2014: The Year of Fun Numbers

happy-birthday-girls

We are rounding out the two weeks on the calendar that we call “Birthday Season” here. All three of our girls were born within two weeks of each other. (Two weeks and a day during leap years.) Strangely, they also fall chronologically in age order: Kirstie’s first, then Julia, then Emma.

It’s a fun, full, frenetic two weeks!

Do you remember as a kid looking forward to “big” birthdays? Every birthday is fun when you’re very young, but certain ones, like, turning ten were fun, because your age took up two places—double digits!—and of course it was fun to reach thirteen, then being able to claim the title “teenager”. Special years followed quickly with sixteen meaning you can drive (fifteen in some places!), seventeen and eighteen, twenty, twenty-one… they’re all fun!

Of course, strangely enough, as the birthdays keep coming, usually, rather than looking forward to and celebrating the “big” birthdays, most tend to begin downplaying (or completely ignoring) them. You know, the ones that end in “oh”.

This year in the Campbell home, five of the eight people will be celebrating “big” birthdays! Somehow, 2014 is a magic year for us. Perhaps it’s because the year ends in four, Jen’s favorite number? 🙂

The first to celebrate was our oldest daughter, Kirsten, who recently joined the double-digit club. Ten years old! She’s quite glad to be the elder statesmen of the female children in the Campbell home.

Next up will be Alex. He will be a teenager this coming October. Teenager?! Crazy. Alex is such a fun person, it’s hard to believe that he’ll be thirteen. He’s much more of a “kid” than his older brother when he entered his teens. But who knows what the next seven months will do to our second son. Deeper voice? Bigger muscles? OR… just the same, fun-loving, fun-making Alex, with a ‘teen’ at the end of his age?

After Alex, the next “big” days belong to Mom & Dad. Both of us being born in a year that ends in four will be celebrating an age that ends in zero this calendar year—40! I think I can recall, perhaps as a teenager myself, looking ahead to the year I would turn forty. It seemed quite distant. Silly, even. Now that time has slowly brought me here, with all that has been part of those decades, I actually embrace the official entry into my fourth decade. (In some ways I already feel like I’m there!) Jen may feel slightly differently, but we’ll both begin checking the 40s demographic boxes by this fall!

Rounding out the “big” year celebrations in 2014 is our oldest son, Ian. Born in 1998, this boy will be giddy on Christmas morning as he’ll wake up a sixteen-year-old! He can’t wait to be a driver, but he’ll have to wait until the 26th, since I’m sure the DMV will not be open on the 25th. 🙂 I’m excited for Ian. He’s a good kid, and we’ll be celebrating this fun milestone marker in his life for that day and probably the week or so after. (AND, we’ll see what it’s like to RIDE in the car that your son is driving. Yikes? Or, Awesome! … we’ll see!)

So, twenty-fourteen has the markings of a banner year for the Campbell family. Who knows what life will bring along the way, but if God gives us breath through all of these days ahead, we’ll be celebrating the passing of time on all these “big” days.

Do you have big days coming up this year? Enjoy! And celebrate the life God gives you. Each day is definitely special, and worth celebration.

Some numbers are just more fun than others. 🙂

[ThisDay] Caught In A Snowstorm!

It is a beautiful, snowy day as I write this. Large, puffy snowflakes drift quietly to the ground, piling higher and higher—much to the Campbell children’s delight! Apparently this time of year is a snowy time of year! Two separate posts on January 23rds over the past decade have been about notable amounts of snow. Below is the story some unexpected fun while attempting a walk to the library on one of these snowy occasions. (If you’d prefer a topic on “going to church”, see the links at the bottom!) Enjoy!

snowy

Caught In A Snowstorm!

January 23rd, 2008

Last night I took our four kids up to the library to return some books, and to pick up a few new ones. The library is only half-way around the block, so we bundled up for a nice winter walk. It was even lightly snowing, so it was more fun than usual!

