Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Surf Camp Shots

Here's what we've been up to during the last two days.

First, we came all the way to San Diego to see the official Utah state bird. Who knew they were actually supposed to live on the coast?

Me. I knew. That's who. Stupid Utah seagulls. This one, at least, has some sense and lives at the Pacific.

Yesterday, Garrett caught some waves.

And today he caught some waves. 

I like how his hair isn't even wet because, well, he hadn't fallen in. He just rode the waves to the shore and then took his board back out. Today he rode a shorter board--five or six feet. Go Garrett!

Matthew had a blast playing on the sand and doing this with his daddy.

As for me...well...I've just been shooting the breeze with professional surfer, film producer, Walking on Water founder and fellow PLNU alum Bryan Jennings.

Okay so I wasn't actually shooting the breeze. I was just trying to get my kid's attention. Garrett started off yesterday by standing funny on his board and falling over on every single wave. I went down to give him a quick pointer. Then Bryan told me I was a great coach and knew exactly what I was talking about. I decided not to mention the fact that my surfing ability is limited to two minuscule waves in Hawaii last summer.

If my hoodie at the end of July doesn't give away the fact that I'm not actually a surfer, I'm pretty sure the pasty white legs do.

Friday, July 26, 2013


My oldest son is so much like my brother (and I imagine my husband) was as a little guy. He's steady. He's content. He's not overly competitive.

My youngest son is so much like I was.

Everything, absolutely everything, is a competition.

Today, during lunch, I walked down the stairs to find food hanging over Matthew's lips. His mouth was at maximum capacity. I tried to figure out why he'd crammed so much food into his trap. Trying to answer me, he gestured frantically and mumbled. I finally figured out what he was saying. "I need to beat Garrett."

"You do not need to beat him. Swallow everything in your mouth before you take another bite."

His brother calmly continued to take reasonable bites of his lunch. I went to move the laundry into the dryer. A couple minutes later, I reentered the kitchen. Matthew's mouth was jammed full food. He had two small pieces of bagel left in his hands and he was actually gagging on the massive amount he'd shoved into his face.

"This is not okay," I told him. "We do not shove so much food into our mouths that we gag. This isn't an appropriate way to eat. Put those pieces down on your plate."

He began to cry. Garrett had about three bites left so I told Matthew that he wasn't allowed to finish eating the other pieces of his lunch until Garrett was done. His crying turned to sobbing. Eventually, he swallowed the enormous bite of food. "BUT I HAVE TO BEAT GARRETT!" he wailed.

Oh Lord, help us all. It would appear that I'm raising myself.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Jersey Boy

Y'all. I am still trying to process this whole SEVEN YEARS OLD thing. Trying. Failing. Because OH MAN was he small and spindly and bald and perfect.

And no bigger, really, than the numbers on his daddy's jersey. But then. Just. This happened. I maintain that the jersey has shrunk considerably.

And he's still kind of small (35% for height according to a growth website--his check up isn't until the middle of August) and spindly (31% for weight) and perfect except for this new defiant streak I'm not exactly enjoying. Of course, he's anything but bald these days.

But then, he's also just so very big, comparatively speaking.

It boggles the mind. How can he be 47 inches tall and weigh 47 pounds and run and swim and surf? 

My aunt recently pointed out to me that he's a third of the way to a whole grown-up man who can drink and gamble. I think I could have gone the next fourteen years without thinking about that.

But it is what it is.

My boy is practically all grown up already.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013


I have two and a half days to prepare to go to San Diego for three weeks. Here's to hoping I don't forget anything terribly important. Here's to knowing that I'm sure I will.

First week--Garrett's surf camp.
Second week--Hanging out for the first part of the week. Celebrating my 10th anniversary for three days.
Third week--Beach camping.

Troy will be there for the first several days and then he'll be back for the last eight days.

I'd say more but I just remembered not to forget my cameras.

Or my toothbrush.

Or sunscreen.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Seven-Year-Old Interview

1. What is your favorite T.V. Show? Spongebob (he rarely watches this show so, apparently, it has magical appeal.)
2. What did you have for breakfast? Pancakes
3. What is your middle name? John.
4. Favorite Food? Macaroni and cheese
5. What food do you dislike? Mashed potatoes (he's been doing this for years and I don't think this answer has ever changed.)
6. What is your favorite color? Brown, black and green
7. Favorite lunch? Hot dogs
8. What is your favorite thing to do? Go to the pool (if I took him every day it wouldn't be enough.)
9. If you could go anywhere in the world on vacation, where would it be? Hawaii or Israel or Egypt (after October, he'll be able to cross another one off this list.)
10. Favorite sport? Running, swimming and wrestling
11. When is your birthday? July 20
12. Are you a morning person or a night person? Both
13. Pets? A fish, a dog and a cat
14. Any new and exciting news you'd like to share with us? We're going to Israel
15. What do you want to be when you grow up? In the Navy. A submarine fighter.
16. What is your favorite candy? Chocolate. Crunch Bar.
17. Where is the farthest place you've ever been from home? Hawaii
18. What is your favorite book? Narnia. The Last Battle.
19. What are you most proud of? That I'm going in to first grade
20. What is your favorite movie? Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader
21. Which came first, the chicken or the egg? The egg.

