Saturday, November 6, 2010

My wish for a day...

Oh, to be one of "those" people.  Just for a day. {okay I lie...not just for the day...for a while}  You know "the" people I am talking about.  

The ones that have all their Christmas Shopping done before Halloween.  The ones that have picture perfect kids that never say a cross word to one another, never mess up their rooms and always do their homework.  The kids that are satisfied with socks and undies wrapped cleverly under the tree.

The people who on a moments notice can have a house full of people over for the best gourmet meal {made from scratch} around a neatly decorated table complete with place cards, matching dinnerware and a centerpiece they threw together with flowers from their Lily Garden and pine cones from their yard.  The ones that have the most adorable family dog that wears sweaters to match the season, can get the morning paper and never barks.  "Those" people who bring the most creative gift to the party, have the swankiest style and perfect husband hanging on their arm.

Well...I COULD go on, but I am sure you know the people I am talking about.  If you are reading this and are "one of them" - remind me to kick you swiftly in the backside next time we see each other.  Oh, that's right I won't be seeing you as I am not in your social circle.  If I were I'd be one of you!

Each year I dream of having my home all decked out for the Holidays in an adorable fashion.  I have big plans and a creative vision and then something happens.  I don't get a tree put up, decorations are not unearthed from storage and our home just remains a place that I dwell with 4 boys and a husband.  Can I do it THIS year?  I wonder.  I want to make memories with my boys.  I want to create a warm, loving atmosphere to enjoy the wonderment of the Holiday Season in.  THIS will be my year.

Taylor is doing the best he has been in years and years.  Perhaps we can celebrate by "decking the halls" with some "fa, la, la, la,, la, la, la."  After all, "Tis the season to be Jolly."  

Wish me luck, as Martha Stewart I am not.  I have ideas.  Oh, yes.  Lots of ideas.  It is the execution that creates a problem for me.  I just have a hard time with time management.  Somehow, I just never seem to have enough...time.  I have so much I want to get done, then the next thing I know it is here.

 C H R I S T M A S...

It sneaks up on me silently.  I know it is coming then one day "WHAM!" here it is!  I find myself unprepared.  No stuff for the stockings.  Gifts hidden in places I can't find them.  No gifts for those I swore I'd hand make something special for.  I then get a huge stress headache and want to run for the hills.  

Help me.  Remind me that "time flies" and that before we know it we will be leaving cookies for santa and carrots for the reindeer.  This year I vow to be one of "those" people.  I will role play and pretend that I can do it all.  I will take on the challenge and let you know how I am doing...each step of the way!


P.S.  49 days and counting...till Christmas!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

One of those days...

Gotta love 'em!

Ever had "one of those days"?  We all have.  I should have known after going to Canon and finding out that my "soft focus" problem was not an easy fix, but rather something that could force me into early retirement from photography that it was gonna be "one of those days".  

The girl behind the desk told me that I had exceeded my 100,000 shot limit for my camera by oh...say 40,000.  She then told me for just a cool $1700 I could upgrade to a refurbished Canon 5d Mark II.  She then said, "Would you like to do that today?"

"Ummm...yes!  Why I would!  Let me run home and pluck my money tree!" I thought to myself.  Instead I told her that I could not afford to do so.  She looked at me like I had 3 heads.  She then told me to cough up a mere $180 so they could start to "diagnose" my camera's problem.  If it was going to be un-fixable or more expensive they would credit my card and call me.  It could need to be re-built to the tune of $1200-$1500.  oh yea!

Super-de-duper!  I left a bit stunned.  As I drove home, coughing and hacking for the 4th week now a huge {splat!} thundered through the car and startled both Turner and I.  {Turner is home sick too}.  Nice one.  As I looked up to see a giant crow flying overhead my eyes returned to the ginormous poop he so kindly deposited on my windshield.  Obstructing my view I attempted to wash it away with the wipers creating a huge mess.  Lovely!

We are in the process of getting Taylor placement in a transitional program.  I was waiting on calls from his social worker and probation officer.  I quickly scanned the car and my purse to check my phone only to find I left it at the house.  Really?

I hurried home to retrieve it and tripped going up the stairs nearly breaking my nose!  I had to laugh.  One of those days.  

I pick Trevan up from school and take the kids to grab a bite at Burger King {we have no groceries and I am too exhausted to go with 2 boys in tow.}  I eat, they eat.  They play.  I sit in a stupor watching as a guy lines up his onion rings on his tray.  He makes 3 rows of 3 rings.  He methodically takes 3 packets of ketchup and gingerly squirts a perfect circle onto each one.  I find myself fascinated by this.  Wow.  So much work.  

I look down at our tray piled high with all 3 orders of crispy fries in one big heap.  Next to them in the corner of the tray is a small mountain of ketchup.  Easy-smeasy.  No neat lines for me.  No method to my madness.  I glance into the play room to find Turner poking one fry then another then another into his mouth.  In awe, I sit and count as my kid pokes 6 french fries into his small mouth.  I then sit to watch and see if he chokes.  What is wrong with me?  I didn't have the energy to to get up and stop him, so I sit behind the glass just waiting and watching.  What a great mom.

We make our way home.  I tell the kids I need to take a breathing treatment and lay down for a little rest.  Turner reminds me that Daddy needs work clothes and that I am to do laundry today.  Thanks son.  I know this.  I decide to enlist the help of my big strong High School Freshman and wait till he gets home from school.  Yes.  Good plan.  I pull in, anxious to lay down to rest.  

What do we find?  Big trucks.  Men with chainsaws.  Loud ear-piercing shrill of the blades ripping through the branches.  Crack!  Whoosh!  Men yelling.  Tree Trimming in the complex - Ahhhh - one of THOSE days.

I get the call that the Social Worker has an emergency and calls off meeting with Taylor and us.  Oh joy.  Then she informs me that he needs to get a doctors release by tomorrow to be allowed into the new program.  Ah, sure.

As I tackle these obstacles Trevan knocks a glass of water over on the table where the iMac lives.  I cast my laptop aside, jump over him grabbing a towel from the kitchen and in one feld swoop mop op the water before it hits the keyboard.  My exercise for the day!

