It's been over a month now since this amazing trip, I can hardly believe it. Doesn't even seem real.
Here are some pictures of our amazing adventure!
My brother is an amazing teacher and guide and took Dee, Mary and I on a trip down the San Juan River by raft. There we learned about Anasazi history, saw ruins of small villages and held ancient pottery. We sat by campfire and reminisced and listened to great music. We saw nature (even caught a little lizard!) and the scenery was absolutely breathtaking and changed at every bend in the river. I missed the kids terribly, but the adult time with Dee, Mary and my brother was just what I needed. We hardly ever get a chance to talk without someone interrupting so 6 days was indulgent. Hoping to make a slideshow of all the pictures, but this is a little glimpse.
It's been over a month now since this amazing trip, I can hardly believe it. Doesn't even seem real.
There are times when you see you child step into an activity and their whole being lights up. That would be soccer for Carlos. As a former player, I have to say this makes me incredibly happy. I love soccer. The excitement, the camaraderie, the action. Good people play soccer. It's a great game. I hate to miss a game, it's fun to watch and now that they are at the "not a blob running around a ball" stage, it makes it even better. They are actually playing intense, good games.
Last weekend, Azzuri was ranked #6 in the league and playing against the #3 team. It was an intense game, very evenly matched teams. Things started to go downhill when a mom stepped onto the field and kicked a ball (in her defense, she thought it had gone out but then had a TON of attitude about it). We were leading 2-0 and the other team started to panic. The play started to get much more physical, the refs weren't calling much of anything. At one point, our goalie went up to grab a ball and got elbowed in the chest. He had to leave the game. No call. Play got even more rough, and as one of their players were near the sideline, he told another teammate to take out the new goalie. There was a cleats up slide into goal and still no call.
Where I'm going with this is that Carlos was defending the biggest, roughest kid as well as the one who said to take out the goalie. Mama Bear came out in me and I watched a bit more closely. Watching my son was out there getting elbowed and pushed down and manhandled a bit, I was curious how he was going to react. I am proud to say, he raised up his game and met the challenge. He is a physical player already, but his intensity tripled and he did it in a fair way. There were no dirty hits or attempts to hurt anyone, he just played good, clean, tough soccer.
Not sure how the other player's parents felt about how that game went, I think they were upset about the loss. There was so much more going on, encouraging kids to play nasty, the part of youth sports that I hate. Way to go Azzuri, you played with honor and heart and pulled out the win.
I had thought it would be funny to mess with Dee and bit last night and switch sides of the bed. She is such a creature of habit, this wasn't easy for her to accept but I insisted. I mean, we are in a hotel for 2 nights and why not? Live a little! Well, my little scheme brought a couple of laughs from the kids as Dee tried her best to negotiate changing back but in the end the joke was on me. Woke up bright eyed at 4am and Dee was still sleeping peacefully on my side of the bed.
This little joke backfiring has led me to find out that there are interesting discussions to be had in the hotel lobby at 5:30am. It's the time before the breakfast buffet starts, there is CNN streaming with news of the Paris attacks and a 40 something man came up to ask me if there had been any updates. I told him what I had read this morning and he said, "you know, this is why I don't want grandchildren" I immediately thought he meant that the world was such a horrible place that he wouldn't want his grandchildren to live in it, but no...I asked him why he thought that and he continued on to say that he loves his kids and all, but that he worries about them all the time and he knows he would add that same worry about grandkids and he doesn't want to go through that. He also loves his kids so much he doesn't want them to have to feel that. So selfish yet with deep love.
It's interesting, because you do worry about your children in a way that a non-parent just can't understand but I would never let that worry stop me from experiencing the love that comes with being a parent. It's pure, it's deep, it's something you also can't explain to someone who has never been a parent.
Parenting isn't easy, it's not always fun but the rewards are incredible. Does the love outweigh the worry? For me, it does. Apparently not for all. Food for thought for the day.
Ok, so Dee, Mary and I are headed off to Colorado tomorrow to go rafting with my brother (YAY!). We will be out in the middle of nowhere on the San Juan River, with no access to cell phones or bathrooms. This got me thinking that maybe we ought to get a FUD (Feminine Urinating Device) to make the whole bathroom situation a little easier.
