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Monday, January 31, 2011

Romance - man style!

To put it bluntly, Papa comes by romance more easily than me.  Sad but true.  It's easy for me to get wrapped up in the kiddos, packing lunches, PTO meetings, IEP meeting, and even the neighborhood Bunko game, and I can forget to make time for this man and this marriage that is the ultimate foundation for it all.

But oooops!  This is his post!  I'll just fall head over heels into those baby blues and let him blog for a bit!
Papa here.

I thought I would take a moment and be a guest contributor to the blog.  I picked one of the suggestions from the sidebar on the blog that I thought I could speak to. 

How do you and Papa keep the romance alive?

That is a very fair question, and at this time it does not come easily.  Most importantly Mama and I make our time together a priority no matter if it is sitting together watching a baseball game on tv (I am so lucky I have a baseball fan for a wife!) or going to the movies or just sitting and talking.  We are a couple first and parents second.  I know it does not always look that way from the outside, and honestly it doesn't feel that way all the time on the inside.  However, I know by what she does and what she says, that {after God} I, and we, are the the most important things to her.

Logistically all of this can be rather tricky.  When we tell our friends or neighbors what the bedtimes for the little ones is, often their jaws drop, and usually there is some utterance like, “how do you do that?” or “don’t the kids fight you on that?”  Then we explain that we are the “Parents” and it is not cruel and unusual punishment to have a schedule and stick to it. (This works for us.  Other families do it other ways, and that is great if that works for them.)   The little ones are in bed at 7:00, 6:30 when the nap times stop around age 4 or 5.  The middle ones are in bed at 8:00 and the older ones go to bed around 9:30.  For the older ones, Sunny, Liv, and Patch, we have a second rule after 8:00 is "quiet time" for Mama and Papa if we are watching TV, they can sit with us and watch as well, but we are not doing homework, fixing printers, or going to the store for supplies to finish the school project that is due in the morning, etc...  It is time for Mama and Papa to do what they want to do, including enjoying one another's company.  Then the friends/neighbor/nosy lady in the produce isle will say something like, “My kids would never put up with that.”  I still to this day do not know how to reply to that. I guess I shouldn't reply at all.  

We still date.  To us, this is just as important as our daily time alone.  It has become much more casual as the years go by, but we will go to dinner or a movie or if we’re in desperate need of getting some shopping done, we will make a “Costco run.”  I know there is very little romance to be found at Costco, but it is far more about being together than anything else. 

All of this would never happen if we did not have very understanding, helpful, caring, and loving older children.  Sunny, Liv and now even Patch, all understand our need to be a couple and to have our time. We have a "date night" about once a week.  The older kiddos watch the little ones about once a week after the babes have gone to sleep, thus giving us the freedom to be a couple.

PS - It helps to be in love, and I love my wife more and more each day.  I stand in awe of who she is and what a wonderful woman God gave me as a wife.  

God bless all of you.

PPS - I don’t know the first thing about blogging so if there is anything other than words included in this post, my wife did it.      

I could go on and on with the practicalities, but I agree with Papa that making our marriage and each other a priority is our biggest strategy to keeping the romance alive.

We may get some backlash here, but we do prioritize our marriage over our children and parenting.  My children's basic need for stability and a firm foundation are a priority.  It's SO easy to go overboard with parenting volunteering for the PTO, homeschooling, pediatrician and orthodontic appointments, packing lunches, reading countless books on parenting, soccer and little league practices, and the list goes on and on and on...  But how often do we find we ourselves committing this amount of energy in our marriages, spending this amount of time and thought to our spouse and our relationship?  I'm so guilty of this myself.

Papa and I do go out weekly and are so blessed to have the built-in baby sitters to accommodate us.  Often on our dates, we will find ourselves talking about the children nonstop, and will purposefully change the subject to refocus on us and our lives together.  Even prior to our babysitters, it was important to find time for us on a regular basis.  I have friends that call it "couch time,"  regular time for just mommy and daddy to sit together, uninterrupted, to just talk and connect.  Recently Papa and I have started going out to breakfast, after the littlest ones are off to preschool.  Over the years, the ways we have found to spend time together have changed, but since children have come, we have always made it a priority to have plain ol' time together.

It's easy for our marriage to get lost in the overwhelming task of parenting 6 children.  I want my marriage to be intentional, and to be honest, it's something I'm still working on.  Despite the myth, and even with 2 people God intends to be to be soul mates, marriage isn't easy.  It takes work, and it's work that never ends.  But with this work comes the biggest reward of all... the other half of my soul.  

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Sunday Snapshot {We've been waiting all winter for fall!}

The Arizona desert is a funny thing sometimes.  
In the desert, some seasons go by in a blink of an eye, and sometimes they never come at all!
This means that every year we have to wait for winter to have fall!
Notice the green grass, the shorts, the bare feet, the fallen leaves.  Yet Livy has on boots and a sweater because if she doesn't wear them now, she'll never get too.  And frequently boot wearers in the desert have to take them off so their feet don't sweat!
This is January, and yes, this is what the only 3 days of "fall" look like in our front yard this year.
It's all very confusing!
Especially to those of you who have been shoveling and blowing snow almost daily for the last month!
Here in the desert, fall usually comes all of a sudden on an unannounced day in January, after a particularly cold night, about 31 degrees-ish.   Then the one or two deciduous trees in the neighborhood spend the next two days in a fury of leaf dropping.  
Sadly fall never lasts more than 6 days, because the landscapers come on Fridays and take away all the leaves.  
Thankfully we have a big ash tree in our front yard, or we'd hardly recognize fall at all!
So when the 2-3 days of fall do occur, we have to make time to enjoy it... quickly!
This boy with his crooked glasses and sweet little smirk makes want to squeeze all the stuffin' out of him!

