Tuesday, July 31, 2012

My Favorite Spots

I have several spots that I would consider my 'happy places'.

First off is my bed.  I have had a long standing relationship with my bed.  Happy, sad, exhausted...whatever I am feeling my bed is there for me.  It holds me up...literally.  I read books and magazines, watch TV, nap, get lost on the web.  I could stay there all day...if only my family would let me.

Another happy place is my parent's house because it's the closest thing Scott and I get to a vacation.  My parents help watching the kids and my mom cooks delicious meals and my dad does the dishes.  It doesn't hurt that they have a nice house and an amazing view and a town with plenty of family friendly stuff to do.

It's almost embarrassing to say but Target is a favorite spot of mine but only if I am alone.  I can get a little of this and a little of that.  I can find a nice treat or surprise for my kids.  I can find a nice treat for myself.  I think about all the things the kids need for whatever activity they have coming up...new school year, soccer camp, friend's birthday parties, etc.

Scott and I were married on a Southern California beach and we are very lucky to live close to a few great beaches still. It is a free activity that makes the whole family happy.  Since our family started on a beach and we only ever go there with all six of us, the beach represents family to me.  It's definitely a happy place as there are rarely tantrums at the beach.

Last but certainly not least, there is a park that is very special to the kids and me.  It is a public space but our co-op preschool is located there.  All four of my kids have learned to climb and swing and imagine themselves as pirates or princess on the jungle gym.  And every afternoon when school is done they play and let me have my daily grown-up conversation with moms with like-minded parenting ideas.  Even in summer, like today, several of us meet and let our kids play while we talk.  I was reminded today that I likely only have one more year being at this playground daily.  I will miss it when the girls move on to kindergarten.

And that is my list of my happy places!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Phony Photos

More pictures of daily life from my cell phone:

1.  Long days with good friends at the pool  2. me  3. Logan can sleep anywhere, anytime  4. Logan's note to our house-sitter...the first instruction is to count the gerbils to make sure none escaped  5. popsicles with Nana  6. mountain lake  7. Mama and Bri on a chairlift  8. cooling off in the lake  9. laying under a tree while the kids play

1. It's not summertime without popsicles  2. or ice cream  3. Papa  4. the girls love bandaids

1. laundry, laundry and laundry  2.  surprise!  One of our 'male' gerbils, Lightening Bolt, had babies  3. my little monkeys can climb  4. soccer camp  5. Logan handed me his binoculars so I wouldn't lose site of him and Jack while they scootered down the block  6. asleep again  7. Storm  8. from Logan's drawing class, Corn and Gerbil  9. another day, another park 

1. how Logan treats a hangnail  2. life is a great balancing act  3. another day, another park  4. Scott & I

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Summer Fun

As I mentioned before, I'm too lazy to carry my good camera with me anymore and have resorted to cell phone photos as my only means to record our family activities.  Thank goodness for my friend Kim, AKA my personal family photographer, who is managing to capture beautiful pics of my kids every time we hang out which is thankfully a lot.

Here are some of her wonderful photos from a few of our recent activities:

At the berry-picking farm, Logan and Bri

Too bad Jack won't actually eat boysenberries


Des' perfect strawberry

Getting strawberry stains on our butts

Des and her own personal cheek fireworks 

Waiting and more waiting for the fireworks to start

Long days in the pool with friends

Kids reggae concert with lots of friends
Des' game face on the field
Logan practicing some serious soccer skills
Thank you Kim for acting as my personal photographer over the summer...my kids will thank you years from now too!

Thursday, July 19, 2012


I'm trying something new today.  I came across a blog that gives a prompt and asks you write for 5 minutes. So here goes...


Enough laundry.  Enough fighting and bickering and screaming.  Enough decisions.  Enough random toys strewn about everywhere.

I've had enough. And I imagine my kids have had enough too.  Enough crazy mama.  Enough "come here" and "go there."  Enough "eat this and not that."  Enough siblings.

