slide show

Saturday, May 29, 2010

does anyone really need tube tops?

this morning while doing a pile of laundry the size of mnt. vesuvious, i discovered that some of my older sweet things have been cutting the bottoms off of all the tights and leggings in the house and making tube tops.  really... tube tops?  do people still wear tube tops?  don't we need our leggings eventually when it's not 100 degrees anymore?

now that school is out-
objective #1 is to clean out and organize all the kiddo's closets.  this project takes days and explains the enormous pile of laundry. 
objective #2 is to load the SUV to the brim and make our way up the mountain to the cabin for the whole summer (coincidentally where the brisk weather might actually call for tights, which we will have NONE of, but strangely we will have a large supply of tube tops)

so the blog may take a break for a week.  i'll be back soon

too exasperated to use many capital letters

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Photo Gallery--Evan and Buddy

This is Evan, a new friend's 5-year-old son.    And this is Buddy, their new dog, adopted from  a shelter about a week prior.

Hard to tell which one is happier!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

School's out for summer!

School's out for ever!

No not really.  But at least for a couple months!   (AZ is Alice country!  Tap... tap... anyone following me?)
Today was the last day of school for the kiddos.  Yes, I KNOW it's early for school to be out, but the state with that crazy controversial immigration legislation is also known for starting and ending it's school season early.  It leaves prime time for vacations before y'all get out in June.  We like it this way!

It's also warming up in the desert, and finally warm enough to go swimming.  So the boys walked home from the bus stop all smelly and hot and sweaty and smelly and really smelly.  Jumping in the pool was a quick way to put smiles on their faces and made the rest of us happy too.
Have you seen such joy!  I'm just in love with this picture below.  It captures what is so obviously is in this boy's soul.
Oh... if I could just bottle up all that joy and savor little bits of it when I have to do laundry!
Or when I have to clean out the car... between the seats.
Or when I have to get a mammogram.

I want to have such reckless abandoned.
This boy, my boy, lives his life this way.  Throwing every bit of himself into all things.
Happy summertime, Patch!
This one's for you, baby!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Remember, Live, Dream....Livy

My baby girl graduates from the 8th grade today.  Ok, she's 13 and not really a baby any more.

Next year, Liv will enter high school with Sunny.  Go get'em baby girl!
Remember yesterday.  Live today.  Dream tomorrow.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Building a character of charity

Papa and I employ several "tricks" that help us effectively parent our children.   We firmly believe that it is not only important to have quality time with our children, but a quantity of time with our kiddos too.  Unlike the old adage, "Quality time rather than quantity time," we want not only good meaningful interactions with our children, but a lot of it too.  Not an easy task with 6 children. but so so important nevertheless.

We are fully aware that with 6 kids, 2 of them special needs, that it can be easy to overlook some kiddos, at least some of the time, the kiddos that might not need us as much at the time, perhaps the ones that are learning to spread their wings and are becoming more independant... the teenagers.

Also believing the same gender parent has the most influence on a child, the burden is largely left to me to continually guide and nurture my big girls during this difficult season, when teens are purposefully distancing themselves from both their parents and the lessons being taught to them.

One of the best ways we've found to keep an on eye on our big girls, while continuing to impart our value system, is to do lots of charity work together.  So initially we set goals for ourselves to ensure that we would set aside time and make charity work with just the three of us happen.  The first year, running April 1-April 1, we set our goal low to ensure success.  Our goal was that the girls and I would each do 10 hours of charity work per year.  Not surprisingly, our goal was met pretty easily, and not only did we enjoy spending time together, we had fun too!  So we bumped our goal to 25 hours the following year.  Now, 4 years into our plan, Sunny, Livy, and I make it a priority to do 100+ total hours of community service each year.  Proudly, I will tell you that we easily met our goal this year, exceeding 110 hours together!

But of course it's about SO much more than the hours we put in.  It's about the time we spend together and giving back to our community.  It's about being thankful for what we already have, it's about serving the Lord through service to others, it's about humility and grace and stepping out of the priviledged Caucasian box that I often find ourselves in.