And, for fun, I asked him the same questions that James Lipton asks at the end of Inside the Actor's Studio.

1. What is your favorite word? Jesus
2. What is your least favorite word? Dumb
3. What turns you on? (I rephrased with, "What do you like?") Elephants
4. What turns you off? (I rephrased with, "What don't you like?") Getting hurt
5. What sound or noise do you love? The sound of elephants going, "Bawereeee! Bawereee!" (elephants trumpeting)
6. What sound or noise do you hate? The sound my remote control boat makes when I'm taking it out of the Styrofoam. (this happens to sound a lot like finger nails on a chalkboard)
7. What is your favorite curse word? Shut up
8. What profession other than your own would you like to attempt? Pizza seller
9. What profession would you not like to do? I would not like to sing on the radio (should I be concerned with the fact that he wants to sell pizzas for a living but getting a music contract is out of the question?)
10. If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates? (I omitted the "If Heaven exists" part)? Welcome, Garrett.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

How Did Seven Get Here So Fast

My Son,

A few nights ago, we were driving home from Vacation Bible School. We'd taken one of your best buddies and his brother. As we drove along a conversation began to play out from the back seat. The older brother asked if the two of you remembered hating each other. This caught my attention because it was front page news to me. So I listened a little more attentively. The brother said that of course he remembered hating you. After all, who could forget that?

"When did you start to be friends?" asked the older brother--who is actually only seven himself.

"Well," replied your buddy, "one day we decided to stop being enemies and so then we became friends. Right, Garrett?"

"Yep," you affirmed.

"Why did you hate each other?" the brother asked.

"Because everyone liked him and that made me mad so I decided to hate him," came the reply. It sounded logical enough--for a kindergartner.

"He was popular so you hated him, right?" asked the brother.

"Uh huh. But then I found out he was nice and we became best buds."

Of course I had to follow up on this conversation once we'd dropped them off. You told me that during the first week of school, your friend approached you and declared, "I hate you!" to which you answered, "Oh. Uh. Okay." And, apparently, from that moment on you were mortal enemies for a couple of months before you became the best of friends when he walked up to you and said, "Let's be friends now."

I asked you if you'd told him that all the hate was mutual. You said no. Of course not. You'd never hated him. I have to admit I was more than a little bugged by the fact that in all those months of me asking, How was school? Who'd you play with at recess? What was the best part of the day? Did you get a hand stamp? It never once came up that you had a mortal enemy. Boys.

Apparently, next year, I need to start off my line of questioning with, So, how was your day? Who's your mortal enemy?

But it made me so proud of you to hear that your friend declared war on account of the fact that everyone liked you. Not because I want you to be popular, but because I want you to be nice. I want people to look up to you because I want them to see something in you that is different. More than anything in this whole entire life, I want you to love Jesus and I want that love to shine through you and straight out into the world.

Yes, like every mom, I want you to be brilliant and exceedingly athletic and attractive. If I could turn you into a surgeon or a lawyer or a major league baseball player with the wave of a hand, I just might do it. But, child of mine, none of that really matters. You know Jesus. And you desire to make Him known. If I accomplish nothing else as your mother, I hope that, at ten and eighteen and twenty-five and ninety-two, you are loving and serving God. Because if you are doing those things, you will be loving, joyful, peaceful, patient, kind, good, faithful, gentle, and self-controlled.

So make a lot of friends, Kiddo. Just make sure you keep telling them about Jesus.

It was the great Eric Liddell who said, "God made me fast. And when I run, I feel His pleasure." I have no idea if, when you grow up, God will have made you fast or strong or coordinated, but I know that you sure like to try everything in an attempt to find out.

It's been a year since you surfed but, in one week, you're headed to camp to find out if you still love it. You've been growing out "surfer hair" since September and still don't have much to show for it but a mop of straw-like scarecrow fluff. Still, when it's wet and you're wearing swim trunks, it has the desired effect. It's the rest of the time that you look a little like someone's mangy mutt.

In addition to talking incessantly about surfing, this year you played t-ball and soccer, wrestled, joined a running club and took several swimming lessons. You won a blue ribbon in the 6-8 year old boy category for the 1600m by running it in 7:59. Forget the fact that you were the only 6-8 who ran that distance because you beat some 9, 10, 11 and 12 year olds. As far as swimming goes, you're begging to be on the team. The way our club works, you have to finish lessons first. You only have two levels left before you can be on the pre-competition team. You are always the youngest in your class and your teachers usually don't believe that you're as young as you are. Of course, you did inform your last instructor that, "My mom is a better swimmer than you." Dude, I know that you weren't trying to be rude. You were simply stating what you believe to be a fact. You know that I won medals and ribbons because you insist on carrying several of them around in your Bible. And as far as you're concerned I was the female version of Michael Phelps. It's funny how much those accolades meant to me once upon a time. Now I couldn't care less if they fall out of your Bible never to be seen again. Because you and your brother are my greatest accomplishments. You're what matters. And also because, Kid, I don't know if I posted faster times than your swim instructor or not, but right now I am so out of shape and so ten years older than her that I probably can not take her.