We even sang a song on the way there:

“Going for a walk in the snow to the library,
Going for a walk in the snow
Going for a walk in the snow to the library,
Going for a walk in the snow!”

It was perfect, and the kids did pretty well in the library. We got the books we wanted, and some stamps from the nice librarian. We bundled back up and headed out the door.

What we discovered was astonishing.

Swirling, blowing, blinding SNOW! Where did this come from?!? I just laughed! It was like a joke! What happened to our light flurries??? Well, we had no other way home, so I made sure faces were as covered as they could be and we set out into the storm.

And this was a storm! The wind was a constant 10-15 mph I’d guess, with stronger gusts. And the snow was collecting on the ground – and on us! – at an alarming rate. The worst part was, a third of our trip was heading west, directly into the wind! At one point during that stretch I turned around and pulled Julia in the stroller backwards (which helped a lot I think) and saw poor little Kirstie just closing her eyes and leaning into the wind as she pressed ahead into the blizzard!

It was crazy!!

Once we were able to turn south, and find a bit of shelter behind a giant brick church building, it got a little better. We laughed all the way home through the still rapidly falling snow.

Red cheeks, faces, and other exposed skin greeted Mom when we got home. Mom actually met us in the driveway, as she had seen the fierce winter storm and was coming to get us. But we managed to brave the elements and make it back home safely.

I told the kids as we were fighting the storm that we’d have hot cocoa and hot baths when we got home! And we’d also read a couple of the library books we just worked so hard to get.

And we did. 🙂

OTHER POSTS from JANUARY 23rd

  1. This post was also very interesting, and discussion-worthy, if you’ve the time. It refers to a podcast posted in late 2012, or early 2013, regarding the trend toward not attending weekend worship gatherings by many who would definitely align themselves with Jesus. So, if that’s more your cup of tea…

[ThisDay] City Living… Or Not

There were not too many posts published this day in GregsHead history. In fact, there were only four total. That made selecting a favorite a bit easier, but I believe I would have chosen this particular story against most competition, anyway. Please enjoy this little anecdote from a bedtime just a couple years ago. 🙂

City Living… Or Not

January 21st, 2012

we Campbells live in a thriving rural metropolis.

Nestled on the outer eastern edge of the once-vibrant technology town of Rochester, NY—R.I.P. Kodak—our town is home to nearly seven thousand people of various ilk. This is the place to be if you want to experience cultural, ethnic, religious, and economic diversity. We’ve got it all!

But for some reason, Kirstie decided this week that she wants to live in NYC.

“I am going to live in New York City some day,” she proudly announced to her Mom. “I just really want to live up high in the air, overlooking the city,” she explained to her Dad.

Neither Mom nor Dad can even stand the thought of visiting the Big City, so the expressed hopes and dreams of our seven-soon-to-be-eight year old daughter were (more than) somewhat repulsive to us. “New York City, eh?” we slowly pondered a loving response, “Well, that’s a long time from now, so we’ll see what God has in store when that time comes.”

(We were at least partially, and quite deftly, employing the fine art of deflecting/distracting from/deferring the less than desirable, far-off dreams of young children.)

Fast-forward to bed time.

It was a very windy night. This strangely warm winter has seen a few brief cold spells, and each time they’ve come, they were ushered in by a fierce wind. This night’s wind was particularly powerful—and noisy!

As I was hugging and kissing the girls, tucking each under their warm, fuzzy blankets, I could tell that the wind was very much on their minds. The house was creaking and various scraping noises could be heard on the street outside as sundry items were dragged great distances against their will by the forceful gusts.

“God,” I began, “Please protect this room tonight and its inhabitants from anything that might harm them in this wind.” I started to go into detail about what things God could protect us from, but at the first break in my thoughts I was interrupted.

“Do you think there could be a tornado?” Kirsten asked, with a hint of real concern in her voice.

“No, Kirstie,” I reassured her, “There really aren’t any tornadoes here where we live. It’s pretty crazy, but pretty cool, huh?”

