Oct 27, 2008

My Guilt Free Holiday Season

The holidays are just around the corner, and as the panic starts to rise inside of me at the thought of digging the Christmas decorations out of the dusty closet in the garage (I never did find the fall ones..is it too late for those?) I refuse to let the guilt get ahold of me this year. Therefore, before any of the madness even starts, I will make myself some guilt-free rules.

1. I will not beat myself up because I don't know how to make those cutesie little bows on top of packages, even though I was hired as a gift wrapper at a department store years ago and had an employee show me over and over how to make them. My presents may be simply wrapped (or gift bagged, for that matter!) but I will remember that it is the gift inside that matters, not the packaging.

2. I will not spend hours trying to get the perfect family photo to send out to friends and family (ie: the photo in which all six family members are matched to the tee, smiling, standing up straight, and arranged in front of the Fashion Island Christmas tree) If I have to use a family photo from the beach this summer in which we are all sandy and mussy-haired but accounted for, I will do so.

3. I will not fret about baking twelve dozen cookies for the annual cookie exhange this year. If I do muster the energy to bake myself into an oblivion, I will not feel bad if mine are not the prettiest on the table and/or if they are the bar kind you can cut into teeny little pieces.

4. I will not spend hours at the mall, Target, etc in search of the perfect gift for each person on my list. I will do my best, but if I have to resign to online and catalog shopping, so be it. And if the perfect gift cannot be found within reason, I will remind myself that the people on my list should love me just as I am, not for the gifts I might buy them.

5. I will not let it be the end of the world if I have to settle for an e-mailed Christmas card this year, as the thought of licking 75 envelopes, addressing them by hand and purchasing stamps seems a bit daunting. (Thank you, facebook, blogs and the like. You can all see my family at their finest on your computer and save it forever)

6. I will not worry if my house is not picture perfect when the family arrives, or if there are dust bunnies under the guest bed and crumbs on the floor. The most important thing is spending time with those we love, not impressing them, right??

7. I will not feel bad if we don't eat on our Christmas china or make hot cocoa in those adorable glass snowman mugs I have because I simply don't feel like doing four loads of dishes. Paper plates are a wonderful invention, and even come in festive colors. Though, if we eat on plain white, I won't bat an eye at it either.

8. I will not cry if we have to set up the fake Christmas tree instead of trekking up to the mountains or the Home Depot parking lot in search of a perfectly symmetrical pine tree. Fake trees can be decorated nicely these days, and some even come with a fresh pine scent. No fire hazard included.

9. I will not fret if I have to wear the same black dress I wore to the annual work Christmas party last year. I will remind myself that I am being economical and practical, that no one will really care what I wear anyway, and that I should be thankful it still fits after my dive into the fudge tin last Christmas.

10. I will not, under any circumstances, bear any guilt if I regift a present this year. (Don't worry, it won't be yours. )

Sep 12, 2008

On the other side now..or somewhere in between...

I had a small epiphane today in Target, of all places. I was passing the baby aisles, and for the first time in what seems like ages, I kept on going! Yup, no baby wipes to buy, no diapers in bulk, no bibs, baby spoons, teensie rattles, rash ointment...you name it, don't need it! Whew! What a strange feeling! Four kids and one tubal ligation later, my baby years are officially behind me. I should have been thrilled for this moment, should have literally stopped mid tracks in Target and done a cartwheel or two. But to be honest, I felt a twinge of sadness as I steered away from the diapers. I paused, racking my brain to think of someone I could buy diapers for. Or anything baby. Those teeny overalls are simply irresistible! And those chenille baby blankets? I want one in my size, please! Alas, no one came to mind. All of my friends, you see, are past their baby years too. What a strange feeling! Years of going to showers, oohing and aahing over pink baby booties and flowered dresses and tiny velcro hair bows...poof..over! Sleepless nights covered in baby spit up and crusty breast milk...gone! Again, you'd think I'd be jumping for joy, and truly, I have no desire to don those nasty nursing pads or DD nursing bras anymore, thank you. But right there in Target, for just a second, I actually missed it. All of it. The weary, bleary days of pushing the double stroller through those very aisles, absentmindedly grabbing for any generic pack of diapers that seemed to remotely fit my child. Frantically juggling a crying baby and screaming toddler at the check out line as I plopped my coupons down on the counter and fished for my Visa card in a sweat. Staggering out to the parking lot, breathing heavily, near panic attack, only to sit there for a good half an hour while the ice cream melted in the trunk as I nursed my howling, hungry baby. Turning up the radio to drown out the noise as I sped on home, praying that someone, anyone would fall asleep, and wishing at the same time that someone could be me!! Yes, I miss those days...maybe just a bit. Not enough to return, but enough to look back with fondness, laughter, and tears. The kindly woman at the check out line who gently tapped my shoulder and said "It goes so quickly, dear" was so right. With three kids in school, I now have time to actually saunter over to the Starbucks counter, ponder my options for more than two seconds, and enjoy a hot cup of coffee at my leisure before I begin my shopping. There is no wailing baby in the car seat strapped to the cart, no leaking boobs in the shoe aisle, no need to buy diapers, wipes...did I already say that?? And so I enter a new phase of my life. Not quite an "old" mom, but not so new anymore. Seasoned, I guess you could say, considering my oldest just started junior high. Not seasoned enough, though, that I can resist calling my mother in tears when my youngest wets his pants at Disneyland on the train ride. Not seasoned enough that I can safely say the temper tantrum days are behind me. No, I'm just hanging out somewhere in between. Reminiscing, enjoying, looking forward. Someday, these days too will be behind me. I'm thankful I'm now sane enough to enjoy them.