Looks like no rest for the weary.  I must call the doctor, then Taylor's Social Worker, Cooper Fellowship then Ivy his Probation Officer.  If only he knew all the work I go thru to help him.  He can't see all the "behind the scenes".  He just wants to come home and make me feel guilty for not letting him.  Parenthood - aint it grand?

So, off to see what the rest of this day holds.  Hopefully you are not having "one of those days"!


Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween...if there is such a thing!

Turner's "Bumpkin" {on left} Mr. Munki {in the middle} Trev's "Plumpkin" {on right}

Well...well...well.  Here we are.  It is Great Hallow's Eve; {not my idea of a Holiday} and not my favorite night.  Don't get me wrong, I don't want to rain on any one's parade.  If you like creepy, spooky, goblins, ghouls, smashed pumpkins, spending money on costumes and candy, kids gone wild and collecting more candy than any one human should consume in an entire year - then hey...knock yourself out!

I loved Halloween when I was a kid.  My mom use to make our costumes.  We would make hot apple cider and caramel apples.  We attended safe and sane neighborhood Halloween Parties and dawned the doorsteps of Grandparent's dressed in our costumes.  

Then, I had kids of my own.  Taylor was my first and I made him an adorable lil Devil costume {much to the dismay of my Grandmother}.  We took him out with friends in our neighborhood and all was fine and dandy.  That was 20 years ago.  Things then were still pretty harmless.  

As the years passed and Trenton came along, Taylor got older and was VERY afraid of the displays at the grocery store.  He hated going out in public before Halloween and did not really even want to trick-or-treat.  We did the fun night at our church and had a ball.  

The Halloween before he turned 8 years old he came to me and told me he wanted to dress up as "Pastor Dan" our Church's Pastor.  He knelt in our basement, which was converted to my in-home daycare and asked me to pray with him.  He told me he wanted to ask Jesus into his heart to live there FOREVER!  He had his Veggie Tales Tie, his Bible and his nice "church clothes".  We prayed together and then called up Pastor Dan to share the news!

Dressed like a little man, he went from door to door, ever so reluctantly as we came to homes that were all "spooooky".  He knocked on the door and then asked the person with the candy bowl "Do YOU have the love of Jesus in YOUR heart?"  When they looked at him stunned holding their bowl they stopped to think and then answer.  Most said "Why yes!"  He would then shake their hand, smile and say "Great!  God Bless You!  I just asked Jesus into my heart! Have a Great Halloween!"  Spinning on his heel, anxious to get to the next home...he didn't even take the candy!  He was on fire for the Lord and he was gonna tell the whole neighborhood!

We thought that one day, he would grow up to be a Pastor.  He has such a caring heart, so feeling, so loving.  He was baptized a month later at our church's Thanksgiving Feast.  

Fast forward 11 years.  He has battled drug and alcohol addiction for 5 agonizing years.  Left with no answers as to "why" or "where we went wrong".  The pain and heartache is indescribable.  I pray we are on the other side now...but you never know.

He has been sober now 90 days today!  Praise God.  I am not sure how my life would have changed if on that night I could have seen into the future and had known what a painful road we would have to travel down to reach his 20th birthday.  One never knows.  That is the irony of this "life".

So, tonight in an effort to allow my last 2 boys to "make a memory" I will drag my sick self {been battling sinus problems and allergies for a month} out to collect the candy with my kids.  We will have one Skeleton and one Darth Vader.  We will go to our church where they have planned a super evening of fun for the kids and families.  

Tomorrow I will sort the candy, hide the candy and battle with my already very high spirited boys over why candy is not an appropriate breakfast food.  Everyone has their favorites - Daddy loves 3 Musketeers and Snickers, mine is peanut M&M's, Reese's and Almond Joy.  Trenton loves Reese's and SOUR stuff.  Turner loves suckers and skittles.  Trevan loves push pops.  Taylor...well he loves it all.  He has never been picky. 

The boys will make a bag for their big brother.  They love him so.  Stace and Trenton are there visiting him now in his rehab.  He will complete that program on November 3rd and then go to a transitional home.  He wants to come home, but I don't feel we are all ready - yet.  

One day at a time.  That is all we can handle.


 Taylor on Halloween 10 year ago.  
He ironically dressed as a skateboarder.  
Little did we know that 7 years later he would be involved in a skateboarding accident that would change our lives forever...leaving him with a brain injury.

Cherish each day...

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Hold my hand...

If you think about it, all we really want in life is a little direction and guidance.  Someone to come along and pour into us some hope, zest and motivation when we are lacking.  People do not want to be made to feel like they are stupid, clueless or unworthy of knowledge.  If each person would just take the time to slow down and help guide others in their quest for the "things unknown" to him...would our world not be a much nicer place?  Inspire.  Encourage.  Educate.

I do not understand the mentality of "knowledge hoarding". 

Seriously.  Think about how many times you have asked someone for advice about something that you do not possess full knowledge of, only to have them "play dumb" {when you know they are fully in the know} or flat out ignore you?  Better yet, have that person throw you under the bus by giving you bogus info all together?

Does this come from the dog eat dog mentality so common in our world today?  Perhaps.  I am not sure. I started to ponder this when I realized my freshman son was failing all his classes.  What did he need?  Does he have an impairment?  A Learning Disability gone unnoticed?  Not in this case.  He was lacking direction, motivation, organization.  

Take Taylor my 19 year old currently in Rehab.  He is being sent out from 8am to 5pm each day on "JOB SEARCH".  Oh, wow.  They make it sound so "glamorous".  He has no car, no bus money, no high school diploma and has no clue where he is.  Don't you think a little guidance would be helpful?  

All he wants is direction, encouragement, motivation.  Knowledge.  He just needs the knowledge on how to accomplish the task at hand.  Yet, where are the people who can help him?  They are right in front of him, hoarding their knowledge.  He asks and is told to "figure it out".  Granted this can be useful in some situations, but not all.  Giving someone a hand up - could it really hurt?

