So I haven't written in a week! So sorry folks. It's just been a tad crazy around here. Steve finished up his sixth year teaching at Monte Vista and Isaac finished Kindergarten so there were parties, graduation festivities/award nights (for Steve to attend), and all sorts of end-of-the-year hoopla. Needless to say, I'm a bit pooped. Yet regardless of how zany the end of the year can be, it's always a ton of fun! But the best thing about this last weekend was that we got to go on a little road trip down south to the Promised Land...SLO County, to see some of our very dear friends who just had babies. We stopped first in North County to see our pals from Cal Poly who just had their second baby, a little boy. Oh my goodness...so precious. We spent the late morning and early afternoon with them. It was so fun to just soak up the time. These are people we love and have history with...so even though we're far away now, they are still so important to us. They very generously fed us yummy pizza and we got to sit around and talk amidst children banter. I also got to hold the absolutely adorable little man-Elijah. The two littlest took a nap and the older boys played a game with the Dads. Then I got to catch up a bit with Tim's sister, who helped catch Eli that crazy night. Such a wonderful time. There's the happy big brother. Love, love, love this little man. Kills me every time I see him. Then we were off to a bit further south to visit some friends of ours from Grace Church. They have three little girls and just had their first boy! We love this family! And upon our arrival, I got a fun surprise. Kate's sister, Jenny, who I mostly know through the blogging world, was there to see us too! How fun is that? She's home visiting family while her husband is deployed. I hadn't really talked with her in person since we both counseled at Hume Lake many summers ago. And so yesterday it was a delight to chat with her and meet her two daughters. Isn't Summer just gorgeous? She is such a little doll. Her big sister Bella was running all over the place playing dress-up so I didn't get a clean shot of her. By the way, it was hilarious watching my boys mix with the girls. Dress-up? What's that mom? And my friend Kate, who just had her fourth, well she reminds me so much of myself. So good to look at her beautiful face and hear how she was doing. It was seriously such a blessing to spend a bit of time with that family. And there's the handsome little man with his pretty mama. I really do love snuggling newborns. Such a privilege! It's never long enough but we take the time we can get huh? After our little playtime there, we headed on over to In n Out to see Debbi Weeks and her daughter Rebekah for dinner. It was the perfect ending to an excellent day. The only problem was that I locked the keys in the car. I swear, I haven't used our Roadside Assistance in the last six years or so but, I have somehow managed to need it twice in the last week. But anyhow, I was nursing Elle in the car and 99% of the time Steve leaves me the keys in case I want them. However, he usually tells me he's leaving them. And 99% of the time, I also check to see if he left them. Well, he didn't tell me and I didn't check. So I locked the car and headed inside. When we wanted the boys' jackets a few minutes later we discovered they were locked safely away. Good thing we found out at the beginning of dinner. We called the tow truck and they arrived twenty minutes later. We were still stuffing our faces with In n Out goodness. So really, it wasn't bad at all.
After hanging out for a bit, we loaded back up into the car and headed home. All in all, an excellent day and wonderful road trip. Steve and I marveled on the way home that even a year ago, trips like this would've been so crazy. But really, things have gotten a bit easier. Not easy just easier. Three kids are potty trained. The older two play together in the back. Joshua and Elle keep each other busy. It's really doable. I can't tell you how many road trips we've been on that have simply been nightmares to be endured...lots of screaming/crying (from the baby at the time), diaper blowouts, whining, boredom etc... Now it seems like road trips are becoming adventures which makes it a lot more fun for us parents. Little glimpses like these give us hope for future family trips!
Thanking God for our friends, their new children and incredible, lasting relationships. We're really, truly blessed.
