Thursday, November 20, 2008

Ev...


so, i'm back.  and i've been missing in action for good reason and i promise that this post will have been worth the wait.

miss evelyn asher yanez was born october 16th at 6:16 in the morning.  she weighed in at a chubby 8 lbs. and was a stout 19 3/4 inches long.  she has blue, blue eyes that she'll be sure to keep and is practically hairless compared to the other kids, but what is there will be light like sam's.

she hates to be cold, loves to be swaddled, nurses without falling asleep, takes forever to burp, is more alert than i've ever seen a newborn, smiles at her mama, can sleep through any noise and is an absolute gift from above.

i promise to write more often now that i'm a one human body and brain again.  but i don't promise that it will be brilliant as i'm completely sleep deprived.  so be patient.  baby steps.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Mama Bear


video

this is the mama bear that lives out in the open space behind the house.  well, in the thick of trees really.  i've spotted her three times now, twice alone and once with her two cubs.  she lives out near the fort, which is, needless to say, off limits for a while.  unless dad is with the kids, we need to respect her space.  we've heard from neighbors that she'll get more bold and head up into our front yard to the crabapple tree.  usually in october.  but with the drought here this year, the dept. of wildlife says probably earlier.  i keep thinking we'll be heading out to the hospital in labor in early october and be stuck 'cause she's sitting on the porch munching.

A Proud Moment

video

this is a video from this past summer that i just figured out how to download.  another mom recognized ethan up there and took this for us.  ethan and olivia took part in an arts camp at our church.  the last night they had a performance that included hundreds of kids role playing.  they could choose a "role" themselves and the leaders brilliantly put it all together.  the very last scene was ethan and his buddies representing each branch of the military.  they got quite an applause from the crowd.  a proud moment for ethan and for us.  

olivia was there too, but in a behind the scenes art role.  she produced lots of artwork that hung in the "gallery" including an awesome dog painting that's going in our dog/cat kids' bathroom.  the night was capped off with cream puffs and coffee for the parents.  then we got to carry out flower pots filled with perennials to plant somewhere in the yard as a permanent reminder of what they learned.  that God's fingerprints are all over and they were made to leave a fingerprint on the earth as his kids.  

Saturday, August 9, 2008

one more thought...

oops.  forgot one of the things that was actually music to my ears.  the teachers are discouraged for giving out trinkity gifts or candy for learning success.  they are encouraged to build personal relationships with each of their students and let their individual successes really register between the student and teacher.  the thought is that when children learn that if they do (a) they'll get (b), they won't be too inspired to complete a task if a reward isn't involved.

garbage dumps all over america are less full of oriental trading co. crap thanks to philosophies like this one.

When you know, you know

there are sometimes in your life, lots of times actually, when you have to go against the grain, swim upstream, be one of those kids from sesame street "doing their own thing".  set yourself apart.  it's never easy and can be really isolating.  it can even make you second guess why it is that you just can't go along with group, live less intently, just blend.

but i'm firmly convinced that when you stand up to the status quo, that isn't working in the first place, amazing things happen.  most of the time, i think we just traverse through life following the others in front of us almost in a coma like state, just assuming that their way works and that it's the best way.  i have never been more conscious of this unconscious state of living than now.

i am passionate about my children's education.  i'm passionate about how their worldviews are shaped and what lenses they look at the world and others through.  i'm passionate about where they spend 7 or so hours a day outside of this home.  i am passionate about the fruit and lack of fruit i see produced from the system we have just assumed works.

kids are less motivated than ever, more obese, more stressed and unhappier than they ever have been.  of course, the majority of this has to do with their parents and home life.  but let's face it.  our education system is, for the most part, barring any really cutting edge philosophy, just "fine".  not spectacular.  not inspiring.  not really set apart.  we send our kids off without really thinking outside the box.

of course, there are those educators that know this system has to change.  we're being constantly surpassed by other countries and cultures, as if that's a gauge that we should initiate change by.  but there's something to the fact that we are way behind in rethinking our children's education.  we are hearing more and more of charter schools, with specifically defined philosophies that are changing the face of education.  more and more resources for people choosing to do part-time cottage schools that are centered around the idea that children learn best in the home.  and of course, homeschooling is growing leaps and bounds each year.

we have been on a 7,000 student waiting list for a public charter school for some time now and have just received word that we're in.  olivia this year, the boys the following.  and the younger ones are guaranteed a spot in the future.  it is a school that is based on building virtuous character through educational excellence.  they use the trivium approach of classical learning:  grammar, logic and rhetoric, each developed through a core curriculum.  the kids read socrates!  they debate!  they have intertwined the trivium with a charlotte mason style atmosphere that is characterized by hands on learning.  they read what are called "living books", that is the classics, not popular fiction in the classroom.  they take latin from the 5th grade on, foreign languages, celebrate the arts, are encouraged to work on spiritual development during the ever respected family time and have minimal homework ('cause they get done what they need to get done during their "work" day).