We work with an amazing organization, NCL, originally created in the 1950's that helps mothers and their teen daughters come together through philanthropy.  If you're rasing daughters, look it up and see if there is one in your community.  The organization's goal is to create strong and confident young women that will become life-long givers in their communities.  The girls and I intentionally work with a variety of charities and discover through experience which philanthropies we enjoy and can help most.  In the beginning, we started off working with rescued animals 'cause animals don't judge, or make funny noises, or slap your hand when you play bingo, (yes, that happened.)  The girls and I have also worked with rescued animals, and seniors, and animals with seniors.  We've had parities for underprivileged children, and individuals with mental and physical impairments.  We've decorated the pediatric wing and the NICU of the hospital down the street and helped inner-city kiddos pick out donated back-to-school clothing.  We've done Christmas shopping for needy families, peeled potatoes, walked dogs, played bingo at the senior center, and served tea and pizza at our neighborhood assisted living facility.

Here's one of the wonderful things about youth.  They don't know everything.  (That may come as a shocker to you Sunny!)  Sometimes they don't know enough to be scared or taken back, or self conscience yet.  Much of the time they like to buck their gut instincts and "go for it."  And this works to our advantage when we find ourselves in situations that are inherently awkward, situations when we are working with the mentally challenged, or the filth of the inner city, or when we have a language barrier.  This year we've purposefully stepped up and out of our box to work with the physically and mentally challenged.  I guess I felt I needed to wait until Livy was 13 so she could handle it.  Silly mama.  What a foolish idea.  So on the very first day we ventured out to work with some remarkable special needs individuals, I saw my girls paired one-on-one with low functioning young adults, and do a craft project.  I was asked by a wiser mama to not help, but stand back and watch.  Oh this was wisdom that later I was so so grateful to have imparted to me.  Sunny, 16, was paired with a young man with CP, confined to a wheel chair, whose muscles were atrophied and was fairly unresponsive.  She took his crippled hands in hers and played with play dough for 45 minutes.  Livy, 13, was paired with a young man who grunted and tried to smile and jerked.  They built tried to build towers of popcycle sticks.  He put his hand in hers to point to the "yes" or "no" on his "communication paper" to indicate his answers to yes or no questions.  My girls jumped in, despite hesitation, and came away better, confident, giving women because of it.  My girls.  My young women.  I came away in awe of my own children.

I shouldn't have waited until Livy was 13.

The day Sunny told me she wanted to return to a care facility (for residents with profound physical and mental disabilities) because she had found a new friend, was another day I praised God for allowing us to have the privilege of working with these remarkable individuals.  (That's Sunny in the green jacket with her new friend.  She spent over an hour talking with him.)

On a personal note, we met this little guy when we threw a holiday party at a full-time residential care facility.  He stole my heart in an instant.  He smiled and beamed and my heart was gone!  Such beauty and perfection in all God's creations.  And such an honor to be a part of putting this smile on his face.
I know that someday my girls will leave our nest and have to make their own choices.  No longer will anyone be there to schedule charity work, or set goals, or celebrate the hours they accrue.  It will be up to them to clear their place from the table, or pray before going to sleep.  It will be up to them to go to church, or not to curse, and up to them to choose to serve their community with a charitable heart.  It is our hope that by serving others on a regular basis now, that we create members of our community that will long in their hearts to serve and reap the blessings of sacrifice.  At least eventually.

Forgive the picture quality.  Can't reveal residents images on the world wide web.  Much of the time, we're in basements, and to be honest, picture taking isn't my priority during these times.  It's taking me 4 years to get these few.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Introducing Oakrunning Bear

Meet the most obstinate subject that I've ever been had the pleasure of photographing!
Meet Oakrunning Bear!
ORB- I didn't include all those pics of you making funny faces.  And still, through it all, still pretty handsome, hu?  Maybe not what you were going for, but just maybe what somebody else was going for.
Congratulations on your graduation!  You're a genuine, real, and fabulous young man!  I'm lovin' getting to know you better.
Wait a minute!  Was that my daughter's LEG in that above picture?
Hang on a minute while I go create some distance there!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Microwave Instructions

Ever since our microwave went kablooey, Boo seems preoccupied to give the Crazy 8 contingency fair warning.   This note appeared the following morning-

Stove microwave Broken. One by Stove.  this one's broken
The following morning additional notes were left to direct users to an old microwave we got out of the garage as a temp.

