Bring it on, 2016!

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After a 19-day vacation to see our folks, it warmed our hearts to find this in our driveway when we returned. What a hug to come home to this sweet driveway art! Our friends did this for us while we were away.

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“We can do small things with great love.” –Mother Teresa

Isn’t it funny how it’s the little things like this that make our days bright and cheery?

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And oh, while vacation was fun, it is always wonderful to be “Home Sweet Home”.

Joshua, Caleb, and a buddy of theirs (one of them that did the driveway art) were discussing “New Year’s Revolutions.” Yes, I corrected them. Joshua quickly understood the difference. He joked, “Ha!!  This year is a revolution!! Yaaaaaaaah!”

One of the boys said that he wants to have peace and goodwill on earth. Another one wants to own every single Lego Star Wars buildable figure.

“What’s yours, Mom?”

Um, uh…”Well, I haven’t fully decided yet, but I do hope to get rid of my hip pain this year.”

I got blank stares for that one. It’s hard for elementary kids to relate to chronic pain, I think.

So yeah. Not planning a revolution this year…..I don’t even have a concrete resolution.

I just want to do my job well, love my family, and move the family back across the country without stressing out about it. I’m so done with stress.

You know what I want most for this year? I want to focus on being a good mom and a loving wife. If we all did that, the whole world would be sweeter.

small things with great love

making gingerbread houses with the little guys

“Do not think that love in order to be genuine has to be extraordinary. What we need is to love without getting tired. Be faithful in small things because it is in them that your strength lies.”
― Mother Teresa

Yes, I got a bicycle for Christmas. No, my hips didn't love it, but the boys were so excited to have their mom ride bikes with them. Thanks, Santa Alan!!

Yes, I got a bicycle for Christmas. No, my hips didn’t love it, but the boys were so excited to have their mom ride bikes with them. Thanks, Santa Alan!!

Wishing you all a Happy New Year! I’d love to hear your resolutions/goals. No, really. I get my best ideas from other people, so do share.

Bring it on, 2016.

 

One Does Not Simply Take Four Boys to the Beach

One does not simply “take little boys to the beach.”

When we first moved to California, I was so EXCITED!!!  I live within 10 minutes of beaches, swimming pools, hiking, an aquarium, glory, glory, glory!!!

Glory, glory, glory!

This is going to be FUN. We are going to take exciting field trips all the time, I thought. We are going to be pros at this. The boys will get to see how the beach is different every time you go.

We went to the store. We purchased wet suits. We had BIG plans.

adorable in wetsuits

adorable in wetsuits

And gradually reality began to settle in.

Bath tubs became clogged from sand, so we learned that sand does plunge right out. Problem solved.

Wet suits? Well, it takes us an hour to all get into them and all get back out of them when finished. Then you have to rinse and hang the things.

Someone really should be on hand to go into the waves with the boys, while someone handles the one-year-old.

Oh.

Taking four boys to the beach is actually a two person job, and thus ended my dreams of weekly trips to the shore. After all, Alan really should go to class.

One does not simply take four little boys to the beach.

But there’s still the pool, right?

Well, the big pool is freezing, and the little pool only allows 5 people at a time. The pool has no lifeguard, and I can’t figure out how to hold two babies in the 4 foot pool at one time, so that’s when I realized that…..

The pool is also a two person job now.

Sigh. Neither does one simply “take four little boys to the pool.”

But there are still trails to hike……

Only the big boys like to run ahead and climb things. Meanwhile, the trail has to be either stroller friendly, or I have to wear JD in the baby carrier.

unhappy hiker

Can’t you just see Caleb’s joy? He wanted to hike further, but with the Ergo, I can only go so far.

Plus, it takes us about 2 hours to get ready to go anywhere as a family, so……

One does not simply “Go hiking with John David.”

I realized that hiking is pretty much a two parent job as well.

Well, I will just take them to the playground, I said. Only Joshua rarely wanted to do that, so it’s not much fun to drag him….One does not simply drag Joshua to the playground.

And that is how I ended up secluding myself in the walls of my big, beautiful, home near the sea.

