Wednesday, November 11, 2009

9 and feeling fine...

our second little man turned 9 on saturday. 9 is one of those ages that you clearly remember and i think really enjoy. there are some childhood development experts that call children between the ages of 9-12 "tweens". not sure we're ready to sign on to that, sigh.

nine things about this nine year old in a nutshell: he loves any/all sports, scouting, shooting things with his brother's bb gun, has teeth that seem too big for his mouth, excels in school especially history, is begging for a bearded dragon (ugh), moves entirely too much, has doubled his appetite and is playing the piano almost completely by ear much to the dismay of his theory driven piano teacher.

nine names that this nine year old knows: teenie, teenst, "e", bean, mr. greenbrains, cranium, "bwotha" (audge), one of the "middles" and ethan ames yanez, on those special occasions.

our ethan. nine to the zillionth power wonderful.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

autumn all around...

without a doubt, fall is our favorite season. and even though we're
not in the midwest, colorado very definitely gets "fall". well, for all of about five minutes. the aspens changing are ab
solute show stoppers, the grasses browning out against the dark pine is picturesque, the breathtakingly big bucks roaming for food (and mates) remind us that winter is nipping at our heels.

in the house, the crockpot comes out, apple dip gets made, devoured and made again. a bowl of honeycrisp apples sits on the counter waiting to be sliced. ideas and preparations for 5 costumes swirl im
aginations and orange lights and jack-o-lanterns adorn the porch.

we welcomed october with a visit to the pumpkin farm resulting with a finger nibbled by a horse named sugar (audrey), followed by a major spill in the only mud puddle in Colorado (audrey again), rubber duck races, a train ride, picking out 5 pumpkins, petting rabbits, horses, a potato sack slide, a head butting camel (it liked sam, TOO much).

school is in full swing and is truly the finest learning institution we've ever seen. there is always something above and beyond going on in their classrooms, truly extraordinary teachers and staff. october has been full of new subjects including the ice age (olivia), the human body (ethan and olivia), a research paper on muslim teenagers (sam). there have been landforms built and eaten out of graham crackers (olivia), elk pelts sown (olivia), archaelogical digs attended (olivia), a field trip to the cliff dwellings (ethan), a music concert with two of our performers (ethan and olivia), a cross country season completed with two kids in the top ten of 300 runners respectively (ethan and olivia). the reading of the constitution and it's ammendments (sam), an andy warhol like self-portrait (sam) and lots of girls yelling goodbye in the carpool line (sam again).

we were thrilled to have a visit from both papa and uncle john and grandma and auntie pam. there was atv-ing and steak and bonding. there was shopping, lunching and playing.

and then the final culmination: HALLOWEEN! it is a special celebration here, of candy and imagination and our love of pumpking ANYTHING! grandma and auntie pam have made it a tradition to come out and spend the weekend with us. this year the barn dance at school kicked off the weekend, with country music, boots and a cake walk. sam went to his first haunted house a few blocks away at a mining museum. the next morning the kids had their first horseback riding lessons, just down the way from us. we made friends with a horse named privy and sahara and three dogs: cheyenne, reagan and max. chelsea is their instructor and VERY patient. we'll see her next week...

a stop back home for lunch and resting up before the big night out. there was (ev), a "spider with shiny legs and a red face" (audrey), a very cute witch (liv), a pirate/skeleton (ethan) and dwight shrute from the office (sam). grizz was a police dog and i, his officer. daddy was dad and grandma and auntie pam were support staff waiting at home for the call to throw the mummy dogs in the oven and to answer the door.

it flew by. like usual. lots of memories to think back on, in all of our free time.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009


i cannot believe that i haven't posted a thing since spring break. honestly, i write all the time, just in my head. i write about lots of things, i just never seem to be able to sit down and actually type them. i could come up with a myriad of excuses, but you probably don't want to hear them.

tonight is the eve of my 35th birthday. this birthday feels kind of like a crossroads, a major intersection in my life. one of those ages where you reflect on where you are and where you're going and where you've been. as i sat in the dentist's chair today getting 35 year old parts repaired, i commiserated with my dentist who is turning 40 next week. when the heck did my dentist become only 5 years older than me?