You're doing so well in school and I cannot believe that there was ever a time when I questioned whether or not we should wait to start you. I know you would have been fine academically if we hadn't waited but barely five is so tiny to be a big kindergartner and barely six was perfect. You were a leader. You were second in your class. You rocked that first year of school. I'll be honest, I'm a little terrified of what an entire senior year with an 18 year old is going to look like--especially if you continue to perfect that eye roll you're becoming so famous for--but we're just going to have to go ahead and push through. You're reading everything in sight now. We have to spell super quickly if we want to try to get something past you. You're doing basic math without being prompted. You still can't grasp how there is money on a credit card even though you ask me on at least a weekly basis.

I'm not going to lie. When I think about what it will be like to have you gone all day at school, it hurts my heart. I know you're totally ready and you'll be fantastic and I'm certainly not going to tell you that it's killing me inside but, one day, when you're old and grown, you can read this and know that the thought of first grade terrified me. For seven years it's been you and me. I suppose I prepared for this by sending you to three years of preschool and a perfectly successful year of kindergarten but I want to weep openly when I think of only having you for weekends and holidays. It's like I divorced your school and they got custody. Sure, I could home school you except--do you hear that? That's me laughing manically. You and I, we would need direct revelation from God before we ever embarked on something as ridiculous as ME homeschooling YOU. Oh the tears that would flow--and not just mine. You'd be crying, too. And oh the stomping of feet and the throwing of tantrums--and not just you. I'd be stomping, too. So I'll send you back to school in just a few weeks. And I'll deal with it.

In other news, you've gone from hating accents with a passion to walking around, in a high-pitched girly voice and saying, "I am from British. I am Britain." Doesn't matter how many times we tell you that you need to switch those around, you are always from British. Although your accent sounds nothing like an English one.

We made progress at Lake Tahoe when you ate an entire piece of lasagna and declared that you don't hate it anymore. You also told me recently that you now like spaghetti and potatoes as long as you can dip them in ranch (not the spaghetti because, ew, spaghetti and ranch? No thank you). You still eat every fruit and vegetable (exception-avocado) with a great deal of enthusiasm. Thank you, Son. You make me proud.

Buddy, lastly, I want you to know something. We have put you IN THIS WORLD. We don't want you to be OF THIS WORLD, but we want you to be ever present in it. We want you to shine on your public school campus because someone has to. That's a lot to put on a seven-year-old but you astound us. Last year, you sat your buddy down on the carpet during free centers and told him that he needed Jesus in his heart. Later that day, you were thrilled to announce to me that he accepted Jesus because you told him to and you led him in a prayer. I gently tried to explain that while that was fantastic, he maybe needed a little more information before he would really know what he was doing enough to invite the Lord to be HIS Lord.

Just the other day, I overheard that friend say, "Remember when we were on the rug and you told me how to make Jesus my Lord and then you told me to pray and I did? Now Jesus is my Lord." And it was so sincere. God did that through you.

Garrett, I couldn't be more proud of you. I yell and I mess up and I get it wrong, a lot. I'm so sorry for the times when I am blindly leading you throughout this life. But I need you to know that in the middle of the correction, when you're writing, "I will not disobey my parents," because you chose to deliberately break the rules, when you're rolling your eyes and being tremendously difficult, not a day goes by without me marveling at how incredible you are. Not a day goes by that I am not blessed, beyond comprehension, to be your mother.

Happy Birthday to my favorite seven-year-old.


Friday, July 19, 2013

Party Animal

So he'll be seven tomorrow.

I know, I can't explain how it happened either.

One day his six pound, ten ounce body was snuggled into my arm and the next day he's turning seven. It boggles the mind.

He's having two separate birthday bashes. We leave on Sunday for two days of camping up at Bear Lake with his best buddy. And for that he picked out a chocolate Costco cake with a caterpillar on it. If you know me at all you know that I'm a white frosting on white cake kind of girl. But our boy wanted chocolate for his birthday so chocolate he shall have.

Since his best buddy is already up at the lake camping, he couldn't come to Garrett's official party. This year, the boy chose to take two super good pals to the movies and then out for ice cream.

First, the boys came over to play for about a half hour. Then Garrett opened his presents--a Lego set and a build-your-own rubber band gun. The kid loves himself some Legos so he was thrilled with that gift. He also fell in love with a rubber band gun at a craft fair at Lake Tahoe and was pretty near devastated when we wouldn't buy it for him, so the shooter went over very well. We built it as soon as we got home and he is now going crazy waiting for it to dry.

At 10:30, we went to see Despicable Me 2. The boys all thought it was hilarious. We bought a large popcorn (which is very large) that comes with a refill. The six of us had no problem consuming not one but two huge buckets of the buttery stuff.

