Tuesday, December 28, 2010

You want to take a Christmas picture of us, Mom? What are you thinking?

The holidays are always busy, but so much more so when moving into a new house and trying to settle in while at the same time getting ready for Christmas and working on a new house.  So, as you can imagine, getting a family Christmas picture and Christmas card out this year have been virtually impossible - don't hold your breath, I don't think one is forthcoming.  We have developed a family tradition of going Christmas caroling at retirement and senior care centers with my Mom's real estate company every December.  The girls thoroughly enjoy this and are learning valuable lessons about appreciating older people, and being kind to others that are less physically and mentally capable than themselves.  The older people are extremely appreciative for the children's presence as many of them rarely see children during the year and miss the experience.  This year, after the caroling had concluded, we went back to the office for a potluck and I thought I might just be fortunate enough to get one good picture of all 5 girls dressed in their Christmas outfits.  As you can see below, this didn't exactly turn out as I had hoped for.   But, I think we will laugh about these attempts in the future, so at the very least I have Christmas pictures of them this year for posterity's sake.  Notice that half-way through the photo session, #3 (in the middle) has red eyes from crying because she was sad that I insisted upon taking a few more pictures, and she was hot-to-trot to go and have a bowl of soup instead.  :-) 

Where is #4?

There she is! . . but now #3 is doing crazy eyes.

Looking pretty good, but not always getting the idea of looking at the camera.

#1's arms were too tired from holding #5, so they sat down in front of the tree.  #3 has melt down over not going immediately to the potluck supper, hence the red eyes from crying.

#3 & #4 trying to smile for Mom, but not exactly succeeding.  #2 can barely see over #4's head.

#1 is 7-years-old and gets the idea of taking several pictures in a row while the rest are having a hard time staying on task.

O.K.  This is really not working out.  I think we'd better give up for now and all go have a bowl of soup.  (Wow, Mom, it took you that long to figure this out?  :-)  )

Thursday, December 16, 2010

And the Fabulously Fun Item of the Day is . . .

. . . a Creatology foam snowmen craft kit.  Which, by the way, I bought last year after Christmas on a deep discount at Michael's.  I thought it was kind of silly last year buying this item and then just putting it away for a year, but imagine my great surprise and delight at finding it buried away in my Christmas items as I was getting them out to decorate this week.  Just what the girls and I needed to add a little additional Christmas pizzaz to our new house while still being in the midst of organizing and unpacking. 

After the girls went to bed, I got the hot glue gun out and and glued the snowmen on a piece of yarn and proceeded to hang up the snowmen garland above the fireplace.  I need to dig out some of my cords and computer items so that I can start uploading pictures again.  When I do, I'll post a picture of this because it's pretty cute - at least I think so.  The nice part about these craft kits is that they are pretty easy to put together, either with hot glue and an adult doing the gluing, or with regular glue and then leaving them to dry overnight.  All the pieces are included, but the kids can get creative and put together the item (a snowman, in this case) the way they want.  My 2-year-old even really got into this project and went gung ho on it.  :-)

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Lessons I'm Learning from my Kids: Time is Fleeting - Enjoy the Precious Moments

My baby just turned 8 months old and it seems like she was just born.  I'm trying my darndest to hold onto these sweet and so fleeting moments with her as she grows up before my very eyes.  It is so easy to get caught up in the day to day frustrations of the mundane and focus in on that instead of the wonderful blessing of time we have been given with our kids while they are still little.  Every year I'm learning more and more the importance of doing my best to major on the major stuff and minor in the minor stuff - but I'm far from perfect in this area and need to keep on learning. 

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Dance Recital

When Arianna's community rec. class (Tiny Dancers) fell through this fall, I signed up Isabella for a short 6-week class called "Street Jazz" (a mix of hip hop and jazz).  Isabella loves to dance and improvise, but hasn't taken a class for some time so I thought now that she is 7, it was about time to get her back into a dance class.  I'm glad I did because she had a blast!  She wanted to go to class every day of the week.
My pretty, so-sweet "big girl".

The kids were in the class for a short period of time, but were able to work hard and get a number prepared for a combined dance recital with the teacher's other classes from the YMCA.  Isabella's group peformed to the Lady Gaga/Beyonce "Telephone" Remix song.  Grandma was nice enough to lend Isabella and old cell phone of hers that is no longer in service to use as a prop during the dance performance.  