So often we as adults think we have all the answers and find it easy to "preach" to others.  Not stopping to think that this may have a tendency to make others feel "less than".  There is a fine art to "teaching" someone something and having them walk away feeling like they just gained useful information.  

I have asked people in my field questions about their craft.  I figure if I want to know I had better ask.  I have not been met with great enthusiasm.  Some ignore my inquiry.  Others tell me they charge money to divulge such information.  Baffling.  The way I see it, I am blessed to know what I know and it is my obligation to share my knowledge with anyone who asks.  I feel if I share then perhaps it will come around and I may gain at some point some useful information that I do not know now.  

Sometimes our minds grow quiet.  Like lemonade made from good old powder.  It tastes fine but fresh squeezed is so much better.  When I have someone come to me who is thirsting for some fresh squeezed I am happy to roll up my sleeves and deliver...are you?

I challenge you to look for the opportunity to "hold someone's hand".  Guide them.  Give them a hand up.  After all - knowledge is free.  

Roll up your sleeves and deliver some fresh squeezed inspiration to someone who is thirsty!


Monday, October 11, 2010

Simplify. Period.

Simplify.  Period.

I am in my simple phase.  I want to simplify my life.  I have been on a cleaning bender while my husband has been out of town.  I have been cleaning closets, filing papers, throwing out junk and donating.  I want simplicity.  Streamlined Organization is my dream.  I keep thinking of the people in Africa and how they live so...simply.  Not us Americans!  We have SO much junk.  Overabundance is commonplace here.  Well...not for this family.  I am no Martha Stewart {wish I was} but I do indulge in the fantasy of a perfectly tidy home.  I envision neat color coordinated bins with all our stuff living perfectly inside.  I want to wake up to my home looking like one of those cute little cottages you only find in a magazine.  You know the ones that have no humans under the age of 40 occupying them!

I am a simple girl.  I live in my rainbow sandals and love comfortable soft fabrics.  My dress is casual, as is our home.  Beachy Keen is our theme.  Soft blues and greens and shades of sand, comfy fluffy pillows and dreamy soft blankets.  I am all about comfort.  Lately my kids "junk" has been swallowing up our lil 900 sq ft of space that we now call home.  Try as I might to file things in their little bins, things keep finding their way out and littering my space.  I am reaching the point of no return and have threatened to just pitch things.  Our new rule is:  If I find it on the floor - it's gone forever!{well not forever ever...but don't tell them that}

My goal is to be all "simplified" before Thanksgiving hits.  Wish me luck.  My kids {and hubby} like to hold on to some of the most random stuff.  My hubby is a box keeper.  He keeps the boxes to everything {as if we will EVER put them back in the box they came in}.  Well, while he has been away - I have done gone crazy clearing out all the unwanted cardboard.  WOW!  I have reclaimed some much needed closet shelving!  Yipeee!  Wonder if he will even notice?  Perhaps not.

Maybe my paranoia has developed from laying in bed alone into the wee hours and watching "Hoarders".  What a trip!  I just can not bear the thought of massive amounts of stuff taking over my living space.  Ewwww.  More creepy than the show "Sister Wives"...don't even get me started on THAT.  Anyway, back to the topic.  I found this great site called Zen Habits.  Their motto is "smile, breathe, go slowly."  Works for me.  Check out the25 Ways To Simplify Your Life With Kids.

I love a bunch of them but especially love #25.  

Focus on doing, not on spending. Too often we send messages to our kids about how to live life, based on what we do: we like to go shopping, and eat out, and go to the movies, and so our kids learn that having fun means spending money. We focus on material things, and therefore so do they. Instead, teach them (by talking but also by your actions) that what’s important is doing stuff, not buying stuff. Go for walks in the park, play outdoors, play board games, read, tell stories, play charades, cook and clean, go to the beach or lake, build stuff, wash the car. Spend quality time together, doing stuff that doesn’t cost money.

AMEN!  Tomorrow we are doing just that.  Taylor is coming for a home visit and given the nature of his last visit - I told him he had to be of assistance to me.  SO, he is helping me tackle the mountain of laundry and cleaning the bathrooms tomorrow!  Yea!  Turner and Trevan enjoy their chores {surprise} so we will kick off the day with cleaning and scrubbing everything that I have not gotten to.  I have a new love, the Clorox Handi Wipes.  Can't clean enough with my reusable cloth heavy wipes.  Bye Bye dish rags and sponges!  See, I am easy to please!  At a buck sixty nine, you can't go wrong.  Simple pleasures... gotta love them.
Well, it has been a long day and I have bored you enough with my ranting...I have cleaning to do tomorrow.  Off to bed now {I will forgo "Hoarders"} don't want to have nightmares!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Forever Sunshine

Taylor October 2010

My hubby has been in Big Bear for the better part of 2 weeks.  I now know what it is like to be a "single" parent - going it alone!  {not really - but kinda}
We have been chugging along with Soccer, Groceries, School, Laundry, Errands and the like.  We are no worse for the wear.  We have had some laughs - as my boys continue to crack me up day after day.
Yesterday Turner says  "How much money does your wallet hold?" I said, "Well, as much as I have to put in it." He replies "Well Mom, you NEVER have ANY cash, so I guess you just have a wallet so that OTHER people think you have some!"

We go from having fruity pebbles spilled all over the kitchen to mommy rolling on the floor laughing!  Before bed the other night Turner said " You are the most beautiful mom in the whole "white" galaxy." "I love you more than anything in the whole world".  I want to cherish these precious moments and burn them into my memory forever. ♥

I wish I could have "forever sunshine."  I use to sing "you are my sunshine" to my Taylor when he was little.  He use to say "sing to me mama...sing me "forever sunshine".  I remember it like it was yesterday.  I am glad to report that he is doing well at the Cooper Fellowship.  Today Trenton, Turner, Trevan and I went to see him and take him lunch.

I came home to get ready to go do a photo session for The Lopez Family.  It has been fun watching the girls grow up the past several years.  Here is a shot of Alexa...only 9 years old!!  Boy...they grow fast!

I am happy that the boys have one more week on school break.  We have plans to go Whale Watching this week and then Kids Small Groups start up on Wednesday.  The boys and I are excited for that to begin!