Which is really not good because when the movie was over we went to Leatherby's. We bought a dish of Play Dough ice cream because Troy and I think it is nasty and didn't want it anywhere near the good stuff but, for some odd reason, our child loves it. So we split this ice cream up and each boy got a small dish of it.

And then we left.

Except we didn't. 

Because right after the dish of Play Dough ice cream--which I think is every flavor known to man all mixed together as a sort of "suicide" ice cream--arrived, this came.

Oh yes. It did. Mint chocolate, cookies and cream, and fudge brownie ice cream covered in dripping hot fudge, whipped cream and cherries. And those four boys, my husband and I finished every last bite of it.

Because every now and then, a kid's gotta have popcorn and ice cream for lunch. (Cost to feed all six of us large quantities of ice cream=13 dollars. You can't beat that.)

After all, you only turn seven once.

Total cost of the party including favors for the guests= $60
Not having to clean anything up when it's all over= priceless

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

To See What Jesus Saw

The Rock Star was three years old when he confessed his undying love for the Holy Land. Troy jaunted off on another tour of Israel and my little boy, my toddler and I stayed behind and talked to him on Skype. Garrett wanted to go--desperately.

He hasn't shut up about it since.

Troy leads tours. He's been a handful of times.

It happens like this. Troy gets to go for free. It's a working trip for him. On the trip I was on with him, back in 2005, not only did he coordinate the itinerary and travel plans--which takes months and much work, he also had to take care of different issues on the ground in Israel. He was the one who dealt with an elderly, wheelchair bound woman when she lost her plane ticket. He also deals with all the hotel issues that might arise, sudden changes in itinerary plans, etc. As such, his cost is built in to the trip.

He began planning another trip for this upcoming fall. Of course, the Rock Star began chipping at his father. "I want to go. Please please please?!?!" He even decided that he would sell candy bars door to door to help pay for his trip. It was his idea. We tried explaining that he would have to sell thousands of candy bars to afford such a trip. Still, he was determined. Off he went, knocking on door and explaining that he was earning money to go to Israel.

I told him there was no way we were going this year.

And I was serious.

Then, it just so happened, that this trip got enough people signed up to go that Troy was able to provide me with a free trip as well. Still, I told him I wasn't going. I didn't want to leave Garrett--who so desperately wanted to go--and Matthew. I didn't want to send Garrett halfway around the world without me. I'm still too attached to him to cut the metaphorical umbilical cord. Plus, with it being a working trip for Troy, I couldn't really send my first grader to Israel without me.

I told Troy that it just couldn't happen. Not unless we got a hefty amount of unexpected money.

Then he got a very nice bonus.

Then we got nearly 1500 dollars in the mail from a housing settlement we'd completely forgotten we'd even applied for.

We sat down and crunched the numbers.

With his free trip and my free trip and a third trip paid for by unexpected money, we needed to pay for one person's tour of Israel. It was still super expensive--especially because we'd just purchased a new to us vehicle--but it would never be cheaper.

I'd had other valid concerns. A tour of Israel is exhausting. I went when I was 23 and there were a few days when I was so tired I couldn't see straight--honestly. I mean, generally that was in the airport after hours of air travel but still. I can't imagine how tiring it would be for children.

Also, I can't imagine spending that kind of money for them to not even remember a trip. I doubt a four-year-old will have much memory of a trip he took before he even started kindergarten.

Still, I couldn't deny the sudden third trip's cost covered.

So we did it.

We booked four round trip tickets to Israel in October.

Garrett will be off track and will only miss two days of school. He'll experience eleven days on the ground where Jesus walked and ministered. We were able to save more money by booking airfare separate from the group (and arriving a day before everyone else). So if another elderly woman loses her plane ticket, my father-in-law will have to take care of it (both my mother and father-in-law are going on this trip as well). We'll fly to JFK and then on to Tel Aviv on Delta which saves us the domestic baggage fee cost because it's the same airline the whole way. Since we'll get in to Tel Aviv a day before everyone else on the tour, our kids can get over their jet lag.

Before we made our final decision--and while we were still very much praying about it--I took it to Facebook and asked what people thought. A few people expressed concern that Matthew was too little. I just simply couldn't leave him and take Garrett. Not only did that seem unfair, it also seemed like my heart would break a little without him for that long. Most of the people overwhelmingly said, "DO IT!"

Some wondered how, in the world, they would handle the travel without turning into raging horrors. The answer--they might. However, they've traveled A LOT in their young lives. We've driven all over the western United States. They've flown to numerous places including a red eye home from Hawaii. I'm actually not really concerned about the travel. Yes, this will be the longest they've ever traveled (18 hours to get there and 21 to get home), but I think we've prepared them as best as we can for that part.