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Life in the Country

Our barn-shaped house with an already fenced-in yard for the dog.

Well, a new phase has begun in the life of our family.  We have made the move out to the country - a new house, a new school for the kids, a new and longer commute for the hubby, and all the new differences from living in the middle of a city to living further out in an unincorporarted part of the county.  And, as you can see, I am finally reconnected to the internet - albeit via wireless internet because that is the only type of service available to us in our location (who would have thought?).  

I've missed blogging for the past couple of weeks, but to be honest, daily life just took over anyway and I'm sure I wouldn't have had time to blog even if I had wanted to.  The first couple of days of the move were very stressful for me.  I do pretty well managing day-to-day stress with 5 kids and staying calm through most situations, but when it comes to big transitions and major upheaval, I am quite the opposite.  I feel very tense, stressed out, and almost immobilized for a day or two wondering where I should begin to tackle the monumental new task.  For me, this was compounded by my stove not having arrived (and it still hasn't) and having to rely on 1 electric burner, a toaster, and foods I can keep in the fridge that don't need to be cooked.  Thankfully, I have my parents close by and they are very involved in our family's life; they sensed that I needed not just the physical help to get my house to look more like a home, but also the emotional help that this would bring.  So, God bless them, they came over two days in a row and helped whip all my major rooms into shape by cleaning, helping me re-arrange furniture, unpack boxes, and generally make it more livable while I continue to unpack.  Then, the day after, they came back with me to the old house to clean that out some more as it needs to get ready to be rented.  So, this week I have come full circle from wondering, "What in the world did we move for?", to "I'm so glad we made this move; this is such a blessing!".  Now as before, home is where a new page of our story will begin to be written.   

View from my kitchen window.

View from the front of the house.

Dog playing behind the house.

Looking down the driveway to the bridge and creek.

View from the bridge up to the road.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

You're still hungry???

Apparently, my children who are all still quite young have failed to realize that Thanksgiving Day is the "Great Day of National Over-Eating" in the U.S (which is just fine with me).  They understand the joys of getting together with family, hanging out at Grandpa and Grandma's house, playing with the grandparents' dog, watching cartoons on cable T.V. that they don't see at home, eating a yummy piece of pie for dessert, and playing with the toys in Grandma's toy box.  But, when it comes to sitting down for Thanksgiving dinner, they seem to eat the same or less than any other meal of the year.  There are a couple of reasons I think that this is true.
1.  Holidays are exciting and this can actually reduce the kids' appetites instead of increasing them.  2.  Many of the holiday foods that adults enjoy and serve are foods that are not commonly found on our tables throughout the year.  To the adults, stuffing and cranberry sauce may sound like a delectible delight, but to children this may just seem strange and unappetizing.  

All in all, my children ate quite well.  They enjoyed the fresh fruit and vegetable appetizers as much as any of the main dishes, but none of them ever got anywhere near over-eating.  Of course, I was full as we were preparing to leave to go back home, having had a lovely dinner prepared by my mom, pie for dessert, and an eggnog lattte to top it off.  So imagine my surprise when the first question I get from the kids after getting into the van is, "What's for supper?".  Of all days of the year, this is the last day I would imagine needing to eat more after coming home from feasting, but as it turns out the girls needed a snack upon arriving home.  Good thing Grandmas sent so many leftovers home with us! 

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

DIY Preschool: Easy Seasonal Wreaths

Arianna and I were reading one of her preschool books about Autumn and saw this easy idea for making a leaf wreath.  You trace a dinner plate onto a piece of cardboard (or cereal box, etc.) and trace a smaller bowl inside the bigger circle.  Cut out the outer circle, cut one straight line to the inner circle and cut it out, too.  Then, tape the cut line back up.  Next, collect fall leaves and your child can glue them on as they like.  Arianna also cut eucalyptus leaves off the tree outside our house and made a second wreath; we then put more glue on the leaves and sprinkled glitter for a Christmasy look.  I like this kind of craft because it is simple, my child can do almost all of the work herself, and it is fun.  Here are our results.  :-)


Packing and Moving

We are in the process of packing up our current household and moving everything to our new house.  In the meantime, my hubby is also remodeling part of my new kitchen and doing repairs on our current place as it will become a rental.  So, if my appearance on my blog seems rather sporadic in the coming weeks, please forgive me.  My brain is most likely in 10 different places at once and I will be in the midst of upheaval and re-adjustment.  But, I will be back and at it, as usual, as soon as possible.