 

My new goal for 2015:

Re join the world. We are making progress. Yes, it still takes us two hours to get ready to go anywhere. Thankfully, Alan’s course-load isn’t as bad as previous quarters, so he’s able to join us more.

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Assistant Coach, with Coach’s helper

Joshua has basketball practices, and they both have golf lessons, so at least we have to get out for that.

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Caleb, working hard at golf lessons.

This week I decided we were getting out or bust. No matter the obstacles. Nothing would stand in our way.

Was it JD’s nap time by the time we all got ready? Yes, it was. We forged on anyway.

On Thursday, we very excitedly headed out to the library, Point Lobos, and the McDonald’s drive thru. All four boys were thrilled. The library was PACKED. There were two second grade classes and a preschool hour filling the place up.

Did I let that stand in my way? (I hate crowded places. I use a jogging stroller, and I’m kind of introverted these days.)

Nope. We forged on. Joshua tends to pick a series, read every  book in it, and then be crushed when there are no more to read, so that happened. The library was completely out of Big Nate books.

And yet, Caleb and I went digging and found more books than we’d ever found before! Calvin and Hobbes! Ninjago! Garfield! Henry and Mudge! Peanuts! We even found a beautifully illustrated children’s edition of Beowulf, which was the most celebrated find of the day.   I was the one that found it. I was a little horrified. That is so not my kind of reading, but it is famous literature, and I knew they’d like it, so we are reading it anyway….

kids love beowulf

favorite books

I don’t understand boys’ literature at all.

I finally managed to pull them away from the library. They LOVE that place. There’s a rug in the floor that is blue, and there’s a giant stuffed sea otter. Daniel clutched that loved-by-a-billion-library-kids-before-him old sea otter, and hugged him, and hogged him, and oh, he was so happy. He and the sea otter kept jumping in the “water.” (blue rug)

The librarian kindly invited me to this page full of library events, all for different ages, all of which apply to at least one of my children. I politely said thank you and accepted the calendar. No need to tell her that gathering all four of them up and leaving the house, to go to a crowded place full of small children, is sort of a nightmare to me.

One day we will graduate from the jogging stroller, diapers, and pouring out Cheerios, and these things will sound more appealing to me.

Good-bye sweet library. Off to Point Lobos we went! There are several American Disability Act approved trails, so we used one of those. The thing is, the trail is only .8 miles, so that’s super short. However, it worked perfectly. Daniel was exhausted from being out late at Cubbies the night before, and the wind was ripping into us, eliciting aggravated grunts from John David.

hiking with mom

day out with mom

We hit McD’s on the way home, where, as usual, I failed to buy quite enough food. Man, it takes a lot of food to feed us!!!

We were home by 2:00, I think. Daniel ate his lunch, and then I put that grouchy, sleepy boy to bed.

Success. I’m calling that success. Yesterday we toured a local sports center, complete with child care and swimming for Joshua and Caleb, and we are thinking about joining it. Maybe we will finally “get out more.”

The manager gave us a tour. Of course, the boys couldn’t keep their hands off each other, not in a mean way. It’s just that boys are very physical.  Raising boys is a lot like raising lion cubs.  At one point, all three hunched over JD, making googly faces at him. They were all smiling, and JD was whacking them in the face, just as happy as he could be. They loved it!

Don’t worry. I don’t condone toddlers smacking others in their faces…

The manager remarked, “At least they get along.”  Yes, that’s true. What a blessing!

brothers, sticking together

brothers, sticking together

preschool best friends

best buds

There wasn’t anything ‘simple’ about this whole ‘getting out more’ thing. I feel accomplished and tired.

Have a great weekend, ya’ll! 🙂

 

A God We Can Depend On

If you’re hoping for another funny story about flying with all our boys, you are sort of in luck. 😉 This photo is us waiting at baggage claim at 11:30 pm, filing claims for lost luggage–on New Year’s Eve. Happy New Year to us! Hang with me, this is a long one…

Upon our arrival to the South, we realized we were missing a bag. We reported it, and 10 days later, that bag was still missing. That’s unusual. Airlines are usually pretty good at getting your suitcases to you. If you live close enough, they’ll even drive it to your house.

