Thursday, December 25, 2014

Merry Christmas 2014

Ahhh, it's 9:30pm on Christmas night & I'm feeling very relaxed.  Finally.  It has been a LOOOOONG time since I could sit down after the kids are in bed and feel free.  Like I don't have anything pressing that I need to do.  (Lots that I could do...but that's a different issue).  The point is:  there is nothing pressing on me for tomorrow!!

So in a few minutes here, I get to reflect on the day.  My heart is full.  Tired, but full.  I'm thankful that this Christmas had a slower pace.  Thankful that I have family near and dear to us to spend the day with.  Thankful for my church family that is really family.  Thankful for my Savior, that He loves me, & that He came to be here on earth.  That He identified with us, taking on our flesh, & lived amongst us.

We set some better boundaries this year around our time.  I really liked it.  We chose to have smaller, low-key family gatherings & kept it simple.  We ordered Chinese take-out for Christmas dinner and ate it at home with my parents.  I think this will be a new tradition.

Our kids:

DD#1 loved sprinkling reindeer food out in our driveway last night (to help guide Santa to our home), and was exuberant this morning that "Santa really did come!"  She was thrilled with each little gift, declaring how much she loved each one.  I truly think the plastic rings from the dollar store might have been her favorite gift.

My favorite memory of her was hearing her sing Christmas hymns at the candlelight service on Christmas Eve.  I didn't realize that she knows most all of the words to the more popular songs, since we've listened to the Veggie Tales versions so many times in the car.  She was singing them at the top of her voice and it was glorious.

DD#2 was trying to figure everything out.  She's been a little under-the-weather, and not her usual spunky self, so she was in a bit of a daze when we woke her up to open presents this morning.  She happily followed her big brother & sister (as usual) and enjoyed her gifts though.  She was mostly interested in the Frozen singing microphone ("Let it Go") and the crawling baby Minnie toy that Grammy & Po-po gave her.

One thing I think I'll remember is that she gave me quite a scare when she fell down the stairs today at Mi'ma & Pi'pa's house going down to the basement.  Yikes.  She fell down several steps & got stuck mid-way down, stopping the free fall.  Thankfully she wasn't hurt, and after a good cry in my arms, was back to running outside to play on the trampoline.

Sweet Son is at a little more complicated age.  He still wants to believe in the magic and wonder of Christmas, but is a little skeptical on the Santa thing.  It brings a smile to my face though, when he still gets caught up in the excitement of getting a gift he likes.  It's rare for me to hear him exclaim, "Oh cool!" or any other expression of pure enjoyment, and I got to hear it this morning.  He was very happy to receive his chess set (Thank you Santa), and a Star Wars Lego set as well.

My favorite memory of him this year is watching how he wanted to make the present-opening stretch out longer, insisting that we go one at a time opening our stockings, and even if he had to be the last one to open, it was ok.  He also was very excited about presenting his homemade gifts to us, including a very creative homemade paper version of cheeseburgers and french fries with Papa & Mama's names on them.  Kind of random, but he was very proud of them, and I was impressed at his creative imagination and diligence to make it!

All our kids were eager to participate in our Advent "can" calendar, and know all of the right "church" answers to why we celebrate Christmas and what the holiday is all about.  I pray that it sinks in deep, their need for a Savior.  That our traditions will be more than just a routine or sentimentality. I know there's a lot about our cultural celebration on Christmas that doesn't point to Christ and actually takes away from us glorifying Him.  I hope that we aren't perpetuating those things.  I hope our children will learn and see in our Christmas celebration the wonderful Truth.  Please help us Lord, to provide experiences for them that point to You.  That invite them into the wonder of Your love for them.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Slacker Blogger

Yes, I still want to keep my blog.  I don't use instagram and I don't post photos of our family too often on Facebook either.  I miss blogging.  I fondly remember having time to think, reflect and compose words that expressed how I was feeling towards my kids, parenting, and just going through this crazy thing called life.  Blogging is another form of journaling, which is good for my soul.

I'm trying not to think about the fact that my blog might be read by others.  I want it to be a place where my kids can someday go and realize, "Hey, THAT's what my mom was thinking," or, "I'd forgotten that we did that," or just be able to enjoy memories.