Friday, November 19, 2010

An end . . . and a beginning

Isabella's first day of 2nd grade, this fall.
Transitions in life can be so bittersweet.  Sadness and sentimentality about leaving the familiar and comfortable; excitement and anticipation for the new, and the exciting possibilities of the unknown.  Today was one of those days for me where emotions ran high and I felt the exhaustion from "feeling" so much.  It was the last day of school for my oldest two at their current elementary school which we have come to love and appreciate over the past 2 1/2 years.  The teachers, of course, have made the school what it is: an exciting and fun learning environment for the kids.  The girls have had excellent teachers and have thrived under their tutelage; the girls have made plenty of school friends that they will miss, as well.  This is the part that is hard to leave.
**Up to this point in the post, I have been typing with one hand while breast-feeding the baby, as I so often do.** :-) 

Selah's first day of kindergarten, this fall.
And then, there is the excitement of moving into a new house with a spacious piece of property where the kids can get out more in the fresh air, play outdoors as much as they want, and grow up in the country.  The new school where the girls will attend is also an award-winning and excellent school in a school district that is know for being "good".  I'm sure the girls will do well once they settle in and make friends.  I realize that I'm taking this harder than they are because as an adult, I realize that this transition will probably take longer than either of them realize.  They will have the initial discomfort of being the new kid in class and showing up in the middle of the school year.  They will have to learn routines and rules that are already habitual to the other students.  They will have to try and break into already established groups of friends and forge friendships of their own.  I'm a little nervous for them, but also know that both of my girls are friendly, smart, and kind and will find their way.  I have to remember that even though they are kids, they understand situations in a more complex way than I may give them credit for.  Children are resilient and bounce back.  Thankfully, this is a positive move for our family and a blessing in every way; the "pain" of our transition will be relatively painless in the long run.  I'm so thankful for where we are at and are going.  But, I also know that it is okay for my mommy's heart to shed a few tears in the process. 

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Looking Through a Window

Yesterday morning while dropping my kids off at school in the line of cars lined up at the curb, I had one of the little moments in time that takes you by surprise.  I saw a very simple exchange between two people that touched my heart in a way that I'm not even sure I can describe - maybe because it is so tied into that which makes us human, it was unexpected, or because it was simply sweet.  I pulled the van around the corner and was driving past a well-used blue pick-up truck.  I looked through the back windshield and saw a dad kissing his daughter goodbye to send her on her way to school.  This dad and his daughter live in my own neighborhood and I see them almost everyday, squeaking in to school in the nick of time or just barely late for the start of school at drop-off time.  I've never seen a mom so I really don't know if there is one involved in their lives or not.  This little girl has to be about a 4th grader, so she isn't very little anymore.  Other days, I've seen her either walking hand-in-hand with her dad to be dropped off or picked up from school, or the dad carrying her eventhough she is at an age that might seem too old for that.  And this is what I see about these strangers that touches me:  a dad that obviously loves his daughter and isn't afraid to show it (even in public); a daddy's girl (so much like my own daughters); and a parent that is making those little moments count.  Because in the end, when our kids are grown up, we will want to have made the little, special moments count and hope that we didn't make mountains out of mole hills. 

Monday, November 15, 2010

What are the odds . . .

. . . that not only one, but both of my school-age children would be honored in the same school year for their writing?  I found out from Isabella's teacher a couple of weeks ago that an essay she wrote about a field trip had been singled out to be recognized for a writing event in the Escondido public schools.  So, imagine my surprise last Friday when I came to pick up the girls and find out that Selah, as well, is being recognized out of all the kindergartners for her writing.  As it turns out, the school district holds an event during the school year in which 1 child from each grade at each school in the district is honored for their writing.  An invitation was sent home with the girls inviting us to this event, "Best of the Best 2010: Young Authors Writing Celebration".  As a mom, I have always just been so pleased that my children enjoy school and have not struggled academically, thus making this part of parenting much easier.  But, I must say that I am more than a little pleased that my girls are also excelling in this area of academics; it does make my mother's heart feel full with the joy and satisfaction of seeing my children do their best.  So, congrats to Isabella and Selah at a job well done!  This Mama is proud of you!