Some questioned what they might eat since a Mediterranean diet is quite different from our own. Matthew will eat anything and everything we've ever tried with the one exception of avocado. I'm not worried about him. Garrett is certainly pickier than Matthew but not at all truly picky by our country's standards. We've always insisted that he eat what it put before him. We're good about only giving him tiny portions of the foods we know he doesn't like but I'm not worried about him either. I thoroughly enjoyed most of my meal experiences in Israel. The fruit and veggies there are beautiful and delicious and fresh. Breakfasts are typically a buffet of Greek yogurt, fresh fruits, hard boiled eggs, salad, etc. If nothing else, Garrett can stuff himself on these things and eat smaller portions if we find that his palate does not love things like falafel, lamb, and other middle eastern cuisine. Thankfully, almost all of our meals are included in the tour cost so we won't be forking over big money for either of our kids to push food around their plates.

As I said before, exhaustion and memory retention are my two biggest concerns. Thankfully, I've been there before so I can hang back at the hotel with them if they need a down day. I plan to take a great deal of video as well as numerous photos to help them retain memories of the trip. Currently, my thought is to have the boys help me scrapbook when we get back so that we can reinforce those experiences.

If they remember only a little, it should still be a life changing experience for them. When I went, at 23, it changed the way I experience my own faith. It gave actual images to places discussed throughout Scripture. I saw what Jesus saw. And that was incredible. If they can grasp, at four and seven, just a fraction of the impact Israel had--and continues to have--on me, their spiritual lives will be enriched. And that will be worth it to me.

Monday, July 15, 2013

A Week Is Never Enough

A week at the lake is never enough. 

There are never enough early mornings when Tahoe is smooth as glass.

We spent three nights in Zephyr Cove, on the southeast shore. I've been to the south side but never stayed there before. We went to Kiva Beach and to the Taylor Creek Stream Profile Chamber.

On Monday, we spent almost the entire day on the beach. It was glorious weather. Troy's sister and her family surprised us by coming up to the lake a day early. We saw our friends who live in Auburn, played hard at the beach, roasted hot dogs and marshmallows.

One week at Tahoe is not enough swimming, sleeping, and fetching for our golden retriever.

That night, with our friends still hanging out at our campsite, we saw a bear. Again. Two years ago, while we were camping in Tahoe City, the same friends came up to visit and there was a bear in our campsite. Apparently, our friends, bears, and Tahoe are becoming a biannual thing.

The sister who surprised us by showing up a day early came to our campsite. She had an extra kid with her who looked a lot like a different sister's daughter. Turns out, another sister and her family decided to surprise us too. They camped one night in our campground.

On Tuesday we packed up our camp and headed north to the cabin my inlaws had rented. We passed by Emerald Bay and Eagle Falls.

A week in Tahoe isn't enough time to adequately capture the beauty of the falls. But it is enough time to try.

We stopped at the Fire Sign Cafe and had breakfast--at noon--with the first sister who surprised us and her family.

We arrived at our rental on Tuesday afternoon. It was a great cabin, perfect for our group of TWENTY.

A week in Tahoe is simply not enough time for twenty people to enjoy all that the lake and its surrounding areas have to offer.

My two youngest nieces are joined at the hip. They're like twins, separated by one year and two weeks of life.

We went to Sand Harbor. 

A week in Tahoe isn't enough time for Garrett to jump off of all the rocks he wants to jump off of.

But it is enough time to try.

His father feels the same way.

We went rafting. There were four rafts for twenty people and somehow, at the beginning, all of my nephews and my oldest son ended up with my sister and brother-in-law. They couldn't hear anything over the sheer volume so we split them up at our first stop.

A week in Tahoe isn't long enough to get twenty people to look halfway decent in a group picture. But I think it's safe to say we came pretty darn close.

My dad found this hat on the Truckee River when I was super tiny. It's almost too small for Matthew's head but it made a final trek down river with my family. Now it's time to pass it on to smaller heads.

A week in Tahoe isn't long enough for Matthew to hang out with Uncle Wade as much as he wants to.

But it is enough time to take cute pictures.

It's not enough time for me to spend with this beautiful niece who's a drama girl after my own heart. She adores my youngest son and he adores her. I wanted to bring her home with me. My life would be so much easier.

It's not enough time to spend with this gorgeous niece. She couldn't come home with me either. She has to go back to college in a few weeks.

We took another great group shot. It's a good thing I was hiding behind everyone because I had on absolutely no make up, there were s'mores stuck in my teeth, and I'd just recently hopped out of the shower. 

A week in Tahoe isn't ever enough time to capture the beauty, the solitude, the endless possibilities.

 But I'll take what I can get.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Cool and Breezy Sundress

Several weeks ago, in the newspaper, I saw an ad that caught my eye. Somehow, I still don't know exactly how it happened, the wording, "Cool and Breezy Sundress! Buy 2 for Only $22 3 for $32," stood out to me long before I actually looked at the picture. For approximately one second, my brain pondered the incredible deal that three sundresses for $32 would be. Then my eyes moved just a bit and I saw the model, in the dress.

How is this even remotely a part of the "sundress" family? No. This can be categorized in one of three ways. 