Jumped online and saw that the Evil Empire had the Go Girl so last night I grabbed Levi and headed over to get one to surprise Mary and Dee. The sales clerk, who was a little socially awkward, showed me where they would be on the shelf but they were sold out. I asked if he could call to the Bremerton store to check if they had any and he reluctantly made the call. That was awkward. They were sold out as well and this sweet man was trying hard to give me other options. I told him we couldn't order online because we were leaving in a day, he asked if we could stop at a Walmart in Seattle or perhaps drive around and hit Cabella's and get one. Or maybe we could get one at the place where we were flying into. As he was listing off my options, and I kept gracefully trying to get out of the conversation, I realized he was truly horrified and worried. I told him it wasn't a huge deal if I didn't get one and he said, "Well, I would hate for you to not be able to pee for 4 days." Seriously?! Did he think I wasn't going to pee for 4 days?! I told him not to stress, that I had managed for 43 years to pee when I needed to.
Oh and don't forget that all this time, poor Levi was standing there absolutely mortified that I was talking about bathroom stuff with this man in the middle of a store. Ha ha ha, I know. What 12 year old boy wants to hear that #1 their mom uses the bathroom #2 is talking about it in public!
We left Walmart and headed to Big 5, where Levi's embarrassment continued. The clerks there tried to help but their only solutions were me taking a portable toilet on the plane (nope but tempted) and these weird bag things that catch the pee (hell no)
I had called REI earlier in the day and they, of course, didn't hesitate to tell me they had Freshette in stock. Levi and I headed there to get it. He fell in love with REI and almost forgot why we were there. I discreetly found what I was looking for plus a few extras, paid and as we were headed out he offered to carry the sack. I was about to hand it to him when he reeled back and said "Holy cow, no way, I almost forgot what was in that thing!"
I haven't laughed that hard in a long time. My sweet boy. We talked a little about it on the car ride home and he was perplexed about why on Earth I would even want such a product. I told him how it worked and he said "I could have saved you a lot of money there, mom, and got you a funnel" His other main concern was that we would want to start using the men's bathrooms. Yuck, no.
So now we have our FUD and are packed and ready for the trip. Not sure how it will work, but glad it provided some comic relief and a nice bonding time with my oldest boy.
If you want to read more about FUDs, click this link!
This morning, I put bread into the toaster and let everyone know that they could grab their piece and make it as part of their breakfast while I got other things done. Things got busy, of course, and Dee asked who hadn't eaten. I had seen two kids sit down at the table with me, the other I hadn't seen. I asked him point blank "did you eat breakfast?" The answer was "yes, I had toast with jam on it. I remember because I spilled jam down the front of my shirt." Too many details, this kid was lying! I asked again with the same response. I asked him to please go get the shirt that was covered in jelly as proof of his story. He came down with the shirt he had been wearing the night before, with a big water spot on it. I then asked, "So, I'm supposed to believe that you ate the toast, spilled jam on the shirt and then CLEANED the shirt?" The answer this time was, ""ok, I didn't want toast for breakfast so I made all that up" UGH!
Many resentful feelings on my end because the kids are too old to be entitled freeloaders and should be helping more around the house. Feeling that they should be grateful for the mom taxi taking them everywhere, doing their laundry and making their lunches. But that's not the reality, they aren't even aware that I feel this way sometimes and if I tell them they shrug it off. It's not that they don't care, I have to remember that they are kids and so all consumed with their own reality that its always a shocker to them when I get fed up. Instead of a "thank you, mom" it's a "you put WHAT in my lunch? Gross" and when you ask them to take their clean, sorted, folded laundry to their room you would think you asked them to scrub the kitchen floor with a toothbrush. I should probably be asking them to do more, but with the resistance I get with the few things we do ask it seems easier sometimes to just do it myself. Truth be told, I'm a control freak and they aren't the best at cleaning to my expectations and I have to do it again so it's easier for me to just do it myself.
We have a lot of kids (7 in the home right now, ages 12, 11, 10, 4, 2, 1 and 5 months) and that equals a lot of pure maintenance work for the parents. Lots of dishes, laundry, taxiing, listening, playing, tucking in, feeding, etc. This is a choice and I'm not complaining, just tired.