liv will be repeating kindergarten because the cut off for this school is much later than the regular district schools.  she only made it by 15 days in the regular district.  i knew instinctively i should hold her back.  she does not have the same confidence the boys had going in.  she is more indecisive and tentative, but this settles that issue.  we are thrilled she'll be solid in knowledge and confidence for her first grade year.  and get this!  they actually don't believe in all day kindergarten.  only half day.  that's almost unheard of nowadays.  we (and audge) are so happy to have her home.

the school is half the size, has half the class sizes, twice the teacher ratio and because it's a district school it has all the same opportunities plus more:  chess club (not in our regular school), fellowship of christian athletes (definitely not in our regular school), golf (not in our regular school).  they start later in august, they end the same time in may, they've been rated the #5 high school in colorado.  it is an answer to prayer.  we know several other families there, have talked their ears off and have been really happy with what we've heard. opinions/advice/counseling-it's all the more valuable when based on true experience and life wisdom.

so, i'll be driving more.  and that means a time committment.  and dragging two little ones with me.  but i do my best to be as green as i can in other areas, so i hope you'll forgive my increased use of fuel.  i'd drive the world over to see my children spend so much of their childhood in an atmosphere like this.  it does mean more change for the boys later on, but i have faith that this is the place for them to excel and flourish.  to be that kid doing their own thing.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Simple


today was one of our last summer day outings.  school starts one week from today.  early but then we're out early in return.  so, we headed out to the rock ledge ranch historic site set in the shadows of garden of the gods.  an amazing place and an amazing day together.


rock ledge ranch is a 200-acre city park actually that was built by the chambers' family, a wealthy farming family that migrated here from pennsylvania.  it was later purchased by palmer, the man who founded colorado springs.  in his will, he donated the garden of the gods
 to colorado springs, stating that it shall always remain a free city park.


the docents and interpreters are all in period clothing and are going about their day as the early inhabitants would have.  you really feel like you've gone back in time and are experiencing life in the 1880's.  actually, there is an american indian site from the 1770's, a homestead cabin from 1860 (marcus and my favorite), a working farm and restored original chambers' home from 1880, a restored 1907 home that palmer lived in, a blacksmith shop, a store with .15 old fashioned candy sticks flavored with sassafrass, a barn, ponds, gardens.






                   
the kids were mesmerized by the way things were done then, what the kids had and what they didn't have.  the animals were all quite friendly, including an amazing cow named patches.  she actually leaned into you wanting a good scratch on her head.  the docents were baking in each of the various homes using only real ingredients that could have been acquired at the time:  corn bread, cream puffs, stew, pork roast, gingerbread.  it smelled heavenly!  





the weather was unusually cool and rainy, just adding to the mystique.  walking into a dim building with just candlelight or no light at all.  makes me thankful but a little disappointed we have light switches.  i was struck by the need to do and have only that which is necessary.  not lots of extras or distractions.  just the basics.  how refreshing that is in a world filled with so much that seems like such a complicated waste.

all in all it was a great outing.  audrey kind of lost it inside the orchard house, way past nap time.  so, she and i headed out while the others finished the tour to sit on the front porch, stare at garden of the gods right in front of us and listen to coyotes howl.  other than the coyotes, it was so quiet that we heard the wings of a hummingbird and the soft rain hitting the porch roof. we both almost fell asleep.  it costs $20 for a family for a year's membership.  needless to say, we'll be joining and heading back.  back to enjoy a taste of the simple life.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Farmer's Market

today is saturday, so that means farmers' market day.  the kids and i have made this our new tradition.  we travel just down the road here to the pine creek farmers' market.  it is, historically speaking, the best farmers' market ever.


first, there is a clown named twinkles who does face painting 
with the expertise of a seasoned stage makeup artist and twists up balloon animals or weapons in a myriad of species and styles.  second, they have mimosas.  while i've never actually imbibed, i am premeditating my first one next season after el bebe is born.  third, the food!  homemade pies, fresh kettle corn, solar roasted coffee, fresh fruits and veggies of course, fresh goat cheese and all kinds of fresh baked breads and rolls.  oh-and there is a crepe cart.  ethan walked up to it, read the sign and asked "what are creeps?"


the people are all so nice and no one is in a hurry.  there's this unwritten rule that i have discovered:  when one is at the farmers' market, one slows down to a pace such as to appreciate the beauty of beets in a bunch.  why rush about?  in addition to all the food, local artisans peddle their wares:  bottle cap necklaces, handmade batik scarves, all natural soaps, jewelry, embroidered bags and bibs.  it is organic in every sense.  ideas, products, pace and persona all co-existing in this harmonious, fruitful, productive place.  the way the world was intended to be, in my opinion.  


i can't help but wonder if that's what heaven is like.  bits of all the good things in life, ideas come to fruition, tangible products of various imaginations, for all to share and delight in.  without the hurried pace of the world making the whole thing an impossibility.  the world might think carrots don't have fern-like green tops sometimes equally as long or longer than the root itself. but we know the truth, found only in the bushel baskets in the back.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

13 years lucky...


