Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The Zoo

I thought it’d be fun to take the kids to the zoo one day during their winter break from school. I invited my mom along to share in the day, and she brought my little nephew (7 mos) who she watches once a week. It was a beautiful day, overcast but not chilly, almost ideal for a day spent outdoors.

I think this visit was the best I’ve had as far as animal interaction goes. It’s like we hit some cosmic marvel because most of the animals were not only out in the open where you could see them but they were highly active as well. Sometimes when we visit the zoo half the animals are hidden in some secret part of their area completely non-visible to humans. Other times we go we can see the animals all right, they just refuse to move or wake up. This time however a great majority of them were visible, moving about and giving the viewers lots of entertainment. It was marvelous.

We watched the giraffes glide along with their beautiful gate, we admired the tiger’s powerful yet stealth-like walk, we laughed at the teeny tiny monkeys that leaped and played in the trees around us, we applauded the mighty elephant who did tricks before receiving his meal, we gawked at the lion who showed us much more of himself than necessary and empathized with the lioness who had her back turned to him in what appeared to be nothing less than scorn, we giggled at the bright baboon butts, and we marveled at the very apparent family bonds and interaction amongst the orangutans. We saw much, walked for hours and spent a truly enjoyable morning together.

My 7 month old nephew is very social and observant. He takes in his surroundings with curiosity combined with seriousness. He often displays a face deep in thought, as though contemplating the existence of humankind. As babies do, he can instantaneously transform his features to radiate with extreme joy and happiness, as though bubbling over from within. He spent most of the morning switching back and forth between these two moods.

He also was not about to sit alone in his comfy stroller while all the other kids roamed about freely and at such a greater height than he. I quickly realized the futility of keeping him in the stroller and decided to hold him up high (ok, higher) with freer movement. He remained in my arms for a good two hours. I often say he is the easiest baby in the world to hold. He just rests effortlessly in your arms. But after two hours, even he got heavy. So we stashed him back in the dreaded stroller and quickly popped a teething cookie into his hands. Best move ever! This little cookie (or cracker…? Not exactly sure what it was) kept him thoroughly entertained and occupied for another hour! He chewed on that sucker nonstop, in sheer bliss. At the end of our outing he was covered, literally from the top of his head to the bottom of his feet in mushy, smeared, caked on cookie crumbs. He was quite a sight! All we could identify of his former self were his two little round eyes shining out from behind cookie mush.

My kids were running around the place like chickens with their heads cut off. We could have easily caged them and placed them on exhibit as well with the way they were running to and fro like little wild bambinos. Even my daughter took part in the mayhem. She doesn’t technically run yet, it’s more of an animated, brisk walk accompanied by squeaks and squawks with her arms stretching straight up and out. Now it’s not like we’ve never been to the zoo before, or even out in public for that matter. They are well acquainted with the zoo (and with social norms). They know how to behave. I’ve spent much, much, much, much time educating in this area. But something was in the air this day, something that made them feel it was all right to throw caution to the wind and be free. I don’t know, maybe it was the same something that affected all the zoo animals too. I finally gave up the broken record commands and decided as long as they were safe, in sight, and not harming others, I would let them explore their wildness. We were, after all, at a zoo, surrounded by wild animals. What were three more?

The morning ended with my nephew and my daughter in tears, exhausted beyond comprehension, ready for some real food and some real sleep, whichever happened to come first. My nephew ended up falling asleep in my arms on our way to the car, completely worn out. He didn’t awake until much later when his mother (I’m sure slightly horrified at his appearance) picked him up. My daughter somehow managed to keep her little eyes open till she ate, but we did have to listen to her sad whimpers all the way home. The boys were elated, having enjoyed exotic animals, the petting zoo, and hours of (mostly) unhindered freedom to be wild little boys.

All in all, a fantastic day!

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Monday, December 20, 2010


My posts will hardly ever be like this one. I'm making an exception, taking a break from story telling in order to give a review. I much more enjoy sharing my life stories with you but this particular program has been such a big part of my life for the last 9 weeks I feel I must share about it. Next week I'll be back to normal, sharing regular true stories that make you laugh (hopefully!) or ponder....

I believe that we should all strive to be healthy and care for our bodies. No, I do not advocate succumbing to societal pressures on what a female body should look like. The woman we see on TV and in ads are paid millions of dollars to look like that, many have surgery and almost all adhere to rigorous workout routines and diets with personal trainers and personal chefs to maintain their physique. So, while I do not think all women should look like super models, I do think all women should make their health and physical well being a priority by making wise eating habits and incorporating physical activity into their days.

Having said this (the above being my background for what's to follow) it should be known that I love to eat. I love food, I worship chocolate and I drink red wine often. I do not exclude food from my diet, I just can't do it. Nor do I overindulge (ok, actually yes I do on certain chocolate products). I do take great pains to ensure I eat very healthy as well though, TONS of vegetables, lots of fruit and protein and very little carbs. I also make working out a priority and get myself to the gym 3 times a week.

Over the summer I realized that I was gaining weight. Not drastically but a few pounds, for sure. I am a little person, 5'2" (no, that's not a typo). Yep, I'm shorty-pants over here. A few pounds on a little person is noticeable. I complained about it enough to my husband that he finally up and bought me a work out video I had been eying called Insanity.

I was not overly excited about beginning this program. It looked pretty intense from the commercial I'd seen about it and it requires you to exercise 6 days a week! Ok, 3 was pushing it for me already. How was I going to do 6? But I knew something had to give. The fact was I was gaining weight and it was making me unhappy. I needed to do something about it and did not fancy dieting. Thus began my Insanity journey.

Once I made the decision to do it there was no turning back. I devoted myself to it whole-heartedly. I exercised every scheduled day, following the program to a T, not missing a single day or cutting any workout short. I was committed and sincere. I pushed myself hard (there's really no choice anyway) and tried to do better each day.

At first it seemed impossible. After the warm-up on day one I wanted to be done. I was tired, sweaty and sore, just from the warm-up! The sessions aren't even that long during the entire first 4 weeks, 30-40 min (they increase to 60 min at week 6). Seems easy, right? Nope. It was a struggle. But I persisted. It's very strange but somewhere during the 7th week the workouts actually became easier. I noticed myself pushing through to the end without feeling an intense desire to keel over and die right there in the middle of the floor, buried by my sweat. I would actually finish and feel pretty darn good! Exhausted, yes, but good.

Making the time to exercise every day with three kids (plus everything else in my life: school, soccer, homework, chores, errands, not to mention my writing, etc.) was no piece of cake. It took creativity and determination. My kids had to adjust and quickly learned to expect my workout time. We made the best of it. They would surround themselves with toys and activities and I would pop in my Insanity DVD. In fact, they would even get on the floor and participate (very sporadically) with me! Talk about adorable!!

I'm proud to say I just completed my 9 weeks. Yay! To be honest, I was a little disappointed by the results... that is until I saw my before and after photos (no, I will not be posting them. Trust me, it's for the best). There really is a big difference! The reason I was slightly disappointed was because I really wanted a completely flat stomach. After 3 kids it's pretty flat but I still have this extra, stretchy skin.... How do you get rid of that anyway? I was hoping Insanity would do the trick. It didn't, but I am smaller and firmer all around. My butt and legs especially look much improved (I hear this from my husband constantly! He loves my new butt).

In fact, none of my jeans fit, they are all huge on me so I have to wear a belt. A good problem to have, I guess. When I started I was ever so slightly bulging out the sides of my jeans (the main indicator I needed to lose some weight and the big motivator to actually do so!). I don't have a scale so I don't know how many pounds I lost. But I am very happy with my overall appearance.

So, my review after completion: GREAT workout. It will make you sweat like never before and you will firm and tone. It is challenging so if you don't currently work out it will be super hard (but not impossible, so go for it!!). The only part I was not happy with are my abs... I really want them taut and firm! So, I am continuing with Insanity, however I am returning to 3 days/week instead of 6. I think this should keep me in good shape. I can always do the full program again right before bikini season if need be... And let's not forget, I did carry 3 kids in my tummy and they did an excellent job at stretching it out for me. :) A little stretch is well worth it though.... I love my kids!!!

