Thursday, December 31, 2009

2009-Lessons learned

2009 has been quite a year. We've had laughter and tears, love and heartache, and through it all, I've learned many things about myself. The lessson I've learned the most is how I have the ability to be resiliant. I've adjusted and finetuned how we live, how I conduct myself, only to backpedal, and then take time to refocus and adapt to whatever situation presents itself. Its been an uphill battle at times, full of emotion, but I'm still standing today. I've had my share of personal demons, ones with my mom, those as a result of friendships that came to a close, and through it all, I see that life does not end. As my husband and dear friends have told me, you dust yourself off, and keep going foward. Life doesn't end because people don't want you in their life. They have their own demons they need to work out.

So this year has been a roller coaster. Am I, and my family, any better off than we were this time last year? I'd like to think so, even as we have more problems with the house. I paid off two large outstanding debts from last year, and although we gained a new, unexpected debt with our hot water leak, and another with the vandelism of our pool equipment, one will be paid off in March, and another paid off by May. Life was changed when R had his series of paycuts, and who knows what lies on the horizon. I know without a doubt we'll deal with the hand we're dealt, and make the best of it.

It has been far from an easy road, but I like to think we've learned a lot about what's important this year. Letting go of material objects, realizing how fortunate and blessed of a life we lead, to have our health, our minds, and our able bodies. Personally, I'm on an ongoing quest to reprioritize what is important to me, which is certainly different than it was in my twenties. This half year of being thirty has been a comfortable period-I'm more secure in my decisions, marching to my own drum. Some friendships have ended, and others have blossomed. I've learned I don't have time for negativity, and I need to not only take care of my children, but of my own life. I cannot control anything but my own actions. So hats off to this year, it has been turbulent, but I am grateful for the lessons it taught me, so that I can experience the year yet to come.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Paying it forward

I've been dragging my feet on cleaning out the baby items we have in the boys room. Its been sitting there, in bins, and boxes, neatly labeled, wondering where or when it would find a home. I have been on the fence about having a fourth, and while the thought is appealing, I know another baby would not need all that we have put away. Yet the neatly stacked pile of bins stood.

On another note yesterday a purebred lab approached the boys while we were outside playing. Soft and sweet, she must have been at least a couple of years old. G and E who normally shy away from dogs, were in love. M gently stroked her, and asked if we could keep her. My heart bellowed, knowing that I wanted this dog too. She didn't have a collar, and we thought it would be a good idea to take her to the SPCA to see if she was microchipped. Ugh. That was not the thing to do. Because we filed a "found" file, they require her to stay and be checked out. She's held there until Sunday, hoping that her owners come forward. We have to wait a week because she's a purebred, otherwise the wait would have been less. We're listed as the intended recipients though, so when we go on Sunday morning to the SPCA, we'll have first dibs on adopting her. The boys have already named her, and R and I think she was already an inside dog, so we'll have her inside. Its hard to believe how things happen, but I really feel that while we weren't intending to have another dog, we are open to bringing this one into our home, and call her ours. In the end though, I do hope this dog is adopted, whether by us or someone else.

Back to the baby items. A woman, one who I've met before, sent out a message on a local messageboard about needing clothes for her daughter in law who just had a baby after not being able to have one for four years. She was requesting a baby bath and the shells for the playtex bottles; something clicked for me-I asked her if they needed anything else. She told me everything they had had for babies was sold the weekend before they found out her daughter in law was expecting, and while the family had all the big items, things like spare blankets, cribsheets, and infant toys had gone to the wayside. They had just a few to get by, but nothing like it was when they had their first. I plowed through those boxes, and blessed another mother with items that would make taking care of her new baby just a little bit easier.

Another email came, from another woman. This time she needed a coat for her three year old daughter. I had seen her post before, but didn't get a reply. She had reposted her request after two other failed responses. Not only did I bring her one of Gabriel's (gender nuetral) heavy coats, but a big bag of toddler and preschooler girls clothes that were in great shape; I had received them from Freecycle, and did not have someone to pass them onto.

I love doing things like this to help others. It helps ground me when I have my low moments, and go through the "what-ifs" in my life. I have come to the conclusion I can only move forward, be there for myself and my kids and husband, and be there for those who want us in our lives.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Christmas 2009

This year was a memorable holiday, for the gifts that cannot be wrapped and placed under a tree. R's aunt came to visit, and it was loud, and fun, and lots of wine (and coffee) were poured. We focused on activities, long walks, seeing holiday lights around town, and relaxing! I cooked a lot this year, all the food, with the exception of the prime rib, was made by me. I thought it may be stressful, but I loved it. We finished up our baking, and pased out treats to our neighbors. I think it caught some of them offguard, but there were smiles aplenty. We made sugar cookies for Santa, and Santa brought the boys books and coloring books. We enjoyed the cookies and food sent to us by my dad's girlfriend and our neighbors. Christmas day was spent lounging, watching holiday movies, walks, and then I cooked-a lot! Even through all of it, I still managed to take a nap on Christmas Eve, and one on Christmas Day, and oh it was wonderful! Here are some pictures which capture these memories.

Christmas Eve baking is a family affair-Daddy included!

Mommy and boys cookie making!

Look at those plates of goodies-five houses had some awesome treats!
Ready to make cookie deliveries!
No tree this year with all the repairs to the house, but Santa left treats!

A new book for Matthew!

New books for Gabriel!

Elijah took forever to open up his new book!

Homemade treats from Zadie and MaryAnn was the best present!
The boys got an activity set from Zadie and MaryAnn!

Elijah with Aunt Kathleen enjoying his new toy from Zadie and MaryAnn(a keychain that wiggles when the string is pulled!)

