Tuesday, December 16, 2014


Part of me doesn't want to document life right now. I want aspects of this season to be gone and never to remember them again. And yet there are aspects that I want to freeze and savor the moments forever. Because of this, for today, I am only writing about the aspects I want to bottle up and give away so that others can get the warm fuzzy feelings they give me.

Things I love:

The way Pear can make Hazel smile and laugh. Pear has a special touch, it's either her face or her voice that can instantly make Hazel happy. It is a joy to watch.

When I ask Crew, "would you like to read a book with me?" And he responds, "yeah, of course." And after that, I ask, "would you like a snack?" And he again responds, "yeah, of course." Yes isn't in his vocabulary, instead it is, "yeah, of course."

How excited Pike gets when he's talking about a Lego set or a funny part in a movie or any number of things. His excitement sometimes makes me laugh. And I am trying to be a good listener and engage with him and not just say, "oh, really?" But really take an interest and talk about what it is that excites him. When I do, I am not disappointed. He is fun with a capital f.

How Hazel wakes up smiley and talking in her most adorable tone and just tells me how much she loves me. I know that's what she's saying. ;)

How Jovie is such a little homemaker and mommy. Always looking for something to do or some way to help. And then she always says "you're welcome for holding Hazel," before I even uttered thank you. She is like her momma, and words are important to her.

I don't think Stephen knows how happy my heart gets when he plays "fight" with the boys. Or when he lets the girls help him in the kitchen. Or when I come home from the store to see all of them squished on one couch cushion watching the Food Network. He is a joy in my life. I couldn't do this without him and I wouldn't want to anyway.

I love my big family. And I'm thankful they love me.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

pain and processing

Late Thursday, I called my mom. Stephen had been out of town at a conference for 3 days and I needed to talk to someone. I called my mom and she barely answered the phone. I could tell she was upset but I thought maybe she was just really missing Piper who got married just a few days before. When I asked if that was it she didn't answer. I waited a few moments and nothing was uttered. I said, "well, I understand if you don't want to talk about it. But if you need an ear, I am here." To which she said she didn't know what she could share. And then my heart sunk. She went on, "you know how we thought dad had pneumonia? He has cancer." Neither of us could talk. We just cried and I tried to reassure her that it would be okay and God is in control.

The following day is when we found out more. My dad was diagnosed with stage IV kidney cancer which spread to the hip and the lungs. This was the hardest thing I have ever had to hear. I don't want to think of my dad in pain. I don't want to think of my siblings watching him go through treatment. I don't want to think of how my mom will cope. I don't want to think of whether my kids will continue to get to be "sacks of potatoes" heading out to the car. I don't want to think of not having my dad as a sounding wall that I go to any time I need wisdom or advice. I don't want to think of missing him. He's my dad. He's always been there. He is the leader in our family. He is the one that no matter what, is grounded in his faith and seems unshaken. He brings joy. He is selfless. He works harder than anyone I know. He is generous. He is loving. He's my dad.

My heart is breaking. I am processing. I don't understand why. I hate this.

Friday, October 10, 2014

My sweet Hazel.

Hazel. Sweet Hazel. Where do I begin? Though you were a surprise, you were not an accident. On the contrary, I prayed for you for years. And in fact, deep in my heart, I knew you would be in our family even when we thought your big brother Crew might be our youngest child. My heart told me differently. I never thought our family was complete without a "Hazel." You can ask Mammy, or Daddy. I told them that the only thing that was missing before you joined our family was "a little girl named Hazel."

I found out you were growing in my tummy shortly after I told Aunt Tara (who was pregnant with little Hudson) that it's "too bad we weren't pregnant at the same time. It would be fun to have cousins close in age." And then you came! I am so glad that you did.