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Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Birthday Bonanza

We celebrated my oldest son's 7th birthday last weekend. Wow... I was under the distinct impression that this party would be easy. I had it all planned out, we've done this before, I had everything I needed. For some reason though the party was completely chaotic. Not what I was expecting. I thought each year would get easier, as they kids got older. Why did I think this? Well probably because I didn't know any better. I've since learned from moms with older kids that the exact opposite is in fact true.

So anyway, I was very happy and ready for the party. I love celebrating with my kids. The house was spotless (I spent the entire previous day cleaning), I had the party favors set out, the donuts were on the table (he chose donuts instead of cake), the banners were up, the cameras were charged and set in a easy to get to place, music was playing, and the boys were already playing in the bounce house.

The neighbor kids had seen the bounce house arrive and had been over at our house playing in it for over an hour. At 15 minutes before the party I sent them all home and told them to return when the party started. I needed some time for last minute prep (change the baby's diapers, put decent clothes on the boys, one last comb through everyone's hair, and last but not least, a quick bathroom run).

The plan was to have the kids play in the bounce house intermittently so as to avoid catastrophe. I thought if we broke it up into shorter segments the likelihood of injury would decrease. Again, don't ask my why I thought this, I just did. It made sense in my head, but of course real life doesn't always follow my thought process. Ok, it hardly ever does. Life has a way of unfolding that often seems to overlook and completely bypass my carefully layed out intentions. Today was no exception.

So, the kids begin to arrive and make a beeline for the bounce house. So far, so good. I get stuck close to the door greeting so I can't monitor the bounce house. However, my parents are here and I trust them to regulate. My husband is nowhere to be found. He left earlier to pick up the pizzas but he's late, about 20 minutes late. We were supposed to be eating 5 minutes ago according to my schedule. Deep breath in, slow exhale. It's ok, I tell myself.

At this moment our first big bounce house clash of the day happens. There ended up being so many I lost count. At one point the entire bounce house collapsed over to one side with kids falling to the ground, trapped underneath my husband. What the heck?! He was supposed to be monitoring the kids in there, not causing more problems. Ugh! I should have known better. My husband is great, but he's bound to push the limits more than anyone. He's a big kid at heart and lets it show at every opportunity.

The pizzas finally arrive, evidently the oven broke (when does that ever happen?) so they get here about 25 minutes late. The kids desperately need a bouncy break. They down the pizza and we walk over to the park, two houses down. The idea is to play 2 games here. One I am in charge of. As I practiced it in my mind before the party it seemed so simple and fun. The actual outcome turns out to be very confusing for some of the kids, making it not nearly as fun as I had pictured. Ok, no biggie, I'll just quickly move on to the next game so we don't dwell on the semi-flop.

My husband is in charge of a game of kickball. Mind you, this is his only responsibility of the day (besides picking up the pizzas). He is not prepared, not even close. No ball, no teams, no rules, no organization in the least. Yes, at this point I get irritated. So naturally instead of just letting it go and relaxing, I intervene and take over (I don't relax very well in these situations). I hurriedly make up a version of kickball all the kids understand (some have never played before). After a shaky start it ends up going rather well.

After the games are played I hand out candy to the winners, well it's gum, the rolled up kind. Wouldn't you know it, every single one is as hard as a rock! Impossible to chew (when does that ever happen?). Another flop.

Back to the bounce house. Within minutes there are several more injuries. Really?
What are they doing in there? So we move on to presents, a safe move I think, and yet even this turns out to be chaos. Since when did kids stop understanding the words, "Please sit down."? I sound like a broken record asking them to remain seated so we can all see the happenings. After this we have donuts and then back to the wonderful (dreaded) bounce house. The kids love it even though they keep getting hurt. It turns me into a nervous wreck, hoping to God I won't get yelled at by a parent.

Throughout the entire party I am running around like a crazy woman taking photos, recording video, getting the candle lit, showing people the restroom, all the little behind the scenes stuff that takes place, while simultaneously attempting to maintain an aura of calm and control. Not sure exactly how that came off....

By the end of the party, a mere two hours later (it felt like all day) I am spent. This year seemed so much more work than years previous. Man am I tired. But the kids seemed to have had a truly wonderful time, and in all honestly I did too. Despite the bumps and mishaps it is a fun-filled day, full of memories to cherish. And most importantly, my son is happy.

The neighbor kids are the last to leave, and only because I tell them the party is over and they need to leave. Of course they beg to stay. I cave and tell them to go home and return in one hour (I need a small break).

I finally have a minute to sit down and enjoy my donut (I wisely grabbed and hid a chocolate one for later!). Ahhhh..... it feels so good to sit.

Knock, knock, knock. All the neighbor kids are back. It's been exactly 20 minutes. Oh well, at least I got some chocolate! My son only gets this birthday once, right? Might as well live it up.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Photo with Santa

I've been taking my kids to get their photo taken with Santa every year since my oldest was born. My boys have been awesome every year, compliantly waiting in line, wearing the outfits I dress them in without complaint (or w/o much complaint), and smiling big for the camera. Since we've been doing this for 6 years now I thought it was all under control. Not so much....

This year I knew my daughter might not be as willing to entertain Mama as well as the Man in the Red Suit since she's much more in tune to her surroundings. Last year she was still young enough to basically have no idea what was happening. At 20 months she's well aware. She's also vocal and extremely particular (yes, I'm putting it nicely).

Keeping this in mind I decided to prep her for the occasion. We made a big to-do about her pretty Christmas dress, tights and shoes. She was all dolled up and received many ooh's and ahh's from her parents and siblings prior to leaving the house. We also made a HUGE deal about being lucky enough to see Santa. The boys truly were excited and we turned on the theatrics to maximize the outing.

The entire discussion in the car on the way to see Santa was whether or not we would see the real Santa or one of his helpers, because you know he's so busy this time of year it's impossible for him to be everywhere all at once. So, we may have the real one or we may have a helper, you never know! (This is how we explain the different looking Santa's in our photos.)

Upon arrival I dutifully take up our place in line. The wait is about 1/2 hour. So much for getting there early and beating the rush! Apparently everyone had the same idea..... My husband takes the boys to explore while I wait with our daughter. The place we're at has a whole Winter Wonderland theme going on so there are activities and games to keep the kiddos entertained, and by kiddos I do mean my husband. It's working very well.

I maintain the excitement on my end as much as you can while waiting patiently (or seemingly patiently) in line forever by asking my daughter the same questions over and over. "Are you ready to see Santa?" "Yes!" "Are you excited to sit on his lap?" "Yes!" "Are you going to smile big?" "Yes!" "Let Mama see your pretty smile." She obligingly shows me her pearly whites. After asking her the same series of questions about 5 times during our 1/2 hour wait, and receiving the same enthusiastic responses each time, I pat myself on the back for the job well done. Everyone's accounted for, everyone's happy, everyone knows what to do. Perfect!

It's our turn to see Santa. We make it up there and this time even I think we hit the jack pot and got the real Santa. This guy is fabulous! He's making jokes, he's asking questions, he listens, he even actually understands what my kids are saying and knows what they're referring to (my boys tend to get real shy and quiet, barely above a whisper, when talking to strangers so it can be difficult to hear them). I'm laughing, I'm thrilled at our Santa luck and ready for a killer photo.

This is the precise time my daughter realizes I'm actually letting her go and leaving her to sit on this strange man's lap. Out goes her pleasing personality
(in an instant!)and in comes a torrent of tears. Not only tears, but screams of protest as well. She's not having any of this. Santa, undaunted, tells me to just hold her and she'll be fine. I reply I do not want to be in the kids photo, to which he says "Oh no, it's fine, you're having a lovely hair day!". Ok, I was kinda flattered, but no, this is a kids only affair. I tell Santa he's gonna have to suck it up and hold her despite the kicking and screaming (hopefully she doesn't leave a mark!). I make a mad dash to stand next to the camera man (if you can call the scrawny teenager who's snapping away a "man"). Santa calls out to said camera man, in a booming, very Santa-like voice, "We have a code blue, Johnny!" I hear laughter from bystanders everywhere (it was pretty funny).

Snap! The photo is taken. Santa and the boys look amazing! Great smiles, good posture, no one's blinking. My daughter on the other hand is completely red-faced, tear streaked, snot nosed with both arms out flailing for mama to rescue her.

Yep, this photo will make great memories for years to come.

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Tuesday, November 30, 2010


Yes, I am going to write about Thanksgiving, as everyone else is doing this time of year. But really, can we ever be too thankful? I think not. It's always a good reminder to be grateful.

