Thursday, July 25, 2013

Tolkien, Our Anniversary and Safeway

We've had an eventful day.  Heck everyday is eventful.  It started so mellow and sweet.  This morning one of the girls from Cross Country visited.  Can I just say it now, I love this girl.  Such a great kid.  Everytime I get to hang out with her, I love every minute of it.  I'm blessed to know her.

By the way, Saturday was our 11th Anniversary so we went out to dinner at the Red House in Pacific Grove.  Best place ever.  Amazing.  Can't believe we've completed the first year of our second decade married.

Back to today...while she was here and afterward, there was a lot of playing.  You know, like this with big blankets stuffed into shirts.  

Here is Joshua dressed up as Bombur from the Hobbit.  Isaac read the book earlier in the summer and the boys have seen the movie.  All summer they've slowly been working on a Hobbit play.  Now when I say, "working on" I mean that Isaac has been walking around with a clipboard organizing, Caleb has been quizzically devising sets and props (machines) to be used throughout the show, and Joshua has been having a blast dressing up in the costumes.

Totally typical of all their personalities.

They've also been having quite a bit of fun (mostly fun, sometimes tears) practicing sword fighting.  Their sword fighting is quite comical.  Swoosh, whoosh, and a few high-ya's have snuck in there while they serenely prance around the house with their swords in hand.

As an aside, my husband swears that boys are better than girls at sound effects.  I know there can be the occasional exception to the rule, but I have to agree with him.  Okay...don't get all huffy...get your big girl panties and big boy panties on here.  Think about it.  He's not trying to be a sexist, just a realist.  In fact, every year, while studying some aspect of Physics-I think the Doppler Effect, he always asks his classes who they think can make better sound effects, boys or girls.  And then they compete.  He says, that it's hilarious because that is one area the girls just can't one-up the guys in.  They are toe to toe, even better than the guys in other areas but, sound effects, boys just own them.

Having four boys and one girl has only proven this whole aspect over and over to me.  My boys are good at these things.  Sometimes I am amazed at the grunts, tricks and sounds that come out of their mouths. However, Elliana is amazing at talking.  The way she explains herself at three, blows me away.  She knows her feelings and everything.  They're not always good feelings but, they're feelings nonetheless.

I love it.  We're all truly different from the get-go.  You'd think Elle would be really good at sound effects, considering the exposure she has to practicing them but, her little vrooms don't hold a candle.  Ha ha ha.

Okay, aside aside,back to this hilariousness.  The Hobbit Play is just one of many schemes the oldest child has come up with in the last year.  He loves to organize (I mean boss in a nice way) events.  Pretty much none of it has amounted to anything but he doesn't care.  It's the process, it's the organization itself that is fascinating to him.  Usually it involves a clipboard, a pencil and a relentless spirit trying to bamboozle any poor soul that comes into his path to be a part of his new idea.  This current project has his whole school (many of them don't know it yet) a part of his play at the Monte Vista small gym on August 10th.  In all reality, if the play gets performed, it will be for us, in our backyard with all of the brothers and maybe Elle if she's interested at the time.

One of my favorite parts of this scheme has been the random costumes.  They had to try on three different shirts to finally get one that would allow that big of a blanket to be stuffed into it.  They asked for one of Steve's but I steered them to some different choices at that point.  This is what they came up with.  This picture reminds me of some sort of twisted rendition of Charlie's Angels.  Not sure what's going on here.

People it is never dull here.  For instance, today we went to the store.  This sort of outing is very normal for me and not stressful.  But for some reason, the boys were bouncing off the walls.  They weren't disobedient, just loud.  "Mommy!  Look, watermelons!  Look!!  Look!!  Apples!!"  You would think I didn't feed them.  It was as if they were seeing fruit for the first time.  I finally got them to mellow once I reminded them of the consequences of their boisterous (and overly loud/rude) overtures in the middle of the produce section.

Then we got to the check-out where Elle proudly announced she had to pee.  Normally she can hold it for a few minutes upon her proclamation.  However, I had a flashback to our stop at the gas station just prior to the store where she had gulped down half the contents of my huge Nalgene water bottle and I quickly realized if I didn't get her to the bathroom quick, she was going to anoint the runway there with pee.  Right as I put all this together, the checker walked away from the checkstand to check on something I was purchasing.

I looked pleadingly at the bag boy, entered my bank card, told Elle 10 times to hold it and frantically looked around  for the checker.  Meanwhile, the boys had found a movie on Red Box and were all grabbing onto my arms wanting me to "see" it (i.e. get it for them).  I ignored them for the good of Elle, coaching her to keep her legs crossed and then realized, I had no other option...I had to get her to the bathroom.

The bag boy urged  me saying, "I'll tell her you'll be right back and I'll stay with the cart."  I glanced back at the ten people behind me in line and realized right then that I was a spectacle.  Oh well, we're always a spectacle walking around with five kids.  Might as well live up to the hype this time.  I sprinted to the bathroom with Elle in my arms.  Once there, I discovered that all three stalls were full and there was a line.  And from the smell of it, the inhabitants had been doing their business for a bit and weren't coming out anytime soon.

I didn't know what to do.  I had left everything, all the boys including the baby who was strapped into the cart, in the care of the poor bag boy.  Luckily I had put my card in and already paid.  Once the checker came back, she could finish the transaction and just put our stuff aside.  Finally after what seemed like an eternity, one person came out of the stall and the person waiting in front of me nicely let us go.

I was terrified at what I'd find when I got back yet knew I had to face the music.  I had left all of them without a word to hopefully keep Elle from peeing her pants.  However, I was pleasantly surprised.  All of the boys were standing right next to the cart entertaining Nathan, the checker had JUST returned (what took her so long I don't know) and I only got stared down by a few older males.  The lady right behind us was the sweetest older woman who just beamed at me and said, "I had five too.  Such precious kids."  Thank God.