time flies. cliche but true. and now it seems to be picking up in pace, especially when it comes to my kids. i have an 8th grader. i feel like i'm still an 8th grader. i remember when andy poulos shaved his eyebrows to show his undying love for becky wham. i remember walking all over town in navy capezio flats and slipping down damn near every single stair in that stairwell by the junior high on the way to the picadilly for french fries. i remember getting "depantsed" in the hallway by the girls' bathroom between the art and shop rooms in my gym shorts and my underwear came with 'em.

time warp. here i am, 1700 miles and 21 years away from the 8th grade. 21 years. huh. i guess growing up and going to college and getting married and having 5 kids and moving across the country is a lot to pack in even into 21 years. i'm not sure i'd even recognize the girl i was then if i bumped into her on the street. oh gosh. i'd love to grab her by her collar and shake her a bit. help her through some of the ensuing train wrecks life had waiting. but yet another cliche: hindsight is 20/20.

and here i am. after a rocky ride. bumps, bruises, scars all worth it. i can honestly say i feel like i have perspective on the good stuff, the kind of perspective only gained through experience. a wisdom that comes through pain and failure and success and joy. each moment of the past 21 years, well the past 35 leading up to today. it's really mind blowing when you think about it. we always hear life happens in the little moments, but when the whip past you so fast it's hard to remember. you have to lasso them in, even just for a second, to get a better look. then you have to set them free, there' s no taming time.

i feel like i need to make a list of things i want to do this year. at first i thought i should come up with 35 but that's exhausting to even think about. i think i could come up with 10. but then 3 plus 5 is 8, so in some wierd numerology attempt, that's what i've settled on. the great 8:

1. find a dog 2. put something on canvas 3. volunteer with our cancer ministry at church 4. run a 5k 5. drink more water 6. stick to my chore chart 7. relax more 8. be positive and let what comes out of my mouth reflect that.

i have my work cut out for me. but if i can find a few moments to knit together and hang onto even fleetingly, i may have a shot. i've got 35 years of life experience to throw at it. the girl's got skills.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

spring break

it's here!  finally!  we have a long list of things we'd like to do and are having the kids vote on it. should be interesting.

1.  road trip to aspen (the boys have recently watched dumb and dumber)
2.  camping
3.  skiing
4.  denver for the day
5.  rock ledge ranch (our favorite thing to do here in the springs)
6.  manitou for manicures (me and liv)
7.  hiking mt. blodgett
8.  skate city for family skate night
9.  castle rock for outlet mall shopping
10.  ted's montana grill for dinner
11.  wade's for pancakes and then to the zoo to walk them off
12.  celebrate dad's birthday

pictures to follow.  now, here's hoping for a peaceful voting process.  democracy at it's best.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

a good seed

one small seed fell down into a little nook.  
it put a foot beside a babbling brook.
it grew full of leafs.
it's stem turned into wood.
where that little seed had been
a pretty maple stood.

by ethan yanez

Friday, February 27, 2009

love you more than...

ladies and gentlemen, the idea for this book came from the heart of the ya ya's and the was created by the little fingers of the children of christ church of oak brook.  vickie's kids.  the proceeds of this book go to the vickie lynn bare foundation.  her passion was to open the hearts and minds of children and reveal the God fingerprint within in them to them.  and she did it in the most fun, most un-grown-up way possible often letting them make a total glorious mess that was celebrated not discouraged.  so, the foundation will keep making that happen in her memory and in the light of the one who's always had her back.  

if you want to participate in the eternal here's a link to purchase the book online:

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

words for no words...

i really don't want to be writing this.  i'm half here.  i keep picking up my bowl of buttered green peas instead of typing.  i suppose because when you write it and let it out, then it's true.

tomorrow it will be one year since you died.  i think now is when i'm supposed to write the canned "can't believe it's been a year" statement.  i can believe it's been a year.  a painstaking, long year, peppered with wonder without you.  but, without question, probably your easiest in a while.  