I love a big family and I wouldn't change it for the world but there are days when I wonder how life would be different with just one child. Would we be always hanging out and talking about our feelings? We connect with our kids daily, sit with them through their struggles and do our best to empathize and help resolve issues. We make family time and read with them after we put the babies to bed. We support each other but life is rushing by.
I am being very intentional to the things I say YES to lately. Honoring time and togetherness. We are surely missing out on amazing events, but we are becoming stronger as a family.
This I must remember this week as things seem to be in chaos mode. Take time to sit down and breathe it in. These days that our kids (the boys especially) want to spend their time with us is rapidly passing and I don't want to miss a minute.
Yeah, I still shave my legs and drive a gas guzzling SUV and my boys are playing XBOX and we have a tv...so not REAL hippies. Let's face it, the hippie van wouldn't hold all of our people and I can't grow out my straight hair to save my life.
We have always tried to eat well, make homemade rather than store bought as much as we could and all but it's getting ridiculous.
I stopped and laughed because I was testing my kombucha brew, after I had just pulled kale chips out of the dehydrator and had filled it with "zucchini gummies" Don't mock until you've tried them, they are seriously not bad! My kids even like them (all but one who refuses to try them) and have asked that I make more. A couple weeks ago I made Black Bean Fudge and they have asked when I'm planning to make it again. Seriously, people, there are some healthy tasty options for regular people out there. I do try to find a balance, we do eat store bought processed stuff and there are nights when a run thru McDonalds is just about all I can manage for dinner.
We have also started doing some family meditation. Can you believe it? Nope, me either.
I'm just a typical soccer/theater mom trying to make smart choices for the family. Sometimes they are a total bust, sometimes we find a great new healthy snack!
It has been seriously eye opening for me, so this post isn't meant to be judgmental in any way. I think I am able to get a different perspective as a non-parent at this school, I really don't know many of these parents and they tend to sit and chat with each other or at least sit near each other and I'm the outsider.
I think we all, at times, have fallen into the trap that is having our children playing while we are checking out Facebook, ordering from Amazon, seeing if we got any new emails, chatted w friends, etc. I've done it, especially back when my boys were younger and the three of them would go play and not seem to care if I was there or not. Honestly, with a playground full of kids they don't really want to play with their mom! I'm good with that, but here is an observation I have made. Every single day, as I sit alone at the school playground and watch the kids play, there have been times where parents were completely oblivious to what their child was up to. Yesterday it was two moms talking about how overbooked they are, not really complaining but saying with pride how every single day they have activities after school (except every other Friday). As if that meant shot their child up the social ladder! While they were talking, one of their children was close to jumping off the top of the monkey bars and another was swearing at the other kids on the playground. They were literally less then 20 feet away from the moms. Next to them was a mom so consumed with her smart phone, that her daughter (who was maybe 10 feet away) had to call to her 12 times to get her attention and show her that she could skip 3 rungs on the monkey bars. She had literally been hanging there, arms fully outstretched for a couple of minutes calling for her mom. The day before it was a dad who was busy on his phone and his young son had just scored a long goal on the soccer field and the game came to a halt for a minute while he tried to tell him the news but he never looked up.
For me, this is sad. I've been that mom and my kids have been those kids. What am I going to do about it? Make a change. Nothing is more important than my kids. Nothing. There is no Facebook post, email or recipe that can't wait. I will still do a quick peek or answer a text, but for the most part I am making a promise to my kids that my attention is on them (even if I'm not hovering over their every move or directly playing with them). I'm not aiming to create self centered kids, but ones who accomplish things on their own and don't have to yell for me 12 times to give them a thumbs up.
Anyhow, we have friends who have made it a point to focus on their family and live intentionally. They have travelled to 22 countries in the last 2 years and were home shortly before heading off to their next adventure. I admire them having the courage to do this, leaving what's comfortable and known for new places, cultures and experiences. They have been blogging (www.livology.com) and you can subscribe to their Daily Livits, too.
Back to friendships...as I was pulling into daycare one afternoon to pick up the babies, I saw Colleen and the kids pull in beside me. What a pleasant surprise! I had known they were in town but wasn't sure we would be able to connect before they left again. We gave each other big hugs and caught up briefly and made tentative plans to get the kids together for a Nerf War. It just made my day to have someone go out of t
their way and follow me into the parking lot just to say hi.
and Grammy brought fruit salad. The kids took off into the yard and it was if time had never passed, they played and laughed and I'm fairly certain they were so consumed in their play that they didn't even know we were there. The adults got a chance to sip coffee on the porch and catch up on life, time seemed to slow down and it was truly a perfect morning.
