Saturday, December 16, 2017

Thanksgiving Turkey Bowl

On Thanksgiving, a heat wave rolled through San Diego.  So we decided to spend the morning at the beach. We figured the rest of the natives would be celebrating Thanksgiving with family and the only beach combers would be tourists.

We were wrong.

In spite of the crowds and the cold water, we had a fabulous time!  And we must have taken dozens of videos and photos of the boys and Dad playing football.  It was ideal conditions.  But out of all the close shots, the throws, the captures and dives - THIS one was our favorite. 

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Computer Woes

We're having major computer issues these days.  I can't load, view or edit my photos.  The app has clearly gotten tired of working with me.  Can't say I blame it.  I'm pretty demanding.  When things get this crazy, we're at the mercy of Greg's schedule to reload the computer.  And whenever Greg has a free moment, there's SO many other things we'd rather do - like hikes, bike rides and date nights.  

And in the meantime, my blog is getting further behind. 


We miss Idaho.  My thoughts are in McCall tonight - thinking about the Tamarack trees again and the smell of the woods on the edge of the lake.  It makes me melancholy.  I think I even miss the snow.  

I think.  

But our Idaho friends.  There's no hesitancy there.  We miss them every day.        

We're adjusting - slowly.  In the background of my computer typing, I can hear homework problems, my oldest getting home from wrestling, Pretty Girl on the piano, laughing Bubbs and Greg listening to Rush as he does the dishes.  

I let my past go too fast
No time to pause
If I could slow it all down
Like some captain,
Whose ship runs aground
I can wait until the tide comes around.  
Time stand still.  
I'm not looking back
But I want to look around me now.  

Sometimes Neil Peart is an insightful genius.  

Stupid computer...

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Behind the Scenes of Turning 7

Oh Bubbs.

Greg commented once when Bubbs was little how it never matters where we're headed, Bubbs is happy to go.  He never complains.  He just puts his shoes on, buckles his seat belt and then maybe at some point will ask, "where are we headed?"  

He's just happy to be here. 

I know Bubbs has been impacted by 2 big moves in the past 12 months, but it hasn't slowed him down in the slightest from reaching out to new friends.  He now has the most diverse group of playmates I've ever seen.  He is the only Caucasian boy from the United States, surrounded by two twins from Iran, a buddy from India and two boys from South Korea.  

His mom is loving it because when the friends get together I get to visit with these amazing women and hear stories of their education, their ancestry, their life.  I'm eating it up!

I hope Bubbs is too. 

In the meantime, I'm still cherishing Bubbs' inclination to curl up in my lap and his constant push every Sunday to stretch his large 7yr old frame across his parents during church meetings.  It upsets Pretty Girl tremendously because we don't allow her the same luxury.  

We know - we're imperfect parents.

But we're too delighted with all of our children to care.  Especially this guy. 

1. I'm tiny so I can walk under things better.

2. I had awesome neighbors in Idaho - like Alexander, Oliver, his brother, and Gideon.

3. And Bob.

4. I liked chasing all the ducks away at "Duckie Pond"

5. I liked Ms. Farr and Logan.

6. Hiawatha was tiring.  The tunnels were scary.  Would I do it again?  Kinda.

7. My room was the biggest.

8. Sometimes I would eat the salt when Mom let me spell my letters.

9. I miss my garden I planted.  I planted pumpkins, peas, carrots, watermelons, strawberries and we had flowers.  Now I have an orange tree.  I call him, "Orangie".  

10. I had a gooooooooooood time any day, anytime.    

Mr. Happy.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Behind the Scenes of Turning 12

One of the things I love most about Andrew is his ability to speak his mind.  He is not afraid to voice his opinion.  And if your opinion differs from his, he also has no qualms with giving you "the eye" or telling you flat out your position is stupid (we're working on that).  Truly, I hope he never loses this bravery.

I just hope he learns enough tact to survive.

We love Andrew.  We love his compassionate heart and softness for others.  Andrew is the "go to" sibling for all my children.  If you're having a bad day.  If you want to play a specific game.  If you're dying to talk about something exciting.  If you want to be silly.  Andrew is your friend.  Sometimes I think he's the most sticky part of the glue that binds us all together.

Leaving Utah was hard on Andrew.  But leaving Idaho was harder, even though he put on a brave face.  Meeting his friend Thomas was the highlight of his entire year.  Those two meshed so well on opinions you'd think they were cut from the same heavenly cloth.  It hurt my heart to watch them say goodbye.  

California has presented Andrew with several challenges he's never encountered before - issues that have tested his maturity.  His rigid stance on black and white is finally starting to crack a little with some grey areas of apathy. 