Sep 8, 2008


Okay, so I am a bit addicted to Facebook. I didnt think I would ever get caught up in something like that, but it is actually pretty cool! I've found old friends and new alike, and come to discover that it's a great way to stay connected. Plus, it seems a bit more, shall we say, adult? than myspace. Or at least that is what I tell myself when I'm chatting away with my friends at midnight online!
One of the most interesting things about it is finding out where people ended up and what they are doing. I recently found one of my childhood best friends on there. She ended up becoming a chef, which didn't surprise me in the least, as growing up, her step dad was the most fabulous cook I'd ever met. She is married and has three kids and lives in Oregon. Another friend from junior high turned out to be a chemist (I always knew she was smart!) and is now getting her PhD in Europe! Wow! Puts me to shame!
As I think about these different friends, it strikes me as amazing at the different journeys we all ended up taking. As children, we were all the same, for the most part. We spent our days running through the sprinklers and licking Popsicles made from Tupperware molds, and crossed our fingers for a decent grade on our science fair project. We had crushes, made friendships in 2.2 seconds on the playground, and hoped for our favorite teacher each year. We had pesky siblings, watched Disney movies at sleep overs while rolling our hair in big curlers, and tried to not act too cool when we shaved our legs for the first time.
Now, here we are in our thirties, some of us with children, some not, some married, some not, some living on opposite sides of the States, and even the world! Who would have ever guessed these things growing up? Who could have known?
I, for one, knew I wanted to write since the first grade. My teacher told my mother I was an aspiring writer, and that was that. I never wanted to be anything else. I wanted to get married, and have two girls and a boy. I hadnt a clue the twists and turns life would take me on as my future unfolded.
The girl in the silly pink curlers at the slumber party didn't know she'd find herself a single mom at the age of 19, when most kids are still deciding on junior college. The girl in the Taco Bell uniform (yup, that was me, thank you very much!) hadn't a clue that one day she'd meet her husband on the Internet of all places, and wind up in a whirlwind romance that began on a pier in San Francisco and ended up in southern California. And the girl who dreamed about two little girls and a boy? Well, not quite. Three boys and one girl later (thanks to lots of prayer!) I got my sweet little red head and a car full of stinky soccer cleats!
Journeys. Where we begin, where we end up. My journey continued as the Lord led us to Arizona and then back nearly three years later. I found myself in a desert place, literally and spiritually, wondering if perhaps we'd made the biggest mistake of our lives. And then understanding, of course, that there are no mistakes, that God has already designed our journey for us. He's ridden ahead, paved the path, completely aware of each twist and turn our lives will take. Knowing he's a few paces ahead helps me keep focused on the path I'm on, even if I don't always know where I'm headed.
I don't know where I'll be in two years. Five years. Ten years. I knew a woman who plans her life ten years at a time. How can you, really? Sure, we can plan, we can dream, we can assume, but only the Lord holds the map.
Just tonight, I made plans that went terribly awry. I had evey intention of going some place that I very much wanted to go, and things did not go as planned. If you'd asked me this morning where I would be tonight, it wouldnt have been where I sit right now. The old me might have been disraught over this. And I admit, I am a tad disappointed. Okay, a lot. But it was not meant to be.
Not knowing where we're going is almost more exciting than knowing where we're going. Not knowing keeps us relying on God, the one who has no beginning, no end. Our future lies in his hands. The journey has just begun!

Jul 28, 2008

Lessons along the way

So I'll be 32 next week. Not a big deal, depending on who you talk to. My "middle aged" friends tell me I'm a baby, my younger friends like to remind me that I'm "getting up there". It does seem hard to believe that nearly 15 years have passed since I graduated high school. I still don't quite feel like an adult, though I suppose I should having four kids! I'm still as carefree as ever, but life has grown me up a bit, especially in the last couple of (rather rough) years! As I reflect on the past couple decades of my life, I realize I have learned quite a bit. Thanks to older and wiser folks, my precious children, life experience, and of course, God himself! Just a few things I've learned along the way:

1. Life sucks sometimes. I don't know how else to put it. I think it would make a great book title, actually. Life can be a real drag once in a while. We've all been through super sucky stuff! I grew up rather naieve, assuming that once I had a family of my own and could do things "my way" things would all fall into place and there would be no more problems. Ha! I was pretty cluess back then, to say the least! Instead of whining about it, I've learned to adjust my perspective. And of course, rely on God. Which brings me to number two:

2. People are not always constant, but God is. I knew all my life that God was constant, but realizing how often people let us down is a great reminder of just how constant God really is. He never leaves, never fails, never changes. I'm a dreamer. I like to believe things will always be good, that people will always be there, but let's face it...life doesn't always allow for that. Six moves later, I finally figured it out. People come in and out of our lives like a revolving door, but God remains put. Which brings me to number three:

3. Sometimes friendships are just for a season. My friend Jeanine reminded me of that this summer. I'm a loyal person by default. Be my friend, and watch out, I'm here for life. You'll have to try awfully hard to get rid of me. :) But because of the ever changing seasons of our lives, sometimes people are only in them for a short while. I have a handful of friends I've had since childhood, which I think is pretty good these days. Then I have my mommy friends, which mainly came from MOPS over the years. I've stayed in touch with a few of them, but many of them drifted in and out of my life like the tide. I'm okay with that. At the time, we were in the same place (usually that place was in the back of the room at MOPS, changing diapers or nursing on the floor together, or, hey Jen, nursing babies under blankets flapping in the wind at the park while trying to chase our toddlers up the slide!) Now my kids are getting older, and three out of four will be in school next year! I'm not so needy of the playgroups and such as I was a couple years ago. My life is changing, and so are other people's. Instead of grieving, I am learning to embrace it, to keep my eyes open for new friendships, and be thankful for them, no matter how long or short they last.

4. It's okay to be okay with yourself. Took me a looong time to realize this. I was super short growing up, always wanted to be at least six inches taller. My dad always said boys liked short girls, but I suspect he said that just to make me feel good. I finally discovered high heels, and got over it. I still wish my legs were longer, my lips fuller, my skin smoother, my uh, chest bigger. But as I get older, I realize that I don't much care what other people look like, and I'm pretty sure the feeling's mutual. Just yesterday I spent a day at an outdoor spa, where hundreds of women of all ages and shapes and sizes wandered the pools. Seeing a fifty year old woman in a bikini gave me a newfound confidence. I'm sure she's acknowledged her jiggly parts, but she's come to terms with them. And so have I. For the most part. Of course, appearance is only one factor. I'm also learning to be okay with the rest of myself. The person who will never, ever have a completely immaculate house, who will never be able to find her keys at a moments notice, who continues to burn cookies each time she makes them because she refuses to set the timer or completely forgets about them baking all together. So I'm a bit scatterbrained. But I'm okay with that. (So long as I don't lose my children...that I havent done yet! :) I do other things that make up for that. I think I'm pretty good at concocting meals without using a recipe, I play the piano pretty decently, and I keep up a good sense of humor that gets me through life. Oh, and I'm a child of God, which means I'm okay just the way I am, because it's how He made me! And that is okay.

5. My mother is really cool. Growing up, my mother and I didnt get along a lot of the time. I thought she was too rigid, she thought I was too free spirited. And I couldnt sew a button to save my life, which devastated her, I'm sure, as she could whip out a bridal gown with some thread and a needle in a matter of hours if she wanted to. But now that I'm grown with kids of my own, I see just how great she really is, how fun she can be, and what a great listener she is. We still have our differences, but I love her more than ever, and thank God for her in my life. I can't count how many times I've called her for a recipe, a piece of advice, a house cleaning question, or just simply to vent. And she's always there. A friend of the best kind.

6. It's okay to be real. I was never much for putting on a facade to begin with, but life has a way of sort of beating you up, making you question if you should wear your heart on your sleeve. We've all spilled our guts to someone, only to have them either blab it to someone else or brush us off in our dire straits. I now realize that it is definitely okay to be real, but we don't need to be completely transparent with anyone. We can be choosy about those we open up to and those we remain surfacy with. Good rule of thumb: if they don't ask, don't tell. As my wise friend Missy said once "Everyone doesn't need to know everything about me." Husbands are great, but any woman knows she needs her gal pals for a true heart to heart, especially when it comes to topics of feminine hygeine, bathing suit bulges, and PMS. Being real can mean being accountable, which is especially important as Christians. But spilling our guts can leave us vulnerable, so being careful who we share with isn't being snobby..it's being wise.

7.It's okay to do nothing sometimes. I learned this lesson the hard way these past few months when I got so sick. I had no choice but to do literally nothing at times! My eyes hurt so badly I couldnt even read a book, one of my favorite pasttimes! So I took naps, listened to sermons on the internet, prayed, took long baths, and called friends I hadn't talked to in months. And it felt good! I used to feel guilty if I (heaven forbid!) stopped moving for even a moment of the day. Resting meant something around the house wasn't getting done. Now I realize much of this guilt was self induced. My husband wasnt telling me to do more, my kids weren't telling me to do more, my friends weren't telling me to do more. If anything, they were all happy for me for resting after what feels like years of living in a whirlwind! These days, I know it's okay if the dishes don't get done, or the laundry doesnt get put away. No one ever died from eating hot dogs and canned Ravioli three nights in a row.

