Wednesday, February 29, 2012

A Girl and Her Clothes

As Elliana gets older, I find that she is clearly forging her own path in this here family. Never mind she has three brothers. She definitely has no problem just being her own feminine self and I love to watch it.

A couple of weeks ago, Auntie Sarah came over to visit and indulged her in her favorite game...dress up.

She tried on ALL of her shoes....

Many different articles of clothing....

And once she was done with one thing, she had no difficulty expressing her desire to try on something else.

I had a blast watching the two of them. It was seriously precious. In all seriousness, I think Auntie Sarah had just as much fun putting on her clothes too.

I think Elle's going to make it in this family of men.

She definitely knows who she is.

PS: Auntie Sarah, you're a saint and we love you!!

Monday, February 27, 2012

The Monday Report

Well my friends, the first round of midterms is over!! It actually didn't end up being as crazy as I thought it would be. Because Steve had Monday off, he went and worked nearly all day which meant he got a TON done! So by Thursday night, he had finished both of the midterms up. We got the whole stinking weekend with him. It was seriously glorious.

Thursday my mom called and asked if we wanted to go out on a date Friday night. Ummmm....yes, please! And since Steve was finished up, we were able to go out for the whole evening. We dropped the kids off at dinnertime and then headed to downtown Santa Cruz which is pretty close to my parent's house. We walked around hand in hand and finally settled on a place to eat-Kianti's, which serves really good Italian food and pizza.

For some reason we really connected at dinner. This doesn't always happen when we go out (gasp!! yes, I'm admitting it!). We always have fun being together but, sometimes we're tired or stressed or just who knows what!! One of the times we went out recently, I felt so sick at dinner (1st trimester woes) that I ordered a large Sprite and loathingly watched Steve eat-definitely not our finest hour. Ha ha! But this night, probably due to the first round of midterms being behind us, we were able to enjoy each other, talk and really connect. I was so thankful.

Since we had the whole evening, we decided to go see a movie after dinner. It had been a long time! Steve suggested The Vow. I didn't know much about it. But when he mentioned that it was based on a true story, I was intrigued. It ends up the story is about the sister of someone we know from Cal Poly. I want to write more about this movie later. But I'll just say this...I silently cried throughout the entire movie. I'm NOT a crier but, after having an amazing dinner with my husband and watching this incredible story of a man laying down his life for his wife who had lost her memory, I seriously bawled. Mostly because I knew that I was loved that way and I didn't deserve it.

We ended the night with incredible ice cream from the Penny Creamery. Their ice cream is made in-house and they have all sorts of amazing flavors. We decided that one flavor that Steve got and one that I got were the best combo (Yes! We indulged and got doubles!)...we'll know for next time. By the time we got back to my parents', it was late and we had the best of times. But since it was late, we decided to just let the kids sleep and crawl into bed ourselves upstairs in one of the extra rooms. Nevertheless, just as we decided, I heard it, the barking cough...I had no idea who it was, but I knew what it was-croup.

I ran up to the kids' room and exclaimed, "Who is that?" as I was fumbling around in the dark trying to grab the sick kid gasping for air before they had gotten too worked up. You see, we've been through this before...a couple of times now. Croup sounds so horrible but really it's okay. You just have to get the child calmed down quickly enough to be able to breathe and one of the best things to do is to immediately go outside with them. The cold air forces the inflammation to go down a bit so they can breathe. In times past, we've had to go outside numerous times in a night to try and help a struggling child breathe.

I was about to turn on the lights but then heard Josh let out a cry. It was him! So I grabbed him, yelled at Steve to help me and ran him downstairs. Out the door we went. Steve is the master of calming down children in these types of situations and so he was on duty. I went back inside for Joshy's inhaler (more as insurance, it doesn't necessarily help tons with croup) and a blanket. By the time I came back he was coughing and able to breathe a bit better. Phew! I was SO thankful we were there when this happened and that it didn't fall on my parents. They're troopers for sure and amazing with the kids but it's so scary and the last thing I ever want is for my babysitters to have to deal with situations like that!! Lucky for us I had packed some Tylenol, just in case, since Caleb had shots that day. That came in handy since Josh was also burning up.

