Great Dad

So, today is Hayden's birthday! (Where did the past 8 years go??) As a surprise, Cletus took the morning off of work and he, Kate, and I went to have lunch with Hayden at school. Hayden got to choose 2 friends to come and sit with us at a separate table. We were talking and visiting with the kids, and Cletus was attracting more and more students over to our table to visit with us, to practice his Spanish, and to learn all of the names of the kids in Hayden's class. They LOVED the attention. Hayden's best friend looked at Hayden and said, "You've got a good dad". Then Hayden said, referring to his friend, "he doesn't have a dad". His friend told me that his dad is in prison, that he did some "bad stuff" and that they kicked him out of the house. I thought about how I was feeling guilty for making a cake mix in a 13x9 pan for Hayden's birthday, how I'm just not that creative when it comes to birthdays and celebrating, etc. How all of us give ourselves guilt trips. But when I listened to Hayden and his friend talking at lunch today, I realized that I did one pretty important thing right. Hayden has a great dad who loves him, plays with him, teaches him, sets a good example for him, holds the priesthood, wrestles every day when he gets home from work ... The other little things like a boring cake don't seem so important. I get to give my kids a great dad for their birthday.

Off to Medoc

We headed out for our fall family camping trip last weekend. We waited until the last minute to decide where we were going to go in hopes of finding a place where there wasn't a forecast of rain. We settled on Medoc Mountain State Park, north on 95 just south of Roanoke Rapids. It's a beautiful park. Despite some cold weather, and a few reservations on my part about strapping things to the top of the car (I trust my husband, I really do ....), we were off. Luckily, it's only about an hour away. Cletus is the man with the camping skills! He does all of the hard stuff - and he likes it! He made several great campfires for us. Kate didn't like the smoke getting in her eyes, but the rest of us enjoyed it. There's just something about sitting around the campfire with a bag of marshmallows and a cup of hot chocolate!
I chose to put in this picture of me, because the others that Cletus took resembled someone who had just been wheeled out of surgery. Camping and pregnancy mixed don't bring out my most beautiful qualities. But luckily, my family doesn't care. They think I'm beautiful - or they just don't care - I don't know which.

Hayden and Kate had so much fun playing together in the tent right before bedtime. The older Kate gets, the better of friends they are getting to be. Hayden is learning to be more patient, and Kate is learning not to scream so much. They were very sweet snuggled together in their sleeping bags.

Kate was just a picture of beauty this day when we went hiking. Her pink shirt and her little pink cheeks were too cute with her long curly pig tails. She had so much fun exploring and finding treasures along the path. We quickly learned, however, that taking a 2 year old who has been potty trained for 2 weeks on a camping trip with underwear on is a recipe for disaster. After an incident with poop that probably should have resulted in a bathtub, and another with wet clothes (including shoes) on a cold day, we resorted to the few diapers that we brought. Luckily, she was okay with that.

I love this picture of Hayden! He is .... not the most photogenic child. Don't get me wrong - he is handsome in every way - he just doesn't smile well for pictures. But this time, he was asking us to dare him to jump off of this bridge into a pit of leaves quite a ways below, and he was loving it. I caught a real-life Hayden smile. He did jump, by the way. And, he also set up our tent all by himself!

Here is the afore mentioned packed car. Notice the two bikes, scooter, tent, and various other things strapped onto the top of the car. And, the extra firewood we found on our hike packed into the back of the car ("for next time, of course" is what Cletus said when I asked him WHY we were bringing home firewood). But, honestly, Cletus did a knock-out job packing the car. Let's just say that I said a few prayers as we were driving home.
It was a great trip - the fall colors were amazing, the kids had fun, and it was heaven to be home in a heated house.
Our sweet campers.