And could someone PLEASE tell this young lady to STOP growing up!
I simply won't allow it!
I've put my foot down!
Yet, she insists!
This little man makes me smile so hard my face is starting to hurt!
Happy Autumn to all my bloggie-friends!  Or is it fall?   Or winter?   Sheesh!  Now it's practically spring!
Oh, never mind.

Ni Hao Yall

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Mazatlan Baby!

This March, the Crazy 8s are gonna do something we haven't done in a LONG time!  
Not since the before babies came home!
A real family vacation!
We're going here!
And here!
And here!
And surely we're gonna build lots of these!
And hopefully eats LOTS of these.
And maybe even one or two of these!
The girls want to do this!  But I'm not so sure!
have never seen this.
And I am just giddy with excitement to show it to them!
Except for the fact that we are going to drive 2 days to get there.
Which brings about the obvious discussion from Ellen & Clark Griswold
Ellen: Why aren't we flying? 
Clark: Because getting there is half the fun. You know that.
Oh yes, I will definitely need one of these when we get there!
But the whole family is buzzing with excitement!
45 days and counting!!!!

PS-I'm sitting here laughing because I TOTALLY forgot that we have taken T&J to the beach before, about a year ago, when we visited family in near Mission Beach!  It was a quicky trip to California and back, and we visited at the beach for about 10 minutes.  Then a wave ate Tess, and it was SO cold so we quickly left!  I had totally forgotten until someone left me a comment reminding me.  
So much for the blog keeping my memory fresh! 

Monday, January 24, 2011

Trying to give it up

The pictures don't go with this post at all!  But I don't think I post something without photos.  So use your imagination, or consider it blogger-symbolism.
You see, I have this thing I feel guilty about.  I've hung onto it for years... like my scarlet letter.  Despite what I do, I've just been unable to give it up.

And I had this little reminder of my guilt just now.   And my tears flowed, and again my wound was raw and exposed and my tears flowed.  And you see, I know it's my albatross, and I know that I need to let it go and give it to God, but even with prayer, I haven't been able to do that.  I just haven't.  So I try to bury it but often it surfaces... raw and painful.
And I cried.
And I prayed, 'cause in times like that when you're so alone and so raw, He's there, and I really needed someone to hold me right then.
So I prayed again about this albatross.
Please take this one, God.  
Let me give it up to You.  
Please take it.  
Please take it.  
Please take it.

And Tess, who wasn't even looking at me, walked over to me and said,
Mama ok.  
Not with a question mark, but with a period.  Like You're ok, Mama.
Then she looked at my tears and said 4 words all together that is SO unlike her delayed speech to do, Tess kiss Mama eyes.  And she leaned in and kissed my teary eyes.

And Jude, who's not far from her side these days, came over and said, I love you, Mama.
And he kissed my cheek and bounced back off to play.
Thank you, God.
Thank you for the ordinary miracles that you provide me in the small quiet moments.
Still trying to give it up to Him,

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Sunday Snapshot {My 3 sons & oranges}

This time of year brings an annual chore to our family...
...harvest season.  Time to get all the oranges off the trees, lest we provide a ample supply of food for the rats!  Lovely city life!  Rotting oranges attract rats, so our neighbors will not be happy if we do not get all the oranges off the trees!
And some horticultural genius decided we needed not 1 but 2 orange trees in our back yard!  Let me mention, for anyone out there who might just be working on a landscape design, never plant more than 1 orange tree!  Ever!  No family can eat 2 trees worth of oranges!  Even if they give away as many as they can!  Even if they stick baskets of oranges on the sidewalk in front of their house with a sign that says "free."  Even if they invite all their friends to come pick as many as they want.
Notice all the easy picking is done and the remaining oranges are toward the top of the tree.  Makes for hard work!

So my 3 boys and I set out to harvest another laundry basket full.

The biggest boy was lead picker.
The middle boy was assigned the task of picking up oranges that split when they hit the ground or were rotten (the yuckies we call them) and putting them in a trash bag.
And the littlest boy was in charge of collecting oranges and slam dunking them in the basket.
One can never have too much slam dunking practice, right?
We are sure to leave several on the fence line for our neighbors.
We have an endless supply of oranges mid-December through February!
Oranges for breakfast.
Orange wedges in lunch boxes.
Oranges for dessert.
Orange marmalade.
Fresh orange juice.
Good stuff!

Ni Hao Yall

Thursday, January 20, 2011

3 little monkeys jumpin'

So much fun during a visit to Auntie S's home while baby P looks on.
The dead of winter is the desert is divine!
I'll let the smiles speak for themselves!
Coming soon to a theater near you--
I asked a few folks {those sitting around my dinner table that night} if they'd be interested in writing a little blurb here in Crazy Land.  And many were excited to divulge most personal secretes about yours truly share their thoughts with you.  
Well shut the front door, 'cause Papa's gonna post a little ditty about... 
hold on to the edge of your seat now... 
about keeping the romance alive!  Get out of town!  Yes, you heard me right!  Romance!  (He actually comes by it far more naturally than me!)  I swear I never even gave him any suggestions re a topic.  He came up with it all on his own with the help of the Q&A over there on the side bar.  
I sure do love my man! 
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