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Monday, December 31, 2007

A December to Remember

This December has been one of the nicest I can remember. I should have blogged more often to share the love but I have accepted my limits on time management and I have embraced my ability to update once a month. If I do more I will be thrilled but 2008 is going to be about releasing myself from outside (and self-imposed) pressures to do it all and really enjoying and doing well the smaller list of high priority items. I made a real effort this year to keep Christmas simple and I was very pleased with my increased level of calm and enjoyment of the holiday season. I also noticed a reflection of my state of mind in my family. I think we all had a great time and appreciated being together so much more than years past.

One of the best things about this year was our change of address. Living in California again has been such a blessing for our family for so many reasons. We have spent so much more time with long time friends and family and I feel almost like we have "returned to the fold"! I think we enjoyed our time in Ohio but I now realize how much we missed by living so far away. We have also been so blessed to make new friends quickly and enjoy new traditions in our new community.

The elementary school that our kids attend is outstanding! We have been really happy with the quality of their education and amazed at the heartwarming family atmosphere created within the school community through a wide variety of events and activities. One of the best yet was a special visit from Santa during a morning flag salute assembly. The school sponsored a food drive that would benefit Camp Pendelton Marine Corps families. Santa arrived in a giant camouflaged vehicle with a group of Marines in uniform to pick up four pallets of donated food. Several classes had prepared special musical performances of holiday music and patriotic songs. This video is of some of the kids singing and signing "Proud to be an American" and I'm certain that there was not a dry eye in the group by the time the song ended. It was a great reminder of personal sacrifice and patriotism (my own feelings about this war aside).

***What were your December highlights?***

***Did you do anything different to better appreciate the spirit of the season this year?***

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Does the bickering ever end?

I am endlessly seeking a way to end the ceaseless bickering that goes on between my sons. If you have children of any age able to communicate verbally, I am certain that you know my pain. I cracked up recently at two specific ridiculous arguments between the boys. One happened on the way home from the airport after the boys had returned from a week-long visit to their dad's house in Utah. They were recounting all of their adventures of the past week but mysteriously neither one of them could agree or support the other about 75% of the details. If one said they went ice skating downtown the other insisted it was in Park City-you get the idea. After about 10 minutes of this I finally asked, "Hey guys, did you guys have any fun at all or did you just argue the whole time?" Amazingly, this incited another war of yeah we did argue-no we didn't-yeah we did... Unbelievable-arguing about whether or not they argue!

So the next one was even funnier. I wish I could even remember what started this conversation but it was about something that had happened at school. McCall has reached a point where I am constantly taken aback by his surprising wit and mental ability which does often lead him to produce a convincing argument based purely on his view of the world and with some disregard for fact at all. Oddly, this can sometimes be confusing for adults because he does make you think about the strangest things. He also has learned that calling an idea an "opinion" can excuse any actual need to support it with fact. So one of his favorite methods for weaseling out of a situation where he has said too much is by saying, "Well, that's just my opinion." While I can't remember the "thing" he was disputing yesterday, the conversation to a point where McCall said very calmly (even though the entire point of his discussion was to rile his brother) "Well, that's just my opinion." Landry had had enough of his arrogance and said right back to him, "Well, your opinion makes my opinion mad!"

I think I may have a future debate team on my hands!

So, I have to know...
Do your kids duke it out daily?
Are you prone to a verbal battle?
Does conflict cause you to shut down? (I'm a serious avoider.)
Do you have any great methods for putting out these "fires" and creating peace in your home? (Landry prays daily no to fight with his brother...McCall doesn't.)

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

So Grateful

1st day of SoCal wildfires #9
I was reminded today by a good friend that I need to let everyone know that our family and home was safe from recent southern CA wildfires. Yes, we are safe in spite of a few scary days of recommended evacuation. I am ever so grateful as the news keep showing neighborhoods in ruins and families with nothing left. The thing I am impressed by is the constant message that these people are just so grateful to be alive and have their loved ones with them. I think we all believe that we would feel the same way in the face of complete devastation of all of our precious worldly possessions but I don't think we can really understand how it truly must feel. I try so hard not to be materialistic but I can't help but feel a sincere pang of sadness when I think of the possibility of losing many of my beloved belongings that have become sentimental items and have so many precious memories attached.

