Thursday, September 30, 2010

Tackle A Task, Day 1

Today my left and right hand men were Clayton and Cody. They wiped, swept, stacked, replaced and made several trips to the van with bags to donate. It feels great to have the kitchen all tidy and organized. Don't even think of bursting my bubble by wondering how long it will stay this way...

Oh, the most "fun" part of the task?  I put on 80's music and "tripped out" my kids singing along with The Bangles "Walk Like an Egyptian"!

Here are "our" before and after pictures:

Wow, it feels so good to have done this!  It took the boys and I about 3 hours.  The insides of the cupboards were cleaned out, too.  Each item on top of the cupboards were coated with sticky dust... now they are so fresh and clean.  I now know where things are, once again, for the holidays!  The before and after of on top of the fridge are my favorite contrasts... ha ha.  Let's hope this stays fresh a while...

By the way, I am  having trouble learning how to put my pictures on here side by side... does anyone know?  For these shots, I was using the photo tab here at blogger to add images.  

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Introducing: Tackle A Task!!

Yes, just what you've been waiting for!  I know, I know.  I can feel your excitement.  I can see all the mail heading my way, thanking me for this wonderful "household management condensed into 5 weeks" plan now...

Tackle a Task, Fall 2010

Last week I sat, pondering why this is a challenging area for me. Like many others, I've been to Flylady's site. I've signed up and read the emails. I've bought a timer! I even had the purple zip-up folder thing. The ostrich feather duster was a temptation for sure. I've done the worksheets... the morning routine, the evening (I never could pick out my clothes the night before, though!). I loved the monthly focus... like the month I made my bed every morning, first thing. And who can forget the month you swished and swiped the bathroom right away? Great stuff. Then, life distracts me.

One of the challenges that I have that gets in the way of household management is that I love projects. I like to scrapbook. I love photography and blogging. I have quilt tops that need backing and edges completed. There's the cross stitch I've been working on for 5 years. There are other inspirations brewing in my head and heart just waiting for me to work on... holiday projects and gifts and... Well, you see?  Household management just keeps getting bumped down on the list!

Then there's my husband. He was raised by a meticulous housekeeper, Katie. When she says her house is filthy, you know she just needs to sweep a bit. Ha ha. No, really, Katie loves a clean and tidy home and she is great at organizing and putting away. She is also anti-germ. So, I am ever so thankful that my man is very patient with me. But I know that Scott loves those days when he walks in and everything is in it's place and the floors are mopped.

The holidays are coming and I have lots of projects planned, but there's this desire to have a tidier and neater home. To me, that means purging. I cannot just clean. I start to clean and I start to put away and then I notice that I don't like this or that or that I don't use this or that anymore! I like simple. Scott knows this so when he is missing something, he automatically asks if I have donated it to Goodwill!  Please, do not alert him of these grand plans!! (he is anti-purge-we-might-need-this-someday-man)

So, what am I to do?

I am going to take a stab at it. I am compelled to head to Barnes and Nobles and purchase Martha Stuart's big book of household management, but, then I'd sit and read through it for days and take notes on every chapter and chart out plans and my house would remain disorganized and messy. Then I came up with a new plan. I will grab hold of a notebook and walk room to room, making a list of tasks that need to be done in each room. I will include detail cleaning of the trailer in my list and I will even add in a couple problem areas of the garage. Then I will give myself a target date and I will go through my list and break it into segments that would take approximately the same amount of time. Next I will divide the number of days until the target date by the number of tasks... but give myself a couple of free days, too. Then I will work on a few things a day and hopefully by my target date, I will be delighted with the results. And during the whole process... I will add in some creative time in my day to work on the things that delight me. So, I think I just pinpointed the bottom line of my being household organizationally challenged.... time. I love time. I want to spend it all kinds of ways. So, I'm going to conquer this using time!

So, who wants to join me? If you do, start making your list of what you want to accomplish. My target date is November 5th so that I can enjoy the rest of November and December in holiday style! If you aren't so inclined to make your own list, I will post what I am working on every few days and you can join in any part that you want. Just leave me a note and share what you've done! Please? Are you with me? Who is with me??  