8. Most exciting things are really not that exciting at all. I used to try to plan these lavish vacations for the family, assuming my kids would be utterly bored if we didnt fill up every minute of the day with energizing activities. Then I realized they were perfectly content digging in the sand, throwing a ball around, rolling on the grass, telling silly stories, and twirling on a tire swing. Viola! Money saved and happy kids, which means everyone wins! We live in a world that practically demands that we schedule ourselves silly. Have a fifteen minute block of spare time? Yikes! Hurry and fill it up! Surely you can squeeze two more things in! Sure, I'm into the whole soccer thing, and I think music lessons are pretty cool. But sometimes just sitting at home watching a cartoon or making a fort out of pillows is just as much fun, if not more!

9. Taking care of myself is not being selfish. Ahh...it's the ultimate mommy mantra: But I have no time for myself...I have to put the kids first! We can't be good mommies if we can't even take care of our basic needs. I learned this lesson, again, the hard way this past year. I reaonsed I could not "find time" to eat, so my blood sugar got so low the doc said she was amazed I didnt go into a coma. Not good! I took a good look at myself in the mirror and winced. Years of skipping the sunscreen on my face "becuase I didnt have time" has left me with more sun damage than I care to discuss. My hair has six inches of split ends because I never "find the time" to make an appointment at the salon. And my clothes? Let's not even talk about them! If I didnt get them off the Target clearance rack, they most likely came from a garage sale and sport holes and stains on them. Yikes! I'm not saying I feel led to spend thousands of dollars trying to doll myself up, but it wouldnt hurt to make a trip to the dentist and the hair salon every now and then. And what's wrong with having a few new outfits to feel good about? Yes, I splurged on a $150 pair of 7 jeans last year. But they made me feel like a million bucks, even if I paired them with a three dollar tank top from Target. Happy, healthy mommy equals happy, healthy kids. Or at least that's the idea.

10. Marriage is worth it. I'll be honest. I dont like my husband a hundred percent of the time. Maybe not even ninety percent of the time. But all in all, he's a great guy, and definitely worth keeping. I've seen a lot of marriages fail in the past few years, mostly because one or both decided to give up. It breaks my heart, but in an age that says "If it doesnt work for you, be done with it!" I'm not surprised. Thankfully, God is for marriage! He wants us to succeed! Sadly, Satan is not. He'd love nothing more than to get into each of our homes and destroy. He tried pretty hard when we were in Arizona. I remember one day looking sadly at my husband in bed and wondering why on earth he hadnt left me already. We were just NOT getting along! Thankfully, God is so kind, patient and merciful. He gently steered us back in the right direction, and today we're doing great! (Most of the time) I still get irritated when he leaves his socks on the ground, or even worse, throws his used floss on the carpet instead of the trash (He would kill me if he knew I was revealing this!) But I've learned to deal. I've seen a friend lose her husband, and I'm sure she would give anything today to have him leave his socks on the ground. Marriage can be fun and exciting! My parents are just now renewing their marriage, enjoying each other's company with an empty nest, and traveling to Hawaii after 30 years of talking about it! They are a picture of hope, because there was a time when things weren't super terrific between them. I'm in it for the long haul, because it's worth it.

11. Chocolate, not diamonds, is a girls best friend. I never was much into diamonds. I lost my diamond ring a couple years ago, which was devastating, but if I never get another one, I'll live. Living without chocolate, however, is not an option. Thankfully, it's a tad cheaper than the shiny gem, and comes in many forms. Any works for me. Candy, ice cream, chunk, dark, milk, white, chip, you name it, I'll eat it. Especially two days before my period. Bless, bless, bless the person who discovered the cocoa bean. May they have a special reward in heaven.

12. I'm not done learning. I'm only 32. Assuming I don't overdose on chocolate, I might be around for a few more years. I'm sure I'll have many more lessons to learn along the way. And that's good. Living means learning, and learning means living. I'll take the good with the bad. Because it's worth it.

Jul 8, 2008

The Little Things

If you're like me, you tend to feel sorry for yourself every now and then. You know, the house is in shambles, the kids aren't behaving too well, your hair won't lay flat, your skin looks like it belongs on an adolescent kids' face, and your hubby is grumpy because you're grumpy. To help me get out of my periodic slumps, I began keeping a list on the computer entitled "The Little Things." This was suggested to me years ago by a wise older woman in my MOPS group. She suggested we keep a Happy Box, in which we could include thank you notes, birthday cards, funny cartoons, things our kids said that made us laugh, etc. The Happy Box was meant to come out when we had a bad day and couldnt find anything to be thankful for. Because I'm not organized to have a box at this point in my life, I'm settling for a list. Today, my list consists of the following:

1. When I went into the new coffee shop down the street, I got a free panini sandwich because the owner was testing their new machine and wanted my opinion. It was my favorite, turkey swiss, was delicious, and best of all, FREE! Talk about being in the right place at the right time.

2. I tried to book a hotel online yesterday but had computer problems. When I went on today, they happened to be having a "sale" and I saved over 50 bucks! Whooppee!