So I want to ponder the act of giving thanks, not the holiday. What am I thankful for? I try to make it a habit to recite my appreciations everyday, however, when this time of year rolls around we have a custom of voicing our gratitude. So here is my #1 for 2010, the thing I am most thankful for this year is: Family.

Yes, I know, very cliche, but bear with me. How many people do you know who can genuinely say they are most grateful for their family? I know of several people who dread spending time with their family over the holidays. I know of a bunch of other people who enjoy their family but are limited to a superficial relationship with them, they lack any degree of depth in their relationship. Still for others getting together with family is an obligation, not a joy, a time to drink and watch movies as opposed to quality interaction.

I am blessed to be surrounded by such wonderful, caring, genuine people. I am also blessed beyond words by my three children. I often ask my husband how we got so lucky with our kids? They are amazing! They bring me more happiness than I have ever known. By the same token they bring me more challenge and hardship too. You know how it goes.... But the overall feeling I get from my kids is a deep, all consuming love that overshadows everything else. It is true that there is no love like a mother's love. You have no idea what it is until you become a mother yourself, then it's a feeling that completely overtakes your being, leaving all other senses trailing behind, a distant second.

So, to know this feeling, to bask in such love is definitely something I am grateful for. The majority of my life for the past 7 years has been dedicated to my family, my kids in particular. It's been difficult but more rewarding than anything else I've ever done.

I take pride in being a mother, it's not just a job to me. It's not something I look down on or diminish because I'm "just a mom". No way! I am a mom!!! I am a proud mom who puts my children above all else. I work hard at guiding and instructing. I also work hard at loving, playing, and goofing with them. I am preparing three souls for the world. That is pretty significant.

In recent years I've begun working part time again, from home, so my interaction with my kids has taken a slightly different direction. And yet, since I love what I do for work I carry that joy and excitement over to my time with my children. It's a win-win.

To sum up, I am truly and deeply thankful for my family. They inspire and motivate me to be not just the best mom I can be but the best woman I can be too.

What are you most grateful for?

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Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Tough Tournament

My oldest son, 6, plays on a soccer team. The team has maintained its core players for several season now, and I must admit, (somewhat) humbly that they do very well. I am so proud of my son's dedication, progress and talent.

A few weeks ago he, along with his teams core players and a few others from opposing teams in his league, was invited to participate in a soccer tournament. Evidently they were short one team in his age group and the tournament coordinator also owns and operates the league my son is in. So he asked several of the top players if they'd be willing to jump in and join the tournament.

I don't even know where to begin with all this because it was such a whirlwind of a weekend. First of all our newly formed team had time for only one practice together prior to the tournament. Secondly, this league operated under several different rules and regulations than our league does, which we learned on the field during the games. Thirdly, the boys we played against were actually a year older than our boys. And fourthly, the icing on the cake, the teams we were facing on the field were ranked as the best in the state. We were literally out of our league.

Our team looked like the Bad News Bears out there, only we didn't experience some miraculous win in the end. In fact, we didn't win at all, not one single game.
Now, our boys are used to winning. We as parents are used to them winning. My son's team consistently beats everybody in our own league.

There were definitely some lessons learned over the weekend. Here is what I took away from the experience:

Our boys had THE BEST attitudes I have ever seen! They got the snot beat out of them over and over and over, yet there was zero complaining. Those little guys played their hearts out. They learned the new rules as the game progressed and adjusted accordingly. They never gave up or slowed down. They already play hard every week but this time they pushed themselves even harder and got noticeably better in just two days! And they had fun! They loved it! They knew they were getting killed, they knew they sucked compared to the other teams but they didn't care. They were thrilled to be there and soaked it up as a learning experience. These are 6 yr olds and this is how they were describing the tournament to us!

I am super competitive and it was very difficult for me to watch my boy getting beat, repeatedly. I like to win and I like for him to shine. But this time it was different. I had to take a step back (sometimes literally as I wanted to rush the field and choke the ref or the other teams coach!), and cheer for my son's effort. I saw him through different eyes, not as the shining star, but as one struggling but trying so hard, putting his everything into the game. It nearly brought tears to my eyes to witness his commitment and strength, not only his physical endurance, but his mental strength as well. He was a star! Every single player on our team was a star. I cheered for them so loudly because of the fierce fight they put up, game after game, and for their amazing and outstanding attitudes. In my book, they were all super winners!

I learned how to better handle myself from watching these kids. I was humbled by their outlook. They set an example of excellence for every single person present at that tournament.

I actually took this lesson to heart and put it into practice with my own little soccer team that I coach. I remember to learn from every experience and to find joy in every game, regardless of the scoreboard or the mistakes made. My team puts their all into every game and I let them know how extremely proud I am of them all after every game.

Now I just need to remember to tell myself this when I'm the one playing the game!! :)

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Tuesday, November 16, 2010

A Slight Detour

The drive to my son's preschool M,W,F each week is a straight shot down the road once I make it onto the main street from our neighborhood. It takes 12 minutes to get there.

Last Friday I loaded up my son and my daughter to make the simple drive. Just on the other side of the first main intersection I cross runs the railroad tracks. Today the bars are lowered. I wait for a minute thinking they'll soon be raised, then notice off to the side that there is a fire truck positioned across the tracks just a few feet down. Strange. Apparently the bars will not be lifting anytime soon.

Making a quick decision I turn right, hatching an alternate route in my mind as I drive. No biggie. I'll jaunt to the right, turn back left at the next through street, take it down a mile then make my way back to the street I was originally on well beyond the train track issue.

Ok, so apparently I found the one and only street that does not go through like every other Phoenix area street does. Navigating through Phoenix neighborhoods is super easy because the city is planned out on a grid. It's nearly impossible to get lost. Somehow though I picked a street that took me directly into an industrial area (again, this is not the norm, especially in my suburban neighborhood) with no outlets. Every turn was into a business parking lot. What?!?! How do I get out of here?

I finally make my way far enough down the road, which has now turned several times, again what happened to my nice little grid? But I do see a main road, at least. It's 1/2 mile farther in the wrong direction than I planned on being, but it's ok, at least I now know how to get out of here and back on track.

Not so lucky.... Bam! A Street Closed sign right there! I can see my destination but can't get there. I have to follow another detour, which of course, takes me the opposite direction I want to be going. There's no other way, it's either back track or get stuck in a dang parking lot (what are all these businesses doing here anyway?).

So, I'm following the detour signs along another curving street (these pop up in the strangest places) and make it to the main road, now a good 2 miles beyond my original detour. But I know where I am. I'm feeling good despite all the craziness when my son says in exasperation "Mom, can you just take me to school please?"

We finally arrive, 15 minutes late and drop him off. He's fine but my daughter is no longer happy in her car seat. She wants out. And I've forgotten her binky so she will not be soothed. She's done with our little excursion and letting me know it. Up goes the radio volume to drown her out.

I figure that the initial railroad/fire truck problem is resolved by now so decide to take the usual route home. On the way back however, I have to pull over to the side of the road not once, but five times because cop cars keep driving past me with flashing lights and sirens. What the heck? Five cop cars all perfectly spaced out so that every time I get back on the road at a decent speed another one comes along forcing me to slow and pull over.

Now I'm starting to look for hidden cameras. This has to be a joke, right? Someone is following me with a video camera laughing their head off, right? I mean we're in passive, slow Gilbert, AZ. This stuff doesn't happen here, at least not all at once.

I have no idea where they're going or what the deal is. Luckily it's not the train tracks. By the time I get there it's cleared and open so I sail through and arrive home. My daughter is still crying and has snot running down her face. Now she won't let go of me so I hold her for the next hour or so as I make valiant attempts to clean and organize one-handed.

I'm tired, I'm frazzled, I'm hungry and it's only 9:30! Coffee!!!!

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Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Not For The Squeamish!

Saturday evening I enjoyed a special night out with my sisters and mother. We went to Bucca Di Beppo for some fabulous food and stimulating conversation. A few minutes after our arrival I got a text from my husband saying our daughter was sick, she'd thrown up three times since I left the house (about an hour before). This was a complete surprise to me since she had not shown any signs of illness prior. I called home and spoke to my husband for a few minutes. He was fine. He's become quite a pro at caring for the kids on his own over the years.