The cinammon rolls our neighbor delivered to us on Christmas morning! They were still hot from the oven, and oh so good!

So happy to have slept in until 7:40 am, a wonderful Christmas present from the boys!

Sneaking to eat some treats!

Matthew making Christmas Dinner dessert for the family.

Elijah making another dessert for Christmas Dinner.

Our full oven-full of good eats!

Jennifer getting the table set for Christmas Dinner

Jennifer's cooking-oh sooooo delish!

The boys eating Christmas dinner.

The adults at Christmas dinner.

Saturday, December 5, 2009


As if my plate weren't full enough, baby fever has hit. Now more moms I know are having babies, and going from three to four, four to five, and its driving me a little nutso. Life is busier than ever, and while its hard to keep up, I wouldn't have it any other way. The house is better fuller, more laughter, more cuddles, it is a weird blend of chaos and fun, and always something going on. And then I wonder, what the heck am I thinking. Having E turn two means our baby days are ending-more and more signs of independance, seat getting turned forward (yes, rear facing until two-what a small fry he is!) and no more high chair. Talking in sentences that we can understand, and while we have issues with crying-more and more words everyday. Scary how much this child understands and can tell us. I'm finally in a good groove taking three kids out somewhere. So really why go back? I hear naysayers saying think of finances, think of how to raise the children you have, just stop and think about what kind of life you already have. Then again, money is not the end all and be all, it doesn't matter how many children you have, there's always a chance of the bottom falling out, but is the fear great enough to stop; discipline and caring for children is alway there, no matter how many you have; and finally, I love what we have, these little boys are my treasures and I tell them everyday I couldn't imagine not having them, and not doing what we're doing. Yes its hard to deal with the stress we're going through, but that's not because we have three instead of two, it could have easliy happened with two and not three, or four (or more) instead of three; it is what it is because it just is. I can't control what happened to our house-in my life, I can only control my own actions. The rest I can influence, but I don't have control. I'm not as far fetched as some people, leaving how many children we have up to God (ie no birth control), but I will say that what will be, will be, and if having one more is meant to happen it will. On one hand I want to figure this out, and on the other, I want to let it go-let it go and just enjoy the ride, because who knows, maybe we'll have another. Nothing is set until we actually keep the appointment that was cancelled twice.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

November wrap up-picture style

Thw month began on a low note. This is what a hot water pipe can do when it bursts in a concrete slab of the foundation of a home. The whole carpet area from the wall to the rear of the dresser was wet. The bathroom had water coming up into it, and the carpet surrounding it became wet too.

The water leaked through half the hallway, and into the master bedroom (along the wall) and in both bathrooms.

The water damage from another view.

On a higher note, R celebrated his 47th birthday. R always reminds me that the best birthday present he gets is knowing he's a father-after waiting 20+ years to get married, and have children, his children are his treasures.

Mr. E turns two-no sippy cups, no cut up food, he is Mr. Independant all the way. Our world would be much quieter (and a lot less interesting) without him, so we are definitely blessed to have him with us.

These two guys have their birthdays just one day apart. I think G loves it even more because it guarantees an extra day of birthday celebration.

G at preschool. Hard to believe that next fall he'll celebrate his birthday in kindergarten! He's so active, so different from his older brother, and I love how he has boundless energy.

I'll never forget giving birth to him alone in the hospital w/ just the standby ob present, and telling R when he arrived 20 min later that he had another son. I definitely think those early minutes with G have forged an incredible bond, and his coming quickly reinforced how he has kept me on my toes all these years.

R with M outside of Donuts with Dad. It was such a cold morning, but we were all up at 5am so we could go, and I helped out passing out donuts to all the kids and dads. It was truly a memorable experience.

Mr E at preschool, waiting for cupcakes to be passed out for his birthday.

No coaxing needed, E knew what was needed, and he went for it. Love my little boy!

This picture is bittersweet. It is the last one I have of any of my boys in this room at the preschool. Five years, three boys, and grad school and work under my belt, the team of women that have helped guide me through parenthood and its challenges have remained unchanged since M was there long ago, and they truly are our extended family.

M and his soccer coach at the team dinner-always the one running the wrong way, yet alway heard kind and positive reinforcement from his coach-and by the end-he was running fast, and the right way too! We definitely received support to continue soccer in the years ahead, which we are eager to do-and with R as assistant coach!

G and his teammates at his soccer dinner; three and four year olds have boundless energy, and G learned how to be a good teammate.

My favorite Thanksgiving ritual-the family dinner at our preschool. This was the first year all our boys actually sat (and ate) their dinner together.

My two younger brothers and me with our boys. Pictures like this make me appreciate having a large family today,

Our holiday picture for this year. I took it locally at one of our favorite parks, and it reminds me of how active our family really is. Always on the go, in sweaters and sweats, on the move to the next big adventure. This is the image I've held in my mind through all the chaos of the past month, knowing that whatever came our way, nothing was more important than preserving the love and care for this family.We may not spend any money this holiday season, but I certainly feel richer than I ever have before.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Holiday planning....