It ended up being a long night with Joshua. We've all had them. Yet, we actually hadn't had a night like that in awhile. One of us had to be holding Josh all night to calm him down when he would wake up not being able to breathe. But once he was calm, his breathing would get better and he could fall back asleep. Steve and I took turns. Amazingly, we only had one night like this with Josh. In the past, when we've experienced croup with the other two boys, there were many nights of waking up and barking/struggling to breathe. But Friday night was the only bad night. We've been super thankful!!

The rest of the weekend was spent resting the sick child, visiting with friends, and spending time with Daddy! I felt like I was on vacation. I didn't want him to go back to work today!! Such a great, full weekend despite Joshy being sick. The best part was getting midterms done early and spending all of Friday night out with my best friend. Truly the best!

Until next time friends...that is today's Monday Report.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

In Which I Confess My Strangest Craving Yet

A couple of weeks ago I was checking out of the grocery store with my gaggle of kids behind me. That's when the checker started making some comments on a few of the purchases I was making. For one, I always hate when checkers make comments because I am usually known for having random things in my basket so I get embarrassed quick. Just check me out, don't analyze me. Normally I shop at multiple stores like Trader's, Costco and our local Safeway to get all of our food stuff so, the purchases don't always go together.

Speaking of which, let me digress for one moment. One time, many years ago, I was getting ready for Steve's graduation party from Cal Poly and I was making a bunch of Greek food. The phyllo dough I was making called for Vodka. We were also out of light ice cream (emergency!!) so I went to the store and picked up those things and a few weight watchers dinners. The cheapest Vodka just happened to be in the biggest bottle so it looked really funny. At the time, I also didn't look a day over fifteen so, I got carded and the once-over for my strange set of items. With eye-brows lifted the checker said, "Looks like you're in for a fun night!" I did live in a college town at the time so I don't totally blame him. But I didn't think they were all that random but, hey at least I was 21 at the time and legal.

This time I was buying a bunch of the usual- produce, some crackers, beans, etc...and I had also thrown about five or six weight watchers dinners into the cart (there they are again!!). I actually don't normally buy those. That's the truth!! I used to buy them when we were first married to have on hand when Steve was going to be gone for dinner and I wanted an easy grab but it truthfully has been years since I've purchased them. That's mostly because they're expensive and I cook, every single night now.

But right at the beginning of this pregnancy the nausea set in and it set in quick. My stomach didn't feel right for weeks and often it was a chore to choke down some food. I felt this way all the way up until the end of my first trimester. I didn't want ice cream (SHOCK), I didn't want salad (what I eat nearly every day for lunch) and I didn't want any of the other sort of normal comfort foods that I usually love and eat all the time.

However, I discovered one thing that I could stomach and that one thing was-weight watchers dinners. I saw them at the store and was transported back to our early years to when I ate them occasionally. Amidst my stomach churning and me loathing every food item I came in contact with at the store, I thought, "That actually sounds good to me" so I ran with the feeling and ignored the fact that I was eating diet food while pregnant. At least it was food and I wasn't going hungry!! Steve gave me a bit of a sidelong glance when he discovered them in the freezer but I just told him that they were the only thing I could eat so he shrugged and said, "Well buy them then." Anyhow, I started stockpiling them and eating them for lunch when I felt the most queasy. At dinner, I was either feeling well enough to eat some of what I cooked, or I just didn't eat much at all. For weeks this is how I made it through thanks to the simple weight watchers dinner.

But I was also quite ashamed of this little habit I had picked up because it was oh so strange. I'm not usually given to pregnancy cravings but this one was not a normal one at all. Who craves weight watchers fettuccine alfredo? On a few different occasions I would have Steve pick them up for me after studying so that I would be spared the embarrassment of getting them regularly from our local Safeway. What a trooper that man is.

