So we took away the video games and computer fun again.

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I happened upon this sea otter, bathing on a rock, while hiking with the boys at Point Lobos State Park! So exciting!

Ah, Christmas. Yes, I have small children, so a part of me is like this guy:

But the truth is, I can also be April, the stress ball.

I LOVE the idea of Christmas, but I won’t lie.

It’s supposed to be about God’s gift to man: Jesus= salvation=inner peace….a gift freely given and not deserved.

It’s just so hard to remember that.

The truth is I’m a lot more stress ball than I am Buddy the Elf. I spent all of November living in denial that Christmas was in fact upon us, so now I have less than three weeks to do all of my shopping–  all while still figuring out this whole home school thing.

Hopefully, there will be no funerals this year. In my family, Christmas is marked to pieces by funerals. Last year it was Granny. The year before that it was my Grandpa. When I was in high school, it was my MawMaw. So we just have this tinge of sadness that goes along with our holidays…

Thankfully, I don’t blog to whine about my problems. Aren’t you glad? Eh? What’s that? You think I DO whine about my problems??  Well, maybe you’re right, but rest assured that is not my goal!

Actually, I want this to be a very UP-lifting place for all of you during this, what I consider to be, stressful time of year.  I use blogging as an escape from chores–you do NOT want to see the number of toys in my floor right now–and escapes should always be happy. 🙂

Here are a few happy stories from our week that will hopefully make you smile:

 

 

Daniel likes to get out a Bible, or any Christian book really, and sing.

“It’s Christmas. Oh, Lord, God! Oh Loooooord!”

My thoughts exactly, Daniel. 😉

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 As we speak, Joshua is leading his brothers around the house, all FOUR of them playing some imaginary game together. PRECIOUSNESS. We decided to take away the video games during the week. We are making them less happy in order to make them more happy.

Heh? Yep. That’s what I said.

Less happy in the moment that they make the video game request = more happy in the long run

I’m hoping this will give them more time to be BORED–more time to play TOGETHER (and that’s definitely working), and more time to focus on learning more valuable things.

For example, if Caleb were allowed to play Mario at this moment, and Joshua were playing an iPad game, the littles would be clinging to my ankles, wanting me to entertain them. It is also likely that Daniel would be moping and whining for Caleb to stop playing Wii so he could watch cartoons.

INSTEAD, they are all “being dogs” together. You can’t beat that!!

There are more toys in the floor, though. : / Ah well.

I told them they could watch a movie if they cleaned up all the toys from the floor. They decided they’d rather not watch a movie…. Don’t worry. They will get the toys picked up later when I turn them into forced labor…

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Did you even know this was possible? Upside down selfie. He can do this now because I found my camera battery charger!!  That’s right! Clear photos are back on the blog!!  Roll Tide.

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Remember the Frumpy Mama post? Well, I finally made it to two doctor appointments. I have not fixed my eyebrows or hair yet, BUT I have worn REAL clothes at least twice this week already. 🙂

 

IMG_4512 IMG_4513 Guess what!!  December is the greenest month we’ve seen in California yet!! When we moved in, in August, everything was brown and full of briars. Now there is green grass everywhere! The high temperature is usually around 65. Haa!!! Not a bad deal, eh?

 

 

 

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Point Lobos is our favorite place to go. I took the three oldest boys hiking there last week.

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I’m so thankful my camera is back in action!!

 

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“Look, Mom!!  A real snail!”

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Point Lobos has several beaches that have billions of tiny pebbles, rather than sand.IMG_4582

Three Seals and an Otter

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Laugh if you want to, but I’m pretty sure I’ve photographed that seal on the left before. He has some very distinguishing skin patterns.

 

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Joshua got a call from Xavier

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We had Thanksgiving with an incredibly sweet ranching family in Carmel Valley.

 

IMG_4636 I’m hesitant to put anyone’s name on the internet these days. I’ll just say that this is my friend, M. M reminds me so much of myself–only more talented in home decorating than I–that it’s almost scary. Have you ever had a friend that you knew you could say just about anything to, because you know they are thinking it too?  That is a RARE kind of friend, and we only just met this summer, but M is such a kindred spirit, that I can seriously say whatever I want.

