Thursday, July 28, 2011

Meetin' Mickey-Part 1

Well, to set the record straight, we didn't exactly meet Mickey but we did just about everything else! We arrived in LA Friday evening after a long day trip. We couldn't leave until noon due to Steve finishing up his summer school class and turning in his grades so, that put us right in the middle of LA traffic upon our arrival. Luckily, we didn't hit any traffic until the last twenty miles. Yet sadly, the last twenty miles took us two hours!! I don't envy LA dwellers one single bit!

After some direction mishaps on my part, we pulled into a little Italian restaurant, Carolina's, down the street from our hotel where we met my parents for dinner. My Dad had done some "research" while waiting for us and he recommended this place. It proved to be a gem. When we arrived, it was 8 o'clock and we were all STARVING! My parents had ordered pizzas ahead of time for us and seriously held a table for an hour until we got there. They are saints I tell you. We devoured that pizza. It was the best pizza we have ever eaten. They also happened to have nearly 300 beers for sale. And since my husband is a beer connoisseur (aka Beer Snob as I call him), he felt totally blessed to go and find one of his favorite beers and enjoy it after an extremely long drive of baby screaming (for nearly the last two hours) and intense stop-and-go LA traffic. That night he won Best Dad/Husband of the Year Award for staying so calm. Seriously, it was some of his best stuff!

After our feast of amazing pizza, we all piled back into our Pilot (my parents included since they were smart and flew down yet as a result, were carless) which was a feat in itself since our car was packed with all of our stuff. I wish I would've gotten a picture of both of my parents sitting side by side in the front seat. They were adorable. But even more adorable was that my mom was so proud of herself that she got the seat beat buckled to ensure their safety! We were a total crack-up. Good thing we were just blocks from our hotel! My older brother and his family arrived right after us and the party began-which I will write more about next post.

Now for those of you who care to know some of the planning details of our trip, here is some of what we learned. Before we left, we made some strategic decisions that could've gone either way. Either they'd work out and we'd "look" brilliant or they wouldn't work out and we'd be up a creek. And I must say, my husband made the final calls on these things, and his reasoning did him credit. He was right. You see, brilliant!! Ha ha! For the most part, they worked out well and made our trip efficient and overall very reasonably priced.

Yet first and foremost, my parents picked up our hotel which made the whole thing possible in the first place. Without their generosity, we wouldn't have even been able to think about going. My Dad also got a decent discount on tickets from his work so that helped too. But after that, we knew we had to try and save cash because a Disneyland trip can drain you fast and most of all unknowingly. You know, a little churro here, a few ice creams there and before you know it, you're visiting every single ATM trying to keep up with the frozen lemonade demand coming from your kiddos. Plus, we have six mouths to feed which can add up quickly, if you know what I mean.

So we set the record straight from the beginning. We told the kids we would be having PB and J for lunch and that they'd get dinner and a treat from Disneyland later. One of our friends told us that was their strategy with their kids and it ended up working like a charm. So in turn, we brought a TON of food with us and it proved to be the best option. Not only does Disneyland let you bring in whatever food you want but we also found a way to refill our water bottles at the various water fountains so that we weren't buying $4 waters every twenty minutes (it was VERY hot). Buying dinner each day and a treat for the kids ended up making the trip really reasonable.

Secondly, we also decided to bring our double BOB. There were a lot of people there and the BOB is big so we were a bit wary-especially me. However, we know it turns on a dime and can weave through any crowd like a champ-- plus it has a ton of storage room. So we lugged it down with us. Therefore, when it came down to it, we had a stroller that could house all four kids if we needed (two can sit on the front) and all of our food. When we saw the strollers Disneyland offered for a decent fee, we were really stoked we brought our own stroller. That decision alone provided so much and saved us $50. It held all of our stuff and even gave the older boys a chance to rest from walking from time to time.