Stace should be home tomorrow or Tuesday then my Jeep will get new tires!!  I SO need them.  I nearly spun out on the freeway in the rain the other day!  I like excitement - but not that kind!

Until later...

Monday, October 4, 2010

Long time . . . no blog.

Whew!  Finally some cooler weather!  I hope FALL is finally here to stay!  I love California but have grown tired of sweating in our lil apartment!  Being closer to the ocean our units are not equipped with central air or heat.  So, we roast like little piggies at night!

It has been weeks since I have had a moment to update my blog.  Each time I sit down to do so, the phone rings, someone comes to the door, or one of my boys has decided to "accidentally tie his brother to his bedpost and needs help freeing him".  

In the past weeks, Taylor was granted another try at Rehab and has been in the Cooper Fellowship since September 24th.  He is being let out tomorrow on "job search".  He is expected to find a job {without a car} within a reasonable distance to the rehab. We'll see how this goes... most businesses around there are commercial or require that you speak another language besides English.  Last I checked Taylor was not fluent in Vietnamese.

He was able to come home today for a "home visit".  Needless to say it was a bit stressful on me and the little guys.  After being in jail for nearly 2 months Taylor was glad to be home and jumped in like he had never been away.  He was anxious to get a hold of his CD player, raid the fridge and rifle thru the closet looking for his favorite old Tee Shirt.  I did not expect anything different, as this is still his "home".  Always will be.  He chose however to call a "friend" and virtually disappear most of the day.  My anxiety level went thru the roof.  You can't blame me.  We have had years of unpredictable behavior and my mind just ... "goes there".  

Lil Trevan was also a nervous wreck.  He went to the window and watched to see when and if his big brother was coming back, and in what state of mind.  He came back about an hour before I needed to take him back to his rehab.  I could not tell what if anything he had been doing.  As he came in the door he slipped on the wood floor as it was raining.  He went sailing and Trevan fearing he was drunk started to cry and got very upset.  

He disappeared into the bathroom and then I discovered that he helped himself to something that did not belong to him.  I confronted him and he was not happy.

We had words and his anger boiled over like old times.  I could tell we were not getting anywhere so I pointed to the door and told him it was time to go.  We drove to the rehab in silence, my stomach in knots.  Stace left to work in Big Bear again this week so I was thankful that my mom had dropped over and went with me.  Upon his departure I told him I was sad and that he would not be allowed home again for a visit.  We would instead go someplace or do something.  He was angry and expressed his displeasure by slamming my car door - VERY hard.  

I cried most of the way home.  This is not the progress that I had hoped for.

"Let go.  Let God handle it."  I had to keep telling myself.  "You are not in charge here..."  

So, tomorrow is another day.  One day at a time.  This is all I can handle.  Can't change the past nor control the future.

The little guys are still on break, so we may venture out to the pumpkin farm tomorrow.  Since I have written last I have had several photo shoots, gone to Santa Barbara, had a friend in from out of town, been to the wedding of our nephew, and driven back and forth to Taylor's rehab many times.

With Stace gone this week I will need to get Trenton to and from school, find a way to get some food to feed these boys with $34.87 in the bank, clean the house, figure out a way to do some laundry without money on the laundry card, pray my car does not decide to go ker-plunk this week, take Trevan to Soccer, get Taylor to the doctor, make goodie bags and have a Birthday Party for the boys all before Friday!  Whew!  At least tomorrow is just Tuesday!  I still have a few days to get it all done!

Just thinking of all I have ahead of me, makes me tired.  I think I will turn in now.  Hey!  At least I get the bed all to myself tonight {sorry Stace}!  It is SO nice to spread out and hog the WHOLE bed!  No fighting for the covers or covering my ears while he saws logs!  Gotta find the simple pleasures in each day {or night}!  LOL!

Until next time...

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Murphy's Law

When life turns crappy - eat Cupcakes!

I use to scoff and laugh at people who talked about "Murphy's Law".  I thought it to be a joke.  Never laugh at such things...You would know - Murphy's Law has decided to take up residency on my doorstep.  

{Murphy's law is an adage or epigram that is typically stated as: "Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong"...} 

I was thrilled a week ago to find out my husband would be going out of town to work.  I immediately had visions of grandeur.  I envisioned nights filled with me taking charge of the remote - controlling the T.V. watching whatever struck my fancy!  Evenings of going to bed when I wanted and running the house MY way.  I dreamed of sleeping all night long in a bed all to my lonesome.  I was going to cook foods that he does not like and maybe even eat dessert first!  I was going to leave dishes in the sink, let the water run when I brushed my teeth and hit the snooze button as much as I wanted!  It was going to be SO much fun!

Shame on me.  

He had just left when I pulled into the kids school to notice white smoke neatly curling out from under my hood.  Strangers drove by rolling their windows down to tell me "Your car is on fire!!"  I got the kids out and called my husband who was on his way to Big Bear.  I frantically told him he HAD to come figure out the problem as he could not possibly leave me without a car for a week!  I was now late to school and was to work in the classroom.  Fine start to the day.

He came and fixed the leaking power steering hose and then got a late start up the mountain {sorry dear}.  I proceed on with the days events which included a run to the store for dinner ingredients, coaching Trevan's Soccer Practice and going to the Post Office.  At 11:00pm I was elated at the thought of dropping into bed tired.

I had just pulled the covers over me as I heard the most terrible coughing coming from the kids room.  I went in to find Trevan having the worst Asthma Attack he had ever had.  He started gasping and choking then throwing up.  He soon passed out.  I threw clothes on, called my mom and got him to the E.R.  I was there until 3:00am.  My son had a bad case of the Croup.  