I want less, not enough.  Enough! Enough packing lunches.  Enough waking up early.  Enough wiping butts.  Enough arguing.  Enough not listening.  I'm tired and I've had enough.  Is it ever enough?

Five minutes is up.  This was hard for me because I wanted to edit my thoughts.  And I wanted to edit my writing.  But the assignment calls for "no editing, no over thinking, no backtracking."  That is going to take more practice on my part because I failed miserably on that aspect.

And now I'm second-guessing what I wrote.  Wouldn't it be nice if instead of my ranting about "Enough!!!!" I wrote about how I have enough...enough support and love, enough food and shelter, enough of anything my family truly wants or needs.  Because all of that is true too.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

The birds and the bees and the gerbils...

For several days, Logan has been complaining that one of his gerbils has been getting fat and lazy.  Since we can't even tell three of them apart I just assumed he was imagining things.

This afternoon, Jack came running to me saying there were babies in the cage and I laughed.  We can't have babies.  We have four male gerbils.  We call them "the dudes."  But he seemed serious and rather excited.  And then Logan came in squawking about something about the gerbils so I ran to the boys' room.  I bust into the room so fast that the gerbils all went into hiding and sure enough, I was able to see two little pink squirming beings in the bottom of their nest.  So cute and ugly all at the same time.

After some quick research I learned that the gerbils will mate again within 8 hours of the pups being born.  And though it's best leave papa to help mama raise the kids, separating them is the only way to ensure that mama won't have another litter next month...and the next month...and the next month.  So we pulled out the three "dudes" and put them in a makeshift 2nd home.  Only then did I notice that one of them was anatomically different than the other two.  Ummm...guess we just have two "dudes."

Mama, AKA Lightening Bolt, and her sister, Zuzu, seem to be caring for the babies fairly well.  After a trip to the pet store, Thunder and Storm have a new bachelor pad.

Jack and Logan were very confused as to why the males and females had to be separated.  They didn't realize that it took one of each to make babies  We've had a few interesting discussions today...

Scott just mentioned to me that he may have found an egg sack in the fish tank...heaven help us!

Monday, July 16, 2012

A Hair Milestone!

Des and Bri have almost been home for 2 years.  And in that time, I've learned a lot about caring for and styling their hair.

When I went to Ethiopia to meet and bring Des and Bri home, their heads had been shaved.  They were totally bald for a few days before they got some stubbly growth.  (I remember thinking that it might be a bit awkward having to explain to Scott why my chest was covered with stubble burns (which was due to the girls snuggling on me all day and night).)

For the first 10 months home, we left their hair loose. And then, due to it's length and my desire to change things up, we decided to start styling it.  Because I have carpal and cubital tunnel syndromes in both hands and I had no idea what I was doing, I had a hard time getting anything to resemble a "style."

For a few months, I took the girls to a weekly hair appointment.  It was a good opportunity for them to get used to having their hair done without me being the "bad guy."  They hated having it done so I would hold them and comfort them and let them watch videos on my phone.  And at the end of each session they seemed to like the way their hair looked.

Eventually, after having surgery on one of my hands and arms and getting tired of dragging everyone (sometimes even Jack and Logan) to weekly salon appointments, I started to do the girls' hair myself.  I've come along way...and still have a ways to go.  I think when I can cornrow, I'll consider myself fairly competent.

And ...after 1 year of hair styling, the girls finally sit for decent lengths of time and almost seem to enjoy getting their hair done.  This is huge for us...for quite awhile the girls and I would cry during hair time...it was painful and boring for them and frustrating for me.  We've all come a long way.  Des' current style took about 6 hours to complete from wash to detangle to style.  This was broken up into much smaller increments but is still a huge deal for us considering where we were 1 year ago.

Here is a bit of the girls' hair history in photos:

June 2011, 10 months after having heads shaved
 Their 1st style: the front section is parted in the middle and braided close to the scalp.