Lastly, we decided to walk to and from our hotel each day saving on parking, shuttle rides and adding to our overall exercise. We were a decent distance from the park (about two miles to the park entrance) but it proved to be a really fun option for us. I threw Elliana on my back into the ERGO and Steve pushed the three boys in the stroller. We were all hot and sweaty by the time we arrived and felt like we could eat ice cream that day without "paying for it!" Truthfully, we did it mostly for the exercise and not wanting to deal with our big stroller on a shuttle. Yet, it ended up being a really fun time of talking, laughing and prepping for the day. The only downside was that I was stuck at Disneyland. I felt like it was a really long walk to go back to the hotel just for naps so the two littles simply had to deal with it and try and sleep in the stroller. Joshy never did and merely skipped naps. That doesn't go over so well for him but, he survived. Both of them did just fine. And at the end of the day we were definitely tired but, we had to get back it wasn't too bad to walk back.

These couple of things saved us and really added to the overall success of the trip. When you're paying beaucoup de bucks for the tickets, you really want the trip to be worth your while. And it was. It was an incredible time with family and an overall wonderful time. To be honest, we're already looking forward to next time.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Rollin' Up My Sleeves

We just returned from a fabulous family vacation. Seriously, we had a blast visiting Disneyland and our dearest friends, the Dollahites. There will be more on that later. But for today, we arrived home this afternoon and already I've got some major work to do. While we were gone, our kitchen floor was gutted due to a leak....apparently this leak has been going on for years. At least they covered up the major hole. I'm not sure how I would've handled that if it was still there. I think my kids would've thought it was a great "hiding spot" for hide-and-go-seek. Yikes!

Some other things were fixed in our house as well that caused upheaval in other rooms. I'm super thankful that most of the work was done while we were gone but things are pretty dirty from the construction (a slight film of dust is all over the entire house) and our kitchen is not really functional.

Ha!! Although it's tempting to hyperventilate, the truth of the matter is, hyperventilating doesn't help anyone and in the end, it only makes me look like an idiot. The best thing to do is laugh...and then get to work. We'll figure it out.

Tomorrow, we've got to pack a bunch of stuff up, including a complete emptying of our fridge, move furniture and get things ready for the floor to be redone on Friday. And on Friday, we've got to go somewhere for the day...Mom, Dad, Grandma, Grandpa...are you home? Will you let us in?!! I've also got a ton of laundry to do after being on the road for the last five days and we need to unload the car.

Did I mention we're going camping on Sunday with the fam?

Well, the good news is that if I didn't have tons of work to do, I'd be pretty bored. I need stuff like this to keep me out of long as I've got a Coke Zero and some Safeway Light Moose Tracks ice cream in my future, I can keep on keeping on! It's the important stuff in life you know.

I'm sure you all have tons of projects keeping you busy that involve pattering little feet, chubby cheeks, dirty bottoms and piles of laundry too. It's just the way life is. We can't see it as drudgery. Keeping busy serving others, keeps our hearts on the right track and our minds off of our ourselves. Believe me, I have NO problem thinking about myself and my own needs all.the.time.

It's good work. Faithful work. With great reward.

Speaking of rewards...see you all's ice cream time.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Nine Years Ago...

I married an incredible man who I love more than my whole life.


The mark of a good husband can always be seen in the strength of his wife. Is she flourishing? Is she happy? Is she free to create and move and love? There is no question, that under your care, I have grown into the woman I am today. That has been God's blessing to me. Without you in my life, I would've stayed put...unwavering...unchanging and afraid. Yet, your love has moved me. Your courage has given me strength. And your belief in me has helped me scale every mountain, your hand in mine, with our eyes turned upward, filled with hope and grace. God has used you to make me grow through hardship and your encouragement has helped me blossom into my gifts. And I am grateful.

You carry all five of us on your shoulders and that can be heavy--definitely good but heavy. Over the last year I've watched you bear your load with grace, humility, diligence and care. And amidst you carrying us, I've witnessed how God has carried you.

You are my beloved and there is no other.

Happy Nine Years. May God give us many more. May we grow old together and see our children's children. I love you.

Saturday, July 16, 2011


They didn't end up being on the same team but that's okay. They still got a quiet moment together today on third base.

And we were thankful that our second had no tears today. Last week spooked him a bit. But today he was determined to fight his fear and try again. He walked right up, made a great hit and ran the bases. Sometimes it's hard to know when to push and when to let them go but this was the best thing to make him try again. If he wouldn't have tried, he wouldn't have made it home. Daddy was there to give him a high five.

