Friday, December 28, 2012

Birthday Catch-Up

I realized the other day, as I was wanting to blog about Livvy's birthday, that I had never blogged about Sammy's or Ben's.  Oh brother!  Time just totally got away from me in the blogging arena.

And so before it's no longer 2012, I will climb back into the recesses of my brain and see what I can recall about each kid's birthday:


Ben - Turned 4 in July!

Big Lug. loves Girafee, Pup-O, Cheetah, and gum!  command man.   Bubba.  distractable.  "tickle my  back".  loud!  dirt-stained face and feet. chatty. fun. easily angered.  adorable. rough and tumble.  physical. opinionated.  tentative & then ALL in.















Ben had a pool party down in Phoenix.  He had a Po (from Kung Fu Panda) cake - only to find out after the fact, the kid doesn't like butter-cream frosting.  How am I supposed to decorate a cake without butter-cream frosting?  Go figure.  I guess I'll have to learn something new.





Sammy - Turned 6 in September!

thinker.  hard-working.  reading.  loves legos, cuddles, bugs, & games.   sensitive.  "what can I do for you, Mama?"  grasshopper hunter.  creative.   shirtless & barefooted.   persistent.  "Money" (how Jon says his name).  goofy.  go-getter. impatient.   gardener. 
















Sammy had his first all-boy birthday party.  He wanted an Angry Bird cake - which proved to be a fun challenge (I can't believe I didn't get a good picture of it - oh well, there's always next year).



















Livvy - Turned 8 in November!

little mommy.  helper.  goofy.  fun-loving.  leader.  empathetic.  bookworm!!    loves: Amy Carmichael, Laura Ingalls, A to Z mysteries, & The Box Car Children.  Wants to go to India and tell the children about Jesus & a baby sister.  tenderhearted. 



















Livvy had her first all-girl birthday party.  She said she didn't want a theme cake.  She just wanted to play some games and then play dolls with her friends.






























It's been quite the adventure so far watching them grow.  I am so blessed to know them and to spend my days with them. 


And not to be left out, here's Jon (who will be two in three months):






Saturday, December 15, 2012

Routine

How come that as soon as you get into a nice workable routine, God seems to shake it up...or turn it upside down and dump it all out.  Actually it's not that bad at all.  Not even close.  It's just that I love routine!  I love  knowing what to do next (not that I always follow it, but just knowing that it's there).

For the past couple of months I had finally fell into a really nice routine for this season in life (because, as you know, or should know, each season brings a new set of routines).  It felt good to know what to do.  It was nice that nothing, or almost nothing, was forgotten as far as the home front goes.  We cleaned, we cooked, we baked, we did school, etc.  It worked.  For the most part.

Now, with a recent forced job change, we're having to re-figure things out.  Which in itself is not a bad thing.  It actually has some nice benefits.  My spirit is not grumbling or complaining.  There's just this bit of tension that comes with trying to figure out the new routine.

For instance, it's Saturday but Tom is working.  He has Mondays off now and therefore we took Monday off from school.  That means that we should do school today (I was planning on calling our Saturdays Fridays and our Mondays Sundays - following?).  However, it is snowing.  Yesterday the public schools had a snow day and yet we did school.  So...should I just call it a snow day and have it be Saturday?  There's certainly plenty of non-school/Saturday stuff that I could work on.

I could/should be making our bread and muffins for the weak but I can't get the bucket of wheat berries open.  If super hard times hit, you'd find our starved dead bodies huddled around the full bucket of wheat berries - *grin*.  I guess I'll just make them on Saturday (that's Monday for the rest of you).

I'm half paralyzed with indecision.  What to do, oh what to do?  Have you figured out what one of my biggest weaknesses is yet?

The fire is burning nicely in the fireplace.  The snow is falling gently outside.  The kids are playing legos upstairs.  The chairs are all pulled onto the carpet so that I can sweep and mop.  So I guess I should do that and then...then I'm sure we'll find something fun to do.