For those who like details (I don't!), I came up with a list of 36 items. One of those would realistically take 2 days. I combined some of those into one day and ended up with 32 days of cleaning/organizing. I gave myself one day a week to not tackle a task.

Once again, my target date is November 5th. For those who like details (I don't!), I could assign the tasks to days, make spread sheets or pie charts or use some such tool and track my progress by percentage rates, but... nah! Not interested. I'm just going to do it my style and give it a go!

So, for Wednesday, Thursday and Friday the tasks to be attempted are... (can you hear the virtual drumroll?)

Clean out and organize all kitchen cupboards (I'm enlisting a couple of young boys to help!)
Clean the outside of the cupboards and on top of the cupboards
Clean under the kitchen sink (and, yeah, organize)
Clean the fridge out... all nooks and crannies, inside and out

And, with that said, I am not going to obsess too much and I am going to try to work quickly. I think I'll reward myself with a trip to the dollar store or some such place and find some organizational tools like baskets or small bins... I hope I find red ones!

Now, I don't want to feel lonely, so, someone please join along and let me know what areas you clean and conquer!!!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Golden Memories - Saturday

For weeks I had been looking forward to a day of "vacation" to head out and have some fun.  There were a few things I had thought of doing, but when weekend plans kept getting shuffled, it came down to driving over to Santa Cruz.

Recently when we headed out down the road, Victor looked at a mountainous horizon and said something like, "Hey, this looks like a picture!"  It was such a lovely view.  So, that became a landmark for us and when we head out down that same road now he'll ask, "Are we getting close to the picture yet?"  Victor is also my co-pilot a lot of the time.  (Thanks, Joseph, for the times you share the coveted front seat with him!)  He is the dj and loves to scan channels, then sighs and rolls his eyes when I hear an oldie and call out, "Oh!  Stop!  That's a good song!"  He just doesn't get the 80's... ha ha. It's a great way to keep him from getting bored and it worked for the first hour or so.  Then he was restless.  So, I handed him the camera.

I love driving through the Scotts Valley area.  The tall redwoods and pines shooting up are quite tempting to gaze at, but the road is quite windy, so I get to enjoy the view right in front of me.  Mentioning how much I love seeing the tall trees, it was decided that Victor would capture some of them with the camera.  Funny thing is, though, what I pick as the prettiest isn't what he captures!  By the time I say, "Oh, I love this spot!", and he gets the camera up in position and remembers what button to push, you're not too sure what the picture will be of.  But, it's all good!

Here are a few from our drive:

Victor, figuring out the camera.
I put in a quick call to my local gps service (Grandma Cathy who has lived in this area for many years!) and made sure I knew what exit to take, then headed out to the pier.  It was nap time for the sea lions.  But, the cotton candy was ready for us.

It was quite sunny and warm... almost hot...
Oh, I miss living by the beach.  Really, truly.  One of my dreams is to move closer.
One of the favorite rides at the Boardwalk is the Fireball.  It's a ride I could get on over and over!  At the top of the highest swing, it spins completed around and you get the physical sensation of swinging completely over the top, even though you don't.

If I had to pick a special activity to do with Victor, it would not be to go to the Boardwalk, though.  He doesn't mind walking around, watching, but he does not like rides.  So, one of us always hangs out with him and the others hop on a ride.  It was not crowded when we arrived, so, that was nice!  Victor did agree to go on the Carousel with us (Only after seeing several teens riding! He thought this was a "baby" thing to do!).
Oh, yes, my lively one!

After a pleasant lunch in Capitola, we hung out at the beach front.  Rebekah and Victor made grand plans for a video shoot of the most irritating song, "Narwhals", complete with choreography... Joseph and I strolled along the shore... and my camera battery died.  So, I have no amazing video of the kids singing to share with you... drats...
And one of the famous mom says, "Oooh!  Sit here!  This would make a good picture!" moments...
Followed by the photo, once taken, marked the end of the battery's charge...