Loving little league.

Monday, July 11, 2011

The Good Life

So it's summer and I've been neglecting my blog a bit. Just a bit. But I have good reason.

We've been swimming.

We've been hiking in the redwoods.

We've been going crazy in the sand and running in the waves.

We've been playing with cousins and running around with friends.

And every single night, we've been soaking up the waning sun by eating outside.

The garden is going crazy.

As in...I-don't-know-what-to-do-with-the-abundance-coming-down-the-pike-CRAZY! And tomatoes are on the horizon-lots of them.

Snap peas are exploding!! These snap peas were a totally unexpected crop...we kept thinking they were just a mess of nothingness. Yet today we discovered a plethora of the cute, little pea pods all over the place.

Summer squash is going to be coming out my ears!

We've been roasting marshmallows-big, fat, juicy ones; getting sticky, sandy, tired, and playing outside until we drop.

We've been telling stories about princes and princesses who triumph over evil and slay the dragons.

We've been getting dirty...very dirty and not bathing enough to make up for it. Shhhhh...don't tell on me.

Daddy is home a lot and he and I have been sitting around the chimenia talking about life until it's time for bed.

So I've been neglecting the blog...just a bit.

I'll be back.

But I've got to soak this in while I can. It's just a season and it's too short.

Soon school will be back in session and summer will be a distant memory.

So I'm relishing every single second.

This is the good life.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

As American as Apple Pie

Sometimes I wonder why God blessed us with so many boys. We don't have the genes for it. What I mean is, we're both short. Really short. I'm just under 5 feet and Steve is 5' 7" on a "good day". So it's inevitable-all of our boys are going to have to go through life short. For girls, it's okay-even socially acceptable. But for boys, it's a totally different story.

From the get-go I've had to deal with many well meant comments that just came out all wrong. "Oh, what a tiny little thing. He is just SO light." And that's a tame one. There's not a comment I haven't heard about how little my boys are. Trust me, when you're trying to raise boys to be tough and strong, it can be a difficult. After much frustration regarding others' comments about my boys' size, I've finally learned to laugh about it a bit and respond with, "Nobody's surprised with how 'small' they are." I really don't have much else to say.

This is something that I have worried about-a lot. I have probably put waaayyy too much worry into it because, truthfully, God didn't make a mistake. They are who they are and He made them that way! But one of the things that I've worried about is the boys playing sports. It's very likely that they will be either the smallest or among the smallest on their teams and for some of them, sports in general may not come so easily.

Steve on the other hand, isn't worried a bit. We've had talks about it numerous times and every single time he reminds me that he's already been through it and will know how to guide them. He's already been the smallest. He's already had to work ten times harder than the bigger boys. And he's convinced it built a tremendous amount of character into him. As long as they don't give up and go hard, he doesn't care how good they are. Right, I get that and I agree.

Yet regardless, I still worry. Blah!

However, over the last couple of months, I've gotten a different glimpse than I expected into the whole sports scene as I've watched my oldest fall absolutely head over heels in love with our nation's favorite pastime-baseball. Baseball is about as good as it gets. It's as American as apple pie.

He's fallen hard. As in, he goes outside and practices numerous times a day. And he listens to the Giants play on the radio as much as we'll allow. He knows all the players, some of their stats, all the rules of the game and will recount exciting plays to me. One of his favorite things to do in the morning is ask his Dad first thing if the Giants won the night before while he was sleeping. Because you see, he knew the score when he went to bed...but the game wasn't over yet.

He just loves the game.

As I watch him practice and practice and practice, I can see that he wants to do his best. And my heart breaks knowing that he probably won't ever be the all star athlete he aspires to be. But when I hear how much he loves the game, it reminds me that it's not necessarily about being the best.

It's about being able to play. And being a part of something bigger that is important and fun. He and his brothers will always have their size stacked against them but, their Dad is right. They're going to learn a lot. And they will fail. Their mama just has to learn to deal with it. Failing isn't bad in itself. It's what we do with our failures and how we learn to turn them into something positive.

