Thursday, July 31, 2008

Flash from the Past

Just stumbled across these. They are my favorite series of pictures of the kids. These were taken about 2 1/2 years ago. They still make me laugh when I look at them.


and After-


Guess what I get tomorrow...!

I get a little bit of this:

and a little bit of this:
After two loooong weeks, I'm so excited for my little ones to come home. I talked to them yesterday and they are having so much fun. I'm so glad they got to go. But the selfish mommy in me is ready to have them home for snuggling, playing and hearing the funny things they have to say. A little part (very little part) of me is even missing the fits, temper tantrums and bits of kid attitude that come out from time to time.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008


Ben and Sarah have been Missing In Action for the last week and a half. They went to Oregon to visit family with their Grandma and were to be joined by their dad. Visiting Oregon is so much fun. I talked to them last Thursday and they had such stories to tell about seeing purple star fish and riding in Uncle Richard's scout. Cousin Bryn sent me these pictures of them. Seeing pictures makes me ache a little for them. I can hardly wait for them to come home!

Monday, July 28, 2008

Maris's Baptism

Broc and Maris left to go to their mom's house on Saturday. Before they left, though, we had Maris's baptism. It was beautiful. Ben baptised her. We were so happy to have so much family at the baptism.

Maris looked like an angel in her white dress
Brother and Sister
Ben and Maris

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Faux Pas

Sometimes, I'm almost ashamed of myself. When this man came in to my office yesterday I had the hardest time not laughing out loud at the poor man. I spent 20 minutes fumbling with my camera phone to figure out how to get a picture of him without it being too obvious. This is the best I could do. Allow me to point out some of the details of his outfit that might not be completely visible in the photo. Starting at the top he was wearing a green and orange hat that was three sizes too small and is perched on top of a rather large head with boufy hair. He was wearing dark wire glasses and had a thick goatee. His shirt was gray and white with red lines all over it and his shorts were navy blue. And I'm sure you can clearly see the white socks and white shoes, but I must point them out anyway.

Ladies, I tried to look for a ring to see if this studly catch was married but I wasn't able to get a good look, possibly because I was so busy fumbling with my camera.

Really, I try to not be so mean and judgemental, but I do have to wonder if this man belong to some strange religion that doesn't believe in mirrors?

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Things that make me go hmmm....

There are 5 houses for sale on our tiny street. Our normally quiet neighborhood is getting a lot of attention and visitors looking at the houses.

Last night, I was sitting on our front porch, because I'm in love with the idea of sitting on the front porch in the evenings watching the world go by, sipping lemonade (only let's be real here, I sip Dr. Pepper) and having the kids ride bikes and play in the yard. Anyway, I digress... last night I was sitting on our front porch when a little red Ford Focus pulled up to look at the house next door. I could clearly see a middle age man driving with a young boy in the passenger seat. They were the only two occupants of the car. The young boy looked to be about 6 or 7, definitely no older or bigger than our 8 year old Maris.

While these people were looking at the house something called my attention to go indoors. I was inside for quite a while and when I came back out of the house, the red car was just starting to pull away. I had to look at them three times to make my mind believe that what I was seeing was real. As they pulled away the young boy was driving the car and the middle aged man was sitting in the passenger seat. Yes, the 6 or 7 year old was DRIVING! Clearly, I do not want these people for neighbors.

But then it got me to thinking... I've been wanting to ride my bike to work to save a little on gas, but I haven't been able to because I have kids to drop off at daycare. So, since other's are doing it, I'm wondering if I might just be able to have Sarah start driving herself to daycare. She is a very mature 4 year old... that should count for something, right?

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

My hero

Today is my mom's birthday. I would like to pause today to tell you a little about my mom because she is quite a woman. I wish I had my mom's gift with words to fully describe her to you.
My mom is the youngest of four kids. Though she was the littlest and would never grow taller than any of her siblings I believe she developed a loud voice to make sure she was heard. I'm not speaking in terms of volume, but instead in terms of strength, persuasion and moral conviction. I've never heard one story about my mom in which she didn't set her mind to an accomplishment and then live to fulfill her goal.