Upon my return home later that night I discovered that she had thrown up nine times already!!! Nine! She's only 19 months old and hasn't been ill in quite some time. It's always distressing to parents when their kids are sick. We experience such feelings of helplessness...

Of course I wrapped her in my arms as soon as I walked through the door... just in time to be on the receiving end of throw up number ten. Yes, she let mama in on some of the fun. My husband, in his preparedness, had a towel laid out on the floor
for such an occasion, which took the brunt of the spillage (thank God). I checked her for a fever, gave her some water (which she drank willingly, a good sign!) and tucked her into bed.

The night was uneventful, she slept through. The next day was my oldest son's last day of his soccer tournament. I was looking forward to cheering him on but chose to stay home with my daughter since she was obviously ill. Well, the entire day she acted normal, granted she was more subdued and her appetite was weak, but this behavior is expected after enduring a grueling night of vomiting. She wasn't displaying any other signs of sickness though. I thought she was well, a small bout of some sort of flu bug, now over and done with.

Since it was apparent she had recovered we decided to stick with our plans of attending a friend's birthday party that evening. We arrived for a surprise birthday dinner all set and ready to go. The kids were playing, the baby was compliant, and we were enjoying conversation and company...

Yes, you probably have guessed correctly. My daughter was not as healed as I thought. Towards the end of dinner she started to get very fussy, crying and whining, not wanting to be with anyone except mommy. Prior to this she had made the rounds and let a few others hold her. Now she wanted nothing to do with anyone except me. I held her for a time, balancing her on my lap and maneuvering my bites of food around, over and through her squirming body. When I noticed my husband was finished eating I handed her off to him so I could do the same.

My friend, the birthday girl, bless her heart, relieved my husband of our crying child in an attempt to help us out. She carried her up and down the room trying to distract her and recuperate her earlier cheerful self. A couple of minutes into this thoughtful assistance she received a huge "gift" of thanks from my daughter. Yep, projectile vomit all up and down the side of her body. My daughter managed to splatter her entire dress, the birthday girl's hair, shirt and pants, and leave a nice big puddle of her insides on the floor. Nice.

So, mom to the rescue. I picked her up, drenching myself in her puke in the process. This lethal liquid is not to be confused with baby spit up. There is a huge difference. This was pure nastiness. Disgusting, stinky, sticky, chunky grossness.

I felt horrible. Horrible for my daughter who I had proclaimed healthy and well, but who obviously was not, horrible for my friend who was now covered in my daughter's puke, horrible for the other guests who were now exposed to her germs as well as her stink, and horrible for me, also smeared with vomit. Yuck.

Everyone was extremely gracious and understanding. In fact, my friend's mother's response was (directed at the birthday girl), "Well, now might be a good time to open your present from us, sweetie". They had gotten her several new tops. Perfect.

Needless to say we made our exit shortly thereafter.

I'm sure almost everyone can relate to this story. Something similar has happened to us all, right? Now a special treasure of a memory, tucked away in our hearts.

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Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Wonder Woman

I wear many hats as a woman. I also feel like different types of people on different days. Sometimes I feel excited and giddy (Barbie), sometimes anxious and worried (Piglet), other times tired and worn out (The Old Woman Who Lived In A Shoe), some days angry and irritable (a wicked step sister), and other days energetic, motivated and upbeat (Wonder Woman).

I think we all can relate to the varying personalities. We know what it’s like to be each of these characters, and even more! My favorite days by far are the ones I feel like Wonder Woman. Don’t we all? We love to compare ourselves to a super hero and not fall short.

I know I’m walking on dangerous ground here. Aren’t I being vain? Aren’t I bragging? Aren’t I drawing unnecessary attention to myself? Well, let’s ponder this. We can talk on and on about our shortcomings, our failures, our terrible, horrible, no good, very bad days, right? We have hour-long discussions about how trying our kids can be, about how difficult it is to find the right pair of shoes, how tired we are, how are muscles ache from the continuous cleaning. If we are allowed to “brag” about our trials and woes, why can’t we do the same for our good days? Why do we minimize our achievements?

I think it’s time for a change. Let’s dwell on our accomplishments, reaching our goals, our days of glory, our Wonder Woman moments. After all, these are the times we feel our best, these are happy days, these are moments to cherish and reflect on, snapshots to file away in our mental rolodex. We don’t need to brag or boast, but permitting a healthy pride in our good days is perfectly fine. Congratulating ourselves on a job well done is ok. We congratulate others, why not ourselves? This act of personal acknowledgment will actually work to promote more of these good days as well as raise our self esteem and confidence.

Here’s an example of a Wonder Woman day for me: I wake up before everyone else, enjoy a meaningful quiet time in the morning by myself, get the kids up, fed, and ready for school, take them to school, come back and endure a grueling workout session, shower and dress, wash the car, play with the kids, get lunch prepared, put the baby down for a nap, put a movie in for my son so I can get some work done, write like a speed demon and actually get all my scheduled work done and even more, get the baby up and feed her, fold laundry, run errands with the kids, pick up my oldest from school, play with the kids, help my oldest with his homework while preparing dinner, finish dinner prep just in time to stick it in the oven to bake while we’re at soccer practice, drive to soccer practice and coach a team of 4-6 yr olds, return home to a delicious smelling home, take care of last minute meal details, eat dinner as a family, engage in great conversation with the kids and my husband, clean up, play with the kids, haul everyone upstairs for a bath, chase freshly cleaned and clothed kids around the house, read bedtime stories, kiss all three goodnight, walk downstairs and tidy up the house, relax on the couch to read a few pages of a book, retire to bed happy and fulfilled, giving thanks for a beautiful day.

What makes a day like this so special, what makes me feel like Wonder Woman, is not so much the actual things I do, there’s nothing super spectacular about this day, it could belong to anyone. What makes it stand out to me is the fact that I sailed through the day with a positive attitude, with enthusiasm, with joy and energy. Of course there were hiccups and unexpected kinks but with my can-do approach they were easily remedied. Now, I could have experienced this exact same day but been in a different mood, which could have produced a different outcome. Instead of feeling like Wonder Woman I could have felt more akin to say The Old Woman Who Lived In A Shoe or even Piglet. Same day, different outlook.

Not only are Wonder Woman days happier, but you actually accomplish more on these days because your optimism, happiness and energy levels are all elevated, allowing for more productivity. So, savor Wonder Woman. Embrace her, cherish the moments she’s with you. She’s important, she’s real, she’s you!

What makes you feel like Wonder Woman? Who is your favorite character to be?

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Thursday, October 28, 2010

Soccer Practice

I coach my 4 yr old son’s soccer team. I love this job. It’s fun for me. I enjoy being outside and engaging with the kids. I also like the idea that I’m helping to teach the kids, even if it’s in a small way, the value of physical exercise, working as a team, practicing new skills and techniques, and reaping the rewards of hard work.

The kids range in ages from 4-6, so they are all still very young. The beginners have a hard time even making contact with the ball. The more seasoned players are just barely learning how to pass to their team mates. Most players focus solely on the ball and chase it loyally around the field in an attempt to kick it, if they happen to get it going in the right direction, that’s a bonus.

My husband coaches our oldest son’s team at the same time and place I do. This means I usually end up carrying my daughter (our youngest, 19 mos) on my hip throughout my practice. Sometimes she’s content to roam free or stay with another parent, or if all the stars align, my husband will take her.

I am very competitive (and yes, that may be putting it lightly). I like to win, I like to perform well. I try (trust me, I do!) not to pass this along to my son’s soccer team. Like I said, they are only 4-6 years old. I truly do not want them to feel pressure from me. I just want them to have fun and learn something new. Having said this, on occasion I do find myself having to bite my tongue, take a few deep breaths, and just relax……

Here’s an example of how our practices go (I’ve changed all the names):

My daughter is firmly planted on my hip. She refuses to be put down, I just tried…again.

Me: Ok kids! Gather round, we’re beginng!

James: I’m going to a carnival today!

Me: Wow! How exciting!

Sara: I went to Lego Land last week!

Me: Very cool!

Johnny: I went somewhere you fly a plane to!

Me: Awesome! Where was it? Do you remember?

Before Johnny can reply. Lucas: I went to a beach house last year and I’m going again next year so that will be two times!