I think I have more to learn as I watch my sons enter the sports arena. We're not going to be a super sports family. But we will have them play one sport a year probably. And I know already that it will be hard for me. Yet just as God will be building their character as they play, He'll be building mine as well when I watch them succeed and fail.

We start t-ball this weekend. You think this guy is going to like it? Is there even a question?

This is why we play sports regardless of size or talent. It's for the love of the game. And really, learning to love sports is an incredible gift we can impart to our boys whether they're amazing at it or not. It builds character, encourages hard work and creates memories.

Take me out to the ball game. I'm getting ready.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Ursula and The Individual

A couple of weeks ago, I took our Pilot in for its regularly scheduled maintenance. It worked out that my mother-in-law offered to have the boys that morning so, it was just me and the little girl. I was going to get a ride home but then through a certain turn of events, I ended up waiting for the car. Elliana and I did our share of walking around and we smiled at other customers waiting too. And then we met Ursula.

Ursula. She was a soft-spoken, gentle, older woman with bright blue eyes and sandy blonde hair. When she opened her mouth, I knew she was not American, as she had just a slight accent. But I couldn't quite place her ethnicity beyond European.

Then after a bit of chatting, I mentioned that Elliana was my youngest of four and only girl. She then smiled, eyes twinkling, that she was the seventh girl in her family and that the last one was a boy. She definitely had me beat. And I burst out laughing.

She then went on to explain that she'd grown up in Germany during World War 2 and that her father had fought in the German army. The more she talked, the more fascinated I became with this living relic of history. How incredible to meet someone who lived through that time. But as the time ticked by and she told me about her family, what stuck with me even more than an eye witness to an incredibly horrific time in history, was what she had to say about her family.

Don't get me wrong. She was respectful. But she talked about how her mother did her best but was very strict and didn't show much love. When you're number seven out of eight, that can't be a good thing. I can imagine her mother had quite a bit to carry at the time. And she even said that. She said she understood where her mother came from now with a husband away at war, terrifying things going on in the government and lots of children underfoot. But regardless, I could see, in the recesses of her eyes, that those younger years still stuck by her into her old age.
Not in bitterness, but in memories.

I didn't have very long with Ursula but the time I did have was really rich. We talked of her son, her grandchildren and how long she had been in the United States (50 years). And what I took from that conversation really resonated with me.

Here's what I was reminded of-my children are individuals. They don't understand that I have a handful of them. They all want me to be excited about their train track, cheer on their first steps and cuddle them to sleep. I can't simply treat them as a group. I have to remember that they are each little souls with hopes, dreams and a need for love.

Having a lot of children makes this slightly more difficult but definitely NOT impossible. I don't think that having a lot of children is a bad thing. Or that the only way to combat this problem is to have very few. On the contrary! I think having a bunch of kids is great (if I didn't, I'd be in trouble!). But, I must be balanced. I must remember. They won't always get the attention they want when they want it but I'm responsible, as their mommy, to see that they're ALL cared for. If they come at me en masse, it's my job to sort it out. They're individuals. They don't need to do it. It's my problem-not theirs. Rachel Jankovic talks about this in her book, Loving the Little Years. I would quote it but...I've given away all my copies and need to order more!! This conversation made her thoughts on the subject more real for me.

I think this is one of the major pitfalls I face as a mother to a lot of littles...forgetting that they're individuals. I see them as one huge blob coming to put their pudgy little hands all over me at once. And my "touching quotient" can be superseded long before they've had their fill!! But they just see themselves, coming up to their mommy who they love, merely trying to give her a hug or a head butt (ha ha-boys).

I've got to have the capacity to deal with it gracefully.

And that can only come through God's grace to me.

Unfortunately, I'll probably never see Ursula again. I would've loved to just chat with her for a time. But her story and her life, left an unforgettable impression on my heart. So much so that I'm thankful I ended up waiting a few extra hours at the dealership for the car.

It's amazing what God can teach you through others. Now I can only pray to keep that lesson in mind when they're all coming at me with muddy hands and feet, wet clothes from "watering" and sloppy kisses.

Take a deep breath...embrace the madness, kiss them all and then let it go.