On this particular day, I had bought five or six thinking that would get me to the next week. Plus they were on sale-score! That's when the checker picked one of them up and said, "Oohhh I like that one. It's quite tasty! And not too many calories either!" I melted through the floor. I was hoping she wouldn't notice but lo and behold, she had spoken the words and I knew my secret was out. I felt I needed to explain.

So I blurted the whole thing out to the checker and all of those listening in line. I said, "You see, I'm pregnant with my 5th (to which they all stared at my flat tummy with disbelief-not realizing that I'm not really showing yet at this point), and I really can't think about eating anything but these weight watchers dinners. I know it sounds crazy but, anything else makes me literally want to vomit. So instead of fighting the urge, I've just given in and I eat them every day for lunch. Yes, it's expensive. Yes, it's diet food. But if I can't eat these, then I can't eat. That's just the plain truth."

She just stared blankly at me and then the guy behind me, who was a middle-aged man, just busted up laughing and he didn't stop until I had paid, loaded everyone up and left the store (which equals a lot of time). I think my confession, my mountain of kids (plus the promise of another) and the whole situation just about did him in. But you know what, I was laughing too. All of us were because it just sounded so ludicrous and I knew it. Why oh why??? I will never know.

Now that I'm almost 16 weeks, I've been able to move past them but not without a fight. I still want to buy them, but have to remind myself to show some restraint which means I might pick up one or two here and there!! I can eat regular food now and have mostly fallen back into my old routine of foods (although I still don't really want my ice cream-double SHOCK!).

I'm not quite sure what that craving says about this baby but, I guess it could be worse. For now, if it means I still eat a Santa Fe Rice and Beans once and a while, I guess that's all right. I have a feeling, this craving might be around for the long haul.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Belated Birthday Boy and Monday Report!

This is in lieu of the Monday Report that never happened yesterday. It was Caleb's 5th birthday but after the weekend of festivities, I was comatose and could.not.move a muscle once the kids went to bed! I deliriously remember Steve gently moving me to my side of the bed when he finally crawled in but other than that, the evening was a blur.

So here is my belated birthday post and Monday Report. Unfortunately, due to technical difficulties beyond my control, the slideshow I had created for him with all of his darling pictures, won't post. So you'll just have to enjoy a few of my favorites here on the blog.

Caleb's 5th birthday party was attended by family and a few close friends/neighbors. The children enjoyed a flashlight walk/treasure hunt around campus where they searched for Finn McMissile's (from Car's 2) stolen treasure.

They were adorable on the hunt and ran hard from place to place! Afterward they enjoyed an oreo cookie ice cream cake with Finn McMissile on top (just as Caleb requested). It was a fun time and relatively easy for us to pull off. I like these types of parties! The best part is that it was exactly what he wanted. So, win, win!

On his actual birthday, Monday, he had a Monkey Bread breakfast. I've been trying to get my children onto the goodness that is Monkey Bread for ages! But they just balked at it. Finally, Caleb agreed to have it as his birthday breakfast. We can just say, they liked it. The entire mound of gooeyness was gone by dinnertime.

Steve had to start his midterms yesterday so after breakfast he went to Starbucks for the day and the kids and I went to Pump'd which is an indoor bounce house play area. We never go there because it's quite pricey. But it was the perfect thing to do as a special birthday outing. All afternoon he rode his new bike with his buddies at the school and then the day ended with his favorite dinner-chilli with all the fixings. That kid is easy to please. It was definitely a wonderful 5th birthday.

Now here are my reflections on him actually turning five:

I very distinctly remember when Isaac turned five years old. In fact, I wrote about it here. It was a pivotal parenting moment for me because I really felt like the foundation had been laid for him. Now that's not to say that we were done training him or anything like that but, I just knew that for better or worse, the cement had been poured and it was set. Gone were the years of pouring into his little soul; the years to come were for building. And my prayer was that the foundation we laid was strong enough for us to build on.