After Joseph and I strolled along the coastline, Rebekah and Joseph went out and Victor and I enjoyed sitting and gazing out at the ocean.  I remember the very first time Victor saw the ocean.  End of October, 2005.  He was 6.  We looked out from the bridge in Capitola and I asked, "What do you think?"  And he said, "I think we need a boat."  He was thinking practical and literal... not all poetically or sentimentally!  But, sitting with him, enjoying the sights and smells of a beautiful day was irreplaceable.  That's when he took a deep breath in, sighed and said, "Today has been one of the best days ever."  Thank you, God, for giving me such a treasure.  May I always cherish it and never take it for granted.

Look for the beauty in your day.  Live life!  Whether you are at home making sun tea, teaching a child their multiplication tables, off to work... find moments to breathe in and appreciate.  This is the day!  Today.  Live it fully.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Golden Memories - Friday Night

Gazing out at the ocean, Victor said, "Today has been one of the best days!"
"Yeah, " I replied, "It's been one of those golden days... a day that you always remember as special... a day that you'll look back on in many years from now and be able to picture the memories in your mind, clear as can be.  We've created a golden memory to last forever."

Well, it might sound a little sappy, but that is actually pretty close to how the conversation went yesterday.  The golden memory actually started the night before.

We live in a school district that takes 3 breaks during the year, in addition to holidays and summers.  Our summer breaks are short because of this.  It's quite frustrating in ways and I would rather have fewer breaks and longer summers, myself.  This past Friday was the last day prior to fall break and I wanted to spend the day with Joseph and Victor doing something extra special.  After several errands and arriving home, I knew that dinner would be late.  We were hungry, so we had dessert first!  Then Rebekah came up with a spontaneous idea to take our chicken to the park and have a picnic... in the dark!  So there we were, the four boys, Bek and I, traipsing down the street to the park at 8pm, with not just the chicken, but with two flashlights to boot!

I had pictured several more street lamps at the park.  No one was there.  It was quiet.  Well, it would have been quiet, but we were there!!  In no time at all, the chicken was consumed.  Let the fun begin!!

Don't let the sequence of pictures fool you.  Clayton was not an onlooker, he was in on the tire swing fun, too!  But, I love picture taking opportunities and thought this was a neat shot!

I've always enjoyed looking at other mom's pictures of their children in the sun ray pose... all the heads together in a circle, bodies extending out like rays of the sun... Occasionally I give it a try with whoever happens to be around.  Since there was a bench to stand on and grass nearby, I got these kiddos out there to give the shot a try... It isn't so easy!
Oh, well... group shots aren't easy, anyway!  We were getting tired (ha, that is so not true, the kids wanted to play hide and seek in the dark, but I said NO!  It would have been loads of fun, but not in a public park with minimal lighting... Actually, that does sound like fun, but not for the mom who would be worried the entire time that a child would go missing...).  So, back to the story.  We were getting tired (yeah, right), so I sent them to roost and skipped home for more dessert (Not really, but they did try roosting!)

Wow, with my height and perspective, this shot gives Clayton extra long legs and Bigfoot feet!

I am out of time this morning, so I will have to come back and add on the fun we had on Saturday.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Fitness Friday!!

Writing while it is still fresh in my mind (and my body is sweaty!), I have just finished my first week of exercising at home with The Biggest Loser's Cardio Max. I am not receiving any pay for endorsing their product and no one who is anyone in their sphere has any idea who I am. 

What a week! I really do not like to exercise. But, I love the results, so I will continue. Each morning when the children are off to school and I have reviewed emails, connected with friends and checked my banking I have had to tell myself, “Time to work out.” And then I tell myself, “I really don't want to,” Mostly because it takes time. I like time. You only get time once. But, I have discovered that a half an hour of exercise enriches the rest of the time in my day because it floods me with energy. I knew this already, so why wasn't I exercising? I don't know! 

There are three levels on this video and each level increases in difficulty and is designed to take 2 weeks.  I have a feeling that each level will take me 3 weeks, but we'll see.  Also, each level has three parts, the warm up, work out and the cool down.  