when i see those puffy white clouds in a crazy blue sky, i think of you.  when i hear a group of girls laugh, i think of you.  when i drink coffee (or wine), i think of you.  when i want to search for treasure, i think of you.  when i have something i'm dying to share, i think of you. when i make pasta and use the bowl you gave me, i think of you.  when i see the color turquoise, i think of you.  when i feel a breeze come down from the mountains, i think of you.  when i see excitement on the faces of my kids, i think of you.  when i take care of myself and stop to take a breath, i think of you.  when i create, i think of you.  when i worship, i think of you.  

and in the quiet moments i'll admit i've done it.  i've looked heavenward and asked for some kind of sign that you're okay.  like, okay God, if you've got her and she can see me, make a hawk, no, two hawks, fly across the sky.  maybe not on cue, but i'll see them later and smile and i'll let that be my sign.  late or not.

i know where you are.  and sometimes i feel like for a second, i can see what you see.  like you put me behind your eyes and just give me a taste.

and lately, i've heard you tell me to concentrate on living in between the tensions of this world and the next.  the old "to be in the world and not of it".  and while i'm still here, to make it an art, my art, to be in the moment.  'cause they all matter, all the moments and they add up to...the pieces of knowing of our journey.

so, i'm living with intention in the tension.  intent on maybe too much or too little according to some.  but your wisdom still finds me.  your friendship still inspires me.  your love still steeps in my heart.  until...until this life and the next weave together and our Lives once again touch.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

If I were a Raindrop 
by Ethan

If I were a raindrop
I would live in a cloud
and drop on England, France, Switzerland, then Paris.
And drop on my grandpa.
Then go in a vapor elevator up in the sky.
Then come down to Canada, then to Alberta.
Then drop on the forest.
After that, I would go to Ancient Rome
and be in the Olympics.
And be a gladiator.

Sunday, February 1, 2009


i'm pretty sure i don't know how tired i am.  i haven't slept soundly since 1995.  there's something that comes with the job of being a mom that makes it physically impossible to ever sleep deeply again.  your kids are part of your body, parts that are out walking around the earth and they don't seem to EVER stop, so you don't either.  well, maybe briefly.  just long enough to actually be able to drive your mini-van several places a day without running into anything.

last night, evelyn slept 11 1/2 hours.  i slept 9 1/2 hours.  at 7:15 a.m. i woke up realizing she had slept completely through the night and then some.  i jumped out of bed, ran down the hall and busted into her room.  there she was.  arms above her head, eyes still closed, sleeping that deep sleep that pinks their little cheeks.  thank God.  she did it!  and so did i.  and it felt amazing.  renewing and full and enough, for once.  here's hoping it'll become a habit.  for both of us!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

just bee yourself

sambo did it again.  he is a finalist for the 7th grade spelling and geography bee!  he's been in both for years now, usually making it to the top 5.  he was completely robbed of a spelling bee win a few years back, when the kids on either side of him got the words "commando" and "sargeant" and he got some ridiculous word i can't even remember.  anyone who knows sam, knows he can spell military related terminology like a pro.  oh well.  so, we'll let you know the outcome of the final bee.  but it doesn't matter really.  we're just so thrilled that he's one of those kids who's naturally interested and interesting.  he's actually a joy to be around (most of the time). hysterically funny with a side of intelligence and wit.  one morning, as he sat eating breakfast before school, he asked me if i thought the paratroopers should have landed in berlin during wwII. i laughed and said i'd never really thought about it. he then went into a 20 minute dissertation about why they didn't and that it had probably been the right decision.  he could be the world's most talented military strategist.  but he might need to start remembering his math book first.

Friday, January 16, 2009

spoon bread

i was supposed to be southern.  honestly, i have some kind of ridiculous fascination with sweet tea and locusts and willows and hospitality and evidently, spoon bread.  last year, the parent zone group from church got together at vickie's house and i was assigned a side dish.  i was going for something easy and inexpensive that could feed a small army, so creamy corn casserole was it.  a tried and true recipe that fit the bill and is always sure to get several recipe requests.  

to my delight, greg told me i had made spoon bread.  really?!  you mean my internal southern woman instinctively picked out a quintessential southern recipe to make?  and i made it well enough for a u.t. guy to compliment my efforts?  i was speechless, humbled i tell you.