My pregnancy was fairly easy with you. I never got sick. And you grew just right. But at the end, you teased me. My body would tell me you were going to come soon, maybe even that day, and then you wouldn't. This teasing went on for weeks. Until finally, one night just as I was sitting down to rest for the evening, around 8:30 pm, I felt my tummy get tight saying that you were going to be coming soon. And then by 9:30 pm I told Stephen we should go to the hospital so that you could come and I could hold you. We got checked in at the hospital around 10:30 pm on September 11th. I really didn't want you to be born on September 11th because that is a sad day. So I waited and you came at 12:10 am on September 12th. You came so swiftly that all of the nurses weren't even ready for you! Some of them got frustrated with each other because they didn't take each other seriously when one told the other to come quickly because Hazel is coming. You came out with your umbilical cord wrapped around your neck twice, and that caused you to have a hard time catching your breath at first. I just held you and rubbed your back and told you to breath and soon enough, you did. You weighed 7lb 2oz and were 20" long. You grew in my tummy for 41 weeks! And you came with just a little bit of hair on your head.

I was immediately in love. I waited so long to meet you and there you were. I hope someday you get to have the same experience I did with you with your own baby; an easy pregnancy, a swift easy birth and the love and adoration that comes with meeting a baby for the very first time.

I love you my sweet Hazel.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

It's the garage door's fault.

I don't know why I post stuff like this. I guess I'm not ashamed of doing stupid things. I guess I also like to laugh. So here's a free one for you. Because, well, I think some of the best memories are made through laughter.

I drive a mini-van. I never wanted to. But I do. And I'm cool with it because it means I also carry some pretty great cargo. I mean 4 (soon to be 5) beautiful little faces that sing at the top of their lungs, talk 100mph (all at the same time mind you,) kick the backs of the seats and wipe their boogies on the arm rests, it's pretty great. They are all in car seats too. It's the law.

Getting into the car is a task that takes an adult a swift 60 seconds. Usually an adult has time to put their shades on, maybe even some lipstick, before heading out the driveway. I'm lucky if we can do it in 5 minutes. Somebody always forgets to go potty, can't find their shoes, decides jumping on the seats is much more fun than getting buckled and so it goes. There are no shades and there is no lipstick. Actually, as I'm driving down the road, I end up dumping my purse out to grab a mint or a piece of gum because I forgot to brush my teeth that morning. This is the reality I call life.

Our garage door is new. I mean the house was only built 3 years ago. But for some reason, it opens incredibly slow. We have a button inside our van that is programmed to open the garage door. I never use it when parked in the garage because we also have a button to open the trunk and they are fairly close together and I have a great fear that I will press the wrong one and then the van trunk will be crushed. So, I always use the clicker that is mounted on the wall in our garage to open the door. Well, one day, on my way headed out to do errands (BY MYSELF!!!) I pressed the clicker to open the garage door. I got in the van, started the engine, put on my shades and proceeded to back out. Crunch. The garage door was only half way up. Bummer. Dent in the garage door. Scratch on the van. That's pretty stupid right? I mean who backs into their garage door from the inside?! Obviously me. But what's more stupid...I did it again...a week later. I will have you know, our garage door did have issues. It was not normal for it to open that slow and after the second time of me backing into it, we decided it was time to get it fixed. I haven't had any more incidents. And it's only a little dent and a little scratch. But try explaining that one to your husband..."ummm, I backed into the garage door. It was just taking too long to open so I thought I'd push my way out!" And then a week later...."ummm. I did it again. I backed into the garage door, again."

All this to say, having it take a long time to load into the car isn't such a bad thing. At least you always know that the garage door will be completely open by the time you get in.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Disneyland 2014

The happiest place on earth, and spending it with the people I love most; we embarked on our first ever real family vacation. A real vacation! Not just a long weekend, or a few days off work, or time as a family welcoming in a new baby. Vacation.

Our hotel room was a marvelous family-friendly suite and the hotel amenities included a water park which was perfect for our kids. We settled in after a short flight and shuttle ride which arrived right on time. We ventured down to the pool to let the kids play while Stephen and I lounged side by side, talking about our future and sipping pina coladas. We took a short walk to get dinner and headed back for movie night at the hotel.

