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?)