But since having the third child, time has somehow completely filled up.  The afternoons when I used to be able to coordinate kids napping or having quiet time simultaneously have disappeared.  I drink coffee now.  Twice a day.  I don't blog or journal regularly.

Anyway, we are doing well & life is good.  I'm still so thankful that I get to have this season without working outside the home.  I miss a lot of things about having a professional life, (or any type of personal identity outside of my family life).  But I know that this season will not last forever.  It won't be too much longer and I'll have 3 kids in school and mornings by myself.  Hard to imagine.  Of course, when that happens, I'll probably be missing them being little.

So, what's this blog post about?  I dunno.  I had a few minutes & wanted to process a little.  I want to prove that I can still keep up.  I don't want more time to pass without posting a few photos of my kids who are growing up VERY fast.

I took these photos the other day while my kids were just hanging out in the family room.  My very un-camera shy kids.
Our baby (22 mos old)
(with mocos and all)  
Our second grader (with big boy teeth!) 
Our sweetie (who just started preschool)
Our feet
(What the heck?!?  My girls wanted to do this, don't know why!!)
Well, maybe I'll turn over a new leaf this spring and start to blog again.  Or maybe not.  I'm not going to worry too much about it, but whether I do or not, it's certainly not from lack of material.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Berry Sweet Girls

We went out to a farm to pick berries this week.  It was hot and dusty, but also a lot of fun.  It was just me & the girls.  The older took the task seriously and set to work.  The younger started out intent to put berries in her bag, but once the first one made it into her mouth, the picking was all over for her...

 Once we got all the delicious boysenberries & blueberries home, we got to work in the kitchen.  First matter of business was making a boysenberry pie.  Big girl was very eager to help with this.  I just couldn't bring myself to correct her as she kept calling it a "poison berry pie." We got some help from SimplyRecipes figuring out the portions for the berries & a pie crust recipe.
 The pie was finished baking after she went to bed that night, so when she woke up the next morning, this is what she found.  (we shared some with neighbors, please don't think hubby and I ate half of the pie ourselves!!)
The next day, we set out to finish off the boysenberries by making ice cream out of them.  The girls helped me stir the custard base on the stovetop:
Baby girl was so eager to help, climbing up on big sister's stool, so we had to get her one of her own. We even set her up with her own saucepan (with water inside) and a ladle to stir with.  That seemed to make her happy!

Sometimes cooking with my kids is challenging.  It would be SO much faster (& cleaner) to do things on my own.  Baking always takes me longer than I plan on it taking, so I often get grumpy and rushed to finish things.  This day I made the mistake of not waiting long enough for the ice cream to cool in the fridge before putting it into the ice cream machine to churn.  (We were too anxious to eat the ice cream, boo!)  The result was runny ice cream that didn't set up well.  It'll still taste fine, and once it's frozen, it won't be runny.

I'm not always great with the clean-up either (just ask my husband!).  Later that morning, I was in another room, realizing that the baby was very quiet.  So I came into the kitchen and found her sampling the ice cream leftover in the freezer bowl.
Totally enjoying herself!
It's a good thing her shirt was already dark pink!  Thank You Lord, for these precious times that I get to cook and create with my girls.  They are so sweet and often remind me to slow, slow down & enjoy things.  They are not in a hurry.  So much I have to learn.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Adios Primer Grado

First grade was a big year for you, son.  The beginning of the school year was very anxiety-producing for you.  I've never seen you look so miserable and be so stressed as the first day of school.  Thankfully the extreme anxiety calmed down after that first day was over, and you settled into your classroom, realizing you had another great, nurturing teacher and a room full of friends.
Picture taken AFTER school on the 1st day
You grew in many ways this year.  Your Spanish reading has really taken off and your vocabulary is growing by leaps and bounds.  You are starting to read chapter books in Spanish and doing very well in comprehension and of course, your favorite, math.  You really enjoy your matematicas rapids, and are proud that you lead the class in advancing through each fact sheet.