13 years.  more love than tears.  

a troop of almost five.  blessed to still be alive.

new faces in new spaces.  wouldn't trade places.

a love that grows.  years beginning to show.

memories made.  troubles fade.  

the future is clear.  with you my dear.

happy anniversary.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Happy Birthday Audrey!

well, it was a long day of making potato salad and homemade birthday cake.  and a lovely day of playing bean bags and celebrating.  4th of july has always been a favorite for marcus and i, but having audrey on the 3rd made it even better.  and now she's 2!  unbelievable!

she loves caillou (much to our shegrin), loves milk, bugs, hates loud noises, is a mommy groupie, loves reading with daddy before bed, sleeps 12 hours every night and 2-3 hours every afternoon, loves playing with "sisser", loves wrestling with "e" (ethan), loves when sam takes her outside, loves swings, is an animal fanatic and says "oh honey" to every animal she encounters, is about as round as she is tall, sprints on tiptoes to daddy to give him kisses hello and goodbye and has a smile that melts hearts.

she came into the world on her due date at a petite 7 lbs. 4 oz. and was what the midwife called transverse breach.  basically she was face down, but sideways and even though she was our 4th one, she was the toughest and longest delivery.  close to 6 hours from the first contraction to the last.  which is pretty ironic considering she was our easiest newborn.  

we left the hospital and went to grandma's 24 hours later and were at fireworks that night. when the nurse brought me a dried up chicken leg and overcooked piece of corn as my 4th of july lunch, we got sprung.  i knew there was potato salad and burgers and lots of family waiting for us.  and even though we were both really tired, we celebrated the 4th and went home to both sleep all night!

well, we love you "audge"!  and we're looking forward to this 2 year old adventure with you.  don't worry about the tantrums-they'll pass.  i promise not say "no" to everything and to slow down and let you lay down on your belly and look at bugs on the sidewalk, if you keep napping, say 'til you're 6?




Monday, June 30, 2008

A Donation...



today, june 30, 2008, i cut my hair.  it has literally been the same length for something like 10 years.  i take that back-i cut more than 1/2 inch off once in ten years.  but for the majority of a decade, it's just been long, mostly in a pony tail and sometimes, depending on the budget, highlighted like a good suburban mom.


i (well, actually a stylist named denise) cut over 10 inches off and donated it to locks of love. believe me when i say, i had no intentions of getting anything but a trim when i walked in the salon today.  but the mood struck me and there was no turning back as i listened to the scissors squeaking through my pony tail. kind of a liberating and petrifying, melancholy moment.  like saying goodbye to an old pal and hello to a much a needed change.



so, someone out there will be wearing my hair while they're waiting for their own to grow back. i'm so honored to help. who knows.  maybe i'll grow my hair out and do it again.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Growing









today is my 34th birthday.  i'm sorry, did i just type 34?  geez, louise, when the heck did that happen.  i swear i just turned 18.  a great day overall:  read several chapters in my summer fluff novel, made homemade blueberry pancakes for lunch, played in the dirt, took a 2 1/2 hour nap, got take-out for dinner.  blissful.

i guess birthdays and new years always make me introspective for a minute, leading me to recap where i've been and where i'm going.  this has been a year of big changes and growing pains.  and i have this sense that god's using all this to get me where he's wanted me for quite some time now.  i'm usually slow on the uptake when it comes to listening anyhow and then the actual doing part, well i'm part of some procrastinator's paradise.  somehow, i have time for everything else, but the real change stuff gets pushed to the side.  it's hard and uncomfortable and it's not instantaneous and it requires paitence...all of which are accurate descriptions of breakfast time at my house, let alone my soul work.

how/where am i growing?  well, certainly in the torso region.  that's undeniable.  i think right now, i'm developing like a geode.  you know, one of those rocks that doesn't seem like much from the outside, but when you crack it open its chock full of gazillions of beautiful crystals. basically, i'm not doing much purposefully to grow.  i haven't connected much here in terms of groups or organizations or committees, if that's how you evaluate growth.  i haven't filled up an address book of friends, but the few i have made are keepers.  

what i have done is just take the time to experience the change.  to let myself take time to adjust.  to grasp the bigger picture.  and it hasn't been graceful or smooth or even joyful.  it's been a little lonely, a series of trials and errors and exhausting.  but at the same time, all the change feels right in alignment with where i'm supposed to be.  the move, the pregnancy, the kids' adjustments.  sometimes being where you're supposed to be is, at first, as uncomfortable as being where you don't belong.  but if you take the time to make a new you-shaped depression in the dirt, you'll find that it fits and it just takes patience to get over the transplant shock and time to be watered in. 