So yesterday morning we had our first break down on the side of the road without Daddy. Praise God it wasn't anything serious but a mere flat tire. The night before I had taken Joshua into Urgent Care for an asthma flare-up and when we were coming home from the pharmacy, I thought I had run over something. When I circled back around to see what it was, I didn't notice anything on the ground. By morning, I had completely forgotten about it. So I drove carpool, went to the local egg vendor for eggs and made it almost home before the car started shaking. But God was so kind to me. For one, I had my cell phone. I rarely use it so I half the time, I don't know where I put it. I try to keep it in the car but this doesn't always happen. So yeah, I had my phone. And secondly, there is a little store out in these here parts that is my favorite pit stop. It's called Four Corners. I go there often to pick up a Diet Coke and some mini York Peppermint Patties. And what do you know, my tire went totally flat right next to the store. So I pulled into their parking lot and we waited there for the tow truck. This was really a blessing because I always feel a bit vulnerable by myself with the kids and a strange repairman. But this way I wasn't on the side of the road, by myself with the three kids (Isaac was already at school). Steve was in the middle of giving a final exam so I knew I was on my own. And I was really thankful it didn't happen on the way to school with a car full of kids. That would've been an even crazier deal. So while we waited for the tow truck, we pranced inside, grabbed ourselves some fishy crackers, a very large Diet Coke for me and of course some peppermint patties. The tow truck arrived within a half an hour (was that because I had somehow dropped the info that three little kids were in the car?) and the whole ordeal only put us back an hour and a half or so. Not bad if you ask me. It was kinda like the luxury version of those types of tales. I'll take it. Again, God was really kind. And when we got home, I had a bit of fun with Elliana's hair. I had been trying to get a little pony tail in her hair for a long time but she just twisted and turned with frustration. Anyhow, yesterday I finally conquered her little will and distracted her long enough to put in a rubber band. So much fun. Of course, she was crying a bit since she was moving and pulling on her own hair. But then I told her, "Elle...get used to it. Beauty is pain." Ha ha! Thanking God for His provision even in the little bumps and simple joy like baby hair.
It's been a busy week here thus my silence. School is winding down for the husband and so he gives finals next week. That means he's working all day today. It's funny how him having just one weekend free from responsibility last weekend has made this weekend mentally difficult for me. It's like running and finishing a half marathon and then in your cool down/walk time someone tells you to run again but just for a quarter of a mile. It's really not a far distance but it literally hurts and you don't know if you'll make it. Kind of like that. I keep reminding myself to breathe today. But some really great things have happened this week and we've done some fun stuff. First things first, Ally is doing really well. Her parents weren't sure if she'd be able to go in for surgery this week due to her having a cough. And if you remember, last time for the Craniosynostosis, she had a very slight cough and they would not go ahead. But, for some reason this time (possibly since it was a less serious surgery and didn't require her laying on her back asleep for as long), the doctors still wanted to forge on. So she had surgery on Tuesday and has been recovering really well. Thank you to all who were praying for her this week.
Two of my friends had babies this week as well. One of them came on Thursday and he was the first boy in a family that already had three daughters. I keep joking with his mom that we need to have a yearly camping trip so that our opposite sex children (who are all around the same ages) can "meet" over the years. Ha ha. I was really happy for them though. Such a sweet little man he is! One of my best friends from Cal Poly had her baby last night. I haven't talked with her directly yet but, it is quite the story (as told from her sister to me on the phone last night). I got the benefit of a phone call since I don't have texting...being stuck in the last century does have its benefits! Pretty much, to sum it all up, she didn't make it to the hospital. Her husband delivered the baby in their bedroom, their second-another son, and she rocked it. Her first labor had been long and she was in the hospital the entire time. I knew she wanted things to go differently this go around. And different it was. She felt like things were going along just fine and then all of the sudden things ramped up quick. Too quick to do anything about. The baby came and they all got an ambulance ride to the hospital. Baby was totally fine and perfectly happy wrapped up in his mama's arms while the chaos ensued around him. And to everyone's surprise, big brother, who is not yet two, slept through the entire thing. However, me on the other hand...I seriously could not sleep for awhile last night after hearing the story because I was so wound up from the whole ordeal. Now I can't wait to meet that little adventurer.
Speaking of adventures, we've inherited a pet snake in our backyard. Three times this week we've had to call Steve home from work to come and get the snake. And three times he's taken it elsewhere on campus to get it out of our yard. Well, either this snake has babies somewhere nearby or just really likes us because it keeps coming back. And it's a big one. It seems harmless but, snakes just make me a tad nervous if I'm being honest. Not my favorite creatures. We've made a few meals for families in our church who just had babies and that is always so much fun for me. And yesterday, we entered some Brownie Pops into the Appetizer Contest at Steve's work. I don't think I won because I probably would know by now if I did. However, it was really fun to try something new and be creative with it. I think I'll make those again for a shower or something. Steve had his annual Boat Races this week too. So the boys and I ventured over to get a piece of the action. They're always a lot of fun. And the entire school comes out to watch.