P.S.  Thanks to Isabella and Selah's 2nd grade and kindergarten teachers for always going above and beyond in your classrooms and with your students!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Veteran's Day, hitting closer to home

I'm ashamed to admit it, but I haven't given Veteran's Day the time and attention it deserves in the past.  Both my grandfathers were WWII veterans, as was my husband's grandfather, and I've heard snippets of stories here and there about their experiences at that time, but it still all seemed very distant.  We have friends, Rachel and Aaron, who were stationed here in San Diego for quite a few years and Aaron was deployed to Iraq three times in rapid succession during that time.  I'm amazed at the service of Aaron as he was in harm's way so often during those years and the sacrifice of Rachel and their children as they were without their husband and dad so frequently.  I don't know if I ever properly thanked them for this; so, thank you, Rachel and Aaron for all you have given and done for our country.  Our friend Janene is also another individual that has served and continues to serve her country in the military and to her I also want to say, "Thanks".  

But, what really brought this all to the forefront of my mind is that my brother is now serving in the Air Force as a flight surgeon and will undoubtedly be deployed sooner or later.  This has brought the meaning of Veteran's Day closer to home for me because my own little brother is one of these men and women that has chosen to perform this duty of sacrifice and service to our country, thus ensuring that the citizens of the U.S. stay safe and protected in this country that we love so much.  I hope that I will take this federal holiday more seriously in the future and teach my children about its meaning and importance (instead of them viewing it just as a day off of school).  So, thanks Little Bro!  We are so proud of you!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Lessons I'm Learning from my Kids: I'm not always in control and that is okay

  So, I had to take Dakota in for her 6-month physical (just a few days before her 7-month birthday) and I thought how nice it was going to be taking only 3 kids in for one of these visits.  Lately, it seems that either 4 or all 5 of the girls have been at each other's appointments and it gets pretty crowded in the appointment rooms, not to mention the behavior management on my part that must go on; despite all of this, we had done pretty well in the past 6 months on our doctor's trips.  But, last Thursday when it was just #3, #4, #5, and myself going in to the doctor's office, it would seem that Arianna and Livia did not get the memo about proper behavior while Mommy held on a discussion with the pediatrician regarding Dakota. 

I know for myself, and I think this is probably true for most individuals reading this, that I care about what other people think about me and my kids when I am out and about.  It is great when we are having an "on" day and everyone is behaving like a perfect angel; we get compliments and accolades about our "well-behaved children".  Then, there are days when the exact opposite happens (and you moms all know what I am talking about):  the toddler throws a fit in the middle of the grocery store at the top of her lungs, all the kids are zooming around in circles and touching things while I shop even after all the expectations have been clearly laid out, the girls outright ignore me when I am asking them to do something (and in front of other adults, no less), etc.  You get the picture.  So, on this particular day, when the pediatrician arrived in the room, some little switched flipped for Arianna and Livia; they went from having a very obedient day to trying to talk to Mommy at top volume while I was simultaneously trying to speak with the doctor.  Of course, it is always awkward, also, to stop in the middle of this sort of situation and hold on a "chewing out session" with the girls in front of another adult.  The pediatrician (which was actually someone else in the practice and not our regular doctor) stopped at least twice and told Arianna to stop talking and let her talk to me.  Yes, I wanted the floor to open up right then and let me fall in a hole, but unfortunately, no such thing happened. 

A few thoughts occurred to me sometime later, while reflecting on this incident. 

1.  I remind myself from time to time that my embarrassment level when out with my children should not drive my behavior, but this is easier said that done.  So, I need to keep reminding myself that the safety and well-being of my kids is more important than how I feel at any particular moment.  I do like to follow societal conventions of proper manners and common courtesy, but when my kids fail in this area, I need to respond to them with their best interest in mind and not just my wounded pride.  If it is a big infraction, there should be a consequence, but I need to be sure that I am seeing the situation objectively and not just jumping to a punishment based on how I am feeling personally.  

2.  I need to remember that these little "incidences" are such a small moment in time, barely a blink of the eye when considered in the bigger perspective of life.  At the doctor's appointment, the girls were really very well-behaved for the majority of the time and disruptive for a short period of time.  In retrospect a few hours later, I realized how it really wasn't that big of a deal.  

3.  My kids are small human beings that have choice and make decisions on their own, sometimes against my best instruction and recommendations.  I need to do my best to be the best mom that I can be and leave the rest to God.  God is always in control and I am not, so when a particularly poignant situation such as this arises, I need to remember that it is okay that I'm not in control of everything.  I need to trust Him with the ultimate well-being of my children.