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Summer


we have planned nothing this summer.  well, almost nothing.  our summer is officially filled with whatever we want it to be filled with.  no swim lessons, only a short-lived free camp through our church for the middle two, no long vacations to prepare for, nothing.  and we're so good with that.

we do have people coming in to town for visits.  that will be exciting!  we do intend on soaking up rays at the public pool not so far from the house.  we do plan on reading for the library book club, but only because we want to.  we do plan on using up the bubbles and sidewalk chalk to the best of our ability.  we do plan on sight seeing in our town a bit more.  but there's no schedule, no time table, no "have to's".  

tomorrow?  well, it's going to be unseasonably chilly.  so we'll probably play uno.  and make lunch.  and take naps.  but that's just a rough sketch and it's all subject to change.  i love summer.


Sunday, June 1, 2008

Sneak Peek





i love ultrasound 
pictures.  after the other 
kids were born, it was 
creepy how much they
 look like themselves in these.  
the shape of their little 
heads are completely 
recognizable, their 
little profiles unmistakable.  
but beforehand, it's a mystery 
even with this sneak peek. 
 but now i have a face to put 
with all the kicks and bumps. 
even though it's a face with 
really big eye sockets.


Friday, May 23, 2008

Amish





Audrey's new thing is watching t.v. with the arm cover to the couch on her head.  Her "hat, mommy".  She looks like a multicolor Pilgrim or a little technicolor Amish woman.  
Had to share.








Monday, May 19, 2008

Chalk Talk


marcus and i were sitting in our chairs on the porch reading the mail today when olivia grabbed the sidewalk chalk and began scribbling at our feet.  she drew a colorful cross and put vickie's name on it front and center.  then she put all her siblings' names around it and said "it was all the kids saying prayers for vickie."  i'm not sure what sparked this or what she had been thinking about, but i know they are still processing her loss as well.  and they do it so organically, getting on the ground and drawing it out.  grown ups have a lot to learn.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Snakes and Cake

                          

boys will be boys.  and toddlers will be toddlers.  i'm not sure which was more enthralling sam with the snake or audrey with the cake.  but they both were a sweet find-the snake while on the way back across the open space from the fort, the cake spotted at the far recesses of the counter top.  sam put the snake back exactly where he found it, 'cause that's a sam kind of thing to do. audrey got cake crumbs exactly everywhere.  while audrey is happy to have a big brother, we're hoping the snake is an only child.



Friday, May 16, 2008

Recipes

so, i'd like to share some of the new recipes i'm trying.  if i can't have you all over for dinner, then at least you can see what's coming out of the kitchen these days.  i'm trying recipes with fewer ingredients that are affordable and kid-friendly.  i'll share how much our may grocery bill went down at the end of the month.  you should see me walking around the store with my calculator and price binder.  

crockpot smoked sausage:

2 pkg. smoked sausage sliced thick (turkey is fine)
2 lbs. frozen hashbrowns (i used the cubed ones)
sweet vidalia onion chopped (half an onion)
green bell pepper chopped (one whole pepper-add the last hour)
dash of garlic powder
1 can of cheddar cheese soup
10 oz. milk

mix all but peppers, soup and milk in a well buttered crockpot.  whisk soup and milk together and pour over.  cook on low 4 hours.  yum.  serious down home cookin' and made even better when served with biscuits.  (cooking with soup is not always the healthiest, but a couple times a month it sure is yummy.)  i love my crockpot and besides my children it would be the first thing i grabbed in the case of a fire.

baked shrimp with feta and orzo:

4 scallions (don't you love how in fancier recipes they're called scallions and not green onions?)
3 garlic cloves
1 1/2 lbs. shrimp (i used the frozen raw small ones thawed-watch for sales)
2 T. olive oil
1 28 oz. can chopped tomatoes in juice (try the fire roasted ones!)
1/2 c. crumbled feta

preheat oven to 400.  cook scallions and garlic in oil over med. heat until scallions wilt.  add tomatoes and bring to a boil.  cook until it thickens, about 5 minutes.  remove from heat and stir in shrimp.  sprinkle with feta.  bake until cheese melts and shrimp are firm, about 10 minutes.  serve over orzo and make sure you have bread to dip into the sauce.  this is your fancy, but easy dinner.  no soup involved.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Cheech

she's still with us.  our cat belle, who was put under the christmas tree in 1999, poisoned during the pet food scare of 2007 and moved across the country while sleeping near the gas/brake pedals for 15 hours.  since the melamine poisoning from tainted wheat in china, she's had small seizures where she loses consciousness and throws up.  she starts making this really strange noise, so we all know it's about to happen and we spring into action, grabbing the carpet spray, paper towels and trying to move her to the hardwood floor.  we just tell her "it's okay cheech" and as she comes to, we pet her.  afterwards, she'll go up on my bed and sleep for a while.  she's one strong animal i guess.  totally low maintenance, mostly keeping to herself, except when she's in the mood for attention and then she's a sweetheart.  she's still lively and weird, chewing on my little pony's hair and twitching and racing around the house when she gets a wild hair.  we haven't taken the dog plunge yet, but cheech will be fine when we do.  she knows she rules the roost and can clearly hold her own.  she sits on the driveway staring at the dogs in the neighborhood, taunting them, knowing full well they have electric fence and can't get her.  she loves the birds here, watching and hunting through the screen door.  there's a little hedge in the front yard, that she likes to climb into to hide herself while getting some fresh air.  one red tailed hawk comes by and she's a distant memory and it seems like she knows it.  the kids come in the house and look for "the cheech" everyday.  sam does the litter box and olivia usually feeds her.  she sleeps on my feet every night and she flirts with marcus brushing up against his legs while he reads the paper.  there is no love lost between cheech and ethan.  he chases her, she chases him.  it's a love/hate thing.  and audge loves it when cheech goes under the bedskirt of her crib, lifts up the skirt and says "hi cheechie".  so, until a dog enters our world, we have "the cheech".  we have a responsibility to make her gig here on earth the best we can.  so, the occasional cheeto left on the floor is all yours cheech (yes, she loves cheetos).  i'll keep filling the birdbath for your entertainment cheech.  you are welcome to be the 10 lb. brick on my feet every night.  and if you keep pawing at the fridge, we'll keep giving you fresh cold water.  love you cheech!