All three boys had ice cream dates with Daddy on separate nights too and one night we watched Daddy and his other colleagues play in the Staff vs. Resident Students Basketball Game. It was as if their Dad was a star. I've never seen my boys so excited to see anything. Isaac kept saying, "Dad didn't score any baskets but he sure had some sneaky passes!" Let's not tell him why Dad didn't score any baskets-ha ha! And Caleb was screaming at the top of his lungs for him. Hilarious. Now that the older two especially are getting into sports, I think it's really fun for them to see Steve play in an actual game. Joshy doesn't quite get it all yet but if you ask him who his favorite Giants' player is, he'll tell you Buster Posey. Not bad.
And this little stinker has decided to get up nearly every night this week to make her presence known. She hasn't done it quietly either but has been nursing and then screaming when I put her back to bed. The first time I tried everything to get her to go back down since it was so unusual for her to be up. She never went back to sleep. Every night since she's been up and crying after I nurse her. She doesn't need to nurse (and normally she doesn't) but she still will wake up occasionally and so when she does, I usually feed her and she goes right back out quietly. But not this week. So, after two nights of that, we finally said enough. Luckily the boys are used to sleeping right through crying because she's been exercising her lungs quite a bit. My goodness she is so darn cute but her antics just won't fly with me, no matter how darling she is. Not gonna fly. She's normally a pretty great sleeper. Who knows what's going on with her. I'm not even going to try and figure it out because you never know; it's always a guessing game. All in all, it's been a great week. Just a bit busy mentally and physically. I think I need to go bury myself in a book now before having to set the table for our Sabbath Dinner. I'm reading through The Hiding Place again by Corrie Ten Boom. Such an amazing book.
Have a great weekend! And Happy Sabbath and Lord's Day!
Every time I have a baby, a fog ensues in my head and really in my life. And with the successive addition of each one, the fog has stuck around just a tad longer. I wouldn't describe this fog as a funk but rather fuzziness. It's as if I'm trying to press on but I just can't really see where I'm going. And predictably, after awhile, the sand trudging can get tiresome.
Yet there are some really good things about being in the fog. One great thing is that since you can't see but a few feet or so in front of you so, all you do is live in the moment and put one foot in front of the other. Never mind a few months from now, survive till dinner. Okay, that's easy (enough). I can do that. Life becomes simple and the important things very clear.
The other great thing about the fog is that since it's so fuzzy out, things tend to slow down a bit. More responsibility and less visibility equals an inevitable push on the brakes. Caution takes over and the innate urge to burrow in for the winter overcomes all else. This instinct is good. We were designed to need rest. When our loads are heavy, God tells us to take His load for it is easy and He'll trudge through with ours high on His back. This gives us just enough reprieve to keep pattering through the sand. But you can only live in the fog for so long. Ultimately it's confusing and cold. And after awhile of being socked in, I find myself longing for it to lift so that I can feel drenched in the warmth of the sun again and leave the gray monotony behind.
It's almost been a year, the longest fog I've experienced so far, but the fog is finally beginning to lift. I'm starting to feel like I can watch the horizon for little glimpses of the emerging sun and not just stare down at the shell-ridden sand to keep my feet from tripping. Life has its seasons. They're all good. Some are harder than others. This season hasn't been extremely horrible, just foggy, and at times confusing and tricky.
Hear me, I don't particularly hate the fog...I just relish in the warmth of the sun when it peeks through. Because I know, the fog has to lift sometime and when it does, the contrast of the sun will be brilliant.
Right now, I see rays. I don't have everything organized. I can't remember everything I'm supposed to. I'm still struggling to schlep everyone through the day with a good attitude and smile on my face. And most nights I crawl into bed spent from a very full day.
But yet...I can see the sun. I can see it! And I've been here before. I know... The fog is rolling back-slowly but surely. Before I know it, I'm going to be surrounded by the most breathtaking scenery. And instead of merely forcing myself forward, I'll be able to breathe in my surroundings, drink in the beauty and thank God for His help. The best part is that as it lifts, I get to see just how far God has taken us, when all I could see before was the swirling gray.