Once again, I feel the exact same way. Yet also a bit different because even though Isaac was our first and everything is hard with your first, he wasn't as hard as Caleb. Isaac was more textbook. Caleb, well he had no instruction manual and we needed one!! With him, it hasn't always been easy mostly because he was born with an intense amount of determination that usually seemed to manifest itself in a bundle of emotions and stubbornness. There are many times that we had NO idea how to direct his fight. Often he would fight the wrong things, like us, rather than his fears, frustration, anger or failures. In the thick of it, Steve would remind me, "We just have to direct his fight. It's good to be determined. It's a good trait; it just must be pointed in the right direction." Easy to say, not easy to do.

But now that the foundation has been laid, I have hope. He's a good kid. He's a strong kid. And he doesn't always choose right, but often now, he will fight for what is good and wrestle with what is evil. Now if only we can nurture that will of his and make it grow! God help us!!

Caleb is our quietest boy, but he's always thinking, creating and working. He's got a knack for designing then building, and his knowledge is simply intuitive. He blows me away on a daily basis. Caleb is extremely loyal (don't ever mess with any of his siblings or he will tackle you) yet highly compassionate. Our little man of few words has a HUGE heart and a logical but wild imagination. These past five years have been tough at moments but, seeing him now gives me so much hope for the future and makes me joyful.

To my precious second born son, who came into this world kicking and screaming amidst a fast and furious labor...we adore you.

You have taught us more things than you know and we will never be the same.

We pray that we will get to watch you grow into a man who loves the Lord with all his heart, seeks to do what is right and loves others. We'll always be here cheering for you and praying for you as you learn to navigate life.

We're so proud of you!

And that my friends is today's Monday er...Tuesday Report.

Thursday, February 16, 2012


I had a nice little chat with one of my best pals a few weeks ago and she and I were shooting the breeze about life like we normally do. Except that when I speak with my peeps, even our shooting the breeze, somehow has significant meaning, if you know what I mean. You all have those types of friends...the ones that just clarify things for you without even meaning to, the ones who encourage you even in your stupidity, and who care for you through thick and thin. of those friends. I'm blessed with a good number of those in fact and I'm thankful for all of them.

Anyhow, she and I were discussing how often, in both of our lives, we've done things backwards. For example, Steve and I got married BEFORE we both graduated college. Yes, people we did. And let me tell you, we got some major flak for it. I'm not saying that's the only way to go. But for us, it was right. We had been dating a significant amount of time, knew we wanted to marry and felt that it was time to commit ourselves. Nothing wrong with that. Oh but there was to many others. We went against the societal "norm" that looks to have people "settled" in comfy jobs, big incomes and steady situations before they wed. We were just college students. But those first years were absolutely foundational to our marriage. They taught us to live on quite a little, to work hard, to learn to build together, to be generous with what we did have and to save diligently. I wouldn't trade those years for any sort of comfort at all. So in that, we were backwards.

Then we got pregnant only a few years in (a little over two years to be exact). At least both of us were graduated at this point (yes, both of us finished!). But Steve didn't have a steady job at this point yet. He was an intern at our church making pennies on the dollar to supervise high school students and run their events. It was a super fun life, but not financially expedient. We knew he needed another job but months of looking found us nothing. Finally, at the last minute, God provided a teaching job at Steve's old high school. And we transplanted our whole life, with a three day old infant in tow, back up "home" to see how things played out. Definitely not done the "smart way." Backwards.

Then we started having children. Lots of them. Less than two years apart. In this part of the country, that was just unusual. Very unusual. Didn't we know how this whole thing worked...the birds and the bees, I mean? If I had a penny for how many times I was asked that, I would be a millionaire. I thought the answer was obvious but, anyhow, too much information. My point is that we went against the norm with that too. And so, we found ourselves once again, backwards.