1. Nightgown-a loose gown, worn in bed by women or children.

2. Housecoat-a woman's dresslike garment, in various lengths, for casual wear about the house.

3. Muumuu-a long, loose-hanging dress, usually brightly colored or patterned, worn especially by Hawaiian women.

This is not a sundress.

"Slip on this cool and breezy short-sleeved sundress and go! Roomy style with V-neckline, patch pockets and flirty flounced hem. Woven cotton/polyester. Machine wash & dry."

SLIP IT ON AND GO WHERE? Bed? The kitchen? Because those are about the only places I'm going in this dress.

This is a sundress.

This is a sundress.

This is jammies. Or a muumuu. I still can't decide.


I kept a totally straight face as I said to my husband, "Look at these dresses. They're such a good price. I think I'll go ahead and order them for our moms, and your sisters, and Heather (my brother's wife) for Christmas. I can get them each a different print." I KEPT A STRAIGHT FACE, Y'ALL. I did a good job sounding like I was completely dead serious.

And that man I married looked right at me, paused for the briefest of seconds, and said, "You can start with your mom and see how it goes over."

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Postpartum Depression

When I found out I was going to be a mom, that The Rock Star was living inside my body, that this miraculous dream was finally happening, I was in a great deal of denial.

I'm not really pregnant.
I won't believe it until I see the heartbeat on the ultrasound.
Oh, that, right there? That's the heartbeat? Couldn't it just be a hiccup in the machine?

Once I was ushered into acceptance by the realization that the nausea had a reason, I was absolutely, blindingly terrified. For about five months (I was already nearly two months pregnant when I found out) I lived in deep fear that something awful was going to happen.

I am going to lose this baby. If I make it to the second trimester, I will tell people I'm pregnant.
Now that I'm in the second trimester, I'm sure I'll have a late and hugely traumatic miscarriage.
I have to make it to 32 weeks. I know if I make it that far, my baby will have a fighting chance.

In early June, the doctor was slightly concerned and I started having twice weekly fetal nonstress tests. I did diligent kick counts, terrified that, because of my low amniotic fluid, my perfectly healthy baby was going to suddenly die.

From the moment I found out that I was pregnant, I prayed. Lord, let this baby live. Once I'd reached 35 weeks I began to believe that this thing might go off without a hitch. Certainly I prayed for a healthy baby and a safe and uncomplicated delivery, but I relaxed more than I'd let myself up to that point. And then I turned my prayer life in another direction.

Lord, please protect me from postpartum depression.

I just could not bear the thought.

All I really knew about postpartum depression was that women sometimes wanted to suffocate their babies. Or put them in the washing machine. Or, at the very least, make someone else hold him because she felt absolutely no attachment to the kid whatsoever. (Clearly I can't claim to have done much research on the topic.)

But the thought of anything less than idyllic bliss upon the birth of my baby sounded like horrendous torture. So I prayed and prayed and prayed against it. And our Father spared me.

I'm certainly not saying that every woman who experiences postpartum should pray harder. God calls each of us to our own trials and tribulations. I'm just ever grateful that postpartum depression after infertility wasn't a road I had to walk down. (And ever thankful that it wasn't something I had to deal with when my second son was born. There are some definite perks to adoption and the avoidance of postpartum depression is one of them.)

I looked at Garrett and he was perfect and I was head over heels in love with him and, other than very emotionally wanting to slow time down, I never dealt with the feelings that so many women have to struggle with after giving birth. I once went back to our infertility clinic. One of the nurses couldn't understand why I hadn't brought the baby to show off. Because, as much as I wanted to, I'd been where those women were. I'd been the one sitting in the chair watching women bring their babies in and it had felt like death. I wouldn't be the one to add to their pain. As I stood there, she asked me how I was doing and how he was. After gushing about how wonderful he was and life was, I explained that I was struggling with wanting to slow time down, with wanting to cry over every day that passed because he was already SIX WEEKS OLD and he'd never be SIX WEEKS OLD AGAIN. She said something about postpartum depression and how to deal with it and to make sure if it went on too long or got too intense I saw someone for it.

But if that was postpartum depression, I still have it. And I managed to get it with Matthew too. Because ALMOST SEVEN and FOUR and WHERE DID ALL THE TIME GO? It still hurts me.

That was not postpartum depression.

I know people who wrestle with the real thing. I know people who have felt the oppression of chemicals, the audacity of their own hormones. I am so thankful that it is not my story. But I have friends who have walked, are walking, the winding road. One of them is brave enough to be public about it in the present. It isn't her past. It's her life.

Please visit Renee's blog. Direct your friends there. If you know someone who is struggling with this or if you can help someone just by having more information, please follow Renee's story. Postpartum is so much more than what I thought it was when my baby was growing inside me. When we, as women, are aware of the issues that face us and our friends, we are empowered, we are empathetic, we are better.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Last Day of Kindergarten (July 1)

I need someone to explain this to me. And, yeah, I know. The hair. The ridiculous surfer hair is a big part of it. But it can't be all of it. How can a kid change so much in ten months?