I took the stare downs, smiled, grabbed my kids and exited as fast as possible...after getting a refill of Coke Zero of course.

So yeah...The Hobbit, a visit from a sweet friend this morning and then the crazy check-out at Safeway.

Just another day.        

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Our World

We are in our own little world right now.  The husband has been working out of town and taking the car with him every day so, we've been hanging out at home.  And truth be told, I am loving it.  I know I'm not going anywhere so, we just float through the day.  No crazy commitments.  No places to be at certain times.  Total and complete simplicity.  It's great.
The kids are doing great with it too.  We've done a lot of playing outside, going to the pool, chores, baseball at the nearby field, and school work at the table.  No hurrying up to get out the door.  For a time, it's a nice pace.  We have plenty of time for all of that once school starts again.
I'm enjoying all of these precious kids a lot.  Elliana recently started drawing family pictures.  They totally crack me up.  On the first one she had missed someone so, this second one is a complete composite of all of us.  I didn't show her how to do it.  She just did those little figures with the faces all by herself.  Hilarious.  Daddy is smack dab in the middle.  Makes sense right?
 I am loving every minute with this cutie.  I can't believe we've had him for almost a whole year.  Everyday when I wake him up and he greets me with his whole body wriggling to get in my arms, I just melt.
He is so loved.  I smother him with kisses everyday.  All the rest of the kids do too.  Who says kids get lost in big families?  This kid has it good!!
 I mean, look at that cheeky little smile...cracks me up every single time.
My oldest is going to kill me later on in life for posting this picture.  But I had to.  It was just too funny.  Steve has been teaching Isaac a bit of guitar and so, he's been practicing-everywhere.  Poor kid though; we need to get some new strings for the guitars.  They're both missing strings.  Kinda hard to learn much when you don't have all the strings.

Speaking of killing me later, this hilarious kid is always dirty.  It's usually the result of making some sort of machine.  This time was no different.  He was experimenting with blowing dirt and what resulted was a Hitler-like mustache.  When I saw this, I had to grab my camera.  He had no idea how funny he looked.  I know it's bad form to joke about something like that but, sometimes I must laugh at my kids.  They're so funny without even trying.
As for funny, this kid is keeping us in stitches.  The other night at dinner he was being really funny but also totally disobedient.  My poor husband, instead of helping him out as he's trying to correct him, I just burst out laughing and couldn't stop.  I USUALLY don't do that, but it was too much.  Just too much.  Love that cutie.
So that's what is going on in our world.  Not that much.  But really a lot.  Hope you're enjoying your summer.  Ours is going along quite swimmingly.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

All is Grace

Kim...this is for you.

A sweet friend came to visit today.  It had been some time.  She lives a few hours away and we've both been busy having kids or something.  Ha!  But anyway, I love catching up with old friends and today was no exception.  Of course, most of the time, the kids were running around and it was a bit difficult to keep the conversation fluid in between slips and falls, sibling fighting and little people wanting to tell their own stories, but somewhere in there, we got to catch up.  I loved seeing her beautiful face and hearing how she's doing.  She will always have a special place in my heart, that girl.

This friend of mine has two little ones.  Oh my, I remember those times.  People look at me with five children and think it must be so difficult.  I'm not going to lie, it is hard.  It's also easy too.  In fact, I think every part of parenting is hard, joyous and crazy all rolled into one.  But I remember two littles.  It's not easy.  In some respects is a free time with very little outside activities or school to attend.  But you have to do everything for them.  There aren't older ones there who can do most things for themselves and help with the others, mostly in the entertainment area.  My kids all play together.

And then that got me thinking about how when I started this whole parenting thing nearly eight years ago, I stepped out in faith.  Total and utter faith.  I had no idea how it would all turn out.  I didn't know (and still don't) if God will call me to bury one my own children, if they will grow up to be faithful, if they will love each other, or if they will succeed in the paths God will put them on.  It's all so risky.  And even more, it's really hard.

Just like love.

So often in our culture, if something is difficult, it must not be right.  We don't want pain.  We don't want difficulty.  We feel it's our right to be happy.

But that's not what God says.  He tells us, "Take up your cross!!"

"And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me."  Luke 9:23

I'm sorry but, dragging a huge cross in pursuit of the Savior doesn't sound that easy to me.  It sounds heavy.  Yet in a strange "oxymoronic" way, this is the path to life.  For without us taking up our cross, we cannot love.  We cannot give.  We cannot have faith.  We cannot see how God works through our circumstances.  But we must be willing to bear the weight and pull.  And if we love Him, we will do it, and in the doing, it will be joy.  Not happiness, but joy.

That's how the last eight years have been for me.  This isn't about me.  I think it is sometimes.  But then I'm reminded.  Pull, Nikki.  Work, Nikki.  Put your head down and trust.  Loving those I've been given can be treacherous, dangerous, tiresome and even really monotonous.  Okay.  Yet over time, the joy that is produced far outweighs any fast and furious high I could find out there in the world that just ends in emptiness.

Loving others is hard.  Loving others is not loving yourself.  That's only leads to destruction.  Giving yourself away is what it's about.  That's when God comes in with His supernatural power and shows that it's All Grace anyway.

I want to be the best mom and do it all right.  But I'm not going to.  More than wanting to do it all right, I just need to be faithful.  Faithful to Christ, to my marriage, to my kids and those around me.  In that faithfulness, I have to embrace the hard work knowing that it's producing fruit in the short term and the long term.  And then, as I go, I have to remember...all is grace.  The fact that I even have my life, is grace.

All is grace.  All is grace.