Warm ups: The first day, warm ups felt like full-on cardio because I had not been physically active for so long. I was shocked at how slow I was to get moving around. By the 3rd day, warm ups were mastered.

20 Minute Cardio focus: Once again, the first day I had several stopping and walking in place moments and moved slower than the cast on the dvd. What I liked about the cast, though, were that they were real people... actually people who were once on The Biggest Loser. They were not models in cute work out clothes with perfect makeup and fine, fit bodies. I appreciate that! They have chubby! So, I felt comfortable.

Oh, the pain! I had three days rest after that first workout and was still a bit sore during the warm ups for day 2. But, I made myself stick to it and enjoyed the stretches tremendously. I have enlisted dh's help in rubbing sore muscles... he doesn't mind one bit... LOL Did I mention there has been a lot of pain? Really.

Back to the dvd. By my 4th workout, I was able to do most of the moves the entire time. My thighs get a bit worn out and BURN during these 20 minutes. So, when that gets a bit too much, I jog/dance in place, whimpering, and then get back to work... Today I had to stop about 4 times for about 10 seconds each time. And then there's the small part of the workout where you roll down and walk out on your hands and hold push up position and then do A push up, then pause and do A push up... a handful of times... and then hold push up position. This kills me. The first day I did one push up, then watch them and said, “uh-uh.” The second day I did one and held position for the rest of that time, resting on the knees occasionally. Today I did 3 of the push ups and help position for most of the time, resting twice. Did you know that push up position works your abs? You don't even have to stress out doing the push ups just hold the position!

Cool down: Well, my daughter laughed when she witnessed this part. She asked, in amazement, “Mom, do you realize you are doing yoga?” Wow. I believe in stretches. I believe in breathing. But, I don't do yoga.  The video has great stretching and breathing and no mention of any beliefs, but there is one comment of feeling the earth's energy flow through you.  There is also a naming of the stretching positions... warrior 1, 2 and 3.  I enjoyed these stretches until I learned that each position is a different prayer position to a different God.  I know many Christians who do yoga stretch and I am not telling anyone what is right or wrong for them, but, for me, I cannot stretch in positions with others knowing this information.  That is just me.  So, you be you!  For cool down, since I have followed exercise videos in the past, I will walk in place a bit, stop and do many stretches that I already know.  

And this week's tip came from my daughter, Shasta. Work out with your shoes on. She didn't mean flip flops or slippers, either. Well, I am usually barefoot and wanted to get right to exercising, but she insisted that I work out with proper shoes and not hurt my ankles or feet. 

What are you doing to get some exercise?  Brisk walks?  Jogging?  Exercise videos?  Work outs at a gym?  Swimming?  Tennis or some such sport?  Let me know!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Update on Baby Chloe and Sonia and Chris!

I heard wonderful news from Sonia today.  Baby Chloe has gone from the 5th percentile to the 17th!!  Sonia's health is quite stable, but they are not willing to risk sending her some because if something could go wrong, they only have a small window of time to take care of mom and baby.  It is now the plan to move her to a postpartum room where she can stay monitored and wait for several more weeks.  The projected date for having the baby is no longer "this week" but at her 34 week gestation mark... she is officially 29 weeks today!  So, 5 more weeks to go is the goal.

Thank you so very much for those who have been praying for them.  Chris is even headed back to work, Lord willing, in a few days.  Shasta and I made some goodies for Sonia, which will be revealed in a future post.... We are all breathing easier and able to feel some of the joy of expecting the baby once more.  Praise be to God!!!!  I wish I had a photo of the loveliest sight from the other morning.  Someone special called Sonia on the phone to pray for her, Chloe and Chris.  Chris placed on hand on the baby, one hand on Sonia's heart and they each closed their eyes in prayer.  It was very beautiful.  Thank you, God, for bringing our family closer through this and please continue to bless Chloe's development and Sonia's health.  Mold Chris into the man you want him to be to lead this family. 