Me: Super cool, I love the beach too! Ok kids today we’re going to start off with ball control, so first off we’ll run around the outside of the field, as fast as you can, keeping the ball in front of you at all times. Remember, little kicks!

We’ve done this warm up exercise before so the kids are familiar with it. Most of them begin the routine. Dylan does not.

Dylan: Why do I have to kick the ball? I want to sit down and rest.

Me: Well Dylan this is what we do at soccer practice. We learn how to play soccer. Stand up and follow the other kids please.

Dylan: Ok!
Then he proceeds to run in random circles in the middle of the field. Dylan is adorable, a great kid, but he is a novice player and has difficulty following my soccer directions.

After about 4 minutes of this warm up, still holding my daughter, I call them all back in.

Aaron: I’m so thirsty! Are we done yet? Can we have a water break?

Me: We just started, we have a long time left so I we’re not going to complain about being tired. Go ahead and have some water, quickly, then come back.

I begin explaining the next exercise. This is a one-on-one drill they are also familiar with. I painstakingly line them all up, get each person in place, walking up and down the field with my daughter in tow. When I’m finally ready to begin I notice that half of them are not in their spots, some are just wondering aimlessly. Sigh…… Then, sigh again…. Deep breath…. All better. Ok.

Me: Everyone line up where I put you right now please! Hurry, we’re beginning!

Jacob: What are we doing? Why are there so many balls out here? We only need one.

Me: Jacob, I just explained this, remember? You are working with Michael and no one else for this exercise. Just you and him, don’t worry about anyone else for now.

Jacob: Oh yeah. Ok!

Blake: Which way am I going?

Me: Which way are you facing?

Blake: (pointing) That way.

Me: Right, so you are going that way. Jeremy, come back please. We are starting.

Jeremy is seated in the middle of the filed picking the grass. He mosies on back, no hurry whatsoever.

Me: Ok, pick up the speed, Jeremy. This is soccer. We run in soccer, remember? No walking. Let’s go! Ok everyone when I say go, you go. Ready…… Go!!!!

Madness ensues. Kids are running everywhere. Balls are flying. Kids are falling. Goals are being made. I’m shouting out instructions and praises continually as I watch their movements, my daughter firmly attached. I love it. Action. Chaos. Laughter. Cheers.

The remainder of practice continues on in this fashion, a blending of storytelling by the kids, many questions being asked (not all soccer related) and actual soccer practice taking place.

Yes, I want the kids to do well. Yes, I get frustrated now and then. Yes, they are easily distracted. And yes, at times I raise my voice too loudly (I did say I was competitive). But I also strive to be nurturing and encouraging. I offer tons of verbal praise and support too. I have a great time. Man is it fun! I love watching them improve and learn. They grow before my very eyes in just a few short weeks.

It’s fun, it’s funny, it’s so very rewarding.

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Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The Finer Side Of Life

So much of my life revolves around the kids. My days are scheduled around drop off and pick up times for school and sports, naps and food prep, not to mention all the loathsome cleaning and maintenance the house requires. In between the comings and goings, the cleaning, the shopping, the feedings, the naps, the changing of diapers, the playing of games, the breaking up of squabbles, I manage to squeeze in time for my own things (such as blogging!).

I love this phase of my life and thoroughly enjoy activities with the kids. But every now and then it's nice to entertain a different age group. Over the weekend I attended a luncheon put on by my grandmother's China painting club. My grandmother, in her eighties, is a highly talented, extraordinary China painter. Her work is full of detail and perfection. It's truly beautiful to look at.

For the past three years her club has put on these luncheons as a fundraiser. We purchase a ticket to attend and are provided with a scrumptious meal, a small handmade China painted gift, a fashion show, and conversation. This sort of outing for me is far from the norm. Most things I do involve chasing after kids and somehow getting dirty with something. However, I delight in the change of pace, as well as the change of company.

Most of the China painters associated with the club are a good deal older than me, close to my grandmother's age, so the entire production has an older generation feel to it. The women are dressed elegantly, the food is entirely homemade, potluck style, and the fashion show is put on by and geared towards women over 50. It's quite a difference to be one of the youngest in the room.

I enjoy the changes from my regular days, though. The older generation perspective, the topics of conversation (nothing baby or kid related), the chance to actually sit down for two whole hours! It's a welcomed change. Days like these are far from my norm but I try to soak them up and remember that life is about so many varying things for so many varying people. Life for these women takes on a completely different form than my own. It's a nice reminder to continue to look beyond ourselves, to be there for others, to appreciate new lifestyles, to be inspired by the women who have gone before us.

May we consider their actions and continue to pave the way for our children as they have paved the way for us.

Give thanks for the older women in your life. We have much to learn from them. They have much to give. Let us not take them for granted.

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Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Nature's Beauty

What a blessing to be outdoors and enjoy nature's beauty. We were able to get away for a few days and spend some time in the cabin up North, just South of Flagstaff. The cabin is surrounded by gorgeous trees, mountains, wildlife and an overall sense of peace. Some of our most cherished moments as a family are up at the cabin.

We love to explore the scenery around us so we go on lots of hikes together. I'm always amazed at the overwhelming beauty this place provides. Every time we're up there I see the landscape through new eyes, taking in changes and variations. It continually renews itself.

This time we were fortunate to see the gorgeous Aspen trees as their leaves were turning. We saw pockets of bright yellow nestled in amongst vibrant greens, all layered in front of a deep blue sky that was dotted with puffy, pure white clouds. I couldn't stop commenting on just how breathtaking the views were. Aren't we so lucky to inhabit such an astounding planet? We are surrounded by stupendous creation.

Experiencing this lush garden with my kids brings me such joy. I am thrilled to be able to share in what out world has to offer with them. We look at leaves and trees. We discuss the animal prints we see along the trail, guessing what they might be. We listen to the wind rustle the leaves. We notice the variation from one trail to another. We pause and take a minute to absorb the scenery around us. It's a time to learn but also a time to appreciate.

Taking the time to actually stop and look at the world around us and then give thanks for the pleasure it brings us is something we should all remember to do. You don't even have to take a trip to bask in nature's wonders. Your own back yard can do the trick! Or just look up. The sky is gorgeous and ever changing.

How do you and your family enjoy our amazing planet? Don't forget to stop and smell the roses!! You'll feel better for it!

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Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Holy Hail!

Weather in the Phoenix area is usually pretty boring. Gorgeous, no doubt, but boring. Sunny skies dominate our climate with variations in temperature from cool to scorching hot. We may get an occasional shower or monsoon, possibly even a cloudy day here and there. But for the most part, weather changes are not expected or experienced often.

So yesterday's occurrence is definitely noteworthy. It was mid-afternoon. My oldest is on Fall Break (year round school) so I planned a project for the boys to work on to keep them both occupied: they had to re-organize all the toys in the playroom. Quite a daunting undertaking for two young boys. It was a task that desperately needed to be done and this seemed like an opportune moment to seize. (This playroom project is a whole story in and of itself! Why did I ever think they would actually do this on their own??? Such wishful thinking on my part.)

So, back to story # 1. The setting: The boys were playing, I mean re-organizing their toys. My daughter was asleep, about to wake up any minute (perfect timing for what was to come), I was at my laptop working (where else would I be?). And Rick was upstairs in his office working (where else would he be?). As I was sitting there typing away I notice that it's suddenly gotten very dark, I can barely see. I get up to switch on the lights and see that it's begun to rain. A second later it's raining hard. "Torrential downpour" is an understatement. About 2 seconds after this I see hail. Hail!!! In Phoenix! (The hail was about the size of a quarter).

I quickly call for the boys to come to the window. The hail is so deafeningly loud that Rick has already rushed into the baby's room (she's obviously awake, no one could sleep through that), and runs downstairs to join us. The entire family is standing there in the back patio doorway completely dumbfounded at what we're witnessing. Rain so heavy and thick I can barely see, with huge balls of hail mixed in, all at the mercy of violent winds that thrash, beat, tear and pelt at anything and everything in its way. It was relentless!

The storm was over in a matter of minutes but it left a hefty wake of destruction in its path. My yard was covered with ice, pushed up in piles. The rain/hail came down at a fierce slant and with such force generated by the winds that the ice was not evenly distributed. Rather, it was blown up against any sort of wall it encountered. I later read that the winds were blowing up to 70mph!