I was kicking back last night w/ R, watching the Food Network, when it hit me-Thanksgiving is next week. Its strange because with all that we've been going through, the holidays have been the furthest thing on my mind. On one hand, I have kept up with the boys birthdays, making cupcakes and treats, bringing them to preschool, and having special time with them. But Thanksgiving and Hanukkah and Christmas, eh, its there on the calendar, but I haven't gone into overdrive because of them. I've been using Fly Lady's approach, as I did last year, and its helped me stay calm and not overdo it, because really that's the last bit of stress that I don't really want. I already knew that the theme for this year was homemade gifts. Flip photo books and handprint gifts for everyone, keeping it sweet and simple. Homebaked goodies for friends, neighbors, and teachers. The kids are getting homemade coloring books (my friend shared a neat site with me, and I can use pictures that I've taken of them), and I'm going to make them some new toys out of stuff we have here at home (putting my creative juices to work). I found a link to make Advent ornaments, so we'll be doing that, and making a Jesse tree too. I'm sure I'll find Hanukkah stuff, I just need to look a little more. We hope to be able to spend time with the grandparents this year, the gift of time is what we're focusing on. The kids have seen ads/commercials/talked with playmates about toys, but really, no one seems focused on one thing or another-so I'm not going to push the issue by asking what they want. We'll probably go see Santa, but as Matthew has already been asked by others what he wants, and just gives a shrug, I don't know how that will go over with him. My MIL may or may not give us $30 ($10 for each child), and if so, we'll apply it towards a zoo pass for next spring. Otherwise, I'm not going to get worried about it-I know she has a lot on her mind these days, and frankly with her health going up and down this past year, what I really want is for all of us to just spend time with her. R and I are on the fence about going to the aquarium or to the national parks, we have year passes to both places so both are options. We're only waiting to see how him mom feels, so perhaps we'll see her, or take a trip to see my sister and brother in the Bay Area. Its strange how even though money is tighter than its ever been, I'm actually looking forward to the holdidays more. I really think this will be the year the spirit of the holiday season really hits home for us.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Paddlinig through challenges

The first week of November has been quite a doozy for us. Sad to say, the first 10 days have been overshadowed by our house issues, but then again, it could be much worse. We have a lot of problems as the result of the leak, first of which started with water coming into the house mid week last week in several rooms. We finally got squared away in a hotel for last weekend, and it provided much needed respite away from what was going on. We had to eat out quite a bit, and I'm keeping the records to give to our insurance. I was so glad to get back in the house on Saturday, if only to start up the dishwasher and washing machine (to rinse them out), because I knew we were that much closer to eating at home and being able to sleep under our roof again.

The repairs are not cheap, and the reroute we decided to take instead of fixing just the one broken pipe has set us back $3200 (minus the $300 the insurance is actually paying (they were only going to cover the broken pipe getting fixed, which was $1300, but minus our $1000 deductible is what they pay.) We wanted to take every measure to ensure that this does not happen again-paying for a deductible once is hard enough, but paying for it twice-let alone not knowing what kind of damage that could happen, is much worse. With the payment plan I set up, we'll have that paid off by the end of February, so that's the good thing. Another upside, the insurance has already paid a lot for what has had happened, including the initial leak detection, the cost of the hotel to stay in for three nights, the fee for drying out the house, and will also be covering the repairs that occured as a result of the water damage. Thus far, we have major damage to the carpet in our hallway and master bedroom, and the flooring in both bathrooms.

This has been incredibly stressful, but has shown how resiliant R and I are, and how even under a great deal of pressure I can manage to keep our family going. There's going to be a lot of sacrifices ahead, if only so we can ride out the financial fallout that has occured. No one ever expects to have $3200 cash up front for one repair, on top of other emergencies (I believe I mentioned in a previous post that our pool equipment was stolen, and that will cost $1700 to replace), but it does and has happened. Talking with the various companies that have traipsed through our home over the week, we're one of 100 homes in this area going through this right now. Its an ongoing thing. Ugh.

On the bright side, I have my husband and my kids. I have my health, my two legs that can walk, and my mind that can work until the wee hours and do what work I can to help us get through this crisis. Someone has already told me that 2009 has been quite a year and maybe next year will be better. It strikes me as funny though, because my first and constant thought is we're going to get through this and I can't wait to see how much headway we make (along w/ getting rid of other stuff we were already doing) by the end of the year.

So the first 10 days of November has been quite a mess, but the month is far from over. I can't wait to celebrate the birthdays this month, the first that starts today. I also can't wait to celebrate Thanksgiving, helping out in M's class through the month, and figuring out what to do during our vacation from school. The good times are right ahead, and I'm excited :)

Saturday, October 31, 2009

When it rains, it pours-yet life goes on

I've had little more than an hour to digest the information, but I need to get this out so I can enjoy this day-not only for my sake, but the sake of my husband and for my children. The house we live in has issues. We already knew that, and have been dealing with things as they've happened. We've dealt w/ the wind blowing down our fence, to mold near our water heater, our pool equipment getting stolen, and now this. This takes the icing on the cake.

We have a leak-not just any leak-a leak in our hot water pipe that runs through the concrete slab under our house. I heared water running through the walls, and despite R's increasingly bad hearing, I knew I heard something yesterday, and could not figure out what it was. R kept telling me he couldn't hear anything wrong, but I couldn't rest. I went with my gut instinct-the survival instinct that has been kicked into overdrive as I am dealing with a husband whose sense of hearing is getting worse. I had Roto-Rooter come out this morning and confirm what I already had suspected (and had actually researched online last night). Based on how and where I heard the water, the result of turning off the main (and later just the hot water) off, that's what stopped the noise and we figured out what was wrong. We have a slab leak-one that will cost thousands to repair (even if we drill through the concrete to replace (really bandaid) the one pipe that's busted, or set up a new system through our attic (which is preferable, bypassing the old system before the other old pipes in the house bust too). This will actually require us to file a homeowner's claim-thank heavens I did not waste a claim with the stolen pool equipment, because this takes priority. We have the funds, we'll pay our deductible, and deal with whatever we have to file/pay for.