Wordless Wednesday


(My son, Victor, asked what Wordless Wednesday was about, so I said it's where you post a picture, but you don't write about it because the picture does the job of speaking for itself.  I asked if he understood what that meant and he replied, "Yeah, it means when you look at the picture you hear words in your head about it." Sweet!)

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Me and my chubby... a personal narrative...

My brother Dan and I were 8 and 10 years old (I was eight) and lived in an apartment complex.  One day we observed a very, very overweight man and we promised each other that when we grew up we were not going to be fat.  Those were our exact words... we were just kids, so don't be too hard on us!  That is my first recollection of thinking about being overweight.  Now, we had family friends that were definitely overweight and we loved them and respected them... so we didn't have any attitude going on about others.

When I was 10 my mom brought in a photographer to take pictures of my two brothers and me. 


And mother dear proudly framed this photograph and placed it in the living room.  Hey, it's great today for proving that my brother Dan can actually smile...

One day a family friend stopped by and made a comment to me about being chubby... me being chubby.  I remember the sting of those words.  When I went inside, there was this photograph.  I looked closely at it and saw my chubby.  Horrible feelings came over me.  I remember taking a shower, grabbing my chubby with both hands and crying and praying, "God, please get this OFF of me!"

At that time I didn't continually obsess about it, but I do remember watching my portions sizes.  I was 10.

Junior high years weren't too bad for me and my chubby.  I think I must have grown a couple of inches and it evened out a bit on it's own.  But, looking around at the other girls who were really thin got to me.  I wanted a flat tummy SO badly.  In January of the 8th grade I got determined.  I took my wall calendar and in the privacy of my bedroom gave myself an exercise test and recorded the results.  Written down on that date were how many leg lifts I could do, how many sit ups, how many jump ropes.  That was my regimen.  I kept exercising and every two weeks marked down the progress on my calendar.

Summer came and I found a terrific show on tv each weekday morning at 9am... The Twenty Minute Workout.  I did this faithfully.  I started watching my portion sizes.  I loved the comments that I received.  One day, walking across a parking lot my mom noticed that I'd lost weight and told me that I was getting thin.  I loved that!  That fall I was right where I wanted to be with my shape, although my tummy never did flatten entirely.  Picking out clothes for school was so much fun!  I kept exercising that winter.

I'm not sure what changed... but, over time I stopped exercising and simply ate less.  One summer I measured food and counted calories.  I think it was the summer prior to 11th grade and I allowed myself 1000 calories a day to maintain my weight.  Parents noticed and commented on me needing to eat more.. telling me that I looked fine... I really enjoyed not eating to control my figure... food did not mean much to me. 

For the next 10 years of my life I continued this pattern, although I did add in exercise.  I worked out with the fitness channel after the birth of my first baby and was in pre-pregnancy clothes by the time the baby was 6 weeks old.  Even though I'd lost all the weight and weighed even less than when I conceived, I began eating less and less to be thin.  When I conceived my 2nd child, I had no idea that I was pregnant.  My terrible habit put myself and my unborn daughter at risk.  I ended up sick and had my appendix out in my first trimester.  After she was born I swam laps.  You would think that I had learned that eating less wasn't the best approach  to control my weight.  By eating less, yes, I do mean that I would go without food for the day or eat very minimally.   After my 3rd child was born, I used the soloflex machine to work out.  After the 4th was born, I used a video and a stair stepper.  That was kind of fun!  Each time, though, I felt an incredible pressure to be thin... I wasn't exercising to be healthy. 

What was going on though, was so sad.  I was never overweight.  I always weighed between 110-118 when I got pregnant.  I always delivered my babies weighing about 150 lbs.  I did not limit portions when I was pregnant.  I think that I stopped going without food in my 30's.  

Why am I sharing this?  I know there are much worse cases of anorexia.  My story pales in comparison to many others... but it's the story of me and my chubby.  I never felt comfortable with my shape.