4.  I read an article some time back that spoke of how American parents generally feel that the discipline and instruction of their children is solely their own responsibility and business and that strangers, acquaintances, and/or friends should not involve themselves in admonishing or instructing the children others.  In other countries the opposite is true, such as France (as referred to in this article of forgotten origin); others are not only encouraged to participate in corporately rearing children, but are expected to step up and say something to a misbehaving child.  It would seem that "it takes a village to race a child" mentality is firmly behind this practice.  And, although I prefer to do the majority of instructing and disciplining of my children myself, I should be more open to outside contributions to the instruction of my children for their own betterment (such as was the case with the doctor speaking to Arianna) instead of taking it personally and seeing this interaction as a reflection of failure on my part in the parenting department.  

Monday, November 8, 2010


I hardly ever take the time to accessorize my outfit; heck, I'm lucky if I can just get out of the house looking half-way decent in jeans and a T-shirt.  It's hard enough getting 5 girls dressed with their hair fixed and ready to go somewhere, much less planning ahead an outfit for myself that even matches (maybe this is why I like black so much - so simple and straight-forward).  But, lately I've been poking around in my jewelry box and occasionally throwing on a necklace or a pair of earrings before running out of the house (it's in there, so why not actually wear it once in a while?).  

This Sunday, I put on a matching necklace and earring set that is a turquoise and brown color scheme and it reminded me of this really fun store that I went to a couple of years ago out in Dallas.  My family was in Dallas for my brother's graduation from medical school and we took a trip out to Sam Moon,  a huge accessories warehouse where you can buy jewelry, hair things, purses, scarves, etc.  There are tons of necklace and earring sets that only cost $5.00, which seems like a steal when I think of it.  You can order from them online, as well.  Of course, there is shipping and handling, but if you divide it up between all of the pieces you were buying, it would probably on come out to be a little more than a dollar/ per set of jewelry.  It might be a good Christmas shopping website if you have friends and family that like accessories. 

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

A Way with Words

Two weekends ago I was listening to the radio program "A Way With Words" on NPR in the van on the way home from Sunday lunch.  The hosts began the program by discussing their favorite opening lines of novels.  Being the somewhat nerdy person that I am with two degrees in Spanish, I always find these sorts of in-depth discussion of language to be fascinating.  Almost as soon as this topic came up, I knew immediately which first line of a book I absolutely love.  Here it is:   

"It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife." (Pride and Prejudice)

Obviously, this quote does not hold the same meaning and social implications today as it did in Jane Austen's time, but nonetheless, every time I read this line it grabs me and instantly drags me into the novel.  My mind is off and running and ready to soak in the dialogue and ambiance of late 18th century England.  When I read an engaging, captivating, and fascinating first line of a novel, I am instantly ready to have the words wash over me and engulf me and allow me to be lost in the joy of reading a wonderful piece of fiction.  

What is your favorite first line of a novel?  

Monday, November 1, 2010

Tricks and Treats

Trick:  Maneuvering an 80 + lb. pumpkin into a wheelbarrow with my mom at the pumpkin patch and into the back of the minivan, and watching my hubby carry said pumpkin into the house while I balanced it for him without having it fall and break.

Treat:  Having a very large, beautiful pumpkin in our house that only cost a total of $10.00 and will produce more pumpkin for cooking and baking than we will know what to do with.  The girls have named the pumpkin "Big Fred Sam Garcia".

Trick:  Livia, my 2-year-old, refusing to wear her Halloween costume for trick or treating last night.

Treat:  Livia having already donned the costume briefly for Mommy so that I could take pictures of the girls in costume before leaving the house.

Trick:  Isabella and Selah not closing the door to the house properly on the way to get in the car before leaving to trick or treat.  Consequently, the dog escaped down the street and hubby (Mexican cowboy for the evening) had to run after her like a mad man (she likes having us look like the village idiot, dashing down the street after her and then running her back home with a grin on her face - I'm imagining a scene from "Marley and Me" as I write this)

Treat:  Receiving sweet puppy kisses upon our arrival back at home.

Trick:  Having too much candy in the house which is bad for our teeth and Mommy's waistline (I'll be gleaning to reduce the amount soon enough).

Treat:  Having lots of candy around for awhile so Mommy can choose her favorites from the bunch - especially that full-size Butterfinger in Livia's bag (my favorite; and she's 2, she doesn't need something that big, right?)

Friday, October 29, 2010

Fall is in the Air

Our goof-off.