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Misery

my absent-minded professor (sam) forgot a math sheet on the dining room table so, i ran to school at his lunch hour to drop it off.  he was also really complaining about his throat and ears hurting, so i grabbed the motrin too and headed out the door.  when i got to the front desk of the school, a woman from a back office saw me through the interior window of her office and came out to great me.  she was probably about 55 or so, with a cute denim fishing hat covering her obviously bald head.  she was wearing a breast cancer pin and her office was filled with cards of well wishes.  a large banner hung above the window to her office that said "2008 Employee of the Year!"  i had to believe that surely that award was not only for the wonderful dedication to her job, but her tenacity in the face of this disease as well.

i explained to her that i had given birth to an absent-minded professor with bad allergies, as she laughed looking at the papers and motrin in my hands.  she grabbed his schedule from a file to locate him and made a quick call to have him sent down to the office.  while i was waiting for sam, another mom came in to pick her daughter up.  she was dressed to the 9's in that colorado casual-but-costs-a-fortune look with overhighlighted short hair and flashy sunglasses.  the girl was sitting in the office, waiting to go to an ortho appt. i figured out. the lady from the office asked the mom for an i.d., a customary security process in a school of 900 middle schoolers.  to which the overdone mom replied "you know,  this is getting to be ridiculous."  

okay.  i do understand her notion that the security stuff is a bit much.  but you know darn well, that if something happened at that school, she'd be the first one to complain.  just follow the rules lady, i thought.  office lady walked over to another file cabinet to check the girl's file and mom's i.d. against each other.  meanwhile, overdone mom says loud enough for everyone to hear "she's just doing this to be obnoxious.  they don't check i.d.'s here."  then she turns to me to receive some kind of sympathetic look or affirmation to which i stared straight ahead of me.  no way.  i'm not signing on to your assinine behavior.  find another chump.  while office lady was checking her i.d. the mom explained (again loudly) to her daughter she was late because she was on the phone laughing with her girlfriend and no big deal if they don't make the appt. they'll just reschedule and spend the rest of the day shopping.  now who's trying to be obnoxious?

so, office lady comes back and says thank you to overdone mom.  it doesn't end there folks.  overdone mom says "you know, " (the last sentence she started this way wasn't a good one) "i'm in a hurry and this was totally unnecessary and you just did this to hold me up.  my plate is very full."  i freaked.  i totally freaked out and yelled at the woman, "she's battling breast cancer.  her plate is way more full than yours."  she whipped hear head around shocked, closed up her purse, office lady and i exchange looks that bonded us forever, and overdone mom stormed out saying things like "all of our plates are full, we're late for an ortho appt....." trailing off into the parking lot.

the easily rescheduled appt. wasn't all that important.  the phone conversation was just too fun and worth being late for.  she clearly has the time and funds to shop with her daughter for the afternoon footloose and carefree.  does she even realize that she could be going to a chemo appt.?  she could be waiting for test results, wearing a paper gown and sitting in a cold doctor's office.  guess what overdone mom?  no matter how inconvenienced you were today, office lady's day sucks more.  it just gets to.

the thing that bothers me the most is that i don't think she knows.  i don't think she'll lay awake in bed tonight thinking about how she shouldn't have been so hard on office lady.  she just doesn't seem to have that kind of heart and that's what i'll pray for.  not that she gets cancer or anything, but that in some way, somehow, she'll be touched by another person's troubles enough to pull her up and out of her r.e.i. flip flops to see.  to see that sometimes getting up and sitting in a middle school office checking i.d.'s is a real triumph for some people.  that it would have been easier to lay in bed and not live today for today.  i said "i'm so sorry you had to deal with that" to office lady and she said "oh, you wouldn't believe what i have to deal with."  oh-i have an idea.  and something tells me you can take it lady.