As soon as the rain/hail ceased we ran out front and opened the door to a river rushing by our house! The water had risen so rapidly that it covered the sidewalks on either side of the road and formed a river of ice rushing past us. It really was moving at a decent speed. It was an incredible sight. Debris was littered everywhere, tree branches and leaves decorated lawns and floated down the river. A tree in the park by our house was completely uprooted and overturned. We lost a few roof shingles and suffered a couple other minor inconveniences. Nothing serious, thankfully.

Then the sirens started. Ambulances, cop cars, and fire trucks revved their engines, turned on their lights and got right to work. We heard the sirens for hours afterwards.

It was an interesting experience for us. Watching the incredible storm with fascination, awe, wonder, a little fright and a lot of confusion made me reflect on how great and powerful the forces of nature are. What grand beauty and horrific destruction at once, the both combined. The kids and I discussed this and talked about how wonderfully diverse life can be. This led to all sorts of brilliant conversation.

We also gave thanks for our safety and paused for a moment to send out thoughts of healing and well being for those who were negatively affected by the storm.

Life, circumstances and situations can change in an instant. The world as we know it has the potential to shift before our very eyes. How we choose to interpret and respond to change helps define who we are. Who do you want to be? Do you want to see opportunity or defeat?

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Friday, October 1, 2010

Let Me Show You How It's Done, Honey

So I was completely "one-upped" by my husband recently. My daughter just turned 18 months and her hair is finally getting long enough to do something with. A proud moment for any mother, especially when you haven't been able to get anything to stay put or even stick to her head thus far.

About a month ago I bought all sorts of hair accessories for her, full of excitement and anticipation at whipping up all sorts of cute do's. I'm not an overly girly mama to begin with so I was pretty proud of myself to be doing this for my daughter. She would thank me in years to come as she gazed back at photos of herself all dolled up as cute as a button! I had my pile of accessories in one hand, my camera in the other, and my daughter sitting compliantly on the bathroom counter. I was all set to go!

To make a long story short, about 1/2 hour later I had gone through every single hair clip, bow and scrunchy at my disposal, even those impossibly tiny plastic ones that are meant for fine baby hair, and nothing, not one single item agreed to hold her hair in place. My daughter was also at the end of her patience, I mean, 1/2 hour is a long time to just sit there while someone is desperately tugging at your head. she had emptied and sorted through the contents of my entire make-up bag and was now itching to be on the move once again.

I reluctantly admitted defeat, let my baby down, much to her delight, and faced the fact that it appeared as though her hair was indeed not long enough to style as of yet. We would have to make do with her untamed whispy locks for a while longer. Ok, no biggie. I had waited 17 months already, a few more weeks were fine.... (Sigh).

A few days ago my daughter comes running to me full speed ahead, a HUGE grin on her little face, looking absolutely freakin' adorable!!! I know every mother thinks her children are adorable, especially at the cute, pudgy, toddler stage (and rightfully so!), but I must say she truly was as cute as they come. Her hair was done up in two teeny, tiny (very whispy) pigtails! She actually had pigtails!! Well, they stuck straight out on either side of her head, her hair not being long enough to go down yet, but pigtails nonetheless.

My husband had done it! He found my stash, sat down with our daughter, did her hair (rather perfectly, I might add) and it stayed. He actually was the one to create the cute hairstyle I had been dreaming of for months. Even though he kind of stole my thunder, I had to give him huge props. He did an amazing job and she looked fabulous. My husband actually had to show me how he did it so I could learn too (yes, I had a huge bite of humble pie that day!).

What are some ways your husbands have surprised you with their ability or breakthroughs with your kids?

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Sunday, September 26, 2010

Fun in the Sun

We began a new season of soccer yesterday. It's such a fun-filled time for me as a mother. I receive such joy and pleasure from watching my two boys play. They've each been playing since they were three, so I have witnessed tremendous growth in each of them, and continue to every week.

Watching your children participate in an activity they enjoy brings pure delight into the heart of a mother. To see their face light up when they do well, to offer encouragement as they strive to learn and then mater a technique, to beam with pride when they exhibit good sportsmanship, and to remind them to "shake it off" when they struggle, these are all sources of utmost delight for a mother. Not only do you glow with pride at their ability (or at their improvement) but you experience them grow as an individual and as part of a team in a matter of weeks.

I am a vocal spectator. I get excited about the game and want to offer my support and input, 95% of which is positive (I'm sorry, but every now and then I have to just tell it like it is). I know every child's name on both of my sons teams and love to encourage them all. Each one tries so hard and I'm still blown away by the level of talent displayed. The complexity of the moves they pull off are just mind-blowing at times.

Mu husband actually coaches my oldest son's team and I coach my other son's team, so we are already heavily involved by default. But I was this way before I started coaching. I just find great joy in the whole experience.

Besides the happiness I get from these games, at times I find myself almost on the verge of tears. If my son happens to execute an amazing play, or if he does something unexpectedly kind to a fellow teammate, or if he makes a mistake and feels horrible, on occasion I'll have to catch myself, take a quick second and just breathe, because every once in a while my emotions just rush to the surface and threaten to spill over. I feel foolish at these rare moments because the tears seem so unnecessary, so weird, so unsummoned. They appear out of nowhere, as they have done ever since my oldest was born, in the most innocent and random of situations. Just as quickly however, the moment is over, and I'm back to myself, cheering enthusiastically for our team.

On top of all this I thoroughly delight in being outdoors, especially after enduring a stifling summer of unbearable Phoenix heat! And yes, it was still hot yesterday, we were sweating pretty good, but it was a manageable heat. Lots of sunshine, clear blue skies, and a slight breeze. It was actually quite beautiful. The fresh air, the soothing sun, and the spirit of comroddery all mingled to produce feelings of happiness, joy and pleasure at the day. It was a wonderful morning, a magnificent way to start off the day, and a well spent couple of hours.

As you can see, soccer season is more than just kicking the ball around. It's family time, it's learning and growing, it's interacting with others, it's excitement and thrill, it's building character, it's being part of a team and working together, it's social, it's physical, it's exercise, it's fun!

I am a soccer mom and so very proud of it!

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Friday, September 17, 2010

My Little Character

My middle child is 4 years old. He is quite funny and makes us all laugh regularly. He is also a movie-freak. He loves to watch movies. He memorizes lines and acts out scenes of his favorites, word for word, movement by movement. If you happen to be acting with him, he will correct you if you slip up in the slightest.

He has a knack for throwing out movie phrases during his regular conversation. If a topic or a word fits in with a movie line, he'll quote it right then and there as his contribution to the conversation. Here are a few examples. They're pretty funny. Well, if you're not familiar with the movies they may not be as funny, but if you are then you'll see how his little mind connects the two.

1. He opened the door to a bedroom where his uncle was in order to talk to him. Well, he failed to knock on the door first, and happened to intrude upon on his aunt who was nursing her newborn baby. His uncle reminded him he needed to knock first before entering a room and had him go back outside and try again. My son exists, closes the door and then knocks. His uncle calls "Who is it?", to which my son replies, "Who the heck do you think it is? The Pizza Man?" (from Madagascar). They were laughing so hard when he said this they didn't even remember to explain that his response was less than polite.

2. We were driving in the car. I made a left turn onto a new street. My son saw the red light above the street I turned onto and said, "Mama! You just ran a red light!" I tried to explain that it wasn't a red light even though it looked like one, it was a red light for the other street. Well, he wasn't understanding so I just feebly finished by saying, "Don't worry. Mama is a safe driver. I won't run a red light." His reply: "In that case you can all go home now. Drive safely!" (from Stuart Little).

3. He was eating a fruit roll-up and impulsively decided to cram the entire thing into his mouth at once. I scolded him saying that was way too big of a bite, to which he responded, from overly stuffed cheeks, "Don't tell monkey." (from Kung Fu Panda).

4. During our family vacation this summer to San Diego we all took a walk along the beach the last morning we were there before driving back home to Phoenix. My two sons were racing through the sand with their uncle. My 4 yr old quickly got left behind so he asked them to wait up. They did. They both slowed to a walk to give him time to catch up. Well, as soon as he got close he took off at a full sprint. As he passed both his brother and his uncle, he hollered back over his shoulder, "See ya later, suckers!" (from The Little Rascals).

These are just a sample of his many quoted lines, a few I remembered off the top of my head. There are quite a few more that are also super funny, I just can't recall them all at the moment.