1 Walk  
2  Look over while walking
So... obviously spelling and punctuation aren't mastered in 1st grade.
But his heart of service seems to come naturally.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Hi again Papa,

Papa, just to get you up to speed since you've been gone-
  • The exterior door handle in our bedroom is missing.  I have no idea why or how.  I went to open the door and poof it was gone!  I don't even know how to remove a door handle.  
  • Sunny drove to school.  She used your car.  I wanted to make her wear a helmet.  Really I did.  I wanted to vomit as she drove away.  Instead I tried to smile and wave and hollered, "Make wise choices!" as she drove off.  I'm not cool anymore. 
  • Patch's science fair project is sitting here waiting for your assistance.  I've begged Patch to please let me help him get it finished, but he has insisted that you are the only man for the job.  
  • Jujube woke up yesterday, and it looks like some small insect tried to eat his face off.  He must be very sweet, but we already knew that.  12 bug bites all on his face.  He keeps scratching, and now they're little scabs.  Poor baby.  
  • Sunny stopped getting sick just as fast as she started.  It was about 6 hours of fun fun fun.  No one else has gotten sick... yet.
  • Patch slept with me last night on your side of the bed.  He's a kicker and a blanket hog.  He doesn't purr like you do either, and somehow the lack of noise kept me awake.   As expected, I'm not sleeping well when you're not here.  Or maybe I'm sleeping just fine and am dreaming I'm awake like you say I usually do.   
  • I think the bumper to my car is finally falling off.  I just kinda pushed it back on.  If it wasn't so funny, I'd be sad.  Where did you say you kept the duct tape?
  • The census guy came to the door.  He wanted to know why 2 Vietnamese children live here.  I was going to give him my usual, "Well my husband had a heck of a business trip turn crazy weekend in Thailand!" story.  But he didn't look like the kind of guy that would be amused by such antics.  
  • Patch fell in a cactus walking home from school.  He limped home.  I looked and couldn't find any stickers.  I think he may have just been mad at me because he had to walk home today.
  • As if mysterious piles of sand weren't enough, Tess got into the laundry detergent again, trailing it down the hall and into her room.  Not sure what her fascination with laundry detergent is.  
Have a safe flight home.
Luv, me   
Jujube gets the mail.  
Winter grass dying and summer grass not in yet.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Hi Papa! Missing you!

Papa is out of town on business.  He's in Kansas City, Missouri, which really confuses me 'cause I'm pretty sure all Kansas Cities should be in Kansas.  (Anyone reading out there from Kansas City, MO, that can recommend a good little hole in the wall for him to get lunch or dinner?)  He doesn't leave town often lest the cogs of Crazy 8 Cyber-Reality come to a screech halt.  But as much as we tried to keep it a secret, somehow the universe found out that I'm on my own for a few days.  Now the universe is out to get me.

We were off to a bad start from the get go.  The 20 minute ride to the airport to drop Papa off, turned into and hour and a half due to construction.  Did I mention it was 3:30am?

Then Sunny promptly started vomiting.  Thank golly big girls know that hitting the toilet is more important then who we elect president.  Really it is!  And the only time I did have to clean vomit off the floor, I'll have you know there was a REALLY good reason why.  We'll just leave it at that.  Sunny is trying to pass through her 16th year with some dignity in tact.  And... by the way... when your 16-year-old, bra wearing, cute-man dating, driver's license possessing, near woman daughter, hollers loudly, "MOMMY" in that urgent I'm-gonna-hurl-now voice, and then thanks you for holding back her hair, it makes a mama want to cry.  Or maybe it was just the smell of fresh vomit.  But maybe not.

Later that morn, Patch asked me those words you never want to hear, words that can drop a single mama to her knees...
"Mama, what's wrong with the microwave?"
Examination revealed an explosive nuclear fission type reaction that was close to melt down.  Either that or some small animal was stuck in there.  Either way, now we're microwave-less.