the other day while on a walk this song came on my walk-man.  yes, i said walk-man.  made me smile at the thought of my internal southern woman from the midwest living in the west.  don't we all adopt little parts of ourselves along the way?  maybe i should start naming them. 

creamy corn casserole (spoon bread)

1/2 c. butter, melted
2 eggs, beaten
1 (8.5 oz.) package corn bread mix (jiffy)
1 (15 oz.) can whole kernel corn, drained
1 (14.75 oz.) can creamed corn
1 c. sour cream

preheat oven to 350.  mix it all up, throw it in a 9 x 13 and bake until golden.  about 45 minutes.  which is just enough time for a glass of sweet tea on the front porch to watch the willows bend in the breeze and hear the sound of the locusts doing their thing.

Sunday, January 11, 2009


berber carpeting and pine needles are a horrible combination.  they sliver into the very top layer, where they're still visible and yet impossible to vacuum up.  i can honestly say that i have become a firm believer in...gasp...the faux pre-lit christmas tree.

this year was to be the first year.  the family would trek up to the pike's peak national forest and cut down our first colorado christmas tree.  now, some folks tried to dissuade us, some laughed in our faces, some called them charlie brown trees, but we would not be derailed from our long time holiday tradition made new here. back in illinois, we would drive to plainfield to andersons' tree farm, hop a golf cart out to the fields, pick our tree, take the annual picture before the sawing commenced and hop back on the cart to a warm, building for cocoa and popcorn.  let's just say, these niceties are not exactly present in the national forest.

we drove up into the mountains on the first saturday in december.  the paper said to stop at a local middle school parking lot to obtain our $10 license for the tree.  already, we were smiling glibly thinking we had avoided the $60 a tree conspiracy of "those people".  the rangers said to expect to drive quite a ways, as many of the trees were already picked over.  after shaking hands with smokey the bear and receiving a stack of fire prevention materials, we got back in our non-4-wheel drive minivan and wound our way up and into the national forest.

we pulled off a few miles up the road and thought we'd find at least one doable tree, without traveling for hours.  we all piled out of the van, bundled up for the higher elevation and set off.  sam and ethan bounded down into a ravine, with olivia not far behind, reenacting bastogne.  audrey, evelyn and i carefully stepped around stumps and fallen trees, listening to the snow crunch under our feet and enjoying our bambi-like forest experience at least for the first few minutes.  after the long ride, evelyn had to eat so i found a log to perch on, while audrey explored.  i had that laura ingalls wilder feeling, all earthy and simple and settler-ish, that is until the quiet moved in.  marcus and the kids wandered farther and farther looking for "the" tree, while i just sat and thought about how little audrey was and the enormity of this forest. with every twig snapping i looked around for some kind of predator (okay a mountain lion) picturing the headline "nursing mother eaten by a mountain lion/toddler lost during family christmas tradition."

soon, i heard whooping and hollering and assumed they had found our tree.  then the echos of our tried and true old red handsaw.  when i finished feeding ev, audrey and i wandered down the ravine to catch up with the group and to see my husband the lumberjack sawing down a 100 foot tree.  needless to say, there was not one 6ft. or 7 ft. tree anywhere and they decided to "top" a seqouia.  (THE DIRECTIONS FROM THE RANGER CLEARLY SAY NOT TO TOP A TREE.  THESE DIRECTIONS WERE NICE AND WARM IN THE MINIVAN).  at this point, my toes were getting cold, audrey was falling over a tree stump or fallen log about every 15 seconds, the boys were wandering even farther away and olivia was already asking for hot chocolate.  i decided to take the girls back up to the van, just as evelyn started screaming.

i turned the van on, got the heat going, let the girls roam free in the van, changed a poopy diaper and waited.  after four or five christmas carols on the radio, we saw the boys coming up the hill with marcus right behind them.  without the tree.  seeing the tired and disappointed looks on all of their faces, i rolled the window down to hear "the saw broke".  no replacement blade, no golf cart, no warm building to return to, no popcorn, no hot chocolate.

it was a quiet ride home.  olivia cried and asked if we were ever going to get a tree, thankfully audrey and evelyn fell asleep, and the boys slumped down in their seats feeling the defeat of nature versus man.  marcus, exhausted from his first serious logging experience, just drove.  i sat in the passenger seat, pondering a pre-lit fake tree and pre-meditating a trip to hobby lobby.  