3. My son made a new friend up the street, which makes me happy, because he's happy.

See, nothing big. Little things. But sometimes these are the very things we miss, we take for granted, because we're too busy throwing a pity party for ourselves. My friend Lynda, who now has six children, always has a wise word to share. Several years ago she shared her testimony with our MOPS group, and talked about the concept of these small blessings. She told a story about going to a restaurant with her small children, having one quarter for a gumball in the machine, yet when her son put it in, two came out. A small thing, again, but it made her son's day, as he was able to share the other one with his brother. She also shared how she had specifically prayed for a CD player (these were the days before iPod) and her husband won one a few weeks later at his company party. These stories have stuck in my mind for years.
Sometimes these little things are bigger things, and sometimes they're just a gumball. Sometimes they're tangible, sometimes just a heartfelt hug that makes our day.

Maybe you already have a Happy Box, or want to start one. Go for it! If you're like me, a simple list in a Word Document works too! Or a pretty journal, where you can write your thoughts. Whatever your route, don't forget to remember the little things.

Jun 27, 2008

Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse...

Okay, so my house is super quiet right now. We just dropped my oldest son off at summer camp this morning (I only cried a bit!) and my three little ones are at grandma's. In three hours, my hubby and I leave for a rafting trip (yipee!) but for now, I'm all alone in a very quiet, too quiet house! Those of you with little ones know what a precious rarity this is. We are often alone with our kids in the house, but not without them! I must say, the first few moments were absolutely glorious! I laid in bed and resisted the tempation to find old soaps and reruns on TV. That could get addicting. Instead, I enjoyed a few minutes of precious sleep, then slowly got up and had a bowl of cereal. No one screamed at me that I did not pour the milk high enough or that so and so ate the lasts of the Cocoa Krispies. Ahh. I then folded a load of laundry, then stopped promptly before finishing. Why waste precious time on chores? Those can be done any day, or better yet, assigned to my precious angels! Instead, I went downstairs and played the piano for a bit. Nothing fancy, just some tinkering. Still, it was nice. No one banging on the keys, hammering out their rendition of Chopsticks next to me. I admit I missed it a bit. No audience is no fun. So I went back upstairs, checked my e mail, and pinched myself to make sure I wasn't dreaming. This is the part where the kids come barreling in my room, half dressed, demanding to know where their belt, shoe, sock, doll, squirt gun, or toothbrush is. (To which I always sweetly reply "I am not the keeper of your things!") No one came in though, and I must admit, I missed it a teeny weeny bit. I glanced at the clock anxiously. My precious time was ticking away. Should I go to the gym? Grab a cup of coffee and sit lazily at Starbucks with a newspaper the way I've seen those foreign no kids/briefcase wielding people do? Run down to Mervyns to check out the latest clearance stuff I really don't need but just can't resist? Maybe it's not a good thing to be alone. I could easily run up the credit card on frivolous purchases! Of course, those purchases would not be influenced by a little one screaming for a Bat Man shirt, or made because of a bribe meant to keep my sanity for the remainder of the shopping trip. Okay, I miss them. This is what we all dream about, right? The day the last kid goes off to college, and the house goes back to normal, the day our kitchen counters stay clean and the laundry is reduced to one load instead of ten. But as I look around my messy house at the Transformer underwear on the ground, my daughter's painting from Girl Scouts last week, my son's leftover Lego creation, I have a strong hunch I'm gonna miss these days. Quiet and clean will come someday. Today I will cherish.

Jun 24, 2008

Ten Reasons to Love Summer

1. Homemade Popsicles. Remember how Mom used to freeze juice in those cute little plastic thingies and we'd sit outside and eat them till our clothes were drenched, then get hosed off in the backyard? My kids still find them much more exciting than the storebought ones.

2. The ice cream man! He finally made his rounds on our block yesterday. I still remember waiting with my two quarters by the front door all afternoon, anticipating the familiar jingle as he barreled down the road. Course, two quarters doesn't get you much anymore, but it's still pretty thrilling to chase him down for a Fudgsicle, or better yet, an Astropop.

3. Flip flops and shorts. Course, in CA, we pretty much wear these year round.

4. No bad hair days. Since we spend most of our summer between the pools and the beach, no one expects us to perfect our hairdo. A sopping wet ponytail does the trick for me, and saves 30 minutes in the bathroom every morning laboring over the flat iron!

5. Good books. Something about summer makes me want to pop open a good book. Anyone read a good one lately? I read by recommendation. With limited time on my hands, I've become somewhat of a book snob. If I'm gonna forgo the household chores to lay around reading, it better be a juicy one!

6. No early mornings. Ahhh, the sweetest part of summer, not having to run the carpool and race around like a mad woman slapping PB n Js together for lunches! Though the days of sleeping in till ten have been left behind in the crazy college days, I'm still thrilled if I get to sleep in till 8.

7. Trips. This year, due to insane gas prices, the only trip we'll be taking is up north to see my mom. Nonetheless, it should be a good time. We plan to camp in Tahoe for the first time with all four kids (wish me luck!!) Getting away is wonderful...a step out of reality and the day to day bustle is always a blessing. Just sitting on someone else's couch eating someone else's food and watching someone else's TV is a treat for me!