Wednesday, April 30, 2008

.31 cents

the other night was .31 cents night at baskin robbins.  the proceeds benefit the fallen firefighters fund begun after 9/11.  marcus called me from work to tell me, so liv and i jumped in the car while the boys stayed here with sleeping audrey.  you should have seen the line!  first of all, the scoops were the tiny kids scoops, but its not often that we pay 1.32 for four ice cream scoops regardless of the size.  so, after 20 minutes in line (not bad considering how it looked) and a rocky road, chocolate peanut butter, peppermint pattie and mint chocolate chip scoop were placed in their cups, we headed back home.

this was the same day that I picked up a new book from the library called the tightwad gazette.  basically, it's a manual on how to save loads of money from groceries to utilities to clothing.  i absolutely love this book.  and its sparked a fire under my butt to be way more accountable about how we're using these resources we've been entrusted with.  

i've always been pretty practical about "stuff".  well, except when i look back in my check register from college (yes, i kept it for posterity's sake) and see that i got my nails done every two weeks religiously and spent all my earnings at the gap.  that was my one impractical phase, quickly fading away into the reality of being newly married and a parent.  then came the years where marcus and i cummulatively made $16,000 a year, lived in a one bedroom apartment (the three of us) and ate lots of pasta.  only to be beat out by the monmouth years, when we lived 3 hours from family in section 8 housing (didn't know that at the time), had one car and hand-me-down his and hers peach lazy boys in our living room, next to the 70's plaid sofa that came out of my mom's friend at work's basement.  one time, my mom and sister drove 3 hours there and three hours home to buy us groceries when we had .83 cents in our checking account after payday.  i bounced a couple of checks while in monmouth, but janet from the bank, who knew us and fell in love with sam filling his pockets with suckers everytime we saw her, covered our checks with her own money.  she knew we were good for it.  i'll never forget her and how absolutely selfless that was.

when i look back at those times, it makes me thankful those times are behind us and thankful we had those lean times.  buying a votive candle at jack's (like target in monmouth) was a treat.  not that things are that drastically different now.  i still have to budget and cringe when there's no overtime on marcus' check.  but i know there are areas that we can improve in.  part of the challenge of this book, is to keep track of every single cent you spend for three months.  everything!  in order to really cut back in the areas you need to, which might not be that obvious upon first glance.

we may never have tons of money (although we haven't tapped into my earning potential yet!)  but i honestly do not care.  when the kids are bigger and don't need me as much, i'll head out to do something i love and get paid for it.  what that is is yet to be determined.  but it doesn't even have to pay much.  what i've learned is to live within your means and how good it feels to not stretch to be something you're not.  that stretching takes an awful lot of energy.  do what you love and there's a season for everything.  someday i'll have a wardrobe with something other than t-shirts and jeans.  then again, i probably wouldn't buy anything else anyhow.

i think our kids are fairly content.  they'd love a video game system (i confiscated the ps2 several years ago) but i don't think they feel deprived.  i have two kids whose secondary love language is "gifts".  (if you haven't read the love language book, i highly recommend it.)  when i've said "no" too many times to those kids, it shows.  so, when that happens they get a resounding "yes".  the other day olivia and i were in big lots and i let her get a 1.10 lip gloss.  she was thrilled and has had a hot pink lower face for days.  (by the way, i got two lace valances for the girls room for 2.50 each!)

so, i'm on the war path of fighting full price, making good decisions, asking myself what we really need and spending it where it matters.  i bought a huge, and i mean huge, container of oatmeal the other day for just over 3.00 instead of the incredibly expensive instant packets.  i bought 8 loaves of wheat sandwich bread that were on sale for 1.00 each .  i have made the switch to the dreaded "generic" not just sometimes, but all the time now.  okay, with the exception of hellman's mayonnaise.  there are just some things i won't give up.  i bought an enormous box of tea bags (no more coffee for me) and am set for a summer of sun tea!

we just got back from the mall, where my frugality was challenged big time.  but actually, the more i walked around, the more i sensed how ridiculous it all is.  do we appreciate how incredibly blessed we are to have malls with all these resources in them?  the food courts, the 12 shoes stores in a row, the myriad of perfumes to pick from.  i was kind of sickened by it all.  do i love a pretty atmosphere and nice things?  god created a love of appreciating beauty in us all.  it just has to be tempered by moderation and common sense.  i think of children who don't have any shoes, and then try to forget that i need a pair of black heeled sandals in addition to brown ones for a proper summer dressy wardrobe.

stores are having to limit the amount of certain types of rice we can purchase due to a food shortage in other areas of the world.  a food shortage.  as i look at the dinner table waiting to be cleaned with pizza crusts and half a leftover salad, i just have such a hard time with our perspective as consumers.  blessed but often times blind.  it's living in the tension of  being in the world but not of it.  the marketing and consumption and discontent of this world is getting so out of hand, the simple life is certainly becoming the more attractive alternative.  there's this guy, who lived a bunch of years ago, he wore sandals, ate unleavened bread and whittled wood who promoted this way of life as the only way.  almost like he was divinely inspired or something. 