I was so moved by one story shared by a friend at church. She had read a story in the newspaper about a husband and wife in Rancho Bernardo (which was incidentally an area where we almost bought a home) who were trapped in their swimming pool for 3 hours while their home burned as they watched. Several years prior the man had lost his mother and had become very bitter and angry over the loss. Before her death she had written a note to him in the front page of a book including the words, "I will always be your guardian angel...". After the fire while sorting through the ashes the man found this one page with singed edges. He was completely changed by this and finally found peace with the loss of his mother and the loss of their family home.

I remember the feeling as we packed up one car full of kids and photos and journals and not much else and I walked through the house thinking to myself, I really do have everything that is really important. It took us 4 hours to get to a nearby city to stay the night with friends and the part of the fires that was close to our community was contained before we even reached our destination. I didn't have to fear that our home would be gone when we returned but this experience has changed me and really made me so grateful.

Here are some practical things for you to think about:

* Are you prepared with your 72-kit for each of your family members? (I had not updated to include baby Griffin's needs and had to rush around to make sure that I had diapers, baby food, etc.)

* Do you have your albums, journals, family history, etc. in a central location that you could grab quickly in the event of a swift departure? (I did not and had to spend a long time running around the house gathering)

* Do you have a plan for a location for your family to gather out of town? (We did not but my mom helped with a quick solution and a few phone calls.)

* Have you ever spoken to your children about natural disasters and how they affect communities and what will happen in the event one occurs in your community? (Thanks to recent disasters such as Hurricane Katrina, we have been given ample opportunity to discuss this sort of thing at dinner and while watching news so our children understood what it meant when I said, "Get your backpack and pack your special things." By the way-I cracked up at what they chose: Pinewood Derby trophies, a coconut sent by mail to them at Grandma and Grandpa's while Mike and I were in HI, tattered "Bones"-McCall's beloved stuffed puppy, and pictures of our dead dog Jackson were just a few.)

Monday, September 10, 2007

Summer Hiatus is Over

Okay-so those of you who know me will understand why I had to take a summer blog hiatus. Our summer was full of moving and road trips and really, an unbelievable amount of stress which I will not labor over. I am feeling totally drained in so many ways and I realized I need to refill my creativity bucket. This is the best way I can manage at the moment since all of my toys are still in boxes. So I hope I can draw back some of my online support group by getting some regular posts going.

First-I am loving California! So for all of my complaining about the getting here part I have to say that soon I will surrender myself to the admission that it was all worth it. Yes-I am holding back a bit since we are still dealing with the moving company and a major insurance claim (oh yeah-I wasn't going to labor over the stressful stuff!).

We are all now at home together in north San Diego County and getting very comfortable here. I have always been a California girl at heart even though officially as of last year I had lived equal parts of my life in and out of California. Now I can get back to being a true native! I really do feel energized by being here and things are falling into place very nicely. Our home has worked out perfectly and I really adore our new neighborhood and community, school, church ward, etc. I even love doing errands here since this community was planned so well and really flows very nicely as far as the lay of the land goes. I have even found a friend at church to do a weekly morning swap with our littles so we can squeeze in a morning out sans babies.

We just returned from a weekend at my parents home in northern CA (another benefit of moving back here-being able to get there any time!) to listen to my sister's homecoming talk. She just returned from an LDS Mission in Berlin, Germany and she is doing great. I love the energy and excitement of a newly returned missionary and she was just bubbling over with passion for her love for serving others and her love of and commitment to serving the Savior. I'm so grateful that my children have had the experience of hearing first hand from her about the joys of her service and I am grateful for being constantly reminded of my own mission service and how happy that continues to make me feel.

So now for my moment to confess that I lately I am in a personal slump. I think this summer has taken a lot out of me. I have been trying to really focus on keeping it all in perspective and being so grateful for the wonderful and amazing life that our family has but truthfully I am feeling a bit of an identity crisis. I know it sounds cliche and that we all experience it. Here is my question to you-what do you do to maintain "you"? How do I manage all of my roles of mom, tutor, housekeeper, friend, etc. and still feel like a person of individual value? Is this just the eternal question we each ask daily? And I guess the bigger question is, am I selfish for feeling a lack? My husband seems puzzled by this idea that anything can be missing from my apparently very full life-which it is. Get vulnerable with me and share you thoughts!

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

We live in California!