I had to get to Court the next morning at 8:00am - to be there for Taylor's Sentencing for a Probation Violation. 
{ here was good old Murphy's Law again }

Exhausted, I came home to sleep a handful of hours then woke up to the dilemma of "what now?".  I had no one to care for Trevan as my mom had taken a temp job for this week.  I was forced to keep Trenton home to watch him as I went to Court.  {Murphy's Law}

I got to the Courthouse to find that the Public Defender had not gotten a call from the Rehab.  She told me to return at 1:30pm and the judge would see Taylor then.  I returned home to call the doctor to have Trevan seen only to be told that the doctor would not be in until Friday!  {Murphy's Law}  

I went back to the Courthouse yet again, only to sit through a heartbreaking 2 hours.  The Judge was not pleased that he had to return to Court after lunch and had decided to throw the book at Taylor.  He said he wanted to just give him jail time in lieu of allowing him to return to Rehab.  I was so emotionally and physically drained that I wanted to just run away!

So much for my "fun".  I spent the next days caring for not only one sick boy, but two.  Turner woke up that morning with the Croup too.  {Murphy's Law strikes again!}  Friday rolled in with no pomp nor circumstance.  Yes, it was indeed the 22nd Anniversary of my Marriage - or "Marital Confinement" as I have come to know it.  My husband was still on a mountain working.  No love letter, no flowers, no nice dinner by candlelight, nada...nothing.  Zip, zilch. 

In the days since, we have muddled along with our new school routine.  Boys back in school, we just have to do breathing treatments and inhalers plus meds at night.  Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday I work in the classrooms.  Tuesday and Thursdays we have Soccer Practice.  Saturday is Game Day, Sunday is "Go See Taylor Day".  Next week we will start back to Kids Small Groups at Church where the kids go to Class and Trenton and I serve on Wednesday nights.  Chugging along like the lil engine that could...I think I can, I think I can... I try to smile and be thankful for each day.

If only good ol' Murphy would take his "Law" and move on...last night the "check engine light" came on in my car and today Stace's truck just stopped working... what next?  Or do I dare ask?

A bit frazzled today, I decided to make some gourmet cookies.  I got all the items I thought I needed only to come home and find I forgot the SUGAR...{Murphy's Law strikes again...darn it!}

So, now here I sit.  Ready to dawn my pajamas at 4:15pm.  I have meat marinating for dinner and am praying I will find the energy to cook it.  No cookie baking tonight.  I sure wish I had a darn cupcake to eat right about now!  


Thursday, September 2, 2010

And...We're Off!

My lil ones have been back to school for a month yet are still enjoying the busy days of what is left of Summer.  Birthday Parties with Snow Cones, Cupcakes, Bouncy Houses and Water Balloon Fights are sandwiched into our busy afternoons filled with Homework, Photo Shoots and Soccer Practice.  I manage to slip in a load of laundry {only to find someone poured bleach into my machine ruining my clothes... but that is another story} make a trip to the store or scribble a quick letter to Taylor. 

Today though, is a milestone in my life.  My Trenton started High School.  It hit me after I rushed out the door scampering and scurrying to get 2 boys and their backpacks in the car going down my mental checklist of which kid's class I was helping in today that I did not even make a big ta-doo about it. 

Man.  What a bad mom. 

I tried to call the house to make sure he was all set - but he was in the shower.  I started in on my husband with the "Make sure he has his schedule and did he get a lock for his locker?...Oh and what backpack will he be using because if it is the one from last year make sure he takes out the items from our Africa Trip.  Also make sure he has some money for lunch and are you taking him?  Or is he walking?"  Not allowing him to get a word in edgewise. 

I hung up and quickly made a mad dash for the school office to sign in as a Volunteer my mind whirring and wondering if my husband had answered any of the questions I had fired off.  With a shrug I went on with my duties willing my son to have a great first day of high school.  Hey, if he could get on fine in a third world country he can survive his first day of High School!

I am now home and have fed Trevan lunch, fired off a letter to the Kindergarten Class about the upcoming PTA Fundraiser, answered emails, gone back to get Turner from school, got him a snack and am now ready to tackle this week's final round of homework with two very UN-willing students.  All while waiting for my new High School Student to come home and tell me about his day. 

In the course of attempting to write this I had 2 phone calls.  One an annoying telemarketer and the other from my first born.  He sounded cheery although I had to strain to hear him and plug my free ear during our conversation.  He sounds like he is talking through an old tin can.  He informed me that he has 13 days of confinement left and was hoping I had good news on where he would go next.  Sadly I do not have any answers for him as his Public Defender is a very busy and hard to reach woman.  He ended by telling me that he loved me which is music to my ears.  It has been a long time since I could carry on a clear headed conversation with my boy, one that is not clouded with drugs and alcohol.  Such a wonderful feeling - one that I hope will continue.

It is September.  I can't believe our Summer is gone.  My long awaited Mission Trip behind me.  My kids all back to school.  My days will now be filled with driving kids to and from school, working in the classroom, field trips, room mom duties, after school play dates, Soccer Practice on Tuesdays, teaching Kids Small Groups on Wednesday nights and who knows what else!  My calendar is definitely full!

I love my boys.  I just have to be careful not to lose my self in this process of bringing them from childhood to adulthood.  If anyone has nailed this - let me know!


Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Friends old and new...

I love my friends. 

Meet Kris.  She was my BFF in High School.  After high school her life went one way and mine another.  It was through the magic of Facebook that we reconnected.  We have been chatting, texting, talking and emailing for over a year.  She does not live THAT far...just in San Diego.  Yet our busy lives, being moms and just day to day activities have kept us apart.  Yesterday I had the joy of taking her pictures.  We only got to see each other for an hour or so, but it was like no time had passed.

She was the same girl I knew all those years ago.  Still as vibrant, witty and funny.  I miss hanging out and having fun together.  

There are SO many people that I miss.  I have friends scattered all over the country as well as family.  If I could have one wish it would be for more time and opportunities to spend with those I cherish.  Being with someone I knew when I was just a teen makes me miss all the other friends I once spent my days with.  Funny how all the old memories come rushing back!  Our minds are a wondrous thing!  I sit and wonder if the people whom I once called "friend" still remember me.  Where are they today and what have they been doing all these years...

At times I feel so lonely and wish I were just a kid again.  Carefree.  To turn back the hands of time...

Ah, adulthood - aint it grand?!

I can only pray that my kids make friendships that last a life time.  