The three girls nodded, and verbally affirmed my mostly rhetorical question.

A moment later, after giving some thought to what I had said, Kirsten asked, “Are there tornadoes in New York City?”

Jumping at the chance, I quickly replied, with great conviction in my voice, “Oh yes! There are always tornadoes in New York City. Really bad ones! All the time!!

“Dad!” Kirstie scolded, in the way only Kirstie can do. Her twinkling eyes looked up and met my big, silly-Dad smile.

I was still smiling at my innocent, yet clever, yet loving jab at my oldest daughter’s earlier proclamation, when the brief silence was interrupted by her younger sister, Julia.

“I am never going to live there!” she said in her very tiny, very matter-of-fact tones.

Caught a bit off guard, I enjoyed a deep belly laugh—we all did!—and then I gave Julia a big hug and said, “That’s my girl!”

If you know Julia, you know that this was perfect is so many ways! She knows what she wants, and she just says it!

I love seeing the personalities of our kids shine through, even at the earliest ages. Julia is a very “black-and-white” person; very matter of fact. And she’s incredibly cute! That response was just quintessential Julia, far beyond what I can relay in a few sentences.

I don’t know if we swayed Kirstie any that night, but we all did have a great laugh. She might still be on a mission to live in the big city. Or not. Time will tell.

But one thing’s for sure: Julia is never gonna live there!

OTHER POSTS from JANUARY 21st

Imitation: The Highest Form of Flattery [Memory Lane]

Each Thursday in August we continued the trip down Memory Lane—a feature that began the last week of July. I re-posted some of my all-time favorite stories that I’ve published here as part of celebrating ten years of blogging—August 2003 to August 2013. Some posts were taken from my published books, and others (like today’s) have only been published online thus far. You’ll find stories that are funny, stories that are sad, and several heart-warming moments from the life we’ve lived. If you missed any, you can use the series navigation at the end of this post to read more. I invite you to enjoy these moments from the journey with me, too.

The final installment of the Memory Lane series is a bonus for this Labor Day Monday. In our family, Labor Day weekend is reserved for a family reunion—as many of Jen’s family as are able gather at the home of the patriarch and matriarch of the family. There are plenty of visits to Memory Lane during these reunions, to be sure!

Today’s post features some great moments from the Campbell kids. There are many frustrating moments as a parent, but there are also many melt-your-heart moments. These were a couple of the latter kind. I was humbled when this happened, and it gets to me every time I read it.

This is just beautiful. Enjoy.

Imitation: The Highest Form of Flattery

February 8th, 2012

Tonight at the dinner table, our youngest boy—who bears a good deal of physical resemblance to his Daddy—was particularly tuned in to my every move. He was watching (and mimicking) everything that I did. When I leaned forward onto my elbows to rest my head in my hands and wipe the tired of the recent past from my face, so did Cam. Whichever way I moved, just about any posture I assumed, Cam followed to near perfection.

It didn’t take me long to notice, and when I did, well, I was certainly heartened by his quite evident love for his me, his Dad.

They say imitation is the highest form of flattery, and I guess maybe “they” are right.

Paul also said that the people whom he introduced to Jesus should “imitate [him] as [he] imitate[s] Christ”. That thought came to my mind, and I hope that’s just as easy for them to see and to follow as my physical motions at the table.

The best part was when, once he knew that I knew he was imitating me—though for this moment, I had momentarily forgotten—I moved my dish aside, being done with my food. Moments later, Cameron moved his dish in front of me. Typically, when this happens it means he’s refusing to eat more (even though he probably still should). However, once I saw where he had placed it, it was exactly the same amount to his right as I had placed my dish! 🙂

Still makes my face and heart smile as I recall and type the story here. Such a sweet boy.