Her passion in life has been to give to others. Last year my mom retired from school teaching. She taught high school students. By choice, she taught the students that no one else wanted; kids with severe learning and behavioral challenges. Even bigger than just choosing them, she loved them. I have watched my mom sit beside hospital beds and provided care to loved ones as well as acquaintances who had no one else. She aches with the pain that her family and friends feel. She brings new meaning to the word compassion. I have never seen any one who has given more to others than my mom.

A few years ago, my mom realized that she had neglected herself during all of her years of taking care of others. Upon realizing this, my very brave mom had the courage to begin a journey to nurture herself. She made some very hard choices and followed her heart.

Today, my mom is happier than I have ever seen her. She has been a true example to me. Daily she is teaching me the importance of being compassionate to others as well as ourselves. Her strength has given me courage. We have not always understood each other, but I am so glad that she is my mom. I am equally astounded by the similarities and differences that I see in us. I'm glad that she chose to have one little girl 30 years ago and I am eternally grateful that it was me. Now, as a mother myself, I recognize the challenge that motherhood is and the sacrifices she has made for my best interests.

When I say that my mom is my hero, I do not speak it lightly. She is an amazing woman! I am honored to be her daughter.

Happy Birthday Mom! I love you!

Monday, July 21, 2008

Maris is 8

Happy Birthday, Maris!

Saturday, July 19, 2008

A little perspective

Sarah is 4 years old. This picture was taken moments before I handed Sarah my precious pink camera and said, "Go, baby! Go, take pictures of whatever you want!"

Then Sarah took my precious pink camera and took pictures of the things she likes. Here are the pictures Sarah took.
This is what our world looks like from the perspective of someone under 3 feet tall. Now you know; and you didn't even have to come to our house and crawl around on your knees to find out. And we all owe a giant 'Thanks' to Sarah for that.

Thank you Sarah!

Friday, July 18, 2008

Making Believe

What happens when you ask two boys and two girls to work together on a play? I'll tell you... it's sheer mayhem is what it is! We had creative ideas coming out our ears. We had costume creations that I wouldn't have believed if I hadn't seen them. We had completely different girly ideas of what should be done and boyish ideas of what should be done. Ultimately, we had some kind of story to watch and an interesting story it was.
Scene I-
Act 1- The Fight

Act II- Tragic death

Act III- The Triumph

Scene II

Act I- Entrance of The Grieving Princesses

Act II- No mercy for the grief stricken

Oh, the heart wrenching drama of it. I laughed, I cried, I rolled my eyes. It was a beautiful show!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Falling off the horse

When I was 9 years old I signed up for 4-H and got my first horse. I loved riding, I was never super good at it, couldn't really be one of those competitive cowgirls. But, I did my thing. I rode for pleasure and with 4-H I rode in a couple of shows. I started out riding a little pony and as I got a little better I progressed to a rather large 17 hand horse.

After a year and a half I started to feel pretty good about the fact that I had never been bucked off a horse, never fallen off, never had any major calamity occur. Then I attended a 4-H horse show. There I was in my white shirt, green hat and green sash. I was looking 10 year old stylish. My hair cut short to my ears in a bob and permed. It was a good look! Anyway, I was out in a field behind the arena warming up my horse, Brodie. Things were going well until suddenly her feet got tripped up in the grass. She tried desperately to keep her footing, but her attempts were futile. She toppled over with me and my green hat still on top of her back. She fell completely over on her side, pinning my left leg underneath her massive weight. Numbing pain shot through the left side of my body and as quickly as I could feel it she was jumping back on her feet and running off, leaving me on the ground. As I shook off the pain, ever adult in the near proximity rushed over to check on me.

Though I was shaken up, I didn't have any wounds that were in need of treatment. What was wounded was my pride and my confidence. I'd heard the cliche saying, "You need to get right back on the horse." Honestly, though that was the very last thing I wanted to do. I didn't want to risk getting hurt again. I didn't want to chance serious damage. My brush with injury was too close for my comfort. Eventually, the adults convinced me to at least mount the small pony that I had learned on. Over the next couple of weeks I regained my confidence and was eventually able to ride Brodie again.