Let me tell you, after spending 5+hours on an airplane with your children, the very last thing you want to do is spend an extra hour and a half more in the air port upon arriving. At least in Atlanta we had family there helping us. As we waited there for our suitcases to get on the belt, I spotted an employee standing with a BIG empty cart. Not like the little ones that hold two suitcases. This was like the kind you get at hotels.  I said, “Oh, man, that is what we need.”

“You want it?” he asked.

“How do you get one of those??”

“Oh, I just put your bags on here for you and take them to your car, and you can just tip me.”

What!!  How had we not known about this??!! Happiest moment! Oh, it is the little things!!!

“Oh my goodness. Yes!! We have 15 bags!!!”

Fast forward to the return trip. It was a LATE night trip.

By the time we landed in San Francisco on NYE, we had to wake our children up, and do the major production that we do to complete the miracle of flight: deplane. I can’t even begin to explain why this is hard, so let’s just move on.

We got out. It took us all 30 minutes to use the bathrooms. We got almost to baggage claim, when all our talk about the coughing, influenza kid that we were sitting in front of on the plane, made us sure that we should stop and wash the boys’ hands again.  Was that really what happened, Alan? I don’t remember. It was 11pm. We were barely functioning. I definitely remember that we made someone rewash their hands. I just am not completely sure why, but there went another good 10 minutes for some reason.

We walked across the airport the wrong direction, to realize our luggage was a mile in the opposite direction. Gates were going down, employees were leaving, and we hadn’t even picked up our suitcases yet: 7 of them, plus 2 car seats.

It didn’t take long for us to realize that, yet again, another duffel bag did not make it. At least this time it was the baby’s suitcase, rather than the ELECTRONICS suitcase that went missing the first time. Sorry ya’ll, but I will be flying with expensive electronic equipment again never.

We have now ordered a new video baby monitor. We figured we’d never see that suitcase again, and it could also help me watch Caleb at night for seizures. (That’s another story for tomorrow’s blog…)

It took 20 minutes to get the claim written for the second bag and another half hour to write the claim for the still missing 1st bag, which had apparently never actually been reported. Thank you, Atlanta.

Ok. I think You should know that I probably exaggerate time frames because by 11:20 or so we had finally made it outside, and there were no shuttle buses at all. I called the hotel. We were in the wrong place……back to hiking around with our 15 suitcases.

No really. 7 large. 2 car seats. 8 carry-ons, a double stroller, and a baby.

We spotted what looked like our shuttle and dashed to it in relief.

“No, I don’t go to that hotel. Actually I go to blahablahblah….” the driver informed us. Nooooooo!

So we kept hiking and looking hiking and looking…there!  We see it! It’s coming!!  And it zoooooomed right past us. It’s almost midnight. That was the last run of the night, and Dude didn’t even stop.

We had made it through an entire day of traveling. We had converted to central time, so for us it was actually almost 2am. 2.a.m.

The baby didn’t cry. Daniel didn’t melt down. The boys were fine.

I was not. This is the point where I got reeeeeeal whiny. Noooooooooo!

Alan got on the phone with the hotel, and we got the driver back. Alan managed to get me on the shuttle without me chewing out the driver, and that was an accomplishment in itself.

At check in, they informed us that our Silver Club Level (like frequent flyer miles for hotels…Thank you, Cross Country Road trip), entitles us to FREE breakfast on the 14th floor. Yes!

The boys and I headed to the hotel room, and Alan headed to our minivan. There was a moment where I was afraid that I actually rang in 2015 in my hotel room with the bellhop, while Alan was still downstairs getting the ‘pack and play’ out of our van. Then I realized the hotel room clock was just fast, so I am so happy to report that at 12 am Pacific time, I kissed all four of my children and my husband. (And just to be clear, I did not kiss the bellhop.) 🙂

This will be a wonderful year. 🙂 I have HIGH hopes.

Let me tell you what happened today:

-JD woke me up at 1am. We have tried everything. Literally everything, so let’s not discuss this any further.

-Daniel woke me up at 5am and said, “My stomach hurts. I need some milk.”