In truth, it happens quite often, the imitating. More than I’d like. Often I’m quite glad for it, and I hope that it continues. But other times it’s too revealing. It can be unpleasant to hear the way your tone returns to your ears through the mouth of your biggest 2-year-old fan. But, a mirror can also be your best friend. I am thankful for the mirror that my kids can be for me.

Firstborn son, Ian, is more like me than I admit at times. He is creative, talented, gregarious, frequently charming, and also stubborn, confident to the point of arrogance, and often unteachable. At times, I am like all of that, too—the good and the bad.

During a recent clash of our similar personalities, where I felt (maybe incorrectly) that I needed to press Ian on his apparently unteachable/rebellious position or attitude toward me at that moment, I asked, “Ian, what is going on? Why are you being like this right now? Why do you have no humility at all?” He quickly responded, “I really have a hard time being humble!”

Slightly taken aback by his astute observation and open admission, I paused, but only slightly.

Though there was only a slight moment in which Ian’s words were allowed to resonate, his sister, Kirsten—more than five years his younger—managed to slip in the kindest, and perhaps most profound words of encouragement recently spoken in our home.

“That was humble, Ian.”

The kindness and pure, caring heart revealed both by her choice of words and her delivery of them, as well as the depth of understanding of the concept of humility that was evidenced by her quick assessment is overwhelming to me. In the midst of what had been a very draining, tense, frustrating series of moments for me (and everyone else, I think) she spoke such words of life that I had to encourage her, “Kirstie, I think those were the wisest, kindest words I’ve heard spoken here today. Thank you.”

There is beauty in our brokenness. In the moments where we are weak we can be lifted up. Either by someone else who is somehow less weak for that moment, or by God himself whose grace makes us strong, even—especially?—when we are weak. Sometimes the truth of that is revealed in the words, from the heart, of a seven year old girl, or by the actions of a two year old boy.

I hope that I am mostly characterized by a love and grace—toward my kids (and wife) directly, as well as toward every person that I might interact with—that overflows from the Life I have in me in Jesus. I am not him, and I can not be perfect. I will choose poorly, I will fail. But even in my brokenness, I hope that my kids will get to follow my example as I follow Jesus. Even in the way that I handle the images I see in the mirror: be they glass, or flesh.

Imitation is the highest form of flattery. Perhaps children are the highest form of imitation.

This day, I am so thankful for the mirrors God has given me.


Bible references above are from 1 Corinthians 11, and 2 Corinthians 12.

Thankful [Memory Lane]

Each Thursday in August we’ll be taking a trip down Memory Lane! I will be posting some of my favorite stories ever published here, part of celebrating ten years of blogging—August 2003 to August 2013. Some posts are taken from books, and others (like today’s) have only been published online thus far. You’ll read stories that are funny, stories that are sad, and several heart-warming moments from the life we’ve lived. If you missed any, you can use the series navigation at the end of this post to read more. I invite you to enjoy these moments from the journey with me, too.

You’ll probably notice, reading through these Memory Lane posts, that my kids are a very important part of my life. I love being a Dad, despite the challenges, hard moments, hard weeks. As I mentioned in the previous post, it’s pretty amazing how much I learn from the kids (seems like it would be vice versa, no?)

This story was of another hard day that became so beautiful, just by being grateful.

Thankful

July 12th, 2011

There are days that it’s incredibly hard to see the good side. Where you’re so completely overwhelmed by the crushing weight of sadness, or failure, or just plain pain that you can’t see a way out of and seems it will never end.

For whatever reason, we’ve had more than our share of those around here lately.

But last night as I was putting the four youngest kids in bed, for some reason I decided to start (quite randomly) naming things that I was thankful for. “Thank you for Mom… and for (insert sibling name here)…” was how I began. Then I began just literally saying any word that came to mind. Some things I saw around their room, or then any related item or word. It quickly exploded into a fun game of who can think of the most random thing to be thankful for!

And the neat thing was, it worked.

The kids were not that excited to go to bed last night, but that little exercise lightened their hearts, and perhaps enlightened mine.