It's a time for rejoicing! As I see the world afresh, the lifting fog spurs something deep within that causes me to want to worship.
O Lord my God. When I in awesome wonder. Consider all the worlds thy hands have made. I see the stars. I hear the rolling thunder. Thy power throughout the universe displayed.
Then sings my soul! My savior God to thee! How Great Thou Art. How Great Thou Art!
Then sings my soul! My savior God to thee! How Great Thou Art. How Great Thou Art!
The husband finished up his fourth semester with Texas A & M this last weekend. He did well-excellent actually and his finishing has given our family a much needed respite. After much wrestling, thinking and praying, we decided all of us needed a rest from his schooling so he is taking this summer off. That means that after a year of him working every.single.weekend and studying during the week, we actually get a summer with him around.
I can't tell you how excited I am.
It will be a much-needed rest from all the busyness and will get me in gear for next year.
We plan to go to the beach, swim, make home-made ice cream, garden, wrestle/play, ride bikes and read. Steve and I will probably sit around the chimenia quite a bit as well after the kids have gone to bed.
Bliss I tell ya.
Pure, unaltered bliss.
School will let out for Steve and Isaac in two weeks and then the fun/rest begins. Steve's only commitment this summer is teaching summer school-which is great! We also have a family camping trip planned and a family trip to Disneyland to look forward to. Pretty much, we're getting spoiled rotten this summer. But the rest is needed. Without it, it would've been hard to face another year like this one. However, with rest, I think we all feel like we can run another marathon come fall.
Even though this last year has been busy with the addition of Elliana to our family, Steve teaching two new classes for a total of four preps (four different classes) and a very heavy grad school schedule, God has helped us. And all of the hard work makes this summer just that much sweeter.
So, I do love to write and I love to express things I'm thinking about through writing. However, I do not claim to have really any idea what I'm talking about. Mostly, I just write what I'm learning and what makes sense to me.
But I'm no expert-and my kids are still very young.
So....when I write about parenting, I am writing our story, our journey. That's all. We make plenty of mistakes every single day.
And since most of what you hear about is the "good stuff", I thought I'd just throw out some teasers for fun of what crazy things happened to me and my children today-that is just today. And stuff like this happens all the time...at least it keeps things interesting.
First of all, lunch time around here is ALWAYS crazy, no matter how I slice it. I try to prep, I try to think ahead, but feeding all of the boys and nursing the baby (then feeding her) ends up being an arduous, and often wild task. I plan ahead as best I can and then I just hold on for the ride, never knowing what's going to actually happen. So today lunchtime was crazy and messy. The dishes are still in the sink and I've resolved to leave them there until I've had a few minutes to actually sit. Once that has happened, I'll be up and dealing with them.
Secondly, my boys like to do dishes. Oh how nice that sounds. When I say they do dishes you think doing the dishes like any normal adult would. (I'm not talking about unloading the dishwasher because they do okay at that-I'm talking about washing dishes). Although they do try, their "dishes" usually consists of them pulling out all of my kitchen gadgets, funnels and contraptions-the wind-up cheese grater is a favorite (I usually have to limit them or they'll get into everything) and then when they're done, the entire kitchen floor is soaked. Every time they need a change of clothes. So this morning, they were incredibly helpful and they did dishes for me right before lunch...maybe the wet floor added to the craziness? Who knows?
But the kicker today was Joshy. Poor Joshy. I was nearing the end of crazy hour when Joshua goes down for his nap. Elliana goes down right after him. I was reigning everything in and taking Joshua potty for the last time before sleep and he was playing with a Transformer while going potty. Yes, I probably shouldn't have allowed that but at this point, I didn't care. Since he wasn't quite paying attention, he pushed too hard on the stool and fell headlong, yes headlong into the toilet. He did a straight nose-dive. Lucky for him, there wasn't anything in it yet. And lucky for me, he wasn't really hurt. I couldn't catch him because I had Elle in my arms and so when he fell, I threw her in her crib (just a foot away from where Josh was) and then scooped him out of the toilet. He wasn't pleased-at all. So he got himself a nice shower and the Transformer, the beloved Bumblebee, will be getting a "bath" as well.