 

 

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Aside from the, “Augh!!  It’s Christmas already!!” thing, California this time of year is FULL of surprises: it’s the greenest time of year. I know! The highs are like 65 degrees. Glory!

Things are different here than the media might lead one to believe. There are a lot of different subcultures. As you can imagine, I am very much in the homeschool mom/church going/ traditional values bubble. I haven’t met any of the stereotypical hippies that we like to tease this state about, but that’s mostly due to my living in a bubble. Birds of a feather flock together. If I were a drug culture person, all my friends would be high, and I’d say, “Dude, no one worries about right or wrong here,” because like minded people hang together. Do you know what I mean?

 The people I know here, both locals and newbies, are all people I either have a lot in common with or are people I want to learn from.

One stereotype I can tell you is DEFINITELY true. Californians eat better than anyone in the world. They eat cleaner and greener. Even our small city has both a Whole Foods and a Trader Joe’s. Vegetables are consumed heavily, but what do you expect? Veggies are grown here YEAR-ROUND! It’s a delicious place to live!

I’ll leave you with this funny story that would never happen in any of the other places I’ve lived. We were at church, a while back, and they were planning a potluck. The coordinator got up and actually said this sentence, “Please, we don’t need EVERYone to bring salads. We need some people to sign up for beans. We don’t want to end up with 50 different salads like last time. “

BAAAAHAHAHAHAHA

I love you, Californians.

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The Summer of No Video Games

In our modern age, we have developed a word I don’t quite recall from my own childhood:  playdates.  We always had lots of friends over to play, but they were usually impromptu occurrences whenever we’d be driving our own parents crazy inside, so they would say, “Go outside and play,” at which time we would run into all neighborhood kids that had also been kicked outside.  : )
This still happens, of course, and we are fortunate enough to have good neighbor kids for them to play with!
Today I allowed Joshua to invite two friends.  I let him invite two on purpose.  That creates a group of 4 boys, as opposed to a group of 3 boys.  With three, conflicts are much more likely to happen.
My plan worked rather well, and I was rather pleased with myself.

But here’s the part that makes this news:  last weekend we unplugged everything in the basement, and we are not plugging the Wii back in.

I kept waiting for some strong backlash and cries of agony from the children, but there really hasn’t been any.  Last night we sat down all our little boys, and Alan told them his plan of unplugging for the summer.  He explained that he wants their summer to be about playing outside, going swimming, playing Legos, reading, using their minds, and playing with their friends.
Joshua said, “Well, can we just play computer then?”
No.
Caleb said, “iPad?”
No.

Now here’s the only catch.  The boys have now saved up enough money to each buy themselves a Nintendo DS, second hand, at Game Stop.  Alan hasn’t decided if he wants to let them do it though.  Caleb seems slightly indifferent, even though he’s the only one of them that has enough money to buy games for it too.  Joshua, on the other hand, is waiting on pins and needles and asking me constantly when I’m going to take him to the store and whether or not Daddy and I are finished deciding yet.

For now, they do still have the Playstation handheld (PSP), made about 6 years ago, and fairly obsolete.  Games for it are seriously cheap, though, which is a bonus.  They have two games for it:  Baseball and Toy Story 3.
Their friends all look at it with interest, since it’s different from what they all have.   Literally ALL of Joshua’s friends have a Nintendo DS or 3DS.  Caleb’s crowd is still younger and easier to entertain!

Results so far:  Not bad!
I had four little boys at my house today, (one left early, so he didn’t get to be in the picture) back to entertaining themselves the good old fashioned way.  They have played baseball (using nice, safe wiffle balls–we have a whole bucketful.  : )  ) in the backyard, played the bugle, jumped on the trampoline, and they are now being superheroes.  Joshua and Caleb are both wearing costumes.  Part of Joshua’s costume is Daniel’s swimmies, worn on his head like a hat…. Their buddy “didn’t need one b/c he has on a Minecraft t-shirt,” making him already super.  Ha!