8. Summer movies. It seems summer time brings a plethera of good family movies to the big screen. I'm itching to see Get Smart, among others. Anyone seen it yet? I was a big fan back when it was on TV. And Steve Carrell..well, you dont get any funnier than that.

9. Bonfires at the beach. I admit, we're spoiled rotten here in southern CA. Nothing like the smell of campfire smoke mixed with the salty ocean breeze.

10. No agenda! I used to pack my summers chock full of events, never leaving a dull moment for my children to possibly become bored and inflict fights among each other. Now, I'm perfectly happy waking up and answering "Nothing!" when they ask me what the plan is for the day. Sometimes nothing is the best something you can do!!

What about you? Why do you love summer? Or are you already counting the days till your kids go back to school? :) What are your favorite summer memories?

Happy Summer!

Jun 21, 2008


So, it's been four months since we moved, and I'm finally getting out there, trying to meet people after being a so called hermit for so long. Being a hermit, I discovered, has its advantages. No messy relationships, no grouchy, catty mommies to avoid on the playgrounds, you get my gist. But of course, this is not how life was made to be lived. And, because I am a social introvert (yes, that's what I've labeled myself after a couple personality tests and a full analysis by my oh so wise husband) I know I need to make friends. Thing is, when you're a kid, this is a lot easier to do. For instance, my precious six year old daughter has no trouble at all making friends wherever she goes. At the beach a few weeks ago, she found instant companionship with a little girl her age splashing nearby, and by the end of the afternoon the two were running hand and hand into the water. Too cute. The following week, she joined a "girls only club" at a local park after knowing a little girl for only half an hour! Geez, I wish I could be that bold! I watch her scamper up to people, introduce herself confidently, and start chattering away as though they'd been friends all their lives. She doesn't stop to think "Is my hair just right?" or "What if she doesn't like me?" Nope, not a thought (that I know of!) She simply dives right in without assumption, and 99 percent of the time, her boldness works out in her favor. I still remember a girl in my neighborhood as a child riding up on her bike while I played outside. We had just moved into our house, as had she. She hopped up her bike, adjusted her ponytail and said cheerfully "Wanna be my friend?" I hesitantly said yes, and within minutes we were biking off into the sunset. Another one of my best friends, whom I'm still close with, approached me on the playground in third grade and struck up a conversation about my brother. This led to a lifetime friendship. Who would have known? For some reason, all of this seems a bit more difficult as an adult. For one, we all have busy lives. Between the carpool, cleaning, errands, work, and trying to squeeze a date night in here and there, how does one make time to make friends? I'm still waiting for someone to introduce themselves in the line at Starbucks and invite me out to coffee. "I see you drink mocha lattes too! How cool! Wanna hang?" We just don't do it. Why? Too busy, too afraid to make a commitment to a perfect stranger, too afraid this might actually lead to a real conversation that we really don't have time for, because we have to run the carpool in ten minutes and pick up dry cleaning on the way. I've pondered the mommy pick up line many a time at the park. You see a possible target as you pull up. Hmm...reading a paper, fiddling with her cell phone, looks nice enough. Then, her kids move in, invite your kids to play. Perfect opportunity. You both run for the slide at the same time, and use the classic "How old is your child?" line. Never fails, right? But alas, just when you're ready to make your move, her cell phone trills, and she's lost in a conversation, or worse yet, her BFF walks up and all is history. So much for that possible friendship. It's not that I'm a pessimist, really. I think I'm a friendly enough person. I smile, make eye contact, brush my teeth, do all the right things. And I think I have plenty of friends, or at least I always have. But friendship takes effort, takes work on both ends. Most of my mommy friends came from MOPS over the years. Since I no longer belong, I feel sort of, well, lost. But since I've unofficially graduated from MOPS, where to now? I don't work outside the home, so scratch that. Church, yes. But Sunday mornings only allow for a limited amount of conversation. Again, gotta use those pick up lines, only alter them a bit for the church scene. "Great music this morning, huh?" "I love your dress!" " He really knows how to preach it!" And somehow, not seem cheesy and remain genuine. Really, I'm probably overthinking all this. I know in times these friendships will come. I've joined a Bunco group, and found a nice group of ladies to scrapbook with. If I'm really down it the dumps, I call my close friend up in Oregon, who always gives out her listening ear to me with sympathy. How many friends does one need, really? I'd rather have four close ones than a hundred acquaintances. One other thing I've learned is that sometimes friendships pop up in the least likely of places, or in the form of the least likely person. One of my closest friends years ago turned out to be a forty something year old African American woman, who bent over backwards to babysit for me, teach me to cook, and walk me through the Bible. I am forever blessed by her influence, but if you'd picked her out of the crowd for me, I would have had my doubts. Thankfully, I've learned to open my eyes, reach out, and give people chances over the years. And most of the time, this works out just fine. So, please don't feel sorry for me reading this. If you are, most likley you are my friend, and the fact that you took the time to read my post is enough to make my day. So thank you, for being my friend, near or far! And don't worry about me. When all else fails, a carton of Dreyers vanilla in bed with a tabloid mag wipes any pity party right out! :)