a week later and in the midst of school parties and last minute to do lists, the dreams of another drive up into the mountains were dashed.  so, after having burgers and shakes at a 50's restaurant, we bought the biggest, fullest tree we've ever had (requiring a trip to the store for a new stand) for $50 from a boy scout troop in an arby's parking lot.  yes, to my husband's dismay we became "those people".  he is already preparing for next's years trek back up to the national forest.  he's busy making mental notes of all the supplies and reinforcements we'll need and planning for different scenarios.  so, the tree of 2008 was a learning experience.  but we were still together as a family hunting conifers, which is all that matters. maybe we didn't establish our new colorado tradition, but it certainly was a memorable one. that is, until 2009...

Saturday, January 3, 2009


i love buying a new family planner every year.  while i'm out getting school supplies, i'll step away from the kids and escape to page through them in search of the perfect one.  it has to have big squares for each day of the week where i can cram my oversized penmanship in several different colors, trying to keep track of seven different schedules, appointments and important reminders.  it becomes a sort of journal in and of itself, a map of our days, from january to december.  actually, i've started keeping our planners, as a permanent reminder of all the monumental and minute events that have taken place in our lives that year.  i'm not sure we'd remember half of what happens without the planner.  even a small note can jostle a big memory.  

this past year was especially remarkable for us, both with a cross country move and a new baby.  while i was reflecting on how to share our year with you, i thought i wish i could just copy our planner! well, i didn't exactly copy it or even include everything.  but i included just enough to give you a glimpse of our daily rhythm, which is more like a marching band than a single drum beat.  here are some of the entries big and small from our family planner for 2008:

january 2nd:  closing for westchester house.
january 4th:  closing for colorado springs house.
january 13th:  cheyenne mountain zoo.
january 17th:  souled out (youth group for sam) 7 p.m.
january 31st:  baseball sign-up for ethan 5-8 p.m. 

february 13th:  ethan to dr. lydiatt for spacer 3:30.
february 25th:  first day of school.
february 26th:  we lost miss vickie.
february 28th:  leave for IL.

march 1st:  marcus and kids to monarch skiing.
march 2nd:  home from IL.
march 7th-9th:  sam church winter camp.
march 14th:  family carnival night at school.
march 19th:  12:45 o.b. appt.
march 22nd:  nephew jacob born.
march 24th:  spring break.  
march 28th:  dentist for marcus, sam and ethan 10 a.m.
march 29th:  marcus' birthday.

april 4th:  art walk in old colorado city.
april 5th:  ethan's first baseball game.
april 6th:  baseball.
april 8th:  baseball.
april 11th:  baseball.
april 12th:  baseball.
april 14th:  yep, baseball (you get the idea).
april 24th:  9:45 o.b. appt.

may 2nd:  baseball.
may 3rd:  lunch with Sandor and Faith.
may 4th:  olivia to birthday party 2 p.m.
may 5th:  ethan reading evaluation.
may 6th:  olivia reading evaluation.
may 15th-20th:  marcus to CA for lindsay's graduation.
may 16th:  ethan field day
may 17th:  olivia to birthday party 12:30.
may 22nd:  ultrasound 11 a.m.
may 28th:  last day of school.
may 30th-june 8th:  grandma's here!

june 9th:  fingerprints of god camp 8:40 a.m.
june 11th:  lauren-palooza (my birthday).
june 17th:  1:30 o.b. appt.
june 19th-22nd:  visit chelsea and family in IL.
june 23rd-27th:  vacation bible school.
june 30th:  aunt hoodoo here!

july 3rd:  audrey's 2nd birthday cookout.
july 4th:  parade in monument.
july 8th:  our anniversary.
july 15th:  ultrasound 10:15 a.m.
july 17th:  piano lessons 3:30 p.m. (every thursday)
july 22nd-26th:  kate and girls here!
july 25th:  barb and cassie overnight!
july 26th:  block party.
july 30th:  donovan's 3rd birthday 3 p.m.