As for our pool, I'm going to talk to our pool man about draining our pool for the winter. Its obvious until we get settled with this leak, that all other repairs come second (including the pool equipment). R's upset-upset about his pay getting further cut, the pool equipment needing replacing, and his fading hearing. At the same time, we've already been doling out extra hugs w/ the kids and really trying to keep life in perspective. As my dad told me today, stuff like this happens, and we'll get past it. It does suck, but where my focus is on now, after I've processed this, is to enjoy Halloween with my kids-because it is fun for them. I have my health, we have our children-our three boys, who if I didn't have, we would be worse off. A broken house in the literal sense will not be the end of our lives, nor will it define who we are. We'll get past this, and learn from it. Now lets have some fun, its Halloween!

Monday, October 26, 2009

The ties that bind

This has been a busy month for our household. Seems that whenever I think I have a moment to sit, something else calls my attention. Now I know why my MIL told me to get my running shoes on once Matthew started kindergarten. Keeping busy has helped me deal with the stress in our lives.

Lately I've been dealing with the emotional baggage from both my parents divorce-selling the house, my mom getting rid of all the material possesions, what that house symbolized, and my SIL's ongoing custody battle . Made me think about my marriage, how I want my children to see their parents, and the lives we lead.

Fastforward a couple of weeks and now R and I are facing a new challenge. He's been having difficulty with his hearing, started with an ear infection that was really e coli-how it got there we have no clue. Antibiotics didn't solve the problem, and R ended up at an ENT specialist. Now two visits later, R's getting scheduled for a CAT scan and surgery is imminent. What we though was just e coli is now something about extra skin growing and blocking his ear canal (and thus affecting his hearing). The drs aren't sure what they're up against, and won't know until they see how much extra skin is there and if they can get it all, and that will happen during the CAT scan and surgery. The fact remains that this will affect his hearing on a permanent level, but to what degree is unknown. There's a possibility R won't be able to continue his career-it would put him and others at grave risk. We can think positive and think about hearing aids, but talking to my husband-this is dealing with who he is, and his self worth as a husband and father who now has worries about how to provide for us if his hearing completey goes away. I've been holding it together thus far. I'll find more work to keep us going, I'll do what needs to get done-using the degree I'm thankful to have. We've discussed R's staying at home w/ the kids. Whatever happens, we'll get through it as a family, bound together. This is how I want our children to see us.

Saturday, October 17, 2009


Sometimes its hard to believe how time passes by, until a birthday or anniversary approaches. This is how it is today as I sit here this afternoon. Today is symbolic for a few reasons, first of a horrible earthquake that rattled our state twenty years ago. I remember where I was, how I was living, and how my family was at the time. Its a bit surreal this anniversary, if only because I realize that M is the same age my sister was when the quake hit-that and his telling me about doing an earthquake drill at school yesterday. Its also the anniversary of when R and I accepted the keys to our first home, set with a five month old baby on my hip. Strange to think how I knew way back then it wouldn't be long before we were settled in, had our family, and send our kids to the schools here in town. Five years later, we have three busy boys runnng around, and while its busy, I wouldn't have it any other way. Life has a funny way of working itself out.

This week was busy, so was last week, and the week before. We had pumpkin patch field trips, soccer practice, PTA meeting, helping out at school, sick kids too, and more filling up our days. Nights are spent doing homework and cuddling, while R is finishing up work or at school. Before you know it, its the weekend again, soccer games, family time, it all has a way of coming and going. I'm glad we live where we do-and the progress we've made to surround ourselves with support, especially as we enter this new chapter with school aged children.

There's more I want to accomplish-always more-but this week R told me to slow down-how to do that, its not my way. I thrive on being busy, but I'm trying to take time for myself, like with a mom's night in last week-that was so much fun, for the conversations from moms who have older children, what lies next for us as our kids get older, and the wisdom they impart about how they take time for themselves, and how marriages evolve. I'm going to work on it though, so I can enjoy what I have built, and what's yet to be built for years to come.

So five years ago, we moved in, a ton of boxes and a little boy tucked an infant car seat. Now we have a kindergartner, one in pre-k, and one in preschool. I can't wait to see what the next five years bring.

Matthew in his car seat (the first day we had our keys!)
Robert in the empty house!

Still looking for the pic of us w/ the sold sign to our home (the one w/ me in it!)...

Saturday, October 3, 2009

The fall schedule

Today was the first weekend of fall, and boy did it feel good! Despite M falling sick yesterday at school, and staying home w/ him today, it was really nice to have a hang out at home day. Life is busy during the week, and while we manage to keep ourselves on track, its nice to let loose after soccer games and just enjoy our downtime. Given that M was sick, I stayed home and R accompanied G to his soccer game, with granola bars and fruit juice for his teammates. It was nice having it ready to go, no last minute wondering what I was going to give, or how much it was going to cost, just pulled it from the pantry, and off they went. E stayed home too, and enjoyed some brotherly bonding over matchbox cars and horsey games, not to mention dancing to the radio too.

So this past week is what I hope is a strong, busy season for our family. MS has picked up, as well as auditing. I'm hoping that I can land a job w/ the skills I've picked up, but at the least, it pays and it always gives me a challenge, which I personally need. I also picked up a full day of subbing this week, and have a couple days lined up for next week. I almost had a panic attack when M fell ill at school yesterday-normally I'm the one that deals with the kids when they're sick, but R is showing his full on support for me to reenter work, so he left work right after he got the phone call at 10am (since I didn't realize the school had called me first, and I missed the first call!). Mommy guilt aside, when I came home at 3pm, all was good. R had the windows open, M was on the couch w/ a bucket and cup of chilled water nearby, and the house was quiet. I've never doubted that my husband was not a capable father, but seeing how he handled it, without any leading, coaching, nothing from me, I was in awe. He reassured me that if this happens again, we'll manage, he knows how unpredictable my work is, but on the upside its helping us pull through what has been a trying time. Love my partner!