Correct me if I'm wrong but, this doesn't look like a first grader? This looks like a junior higher, right? Please ignore those shoes. He put his nice ones on and his toes were turned all up under themselves to fit inside. This was our only other option.

Apparently a mother is supposed to check things like, DO THE SHOES FIT? And replace them when that answer is a resounding NO. Oh well. Isn't it enough that he had a button down shirt, a belt and decent pants? Strive for mediocrity and you'll never be disappointed.

His teacher chose seven kids to say a line in to the microphone. He'd been practicing his line for weeks and weeks. He was so ready to shout out that line that he walked down to the microphone before the previous song was quite finished. As the final notes of the song played out, he began to speak. He looked at his teacher who subtlety shook her head, no. "Oops," he said and quickly threw both hands over his mouth. It was the most adorable mistake I've ever seen. When the previous song finally ended, he said his line loud and clear.

Then he and one of his buddies got their perfect attendance awards. And he declared to his principal, "I got perfect attendance because I came to school EVEN WHEN I WAS SICK!" The principal laughed and I searched for the nearest hole to climb into and die. Then I explained that there was only one day that he was sick, it was right before they went off track, he had a cold and a low grade fever--nothing a little ibuprofen couldn't handle. Etc. Etc. Etc. Word vomit everywhere. I promise I didn't infect the whole school. 

Their principal is leaving anyway so I'll never see him again. Perhaps he'll remember me as "That Crazy Mom Who Sent Her Son To School With The Black Plague."

Then he posed with his teacher. He declared to her, "I won't get perfect attendance next year because I'm missing two days of school to go to Israel." (More on that later. But I will say that international travel in October is the one good thing about the track system.) She agreed that he'll learn more in two days in Israel than he'd ever learn in first grade just before going off track.

It was a great year. He's reading voraciously. He's above the bench mark in all areas of math. (We're questioning whether he may have been switched at birth.) He's made lots of friends. Over the course of the year he received all E's and one S. His teacher liked him. He lost his hand stamp only twice all year. Now we're going to go ahead and blast full speed ahead into first grade.

And then college. Because time is flying way too fast.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Kid Shots

I'm running around like a chicken with my head cut off today--trying to get everything ready to leave tomorrow for a week in Tahoe. (For the record, one week in Tahoe is about one week too short but I'll take what I can get.) 

One of the things on my long list of things to do was clear the memory card in The Rock Star's camera so that it would be ready for him to take approximately eleventy billion shots while we're gone. I made sure they were all downloaded to the computer and then wiped that sucker clean.

In the process, I found a few gems.

He loves to take pictures. He doesn't always frame them correctly, so I had to delete several of the backsides of teenagers in our youth group that he shot during our most recent youth event.

But, aside from mildly inappropriate butt shots, I think my six-year-old is a pretty good photographer.

We'll see what he can come up with when we're in the Sierras.

I've got a few posts scheduled and I'll be back in a week with tales and photos from our adventures. We'll be camping alone for the first three nights. Then we're meeting up with Troy's entire family to stay in a cabin for four nights. All 20 of us will be under one roof. That will include seven kids under the age of 10. Plus one golden retriever. So I'm sure I'll be able to regale you with all manner of fascinating stories.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have laundry and cleaning and packing and scrubbing to do.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Four on the Fourth

1. Happy Fourth of July! Have I mentioned that I hate hate hate living in a state where you can buy personal fireworks and set them off into all hours of the night? Oh sure, there are rules and regulations but heck if anyone is going to pay attention to them. This means that my babies toss and turn and wake up two million times. This means my dog--terrified since he was ten months old of anything that makes a loud noise--will pace and shake and hide in the bathroom and be generally completely insane for hours on end. But, since I believe independence to be a good thing, we'll head to our friends' house tonight and eat ourselves silly and, yes, my kids will watch as our friend sets off all kinds of sparklers and such. We will have to leave before he does the really big stuff because that will occur at about the same time that our dog will leap straight through a window if we're not here to comfort him.

2. We're leaving for my happy place on Saturday morning. We kind of can't wait. The boys and I are almost to the point where we'll count down hours. I can't wait to swim in the freezing lake, raft the Truckee, roast hot dogs over a fire, and watch my kids being happy for a week with sticks and rocks as toys.

3. We just got back from a family trip to Cold Stone. We had gift cards so we splurged and let the boys add a cone to their cotton candy ice cream. Matthew added Twix and Garrett added Nerds and, for the record, it was the sugariest, sweetest, grossest ice cream of ever. Wait. Not of ever. Troy brought home Whoppers ice cream a few months ago and it was disgusting.

4. I can't really think of a fourth. But three on the fourth sounds confusing. Am I right?

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

A Kid's First Board

You know that tingly, burning sensation you feel when a top secret surprise is unraveling long before its supposed to? It's the same feeling I felt as a kid when I knew I was caught in a lie. There must be some kind of chemical released in the brain that shouts, "SCRAMBLE! DO WHAT YOU CAN! THERE'S STILL TIME. KEEP WEAVING FABRICATIONS."