Friends are like never realize how good they are until you run out!

Here's praying that you never run out of chocolate - OR - Friends!


Friday, August 20, 2010

I'm here.

Many of you have emailed asking why I have not updated my blog in a long while.  
Thank you - I appreciate the nudge!

I have settled back into life as I knew it before Africa.  I have a restlessness about me that I never had before and an unexplainable peace at the same time.

I do not seem as quick to anger, find joy in things I never did before, have a greater appreciation for people and move through life now with my eyes wide open.  All of this is great, yet I feel restless.
I have a great yearning to return to Africa and do more.  I long to empower people here to become passionate about helping others - where ever they may be - those who are less fortunate.
It has become so clear to me how we here in America have settled into our little bubble of the world and how quickly all things can revolve around our comfort or lack there of.  It is so easy to justify indulgences for ourselves when there are children suffering in our own backyard - not to mention all over the world.

Many people can not help it as they are living totally unaware of how abundantly blessed and rich their lives are.  I feel a need to educate them.   Albeit they may not wish to learn,  my desire is still there.

I have spent some time setting up a website to help the Women from Christ Gospel Fellowship, in Kigali, Rwanda.  The women in this church are people like you and me.  They live, love and laugh.  They work hard to survive.  Many have been inflicted with HIV/AIDS and so have their children.  Yet they have hope in each new day.  They get up, they go on.  This ministry has brought women in who did not know where to turn and has taught them how to make baskets and beads for jewelry.  The women work tirelessly for hours creating these beautiful crafts, yet do not have a market in which to sell them.  I am determined to help.  All items on this site were handmade and brought here by me from Africa.  All money earned from the site will go directly back to the women who made them.

Please take a moment to check out the site:

Share the link with a friend!  Your simple small purchase will provide food, clothing, shoes and schooling for children 9,000 miles away!

Now a little on my home front.  Taylor has 25 more days in jail.  They are trying to get him before a WIC Court Judge to deem him unable to care for himself and grant him aid in getting rehab that specializes in dual diagnosis {both mental illness and addiction} as there are not many places that accept people like him.  We do not have $50k to $100k to pay for his treatment, and neither does he.  His next hearing in regular court is this Monday.  Please pray that there are some answers finally.

Our little Trevan will be 6 in a week.  He and Turner are both doing great at their new school {year round}.  Trevan starts Soccer next week and is SO excited!  Trenton will start HIGH SCHOOL in a couple weeks.  I can't believe he is so old!  He has been working with his dad and has earned enough money to buy a bike.  He is one happy camper now!

Our Chloe {trusted babysitter, friend and adopted daughter/sister} will return to Sonoma State in a few days.  We will miss her so!  She is such a blessing to us and her smiling face and giggles will leave us empty.  It is my hope that in April I can take the boys to see her and drive back with her for her Spring Break.  My lil boys have 6 weeks off then. 

I am looking forward to Kids Small Groups starting in September - I miss my kids!  I have loved teaching the Summer Class each Tuesday.  We have some awesome kids!  Ariel and Kamille are my student leaders and I love spending 3 hours with them!  I love their serving hearts.

I think I may be ready to start editing the photos from my trip.  Each time I have sat down to start the emotions come flooding back as I look at the sweet faces.  With a lot of prayer I think I may be ready to tackle the 10,000 images!

I have started a gallery of Africa on my Giggle Moon website - it is on the bottom - the far right bubble - if you want to check it out.  I will add more as I am able.

I hope you are enjoying what is left of our Summer and pray that you will be empowered to go out of "your bubble" and extend yourself to those who are in'll be glad you did!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Trying to be strong...

I have been home for a little over a week now.  I have been changed.  I am still processing all the information that I took in while in Africa.  I now have an obligation to do something.

I was chosen to go.  I am blessed to live here.  I want to do something meaningful in my life to bring about a positive change for others.  I am not just talking about helping people in Africa, I mean people who are just an arms length away.  I pray that I can empower others to "live and love beyond themselves" and move through life with their eyes wide open.

How much do you miss each day?  In this huge world do you know that so many people are lonely, sad and confused?  How often do you think of someone but do not take a moment to let them know?  Do you pass up opportunities to show love to others? 

I know that I am guilty of this.  I want to reach out with a call, a text or an email.  I quickly dismiss it thinking - "Nah, they are probably busy and I don't want to bother them or make them feel obligated to respond..." so I do nothing.

I have a big family, yet there are many times I feel sad and alone.  I feel misunderstood, unheard, unimportant in the lives that share the same living space as me.  My only option is to turn to God and ask for Him to take away the feelings of despair. 

No, there is no quick fix to any of life's challenges.  I now know as I have seen first hand that my burdens are lighter than some. 


Here I sit in the midst of them at times not knowing what direction to take.  I know that I should stop and ask directions.  I pray and then I wait.  I am human.  I am just like most people, I want a quick answer.  No one likes the discomfort of not knowing, of feeling lost.  Desperate.

I feel confused by having so many options yet no clear answers. 
What do I do?  Where do I turn?  How do I go on? 
At times I feel so small.  I feel defeat.  Can I quit?  I sure can.  I want to.  But I don't.

I have to keep on...keeping on.  Searching, looking, seeking - for the right path.  I will make mistakes, I always do.  I have to learn from them.

It is my prayer that others may see my journey and learn from me.  I want to be a light.  I have lived in darkness and have searched for the lighted path.  At times I find it quickly, other times my search is long.

Right now, I am in pain for my child, just as God feels pain for us.  I want to make my son okay.  I want to "heal" his mental illness.  I want to take him in my arms and make it all better.  I can not.  I can only pray for him as he is in custody paying a price for a choice he made while brokenhearted.

He is not a bad person.  I use to think that only bad people who did bad things went to jail.  I now know that this is not the case.  My son is ill.  He is mentally challenged and an addict as a result.  He does not make good choices.  He lacks the ability to think and reason rationally.  He reacts and acts on impulse.  We are all just one bad choice away from an unpleasant consequence.