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Angels

today i met an angel.  her name is krista and she's olivia's new friend.  i've been hearing about krista since january, but never got much more information about her.  one day, while olivia was talking about school, i asked which girl krista was.  there is a major boy shortage in her class, so pinpointing krista was going to be difficult.  olivia responded, "she's the girl in the wheelchair mommy.  she doesn't talk, because she can't, but i know what she's thinking."

i stopped making ham roll-ups, turned around and saw olivia totally sure of herself sitting at the table with a grin.  "how do you know what she's thinking?" i asked.  "i can tell by her eyes," she said.  tears welled up in my own eyes and i gave thanks right than and there for how insightful and authentic my 5 year old daughter is.  "i think i want to have krista over to play," she said.  "that's a great idea, liv."

i met krista today.  i was standing and talking with another mom outside, when krista rolled out into the sunshine in her purple wheelchair with her mom.  my eyes diverted straight to her and i'm not even sure what else the other mom said.  i excused myself after olivia said, "mom, there's krista!" and we walked over to her together.  

angels come in all shapes, sizes and colors but this one has long and silky golden blond hair and the most gorgeous blue eyes.  her mom (angel #2) was warm and sweet but had a toughness about her that was unmistakable.  this woman could and does handle anything and everything.  we stood and talked for a long while.  i found myself stroking krista's hair as i talked with her mom.  it didn't seem to bother the mom-almost like she was used to people being drawn to krista.  there is just something about her that makes you sense the very presence and extravagant grace of God.

we walked to our cars together and i asked if krista could come over to play.  her mom said if olivia could come there, that would be easier.  olivia is looking forward to it.  so am i.  a playdate with an angel.  i can't think of a better way to spend an afternoon.


Saturday, April 12, 2008

Spring


okay.  so, i need to update this more often.  i've heard from several of you, who shall remain nameless, i get it, i get it. and i totally agree.  if i'm going to be a real "blogger", my posting history just isn't gonna cut it.  and, here in cyberspace, i solemnly swear that i will be better about posting.  this second trimester thing has me totally wiped out after getting the kids fed, bathed, homework done, kitchen cleaned (okay, not every night) and the living room picked up. not to mention, if jon and kate plus 8 is on, i'm on the couch glued to the tube.

so, by now there's a lot to catch up on.  i'll give the kidlet update first.  sam:  totally swamped with homework, obsessed with renovating his fort in the forest, enjoying youth group at church on thursdays, usually found surfing the internet shopping for an air soft gun he is attempting to earn with an a/b average, walking the neighbor's dog p.k.  ethan:  baseball, eating tons and getting taller, doing his homework before he's asked, playing basketball with matt down the street, chasing audrey and making her laugh, desperately wanting to go to the air force academy. olivia: riding her scooter or bike up and down the cul-de-sac,  spending time in her new room playing dollhouse, asking to help in the kitchen, doing her homework for fun, writing sticky notes with  "i love you's" to her daddy and placing them around the house, looking for bears.  audrey:  constantly looking for deer while on our walks, saying 100 new words a day i swear, playing with her baby doll who's always sleeping so we get "shh-ed" a lot, calling for "sisser" to play with her, gave up her pacifier without much ado, taking one long nap from two.

daddy update:  working lots but passionately enjoying every second, keeping quite busy down on the south end of town, sitting out on the deck and enjoying the scenery with a cup of coffee in the morning, earning the respect of his training officers and co-workers, taking his wife out on awesome dates that he even plans! usually twice a month (this needs to be weekly), completing his honey-do lists and more, painting like a pro, taking the kids and i 
hiking almost every weekend, laughing at his wife who thinks if we're in nature he should be packing heat (mountain lions).

mommy update: getting a big belly, feeling much better, trying to focus on finishing the upstairs decorati
ng before jumping into the main floor, working magic with a shoestring budget and totally determined to cut the grocery bill in half, baking more after learning how at 7200 feet, working on a book project with the ya ya's, using cloth shopping bags (i'm reverting to my tree-hugger ways out here), tr
ying to keep up with laundry (ha!), missing friends and family, looking forward to visiting there and visits here, happy knowing school is almost over, considering adopting a dog (not puppy) from the shelter.  yes, i go through this every time i'm pregnant.  it will pass.

so, life is busy but good.  spring has sprung in colorado.  it was 80 degrees here one day and then next it snowed 10 inches.  i guess we'll get used to it.  the snow melts in a matter of hours and when you walk outside all you can hear is running water.  the saying goes "if you don't like the weather in colorado, wait five minutes and it'll change."  kind of feels like life inside here.  i think we need the summer to regroup, look back at all the changes we've endured and enjoyed, reconsider what we need to start or stop                                               and just relax.

oh-our house does not have air conditioning.  and it was built in the early 90's!  so i've been told, we won't need it.  that the late evenings cool your house down, the mountain air gets in and does the job of a.c.  while i feel great about the positive effect on our budget and the environment, i'm a little nervous.  i'm from the suburbs of chicago where without a.c. people die!  the locals have also told me there's no mosquitoes.  have we found paradise?


Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Solo

I don't know how women could stand pregnancy before ultrasound.  What a tremendous use of technology-to be able to view your baby in various stages of development.  Even though, at this stage, mine looks like an alien with a ginormous head and a tail.  But it's my alien.  And it's heart is beating at super-speed and I'm shocked that something so small can wreak such havoc in your body.