I cherish these women, how I feel when I'm with them and can't begin to express how lucky I am to have them as a part of my life and my children's lives.
It was sad to say our "see you laters" but also know that we will never forget that morning at the house, when all was right with the world.
There was a lot of juggling, babies here and there, a house sitter for the puppy and everything finally fell together. We were packed up and just waiting for me to be done working so we could jump in the car and head to the beach. Got all loaded, sat in ferry traffic and had just made it across the bridge when there was a distinct thunking under
He came and looked and turns out some little piece had broken off and the spark plug had come loose. It wasn't drivable so he attached a tow rope, we loaded all the kids in his truck and let Dee man the wheel of mine and towed us back to the island. Poor Dee! She was a rock star and white knuckled her way through it. He fixed it enough for us to drive home until he got the parts for a true repair. Now 2 hours later than we were hoping, we drew names for who got shotgun in which car and headed out. You would think that would be easy, but one of our guys has some anxiety issues and the minute we got rolling again, the tears came. My heart breaks for him, as I try to look at the bright side "we weren't in an accident, we're all fine, we are just getting a late start, we will get to the beach soon" Finally got him calmed down, yes it was stressful, yes it was scary but all in all it was ok.
We finally got to the hotel around 10:30, said a quick Hi to Nana and Papa and tried our best to get kids settled in to go to bed. Looking forward to some stormy ocean beach time with the family. Incredibly thankful for our friends who are there to support us, help with short ones, rescue us when we get stuck and listen when I need to vent about it. We are here, we are safe, we are enjoying some desperately needed core family time.
When they say "home is where the heart is" I always thought how cliche and cheesy it was but it's the truth. We had lived in our little paradise since Dee and I were first together and our puppy was our baby. We brought all of our kids home to our beach house and couldn't imagine any other reality.
What a whirlwind the last year has been.
I remember the day so clearly, sitting at Carlos' Island Cup soccer tournament and finding out that the house was going on the market. The stress of losing what we thought of as our home, not having hard feelings because we knew we were just renters and that as much work and love as we had put into that home, it was never truly ours. We had a friend start up a fundraiser for us, learned that our community is pretty amazing and we are supported by so many. We ended up with a house that actually fits our family, that we love and that we are making a home.
Dee and I were sitting here thinking how amazing it was that the newest foster baby we have now is the first to ever be brought home to this house. It felt like a new start.
There is room here for people to have their own space, but I find that many nights we are all in the bonus snuggled up watching a show just like we were in the old house. Our family is stronger and closer than ever and it feels good.
As tough as moving was, the tears, the hard work, the emotion of it all...I'm actually glad we did it. It feels right. I truly miss waking up to the smell of the water, the amazing view, the garden and the yard but the weird part is that I don't actually miss the house. We have pictures to capture those memories and it's sad that in the next few weeks that cool old farmhouse will be rubble, but our memories will live on, it was about the people and not the building.
After trying different diets, Weight Watchers and Paleo I started on the Dukan Diet. I have to say, the weight came off fairly quickly and there wasn't much exercise going on. It was basically (there is more to it for sure) very strictly eating lean proteins and vegetables. Yup, no fruits, no cheating.
It took a year but I had lost 68 pounds! Not shabby. I felt so much better, proud of my accomplishment and it showed. No more cargo shorts and t-shirts, I got a cute haricot and stepped up my fashion game.
Well, there is something about losing a lot of weight that didn't change, that nobody told me, that would truly effect how I felt about my body. When you lose a lot of weight, you end up with a lot of extra skin. That makes for what looks like a fat roll around your stomach and flappy under arms. It's very discouraging. I supposed the rich and famous opt for surgery but for us poor people, you just live with it and still feel fat.
Two years has gone by since I was at my lowest adult weight and the pounds have been slowly coming back on. I am not doing Dukan anymore (and to be honest, I tried it a couple of times and my body doesn't respond to it by shedding the pounds) and have tried a few other diets. I even had a woman come up to me and ask me if I was going to try Dukan again because it was clear that I had put on weight. First off, WHO SAYS THAT!? But secondly, she was right.