Well-sort of! Right now our family is split between two cities in CA and most of us are camping out at Grandma and Grandpa's house and we still have one house in Ohio and one in Utah-anyone want to move? Mike and I always try to do things the hard way. But the good news is that the weather is great, we are all seeing each other every weekend or so and we get to hang out with my parents who in spite of our very energetic children, still seem to enjoy our company.

I've said it before and it has to be said again, I hate moving. I am constantly reminding my children not to use the "h-word" but it is just so fitting in this case. we're trying to talk my parents into moving to the San Diego area so that we'll never have to move again.

I am happy to be here and even though we are still not (and probably won't be for awhile) completely settled. I have rekindled a few of my cherished old friendships and spent some quality time with my parents who we have missed terribly being so far away. I love to walk around or drive around and think "we live here!"

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Moving Countdown...Part One

I knew I was in for trouble when early this year I declared my word for the year to be "FLEXIBLE". I think now my husband and children and maybe even some unsuspecting strangers may consider a change of my wishful-thinking-word to "GRUMPY". I really am trying to be a good sport but I honestly don't think I can find too many people to disagree with me that moving is beyond stressful. I know many of you feel my pain so I won't go on and on but I am up to my eyeballs in my least favorite kinds of details that need attention.

Part one of our move begins at 6:00 AM on Monday when I head to the airport to board a flight with 3 small children (one of them a nursing baby) for about 8 hours of travel time. I am locking up my house to be moved later and have arranged for about 1000 people to help me with the details of caring for, securing, and selling this home-hopefully very soon-while we are away. The good news is that we are headed for Cookie and Poppie's house to increase the adult to child ratio a bit. It will be wonderful to have more hands and we are all excited for the 'extended sleepover', as Jill so kindly puts it! My parents are excited now but we'll see how they feel on day 16 or 26 or... yikes! Hopefully Part Two of the actual move into a house in San Diego before school starts will begin soon. Mike and our realtor are working hard to make that happen.

We have been trying to do all of our "last time in Cleveland" things and we had one blissful evening of an unexpected last that was truly delightful. One of the most exciting things about living in a place with summertime humidity of nearly 80% is the magical appearance of fireflies at dusk. My boys were out in our lush green backyard playing in the trees and I heard squeals of joy as the flickers started to appear. It is a sad fact for fireflies but joyous to children that the poor creatures can't fly very fast and are easily caught and swiftly placed in canning jars. It is kind of an amazing thing to watch a jar of bugs turn into a summertime lantern and just something you don't get to do in sunny California. I was grateful for this last and pleased to know that this is something sweet my children will remember about our years in Ohio.

I long for the days when life seems more stable and permanent but in spite of all this madness I am still excited about the next adventure. I am so looking forward to some time at my childhood home with my own children and my parents especially after my mom's extended illness this year throughout her breast cancer treatment. She is finally feeling herself a lot of the time again and so looking forward to the arrival of "her boys"! It will be good medicine for all of us. (It's funny, every time I have typed the word "good" during this post I have accidentally typed "god"...there must be a message for me in that.)

I will post regularly again soon. Have laptop, will travel and blog!

*Any great secret tips on nursing a baby in public? I'm not so great at it and had a tough time when Griff and I visited Mike in CA in April! Please share!

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Life is too short.

I have been completely overwhelmed by a million tiny details and mundane tasks these past few weeks. I have been scattered and impatient and cranky and mean to my kids and quite honestly a major complainer to my truly wonderful and supportive husband.

Until Sunday.

At church our Bishop made a very somber announcement that a family in our ward had lost their 7-year old grandson in Alaska over the weekend when he accidentally drowned. None of the details were shared but you could hear a collective gasp from the congregation and my heart ached for this family I had never met or known and in a flash ached for many families I have known and known of over the years of my life that have experienced heart breaking tragedy. Tears started to roll down my face for this particular loss and also because I knew in my very core that I have got to stop letting the craziness of my life consume me and that I must acknowledge that our life here on Earth may be very short.

I gave my children on my lap and on both sides of me a squeeze and I vowed to slow down, if only in my head, and appreciate. Just appreciate. I am ashamed of the fact that someone elses tragedy is once again my personal lesson in introspection. I wonder if we ever feel that we are "doing alright".

***Is it a testament of perfect humility to recognize our constant lack or to work so diligently that we don't have time to notice?***

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

April Fool's Day!