I found it was easy to rattle off all sorts of “good” things that we can be thankful for. Stars, trees, the sun, the moon, Grandmas & Grandpas, other friends we love, books, paper, paint, carpet, air conditioning, and so on. So I began intentionally thinking of “bad” things. (Or at least, weird things to be thankful for.)

“Thank you for toilets. For bottoms. For toilet paper.” Emma (our three-year old) picked right up on that, “Thank you for pee pee… AND poo poo!” And then I actually made myself say, “Thank you for HOT days.” (Reasoning in my mind that, though I loathe and detest the heat, I do love a good, juicy tomato … and they rather enjoy hot days.)

This seemed to work for all of the kiddos from the youngest (just about 2) who would grunt his approval with a little, “mmm hmm” after every word or phrase I’d say, to the room full of his three sisters all spitting out random words as fast as they were able to fit them in. It really was incredible!

One Thousand Gifts by Ann VoskampIt made me think of a book that Jen asked me to read, One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp. Jen reads her blog, and so decided to purchase her book, and was challenged (in a good way) to try to change her perspective on life, as Ann has tried to do. It’s kind of a “glass half-full vs glass half-empty” idea, but a bit different. Her challenge was just to write down 1,000 things that you are thankful for. A few each day.

I think we may have hit about 400 last night alone! 🙂

There are so many things that we can be thankful for. It really just depends on your perspective. If you can come at life looking for goodness, you’ll often (usually) find it. If you’re expecting bad, you’ll usually end up there.

So maybe try it tonight. Putting kids to bed… after they are in bed… on your way home from work… just let you brain bounce from one thing to the next and speak it out, “Thank you for _____.” Not just things that God directly gave us, necessarily, but think about the things that are part of our everyday lives, and how they help us. We really do take much of life “for granted”, as they say. Doing so lifted my spirits last night, and four other tiny spirits.

Perhaps it can lift yours, tonight, too.

Special Moments [Memory Lane]

Each Thursday in August we’ll be taking a trip down Memory Lane! I will be posting some of my favorite stories ever published here, part of celebrating ten years of blogging—August 2003 to August 2013. Some posts are taken from books, and others (like today’s) have only been published online thus far. You’ll read stories that are funny, stories that are sad, and several heart-warming moments from the life we’ve lived. If you missed any, you can use the series navigation at the end of this post to read more. I invite you to enjoy these moments from the journey with me, too.

This recent stop on Memory Lane is a reminder that life is so much more in the moments along the way than most of the other stuff we spend ourselves on, day after day, running into years. And just like last week’s post, Loss, I’m also reminded that the moments don’t even have to be “good”—or, what we’d usually call “good”—to be a special moment; a moment worth enjoying and remembering.

One of the greatest things about parenting is how much your own kids can teach (or remind) you about life.

Special Moments

November 2nd, 2012

Some days just have those moments.

Today has had plenty. (And not all good ones, mind you.)

Jen had a super-frustrating day with (she said) every one of the kids, who just wouldn’t listen to her at all. They only wanted what they wanted when they wanted it. Eventually, she just couldn’t take it anymore and walked away from what she was trying to do, attempting to clear her head.

(It was during this time that Jen decided to make soup, which is something she wouldn’t usually do, and without a recipe, which is something she definitely wouldn’t do! The best part? It turned out great! Was a nice “moment” for Jen to enjoy a great (tasty) bit of success in an otherwise hard day.)

At dinner, we came to another moment where I erupted into a very intense monologue full of very direct, clear reminders of things we’ve taught the kids since they came into this world. Very direct. Pretty loud. And I meant every word of it.

That was a moment.

Then Mom went out for the evening to do some shopping, but mainly to “clear her head”. Much needed, and hopefully she is being refreshed. (I’ll find out when she gets home!)

As the clean-up team took care of the kitchen (and the other two took care of the other rooms) I bathed the youngest two. They really needed it.