These are just the big things people and it's only midday.
So, just in case you think that I've got things all together, just ask someone who lives by me or take my word for it.
I don't. I never will. I pray for God's grace to make it.
Everyone wants to belong-to be identified with something and someone. Look around you. The evidence is everywhere. Sports teams, alumni, religious affiliations, social networking "groups". Pretty much whatever you find enjoyable probably has some sort of group affiliated with it. People go NUTS over a football game and I don't know about you, but Cal Poly is just about the BEST university ever (ha ha). T-shirt logos, languages, all sorts of things, help people feel like they belong to something greater...something good, and that gives people somewhat of an identity. You get the idea, people want to have this sense of identity because it brings security. Our children are the same way and believe it or not, our family unit is their group. It's where they belong. But they don't get to choose their "group". They're born into it and their membership doesn't fluctuate like the tide and the ties are much stronger. They don't belong to our family because they're a blonde, or because they prove to be athletic. We don't love our kids because they're good at baseball or because they can do multiplication at five...we love our kids because they're ours. Simply ours. And that's how it must be. Their identity is with our family because that's where God put them and they'll be part of our family, no matter what, until the day they die. Recently I had the opportunity to chat with a mom who has already raised four children. Her kids are a similar age spread to mine and came in the same pattern--three boys, then a girl last. They've since adopted two more girls who are not out of the house yet, but a lot of their parenting years are behind them now. In the course of our conversation, she brought up the idea of the language of our house and when she did, it was as if a light bulb went off in my head. Ah ha!! That's it! That's what I've been trying to wrestle with for awhile now.
You see, Steve and I have come to the conclusion that you can't force your kids into submission. Sure, you can discipline and for a time, that will get them to obey and often produce the behavior you want. But we want our kids to "grow up". We want them to mature and gain wisdom. And in that, we want them to want to obey, not because we're still there enforcing the standard but because they love the standard. Well, that all sounds pretty nice but, in actuality, how does it play out? How do you get your kids to love the standard? How do you get them to want to obey? There isn't one easy answer for that and I've hardly been down the parenting road long enough to have any sort of wisdom about it. But one of the things I've gleaned from seasoned parents is that loyalty plays a huge part in fostering a love for the standard--that is loyalty to the family unit, the "group". We want to create such a loyalty to our family, such a love for all that is "Dauphin", that they don't ever want to go outside those lines. Loyalty acts as the guardrails to keep our children from off-roading. One of the ways to instill this sort of loyalty is what my friend was getting at--your family language. Using phrases like, "Dauphin boys are SO cheerful and they're best friends", or "Isn't it great to be a Dauphin?" or "Dauphin boys respect each other" creates a sense of belonging, security and loyalty to the family simply by saying it. When one of our children is wandering off Steve will say, "Are you a Dauphin?" When they nod their head in yes, he'll then say, "Well you better shape up because Dauphins don't do that!"
It's like the old adage, "You are what you eat"...the more we feed these phrases to them, the more they will drink in the ideas and display them as a reflection of their heart. "Dauphin boys obey the first time asked." My friend reminded me that the more you can tell them who they are and where they identify themselves, the more that loyalty is built over time. Yet, a lot of times these words will be spoken more in promise because the situation will not reflect them fulfilling the principles. For example, I might have to remind Joshua that "Dauphins respect others," when he is annoying his big brothers. But that's the whole point--the words act in two ways-first as a reminder and second as hope. Hope that one day, the principle will be so written on his heart that instead of reaching out to pull Caleb's hair, he'll hear the words, "Dauphins respect others," and then withdraw his hand. Our children grow up. The world is huge. There's a lot out there that our children have to wade, sift and walk through and we won't be there every time to ensure they're choosing right. But years of trust and loyalty will be their companions-the very ground beneath their feet. Sure they will make wrong choices. Sure they'll probably try their foolish hat at some cliff jumping. But if they're firmly rooted in their origins, it will give them a place to come back to and will act as a pull when they're wanting to wander off. However, the converse is also true. If I spend my years sitting on them, forcing them to do my will and not fostering a sense of responsibility and trust, then you can bet they'll be the first to sign-up for skydiving. And who knows if their destination will even be on the same continent as me. My kids are little humans who have their own minds, their own hearts, their own souls. I can shape them but I can't force them. My prayer is that they'll choose life. My prayer is that God will save them.