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Okay-so every year I am always trying to come up with a great April Fool's Day joke and nothing ever seems good enough to really pull off. Well, this year was too perfect! I was really trying to come up with something good for Mike since he was getting ready to go to CA on Monday. He was so busy packing and taking care of a million things at the house to get it realtor-ready that something told me he might not appreciate a joke about me being pregnant or deciding that I really wished I were a man.

So about mid-day I shifted my devious focus to my kids who are really just now entering the age when they can be just gullible enough and yet enjoy the humor of a great joke. So while we were eating dinner I told them (with no warning to Mike) that we had been looking at houses in San Diego and they were really expensive (that part sadly, is true) so we were planning to buy a house in Mexico instead. I really had them going as I told them about how we would get a tutor for our family to help us learn Spenish and that we might even be able to get a donkey. Landry flat out said, "I'm just not going." (This is not surprising since he is the kid that orders a hamburger when we eat at a mexican restaurant.) I even told them that they would get to eat beans and rice at la cafeteria en la escuela. They were not impressed and McCall looked visibly uncomfortable.

So I could see that they had really taken the bait so I finally said that the only bummer was that Mexico didn't celebrate one holiday that we have in the US-April Fool's Day of course! It really was so funny because they thought we were just nuts and Mike jumped right in and really played it up. Poor kids. I crack myself up!

I actually think I am just getting punchy since I am a little crazed at being single mommy again for the next 3 months while Mike heads out to start his new job in CA. I'm in charge of getting and keeping the house tip top to sell and our next home might need to be a double-wide since homes in San Diego are apparently wallpapered in 24 kt gold. Anybody with friends or family in San Diego County please email because we need help choosing a neighborhood.

Don't get me wrong-I am really excited to be getting back to sunny CA but just absorbing a lot of shock right now. It is a good thing that Griffin is the perfect (albeit giant 95%ile everything) baby. He is the most amazing, sweet natured, adorable, all-night sleeping little creature ever! We are all so happy to have him. He helps me to keep perspective andwatching McCall and Landry dote on him just melts my heart. Mike is dying at being away so we are already sending pictures several times a day and we'll get the webcam going soon.

I'm still breathing and taking the opportunity to exercise my "flexibility" each day!

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Cookie Gets the First Laugh!

(This is a video clip-I'm still trying to get it to play for you so keep checking!)

I just returned from taking Griffin for his first visit to Cookie and Poppie's house in California. He has been smiling like crazy and seemed just about to laugh before we left. It turns out he must have been saving it for my cute bald mom because he gave it up just for her. She was of course delighted and it was just the sweetest moment. Cookie (Gwen) has just finished up her chemo and although you can't tell from the video, her hair is even starting to grow back. She has a little fuzz but Griffin doesn't seem to have too much more than her so far. He was a perfect baby sleeping for 95% of our 12 total hours of flying time. He received special acclaim by airline employees and travellers alike! My sister Katie joined us in CA so it was a really nice weekend. I left the big boys and Mike at home to go to work and school-Boo. They will surely be with us next time. It was just so nice to be able to see my mom and know that she is doing much better. She will begin radiation in a few weeks and should be done with her treatment by summer. That will be just in time for some exciting changes for us (I am being "flexible"!) since WE ARE MOVING TO CALIFORNIA! Mike just accepted a position in San Diego and will be starting in April. He'll commute between OH and CA until June to fulfill a consulting contract he has here and help to get the house sold. The big boys will finish out the school year and we hope to be moving by June/July. The cross country move makes my stomach turn but we have done it before and can do it again. At least we will be hiring movers this time! I can't wait for the sunshine and can't wait to see some of you a lot more often. I'll keep you posted and post more photos of the trip soon.
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Tuesday, February 20, 2007