“Daniel, if your stomach hurts, you don’t need milk. You can have water, and maybe you need to pee.”

“No me go pee. Me need water.”

“Okay. Here you can have mine.” Daniel climbed into our bed, and I rolled over to Alan and said, “I think Daniel is about to throw up.” People who guzzle water and say their stomach hurts always throw up.

Somehow Daniel managed to wait until 8am to begin the barfing.

We had some rough moments today, and I might have sort of lost it at one point, but I never did apologize to the children. We’ll come back to that later.

Early on, the phone rang. “Are you missing a suitcase?”

I felt like that man on the milk commercial, you know the Aaron Burr expert. His mouth was full of cookies, and the radio contest calls with an Aaron Burr question, but he can’t answer because he has no milk!!?? Remember???  So funny.

Anyway. I had JD holding one leg and screaming, and Daniel crying to watch “Paws Patrols” on the other leg. This was before Daniel barfed big time and I quarantined him in his room. I could barely make out the words on the other end of the phone, but I got the gist.

Don’t worry. I managed to speak.

“YES!!  YES!!!  We do! We did!”
“Can you describe the contents of the bag?”

“Oh ho yeah buddy. Hundreds of dollars worth of video equipment and a baby blanket!!!!”

dingdingding

The suitcase was found in Atlanta, 16 days after our flight. Isn’t that something?

“This is great!!! Thank you!!!”

I called Alan around 3pm. After a day of cleaning up puke and teaching school, I needed this to be an early day. Thankfully, Alan is in a much less stressful place right now than last semester, so he was able to be home early today.

I dashed off to the beach. First, I did such a poor job of parallel parking that I finally gave up and paid the $1.50 to park. Boo. My walk was nice, but kind of ho hum. Have I become spoiled??? I prayed about my problems, especially about the way I panic, or “freak out” too easily.

God told me I need to learn to depend on him more. Rather than panic, take a deep breath and pray about the problem.

Now, just in case anyone is new here: I don’t mean the audible voice of God, just that God speaks to my heart, my spirit if you will. Christianity is not a religion. It’s a relationship. It’s about having a relationship with God.

I got back to my van. I took my jacket off. I was hot. I cleaned out the pockets back into my purse. That’s when I realized that my identification was missing!!! What! I wanted to cry.

I retraced my steps back to the beach. I had walked a looooong way. I was so furious with myself for having put that ID card in my pocket and then not knowing it had fallen out. I looked and looked. I panicked a little. I prayed and prayed and looked and looked, but there was no sign of it.

I was very shaken. I drove home disappointed in myself, and disappointed in God. Why hadn’t he answered my prayer? Then I remembered about how I’d panicked and lost it with the children when they were all four hammering me at once this morning with their needs. I had never gone back and apologized, and I do believe that sin hinders our prayers. The Bible has a lot to say about reconciling with those that you have offended.

I prayed that my ID would fall into the right hands. Maybe I would still get it back.

I knew God was saying, “I got you back your suitcases. Why can’t you calm down and trust me with your ID?”

I went home, told Alan my problem, and walked straight over to the boys. I told all three that had seen my melt down from the morning, “I am so sorry. All four of you needed me at once, and it was just too much for me to handle, and I lost it. I am so sorry. You know that is not how I want to be. Please forgive me. Next time I start to raise my voice, I want you to touch my arm and tell me, ‘Mom, you’re starting to yell.'”

They all nodded and jumped to other topics. I walked straight to the kitchen to clear things off for pizza. I kept praying that the ID would fall into the right hands. The doorbell rang. We figured it was the pizza.

Nope.

It was the police. “Someone found your ID on the beach. Here you go.”

Excited doesn’t begin to describe it.  Thank you, God. We have a God we can depend on, and thank you to the kind stranger who handed my ID into the police. SUPER thank you! And thank you to the police man, who drove that card straight to my house. He arrived less than 10 minutes after I did.

So now you see why I am feeling unusually optimistic about this year, even if I do spend tomorrow cleaning up puke…hope I don’t end up hating myself for eating all those Christmas clearance cookies….

 

 

 

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