What cute sayings or habits do your kids have? Don't they bring a smile to your face just thinking about them?

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Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The Greatest Gift

We recently enjoyed a special day celebrating family birthdays. We have quite a bit of family living in the Phoenix area so we gather periodically to celebrate birthdays together.

My parents began a profound tradition years ago, way back when I was a young girl. When we celebrate a birthday within the family we give the birthday person a tangible gift, but we also give them what's knows as a "verbal gift".

Every person takes a turn to gift the birthday person verbally by sharing with them something they admire about that person: a character trait, an area of growth, an accomplishment, something that has stood out to them over the past year.

Throughout the years this tradition has become the highlight of all of our family birthdays. For a moment we get to hear just how wonderful, how loved, how supported we are by the rest of our family members.

Everyone likes to hear how great they are, but this is not the only reason verbal gifts are such a huge hit. By hearing how we are loved by our family in very specific ways year after year after year, it affects our self esteem, our outlook on life, our confidence, our maturity, and our overall development in massive proportions. Think about it, we grow up knowing exactly why our sister, our brother, our mom and our dad love us. They each share with us particular incidences where we have positively affected them, even if we had no idea at the time that our actions were contemplated, or even noticed.

Being on the receiving end of accumulating affirmations and reinforcements that are genuine help to build a strong character. I am grateful to have grown up with this tradition. I know it has contributed to my overall well being as a person. I am even more grateful to be able to pass this valuable tradition on to my own children.

At their young ages, they have already received as well as given verbal gifts of their own. They are learning to contemplate and express traits in others they admire. They are also learning to graciously accept and relish in nice things others have to say about them.

What are some family traditions you follow that instill values in your kids?

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Thursday, September 2, 2010

Breaktime With The Kids

I am a Full Time Mommy that works Part Time from home. I actually work two part time jobs, but my kids are my priority and take up the bulk of my time.... by a landslide. I'm usually only able to get work done in random bits and pieces throughout the day. I've become highly skilled over the years at using my time extremely efficiently in order to fit it all in.

This is the usual scenario. However, this past week has been flip-flopped for me. I've been focusing a lot on one of my jobs. My husband and I are in telecommunications and we are in the middle of a very busy time. We are working hard at putting together some information that requires me to make a recording. My husband has been working from home for a while so his presence has allowed me to close myself off in our home office and put my nose to the grind while he watches the kids.

What a difference! Normally my escape, my rest, my refuge is my work! I find solace in the precious moments I get to work on my things, adult things. After hours of playing make-believe, chase, hide and seek, and the never ending duty of regulating and keeping the kids in line, "me time" is a luxury, even if "me time" is indeed work. It's a welcomed change of pace.

Well this week, after hours upon hours, day after day of being cooped up in our office, trying to improve and perfect our presentation, I can't wait to get out and play with the kids! At every break I run downstairs, grab the kiddos, wrestle on the floor with them, chase them around the house, tossle them about, release some energy (and frustration!) and get the blood flowing again. Wow, is it therapeutic!

This week has been such a turn around for me. It's nice to experience a change but it's very different. I feel like a working mom, not a stay at home mom who happens to work on the side. I definitely make the limited time with my kids count, that's for sure!

What do you do for your break time? What gives you energy and excitement? We can all use some more of these!!

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Thursday, August 26, 2010


My 15 month old baby girl loves her grandparents. We are fortunate to have my parents live nearby and they engage with our children as often as possible. They are very hands-on grandparents.

As parents we look forward to our kids first words. Mothers usually hope for "Mama", Fathers usually keep their ears perked for "Da-Da". All three of my children spoke different first words, at different ages. Unfortunately for me, none of them happened to be "Mama". That doesn't mean I tried, though. I worked with them for hours, gingerly repeating the word "Mama!, Mama!, Mama loves you!" over and over. You know how it works, with the exaggerated smile and movement of the words on my mouth. All to no avail.

My daughter, the youngest of my children, came close to having "Mama" be her first word, but I was ousted by my own father. "Ba-Ba" was the first word she articulated. There was no mistake about it, she was indeed referring to her Grandpa.

Of course she received much praise and excitement after uttering her first word. She squealed with delight and continued to repeat the word for the rest of the day. Happily for me, "Mama" appeared the next day and very quickly overtook "Ba-Ba" as her favorite word. "Mama" now means just about anything and everything, including yours truly.

She currently has a vocabulary of a whopping 7 words, but "Ba-Ba" still continues to be a popular choice. Anytime my father is mentioned her face lights up and she answers with an expectant "Ba-Ba?". She "calls" him on the phone constantly. Any phone she can get her hands on (my cell phone, old cell phones, play phones) will be held up to her ear and without fail the words "Ba-Ba" can be heard. It's adorable. Her favorite way to talk to Grandpa though is on our video phone so she can see him. Anytime the phone rings she makes a bee-line to it, chanting "Ba-Ba" all the way there. If the caller turns out not to be Grandpa, she is thoroughly disappointed.

A few weeks ago she happened to wake up quite early, about 1/2 hour before I even get out of bed. I was not in any mood to be awake yet so I went to her room, lied her back down, and said firmly, "Go back to sleep. It is too early." I then returned to my oh-so-comfy bed and made an attempt to catch a few more precious minutes of zzz. About 15 minutes later, just when I thought she might have actually obeyed me and fallen asleep, I heard he precious little voice inquire very tentatively, "Ba-Ba?".

It was too cute! I couldn't resist and started laughing right then and there. After that smooth move I had to get up and get her. When in doubt, call "Ba-Ba"!

Any cute first words to share? Or any good stories about baby's first words?

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Friday, August 20, 2010

Bridging The Gap

My parents offered to take the kids (all three of them!) up to their cabin for a few days so Rick and I could have a break, and also in order to spend some special time with the kiddos themselves. My parents are very involved in my kids lives and love spending time with them. We are so blessed in this regard.

We thought it would be fun to send one of our home video phones (we have two of them) up with them so they could see us during each daily phone call home. What a treat it was!

The cabin rests on the top of a hill and the backyard runs along the perimeter of the national forest. It is a beautiful setting with ample space for hiking and exploration. The kids always have the time of their lives up there.

The kids called us every day using the home video phone, sometimes more than once a day, and shared with us their adventures. Seeing their little faces light up with enthusiasm and pride while recounting their stories was priceless! The boys were super excited and told us all about catching fish in the lake, finding lizards on their hike with Grandpa, and sleeping out under the stars at night. They were both jumping up and down with huge eyes and wide grins as they relayed the daily happenings. Watching their expressions and movements, along with hearing their words, was precious. I felt like I was actually in the room with them up in the cabin!

My one year old daughter even got in on the fun with the home video phone. She, using language only she was familiar with, told us all about her comings and goings too. Since she can't yet speak, beyond a few simple individual words, we were able to grasp her meaning through her facial expressions and hand gestures.

Being able to see my daughter and having her see me through the home video phone was such a special event. Holding a phone up to her ear so she can hear mama's voice is nothing compared to both of us being able to see each other. The visual between us made interaction and real, true communication possible. It didn't matter that she was hours and miles away from us, we were in the same room together thanks to our home video phone!

Sharing in these opportune moments as they happened, in the moment and location of occurrence, truly is an amazing feeling. It is unique, an experience I've never lived before. Talking on a regular telephone now seems lacking and antiquated. Seeing and readily interacting with whomever I am speaking with is a vastly superior experience. I love this video phone!!!

What are some great ways you stay in touch with your loved ones? I'm sure we'd all appreciate some tips!