This event sticks out in my mind because in the nine years that I rode horses this is the only accident I ever had. I was very lucky. But, this was not the only time that I have "fallen off the horse." Life is full of stumbles, wounded pride, lost confidence. Getting back up on the horse sometimes sounds simple, but can be the hardest thing in the world to actually do. Lately, I have felt the greatest amount of inadequacy, wounded pride and lack of confidence in my life. I'm not really one of those competitive cowgirls in this life, but I'm doing my thing, taking it at my own pace and I will keep getting back on the horse each time I stumble. And I will keep remembering that this ride is worth all the falls!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

The Story of Us- Part IV

I wasn't about to let his hand go...

Our first date ended up being a full day event. We joked that really, we spent so much time together that we shouldn't count it as a first date, but should instead count it as our first 8 dates. It was so comfortable to spend time with him. Time when we weren't talking was comfortable and finding things to say to each other was so easy. I never expected to be so swept away the first time meeting someone. As I finally said good bye to him after that first day together my mind was racing with trying to plan our next time together.

Sunday morning I jumped on my computer to find the following email from him:

Thank you so much for the wonderful day. You are everything that I expected and more. You are an incredible woman and I don't know why your ex was such a fool to leave you in the first place. You're beautiful, intelligent, funny, caring, gentle, respectful, a great mother (from what I know anyway), and so many other great qualities. Have a great day and know that I will be thinking of you here in Ridgecrest.


Yep, I was pretty much in love with this man! I couldn't find one thing to not love. In our early courtship, I repeatedly asked him to just tell me what the catch was. "What's wrong here, I just can't figure it out. How can someone really be this perfect for me." A plan to see each other was quickly reached. We would meet in California City on Tuesday evening after the kids went to their dad's. Oh, California City! By no means a romantic destination. We met at a McDonald's parking lot and tried to decide on where to eat dinner. Finally deciding on Subway. We took our sandwiches to the park in town, a park that must have once been pretty, but now the grass was patchy, the fountain wasn't working in the algae covered pond, the picnic tables were filthy and there was graffiti on the buildings. While eating my cell phone rang, it was my ex husband calling to give me a hard time about something (this was before we had more or less agreed to peaceful interactions). Ben sat quietly listening to my end of the conversation, I hung up the phone and asked "You sure you want into this mess." He reassured me that nothing about me was scary to him and we continued our "date." As the sun set we parked in the desert and talked for hours. We found romance in the most unromantic of towns.

Before the end of that week we had plans for me to go to his place the following Saturday. If it hadn't been for the hour drive I probably would have seen him everyday. I couldn't get enough of him.

That Friday Ben did several projects around his place to get everything ready for me to see his home, he worked so hard, but really all I cared about seeing was him.

Early Saturday morning I drove to see him...

Back to Part I

Back to Part II

Back to Part III

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Uncle Beck

Big Ben's oldest brother Beck loves Star Wars. He collects figurines and talks Star Wars "doctrine." In many ways Beck eats sleeps and breaths Star Wars. Last night, only Broc, Ben, Sarah and I were home when Beck called looking for Big Ben. I told him where he was and about when he would be home. Then the conversation ended. As I hung up the phone the kids curiously asked me who I had been talking to. I told them and they began a discussion about Uncle Beck.

Broc: I bet he asked if you like Star Wars

Me: No, not tonight. But he has asked me before.

Broc: Yeah, Uncle Beck really likes Star Wars. He watches the movies all the time and he collects the light sabers and really cool posters.

Sarah: Broc! Uncle Beck is NOT your father!

Me: (Rolling on floor laughing)

Broc: I don't get it?!?!

I don't really know how my four year old even came up with such humor. She cracked me up.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Plea for help

I've mentioned before that I was raised as the only kid at home. Then God knew my abilities and gave me two children who really like each other. 90% of the time Ben and Sarah get along great and are the bestest of friends. Issues of sibling rivalry, tattling and bickering are as foreign to me as the social issues faced by people in New Guinea. But now, through the twists that can occur in life, I live in a home that faces these issues. We have four good kids and I think that issues of tattling, hitting, and frustration are "normal" ones. But, I am not equipped with the experience to deal with these things. So, I put out this plea to you for help...