august 2nd:  sam 5k 8 a.m.
august 5th:  sam dentist 9 a.m.
august 7th:  olivia swallowed a marble.
august 11th:  greg and the kids here!
august 14th:  ethan's first day.
august 15th:  sam's first day.
august 16th:  olivia's 6th birthday.
august 18th:  o.b. appt. 1 p.m.
august 22nd:  olivia's first day of school.
august 30th:  art fest in manitou.

september 3rd:  o.b. appt. 10:45.
september 4th:  band outing to ute valley park.
september 5th:  picture day.
september 10th:  cub scouts for ethan 6 p.m.
september 15th:  pack meeting 6:30 p.m.
september 17th:  o.b. appt. 11:15 a.m.
september 18th:  marlen here for lunch, sam small group.
september 20th:  michelle's due date.
september 21st:  ethan to archery with cub scouts.
september 22nd:  race night for landsharks.
september 23rd:  sam's 13th birthday, pack meeting.
september 24th:  baby shower for us at breaux's.
september 25th:  sam cross country meet, cub scouts.
september 28th:  ethan to birthday party 1 p.m.

october 4th:  cub scouts 2 p.m.
october 6th:  sam wrestling.
october 8th:  mother goose day olivia.
october 10th:  due date, end of first quarter.
october 13th-17th:  fall break.
october 16th:  evelyn is born at 6:16 a.m.
october 17th:  grandma here, cub scouts 7 p.m.
october 18th:  work day at fort carson 8:30 a.m.
october 23rd:  starfield concert 7 p.m.
october 24th:  audrey storytime 10:30, trunk or treat.
october 31st:  auntie pam here!  halloween.

november 2nd:  grandma leaves.
november 4th:  band concert 6:30 p.m.
november 7th:  ethan's 8th birthday!
november 8th:  veteran's day parade 10 a.m.
november 11th:  wrestling meet for sam.
november 13th:  wrestling meet.
november 14th-16th:  sam to denver for dare to share.
november 17th:  evelyn to dr. bower 2 p.m.
november 20th:  check up with o.b. 11 a.m.
november 21st:  olivia's thanksgiving program 2 p.m.
november 22nd:  olivia to birthday party 1 p.m.
november 24th:  thanksgiving break, aunt lindsay here!
november 26th:  ethan to dr. lydiatt tooth pulled.
november 26th-30th:  all here for thanksgiving!

december 4th:  parents to youth group with sam.
december 6th:  scouts caroling.
december 10th:  scout xmas party, olivia see play with liz.
december 11th:  "scrooge" at church 7 p.m.
december 13th:  ethan party 11:30-2, olivia 12:00-2:00.
december 16th:  band concert 7 p.m.
december 18th:  ethan christmas party 2:30.
december 19th:  olivia christmas party 2:00.
december 22nd-27th:  aunt hoodoo here!
december 23rd:  to manitou with hoodoo.

a new crisp black planner sits in front of me.  it's pages are empty, but filling up quickly as fliers and reminders and current school calendars come home.  in between all of these appointments and activities and celebrations we're making countless trips to the grocery store, planning menus, bandaid applications, loads of dishes in and out of dishwasher at least twice a day, referee-ing sibling rivalries, overseeing a two year old with play-doh, mom's taxi trips to friends' houses, monitoring online activity, clipping coupons, nursing 8 times a day, packing lunches, feeding the cat, doling out chores, planning school projects, cleaning out the car.  busy.  we're just so, so busy.  and, somewhere in these days, we've made the good stuff a priority.  we've vowed to keep these things first:  loving each other, laughing together, grieving together, having real conversations, becoming experts at the art of discipline (of self and others:), using teachable life moments, experiencing life moment by moment, that is when it doesn't seem to be flying by. 

marcus and i hope that your new year is filled with love.  in all your moments.  well, maybe that's not very realistic at the dentist's office.  but in between all the other stuff.  may God bless you and find you in all of your busy-ness.  vickie used to tell me to stop trying to run ahead of God.  if you knew her, you'd know that she moved at lightening speed.  but never without the ability to sit down and listen and be in the moment.  she'd take her reading glasses off, fold them in her hand and be in the moment.  may we all learn to take off our glasses to really see this year. 

"be still and know that i am."