After a few children, Steve decided he really wanted to pursue his Masters in Math. It would've been easier for him to have done it earlier. Truthfully, it would have been. Because then, we wouldn't have all this "baggage" (children) to carry around with us while doing it. Wouldn't that have been the best way? But it wasn't. Not for us. For Steve, this was the best way. He needed time, maturity and the pressure of providing for his family to turn out some of the best academics of his life. He's always been smart enough but his will wasn't there before. So even though it was backwards, in the end, it was best. Ironically, he's been more successful now in his studies than he ever would've been in his early twenties because he needed to grow into it. It's amazing how that works.

But also, here's the thing. Difficulty is difficulty. Yet difficulty isn't necessarily bad. I think we like to set ourselves up to live cushy lives. I'm not going to lie. I want to be cushy. Nevertheless, cushy isn't what builds us and stretches us as people. And sometimes, surprisingly enough, doing things backwards is the only way to go forward. Because when you have to work hard and go against the grain, you learn something called perseverance and that pushes you to work that much harder and reach that much further. Difficulty builds character. Difficulty inherently produces success of some sort in the end. It may not be "earthly" success. But success is there if you look hard enough.

Everyone has their story. Yours won't look like mine. And it doesn't need to. But don't be afraid to do things different. Definitely seek wisdom. I do think there's a difference between being backwards and being straight up foolish. But, if you feel you're on the right path and you want to honor God, ask Him to bless it and trust Him as you move forward.

As I was chatting with my friend, we finally came around to the conclusion that out of all the backward things we had done in our lives, God had still blessed us both-tremendously. It may have taken us longer to get where we wanted and we may not have accumulated all of the wealth or possessions we could have if we had taken a safer path, but it was clear. God was with us. For without Him, there is no way our backwards wanderings would've ever turned into a clear path-ever. His ways are higher than ours. And He does whatever He pleases. All we can do is trust what He has for each of us and then try and do our absolute best with what He's given us.

Let me just say this. If I had taken the safe route, I may not have ended up marrying Steve (tragic!) because, in other people's words, how can you commit to someone when you're so young? And if we had waited until Steve went through grad school to have children, we definitely would not have had the wonderful life that we have had here. And we definitely wouldn't have this big boy....

Or this brave boy....

Or this little man....

Or this little darling...

Or this precious gift to come...

I'll take backwards.

It's been worth every single second of hard work and tears to me. The lessons have been invaluable and the blessings God's given, too numerous to count (well, five definitely for sure). Our hearts are full.

PS: For those of you who didn't catch my hint, we are expecting #5 in mid August. August 11th is the due date, which is the day before Steve and Isaac's birthday. I'll be 15 weeks on Saturday.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Pillow Talk

When we were just wee newlyweds nearly ten years ago, there were quite a few things we had to get used to about each other. One of these such things is a typical male/female difference. I love to talk and analyze the day and my husband, well we'll just say that he's usually used up his words by the time our heads hit the pillows.

This posed a problem-often, because in my naive sort of way, I would chatter up a storm while we were "drifting off to sleep". And Steve, after awhile, instead informing me he wasn't listening anymore, would just start twitching and breathing deeply, which is a nice way of saying that he'd fall asleep with me mid sentence.

At first, because I was a foolish young wife, I would get offended. How dare he fall asleep while I'm trying to share all the concerns in my day!! Doesn't he care about me and my feelings? Yet to him, he could not understand how I could be half asleep five minutes earlier while watching a movie, and then bright eyed and ready to talk once we crawled into bed? This did not make any sense to his Mathy, male, logical little mind. To him, going to bed meant going to bed to sleep not to chat it up.

But it made perfect sense to me. When we did crawl into bed, I finally felt like I had his full attention. There weren't any was just him and me. And all sorts of things from hopes and dreams to fears and worries would just start popping into my head. I couldn't help it. Yet because we were newlyweds, I didn't have the history with him yet that reinforced his love for me. I knew that he loved me and was committed to me in my head for sure. But I hadn't seen that love played out over many years of doing life together because well, we just hadn't gotten there yet. So, I was more insecure in these types of circumstances and more prone to hurt feelings.