Somehow with all the commotion and lack of back-up, when Papa is away, I always feel a bit empowered.  Like I can run the house on my schedule with little concern for another adult's priorities.  Gone is any thought of mucking out the garage or brushing down the pool, and cleaning out the babe's closet goes to the top of my to-do list.  My jammies are on before dusk, and you'd better believe it'll be those ugly-comfy jammies designed to impress no one!  Thankfully, Papa comes back into town tomorrow night, just in time for Patch's little-league baseball playoffs.    Ooooooo, did someone say date night! Papa+Mama+evening=a date!  I'm gonna break out my lip gloss!

Hope you're reading this one, Papa.  With the kiddo's help, we did get the babe's closet and toys all organized and got rid of LOTS of stuff.  We miss you, and even in the presence of vomit and minus one kitchen appliance, we're doing great.  Do what you gotta do, and tell Michael hi for me.  We love you.
PS-It took us a while to get out of bed this morning!  Again, most of the kiddos ended up in our bed.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Photo Gallery--PD

OK... If PD doesn't make you smile than you're thinking WAY too much about that that AZ immigration legislation!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

My Jujube

He has this little thing he does with his tongue.  When he gets excited, it just comes out!  He can't help it.  I doubt he even knows he's doing it!
He tries not to do it, but...

...he can't help it!
Oh my, I love that little tongue!

ps-- Jujube to mama
"Are you serious about those bangs?"

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Agnes said...

"How can there be too many children? That is like saying there are too many flowers." ~ Mother Teresa

Monday, May 10, 2010

3 thoughts on being a mama to many on Mother's Day

My Mother's Day was perfect.  Lots of little notes.  Flowers plucked out of the ground.  Something I wanted, many things I didn't know I'd treasure as much as I do.  A mimosa.  A phone call.  Sticky kisses.  Hugs, hugs, hugs.
I know our choice to have a large family may not be understood by many.  To be more specific, many judge us.  They think we're crazy at best.  They think we have poor judgement and are foolish at worst.  Both Papa and I have been questioned re our decision to have 6 children.  The questions are fine.  The judgement that often follows the answers aren't.   Many see foolish choices, lost money and time and potential.  "Don't you have enough children?"  "You know they have a cure for that now?!"  We are both questioned almost daily, asking if we are done yet.  Sometimes I find myself puzzled with this line of questioning.  My children are my greatest joy and pleasure.  They are God's treasures in my care.  They are my bliss.  And to be met with puzzlement about the very thing that brings us such joy, is odd to me.  Our children are our greatest blessings...  God's blessings to our family.  That's the whole reason I've adopted the "crazy" thing.  Because crazy is as good as it gets when we're judged.  People stare and stutter at the money we've spent, the sacrifices we've made, and the chaos we've purposefully created.  Our hearts and prayers determine our future.  We've lost friends that just didn't "get us." And those that stay, by purpose or choice, can be at a loss of what to say or how to deal with our choices.  

I don't think everyone should have a large family.  Not all our cut out for it.  Not all can handle the bustle and others calling them crazy at best.  But today, on this day that I'm called to reflect on this busy wonderful crazy life that we've created and my role as mama, I can not imagine my life without a single one of my children.  Each child that we have is a beautiful blessing from God.  Each child was waited for with giddy anticipation, and fear of change, and fear of judgement, and each child was prayed for and loved long before he or she came to our arms.  I would never never want another woman's life.  I wouldn't give up the wild flower bouquets and piles of sand for anything.  I have never regretted the bustle and business and loudness.  Never.  Nothing gives me such joy and smiles and laughter and gratitude as my children.  My life is so so so good with each and every one of them.  And each mama who has held her child's hand within her own, probably easily agrees with me.  

Motherhood isn't an easy path.  Without my children, I'd have far more time to pursue my hobbies.  We'd have more money and surely travel more.  My home would be organized and cleaner, and I'd be able to easily find a quiet corner all to myself to relax.  We'd throw dinner parties.  Surely I'd have a cuter smaller car that didn't have a sippy-cup of spoiled milk under the seat.  But I wouldn't give up even one child for these pleasures.  Whether you have 1 child or 4 or 6 or 10, being a mother is a path full of sacrifice and perseverance.  Being a mama to many also includes distance and judgement and even more self sacrifice.  Not everyone should have a large family.  God doesn't ask everyone to travel the same path.  But He did ask us to go there.  