In my 30's I went post-menopausal because of an emergency hysterectomy when I ruptured during childbirth in 1999.  My body really, really, really wants to look like a pear now.  I have to laugh about that.  I never overeat.  I rarely eat junk food.  But my body is in "pear default".  I did feel a mental shift happen during my 30's.  I don't know if it was because there were much bigger problems to face in my life other than whether or not my tummy was flat... or if I simply matured.  But, I got comfortable with my shape.  In my 20's my weight goal was always below 120 lbs.  In my 30's my weight goal was under 130.  In my 40's I really do not want to continue this trend!!!  But, I do find myself in the 140 area.  Many days I am okay with that.

There's so much more to share about this.  When I see someone overweight, I rarely see their shape, I simply see a person who has gifts and life to share with others.  I see them as someone.  I don't think about their weight, I think about their heart and their life and if there is a need they might have that I could help with (particularly if I know them personally).  But, I haven't given myself the same consideration... I've never let myself simply be.  I've very rarely simply accepted who I am.  I can laugh at the bump on my nose... I can ignore that when I smile, my lips go a little crooked... I mean, who cares?  A smile and a laugh are good medicine, right?  So what if one front tooth slightly overlaps the other.  But, when I get a little chubby going on... I feel as though I have failed.  That's my personal story and what I work on.

I have one grandson, a granddaughter who will be born any day, another grandson due in January and I want to be healthy.  Some days I lag in energy and coffee just doesn't do it.  My father's side of the family has diabetes and my mother's side has heart disease.  Me?  I have stress.

Last week, after a few years of ignoring exercise and pretending that it really didn't matter, I put in a dvd and danced away in my living room.  My daughter had given me a work out tape with dance moves and I thought it would be fun.  It was.  I had so much energy after that!  So, that evening I was walking around a store and picked up a couple more dvd's to exercise to.  The next day I worked out and it was a bit more difficult.  It wasn't so much fun, but it felt good.  Then by the end of the day I was feeling the pain.  By morning it hurt to stand up out of bed!  I limped around, glad that it was the weekend.  I wont really exercise in front of my family!  I do this when they are gone in the morning.  Well, today I popped that dvd back in and got to work. For fun, I took my measurements.  I even wrote down in my planner the information.

Attitude is important.  I want to keep perspective.  My goal isn't a flat tummy.  I have no weight loss goal.  I simply want to be healthy.  At the end of the week, I think I'll have a "Friday Fitness" post, where I share my progress and write about this "journey".

Monday, September 20, 2010

Update on Baby Chloe and Sonia and Chris...

because you cannot leave anyone out!

I went in to the hospital this morning and spent some time visiting with them today.  Test results were all in from the past several days and this is in fact preeclamsia.  Sonia looks so tiny herself, laying there.  The best news of all, though, is that the Dr. will do an ultrasound each day and study the baby and how she is doing.  Yesterday on a scale of 1-10, Chloe rated a 10!  Baby's weight is still predicted at about 2 pounds.  Sonia is able to snack and drink and Chris has taken good care of her (with the excellent staff).   Sonia had a good nights' sleep last night, too.  They are focusing on the positives and absolutely know that God is right there with them. 

Thank you for continuing to pray for them all.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Join me in prayer for Chloe Micheel, Chris and Sonia

A dear granddaughter has been fashioned by our Father, God.  She is 28 weeks along in the womb and her parents are doing their best to prepare for her.  Sonia, my dear daughter-in-law, is a sweet, loving mom of Christopher (I've posted pictures of when I've had the joy of taking care of him).  Sonia is a very conscientious person... always pays attention to details and makes the best decisions that she can.  Chris is a proud dad who cares deeply for his children.

This past week Sonia took Thursday and Friday off from work and was very excited about the baby shower for Chloe.  I worked diligently on a gift I have made for Sonia and this sweet baby girl.  I was about to shop one more time for some gifts for the shower when I received the call.

