lucky enough to live where you grew up, so you are always "home".  Robby and I live far from our childhood days but we love to go back and visit, and share our best and favorite memories with our kiddos. They LOVE to hear about things we did, places we played, and think it's funny to try and imagine us (because we are so old and dusty) as little kids too.

life lesson #3
climb trees. 
montana // the little red house
The house we are in right now has no trees....well....we have a sad excuse for an apple....bush? This is hard for me--I grew up with trees on trees. When I was little my sister and I would skip two houses down and we spent our summers in our friends' giant willow. Swinging, climbing, crashing down from up high with giant branches landing on our heads (all part of the tree climbing experience). So my kids LOVE going to grandmas where they can be monkeys. They were so excited to show me their fort--"it has a couch, a bed, a fireplace, a table and a roof."
It had some piles of sticks scattered around, and a heavy dose of imagination.
But they were in heaven.

life lesson #4
road trip. 
montana // the little red house
Put your kids in the car (or your dogs, or yourself, or whoever) and just GO. The road is so liberating, and I get antsy for a good drive if it's been a while. But your kids--your KIDS are the ones who need this. They need a change of scenery, they need to look out the window and see things that are different from where they live. They need to see new people and know that the there is a world outside their bubble. I am not at all a well traveled person--I have never left these western states, but I feel like I've been able to see so much because we DRIVE everywhere. And my kids started road tripping when they were just wee little babes so they have grown into the best travelers. When they were little little--3-4-5, I'll admit that DVDs saved us, but they hardly even watch a movie anymore. This last trip was 9 hours and they spent every minute with books and notebooks and just talking about what we were seeing.....it was so much fun (mostly, see next sentence). And as a parent--you really need to hear yourself yell things like "STOP TOUCHING EACH OTHER" and "STOP IT RIGHT NOW OR I'M TURING AROUND." Those things actually came out of my mouth, straight from my own mom and dad's mouth, and it made me giggle.
Your kids need to experience filthy truck stops, a bag of M&Ms for the road, bathroom breaks next to the car with the wind blowing 100mph, and sitting so long they say things like "my legs have been sleeping for too long!"
Road trip. Try it.

What life lessons would you add? 
I'm excited to add more as we dive into summer, and encourage you all to live with a little less technology these next few months. 

happy living!

Sources from this post:

 all photos taken with my phone.....I was really regretting not having my big camera with me when those big puffy clouds rolled in. 
THE best ice cream I have ever found: 
Big Dipper in Missoula, Montana. (it's soooooo hard to choose from all their flavors.)
the Mexican chocolate and salted caramel did not disappoint.
For your road trip:
I'm thinking I should probably write a "how to road trip with kids" post.....
what questions would you have?
In the meantime, check out these books that keep my kids happy and busy in the car:


Sarah Beth said...

I tell you there is something about growing up in Montana. I still get excited when I drop down that last hill into town near your house. I'm so glad you get to come back to this place with your family.

And the Big Dipper is amazing. I love that my Grandma lives just a few blocks away. In Bozeman we have a place that serves their ice cream and every summer a group of us from work take a walk down there to enjoy.

And I still think we need to plan a mini reunion for all us girls, because anytime I think of us all together all I can do is smile.

alison said...

I so agree with ALL of this! We have great memories of road tripping with our boys. I feel like I can actually see them growing from all the experiences. Good choice for a soap box kind of post. :)

Lori Folkman said...

Great post Sheena. I agree with everything ... except for your vote for best ice cream. Sweet Peaks is the best, and they have one in Missoula now too. ;)

Susanne said...

Great post! Road trips as a kid are some of my best memories growing up (we drove everywhere, too!). If you're ever in Portland, OR, you MUST check out Salt & Straw for ice cream YUMMMMM!

AllAmericanGrl said...

I think part of life lessons - is IF you have kids - bring them with you!! I notice that quite a lot of parents (here in Switzerland), leave their kids behind with family members while the parents take off and travel the world. I think life learned lessons are not taught in the classroom, but from the people and things in our world. I have traveled quite a lot - 7 states and I'm done with the USA. I've been all over Canada, and countries in Europe. Many of these trips were done with my parents, and now as a mother many are done with my children and hubby. Even with my kids being small still - they still remember things from our vacations many years ago.

I only recommend road trips - if you have kids that travel well - otherwise wait until they are a bit older. But find other means to travel - maybe fly and drive if you can afford it. My oldest was born a traveler, she can handle long distances in the car and plane. My youngest never did so well. So I'm waiting until she is a little older to be able to take her longer in the car and by plane. But we still get out and travel - we drove last year to Paris (6 hr drive), and that was her max and my oldest wanted more haha! :) But I think because of the destination that we were heading to - it was the only thing that saved us! :)

Great post btw!

Nessa Bixler said...

Oh how I love this... You have inspired me to hop in the car for a road trip next week!

I made a list a while ago and so many of these were on there. I also had playing in the rain... When ever possible I let the kids run outside invwhatbever they are wearing and okay in the summer rain. So long and there's no lightning... and if there is lightning then they know that as soon as the storm passes it's time to play in the mud puddles.

Kimber said...

i love love love this post!

Kelly Jo said...

So many great life lessons here! Next month my boyfriend + I are taking his daughter on a road trip to PA to camp and do some hiking and stay in a hotel with a pool (she loves pools). She is so excited to leave our home state and see new things. One lesson I think worth adding is to try something you've never done before. Last summer I went Kayaking for the first time (i'm 28!) and absolutely loved it. I get nervous around water but it felt so good to face that fear and I can't wait to get out there again. I'm looking forward to seeing what else you add Sheena. I think this weekend I will start with #1!

Anonymous said...

I am originally from Idaho and my husband and I now live in PA (5 years now). Road trips out here are so stressful compared to back west. And you can only make it half the distance in twice the time. There is way too much traffic and no open space :(. This posts makes me miss my mountains, fresh air, and open space. Thank you for the advice...if we ever make it back west we will continue with our road trips!

Amanda said...

Yep. This is exactly my philosophy for when I become a parent and when my kids are at the age when they realize that technology is so powerful. I want them to be simple and have MEMORIES!

Ironically, I wrote about the summers when I was your kids' ages on my blog today! I wanted to remember that summer (and childhood) is supposed to be long and FUN!

Blueberries N Cucumbers said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Amelia Wallace said...

love this post. especially about road trips. can't wait to have my own little family to take with me.

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