But what I can do is try and foster a loyal environment to keep them wanting to come back. And the words I use are key.
"Dauphins follow God. Dauphins do what's right. Dauphins love others."
And they're not the only ones who are helped by this sort of language. There have been times, many times in fact, when my husband will remind me of these truths when I am wandering off, being angry, coveting or seeking revenge. When he does, it grounds me and brings me back to who I am.
I am a child of God. I am a wife. I am a mother. I am a Dauphin.
"Dauphins follow God. Dauphins do what's right. Dauphins love others."
Words spoken to remind. Words spoken in hope. God will do the rest.
I'm sitting on a post or two but, I haven't had a spare moment to fully formulate them in my mind. So today I bring you some Elisabeth Elliot until I can wrap my arms fully around what I'm trying to get onto "paper".
Until then, Happy Friday. It's definitely a happy Friday for me!! Steve takes his final for Texas A & M this weekend so he'll be MIA. But even though the weekend will be busy, I'm so glad he's almost done and that we'll be getting a bit of a respite. I'm looking forward to actually having a weekend with him around. Sounds like a little slice of heaven to me.
I hope this tidbit from Let Me Be a Woman, one of my favorite books of all time, and a book I've quoted from before, will encourage you. Whenever I pick this book up, it quickens me to the core. It is so solid, so insightful and so wise. And who doesn't need a swift kick in the pants regarding love and marriage from time to time? I don't know a single person, especially myself included, who doesn't. This chapter is just so rich, I have to include it in its entirety. Enjoy!
Proportional Equality- Elisabeth Elliot
Marriage is not a fifty-fifty proposition. As soon as it is thought of as such it becomes a power struggle, with picayune score keeping to make sure one doesn't outdo the other. "If I do this, then you have to do that." I have read of marriage contracts in which every household chore was actually designated to one or the other--the wife, for example, makes breakfast, sees that the children are dressed, fed and given books, lunch money, bus passes, gym clothes and son on, on Tuesdays and Thursdays. The husband does all this on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. The wife cooks dinner on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, the husband on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Weekends are worked out according to how much outside work there is to be done, who has done the most "extras" during the week, and so forth. Can you imagine sitting down on Saturdays to add up the score? Can you imagine calling such an arrangement a marriage? Could it be anything but a business partnership? But some call it freedom or maturity.
What then is the percentage supposed to be? Wrong question. If you were heirs together of a great-aunt's estate you might ask it, but it is grace we are talking about, the grace of life. Your equalities have been delineated: equally sinners, equally responsible, equally in need of grace, and equally the objects of that grace. That's where the fifty-fifty matter ends. You take up life as husband and wife and you start laying down your lives--not as martyrs, not as doormats or ascetics making a special bid for sainthood, but as two lovers who have needed and received grace, and who know very well that they are going to keep on needing and receiving it every day that they live together.
There is great relief in not having to be equal. Home is a place where we ought to be allowed to be unequal, where everyone knows everyone else's inequalities and knows, furthermore, that it is the inequalities that make the home work.
But inequality is really the wrong word. Perhaps Aristotle's idea of justice explains what I mean. He called justice "proportional equality." That is, just is "the art of allotting carefully graded shares of honor, power, liberty, and the like to various ranks of a fixed social hierarchy, and when justice succeeds, she produces a harmony of differences."
I won't argue the political validity of Aristotle's definition. It must have worked in his time and other times since then, but that is another world, a world which Christians have to live with and participate in but which is not necessarily run on Christian lines. A Christian home, however, is a world in itself, a microcosm, representing--as the church also represents--the hierarchy of the cosmos itself. It can be run on Christian lines.
That phrase "carefully graded shares" is enough to raise hackles. Who is to grade and allot those shares? Clearly somebody has to. There must be authority to do this.