At a routine appointment the doctor determined that Chloe had not grown as she should have and there were causes for alarm.  Sonia went by ambulance to Walnut Creek's hospital, which  boasts of an excellent neo-natal center.  For the next day we waited for news... for information... for an explanation.  Doctors have been careful to help Sonia rest comfortably and with the maximum amount of peace for the situation that she is in.  I am not sure the official name of the diagnosis, but Sonia's placenta is not working as it should and the baby is not growing like she should.  There are also great concerns for Sonia's health in this, too.  So, at this time, she and the staff at the hospital are ready to deliver the baby at any time that it is deemed best for Sonia or for the baby's health.  Sonia is merely 28 weeks along and the baby's due date is December 8th.

Please join us in prayer.  Not only is Sonia not going to be released by the hospital until after the baby's birth, and therefore is unable to continue working, but Chris is on call to be available for the decision to deliver the baby at any moment, so he is very unsure as to when he will be able to work.  Little Christopher, who will be 3 in November, is very unhappy that mom and dad are not home taking care of him and I know that weighs heavy on Sonia's heart.

The goal is to keep the baby in the womb as long as possible for further development.  Every day is significant.

Thank you for holding Chris, Sonia, Little Christopher and baby Chloe Micheel in your hearts and prayers.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Sunday Afternoon Beauty

Several days ago I had this inkling to drive over to the coast and spend an afternoon with my teens.  Three of these wonderful people are living at their dad's this school year and are doing very well and I miss them so...

I would have loved a few more hours to get over to a pier and watch sea lions and then take in sights around Natural Bridges, but it was Great Grandma's 80th birthday and it was wonderful to see her.  She is doing just great!



Julie had been eager to give me a birthday gift and she was so excited about it... so, I was excited, too!


She just HAD to give me posing lessons... she wanted me to look "cute".

Now, for years (probably just months, but you know...) I had been trying to get Julie to watch I Love Lucy with me.  Many of those shows are so funny.  When I did get her watching with me, it was the Vitameatavegimen show.  We laughed and laughed.  So, she got this coffee cup for me with a couple of great shots of Lucy and Ethel laughing and it stirs that feeling of appreciation for deep, true friendship inside my heart.  Inside the rim of the cup are the words "Friendship Lasts Forever".  In red.  I love red.  I remember watching I Love Lucy when I was about 4 years old and it was in black and white... Lucy and Desi were at that tree with the heart and the inscription.  So, in honor of old times...


One thing I wanted from this day was a photo op.  Knowing how quickly time goes by, I wanted to capture what the kids looked like on this very day.  I didn't have all the kids with me, so, understand that this is not meant to "disclude" (Victor's word for the opposite of include) anyone.  There are just 7 seats in my mini-van and two of my daughters are grown and out of the home, so this particular day features 5 of the kids.  Clayton and Cody were out with their dad and grandpa fishing for the day on the Delta, so they were not with me, either.

Julie recently injured her ankle and Nathaniel carried her around.  Many of their pictures are together.  Some of them look as though they are a couple, so I point out to you that they are terrific siblings!







I had a knack for capturing Stephen with his eyes closed, so I don't have as many of him to share.  It's simply amazing, though, to take a picture and it hits you... your son is a young man...




I like spontaneous, terrific pictures, but end up saying, "Oh, sit here!"  "Let's try this!"





And if you tell Victor to put his chin up a little...


And here's to the just goofing around shots...




The weather didn't realize that you just don't mess with a mom's dreams for the day... so, while it was a tad chilly and definitely gray, we had a nice time together and I got the pics!

I know there is a flow of sentimental thought flowing inside that I could add to this day's collection of photos, I feel it stirring inside.  When I look at each face in each photo there is an abundance of joy and fulfillment.  There were days I scratched my head, wondering how God could trust me with all these lives... days where I felt completely inadequate...but this year there is a recurring theme weaving in and out of each memory revisited and each new experience encountered... God is sovereign.  God holds it all in His hands and has a plan for each life and when we mess it up, God is there to turn to.  One of the greatest gifts I have from God is taking in a deep breath and feeling such love for each child and contentment deep within.  Knowing that when it's quiet and it's just God and me, I am satisfied... I am blessed... my faults and sins are covered with Jesus' blood and God's amazing love... and that I can rest in Him in great peace.