Have a great Friday/Saturday!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

10 Years

On October 19, 2002 I married my best friend.  With a little fear and lots of love I said, "I do."    Now, ten years later, the love remains and the fear is gone - replaced by knowing and trust.  I never imagined knowing a person as well as I know Tom.  And yet, I know there's still more to uncover and discover.

Tom has been, and strives to be, my spiritual leader like I only dreamed a husband could be.  He has encouraged me and challenged me in so many ways.  And I him.  We know neither one is perfect.  We've learned (and are still learning) how to discuss the sin in our lives without pride and anger so that we can change and be better...for us and for our kids.

We've had our share of ups and downs...times when we loved each other so much nothing else mattered; times when we were so mad at each other we/I  thought there was no hope.

We've had times that stretched our faith and character.  Tom has been my strength when I had none.  He has  patiently led me back to find my true hope and foundation in Jesus Christ and His word.

By God's grace we've changed and grown in our walk with Him and in our own personal maturity.  

It's been an amazing adventure so far!

***

Which all brings me to how my wonderful honey decided to celebrate our 10th year anniversary.  A couple of months ago he said that we should probably just have my parents watch the kids for a night while we went to a nice hotel in someplace like Scottsdale or Sedona - which I was perfectly fine with.  After I did a brief internet search on places in the Phoenix area that would make a nice getaway, Tom told me that he'd handle looking into where to go - which, again, was fine with me.

About two weeks ago I found out that all the arrangements were made and we would leave Flagstaff Thursday night to go to Phoenix, not our typical Friday go-to-Phoenix-after-Tom-gets-off-work day. Oh...he took Friday off. We must be staying out two nights.  Hmmm...very fun.

Now, I must say that in all the years that I've known Tom, he has not been a good liar or keeper of surprises.  He's a man whose heart seeks the truth which makes it hard for him to be sneaky.  Because everything seemed fairly normal, I never imagined that there was something sneaky going on.  Boy was I wrong!

Wednesday morning (October 17th) before heading off to work, Tom tells me that we won't be back home until the following Tuesday night.  He thought I should know so that I could make school and house arrangements.  What!?!  Five days!  Really!  What is he up to?

I resisted the urged to ask more questions.  I knew then that his little secret wasn't so little anymore and I didn't want to ruin the surprise.

Wednesday night over dinner, knowing that I needed to start packing, I asked if I needed to be concerned about 3oz containers of liquid.  I thought for sure he would say not to worry about that, but...  He got this look on his face.  That look of being caught.  He smiled slightly and tried to come up with a neutral answer that would still have me pack appropriately.  Oh man!  What is he up to?  We're getting on a plane. Where the heck is he taking me?

That night after putting the kids to bed, I broke down a little.  My mama's heart started to worry about the kids, being away from them, possibly far away from them...  What if...?  Tom held me and reassured me that  the kids would be fine and that we needed some "us" time.  I agreed and started letting my mind wander to what fun stuff Tom had planned for us.

Thursday morning before heading off to work Tom informed me that we would be dropping the kids off at my parents' house and leaving no later than 8:30pm that night.  He also asked me, if I had time, to put some fun driving music on the mp3 player.  Wow!  Tonight.  Where are we heading to on a red-eye flight?  And driving music? I thought we were flying.

Thursday was a blur of packing four little children, myself, setting the house in order, and attending a memorial service for our good friend and neighbor Bob Cross who had passed away the week before.  Once we got to my parents' house Tom hid himself in the computer room while I played with and read to the kids.  Around 8pm Tom comes out and plays with the kids for a bit before announcing that we would be leaving in 15 minutes; my dad was taking us to the airport.

My heart was a mix of emotions - excitement for the coming time away together and sadness for leaving my little ones behind.  We hugged and kissed the kids and headed for the airport.

At the airport, Tom checked us in and handed me my ticket.  San Diego.  We were heading to San Diego on the red-eye.  Very fun.  Tom told me that I would have a place to lay my head by 1am.  No problem, we're total night owls anyway.