The following day was Mother's Day. We spent it at my dream spot: Disneyland! I got to take the kids on all of the magical rides I went on as a child, and live my dream of having a beautiful family and spending quality time having fun together.

On Monday morning we went to California Adventure. Per my planning, Stephen went to get a fastpass for Radiator Springs Racers while the kids and I got in line for the Toy Story ride. One ride down, onto the next! Stephen looked at me with his dreamy eyes and gave me a smile which I knew meant "I love it here!" We continued our day leisurely and took breaks when needed and hit everything on my list, just as planned.

Tuesday we decided to stay at our hotel and simply enjoy the water park. It was a nice break. The sun was shining, again Stephen and I lounged while the kids played and sipped on another delicious pina colada and talked about our next trip.

Wednesday, our last day at the park, was a balmy 80 degrees. We took the kids to meet all of their favorite characters. The girls dressed up in their princess dresses and were in heaven as they pretended to be Anna and Cinderella while traipsing through the park. Pike got picked to be a padwan at the Jedi Training Academy and his trip was made. We sadly left the park anticipating our next trip.

The kids were angels. We bonded as a family. We grew closer together and loved every minute of it. Everywhere we went people asked, "how do you do it?" Stephen and I lovingly looked at each other and just said "we are blessed." We made it home Thursday and Praise God for such a wonderful trip.

Haha! Did that sound too good to be true? Well, that's the way the trip played out in my head. For weeks, no months, prior to our departure. I had envisioned just that. Okay, let's try documenting the trip as it actually happened.

Saturday morning, we got to the airport right on time! Just 2 hours prior to our departure. Only I couldn't find my phone. "Uh, Stephen, I left my phone in the van." He quickly called the parking shuttle and they had to go back, get it, and then bring it to Stephen at the departure drop-off spot. I stayed at the baggage check with 4 kids, bouncing off the walls. 20 minutes passed. Stephen said, "they couldn't find it." I emptied my purse for the second time and voila! It was in there all along. Good start, eh? Our flight was smooth. An ear ache here and there between kids but nothing too serious. We arrived at 1pm. Got our bags and headed out for the shuttle. Which didn't show up until 2pm. Waiting on a sidewalk with excited kids, who are also starving hungry since they hadn't eaten lunch yet, for an hour, is not exactly fun. But the shuttle came and we were at our hotel by 3:30. Starving, we decide to go to the hotel's restaurant. First thing I did? Stubbed my big toe on the door stop. Hard. Busted my toe nail and completely ruined my pedicure I had done the week before. Bummer. Food was bad. Service was worse. The trip has no where to go but up from here! Right?

Well, I could give you nitty-gritty details, but honestly, I don't want to remember those. So I'll sum it up with this: Disneyland was packed. In the morning, it felt like shopping on the day after Thanksgiving. Everyone would crowd in line and sprint to their favorite ride or to get fastpass tickets. I'm all for a good deal, and also for getting the most bang for my buck by getting to go on a ride without waiting in line. But not like that, it's just not my style. The temperatures were HOT. 104 degrees hot. And for kids that think 65 degree temperatures call for swimming and sprinklers, those temperatures caused whining and misery. Jovie and Pike especially couldn't deal with the heat. Pear and Pike got sick starting on Monday. We had kids with fevers the remainder of the trip. We attempted to keep the fevers down and continued on with our trip but they just weren't themselves. Every time we'd attempt to go to the parks, the kids would ask if we could go back to the hotel. With our 3 day park tickets, we spent a total of probably 8 hours at the parks. Yeah, we didn't really get much bang for our buck there.