So work will be work, and we'll manage when the kids get sick. We have a few field trips this month, and I've already penciled in when I need to be where. I'm not worried about the cost, all the eating at home is paying off, and what we would spend on even a fast food meal will cover the cost of the field trips for the kids. We have PTA, soccer, Moms Club activities, and Halloween activites too. I'm looking forward to making costumes with the boys, M is so excited we're making his costume, and G keeps telling me he's going to be a space man too. I love how my kids are easy to please, and for the most part, go with the flow. We may not go out to eat often, or go to activities that require paid admission, but we have a good time and know family comes first.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

These are the days

I cannot believe that this is the last week in September. I feel like I've been avoiding my blog, but the truth is that life with three active, fun loving boys, we're on the go, even if it means on the go at home, playing, cuddling, hanging out. By the time I have time for myself, the last place I want to be sometimes is online, since lately when I have gone online its first looking for social work jobs. That said I've been a busy bee, as one friend put it to me recently. The boys are doing awesome in soccer, love how they're growing and learning from their coaches and from their teammates, love how friendships between us and other families are beginning through our connections to both school and soccer, and it is such a blessing for us. It is great to have conversations with other parents at practice about the school, and making new friends for our family.

That said, I have had an awakening of sorts, as mentioned previously in a former post. The comfort level with myself is expanding-who knew that would happen when hitting 30? I've accomplished great and wonderful things, and while enjoying what is, have one foot outside my world, wondering what the future holds, wondering what lays beyond the horizon. I'm at peace with decisions I've made, and have stopped thinking the grass is greener on the other side, since its green and tall and wildly beautiful right where I'm standing. I'm looking in the mirror, and while at night I'm exhausted, its a good exhausted, I'm sleeping at night and taking care of myself, a little more every day.

The holidays are approaching, and it will be a beautiful season. This year, we're doing without the stampede of overspending and list making and craziness of holidays, and just enjoying what we're blessed to have around us. I recently learned how a mom I used to work with for years, one who has a daughter just a few months younger than M, is choosing a different life path now, one far removed from charter schools, soccer, and PTA. She and her husband changed their lifestyle, one that was already far from cushy being social activists in the Bay Area, and relocated to Latin America with her husband and daughter, in the hopes of doing international community-development relief work, which was something she wanted to explore. She wanted to teach her now 5 year old daughter about consuming less, and having a global understanding of the world. That was so profound, and it spoke to how I'm trying to move forward in how and what I and R want to do for our children. I'm a big believer in progress, there's only one way to go, and that's how I and R are living life with our family. So that said, we'll spend less this year, but do more. Give more. Be more. And in the end for us, that will be the best way to be.

One final tidbit, more lighthearted than the previous paragrah, here are some wonderful pictures of the boys, growing more everyday.

Monday, September 21, 2009


Oh baby, the bug has hit. Holding a cute little one at playgroup this morning (even though E was not having it, clingy and whiny about it) was part of it. Then again, coming home and dealing with the madness that is three kids, I wondered what the heck I am thinking-three kids have my house/life in chaos-and that will never end-even those with three (or more) older kids say the madness never subsides. What the heck are me and DH thinking considering having one more? Its a matter of time, if its meant to be its meant to be, I keep saying that, but I definitely think I'm leaning towards letting nature take its course. This in between stage is driving me nuts. Think its time to send out more resumes, and still go with getting rid of all the extra baby stuff (w/ E all we used was the pack and play and double stroller). With my luck I'll get a job just as i find out I'm pregnant (like I got my acceptance letter to grad school when I found out I was pregnant w/ #2, and i still went on to get pregnant with #3 before I graduated), and get rid of the baby clothes. I'd say I need to take a deep breath, but last time I said that (way long ago), I ended up pregnant. Hmmm food for thought as I take time to pause and think (w/o breathing too deep)-or is that totally impossible?.

Friday, September 18, 2009

The message

This week has been a busy week, then again, aren't they all? I had an awaking though this week, one that seemed out of nowhere, but as I'm feeling more and more, is meant to be. I saw the woman who used to own our home outside of M's school; her baby daughter, youngest of four girls, is in school now. So strange to me since I remember her baby daughter best as the chubby faced baby in the high chair as we did our first walk through of our home.

We started chatting and the talk turned from the community and school, to life with children and going back to work. It wasn't just what she said, but how she said it, that something clicked for me. We talked about helping the schools, on the PTA, music boosters in highschool, sports, etc. I told her how eager I was to help, but wondered how I was going to make it work with three kids. Even told her how I was on the fence about having baby #4. She reassured me that no matter how many (or few) children you had, you can never do everything-its impossible. Something always has to give, sometimes even two kids have things on the same night. She talked about being pulled in many directions, even with her two oldest daughters in high school-how the two of them were needier than her younger two, more for emotional and moral support than the physical caregiving of their younger days. She talked about how going from three to four was easier than going from two to three (chaos is the norm by that point, we both agreed). And no matter what, we make it work, because that's what we do. She encouraged me to work now, instead of waiting later when E starts kindergarten. Having teenage daughters at home, she said now is the time to work because what R and I do still is the law of the land, M and his brothers know that. Later on, she said, during the junior high years, is when it changes, peer influences more than mom and dad. She said in her experience, she's been needed more for moral support, needed for driving to various activities, needed on boards and planning activities, etc, than during the elementary school days. She said its more critical to be at home then so you know what's going on, especially when friends take precedence over mom and dad. When I told her my concerns about missing field trips or helping out in the classroom, she said the bottom line is you're available to your kids, both now and in the years to come. To her, now is the time to get myself established work-wise so when the kids do have activities (even activities now) I have enough foundation to relax my schedule, to have more flexibililty later. She's walked it both ways, staying home and working, choosing career paths more than once, starting over, creating a quilt of her time that cuts through both worlds, figuring out what was best for her and her life.