Yet this is why God has made marriage to last a lifetime. Because years of life circumstances in the midst of loving bring understanding, clarity, and at times compromise, to these sort of rough edges. And before we know it, we understand one another's tendencies and weird habits in ways that years before, we never would've been able to.

Many marriages end in divorce nowadays and it's so sad to me. I think it comes from a lack of patience for what is to come. Many simply don't want to sift through differences because love should be the easiest thing in the world if it's true love, right?! Wrong. Love is work. Love is labor. And love is perseverance. But it's also the most beautiful thing in all the world. Marriage is difficult at times. It can be messy. Figuring out how to love another in spite of yourself is one of the hardest lessons to learn. But good things are built one brick at a time, not slapped together. The long view must always be in sight. When I was younger and first married in my early twenties, it was difficult for me to understand that there was a whole lifetime ahead to learn, to change and to believe the best.

I haven't been married that long. But I've been married long enough now to know that no matter what, there's always hope. Always. The difficulties are more bricks being laid in the foundation. The joys are the windows. It all comes together with God's orchestration and over years and years, all of it becomes an incredibly beautiful home built by grace, forgiveness, truth, overlooking/forgetting faults and love.

As we've gone through moves, job changes, pregnancies, the births of many children, grad school and just life, our pillow talk has evolved. Most nights I'm not up to chatting myself into oblivion anymore because I'm just too plain tired. And when I do, Steve has made more of an effort to be there as long as he can before falling asleep. Yet once he finally does drift off, and I feel that familiar twitching that I now adore so close to my side, I fall asleep full because I know he loves me; I've seen it over time. So I don't need to worry if he didn't hear the whole story. There's always tomorrow.

And we both know, that as long as God has the two of us here, there will be many more tomorrows.

'Til death do us part.

Monday, February 13, 2012

The Monday Report

Another week has flown by and I'm happy to report that much has been accomplished. Lots of noses have been wiped, dirty clothes have been washed, empty tummies been filled and yummy cheeks been kissed. A couple of things have stood out for me though as I reflect on the week.

I finally feel like we are in a rhythm with Steve's school. This is a huge relief. Steve is getting so much studying done during the week that sometimes (like this past Saturday) that means that he finishes early and then comes home! He was home at noon on Saturday. It was like Christmas to me. It won't happen that way all the time but, when it does, I'll take it. We also got some paperwork done that pretty much confirmed what we thought...he will have four classes left to graduate after this semester. If we can somehow afford it (and if he can get the classes he needs), he'll be done by Christmas. If not, it will be Spring 2013. Either way, it's not far. It's so nice to see an end in sight and to know that all of his hard work is going to pay off.

The boys have been hilarious lately. Last night, during a major wrestle session with their Dad, Steve decided I needed to get in on the action. So he took me hostage. I yelled for the boys to save me. I had no idea. But they went absolutely postal on their Dad. They were punching him and kicking him like they've never done before and dive bombing him from the coffee table like crazy. He finally "gave me up" and the boys then collapsed on the ground in happy exhaustion. This here Mama felt quite loved and cared for. Afterward, amidst the glow of victory, Caleb came and laid his head on my chest with a contented smile that spoke volumes...he knew they had protected me by fighting as hard as they could, and he was glad I was saved. However, they were all so tired afterward that they fell right to sleep.

Elle went on her first date with her Daddy last night to the Father/Daughter Valentine's Day Party at church. I know she's only 1 1/2 but, I was SO excited to send her on her first Daddy date. She was a tad out of it as we had to wake her up from her nap a bit early to go but, when she came home she was all smiles and Steve said they had a splendid time out. Darling.

By the way, I love how Elle is holding a gun and a baby in her fancy dress here. Cracks me up. Caleb just grabbed her and smiled as big as he could. He wanted to take a picture with his baby sister-hilarious.