~What do you do when your children just won't stop arguing?
~What do you do to stop the tattling?
~What is an appropriate punishment if one child hits another who was bugging them?
~How should you handle it if the child that was hit, hits back?
~How do you teach children to be kind to someone that they don't necessarily "like?"
~How should I respond to snotty, attitude filled apologies?

I've tried the "logical" answers to all of these questions. We've been punishing left and right, and you know it isn't working so well. Are there any creative tricks that you've used? That your parents used? Maybe, I'm asking for a miracle. Maybe, patience is the answer, but again that is something that I'm not very well equipped with. Is it so crazy to just hope for a "trick" that will make 4 children act harmoniously and love each other ever second of the day?

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Summer storm

We got out of church today to find that we were in the middle of an awesome summer thunderstorm. The kids and Big Ben changed out of their church clothes, put their swimsuits on and ran through the sprinkles.
These are the things memories are made of. It reminded me of when I was about 10 and the neighbor girl and I changed into our swimsuits to play in the sprinklers, just as we walked out the front door a summer storm hit and we played in the rain instead of the sprinkler.

Saturday, July 12, 2008


When I was in college I became enamoured with a framed quote in the school bookstore. The quote read, "Some people come into our lives and quickly go. Some stay for awhile and leave footprints on our heart, and we are never the same." I was a freshmen when I first saw it and even though I was living on a tight student budget, I had to have it. It hung on my bedroom wall all through college and has hung in every subsequent home and apartment I've lived in. Something about that idea really hit home with me.

However, it was not until I experienced the pains and trials of divorce that I fully realized the impact that people could have on my heart. When the world began to learn of my heartaches and challenges, I was amazed by the people that came out of seeming thin air to mend my wounds. While I had known some of these people for most of my life, there were also the people who came into my life's path at just the right time and stayed for a while to help.

The impacts are too numerous to recount all of them, but just a few include the boss who went to bat for my job because though I wasn't able to invest my full self at work he knew my potential and knew that I couldn't take another hit at the time, there was the friend who answered her phone 200 times a day just because I needed a sounding board to talk things through with, the friends who opened their home and their hearts to babysit my children so I could go back to school and have a new social life, the surfer who flirted with me and helped me realize that though I was knocked down I was still a desirable woman, the friend who took me out on weekends when I didn't have the kids so that I could pretend I had a social life and the in-laws who let me run to their guest room every time things got hard. I'm not sure I will ever be able to repay to these people what they did for me in my darkest hour, but I view their charity as a debt that I will be trying to pay forward to others for the rest of my life. These people truly left footprints on my heart and I will NEVER be the same.

In the last few days and weeks I've been struggling with my step-parenting roll a bit. It is a challenge. Parts of this process that I expected to come easily, just aren't easy; parts that I expected to be a challenge, are even more of a challenge than I ever expected. I've said before that this business of blending a family is a process and occasionally the bumps in the process are a bit bigger than I would like. We are muddling through and learning and I have complete confidence that it will all be OK, even if my confidence waivers some days. In the last few days there have again been people who have come into the path of my life to help me through my struggles. People, that I would never expect, have started conversations with me about step-parenting. These are people who have been able to say, "the way you feel is normal, I've been there too." Reassurance that though I despise myself sometimes for some of my behavior and feelings, it is a "normal" part of the blending process. Reassurance that if others have survived, darned it, I can and will too.

I am so grateful for all of the footprints on my heart!

Friday, July 11, 2008

Happy Birthday Superman!

It's my Superman's Birthday! Oh, look at that... I think he's always been a hero in the making.

Happy Birthday Ben! I love you!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Women and Divorce

This might be a bit of a rant. If you don't know about some of the stuff that we have been dealing with with Ben's ex wife, you might think this is random... but it so isn't.

As a divorced woman with two kids there are some things that really irk me about other women in my situation. There are some questions I would like to ask them.