Here's what he'd like to remember most about his last year - 

1 - Meeting my friends in Idaho

2 - Living in Eagle

3 - Sometimes school - math especially.

4 - I hated breaking my arm, but I liked getting the cast off.

5 - I liked the river.

6 - I liked going to Hiawatha and Disneyland.

7 - I like having the beach nearby and being on cross country.

8 - Friends down the road

9 - School

10 - 11yr Old Scouts and having Dad as my teacher.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

From the Beginning to the Middle

I keep 4 black frames close to me wherever we move.  They each hold the latest and greatest photo of my children.  And every year when I swap out the new one, I get a little sentimental looking back at all the photos from the past. 

I love seeing the growth and the perspective - recalling exactly where we were and what was going on during that specific year.  But I also sorely miss those little faces and little bodies that moved around with me wherever I went. 

Grateful to still be in the middle.  Grateful to still be enjoying all my children around the dinner table and busy around my kitchen.  Grateful at night when I go to sleep that all my children are asleep under one roof - our roof.  

The middle is fleeting.  

(Yes, Andrew is missing a few.  Probably lost somewhere in the move)

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Halloween 2017

This Halloween was a little lack-luster for our oldest boys.  They've now reached an age/grade where wearing costumes to school is no longer the thing to do.  Fortunately, they were still very much into the idea of trick or treating and everything else that comes with this holiday.  Hurrah! 

And again - it was super strange Trick or Treating without a single jacket or hat.  In fact, we had to shed layers.  We also couldn't carve our pumpkins until the DAY BEFORE Halloween because of temperature levels mixed with mold growth, etc.  And they were very promptly thrown out to avoid mice.  

Yes, there's a bit to get used to here.  

Pretty Girl stole my idea earlier in the year and declared she would go as the Crazy Cat Lady from The Simpsons.  I don't think I've ever been prouder.  Her costume was hands down my favorite.  I wish I'd had time to sew the matching pink muumuu with apron and purple shawl.  Alas.  She was still killer without it. 

Andrew's costume made me laugh the most.  He truly couldn't fit through doors.  See video below.  


Favorite holiday!!

Monday, November 13, 2017

Listen to Your Life

Everything's holy.  Everything's sacred.
Even in the mundane, you'll find nothing's wasted.
Every heartbeat, beats for One greater.
Every breath meant to profess your Creator.

-Nichole Nordeman

Sunday, November 5, 2017


Here we go October.  A thousand times better than last year.

But how exceptionally strange to celebrate the month of Halloween in 90 degree weather.  It feels so foreign and...wrong.  No changing color.  No brisk weather.  This will take some time.  

#1 - Wednesday Afternoon Play Continues...

I am really digging these Wednesday afternoons with Bubbs and Pretty Girl.  They bring a lightness to my week.  I hope we keep doing this for a couple years. 

This month our favorite stop was the Scripps Aquarium in La Jolla.  Completely delightful!  I couldn't get enough of the views.  So refreshing! 

We also tried out a local pumpkin patch.  Brutal truth - it wasn't very impressive.  We miss our classic one in Vineyard, Utah. 

#2 - General Conference 

James traveled with our ward youth group to Salt Lake City and attended EVERY session of General Conference.  If you don't think that's impressive, you need to know that the whole group (60+ individuals) arrived on the scene with zero tickets.  They do this "pilgrimage" every other year.  Our bishop teams them up in groups of 2 or 3 on Temple Square, they say a prayer and then he tells them to "go!"  

And every single time - they come back with more tickets than they need.  Every time.  

James had an awesome experience.  One little guy in a mass of crowds holding up a sign for tickets and reaching out to total strangers.  He told us later he witnessed a couple minor miracles.

Not withstanding, we won't focus too much on the fact that he forgot his suit pants, a tie and a belt.  

Meanwhile, the rest of us stayed back in San Diego and made the best of things with our usual breakfast fare on Sunday morning, followed by a long family walk in between sessions.

And just like clockwork, we all fell asleep during the Sunday afternoon session.  

#3 - The Raven

I realized this year that it's very difficult to invite people who don't know us to our Raven night.  It sounds pretty nuts.  "Hello, would you like to come over and read Edgar Allan Poe's "The Raven" with us?  We also have dessert!  And a Simpsons episode!"  I feel like I have to throw the last two points in or people will think we're having a seance - and some might even think that regardless.

Lucky for us, several friends and a family took a chance and we had a wonderful time!

(Except Mom did a total fail on taking pictures) 

#4 - Andrew Cross Country

When you ask Andrew what he was looking forward to the most about leaving Elementary School and advancing to Middle School, Cross Country is always in the top 3.  

He loves it!  