Today I've been putzing around doing my normal routine of laundry, baking bread, school with the two boys at home, finishing up Valentines for tomorrow's parties and building with legos. Not a bad way to spend a Monday.

Tomorrow my mom offered to send Steve and I out for a few hours in the early evening for a Valentine's date. Priceless. It's been awhile...I.cannot.wait.

I've had a lot of things on my mind lately that I want to write about but I've been a tad tired. Soon....

Until next time my friends.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Man's Glory

I read something recently, over at Doug Wilson's blog, that just made my day. In fact, it straight up made me feel downright special. Because I know that my husband sees me this way. He lives it (despite my shortcomings). And I want my daughter to be this type of woman when she is grown; to be won and then to love and be loved in this way.

Doug wrote to fathers, as he often does, with respects to raising strong, capable, lovely, feminine daughters. I felt celebrated, valued and honored as a woman, made in God's image, to be the glory of man.

Check it out:

Caryatides and Their Glory

You won't be disappointed.

Monday, February 6, 2012

The Monday Report

Well folks, it's been another busy week. Week three is down of the crazy semester and all systems are still a-go. We're starting to find our feet a bit-that includes me and the kids, Steve and the kids, and of course most importantly, the man and me. We're going to get there I tell ya. And we will all survive. It's actually been a bit more doable than I first thought. God's grace has been evident, that's for sure.

We're also starting to think about post-graduate plans as Steve will be graduating in the next year. Now that is much more weighty. And to be honest, in light of our current family load, it is a decision that carries quite a bit with it. I'm trusting God to guide us but, this will probably be one of the bigger decisions we've had to make so far. Good thing we are planners and not spontaneous, impulsive doers. I'd liken us to the government, slow, calculating and needing lots of paperwork (i.e. good evidence, research) to move forward. The only problem is that we can get caught up in the bureaucracy. But that is why we're starting to think/pray and hopefully prepare now. We'll get there in God's timing.

Speaking of paperwork, I finally got our taxes filed today. I was waiting on a few forms and once they came in, I was able to send them off. I just LOVE doing our taxes. I am a CPA's daughter so, it has always been naturally interesting to me. When I was a little girl, I used to use my Dad's tax forms to draw on (the other side was blank) and I lovingly referred to them as my "Taxy Paper." Now I just use TurboTax. It's fast, easy and I love watching the little counter go up as I fill in more information. It's kinda like a slot machine except the end result isn't entirely left up to chance (although with the government you never quite know)...but rather to how many children I have (yeah for lots!!), how much tuition we forked out for the year, etc...Currently, our tax return is our savings account for future tuition payments so, I'll take every penny we can get.

I'm also happy to report that there weren't any bread disasters this week. I remembered the yeast and everything went according to plan. Which was good for my kids because they ate the disfigured bread last week and although it was ugly, they still thought it was all right tasting. Nevertheless, the squeals of joy upon seeing today's loaves were a definite reminder that last week's little mishap didn't quite go unnoticed by them. I was glad to make it up to them.

Today, Joshua and Caleb played two board games together, quietly, for over an hour. This is monumental. I got to take a shower, get ready and prep lunch all before having to drag them out to eat. Those two normally do not get along as well as Isaac and Caleb. But after today, I began to have some hope. Hope for Josh being that he was able to sit down and play a more complicated game with his brother without driving Caleb nuts and hope for Caleb that he was able to be a good big brother and help Josh when he needed it without getting frustrated. Of course, I didn't get a picture of it. Shoot!

Like many families across America we watched the Superbowl yesterday. However, due to Caleb not feeling so well early in the morning (another minor stomach ailment-he was totally fine in a few hours...but will it ever leave?), we had to cancel our plans. We were going to watch it at my parent's house because Steve still needed to finish a shed he had been building for them. It seemed logical to go there, finish the shed, then watch the Superbowl, especially since we don't get a single channel at our house! But with Caleb under the weather, we had to change our strategy. However, since it was last minute, we didn't know what that would be. And I had a big heart struggle about it.