First teeny tiny short braids

More little braids with different parts

At the salon, two women working on Bri at the same time so it would be faster

 First cornrows

Finally Mama starts doing their hair; Des in braids and Bri with some unidentified half style

September 2011, More braids...the only things Mama is semi-comfortable doing

"Uh, Mama...you need work on getting these things to not stick straight up!"

Bri in smaller braids and Des in what became her signature style, puffs

Bri with a braid-out and Des still in puffs (six in total)

December 2011, finally giving twists a chance with lots of colored bands

Bri's bantu knots upfront and loose hair in the back and Des' puffs

Braids again on longer hair but still sticking up every which way

Bri's loose hair, big and beautiful

Almost getting those braids to behave

 Des wearing our "just washed and stretching" style, though this is supposed to be a transition from wash to style it often gets left in for weeks

May 2012, Bri in twists with no rubber bands and Des in puffs

Des with approximately 75 twists with colorful snaps and Bri with probably 50 twists with black snaps, the girls call this their "clickity-clack hair" because of the noise it makes with the swing their heads

Looking forward to see what I can do a year from now!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Who's who?

Which little monkey:
  • Has an extra tooth?
  • Still finds comfort in his special stuffed animals?
  • Earned Cub Scout belt-loops in skateboarding, language & culture and collecting?

Which little lovebug:
  • Has wanted a pet of his own for years now and finally got some when he turned 6? 
  • Cleaned the living room and set up blankets and pillows for a date night with Mama?
  • Thinks "poop" and "pee" and other potty words are still hilarious after several years of saying them?

Which little peanut:
  • Says "I have teacups!" when she has hiccups?
  • Upon waking up in Mama and Papa's bed, proudly announces that she spent the whole night in her own bed?
  • Asked to have "clickity-clack" hair just like her sister?

Which little chickpea:
  • Covered one leg in bandaids because she had invisible owies?
  • Has the strangest tantrums quickly asking for random things in quick succession (i.e., gum, bandaid, food, don't look there, come here, etc.)?
  • Can operate my cellphone almost as well as I can?

Thursday, July 12, 2012

You know you are a mom when...

...the back of your car resembles a sports' locker.

...you think it's perfectly acceptable to add body wash to the inflatable pool in the backyard and call it bath time.  (Oh, yes, I did!)

...a trip to the grocery store all by yourself  is considered a luxury.

...you consider a trip to your mother's house a better vacation than Hawaii because your mom will cook and clean and watch the kids!

...time is measured in the lengths of TV shows like "This road trip will take 7 Diegos."

...in researching potential pets, you consider urine output an important factor because you know the cage won't be cleaned as frequently as you'd like.

...the only writing instruments you can find in your purse have cartoon characters, hearts or Star Wars figures on them.

...you think it's all worth it for these ones:

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Phony Photos

More photos from my phone of daily life:

1. Silly Logan on a looooong road trip  2. the long road  3. digging beach day  4. California girls  5. one of our newest friends  6. lemon pesto pasta for an al fresco summer dinner  7. handsome Jack  8. swim time  9. playtime

1. lots of pool time  2. summer lovin'  3. Logan and Bri  4. snacking at the park

Monday, July 2, 2012

Learning to Parent

We were just told that parent training was recommended for Scott and I due to a recent diagnoses for one of our kids.  When the psychologist made the recommendation she cringed a little and waited for a backlash.  She mentioned that many parents are upset at the idea that they need training on how to parent their child (and in this case, a child with psychological disorder).  Scott's and my reaction couldn't have been further from that.  "Bring it on!"  "How soon can we start?"

I think that nurturing comes naturally to most parents.  But I don't think that parenting does.  We read parenting books and do internet research.  We talk to our friends and call our moms for advice.  We ask our pediatrician and teacher's opinions.  We attend conferences, workshops and classes.  Learning to parent takes a lot of work.  And then factor in that most children need to be parented differently.  In our home, we definitely have three distinct parenting strategies.  It's not something we've really thought about but something that has just evolved as the kids grow and change.  No wonder we are exhausted.