(To learn more of these incredible devices visit

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Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Taking One For The Team

I play on a coed soccer team with my husband, Rick. It's just for fun, a time to get out and socialize (several of our friends play on the team) and fit in some cardio as well. I love to play but I am horrible.
I've never played soccer before so I really have no idea what to do, I just make up my moves as I go along. The only references I have to the game are through watching my kids play on their own soccer teams. I actually coach my younger son's team, but it's very basic, he's only 4, so not a problem.
Anyway, last night we had our final game of the summer season. The second kick of the game I got taken out by some guy on the opposing team. I wasn't expecting to fall all the way to the ground so I was a little shocked to find myself flat on my face. But, oh well, no biggie. It didn't hurt.
Towards the end of the game I made an attempt to get an airborne ball. It was coming right towards me so I jumped up, stretching my right leg out as far as it would go in order to dazzle everyone with my super fancy footwork. Well, I dazzled them all right, just not as intended.
I missed the ball completely, I didn't even get close. It flew right by my extended toes. While in the air I must have shifted position because I landed not on my feet, as I fully anticipated to land, but on the side of my left leg and left butt cheek.
I came down hard with a blunt thud. Then I was stunned. I couldn't understand why I wasn't on my feet. What happened? Upon realizing my grave mishap, I became mortified. I had just jumped, kicked, missed, twisted, and landed very unceremoniously on my ass in front of everyone! It looked like the cartoons of someone slipping on the banana peel, only there was no banana peel!
I sat there for a quick second trying to decide whether to run off the field in misery or laugh it off. I chose to laugh it off, better to laugh at myself then add even more humiliation by crying.
I was in pain. I was limping. I was still confused at how I could have possibly messed up so horribly. But the game continued.
I finally came to my senses and noticed my team was lining up for a penalty kick. Somehow we were getting a free shot at the goal. I lined up to wait for the kick (which we made!) and barely finished the game upright. The pain in my butt and leg was getting steadily worse.
After the game I found out the penalty kick was because I got hit by someone during my super hero move through the air. This made me laugh out loud because I didn't get hit by anyone. Nope folks, that smooth move was all me!!! I knocked myself over without any assistance whatsoever.
Today I can barely walk, I'm hobbling around the house, much to the amusement of my kids and husband. My left leg is throbbing, there's a huge knot right under my butt. I also have bruises all up and down my right leg from the first tumble I took in the game.
But I guess I should be happy. The only goal we scored in the entire game was because of the free shot we got due to my injury. Am I a team player or what?

What is your reaction to embarrassments? Do you get shy? Do you justify your actions? Do you storm off? Or do you realize it's just a simple mistake? Any tips for handling embarrassments with grace?

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Monday, August 9, 2010

Singing In The Rain

We planned a quick trip with two other families up to Sedona, AZ for the weekend. The purpose was three-fold: One, to spend time with our friends before all the kids went back to school, two, to spend time with our friends before one of them is deployed to the Middle East for a year, and three, to visit the AZ Cardinals training camp and get autographs for the kiddos. The kids range in age from 15 months (my baby girl, the only girl in the bunch) to 11 years. A nice, relaxing weekend away with a house full of boys. Yeah, right!!
The Cardinals train in Flagstaff which is a short little jaunt up from Sedona. We found an amazing house to rent for all 14 of us at a killer price. It was spectacular! Huge, beautiful home with lots of space, a pool, a hot tub, and breathtaking views.
The plan was to get up early on Saturday and drive 45 minutes up to Flagstaff, be there by about 7:30 to stand in line for the autograph session which began at 8:30AM. We thought we'd have plenty of time and be placed decently in line with our arrival time. My husband took our sons two years ago to a similar event for the Cardinals. He said it was great, there were only a few hundred people total, the kids got to interact with the football players, he took photos, it was a gorgeous day, and overall a fantastic experience.
Well, this year things were slightly different...
Literally on our way out the door to the cars it started raining. Not a nice little drizzle that we as Phoenicians could appreciate. No, this was a full downpour, with fat drops of water, each one soaking inches of your body. The rain maintained, and at moments worsened, the entire drive.
We thought we hit the jackpot though when the rained fizzled out upon entering Flagstaff. We were thrilled! It was cold (for us) and cloudy, but the parking lot was mostly empty. At least we'd be dry and have fun seeing the football players. Everyone was in high spirits, excited at the day's prospects.
We were so naive...
We quickly realized the reason the parking lot was so empty was because all the other ones were already full. There were masses of people already in line. By the time we finally found the end of the line (it wrapped around the entire dome) the rain had made an appearance again. We stood there for about 45 minutes, in the rain, with all the kids, in our shorts and flip flops (did I mention we are from Phoenix?), no umbrellas, cold, tired and hungry with kids running around everywhere.
Actually, I was impressed with us all, with all the fans that day. I didn't hear any complaining from anyone, not kids, not adults, no one. We were all sopping wet, chilled to the bone, tired, and standing in a never ending line. But, God bless America, we all made the best of it and had fun.
Once we actually made it inside the dome where the signings were to take place, it was craziness again, swarms of people everywhere. Our group dispersed again in an attempt to gather as many signatures as possible. I, along with two others and the baby, went to save seats in order to watch the Cardinals practice afterward. All was going well, chaotic but manageable. I even snapped a few photos and shot some video. And then.... the smell.
At first I thought we had the ill fortune of picking seats next to someone with flatulence. Then it slowly dawned on me, that flatulence was my daughter's butt! Ooh doggy did it stink! And, of course, we didn't have a diaper bag. One of the only times I neglected to throw it over my shoulder. It was all the way back in the car. OMG.
There was no way to ignore it, it had to be dealt with. So.....
Off I went with my precious stink bomb back to the car. It was pouring down rain and took me about 20 minutes to make the walk back (good thing I woke up extra early to shave my legs!). We were soaked through. My poor baby was so cold her lips were a bluish tint and she was shaking uncontrollably. I almost broke down in tears at the sight. But God bless her, she didn't make a peep! She was angelic, and Lord knows this is not always the case, so I was ultra delighted and proud of her. What a trooper!
I changed her diaper in a flash, hopped in the front seat and blasted the heater. Then I fed her broken off pieces of a muffin which she gobbled up. I decided to wait in the car until the rest were done watching practice. There was no way I was daring the rain again.
Less than an hour later all 14 of us were happily sitting around a huge table at Coco's, enjoying a belated breakfast. Mugs of coffee and hot chocolate, warm skin and full bellies.... Ahh.... Life is good, full of adventure and mishaps, but oh so good!

How do you make the best of mishaps? What do you do to remain calm and collected instead of panicked and frustrated?

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Wednesday, August 4, 2010

We're Off!!!

My very first entry! It’s a strange feeling to start a blog, my very own blog. I’ve contemplated the idea for months, wondering if I should, if I could, what to write about, if I’d measure up to the pros. Well, I guess we’ll find out! But I am excited to actually be writing!
I love to write. I’ve enjoyed putting pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard in this case) since I was a young girl. I love to read too, mostly novels. The two kinda go hand in hand. Reading is a great escape for me. I read every night before falling asleep. And writing is therapeutic. It feels good to organize my thoughts and ideas on paper.
So here I sit, in 106 degree weather (maybe hotter?) with my laptop on my lap (imagine that!) watching my son and the neighbor swim in our pool. The baby monitor is just inside the door, which I must check every few minutes to see if the baby (she’s 15 months, but still considered “the baby”) is awake from her nap. My oldest is in school. Yes, he’s in school already. He attends a year round school so he began 1st grade 2 weeks ago. I have the alarm set on my cell phone so I don’t forget to pick him up (sad or genius?).
These are my days. I juggle working two jobs from home and caring for my three kids, plus a few neighbor kids that come and go almost daily. And when I say juggle, I mean juggle. It’s a talent I’ve developed over the years. Each year I get busier and busier with more responsibilities and activities. It’s fun, it’s great, I love it, but man do I scramble to fit it all in!
Yes, I am a bit anal about my organizational skills. I created a schedule (that we actually follow) that keeps me in line. This is how I operate. It’s all mapped out, but in a relaxed way so the kids don’t think they’re part of some crazy military boot camp experiment at home. I live a very structured life, allowing for flexibility when the need arises. But I must have a plan, or some semblance of a plan, to stay sane. I am not a last minute, fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants kind of gal.
I invite you to follow me through these days and share with me in my joys, laughs, silliness, sorrow, grief, mistakes, and blunders of motherhood, marriage, and business. I’ll be sharing more about myself and my family, our days, our stories, our ups and downs. I’m sure you will be able to relate. If nothing else, you can find humor from my life. It is a zoo over here!
Oops! My laptop just got splattered by the dogs who managed to slip by me, as I was otherwise occupied with this blog entry, and jump in the pool with the kiddos. I called them out of the water and they came, (after I almost went hoarse from calling their names and yelling threats they don’t even understand), stood by me and began to shake out the water droplets…..all over me and my precious computer. Ahh… the joys of owning dogs….. Poor things, does feel like a torturous inferno out here! Gotta love Phoenix in August! Well, now we’re all a little more refreshed.

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