There were six of us children in the home where I grew up, covering an age span of sixteen years. The best bedroom, which was the only one that had a bathroom attached, belonged to my step-grandmother, who lived with us for eight years. When she died, that bedroom became my parents'. The best chair in the living room, the one with lamp and footstool, was my father's. He sat a one end of the diningroom table, Mother sat at the other. Four year olds had work to do just as twenty year olds, had, but it was "carefully graded." Small ones did the wastebaskets, big ones the cooking, lawn mowing, ironing, house painting. Girls knew which of that list were their tasks, boys knew theirs. Girls did most of the dish washing, but the four boys took turns at drying and putting away. My mother cooked enormous quantities of good, plain food. Usually there were seconds for those who wanted seconds, but my mother somehow never "cared for any." There were occasional complaints of injustice of the "How come he doesn't have to? " variety. My sister's idea of justice, if there was one cookie left on the plate, was "Does anybody want this worse than I do?"
If there was what my father called a "squabble" among the children, they were summoned separately to testify. The minute a plaintiff began with "Well he..." he was stopped. "What did you do?" was the question: "I only want to hear what you did." Sometimes this reslted in the testimony's petering out altogether and charges being dropped.
This household justice was based on household authority. In marriage, if two mature people love each other, this whole matter of authority is almost entirely a tacit understanding. I could probably count on one hand, maybe one finger, the times in my own marriages [she was widowed more than once] when it became a conscious issue. When it did, of course, I had to remember that lines had been drawn--not by my husband but by God. I was the one originally created to be a help, not an antagonist.
When Steve and I were undergrads at Cal Poly, we were part of Alpha Gamma Omega, a national Christian Fraternity. He was a member and I was a Little Sister. The joke was that LSM (Little Sisters of Maranatha) wasn't a "dating pool" but really, in all actuality, many couples came out of that group because we were together all the time and were like a big family. It's amazing how, even after so many years, when we're together with our AGO friends, it's like no time has passed. We're still a big family-a loud, boisterous, loving family. When we all got sick last week, Steve and I both thought it was inevitable that we would have to miss a very anticipated wedding weekend of one of our friends from the fraternity. If any of the boys were still sick we could not leave them with grandparents (not their responsibility at all to take care of our puking children) so we had really tried to accept the fact we probably wouldn't be attending. This made us SO sad at the thought because we knew that a TON and I mean a TON of our friends from AGO would be there and the guy getting married was one of Steve's old roommates and very important to Steve so we SO badly did not want to miss it. As the weekend approached we fully expected Isaac and Caleb to finally be coming down with the flu bug and for some reason, it skipped them-to our utter delight of course. So off we went. We had the time of our lives. We stayed with our amazing, faithful friends and laughed our heads off. And then we were off to the festivities. Ellie had a great night with her Daddy and all our friends. Here she is with Auntie Steph. Even though Stephanie had the night off from her two children, she constantly helped me with Ellie, holding her, feeding her and getting me food. Love you Steph. It was a beautiful wedding. Our friend was literally beaming the entire day and his wife was just stunning. Truly we have prayed and hoped for a wonderful wife for this friend and she is just so much more than we could've ever dreamed for him. God is so faithful!! God is so kind and lavishes us with good things doesn't He?
So the wedding was joyous and Steve and I simply soaked up as much time with our precious friends as we could. There was so much laughter, telling stories, hugs and celebrating together. At our table alone there were ten children amidst the five families present and our friend Andy raised his glass and reminded all of us how good God has been to all of us and our families. Amen.