(Note: I am quite sick. Nasty head cold, stuffy, bad cough, just keep saying, “My head feels weird…” So… that makes for a more interesting bath time. Oh, and Cam is just as sick as me!)

That was a moment. (But not too bad, actually.)

The girls got their baths, and I got everyone dressed for bed and hair brushed and all that must be done. Then Alex got his quick shower and we were ready for the evening activity.

Tonight, it was singing.

I got my guitar, and a box of chord charts for worship songs, and we just started playing through them. Some the kids knew, most they didn’t. But that didn’t stop them from singing. And dancing. And smiling. And really LOUD singing!

That was a moment. A different sort of moment. (A heart-smile kind of moment.)

I encouraged Ian to get his bass guitar out, and Alex converted a plastic pumpkin trick-or-treat bucket into a percussive instrument, and suddenly we had a band. And even though we didn’t know the song to begin with, by the end of one song Julia had a huge smile on her face… and tears on her cheeks.

“I’m crying!” says little Julia Gayle. “Why are you crying, Julia?” I asked gently. “It’s just because of the singing!” She almost couldn’t believe that music could do that to you, but at the same time, she knew deep within her that it did do that to her.

That was a moment.

Then came bedtime. We usually play with a Dad-animated stuffed friend at some point. Tonight it was the stuffed friend, Baboo. (Cam’s name for his little red-white-and-blue doggie.) We laughed, we had fun, we hugged (Cam wanted two hugs..) and we prayed together for our family.

That was another moment. (After which Cam wanted another hug…)

Days are full of moments. Some are good, some are “eh”, and some are pretty bad (or really bad). I feel like today kinda had all of those for us. Maybe most days do. Sometimes we get tricked into focusing on the bad moments though and we miss the little good ones that are still there, or can be there if and when we look for them.

They’re there. They were for us tonight.

Keep your heart and mind and eyes fixed on Jesus, and he’ll show you the moments. He’s in the moments, actually. All of them.

And if we know that—and live that—that is what makes them special.

Maple Sugarin’!

maple-sugarinWe’re trying something new this spring: we’re sugarin’ our maple trees!

It’s fun to see how things are made, and in my opinion the best way to see is to do.

The process began a while ago, when we talked about doing it. We live on a small, quarter-acre lot in a somewhat urban-ish setting. It’s entirely possible that our tiny plot of land has the most trees of any other parcel on our block. (Or several blocks.) Appropriately enough for the task of making our own maple syrup, many of them are maples!

After initially assessing the plausibility of our task, we decided to do it! Part of my encouragement towards this particular backyard project comes from college friends of ours (one of whom I work closely with on many web projects) who have been “sugarin'” for years. (They strangely took a break this particular winter… the first winter we are giving it a go…) A couple seasons ago they sent us a sample of their work; it was delicious!

We knew that we would need to put taps/spouts in our trees—later we would learn that they are called spiles—and some containers to collect the sap, and then finally some way of cooking down the sap.

And that’s about what we knew.

Thankfully, the friends mentioned above recently used an episode of their weekly podcast to explain in great detail the wonders (and the challenges) of maple sugaring. (You can listen to it here.) They also recommended a few good resources, including a book called Backyard Sugarin’, which I promptly placed on hold at our local library. All of that came together nicely to help build my confidence towards giving this a try.

drip

And so, on one chilly, late-winter afternoon… I bought six spiles.

It’s a meager, humble beginning; but it’s a beginning.

(A two week adventure through hockey tournaments, three separate family birthdays, and LOTS of really hefty sickness delayed the implementing of this project. That, however, is for a different post. Or… perhaps none at all.)

Early this morning, just after the sun fully brightened the March sky, I decided to tap my maple trees. The book had suggested using empty plastic milk containers to collect the sap (rather than the more expensive option of tin buckets with cool lids) and since we are always happy to find an equal-but-less-costly option, I gladly rummaged through our recycling bin. To my chagrin, there were only a couple containers that did not have that lovely milk-not-quite-completely-rinsed-out aroma, so I emptied the 1/3 of a gallon (or so) of milk in the open container in our fridge into a different container, and was thus able to score two sap collection containers to get us started.