On some level I want to say "screw it" and love my body, but I can't. I'm an emotional eater, I know this about myself but that still doesn't stop it from happening. I crave sugar.
So here I am again, putting it all out there as I start again with clean eating, exercise and dedication to lose weight slowly. Support would be awesome, just an encouraging word here and there to keep me going. Just know, that it's not out of laziness but I don't find exercise to be enjoyable and always hurt after (fatness makes your joints really hurt). Ready to ditch the cargo shorts and t-shirts again, get slimmed down and back into my cute jeans.
Get ready for a recap of what we've been up to lately. So much to report!
It's a fun one, that's for sure. Many laughs and such a great venue. Picnic dinners with friends, then watching the show. It was a treat!
It is completely bittersweet and I don't think the reality of it all has truly hit me. The boxes and minimalist living makes me logically know it's happening, but I can't even grasp not having our daily life in this house.
It's helping that we are moving into an incredible home; one that shares a driveway with my parents and has enough space that the boys will have their own bedrooms, a giant kitchen (yay me!), a built in 12 foot dining room table, a tv/game room for the big kids and a play space for the little kids, a washer and dryer INSIDE (no more walking down into a creepy, wet basement to wash clothes) and so much more to look forward to. Seriously, the only drawback is that we will have to pay almost double of what our current rent is. It's completely fair, just what the going rates on the island are at.
The big day is March 1st, so if you are in town and want to schlep a box or two, we would love the help! A lot is done already as we have been able to store boxes in my parent's garage but a move is a move so still work to be done.
As we navigate the last three weeks in our home, without a stove and dishwasher and amidst boxes, we will remember the good times. This house will always hold a special place in our hearts, we got married here, brought all of our babies home here and have created so many wonderful memories. I can't wait until the work is done and we can sit in our new home and just breathe.
I can't tell you what a joy it has been to watch Trey light up on stage in Peter Pan. It's a fast moving, fun show and I think my boy has talent! The songs stick with you, too. I can't tell you how many times Erin has asked to sing "I Won't Grow Up" or Hook and Peter's "Oh My Mysterious Lady" It's been quite an experience. I have taken Erin twice and the first time she adored Peter (didn't realize until after the show that Peter was a GIRL) and she was terrified of Hook. The second time she had a plan, she was going to dress up as a pirate and overcome her fears and talk to Hook but then when she met him she would make a tick-tock noise so Hook would be afraid of her! She's a smart girl.
We will all be sad to see it wrap up this weekend, the cast is an amazing group of people that Trey now calls friends. So thankful Trey has been a part of it.
Today, in the midst of all of our housing drama, when it seems our world is a bit unstable and the idea of change is unsettling, I got an email reminding me that it is time to renew the scholarships for the little girls in Guatemala that Carlos raised money for and has sponsored the last couple years.
To be honest, my first thought was that we have already done a lot, that our life is crazy and the timing is bad so maybe we could find a co-sponsor. I told Carlos that money was due ($720 in the next month) and he didn't skip a beat. "I'm on it" were his words. I suggested that we find a co-sponsor and he wouldn't have it. He is determined to raise the remainder of this money and continue to sponsor these girls. I am a very proud mama and yes, of course that's what we are going to do.
If you want to read more about Carlos' efforts - click here or here for the Inside Bainbridge story.
If you want to donate, know that your money will help Louisa and Irma go to school another year. Included in that they will get new shoes, nutritional supplements and school supplies and an education that will change their futures.
Carlos has raised over $2,000 to help support these girls and their family over the last couple years. Along with schooling, Carlos wanted to spend some of the money to help improve their daily life. Little things like a birthday gift or food basket for the family.
Their family now has chickens, a table and chairs, gardening tools, beds and their kids are going to school! It's pretty amazing.
nursemaid's elbow. It is not such a fun thing to deal with as it is basically her elbow becoming dislocated without much having to make that happen. First time was me taking her pajama sleeve off, another when a brother was helping her up, my mom putting pajamas on - you get the idea. It's fixable (I have learned how to put it back into place) but it's incredibly painful.
After 6 dislocations, we knew something had to be done. A visit to Seattle Children's and the orthopedic specialist landed her