You loved recreo and playing tetherball and soccer with your friends.  Two of the boys in your class happen to be on your same soccer team in our neighborhood, so you guys have really bonded.  You continue to dominate in sports and have a great aptitude for memorizing sports trivia and watching games.  You also played baseball this year, in the Sunnyside league (go A's), and you enjoyed that too.
Gracias a Sra. Torres para todo!
We were really blessed to have Sra. Torres this year, who kept up a wonderful facade all year that she doesn't know English!  This was especially impressive since we saw her often outside of school, at soccer games and events.  She was very nurturing and encouraging and provided a secure place for you, even during some tough times.

The hardest part of the year for you was coming back home from our trip to the Philippines in January and starting school back up again and getting into routines.  It wasn't really that school was hard, for some reason you just chose that time to challenge us on a lot of our family rules and expectations.  Doing chores, practicing piano, helping out, doing homework were all very difficult for you to accept.  And you got very angry at us & at yourself.  There were lots of prayers going up during this time, and thankfully, after several weeks of battling over things that were previously not an issue, you settled back in.  I really hope that we don't go through a rough patch like that ever again (or at least not for a very long time).  As you get older, I notice that you seem to be able to verbalize feelings you have (fears, anger, etc.) more and I think this helps a lot.  No matter what you may think or feel, we really want what's best for you & pray that we'll raise you in a way that helps you be the person God created you to be.

On your class field trip to the zoo with some of your buddies
As the school year comes to a close, I can say we've all had some great accomplishments.  We are SO incredibly proud of the sensitive and talented boy that you are.  You get along well with others and try your best.  We couldn't ask for more!  Here's to a great summer together!

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Gymnastics Girl

 I'm so proud of our big girl.  Last fall, she started taking a gymnastics class once a week.  She was excited to start, but when we got to the gym on the first day, she was very hesitant and it took her several weeks before she could go out onto the mats without me carrying her.

Over the year, she has grown in so many ways and really blossomed in this class.  Each week I see her becoming more confident and sure of herself.  It helped that the coaches were super encouraging and nurturing.  Now, each week she's running out to join her class with a big smile on her face & eagerly participating in all of the activities, and trying to do them at home for her family too.

Coach K was our girl's favorite.  At first she was a little nervous with him,
but they really developed a connection & she just beamed with all the positive attention he gave her
Here's a little video of her up on the harness.  This was another accomplishment that she was SO proud of.

We are taking a break from gymnastics during the summer months, in order to pursue swimming lessons and we'll see what we end up doing in the fall.  Our girl keeps persisting that she wants to take ballet next.  Who knows?  After having such a positive experience in gymnastics, I believe that the sky's the limit for her.

Monday, April 21, 2014

10 Years!!!

Since I've been so slow in finishing the Philippine vacation blog, I thought I'd spend just a few minutes to post about our 10th Anniversary.

First of all, I'm so excited to make it to double digits!  My own mother and father were not married this long, so I think it's a great accomplishment.  Also, since I got married a little later than most of my peers who are into their teens and even 20 year anniversaries, I feel like we are finally into some respectable numbers!  Not that it's a competition...

Ten years is a nice round number, good for reflection and some time away together.  We were able to pawn our kids off on my dear parents for the night and drive up to the mountains.  We stayed at the same B&B where we spent our wedding night.  We also went out to eat at a VERY nice restaurant (had we known how very nice (read expensive) it was, we probably never would have gone!), and completely enjoyed an elegant & intimate three hour meal.
The next morning we had a relaxing morning around the B&B, then went up to another favorite spot of ours to go hiking along a river.  We ate lunch together, hit a fruit stand and heading back to reality.  Even though it was just a 24 hour getaway, it was very relaxing and fun.

We spent some time trying to remember what we've done for each of our anniversaries.  I'm going to write it down here, so I have somewhere to look next time our memories fail!