Our property is quite long. It’s a walk of a couple hundred feet from the road to the back property line. The healthiest maple tree on the premises is about five short feet from the back of this long plot of dirt. Now, I say all of this because I was going to need to drill holes. And my only drill is not cordless.

So I needed extension cord. And plenty of it!

I unburied and unwound both hundred-foot, bright orange extension cords sitting in our basement and—sap collectors, spiles, hammer and drill in hands—I headed straight for the nearest maple!

drip2It was mighty chilly this morning still, and with only two containers, and having no idea if this would even work, I decided to stick to the two maples closest to our house. (Half of that extension cord for now naught. At least, temporarily.) I plugged in my drill, tightened the bit, and looked for a good spot to drill.

I knew that it was good to drill on the south or southwest side, as that would receive the most sun. Sun gets the sap flowing. I also knew that sap flows best toward a large root. Figuring that our giant maple would be a good candidate for more than one tap (eventually) I chose that tree first, and found a good south-side, root-below spot to drill my hole.

It felt pretty weird to take a drill to my living tree, I’ll have you know…

I drilled at a slight upward angle, and out came the fresh tree shavings. My bit actually got stuck and came out of the drill! I wiggled it free and made sure to keep the drill speed up a bit higher, and was able to make the appropriate 1 1/2″-deep hole. No sap was flowing early in the morning, so I took my time and gently tapped in the perfectly-fitting spile. It all seemed to be going great! (Aside from the no sap, part…) I hooked the first milk container onto the spile, and headed toward the second maple.

Having gained some confidence from the first tap, I quickly found the perfect spot, drilled (more successfully this time) and hung the second sap collection unit. (A better sounding name, don’t you think?)

I had no idea if this was going to work. Really. I quietly collected my tools and put everything back where it belongs, and went on with my day. There was still more sick care to be given to many members of the family. There was a good deal more parenting to do as the Mom is one of the sicker family members at the moment. There was work to be done as well. A normal, full day of life.

As the day was coming to a close, I remembered the taps.

collecting-sapAbout 4:30pm or so, I checked on the second tap, which is near the front of our property, visible from our front porch.

IT WAS FULL!!!

OK, not full… but it held enough clear liquid for me to use ALL CAPS to relay to you the excitement I felt when my eyes first beheld that sight!

I ran inside to get shoes on and to get as many kids as could amble to see the start of this latest backyard adventure! They quickly finished up a task I requested that they complete, shoed and coated up, and we headed out our front door, camera in hand!

There were gasps of excitement, joyful, exuberant jumping, clapping, and lots of rapid-fire questions. I snapped some photos, and explained the whole process I had gone through early that morning, and we decided to do one more tap following our apparent success!

Kirsten was perhaps the most excited of all four kiddos. (Cam joined us later, unwilling to miss the backyard project party, though he was not conscious for much of today thanks to his current battle with sickness…) Kirstie wore the biggest smile, asked the most questions, and hung on every word of my stories and instruction.

sugarin-campbellsFollowing a very successful third tap—we decided to tap the healthiest maple, the one at the back of our property, and the sap was flowing within a second of the drill first penetrating the tree!—Kirsten discovered the book I had gotten from the library, and began flipping through the pages, yearning to learn more. I saw this and said, “Kirstie, you can read that if you’d like. That’d be great.” At this, she quickly headed for the living room couch, a visible bounce in her gait!

Learning is fun. Doing is also fun. Combined, they are really fun! And learning by doing together… you can’t beat it.

Now hopefully we’ll get the boiling down the sap part right, and have a super-tasty final product!

But even if we don’t… I can unabashedly say this backyard project has already been a wonderful success!