Always ready to strike a pose.

Doesn't get much cuter than that!

A magical moment.

My little cowgirl.

My five beautiful treasures!

Grandma doing one of the things she loves best - spending time with her granddaughters.

Monday, October 25, 2010

A Lovely Sunday Surprise

Yesterday morning, my hubby was out of the house at 2:30 a.m. to go up to L.A. and run the inaugural Los Angeles Rock N'Roll 1/2 Marathon.  The girls and I still headed off to church, just with one less pair of hands on deck to help get everyone dressed and ready to go.  We did fairly well and sidled into the back of church five minutes late or so; I told the girls it was better to be there a little late than to not go at all.  All in all, though, the morning really didn't feel all that hectic, for which I was thankful.  

While drinking coffee and chatting with friends after church, one of our priests came over to me and said he thought it was wonderful that I had gotten up and out the door that morning to come to church with the girls without Augustus.  He and his wife and another couple proceeded to invite me and the girls out for lunch as a treat to us.  We all went to a nice restaurant together and had a lovely lunch and visit.  The girls managed to employ their "formal dinner manners" for nearly the entire meal and were quite pleasant, if I do say so myself.  Augustus surprised us by being able to make it back down to San Diego to join us for lunch, also, which added to the fun.

In retrospect, as I was thinking back to our time yesterday, I realized just how blessed my family really is in the generosity that has been shown to us by all of our friends and family with whom we have regular interaction.  We are a family of 7 which could be an intimidation factor when inviting us out for a meal at a restaurant or into someone's home; and yet, in our experience, it is usual to go to others' homes to share in a meal and fellowship.  I feel extra, especially blessed by my own experience when I reflect on the reality of many big families in America that are not so fortunate as to have friends and/or family that welcome them with open arms into their homes for meals, parties, or just to visit.  So, to those of you reading this that know big families, I encourage you to consider inviting them over to your home for a meal or another fun event.  (I am not saying this to my own friends who already go above and beyond the call of generosity in this area).  It may seem like launching into the unknown when imagining your home being filled with a small army of children not your own, but I encourage you to take the challenge nonetheless.  Just be sure to put breakable objects and precious items out of reach and be prepared for the joy of managed chaos.  A big family that you know will be blessed by your generosity and who knows, maybe you will realize that you, in turn, are being blessed, too.  

And to the wonderful friends that took us out to lunch yesterday, thank you for the lovely time and may the Lord bless you for the love that you have shown us!

Friday, October 22, 2010

On the lighter side

My darling, precocious 4-year-old.

Recently, the girls and I have read aloud several times, "The Berenstain Bears and the Week at Grandma's".  The premise of this particular story is that Mama and Papa are going on a 2nd honeymoon back to the resort where they honeymooned many years before; and, Brother and Sister are going to stay the week at Gramps and Gran's house. 

So, this morning while were are driving home in the van from dropping Isabella off at school, Arianna brings up the subject of honeymoons and I explain that Mama and Papa Bear go on their 2nd honeymoon as a type of fun vacation years later after the 1st honeymoon and that the kids stay with the grandparents while the parents are away.  Arianna then proceeds to declare that she will leave her children with me when she goes on her 1st honeymoon.  Which leads to the second explanation of the morning:  that you get married first, go on your 1st honeymoon, then have kids, and can go on a second honeymoon later, if you would like.  This gets the girls thinking and Arianna tells me that she has decided where she is going for her 1st honeymoon with her husband when she grows up and gets married, and, that she will tell me the special location when we arrive home.  As soon as we walk in the door of our house, I ask her if she would like to whisper to me this secret.  She says, "No, Selah can hear this, too.  I am going to PARIS (with great emphasis) on my 1st honeymoon!"  (All said very enthusiastically and with a twinkle in her eye).   

I find this all to be quite hilarious!  Arianna, my middle child that is sandwiched in between the other 4 girls, is very opinionated, decides what she wants and does it, and rarely changes her mind.  So, to watch her set her mind on a honeymoon destination at the age of 4 tickles me pink.  I wouldn't be surprised if she ended up going to Paris on her honeymoon someday.  The other aspect of this conversation that is neat is that Arianna still thinks that whatever Mommy and Papi do is still cool.  Augustus and I went to Paris last summer with just Livia (and 9 months after coming back, Dakota was born) and when we came back, the other 3 girls heard all about our trip and constantly look at our Paris pictures on the computer.  As a mom, it is special that my kids are still interested in what their parents do and want to go and do likewise (at least for now). 