Her passion for her life, and the peace she has from how she leads it now, along with her words resonated with me. I don't have to decide now what I want. I can enjoy what I have with the boys. Have another baby too if I want. Enjoy it when I do find a job that works for me and my life. I can change my mind later on, that if it doesn't work I can find something else that will. I can stop feeling guilty about applying for jobs, ones that seemingly have more requirements that I don't have, ones I think I might had I not taken a detour and stayed home. The thing that would hurt the most is not trying at all. So I'll stick my neck out, apply. See what happens. Isn't that what I always say? Life is a journey.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Motherhood, now

The past week has been a swirl of emotions, everything from pure bliss to pure chaos. I hope part of it is PMS, or dare say next week will be another emotional week (but on a happier note for sure). Anyways, this week has been trying. For the most part, we've been grooving with school and schedules, but something is happening-more work. More homework (not work in the class), and while it doesn't seem difficult, its not basic tracing and cutting and pasting. I totally understand how kids learn different ways, but there comes a point where I wonder, wow this is a lot of work. I spoke up yesterday with the teacher, along with another parent (whose daughter is smart and eager to learn) and had the same issues as me. We found out that we need to speak up, give the teacher feedback-she said sometimes she gives more work than can be done in three days (since homework is turned in on Thursday mornings). Then to add to it, M turned in his homework packet on Thursday (half completed) even though the teacher apparently told the kids that homework was due on Friday due to the shortened school week. Already I'm writing notes to the teacher explaining why the remainder of the packet wasn't finished; she told me this afternoon not to worry about the missed papers, M is doing fine, and she saw my note in his green daily folder.

Soccer, the one activity I have the boys in, is a lot. And its just the two older boys. Then w/ Gabriel yesterday, on the car ride home, a completely dirty, sweaty mess, he was grinning ear to ear, and said how much fun he just had. Made all of the driving back and forth and expense completely worth it.

Babies are on the brain. A friend of mine just found out she's due with number 5 (yes, number 5!) next spring. She has two older school age that are just a couple years older (8 and 6) than Matthew, one that's almost 4, a 6 month old, (all are boys) and a new bundle on the way. When I heard the news, the first thing that came to mind was how lucky she really is. Not how crazy she is, or how is she going to do it, or how is her and her husband going to afford this additional child, but real joy for her. She is a devoted mom, has a great husband, been staying at home for years, and is always on the go. Even while pregnant this last time, and even more this summer with a young infant. Everyday she was out and about, sometimes doing overnight trips with all her kids w/ another mom and their kids. It was mindblowing to say the least. Hearing the news made me think-what if we went for another one? What if I became pregnant now? I am not leaning for it by any means, but yet I know we would make it work. I'm not trying to play keeping-up games, nor do I want to try for a girl. I'd feel blessed either way. R's concern is age, and to some extent, finances too. Yet he knows we'd make it work, because until we finally go for a permanent end, anything can happen (and no, I don't need a lecture on b.c methods, we're good there).

Finally today was Grandparents Day. The schools here goes all out, invites the grandparents to visit the school, and spend time with their grandchild. M's teacher was awesome-had treats and the kids did a 15 minute presentation on some of the things they've been learning in school. Totally adorable! I loved how many grandparents came, about 20 for the 25 kids. I did ask M to "share" his grandma, and my MIL was so friendly, I think it helped put some of the kids in a better frame of mind. M was all smiles, and enjoyed the one on one time with his grandma. I think he also liked the $1 Chutes and Ladders game and 25 cent Scholastic books (same style from his school book order!) we got at the thrift store today from her too.

This weekend will be very busy, but very fun. Tomorrow is the kick off for soccer, and we get to participate in a fun community event for it. Love that! Then we have our first two games throughout the morning. The day will end with us going to Sac town for the night to bring Grandma home, and enjoy a visit with our cousins and my SIL. I'm looking forward to it all, and love how we've done everything we can to make it a frugal weekend.

Thats the up and down, all around post for the past week. Life is busy with the boys, and I wouldn't have it any other way.

Monday, August 31, 2009


life is short. grab it by the horns. don't wait for tomorrow, live loud.

this is seriously what has been crossing my mind for days. first the anniversary of robert's uncle's death. it was surreal going back to his home a couple weeks back to help go through his belongings. strange to see pictures, dating back years, before kids, after kids, recent ones with his youngest two kids, including the one who will only have pictures of his daddy, too young to remember him.

then learning about the very recent death of a child, or should i say young man, who grew up on my hometown street. i remember his parents, walking by his home on walks with my high school boyfriend, talking to his mom about her boys throughout the years, hearing how they were growing up. all were younger than me, the last being 7 years younger. learned about his (the youngest's) passing almost on accident, a former classmate went to the memorial and wrote about it. learned the details, and had a weird trip down memory lane went i went to post my regards on the memorial site, and saw the names of parents who used to be the room moms, the pta volunteers, the ones that helped all the time. saw names of people i knew way back when, before the life here in k town.

its a reminder that we're all connected. we have an impact, both visible and invisible, always there.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Grooving, or so I think

After this past week, I feel that having a school age child is similar to having a baby, all over again. The great unknown is upon us, lots of paperwork, appointments, not knowing logistics besides the bare minimum, eat, sleep, and shower, and a level of chaos-or at least that's how its been during the past week. Life was forever changed when we went to orientation last week, and I don't think any of us really had a clue as how even though some things stayed the same, a lot changed. Getting into a groove has been a challenge, if only because there are three little boys who have their own set of expectations and needs and one set of parents to figure how to meet them. That is a mouthful right there! I felt like I needed to take a break from blogging, if only to help get the kids on track. Now it feels like we're on a more even keel, so I can resume some things that help me stay sane.