1st- Back to HTI, Picnic at Bass Lake & eating the top tier of our wedding cake (still delicious!)
2nd-Road trip down central coast (before kids!)
3rd-Dinner at a Japanese restaurant (our son was 1 month old, so this was a big deal)
5th-Stayed at a B&B in Yosemite & dinner at the Ahwahnee.  Lots of hiking and great waterfalls.
6th-Birdwatching tour at the River and dinner at a steakhouse (I was preggo w/#2)
7th-Sunset walk, dinner at CP Bistro & trip to local casino
8th-Breakfast at pancake restaurant (preggo w/#3)
9th-Dinner at fancy Italian restaurant (courtesy of my step-bro who was working there)
10th-Back to HTI & EHouse dinner

I am humbled & grateful to God's faithful provision to us in our marriage.  It is His grace that keeps us together and growing closer together through all the ups and downs.  We couldn't do this by ourselves.  Marriage is an amazing gift that I do not take lightly.  I pray that we'll have many more years to celebrate together & that our marriage will be a testimony of God's power & love.

Monday, April 7, 2014

The Spring & Turning Seven

After our big trip to the Philippines over Christmas & New Year's, our son had a difficult time transitioning back into our "normal life" here at home.  January was a difficult month.  Thankfully with the love & support of many friends, family & wisdom from Above, we entered the spring with more hope & optimism.

The big news in February (that's almost the spring, right?) was saying goodbye to our Highlander, which my hubby and I bought together shortly after we got married.  After driving it for almost 10 years, and bringing home my first two babies from the hospital in it, you could say I was a little attached.  Our son was too.  Here's one of the goodbye shots we took before passing it on to its new owner.  Not too surprising to me, our son took lots of pictures and even video of himself narrating a little "tour" of the car.  The new owner probably thought we were nuts!  It just again reinforces to me that our son has a very sensitive side which makes transition and change hard for him.

Sad to see his car go
For the less sentimental in our family, getting rid of the Highlander wasn't so hard, 
especially with the new addition to our family...

  Yes, we are officially a minivan family & not begrudging it at all.  It's the nicest car we've ever owned, and the technology in it is amazing!  A little intimidating at first, driving it home made me very nervous, I felt like I was behind a cockpit in an airplane with all the buttons and controls on the dash. But I'm slowly getting the hang of it, and enjoying the luxuries as well as more space for everyone to spread out in the car (Very nice on road trips particularly!)

March was the start of baseball season for our son, which means afternoon practices twice a week and games on Saturday.  I'm learning to just enjoy the time we are out at practices, the girls get to play on the playground, we eat snacks, and when Papa gets off work early enough to join us, we actually get some relaxed family time together.  He's played first base most of the time, and pitches occasionally too.  He has a lot of natural talent for the sport, and it was a compliment for him to be chosen by all 3 of the coaches to represent his team in the all-star game.
Practicing his pitching in our increasingly too-small backyard
In March our son also was asked to do an oral presentation in front of his school honoring the educator his school is named after.  The fun part was, that he got to say his speech in both English and Spanish.  My husband and I were both a little nervous that he'd freak out or not want to do it at the last minute, but he did a fantastic job, speaking loudly and clearly and read all of the words correctly (in both languages!).  We were very proud of him.

We celebrated his birthday this year by going to a hockey game with a few friends.  Now I'm not the biggest hockey fan, but it was a good experience and a great way to entertain some boys.  The venue was small enough that the boys could run around & we could see them everywhere.  They got to see several scuffles on the ice, and afterwards they opened the locker room for fans to go in and meet the players and get autographs.  Good thing the boys didn't mind the smell, because they charged right in and our son even got a hockey stick and puck autographed by all the players.  They were very nice guys and paid a lot of attention to the kids.

At home on this actual birthday night, we had a cake at home and invited his grandparents over to have a small family celebration.  His request was an Angry Birds cake, and all I have to say is thank goodness for Pinterest, I was able to quickly whip this one up.

The highlight of this birthday though, was his Grandpa finishing his tree house.  This tree house has been a long time in the making, mostly due to the fact that we don't have a great tree to put a tree house in.  The design took a while to come up with, and even longer to actually put together.  My dad spent several days working on it and here's the final product!  Our son is so proud of it, and loves to have friends over to play in it.  Here they defend our home from countless "bad guys" and there are all sorts of potions and weapons being devised here.  There are code names and club rules, I try not to get too involved.  When he's up there, it's his little world.

Thank you Pi'pa for all your work!  I'm glad I got to help you with it too.  I love my tree house!