Jun 12, 2008

Cinderella's Carriage Got Stuck in a Rut

If you were like me as a young girl, you watched all princess movies, dressed up in plastic high heels, and dreamed about a prince who would one day sweep you off your feet and ride off into the sunset with you on his horse. The blockbuster hit "Enchanted" made us all believe for a few moments that perhaps this fairy tale life really does exist in these modern times. But one look at our crazy, cluttered lives and we get a blaring reality check. Life ain't the pretty fairy tale we dreamed as a little girl. When I scribbled in my diary and hummed along to princess tunes, I never dreamed I'd end up a single mom at 19. Not in the plan. Prince charming turned out to be a dud who installed car stereos for a living and nearly blew my newborn's eardrums out cruising around in his "souped up" Volvo with the speakers blasting. My castle was a 12x10 bedroom in my parents house, where I watched Days of our Lives and wondered how I'd ever get out of my rut. And then along came a real prince charming, via the internet! It was too good to be true! Cute, successful, and living down by the beach, where I'd always dreamed of residing. Surely, life would be peachy keen now! Fast forward one year and I'm huddled over the porcelain throne puking my guts out, six weeks pregnant after our whirlwind wedding and honeymoon. I knew not a soul in southern CA, and spent my days in an oversized bathrobe, not exactly the sexy garb I'd pictured myself in as a newlywed. Fast forward eight years (this week!) later. Four kids, countless moves, job changes, sicknesses, stretch marks, and here we are. Not exactly the fairy tale I carved out in my little third grade mind. Prince Charming often leaves his dirty undies and socks strewn around the bedroom floor, and the servants have yet to show up at my castle to do their spring cleaning. The darling children leave trails of Cheerio crumbs around the house, plaster their sticky jelly fingers on the mirrors, and fight over who got the better bendy straw for their chocolate milk. (Please tell me I'm not alone in this!!) So, you could say Cinderella got a bit off track. Or rather, she never quite made it to the ball in her pretty dress, but rather stayed put in her rags (aka sweat pants or whatever is clean, fits, and hides milk stains) I venture to say I'm not the only girl who didn't get her fairy tale ending. I could tell you countless stories of friends who figured out life ain't all the movies make it out to be. No good husbands, health nightmares, bratty children, nosy in laws, disappointing jobs, and the list goes on. Yes, life can be rough, disappointing, frustrating, exhausting. As my one friend explained, "I had such good intentions going into motherhood. I would prop my darling baby in a cute little stroller, slather sunscreen on her rosy litte cheeks, slip on my designer running shoes, grab my nonfat Starbucks latte, and go for a brisk jog in my beautiful neighborhood each day. In reality, those rosy cheeks turned out to be eczema, and I hid inside my dark apartment for three months, crying and trying to figure out how to squeeze in a shower between breast pumping sessions." Her honesty amused me, but I oh so related. Those dreams, those fantasies of the perfect life, flushed down the drain in the whirlwind of life. Is it really so bad, though, I wonder? After all, Cinderella truly was just a fairy tale. We never saw her struggle through puberty, slather on zit cream before the big dance, or complain about PMS bloat. Surely life wasn't all grand for her either, right? Personally, I'm glad for the bumps along the road, because they've made me stronger, appreciative, honest, and real. I may not be living the fairy tale life, but I'm living a good life, the very life God intended for me. I'll take my sticky floor any day, because it means there four little people have left their footprints on it today. And that alone is worth it.

Apr 18, 2008

Becoming a Grown Up

So, I'll be 32 in a few months. This seems sort of unreal to me. I don't feel a day over 25, though my gray hairs would suggest otherwise! My ten year high school reunion has come and gone (I didn't go...it's suggested that one waits until the 20th to see who has gone bald, gray, fat, etc) and I still remember high school like it was yesterday. I've finally decided it's time to be a grown up. Yes, I've been grown up for a while. I've been a mother since I was 19, the age when most kids are still saving up for a car and moving into an apartment with four friends and a futon. Now, four kids, three moves, and countless adventures later, I've decied it's time to settle down a bit. For me, this started with eating my first real, official salad last week. My friend Kelly turned me on to the Stonefire Grill southwestern tri tip salad, and I gobbled it up like it was chocolate. Can't believe what I've been missing out on all these years! Of course, my idea of a salad growing up was some Ceaser sloshed onto iceberg lettuce. Salads have come a long way, it seems, with even McDonalds joining the ranks. So it seems this step has thrust me into the grown up department. I've also been sampling wine, and discovered it's not as sour as I once believed it to be. I'm still no connosuier, but I could probably hold my own at a wine tasting and even pronounce a few different labels. Coffee. Can't forget coffee. I can thank my Arizona buddies for this new addiction. Three years ago, I couldn't stand the smell of brew. I drove by Starbucks and scratched my head, wondering what the fuss was all about. I started with Fraps, and graduated to lattes. Wow! I can see why people plunk down four bucks for a caffeine buzz! Now, of course, McDonalds has $1.99 iced coffees, which really are pretty good and seem to be the best deal in town. (If they're laden with 600 calories, I don't want to know!!!) Finally, I've gone through my wardrobe and decided it's time to ditch those Roxy shorts I've had since,well, since I can't remember. It's amazing that they've survived half a dozen moves and a 60 pound weight gain and loss (four times!) But, alas, I'm not 18 anymore, and despite countless trips to the gym and even a little nip and tuck, it's time for them to go. This doesn't mean I'm going to leap into the Mom jean catagory, by any means. I don't think I need to venture into elastic waists until at least my 60s. Anyhow, I've decided it's okay to still be a kid at heart, and be a grown up too. Life is too short to be serious all the time. Now, I'm off to make a salad and plop down with a glass of wine and watch some Sponge Bob.