This past week we've experienced a shift in our family dynamics. M and G appear to be more independant, wishing to do more, be more involved, and while that's great to have helpers, well, it takes getting used to. E's going through a new developmental phase, so his attitude and demeanor are evolving, combined with a push for more independance too. R's off at school and work a couple nights a week, and those make for long days, and longer nights. We are tweaking a routine that seems to work for us, keeping our household flowing, with more laughter and less fraught nerves, making for organized chaos.

I've found the Flylady approach to doing dishes and laundry the night before (my shiny sink) and preparing lunch (and crock pot dinners too)the night before makes our mornings and days relaxed. I have been utilizing the crock pot for dinners on soccer practice nights, and that has made a world of difference (in comparison to the first night that was stress city for me). I have also set aside space for M and G to have their soccer and backpack items, feeding on their desire on independance and my need to really let go of the control and assist in them being responsible for their possessions. We're taking a relaxed approach to activities, doing Moms Club, playgroup, and soccer. Other things will come into play, PTA, side work, trying to make "me" time, stuff will come up. Its not an easy adjustment by any means, but last night I felt like I could finally breathe, I knew what is beginning to work, and how it brings a sign of peace to our family. I can reintroduce things that were fun and get us out of the house more. The weather will be cooling down soon, I hope, and while I love hanging out with the kids at home, hanging out with friends at the park or just getting out of the house for the morning and afternoon make a world of difference for all of us.

So getting into a groove-it's happening. Just like having a baby, life was turned upside down. But like it did with having M, life resumed, and did as well after our other two boys. Now we're on the road to enjoying this new adventure, and all the trials and tribulations that come with it.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Growing up

This week has been a whirlwind, and so it seems this is going to be our life for the umpteen years ahead. Last night as I readied for bed, I thought how crazy today would be-its a new chapter in our lives as a family, as parents, and for our children.

We had parent orientation this morning, followed by meet the teacher with Matthew, and soccer this evening. I was nervous about how it would go, what is expected of us as parents, what's expected of our child, and how well this school would fit with us. Its part of a charter school district, and this school consists of one grade level (and all the students will move together, to each school as they progress through the grades), so there is flexibility in how things are done, while exceeding the requirements of the state. I was a bit nervous to hear about first book reports, special projects, and family activities, but then again, Matthew's ready. He's ready to learn, ready to explore, ready to develop a broader sense of the world. I can't hold him back, nor do I want to. I asked him this morning, as I have several times throughout the summer about taking the bus to school. My child, the one who runs up to me after preschool, big grin on his face, wants to take the bus in the morning. I asked him again, saying "Don't you want mommy to take you-No, I want to take the bus with my friends." I filled out the form for bussing, and will hand it to Matthew's teacher in the morning. If it doesn't work out, then I'll take him. In the meantime, I'll walk him around the corner to the bus stop and wait with the other parents who live nearby.

Meanwhile, at school there are many familiar faces (thanks to preschool) and many new ones too. We met several parents, and I ran into a mom I know in town. Our boys are next door to each other, so we'll see each other at pick up time. I sent my paperwork to be a parent volunteer in the classroom, and applied to be a room mom. I also applied to be in the PTA and the council who volunteers in the district. So many volunteer opportunities, I wonder how its going to pan out. I know I need this though, its in my nature to get involved, plus I really want to impact what's done in our district.

I loved Matthew's teacher. She's been teaching for 25 years, and I've heard rave reviews from people at soccer practice to the teachers at preschool, about her teaching methods and personality. She's personable, approachable, willing to work with parents and children, and is enthusiastic about teaching children. I feel confident about her, and Matthew was relaxed in the classroom, and reluctant to leave when it was time to go, I know he felt comfortable there too.

Tomorrow is going to be an emotional day, that I know. It feels like just yesterday I was pregnant with him while in grad school, and then pushing him across campus in his stroller. Now its his turn. He's always talking about bein a big kid now, and I know its time to let him go, he's ready to explore. Time to turn the page, and celebrate this unwritten chapter, and all the stories yet to come.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Summer weekend

This weekend went quickly, in the blink of an eye. We did a weekend jaunt to Sacramento, the weather was beautiful, and not too warm, and the scenery was green (compared to the brown we see here this time of year). I spent time with my MIL and Robert's aunt, had a trip to IKEA to buy the coat hanger for M's closet), and enjoyed a homemade dinner of meatballs and spaghetti and homemade apple pie. It was a nice visit, and gave me inspiration for the dreams I want to accomplish as I get older.

We went grocery shopping today, and I rocked the Kellogs cereal deal. I also replenished our pantry which we've been living out of this summer, as I haven't gone to Vons in nearly 6 weeks. Its been a nice break, but I loved getting some much needed pantry items for dirt cheap. I also found food for the food pantry in town; we'll drop that off this week. After, we hit up Costco for our pershisable needs, and then came home. It was quite freeing not needing to go shopping for school supplies this week, although I'll hit Walgreens this week for their $5 backpacks for the fundraiser this weekend. I was hoping they would go on sale, as I knew it would go nicely with all the school supplies we've acquired in the past month. I'm keeping my eyes open for a durable label maker, other than that, M and G have several lunch boxes here to choose from, as well as our collection of backpacks, so we're good to go for preschool and kindergarten. Its hard to believe how fast this past year went, seems like just yesterday M was going to pre-k, and now its G's turn with M's teachers, and M is off to new adventures. E is growing up too, looking forward to perhaps him going into the toddler program when he turns two in the fall. He's already loving the space and the teachers, he is just too young to be there-so much for being a baby, or wanting to stay in one place, that kid wants to do fun stuff! Wow, more reason to soak up the summer while we can.