It is so easy to sit in judgement of others.  It is easy to tell others what they should have done or should do.  Having forgiveness and compassion is not easy.  I have lost friends because of my son's actions.  But I ask - "were they real friends to begin with?" The answer is clear. 

I do not have to carry the weight of who he has become.  God loves him as I do, unconditionally.  I need true friends in my life who will stand by me no matter what.  We all do.  How judgemental are you?  Do you offer your friendship without limits?  We often neglect our friends and loved ones by "starving" them of positive reinforcement.  Why is it so easy to criticize so quickly?  What makes us the expert?

I challenge you to go out of your comfort zone and do something to bring about positive change for someone else.  I ask that you count your blessings.  Be humble.  You are free to live, free to love and free to give - FREELY to others.  A kind word, a kind gesture - they go a long way.  You never know what kind of impact you will have on someone else by just a simple call, email or visit.

Go and do great things.  Don't live in fear.  Take a moment and pray.  Ask God for direction.  Be open to receive.


Monday, July 26, 2010

Weaving my way back...

Trenton and I are home from Africa.  I feel much like this child.  I feel like I am on the outside looking in.  I am tired and overstimulated by this life that at one time was the only life I knew.  Traveling 9000 miles from home and experiencing the simplicity of life that the African people live was amazing on so many levels.  

Most people think that when you travel on Mission that you are doing just that...a MISSION to bring about change and hope.  I must say that I was forever changed in ways that I could not imagine by the lives that I came across. Yes, we taught, we prayed, we touched and we played.  

I do not speak Kinyanrwandan or Swahili.  A smile is universal.  A simple wave accompanied by a cheery "Maraho" or "Jambo" {hello} was enough to evoke a crowd of children yelling "Muzungu" {white person} and running to greet you. 

Their clothes tattered and torn, dusty and dirty.  Their faces smudged with dirt and runny noses abound.  Heads that were shaved, feet that were bare.  Their beautiful smiles, warm soft skin and deep chocolate eyes melted your heart.  Quick to grab your hand, give a hug or take a place on your lap.  There were more children than we had hands or laps to hold.  Some would go from one person to another waiting for a turn to feel a loving touch.

We were able to learn their names but not their story.  You would hold a child and wonder where did they sleep at night?  Did they have a home or a mommy?  Were they hungry or thirsty?  

More often than I can recall I would go to put a child down and they would say so sweetly in a voice so soft you had to strain to hear "food?...water?"  Their eyes fixed on yours awaiting a response.  Your heart would sink to the depths of your soul.  

Knowing that you could not give that one child food or water because a hundred more would come running was enough to tear your heart out.  Embarrassed and ashamed, you would break their intent gaze and look away.  Guilt would flood you head to toe knowing that you would soon board a bus and guzzle a water bottle or two on your way to lunch.  Your mouth dry from all the dust, your stomach growling - you would soon satisfy your needs. 

Leaving them behind with sad eyes, waving at you with their small hands you had to put them out of your mind for the moment or the tears would flow.

How can we be so blessed to live here in America when there are so many beautiful children suffering?
Why and what.  Why must it be this way and what can we do?

I have many stories to tell.  Many divine appointments to share.  I am just trying to weave my way back into this overindulgent lifestyle that I have always known.  When I can come to grips with our ways and rest up I will share more with you.

Just know that if you are reading this, you are blessed.  You have been chosen.  You can make a difference.  Are you prepared to live simply so that others may simply live?  

My .mac account was up for renewal while I was away.  It is $99 a year.  I don't have the $99 to pay it and when I think about how much food $99 would provide for people who earn less than $300 a year {if they are fortunate enough} I am not sure if I will renew it or not.  So in the meantime if you wish to email me you may do so at

Until next time...

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Long Winding Road

It is hard to believe that we are finally here.  Tomorrow is the day that we have been waiting and working for months to prepare for.  Our DEPARTURE DAY!

God has really shown us that HE is in control.  He has lead us through the bumps, the pot holes, the dangerous curves and the delightful straightaways.  He has strategically placed the red lights so we would stop and reflect.  He put the yellow lights just where we needed them to proceed with caution.  He then gave us the green to press on full steam ahead.

I have been stretched thus far beyond my comprehension.  I have grown in my faith, my trust and my endurance.  My heart has been molded and prepared as much as it could be to be broken for Him.  In the home stretch we have been brought through the death of a loved one, illness, joyous events and financial challenges.

Just a few days ago a dear friend suffered a heart attack and gave us all quite a scare.  God was not finished with him and he is still here with us.  For this I am so grateful.  The emotions that I have had in the past weeks are more than enough to last me a lifetime!

I can sing praises as yesterday - in perfect timing - Taylor was re-admitted to the Phoenix House.  I will have peace of mind knowing that he is continuing on his journey of recovery while I am away.

Trenton and I have 2 suitcases packed.  Each weigh in at 49 pounds {our limit is 50}.  Today I will spend time with my lil boys and then focus on packing last minute items and our carry-ons. 

I so appreciate all of you who have prayed us through and contributed your time and money to aid us in this mission.  I feel SO awesome to know that you are all going along with us in spirit.  I can not wait to share with you our experiences.  We will update via this blog and on Facebook as we are able.  Our trip leader Liza will also update the KSG website as she can - here is the link:

We leave tomorrow, July 8th at 2:30pm.  We invite any and all who would love to come see us off to meet at the MC2 Parking Lot {just up from the main offices on the left} at 2:00pm.  We will hug, take photos and pray then load the bus to leave at 2:30pm.

You can see our Prayer Journal on this website - for a day by day break down of prayer requests:

After 2 days of travel we will touch down in the Land Of A Thousand Hills, Rwanda.  Here we will do the work that God has already laid out for us.  He has prepared in advance divine appointments and people that we will be forever touched by.  I can't wait to be used for His glory!

Please pray for safe travels, pray that our luggage all arrives safely, pray for our health, endurance and that we would each have an attitude of grace.  Pray that our servants hearts will be used to the fullest!