 We did have our share of fun and memorable moments. Pear LOVED everything at Disneyland and she really was a trooper for being sick and making the best of it. The highlight for me was our last evening at Disneyland, I stayed at the park for an extra 2 hours with just Pear. (The rest of the family wanted to go back to the hotel.) And Pear was in heaven for those 2 hours. She kept telling me how happy she was and how much fun she was having. And she talked, and talked, and talked. And she would just burst out in song anytime she remembered a Disney song that matched the ride we were going on or what we were seeing.

Another highlight was Radiator Springs Racers. We got fastpasses to avoid the 2 hour line and the kids waited all day to go on this ride. Stephen, walked up with the 3 bigger kids and the lady measuring Pike said, "oh, I see light between the guideline and his head. Sorry. He can't go." This was the Cars ride that Pike had been dreaming of for months! Are you serious? An eighth of an inch! I told Stephen to go ahead and I would take care of Pike. He got the "stroller pass" so that I could go on as soon as he got off. And I headed to the nearest restaurant, grabbed a couple wads of napkins and stuffed them in Pike's shoes. No doubt, he was tall enough this time. And it was a great ride!  Pike was also in awe of Thor and when Thor asked him who his favorite superhero is, he quickly responded, "Iron Man!"

Jovie is a silent one. She rarely expresses her joys and always makes her miseries known. Deep down, I think she had a little fun. But when I ask her, she says, "I hated it. It was just too hot! One day was like a desert." I know she did enjoy aspects but between the walking (which she isn't crazy about,) the waiting  (if you know Jovie, you know she cannot be idle,) and the heat (of all the kids, she melts the most in the heat,) it was a bit more than she could handle.

Crew loved the parade and though hesitant to meet the characters, he followed big brother and sisters and put on a grin for all of the pictures. He couldn't go on too many rides and he was often hesitant on the rides he could go on, but as he watched the older kids' responses to the the thrill, he forced a grin and pretended to be at ease and having fun.

The hotel really was amazing. It was within easy walking distance to Disneyland, had an AMAZING water park for the kids and it was a suite with a total of 4 beds. The only downside was the fact that besides a McDonald's and a Pizza joint, there weren't really food options. The hotel advertises that they have a grocery market, which they aren't lying. They do have one but their prices were outrageous! We are talking $4.00 for one of those single serve cereals in a plastic container and $5.00 for an ice cream cookie sandwich.

Thursday finally arrived and we were all ready to go home. Crew now had a fever and didn't feel well. The shuttle ride to the airport was long but nothing compared to our flight. Pike was being extremely out of control and seemed to throw a fit about everything. Of course he refused to go pee at the airport, but as soon as the plane was in the air, he couldn't hold it. Airplane bathrooms are lovely, right? Yeah, they are even more lovely when you are pregnant and trying to take a finicky 3 year old who still sits backwards on the toilet. We finally land and we figure we are in the clear, almost home! Of course, Pike discovers that he must've had the urge to poo at some point but didn't and now he had the dreaded SKID MARKS. Skid marks in his undies are a big deal. And rather than quietly whispering the fact to me and requesting fresh ones, he yells so that everyone on the plane can hear, "I HAVE SKID MARKS!" He then continued to yell, "I have to go now!" about 100 times as we were stuck near the back of the plane while everyone slowly walked out. That's the worst of it right? Oh but no, the boys continue with their extremely difficult behaviors of the day. One fight led to another and in the end, Crew ended up vomiting on the train cram packed with people on the way to the baggage claim. I ended up stripping him down to his diaper and wrapping him in my coat until we got to our bags.

Our trip was memorable. We are blessed. We were able to go on a trip and BE together. Moments were miserable. And moments were amazing. I cried the next day, (that may be due to the fact that I'm pregnant, or it may be due to the fact that the trip was just that drastically different from the way I envisioned it.) Either way, I am thankful. Thankful for the opportunity. Thankful for my family. Thankful for this life. And today, I am laughing.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Some days are trying.

This post is simply to put in perspective that although I mean it when I say kids are an incredible joy, the fact that they are extremely difficult at times is also very true.