Although Tom kept kidding me that it'd be a mat at a camp ground or something.  I was pretty sure he was joking.







While waiting at the airport, Tom grabbed his carry-on bag and said he's be right back.  Here's the man I started my vacation with and the man that came back: There's just something nice about a clean shaven face - so kissable!


There were more surprises along the way, but I'll let the pictures tell the rest of the story (with little commentaries here and there).  Tom did a fantastic job of planning for everything. He's such a great guy and  I'm such a lucky girl!!  I felt like a queen!

If you're not interested in looking at the boring neighbor's vacation slide show, look no further:).  I'll give you a quick synopsis: we had tons of fun flying down the road with some great '80's rock blaring, ate wonderful food, drank some really nice wine, swam with sea lions, had a bbq on the beach, and so much more.  It was an amazing adventure!  Thank you my love!!

Why the long face?
My best impression of a flower blooming.
Tom left our first morning at the hotel to "get the car".  He came back with a 2012 Chevrolet Camaro convertible.  Wow!

Yeah, you're the coolest!




























Ponte Family Vineyard.

Maybe just one too many.














Just in case you're trapped in the trunk, this is how you get out.
Very important stuff!



Yeah, I'm so cool.  Ha, ha, ha!


Tom's new friend at Oceanside.
Snorkeling with the sea lions at La Jolla.





























Gotta have one picture with my tongue out - it's tradition.


Yummy steak and crab legs for the grilling.






























The end.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Labor Day Adventures

Alrighty then...  The day is done.  The kiddos are all tucked into their beds sleeping peacefully.  The honey is also heading to bed early - a late night you-tube surfing will do that to you. 

It's just me.  Alone.  Ahhhhh.  Finally there's a little bit of time to write and document life.  I blog in my head throughout the day.  Trying desperately to make mental notes about the day's events, what the kids are learning about, how they're growing, changing.  But the hard drive appears to be full.  By the end of the day I rarely can recall any of those mental blogs.  I'm afraid that these days will pass just like the last eight years and I will have few concrete recollections of this wonderful, precious and crazy life that I love.

So, before too much more time passes, I want to preserve some memories that haven't been completely forgotten:

Labor Day.  We had planned on going camping.  It's been an annual tradition.  I don't know if it was just time getting away from us or just lack of planning, but the weekend was upon us and we just didn't want to go.  It seemed like too much work.

So what's the next best thing to camping out in the woods?  Camping in your back yard, of course.  We built a nice fire.  Roasted crescent wrapped hot dogs on sticks.  Ate watermelon and chips.  Watched the sunset.  It was a sweet time as a family.  And not much to pack or unpack.  It was great!









We opted to forgo putting up tents and slept comfortably in our beds.  The kids slept in their sleeping bags in the game room.  They were satisfied.

In the morning we stoked up the fire again, just for the sake of having a fire...we didn't really need one. We drank hot chocolate and ate muffins.






Sometime before lunch we decided we'd go on a hike.  So we packed up some lunch, water, and sunscreen, and headed to our favorite hiking area, Sycamore Canyon.

We decided to hike the rim trail to Sycamore Falls.  We were hoping that after all the summer rain that we'd actually see water in the Falls.

As we hiked along, finding big spongy mushrooms, horny toads, Indian Paint Brush, and even a tiny scorpion, I vividly recalled the first time I hiked this trail.  To keep their minds off of the uncomfortable heat, I told the kids the story as we hiked:


















I was 26 years old and I had huge butterflies in my stomach.  This incredibly handsome man that I was getting to know had asked me to go on a hike with him.  I really wanted him to like me.  I had met him on a blind date just a couple of weeks earlier and had a very fun time.  We had gone out to dinner on our own once after that and again really enjoyed each other's company. Then we hiked to Sycamore Falls.  It was our first time to be out and about together.  I remember hiking along trying to ask and answer all of those get-to-know-you questions.  Everything he said just made me want to know him more. We climbed down some really steep cliffs.  He made me pistachio pudding.  I thought he was pretty wonderful.