We came home for naps, and then had a free dinner at Cattlemans Steakhouse. The boys were well behaved, and everyone had a nice time. The report was simple, and it was a nice break from eating at home. This week we'll be doing more of that, except for when I go to the mountains tomorrow (or the water park, haven't decided yet) and Monterey on Wednesday (or Friday, depending on playgroup). We'll adjust, I bought healthy no cook food at Vons today, so we may just pack a picnic dinner with us. It'll be a full, adventurous week, and I am looking forward to making more summer memories with my boys.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Eye opening, life affirming time

The past two weeks have been a busy two weeks. Its been an eye opening, life affirming two weeks. I testified in divorce court about the breakdown of my parents marriage, I spent time with my dad and his girlfriend, time with my husband, and plenty of time with my children. We've had trips to the beach, to a Japanese garden, to the mountains, even to a tiny taco stand in Los Banos. I've given thought to goals I want to achieve, places I want to visit, and enjoying each day as it comes. I've seen how a house is not necessarily a home, how having the finer things in life is not necessarily the most expensive, and how decisions, well decisions can always be remade.

I don't know what the future holds, but I'm glad I have a supportive partner by my side. It strikes me as eerie how as I was calling R this morning, he was headed back out to the car. This is after both of us walking out of an appointment two weeks ago. We're on the same page, and while I know both of said are saying one thing to another, deep down, we're not ready to shut the door. Talk about mind blowing. Still, we're enjoying each day as it comes, relishing the life with our three boys, boys that are full of life, and wonder, and talk about the silliest of things. Our life is chaotic, but a fun chaotic.

Our lives are about to get busier, but in a different way, with school starting on August 19th (the official first day). We've spent more time outdoors this summer than in, more out of the house than in, and our days and nights have been fun. The switch to being at home will be different, but at the same time, there's only certain times we will have to be home. I truly feel that we'll figure out a new way of accomplishing what needs to get done. The next two weeks are just as busy as the past two weeks. We have a trip to Sacramento, two trips to Monterey, and possibly a trip to San Jose/Santa Cruz or Pismo. Fun! Fill in the gaps with playdates and social activities, mom night outs and fundraisers, and call it a month full of summer memories.

This month is a reward for all the work we've put into changing our spending habits. We paid for a $400 car repair with cash, and lived to see the next day unscathed. We have one more payment on one debt (dental), and are squared away with ending a couple more by October. Its very exciting, more so since I feel we're ahead of schedule. My birthday gift from my husband and children is the entrance fee for a half marathon-I'm excited about this gift to myself, because its something that speaks volumes about how I want to live my 30s.

While all this is good, there is also sad. Death, trials and tribulations, family angst, its here. We're pulling together the best way we know how, and rolling with the tide. I believe things have a way of working out, and all the struggles we face, we face for a purpose. I accept what is, and will believe things will pan out the way they should. Silver linings are sometimes near invisible, but they do exist. Such as today's.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Weekend update

This weekend was fun. We went to C's farmers market on Friday and met up with some friends. I only took the two younger boys, and got a taste of how life will be in a few weeks. It was so different, I kept turning my head to count heads, and realized they were right next to me. Snack time was a breeze, no diaper changes until we got home, it was so simple. I told R it was never that easy when I took the two older ones out by myself, or even now when I take all three out. We enjoyed the music, and the company. We took our kids for a late snack after the market, and it was great. We talked about our large families, and how our little ones are going to kindergarten together. It was really nice. Hearing how another mom has dealt with the schools that M is going into, I'm at ease with what lies ahead. I'm not so anxious about him riding the bus, although I will take him the first couple of weeks, and see if he changes his mind about riding it.

Saturday we went to V farmer's market. I pigged out, the lettuce and eggplant looked so good. I bought some extra food this time, my dad and girlfriend may come towards the end of the week (if we don't go to San Jose), and I want to make them a special dinner. If they come here, we're all headed to Pismo. I'm so excited, the weather should be great. I also bought myself a bunch of wildflowers.

I think there was lavender in there, it smells fantastic. It definitely changed the vibe of our dining table, complete with our bowl of tomatos and fresh peaches.

We also went to the reptile show at the library. The boys loved it, and M participated in the show. E was also a happy camper, loving the lizards and turtles.

Wrapping up the day by having a free dinner out, it was great. It has been a long time since we've gone out, and it was nice for a change.

Yesterday was mellow, and was a big freecycle day for me. I plowed through the baby toys, and made up a huge bin to donate on freecycle. I'm saving some items for when we have guests come over, but I pared down what we have. I also made a large box of kitchen items for a woman who is moving into her own place with her daughter. I made a bin of children's videos too, and re-freecycled our double jogging stroller that was freecycled to us. It felt really good to pare down, and know the stuff is going to get used by others who can benefit from it.

Today is a busy day. I'm ahead of myself with laundry and dishes done, and we'll head out to the water park later for playgroup. I have to pack for my overnight trip to the Bay Area, and call my dad's attorney this morning. Otherwise, I think I'm squared away to leave R w/ the boys overnight tonight. I'm not sure if I'm taking the train back, my dad may drive me home so they can visit at the same time. Either way I'll be glad when this ordeal will be over, and I can resume our sense of normalcy. It'be weird spending the night away from all three boys, I have never done that since having E. On the brightside, E is now 20 months, and R is confident it'll be easier than having a young baby to care for. All I can do is prep dinner, and then relax-because it will definitely be out of my hands! 5:45 will come soon enough, and then I'll be Bay Area bound.