A simple thing we do every Tuesday is go to Story Time at our local community library. We usually go a little early to return our books from the previous week and fill our book bag with new ones. This morning we did just this. Pike found his book, an Iron Man adventure book. When Crew laid his eyes on it, he had to have it too. Thus the fight began. I quickly scoured the shelf for another super hero book and thankfully found one that looked very similar with batman! I ask the kids to come with me to browse the parenting books (I need all the help I can get!) but along the way, Crew and Pike decided they needed to pull all of the category tabs off of the shelves. Thankfully they had only pulled 3 by the time I noticed and that was easily fixed. We reached the parenting books but nothing caught my eye. On to checking out. Normally the kids each get to scan their own books. Well, this week there was already a lady with her children using the stool and the shorter counter that allows kids to scan. So I said I would scan the books this week. Pike's response, "But I want to do my books!" I say quietly, "Well, Pike, if you can reach up here, you can scan yours." He manages on his tippy-toes and with a little help. Next we charge off to Story Time in the meeting room. Name tags! (Why do they have kids write their own names on tiny stickers WITH A PERMANENT MARKER?) Pear and Jovie quietly make their name tag and sit down. Pike starts his, "Ah nuts! Mom, I messed up." (Remember all of the talking that Pike does is in his only volume: LOUD.) I give him a new one. Now Crew wants one and he thinks he needs to make his own. Now I have two boys with blue sharpie all over their hands. Pike still has his Iron Man book in tow but Crew lost his somewhere on the way to the Story Time room. This is going to be trouble. It began the moment we sat down. Pike was curiously looking through his book and Crew wanted to look at it as well. So, I tell Pike we are going to put the book away until after Story Time. This is when the fit came in. While all of the other kids are listening quietly to the story, Pike is yelling, "Mom! I Don't want to! But mom! I want to look at it! Why won't you read me IRON MAN!" I tell him that I will have to sit on the bench outside with him if he can't obey me. So he yells, "OKAY! I'll put it away! Mom! Hmph!" (Now, I should have taken him out and disciplined him right then and there. But it's not so easy with 4. To take him out, means that in a way, Pear and Jovie and Crew have to suffer for Pike's misbehaving. What do you do? This is where I need that parenting book to advise me.) The rest of Story Time Pike sat sulking and we ended up cutting out about 5 minutes before it was finished because Crew was crying for lunch. It was only 10:55 am but he couldn't wait a second longer. Thankfully I packed sandwiches in the car and he was able to eat on our way home. The end.

Just a glimpse into 30 minutes of my trying day. If you want to get a full picture, just multiply this by about 20, mix in some laughs and you pretty much have it. :)

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Maui, Hawaii 2013

 As I'm sitting in the house on this cold wet rainy day in March, I am thinking of the glorious days in Hawaii. Maui really is my happy place. I love it. I love the sun. I love the relaxed feel. I love the beach vibe. I love the iced coffees. I love the saltwater in my hair. And I am looking forward to going back. During our most recent trip, we stayed at Makena Beach and Golf Resort. It was luxurious. Each morning we dined outside to a smorgasbord of a breakfast. And then we'd mosey on down the beach to enjoy the view. We'd lounge in our lawn chairs and read a chapter or two of a book. And then go for a swim. 80 and sunny every day. We took the Road to Hana and found it to beautiful but we'd rather be on the beach. We went to Old Lahaina to browse the shops and eat at Cool Cat's Cafe. Back to the beach, our favorite spot. We really spent 75% of our time relaxing on the beach and snorkeling.

Now, we are on a mission to go back again. Our hope is to go with all of the kids in a year or two and spend a month there. The ultimate goal is to buy a condo there, rent it out for the majority of the year and then be able to live there for a month or two out of the year FOR THE REST OF OUR LIVES! We are dreaming big, working hard and with God's blessings, we can't wait to see it unfold!