You see, I knew that Steve needed to watch the Superbowl. But I also knew that I couldn't manage another day with him gone for hours and me by myself with the kids-especially when I wasn't expecting it. I knew it wasn't fair. I knew it was bad timing. But the fact of the matter remained the same. I couldn't do it. I mentally couldn't do it. If Caleb wouldn't have been sick, we could've all been together wherever we went. But with him sick, none of the rest of us could go, even to a friend's because nobody would want to be around any of our kids until it was clear they weren't sick too (understandable). I wrestled with it all day and finally fessed up.

Honesty is always the best policy. I explained to Steve my inability to cope with the prospect of another day/evening with him gone and he immediately resolved that he didn't need to watch it (my husband is a football NUT so this was quite chivalrous of him). He was kind, understanding and gentle. I, of course, was relieved. And God rewarded him for his kindness. Steve happened to check online for the game and it turned out that NBC was streaming the game for free and it was excellent quality (a lot of times games streamed online are pretty choppy)! So we all got to huddle in our room in front of the computer, eat Taquitos and Lime Tortilla Chips, typical Superbowl fare, and enjoy the game together. I was so thankful.

And here's another reason for me to be thankful. This little gal just kills me every day. She of course drives me nuts too with always taking her clothes/shoes off, trying to put on new outfits and "go pee pee" on her little toilet all the time (she's not potty-trained...she just wants to be like everyone else). But I love to let her play with my hair-things, necklaces, etc...and she loves it too. For the last 7 years I've had to steer the boys clear of those things, but now I can say with full gusto, "Go to it little girl! See what pretty things are in there. And make yourself beautiful for that is what you are. Beautiful."

Until next time friends...that is today's Monday Report.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

In Which I Explain My Love for Cal Poly

Just had to show some love...hope this explains my strange affection for the place.

I know I talk about beautiful, amazing Cal Poly a lot. In fact, those of you who aren't alumni, probably think that I'm a bit strange for being so in love with my alma mater. However, I haven't met a Cal Poly alum or student that doesn't LOVE the place, ya know? (They're probably out there somewhere, but I've never met one). We don't even have to know each other. It's like an instant connection. "You went to Poly?" "Yeah." And then there passes a supernatural understanding about how awesome the university is because all who attend there just know...there is a certain affection for the place. Seriously, it's palpable. I don't know why, but it is.

Academically speaking though, there are reasons. Not only is the school located on the Central Coast of California in San Luis Obispo, arguably very near paradise, and perfect in every way as an adorable, little Americana town, but this quaint, polytechnic university boasts some big things. "Learn by Doing" is the mantra of education at Poly and an excellent education is what every student with a diploma at the end of 4-6 years (let's be reasonable here...ha ha) walks out with. For many years, US Newsweek has named Cal Poly one of the top schools on the West coast for the money. And really, it's cheap...really cheap. I also saw an article last night from US Today, posted by another Poly grad, that reminded both Steve and I why Cal Poly is such an AWESOME place to get your undergrad education. It's very difficult to get into but, once in, you're guaranteed an amazing education.

College Acceptance Rates

In the article, Cal Poly ranked 5th, meaning that they accept only 15.9% of the applications they receive every year. They were ranked right behind, Yale, Princeton, Stanford and Columbia. And they beat MIT (my husband's dream school). Take that, you Ivy League Schools. Ha ha!! Did I mention that my education was a fraction of the cost of any of those aforementioned schools?

What's not to love? A superb education, a perfect location, an excellent price, super competitive academics...but best of all for me are the memories:

It's where I met my amazing husband.

And also made some lifelong friends.

So I guess, no matter what, I'd still be biased and think it was the BEST place in the world. Because, well to me, it is.

Ride high, you mustangs. Ride high.