He loves it so much he got shin splints the first week - which sent me into semi-panic mode with flashbacks of James and his achilies pains.  Fortunately, it passed.  The sweet thing about Andrew is he's steady and faithful to this sport.  He goes running with Greg every morning when possible.  And he has big goals about placing in the top 40, and getting his mile time under 6 minutes.

“No animal can outrun a greased Scotsman." - Willie  

#5 - Nichole Nordeman

You would not believe my absolute glee when I found out Nichole Nordeman was coming to Southern California in October.  I'm fairly certain I jumped out of the computer chair and did some mad pacing and jumping.  And then I called Greg.  And then I texted him again after we talked.  

Nichole performed at the Mariners Church up in Irvine for a Womens Night Out function.  I'd never heard of it, but who cares?!  We were going!!!

It's a beautiful campus right next to the University of California Irvine - and across the freeway from the LDS Newport Temple.  But none of that really matters.  What matters is I GOT TO SEE NICHOLE!!!!

She spoke about trials, new experiences, change when we least want it, how God knows exactly who we are and where we need to go.  She sang "Dear Me- the piece that makes me cry.  It was a like a boost to my healing soul and the reminder to go.  Go!  Go Rae.  And love.      

I have adored this talented lady for almost 20 years.  In 1998, Greg and I were browsing in a Borders Bookstore when on a whim I listened to a new release/artist and found Nichole Nordeman's "Wide Eyed".  I was instantly captivated.  Like before the song even finished - I was already stunned by the introspection of her writing. 

I went back the next day and bought the album because I couldn't stop thinking about her words.  

I have loved her since.  Her writing has frequently rescued me during dark moments.  Woven and Spun was released in the middle of my crippling infertility.  Brave came during my exhaustion from balancing 3 children.  The Unmaking - that one was a tender mercy for one of my hardest hours.  And this last one - Every Mile Mattered - my goodness!  Talk about learning to breathe again after the longest stretch below.  

My one regret is I didn't get to stay long enough to shake her hand and express my gratitude.  I wish I could have hugged her.  She's been a powerful force for good in my life.


Plus there was the added benefit of the Hello Kitty Cafe being down the road for treats afterwards...

#6 - Crazy Hair Day

Enough said.  

#4 - Date with a Vampire

Andrew's school had a murder mystery play in October that coincidentally was held the same weekend his favorite cousin was in town!  It was more a science/math type of murder mystery.  A fact that became extremely complicated in the "locked room" phase of our route.  Even Greg (math genius of the world) couldn't figure out exactly what they were asking with the given variables.  Come to find out, the basic instructions had been removed - and so a 10-minute problem took us 45 minutes!!!  Sigh!

We still had fun.    

#5 - James

James' high school nominates 20 students (out of 2,000+) annually who demonstrate exemplary character.  This is a much bigger deal than Greg and I first realized when we got the email.  They held a morning ceremony celebration to recognize James' efforts.  We are exceptionally proud of our son and the energy he has shown throughout this difficult transition.  

Greg spoke in church last week and his introduction of James was one of the most accurate descriptions I think I've ever heard.  

"For those of you who've met our son, you know this already - he's like a rocket that's getting ready to take off.  And my wife and I are just desperately trying to glue on the fins before he goes."  

That's James.  

We carpool to Seminary with a young girl (sophomore) who recently moved to our area from Mira Mesa, and before that from Georgia.  She's had to adjust her life during formative years that make it exceptionally difficult to adapt.  It's clear she's struggling and I can't help compare her to James.  I know these moves have been hard on him.  He has mourned so many friends and teams he's left behind.  And yet he keeps both feet on the ground and stays positive.  He keeps pushing forward.  

I can't think of a more deserving person for this award than James.

PS - that's his Spanish teacher.   

#6 - Mountain Biking

In the short few months we've lived here, I have discovered a treasure trove of bike trails.  There is an especially sweet trail less than 100 yards outside our subdivision.  It's a perfect trail that takes me around my children's schools and loops me back home in under 30 minutes.  I've seen coyotes, road runners, falcons, bunnies - no snakes yet.  Most mornings I ride the loop solo, but when we have time to spare, I grab extra friends to come with me.

This is heaven!   

#7 - Volleyball

Pretty Girl had a pretty dismal season.  I think they only won twice.  But she's definitely improved her returns - which is huge.  I'm going to bite the bullet again this spring and coach her team.   

#8 - Cousins

My brother and his wife were down for a week during Utah's UEA break.  It was so great seeing them and watching the cousins play! 

Luke - "Sometimes the water is so hot, I almost pee'd."
Bubbs - "I already did."

#9 - Everything Else

And here are some last random shots of things that happened in October.   

Bubbs finally fits into James' old suit.  I love my Activity Day girls.  And San Diego has killer sunsets.  I can't get enough of them.