Caleb has gotten a little too good at losing our balls over the fence.  Of course, he would be THAT kid.  That’s another timeless problem!

I think these playdates may be important to saving our sanity this summer.  For some reason, play automatically becomes way more fun when someone other than your brother (or sister, for some) joins in.  Of course, the key to a happy play date is to have a kid over that is okay with the whole “no wii” thing….and isn’t a “trouble maker.”  Believe me, they already exist, even at this age.

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   BIG THANK YOU to Amy and Bretta for the crock-pot recipes.  I’m going to try them all.  I made the Picante Chicken that Amy recommended on Saturday, and Alan liked it so much he wouldn’t let me use the leftovers on Sunday so that he could save them for his lunches this week.
  Tonight I’m making the “Saucy Pork Chops” that Amy recommended.  Historically, Alan does not like pork chops, but I’m hoping he’ll make an exception tonight!
  I’ll have to share the Picante Chicken recipe soon under my Tried and True Recipes tab b/c it was an easy, good one!
  I’m on such a roll today, I even made Mock-Chocolate Eclairs for dessert!  That’s already listed in my recipe list, and it is SO YUM!

Quote of the Day:
Caleb is running around here, wearing his Captain America costume, and shouting, “My name is Captain Stinky Star!”

Exciting Upcoming Event:
I’m taking Caleb to the party store after their playdate to pick out invitations and such for Caleb’s three-week-early birthday party.  We’re getting this out of the way before the arrival of John David.  But Caleb has told me multiple times that he wants me to “wrap the new baby up like a present” for his birthday.

Hope your day is as “super” as ours!   ; )

Now, now, no moping!

Hello dah-lings!

Now, I can just hear the groans of all my faithful xanga readers, but I promise that I have MANY good reasons for changing my web address and platform.  ; )  Most importantly, this one is more blogger-friendly and allows me to paste videos right into my blog.  Isn’t that an exciting change!?  : )

I cracked up quite a few times tonight!  I think the funniest moment was when we sent Joshua upstairs, alone, to get ready for bed:

Alan:  I hear a strange noise…..I think it’s a toothbrush.

Both of us:  Oh, that’s good. (moment of feeling like successful parents)

Me:  Wait.  Is Daniel up there with him?  Daniel loves toothbrushes….. (and, um, Daniel doesn’t have an electric toothbrush, only the big boys have those. hmmm)

Alan:  Yeah, he is, and……they’re in the guest room (soon to be nursery)

A few minutes later Alan came downstairs to report that it was in fact Daniel with the toothbrush (even non-germ-phobes like myself find that yicky!), and also Daniel was about to eat chalk, but Alan got there just in time!

Just another ordinary night of raising little children…….

Oh!  The boys are fasting from Wii today!  Not by choice of course, there has simply been an outbreak of bad behavior around the house, and this is one way we are handling it.  They are supposed to be showing us how good and obedient they can be in order to earn their Wii back, and Joshua has been very serious about that.  Caleb……not so much….

I had a surprising wake-up call today!  It felt like it was “Joshua and Caleb” for forever, right?  Well, Caleb doesn’t even remember life without Daniel.  He doesn’t even remember those three months when we lived at DaddyO and Nonna’s house when I had Daniel.  It makes sense, he was only three, but wow! We got TWO exciting packages this week, something for everyone.  Grandaddy and Nana sent the boys Mario Party 9 ( a seriously big deal here) and Daniel this Little People airplane.  Daniel loves Little People.  THANK YOU, Grandaddy and Nana!

Yes, this is the playroom, a room ruled and kept by our children.  It is unapologetically messy, and I’m just thankful we have a basement where they can do this!
Yeah, he knows he’s cute.
And exciting package number two!!!  Nonna and DaddyO sent us all this monkey stuff for the nursery, from our registry.  Fun!  Thank you!!
This is how I found Daniel around 12pm today.  I guess errand day was a bit much for him!  Is there anything more exciting than finding a 1 1/2 year old–sleeping!?  : )
Friday Night:  watching “How it’s Made”  with Daddy.  The boys all actually like this show!  And I watch it with them.  Amazingly enough, it is not boring!