How very strange to be hiking that same path eleven years later with a short line of children between me and that same incredibly handsome (and so much more!) man.  In all of my imaginings back then I couldn't have pictured the absolutely full and wonderful life that God had in store for me.


Anyway...We hiked along and finally got to the Falls - it was a considerably longer hike because of all the stops and short legs.  There was no water in the Falls to our great disappointment.  Just like the first time.

We hiked around a little bit more, watched some climbers scale the cliffs, and had a snack.

In the distance we began to hear some thunder.  The clouds, as usual had been building throughout the day.  In the distance we could see some really dark and heavy ones.  We decided it was time to head back to the van.  We were fairly certain that if we did get rained on, it would just be a typical short Arizona shower that would rinse off the sweat and feel refreshing.

Boy were we wrong.  We had hiked not more than 10 minutes from the Falls when the rain started to fall.  It was a hard and cold rain.  In my mind I kept questioning, should we keep going or find shelter?  As the rain fell harder, the thunder clasped louder and louder.

After rounding a bend, Tom spotted a dry spot at the base of a huge Ponderosa pine and made the decision to wait out the storm there.  We gathered together under the branches and tried to stay out of the rain.

At first we just talked nonchalantly about the rain, being cold, how much longer the rain would fall, how much closer and louder the thunder seemed to be coming.  But, after 10-15 minutes of thinking it would only be only 10-15 more minutes, the rain fell even harder and the thunder even louder.  We were wet, cold, and the kids were beginning to fuss.

The rain shifted and fell harder.  No matter where we stood we were getting wet.  We huddled together tightly; the kids were sitting at the base of the tree while Tom and I hunched over them.  Livvy and Sammy took turns being quiet and then complaining about being cold and wet.  Ben sat absolutely quiet and still, shivering.

I had moved Jon's carrier from my back to my front.  I held him tightly to me trying to keep him calm.  He'd cry for a five or so minutes, and then I'd get him to quiet down for another five minutes by pressing my lips against his ear and singing quietly.

I began to worry.

I begged God to make the rain stop and then I questioned His lack of a quick answer.

Twenty minutes went by.  Thirty minutes went by.  And then forty minutes.

Every time the rain seemed to lessen, there'd come another sudden burst of cold hard rain.

Finally I was about to break.  It was like reaching transition in labor.  That point where you want to scream, "I can't do it anymore.  I'm done.  I quit."  You don't say it out loud because you know that it's pointless.  But it's how you feel.  The pain becomes so intolerable and you can't see anything beyond the immediate.

That's how I felt. I had reach my max. Huddled under a tree, soaking wet, cold, and miserable.  The kids were trying their best not to fuss, but Jon had started crying again.  I couldn't imagine feeling warm, dry and safe.

It was right at that point that the rain let up just enough that Tom said we'd just make a break for it.  Joy and relief filled my spirit. There was hope.  (This might seem a little dramatic now that it's weeks in the past, but at the time it was all that I knew.)

We all quickly hopped to our feet and started squashing up the trail that had turned to mud.  I led our little motley crew in the rain with Tom pulling up the rear with Ben on his shoulders.

The rhythmic walking thankfully put Jon to sleep.  Livvy, Sammy, and Ben chattered on about how we really should have been content with the heat that God had given us at the beginning of our hike because now it seemed really nice.  They were truly trying to put what they knew of God and His word into context with what we were going through.

I told them that they were my heroes and I was so proud of them!

We rejoiced when we saw the van. Tom immediately turned it on and cranked up the heat.   We got the kids out of their wet and muddy clothes and into some dry ones that I keep in the van for emergencies.

I think we were all a little giddy with the excitement of what we had just gone through.




Once we got on the road we realized how hungry we were.  We ate in the parking lot of Wendy's - Tom and I were too wet and muddy to eat in the restaurant.  Plus, the van was nice and toasty, I did not want to get out.

Our Labor Day weekend certainly did not go as planned.  But, it ended up being the experience of a lifetime!  I pray that we never forget God's faithfulness to lead us through and out of trials.