A couple months ago, I found a used surfboard here in Utah for $75. It was a long, foam board--perfect for beginner surfers. I sent my husband up north to check it out. He told me it was in nearly perfect condition so we bought it for Garrett's birthday. Troy wrapped it in a giant blanket and hid it in our garage. Then we bought a van, Troy rearranged the garage, and there wasn't really room for the surfboard. We moved it to our utility closet. My grand plan was to put a big bow on it and have it leaning against the hallway wall when he woke up on his birthday--a mere two and a half weeks away.

Well, shortly after we bought the board, Garrett declared that he wanted one for his birthday. I explained that they are expensive, that we have no where to use one in Utah, and that we really wouldn't want to strap it to the roof every time we drove to California.

"I know!" he shouted. "It can stay at Grandma and Grandpa's house!" Wise beyond his years, that one. I'd already asked my parents if they could possibly store it for us. With that problem out of the way, we focused on the TOO EXPENSIVE. Meanwhile, the board lived happily in our closet where Garrett never (NEVER EVER EVER NEVER!) goes because he's convinced that's where monsters live.

Then, as luck would have it, our A/C went out. We had to pull the board out of the closet so the repairman could work on the A/C and, honestly, it was becoming difficult to find places to store a nine foot surfboard. It was still wrapped up in a blanket so we ended up sticking it alongside our guest bed. We're leaving on a camping trip on Saturday so I have all of our gear piled high in the same room. It just looked like it was something for the trip.

While our A/C was out (for four straight days and nights during record setting heat) we all moved in to the basement. The boys slept on the floor of the office and Troy and I took up residence in the guest room. We kept pillows piled on top of the surfboard and our little grom was none the wiser.

But yesterday the stars collided, the secrets tumbled, the luck ran out. I was putting some of our food together in the basement when Garrett followed me in. I wasn't thinking. It didn't cross my mind that the pillows were all up on the bed now, instead of guarding the prized present. My back was turned.

"Hey mom, what's this?" he asked. I swiveled toward him, expecting him to be holding a tent stake or a can opener, maybe his father's ax. (Although really, my first clue should have been the "what's this?" part of the question because our very own Huckleberry Finn has known for years what ALL of our camping equipment is.) There he was, standing up against the board, with his finger on it.

My brain sent copious amounts of whatever chemical screams, "LIE! LIE! LIE!" straight to my mouth and I started scrambling as calmly as possible. I steadied my voice. I acted nonchalant. Lesser performances have received Oscars, I tell you. But the difference is, they had a better script. I had nothing.

"It's just a board," I fidgeted with some cans of food, acting intensely uninterested. "We put it on the top of the car so that our roof bag has something to sit on. It makes everything more sturdy when we're driving."

It might have worked on the four-year-old. "Well, but, it's shaped like a surfboard. And it feels like a surfboard."

"Buddy, I'm trying to pack up. Leave it alone. It's just a board to put on the roof of the van," I replied, nonchalant like on the outside, dying a slow death on the inside.

"Then let me see it," he said. "Because it goes to a point at the end. Like a surfboard. And down here I think I feel fins. Like a surfboard. So just tell me the truth. You bought me a surfboard for my birthday."

At that point I knew that the damage was done. No amount of redirect was going to fix this situation. I just knew I couldn't "give" him his birthday present without his daddy so I did the only thing I could think to do. I lied some more.

It really is just a board. Blah blah blah. Daddy knows more about it than I do. Blah blah blah. You'll have to wait until he gets home. Blah blah blah.

Well, his father wasn't home more than ten minutes when he suddenly yelled, "Oh! I have to ask daddy what that board is for!" Thankfully, in those ten minutes, Troy had the opportunity to move the board from the guest room to the boys' bedroom. 

"Hey daddy?" Garrett yelled from downstairs. "Where are you?"

"I'm in your room," Troy called down. Garrett took the stairs two at a time.

"There's a board down in the basement," he said just outside his closed bedroom door. "What is it--"

He'd thrown the door open and come face to face with his very own surfboard. The very breath was stripped from his lungs as he stared at it. 

He hugged it. He ran his hands over it. He grinned from ear to ear. He hugged me. He hugged his dad. He examined it. He declared his undying love. He held it.

He made grand plans for it. Plans that involve getting up at the crack of dawn while we're beach camping so that he can, "catch the best waves before everyone is on the beach." We asked him if he was sad that he'd only be getting a few small presents on his birthday since he found his surfboard. "I'm too happy to be sad!" he replied.

Later, I didn't know where he was. Matthew was playing outside and the house was quiet. I called for him. "I'm in here," came his voice from the bedroom. "I'm just staring at my surfboard."

Last night, as I tucked him in, he propped himself up on his arms. "Wait a few minutes to turn out the light. I just want to look at it a little longer."

I can't think of a present, in the history of nearly seven years, that has been so well received. Even if it was two and a half weeks early.