For those of you interested, here are some of the precious people from our past that have helped shape us into the people we are today. God has used all of them tremendously over the years to encourage us to be better Christians and better spouses, and now parents. These are my girls. All I can say is that I love them. Pure and simple. Steph was my Big Sister in LSM and we've been such close friends ever since. Jill and I became much closer after I got married. Don't know what I'd do without her. Seriously don't know. Isn't she beautiful? (She just might kill me for this but oh well.) Here she is full-term with #2, a boy. Never saw a more beautiful, radiant, expecting mom. Over the years, she and her husband have seriously been rocks for us. Wish we still lived close but love how we can just pick-up where we left off. We love you guys more than you know-100%! I've known Donna since high school and was thrilled when she married Corey as she was the perfect match for him ever. So fun to see them and meet their adorable daughter Faye. That sweet little girl can party let me tell you. She was grinning and smiling at everyone even though it was way past her bedtime I'm sure. Seriously, she was so much fun in her beautiful polka-dot dress. These two were the first ones who talked to Steve about us getting married before graduating. At the time we assumed we'd just have to wait another two years for us both to finish but they really encouraged Steve to think outside the box and that it could be possible for us to get married before that. I'm SO glad they did. For us, it was the best decision. We hadn't seen them in so long but it was seriously refreshing and wonderful to see them again. They also helped us get our first apartment as it was theirs before us. Love this couple. Wish we weren't so far away and could hang out all the time. These two are just well, the best. I've known Andy since high school. Steve and I feel like we've grown up with them as we all dated and got married close to the same time. They're people we can be totally real with and they'll still love us-thank God! We are so incredibly blessed to have them in our lives. Pretty much would do anything for their family at any time or place, no questions asked. Just love 'em and are thankful for them. These are our engagement buddies. We got engaged within days of each other and married within weeks as well. So fun to catch up on their lives. Such amazing people!! Below are as many LSM that we could gather at the time. All the way to the left is Sonja and I wasn't able to catch her with her hubby (pictured all the way to the right) but they are an amazing, cornerstone as well. They have served AGO tirelessly for years and we have always looked up to them tremendously (they are a few years older than us). I never tire of seeing them and catching up with them. Love 'em. As many of the guys that could be gathered are pictured below. All of us circling up around the couple (a few extra people joined in and I don't think they had any idea what was going on...it was pretty funny!) At every AGO wedding, all the AGO guests circle up around the couple and sing the fraternity song and then dog pile the couple with a massive group hug. Such a blessed time. There were so many people there that we love dearly who I simply didn't get to mention or didn't get a photo of but we truly love you all and it was a blast to see you and how God is blessing each of your families!!
And thanks to the grandparents (both sets) who took our three older monkeys so that we could get some precious time away to celebrate and see friends. We love you guys so much and are so thankful for you!!
Strong the ties that bind together, men with hearts so true. Staunch the love of Christian brothers, loyal through and through. Alpha Gamma Omega we will thy name uphold Fighting, striving, working, winning For the blue and gold.
Loyal sons of California, men of AGO (and Little Sisters!) Pledge their all to Poly's laurels, as they watch them grow Alpha Gamma Omega we will thy name uphold Fighting, striving, working, winning For the blue and gold.
I am Nikki Dauphin, wife to Steve since July 2002, and mom to four boys and one little girl. Currently my husband is pursuing his PhD in mathematics, so as you can imagine, with five kids in tow, there are many adventures to behold! I'm learning how to raise a brood of boys and one precious princess, be a homemaker, how to be a lovely wife to my handsome and dashing husband and how to love those around me. Stop and stay awhile. Family stories, recipes, musings on life and lessons I'm learning are all a part of this blog. I love the life I've been given and thank God for His many blessings.
Steve-My amazing, fix-it, brilliant, math-loving, puzzle-solving husband is a Math PhD student pursuing his graduate degree through Colorado State University. He is also a Year Round Graduate Intern for Sandia National Labs researching and working on projects related to national security and preparing for his dissertation. We met at Cal Poly, SLO and were married in 2002. Seriously, he's my best friend.
Isaac-Laughter. My precious firstborn. Blue-eyed, blondie, logical, lefty. Particular, orderly, courageous, funny, and intelligent. Sees the world in patterns, numbers, colors and shapes. My first son. My joy.
Caleb-Brave. My mischevious secondborn. Brown-haired, coal-eyed, soldier. Needs explanations about how the world works. "Mathy", inquisitive, architectural and mechanical. Silly, passionate, tough, long-suffering and smart. My second son. My love.
Joshua-Saved by the Lord. My irreplaceable thirdborn. Bubbly, gregarious, social and playful. Loves to be surrounded by his family. Cuddly, kissable, chubby and charming. Life of the party, full of joy, overflowing with humor and laughter. My third son. My light.
Elliana-The Lord Has Heard. My long-awaited daughter. Petite, dark-eyed, beauty. Strong, coordinated, cheeky and spunky. Sharp as a tack and a flitting socialite. Loved by every member of her family. My fourth born. My only daughter. My treasure.
Nathan-God Has Given. My fourth son. Yet, it never gets old. My youngest little gift. Gentle, strong, sweet, angelic. Blonde and light-eyed. Littlest of them all but full of life and love. My fifth born. My littlest man. God's given. My gift.
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