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Lessons I'm Learning from my Kids: Take Joy in the Simple Things

#2, #3, and #1 at the Wild Animal Park last spring.
As an adult, I seem to often focus in on the "big" things that are going on in my life, week, and schedule.  I sort of brush aside the mundane, every day items as daily tasks and nothing else;  and, then I look forward to the next big event, family outing, or date with my hubby in a somewhat exagerrated way, as if it will bring me more happiness and joy in my week than usual happenings.  There are times in my life that I take joy in the little things more than others, but I find it a temptation to not be fully "present" in my tasks at each step of the way.  This all leads up to my outing last week with my dad (Grandpa) and the 5 girls.

Dad and I decided to take the girls to the Wild Animal Park last Friday because Isabella and Selah were not in school due to parent/teacher conferences.  Of course, as the parent I was thinking of the wonderful and spectacular opportunites that were awaiting us on this outing.  It was a cloudy, overcast day which is a good thing at the Wild Animal Park (as temperatures can easily soar 100 degrees on any given summer day).  Over the years, we have learned to let the kids direct the progression through the Wild Animal Park and Zoo; it is a more enjoyable pace and easier than trying to race from place to place with an unwavering agenda.  Over time using this method, we have managed to see most everything in these two destinations and the girls have had the opportunity to truly explore and discover during these adventures.  Friday was no exception.  The girls climbed through a play log, were fascinated by two hornbill birds that were clacking their very large beaks together, took an extended walk down into the Heart of Africa area and observed many different birds along the way, ate lunch, played at a playground, watched several gorillas out and about, and finally talked with a big, blue macaw while exiting the park.  

On our drive home, I asked each of the older 3 girls what they had enjoyed most that day at the Wild Animal Park. As to what I was thinking, I was betting that they would mention one of the aforementioned activities that had seemed so fun and exciting throughout the day (and I'm sure they were).  But, no, each of them completely surprised me in their answers.  Here is what they said: 

Isabella - "Feeding the Fruit Loops to the ducks" (discovered on a bridge that another child had dropped; probably not an approved activitiy according to the zoo keepers).
Selah - "Eating the strawberries for lunch that Grandma sent along as a surprise."
Arianna"Riding on Grandpa's shoulders."

I realized that my children were enjoying each part of their day for its own intrinsic value.  One activity was not necessarily "better" than another on the excitement meter based on conventional ideas of fun.  They were just taking each moment at a time and enjoying it for what it was worth.  They were being "present" in the moment, which is what we as Christians should be doing anyway, and taking joy in each of God's gifts.  And, they were practicing the truth that all of life is a sacrament (, not just the parts in which we partake at church, but also all of our daily experiences along the path of life.  And hence, the "favorite" activity of each girl was a simple item that stood out to them and they were able to appreciate if for what it really was rather than judge it on some arbitrary scale of what is supposed to be fun or not.  God wants me to teach and guide my children on a daily basis, be He has also given them to me as a gift and blessing and I am learning from them constantly, as well.  

My lesson to remember:  take joy in the simple things; be present in each moment; practice the truth that all of life is sacrament. 

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Wordless Wednesdays

As I've visited other blogs around the blogosphere, I have encountered the craze of Wordless Wednesday.  As of today, I will begin my own attempts at this, at least for the time being, and see if I enjoy it.  It may become a regular feature, but I don't like to commit too quickly to these kinds of fads until I've had a chance to see if they and I fit well together.  Of course, I've already committed the grave error of using this many words on a Wordless Wednesday, but it seemed to require a bit of explanation for my first go at it.  So, here it is:

Monday, October 18, 2010

6 Months Old . . . Already!

Dakota is already six months old.  My babies grow up too quickly for me.  I am one of those people that love the baby stage (this isn't to say that I haven't been enjoying every other stage that my children are progressing through, though).  This might be due to the fact that my babies have all been "easy" infants, or maybe just because they have sweet baby fat; darling, adoring smiles for their family members; require absolutely no discipline at this stage; spoiling them is not a problem yet; and above all, babies seem to emanate love and receive love so readily in return.  There are moments when I am holding Dakota in my arms and she is grinning at me and pulling me close that I feel like I can barely catch my breath; the sweetness of the moment overwhelms me and I'm at a loss for words at the joy of being the mother to this precious, wonderful little human being.