My "Word" for 2007

So, I am sad to admit I have become more of a lurker of late than a blog participator, but I haven't stopped thinking about all of your sparks of inspiration that really make me think-- in absence of actual writing. I have especially been thinking about my word for the year and in light of recent events which I will elaborate on soon, my word for the year is "flexible" --well, really it is "be flexible". A newborn is re-teaching me the "go with the flow" required by his presence in our lives, my big boys' ever increasing scheduling requirements (not to mention their need for my attention) are testing my Franklin Planning skills, my husband's need for my support in many ways is nearly sending me to Dr. Phil, the demands of church and school responsibilities are pushing me to the brink of saying an occasional "no", and a mother and grandmother needing much love, support and daily phone calls are squeezing the very most out of my maximum capacity 19 hour days (not that I would trade it for anything). I know we are all in the same proverbial boat and I so appreciate reading about your lives to know that I am not alone in my daily quest for balance and hopefully progress. I think I have the beginnings of flexibility but control of my personal existence is pretty important to me and I am about to begin a course certain to involve some spinning. The prize I have my eye on is a mastery (or at least a decent appearance) of breathing in between calm recitations of my mantra "it is all going to be okay". So, here I go. Today I will bend in several different directions and my goal is to flex back to center at the end of it. Then tomorrow I can start again.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Tending My Nest

The following is an article that I found in an odd place but it struck a chord in my life right now as I juggle my "nest" full of a new baby and two other busy boys, life as mom, wife, church and school volunteer, and an individual with a commitment to creative development and personal growth. I am inspired by an article I found on a new website I discovered through a friend called, "The Grocery Game", which is a great place to visit to save money on your grocery bills but kind of an odd place to find such a meaningful note. I hope you enjoy and consider your own "Human Doing vs. Human Being" as I have been movitated to do.

"All too often, we make New Years Resolutions to take on new tasks and new
commitments that keep us so busy, that we become a “Human Doing”, rather than a
“Human Being”. How much can I really “do” outside my home, and still “enjoy”
my family? And to take it a step further… this is scary… What commitments
outside my home can I un-load? Another thing to consider… And this takes
some courage to really examine… Am I doing things because I want to receive
accolades from people outside my home? After all, praise and validation from
outside the home can be very gratifying. We all love those pats on the back. By
contrast, we don't get a lot of praise for taking care of our homes and families. So we sometimes neglect our homes and family, because we enjoy the praise or affirmation we get for being a "busy body" outside the home. I only know that, because I've caught myself being sucked into that from time to time over the years. So I ask myself... Am I filling my day pleasing other people so much that I don’t have time to enjoy the most important people in my life? Let’s take a brave look at that! As women, alot of us have fallen into that trap from time to time, and to some degree or another. Maybe the best New Years Resolution is not to add activities or to add more outside commitments, but to subtract from my commitments? That’s risky… What will people think? But then, if I’m more relaxed, and place less demands on myself, will I be more enjoyable to be around? Will my family be happier? Will I be happier, knowing deep in my heart that I am doing what's best for me and my family? The most precious times in my life are those moments when I can really absorb what my sons are sharing with me, or really listen to my husband’s great ideas and dreams. I know I’m not really good at that when I am over extended, tired, or pre-occupied. And yet, those are the moments that bring me the most joy! That’s what I live for! Each year, rather than come up with some more things to “do” for my New Year’s Resolution, I resolve to “do” less. I resolve to
start saying “no” to so many outside commitments. To take it a step further, I resolve to find some commitments to un-load. I resolve to be less of a “Human Doing” and more of a “Human Being” in 2007. I hope you’ll join me. "

PS: Take the time to stop by The Grocery Game. I have tried this for two weeks and saved over $80 on my regular grocery purchases! Good luck!

Friday, January 19, 2007

Signs of Life

Okay-so my life has been completely overtaken in the very best way possible. Griffin has been such a source of such pure joy in our house that it seems all we can all manage is to sit and play with him and tell each other how happy he makes us. Meanwhile, life is moving forward and I am getting seriously behind. I am barely keeping up which is why my Christmas cards turned into New Year's cards and those are not even all mailed out yet. I'm showering every couple of days now so that is progress and my family is getting regular meals so I keep assuring myself that we will get day! There are many days that I don't leave the house and my friends and neighbors have been so amazing to help with rides for the big boys and taking care of errands wherever they can. I actually attended a PTA meeting last week and my husband came home and saw that I had dressed AND did my hair and makeup and was astonished. Sad.

Anyway, I have had blog guilt now for several weeks so I am back to show signs of life and show off our little sweetie. I have at least 4 blog topics saved in my drafts so slowly I plan to catch up and get connected again. Many of you have sent wonderful and unbelievably thoughtful gifts and I am full of regret about my very tardy thank you notes. I think of you every day and my formal thanks are on the way. It means so much to me to be remembered in your busy lives. You all amaze me with your kindness and organization! I have all kinds of resolutions!

Keep watching for more...I promise!