Mar 25, 2008

A few of my faves

A few of my favorite things right now:
1. American Idol. No, I don't get tired of it. I used to wonder what all the hype was about, and now I get it. This season is better than ever. David Cook rocks, and that David Archusomething is really a cutie..if I were 16 I would have a crush on him too. Simon looks smashing in his white T shirts, but Paula looks a little strange...her fashion seems to worsen with every season.
2. Trident Tropical Twist Gum. I am addicted. A chain gum chewer, if you will. I blew through a pack today. 17 little pieces, gone. Beats smoking or shoving french fries down my mouth though.
3. My kids. They are cuter than ever at the ages they're at. We had a blast at the beach today. I love watching them having fun. I am jealous of their innocence. So sweet. I'm trying to enjoy every moment and slow down to watch their little faces light up. Now, if we could just that that little guy potty trained.....
4. Coupons. I'm obsessed with my coupons again. My kids are eating me out of house and home, and I'm getting scared. Hence the coupon cutting. If my kids have to dine on Totinos pizza rolls, Kellogs cereal and Pop Tarts for the next few years because they were on sale, so be it.
5. The Bachelor. For once, they managed to find a good looking, charming guy. Now, if they could just have found some less deranged women for the poor guy...
6. Noni juice. The stuff works like a charm. Google it and get the facts on this healthy juice that's one of the best kept health secrets. You can find it at health stores like Sprouts, Henrys, etc
7.Flip flops. We can't call them thongs anymore, becuase we might get confused (though I do like those too)
8. Garlic. Garlic bread, garlic sauce, you name it, I'll eat it. Good thing I have that Trident gum handy.
9. The new hit song "Great Heights". Very cool.
10. My computer, because it works again. Hallelujah.

I want to you know your favorite things right this moment!

Jan 4, 2008

Down Time

I had surgery two and a half weeks ago, and it's opened my eyes to the world of, um, laziness, humility, and a sentimental side I didn't quite knew I had. I've never watched so much TV in my entire life. I've already purchased some make up advertised on TV that I absolutely could not resist (okay, I was on "drugs" and there was a little pressure to buy in the next 12 minutes or the price would double...ahhh!) and have currently been engrossed in the VH1's Americas Next Top Modelthon (back to back cat fight episodes...what could be more entertaining??!) I also have a new appreciation for things I once took for granted. Sleeping on my stomach for one, and taking a nice hot bubble bath. I hate shaving my legs standing up...ugh! I've called everyone in my phone book, and many have graciously told me I should not make phone calls while on Valium. (Advice noted) I have Googled every possible thing there is to Google, from health foods I cannot pronounce to places I'll never visit but look awfully pretty online. I've also shed more tears than all my postpartum and PMS spells combined. What is that all about?!! I've cried over everything from a leaky sink to a cell phone commercial (and a little bit over poor Mollie Sue when she got the boot from my new BFF Tyra!) I've also experienced the Wal Mart handicap cart, which is really quite intimidating to manuever. I ended up pulling down an entire rack of panties and getting stuck on the shelf, thus causing me to call for help in the middle of the panty aisle of WM while passerbys snickered and looked the other way. Geez! The nerve! I'll make sure I always grab that jar of mayo off the top shelf for a fellow handi-carter next time they ask. I've also sent out all my Christmas thank you cards, something I havent done in the past, well, never. If it takes getting me laid up to be thoughtful, then so be it. At least Grandma will know I really appreciated the pogo stick she sent this year. Hopefully, one day soon I'll be better and get a chance to take a pogo or two. Having surgery is also a great excuse to get out of housework. While I cringe as I take in the mounting laundry piles around me and can hardly muster the energy to wipe the Saltine cracker crumbs off my sheets, I am rather liking saying "no" to mopping, dishes, and scrubbing toilets right now. Finally, and most importantly, I've had ample time to spend with God, who should always be the number one in my life but often, and sadly, takes a back seat when life gets busy. No more excuses for not doing my daily devotionals! Yes, I'm in pain, crabby, and starting to get a serious case of cabin fever, but I know this too shall pass and I'll one day look back on this teeny time in my life with fondness. Now, I'd better run a spell check and make sure this blog makes an ounce of sense before I send it off. Happy New Year, y'all! I hope yours was more exciting than mine! And if you happen to be a Top Model fan, let's chat. It really, really is a good show.