- Isn't it the mother and father's responsibility to support their children?
- Shouldn't an able bodied woman be capable of providing for half of the financial needs of her children? Don't they have any pride?
- What kind of mother would interfere in the relationship between her children and their father, who is a good man and good father?
- What kind of mother would be so stubborn as to make it necessary for complete strangers in the legal system to decide the fate of her children?
- Don't we as mothers have a responsibility to demonstrate an example of integrity to our children? And shouldn't that example begin with how we treat their father?
- How can anyone think that a child's father (who has played an active role since their birth) can be replaced with a step-parent?
- Why would you ever intentionally want to hurt someone who you once loved and respected enough to have children with?

I am trying to live my life by the answers to these questions. Sometimes I falter a bit, and haven't always handled every aspect of divorce the best way. But I cannot understand why people allow themselves to become so ugly in divorce, our children deserve better. Don't get me wrong, every situation is different and some divorces deal with issues I can't even begin to fathom. But fair is fair and right is right! Both parents have responsibilities to their children and children have a right to have as equal of relationship with both parents as possible!

Ok, so maybe I'm a little passionate about this. I just wish that people could see how much better it is for your children to rise above petty, selfish issues.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Mr. LA

My bestest girls went with me to Palm Springs last week to celebrate my 30th birthday. Yes, Palm Springs in July is VERY hot. No, we are not crazy, just frugal trying to save a few bucks by going in the off season. We had fun, we laughed and talked and ate way too much. Mostly we enjoyed free hotel AC (see I told you frugal). We gave the pool our best try, but it was hot, even the water was tepid and uncomfortable.

If you haven't been to Palm Springs in a while, or ever... try to imagine a faded, seedy, 1960's desert oasis. We stayed at Caliente Tropics, incredibly clean cute rooms. But there were two police cars in the parking lot when I arrived and they were escorting what appeared to be a crack whore (did I really just say that? I apologize) off the premises. The pool at this "resort" closed at 9 pm and even the bar on premises closed at 9 pm. Yes, I was also shocked.

On our first day there, Meredith and I put on our swimsuits, I slathered my body in sunscreen, we grabbed our gossip magazines and we made the hot trek to the pool. Almost immediately, we began to notice the eclectic grouping of people there. Most of whom had alcoholic beverages in the pool. Yes, there were spedoes and back fat in abundance. It was truly the first time in my life that I have felt like a beauty queen in my swimsuit.

We picked two lounge chairs in the two inches of shade that was available and sat back with our magazines. Then we noticed a guy walking around the pool, he was carrying a drink in one hand and was sucking in his gut so hard that I'm sure he was in pain. His light brown hair was expertly combed to cover the thinning spots. Of course, Meredith and I had to comment to each other about his "hottness." Then we (at least I) tried desperately to avoid eye contact with anyone. I some how suspect that Meredith may not have made the same effort, because before I knew what happened this guy was talking to us, and to my horror, Meredith was talking back.

He began by asking what stories were in the magazines we were reading, then he proceeded to tell us that he knows all of the real stories because HE is from LA. I think we were supposed to swoon at this. He told us about who he had seen at what parties and told us that all of the best Hollywood men are really gay and that their wives are just trophies and of course he knows this because HE is from LA! According to him, he has been at parties and seen celebrities in their element. He kept asking us to read articles to him, I was continuing to pretend he wasn't talking to us. And still to my surprise Meredith was talking to him.

At the soonest opportunity I could find, we gathered our stuff and escaped the heat. More than escaping the heat I was escaping the ridiculousness of Mr. LA, though. And for the next two days I was scared that we would run in to him again. One little chat with Mr. LA more than exceeded my cheesiness threshold. I think he may have been trying to carry on the aura of the Rat Pack that used to frequent Palm Springs, but oh boy did he ever miss the mark!

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Baby its cold outside

On our first day at the river, Ben was overcome by the cold and needed to lay down for a rest.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Simple Beauty

Thursday, July 3, 2008

A mother's dream

Sleeping children! I'm not sure there is anything sweeter than the peace that comes when they are snoozing. I haven't seen much of it lately! But I love this picture of 3 out of the 4 (plus Dodger) resting together.