When the doc started the ultrasound, he did one of those hand over his mouth, "hmmm..." things that makes your heart skip a beat.  "Well, my dear," he said with an amazingly sweet bedside manner, "you've have had what we call a Vanishing Twin."

I knew it.  I was so much sicker this time.  I mean really sick.  The thought of smelling something before I actually did was enough to send me running for porcelain.  I was so fatigued that I was really worried Audrey would have to learn to make herself breakfast and lunch at 18 months.  I got the kids off to school, put Audrey to bed and went back to bed myself.  For weeks.  At first, I blamed the adjustment to altitude.  But I guess there was more...

So, there were two sacks.  The one that was clearly inhabited and the other, just as big, that wasn't.  At some point, the other baby just stopped growing and there must've been a good reason.  At least, that's the way we're looking at it.  It's hard to know how to feel.  I was disappointed and sad at first.  Twins would be so much..."fun", but it just wasn't meant to be.

The doctor said this isn't uncommon.  It happens quite a bit.  And with the invention of ultrasound,  it gets detected.  Years ago, I never would have known.  I'm glad to have seen our solo little healthy baby, thriving and wiggling around.  But I could have done without the other information.  Sometimes I think ignorance is bliss.  

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Vickie


during all of the chaos before the move, at least i had my ya ya's. three soul, spirit and mind beautiful women that i would eat bugs for. for the last two years, we shared our hi's and low's, our thoughts and our dreams, our lifestorms and our god whispers together. wednesdays at dawn's 7 p.m. although by the time i got kids to bed and popcorn made for the sitter i was usually there by 7:45. and i hated missing even a second.


i met vickie first. she was my children's pastor, but more than that she and i instantly connected on a girlfriend level. i remember sitting in her office and feeling like i could be the authentic, strung out, stressed out mom that i was. i didn't have to button up and be perfectly "churchy" just imperfectly human and i didn't need to pretend to know every bible story my kids were learning with her that month. i think she saw a need in me that she knew the ya ya's could fill. there were just two rules she said: you have to be broken and you have to be fun. i fit the bill.

meeting nancy and dawn was just the icing on the cake. four very different women with hearts knit together. god smiled down on us, took our hands and led us on the most intense, hilarious, deep, difficult and transforming journey together. we traveled and dined and cried and shopped and lunched and read and journaled and snacked and laughed and held our breath and sat in the quiet and skinny dipped and buried loved ones and birthed a baby and sent kids to college and kindergarten and quit jobs and started new ones and finished a book or two and drudged through others and prayed and prayed and then begged that vickie would be healed.

she got cancer and it came back and then it came back again. but on wednesdays, her cancer was never invited in. we were ya ya's first, fighting cancer got put on the back burner until we were done ya ya-ing. and then it was at the forefront of our prayers, the next doctor's appointment or scan on all of our calendars. waiting for tumor markers. waiting to see if the new meds worked. praying for it to just go away-a miracle. we prayed for miracles. but it just didn't happen. and he took her. and it was not even a year after walking on the beach and eating blackberries and shrimp and shopping with pirates.

i have never known someone with such a clear vision of god's will in her life. and she worked at lightning speed and with a sense of urgency because she had to. she worked hard and loved veraciously. she was fast paced but never frenetic. she listened intently and spoke confidently. she felt your pain deeply but remained able to speak into your life honestly. she loved my kids with a passion and knew little things about them i was too close to see. she let them be who they were and put her finger on what their struggles were without making it seem like a mountain to climb. she came to the dance recital that wasn't meant to be, she drove ear drops over at bedtime, she picked up kids from activites in electrical storms, she brought over starbucks just because, she cut audge's cord, she gave olivia anything fancy that caught her fancy, she hugged and kissed them like she hadn't seen them for months every time she saw them, she smelled them like they were warm cinnamon rolls, she laughed at everything cute they did, she could write a dissertation on a one second observation of their behavior. she held them when they cried and she held me when i cried.

and now it's just three. we are still ya ya's but in a new chapter. still in shock that she's not on her couch, feet tucked under her, glasses on, reading next to the fire with patches cleaning herself on her doggie bed. i got an email from greg her hubbie using their shared account the other day, with her name as the sender. i gasped and got really excited and then realized what i was thinking and started to cry. okay, vickie. you've been gone long enough. come back now. answer your cell phone damnit. just one more conversation. there's so much i want to say, but none of it was ever unsaid. i just want to say it again. right now. in the context of knowing it will be the last time. all drama-ful and 4-ish.

one of the last conversations we had she told me to use my gifts. that whatever i do, i have to figure out what that means in my life. ya ya's never give each other the answers, but speak truth in love into each other's lives. so, she left me with this cliff hanger. and if it takes till my last breath on this earth, i'll honor her request. i'd really have loved a bit more direction, clues, well, the answer. growing hurts. she knew it better than anybody.