So I'm not sure where I'm really going with all this.  Except to say that judgement is tough.  It hurts.  Especially when it's judgement about the very thing that brings us so much joy.  I'd like to pretend I'm all tough and so sure of every decision we've made.  I'm not.  But I do know for certain that I'm so so glad I'm a mama to my many and so sure this is the path He placed before us if only we were brave enough to go down it.  I know not all see it this way.  Some days I run down the path so quickly to see what awaits at each turn.  And some days the path scares the pants off me.  

But every single day, hard or easy, quiet or loud, crazy and sane, chaos and peace, complete with my many mistakes, leaves me with the sheer joy of being a mother to each and every one of my children.  The sacrifice makes it all the sweeter.  I wouldn't trade my path anything.  
To answer your question...
that I'm sure you're asking ...
'cause everyone does... 
We're not sure we're done yet.  
We'll have to see where He takes us.  

Friday, May 7, 2010

Tess on bangs

From Tess to Mama-

So I was thinking we need to talk, mama...
Do you REALLY think those bangs help you look like Zooey Deschanel?
HA!  I don't think so!
My bangs, on the other hand look FABULOUS!  (Even though they are a bit crooked!)

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Admittingly Biased

I don't wanna be one of those moms who constantly brags about her kids.
Always thinking her kids are the best, smartest, able to fix a flat tire while simultaneousness preparing a perfectly cooked couscous.  It could happen.

But I think I just have have the most gorgeous children of all time!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Any takers???

I am so excited when somebody takes me seriously.  I say, "Come on over, we'll cook Vietnamese food, and you can take it home for dinner!"  You mean, adult conversation?  Sign me up!

So this is the second time Auntie S has come over for a "cooking date."
She picks something she'd like to make her family for dinner.  Today it was grilled beef with lemon grass over noodles.  Then we meet just after we send the bigger kiddos off to school.
We juggle around the car seats, load the three littler kiddos in the car, T&J and baby PC, and head for the Asian market.
Auntie S and I both strapped on our Ergos and shopped for all the ingredients.
Then back to the house for some competitive tag team baby/toddler supervision while preparing dinner for both families.
You gotta love a mama who doesn't let a baby without a nap slow her down.
'Cause somewhere between mixing the marinade and julienning the cucumbers, this happens.

And because you just know that mamas appreciate a good PB&J, that's what we had for lunch while all 3 babes took a nap.

PC needed a little lunch before heading off to pick up his brothers and sister from school.

7 month old babies with carrots all over their face?  Oh help me, please!
In the end, Sherri put the marinading beef in a Zip-lock to be grilled at home and bagged up all the veggies that were already cleaned, chopped, and jilienned.
And I had dinner for my family ready to go too!  The recipe is here.

Any more takers?  Really?

Monday, May 3, 2010

Just like Zooey... kinda

(PS-This take a HUGE act of courage on my part to put my own picture on here!  This is one of the main reasons I started to take photographs after all, to avoid being in front of the lens!)
Every 8 weeks this happens...

The tubes of color, the scissors, the wax.  My sweet angel comes to our home to cut all of our hair and most importantly restore my youth, or at least cover the 1+ inch of grey and let me continue to live in denial.

Oh yea... not to mention the wine because she's been coming for 8 years and 3 kiddos ago, and I am SO not above bribery to keep her coming!

Admittingly, I'm not a girly girl.  Manicures are a waste of time and money.  And high heels plain and simple hurt!  I really don't care much about my hair.  And thusly I make poor choices, like dye it magenta, or shave it all off.  (I actually did one of those two things!  You'll leave you to guess which.)

So the angel was working on my color, (a huge undertaking in itself!)  and Sunny bounced in the room and declared I needed bangs.  She was serious!  She and the angel discussed it at length.  How long?  How thick?  Honestly I could've cared less.  That's the kinda of girl I'm not.

Then Sunny mumbled something about Zooey Deschanel.  (Think 500 Days of Summer)  Sold!

Tah dah!

I wonder what Sunny will think of next!
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