Monday, June 28, 2010

Journey of Emotions

Grandma Daisy

What a Journey down the path of {EMOTIONS} this past week has been.  In just 7 days I have experienced every emotion known to man.  I guess the Lord is making sure I am prepared for the Mission ahead.  In just 10 days Trenton and I will depart the United States bound for Africa.  I can't believe the time is almost here.

Last Saturday Grandma Daisy suffered a stroke. {fear, anxiety, worry}  It was sudden and I can't say that I am ever prepared to lose someone I love.  She hung on for 4 days which gave us all a time to say goodbye. {sadness, regret, apprehension}   It was very emotional.  We were given the opportunity to share with each other, cry and pray.  We spent time with friends and loved ones that we hardly ever get to spend time with.  I was afforded the opportunity to talk to my little guys about death.

It was a busy week as it was the last week of school.  There were awards ceremonies to attend {pride}, end of the year field trips {enthusiasm}, last day of school parties and then Graduation on Wednesday {happiness}.  Trenton graduated from 8th Grade, Megan (my niece) and Kamille (Taylor's Girlfriend) Graduated from High School.  The next morning Grandma Daisy made her way to Heaven {sadness, grief}.  At times I feel that I move through life on auto-pilot.  Going and doing, saying and praying, plugging along. {optimistic}

Thursday Trenton and I received our Hepatitis Shots and I had a reaction.  I broke out in itchy hives and got really tired. {worried} Perhaps a culmination of the emotional week I had just had.  Taylor had a probation appointment and was not even drug tested.  I was baffled.  I am not sure what the purpose of "being on Formal Probation" is if they do not even see him but once a month and do not even test him!  {frustration, offended}

Friday morning we sent Team One off on the Road To Rwanda Mission.  It was wonderful to hug our friends who are going before us and send them off with a prayer.  {confidence, happiness, love}  I then got to spend the day celebrating Turner's 7th birthday early - as I will be in Africa on July 18th.  Chloe's friend Danyale got us tickets to Sea World.  It was a great diversion for Megan to also get away and have fun with us.  The 3 girls and I toted my 2 lil ones all around Sea World and we had a blast! {exhaustion, happiness}

Saturday night Taylor, Kamille, Trenton and Monique went to the Lake to see a concert.  Some choices  were made and my super mom intuition had kicked in.  I knew something was up with they all wanted to spend the night at Kamille's.  I put my foot down and insisted that I pick Trenton up.  I am glad I did.  Sadly I found out that my trust had been broken {disappointment, betrayal}.  Taylor is eligible to return to rehab July 3rd based on availability.  Pray that he gets in so that I will not worry while I am away {fear, gratitude}.

My husband has been down with the flu for several days and I am praying that I do not get it prior to leaving for our trip. {vulnerable, weakness}

Today is the start of a new week {apprehension}.  I have so much to get done and so much to purchase before we leave {astonished}.  I have no money to purchase all our necessities {trust} as I do not get paid on my photo orders until the day we leave! {resentment} I will just have to trust that God has it all under control.  

The Services for Grandma Daisy will be on Thursday and Friday.  Her viewing on Thursday night in Cypress at Forest Lawn and a Grave Side Burial on Friday morning.  We will celebrate her life with a Memorial Service at Saddleback Church at 11:30 am on Friday July 2nd in Tent 3 - with a Reception following at the Harmsen/Artiano Home.

Pray for us all during this EMOTIONAL JOURNEY.  

Matthew 11:28-30 "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."


Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Twenty Two Days

One of my favorite numbers...22.  
Two plus Two = 4...God gave me 4 BOYS!

In just 22 days we will be on a plane bound for Africa.  Wow.  I didn't think a year ago that the time would come so fast!  I am so excited!

The past few weeks have been very challenging.  Today is a good day.  Taylor was released from the Phoenix House for "falling off" his sobriety path.  He went to court and was given another court date - he has 30 days to get back into the program.  He is eligible to return to the Phoenix House on July 3rd barring any drug use.  He went to see his Probation Officer and he needs to return on the 24th to be tested.  If he tests positive he will face 6 months in jail.  He started new meds and has his good days and his bad.  Today is good.  That is all I can ask for.

Tonight we have Kids Small Group Graduation.  I am so sad to see the year end.  I loved every minute of leading Class 101.  I am looking forward to teaching a Summer 101 Class with Kamille when I return from Africa.  I am sure the Summer will fly by and it will be time for Class 201 in no time.  I love each of my students.  Unique, each one in their special way.  It has been a joy to serve.  I think I got more from them than they did from me!

Tomorrow Turner is being recognized at his school for his outstanding Respect, Integrity and Responsibility.  I am so proud!  Friday Trevan will attend a screening at Westpark Elementary.  He is going to repeat Kindergarten next year at a new school with Turner.  They will start on July 26th just 2 days after I return home from Africa.  Short summer for them as the new school year round.  Friday night we have our Rwanda Team Pot Luck Dinner and send off for Team One.

Next week is filled with field trips, end of the year party, Trenton Graduates from 8th Grade, Kamille and Megan Graduate from High School, Trenton and I get more shots for Africa, Taylor visits Probation and then we end the week with a trip to Sea World with Chloe and Danyelle!  Whew!  Hope I make it!

Lord give me strength!

How can I complain?  Lots to celebrate and rejoice in!  Thank you Lord! <3

Off to Kids Small Group - last night for the year! :o(


Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Forcast today...Foggy with a chance of SUN

I wish I could go back in time to the days where I had just Taylor.  Walking along the beach as a young family.  What could I have done differently?  This is the age old question.  If you had to do it all over again, what would you change?

We can't go back.  We can't change the past.  We can only focus on the here and now.  

My here and my now is covered in a deep, dense fog.  I feel like I could sleep for days.  I am in a mode of confusion.  The past four days have been a living nightmare.

Thursday afternoon we got a call from Taylor.  He told us that after nearly 50 days of sobriety, he fell into the snare of temptation.  He used drugs and got kicked out of the Phoenix House.  Our world was once again turned upside down.  

We knew that one day, he could stumble and fall.  We had just not prepared ourselves.  We had no plan in place.  Confusion set in.

Over the course of the next four days we dealt with drugs, pain, confusion, anger, hurt, remorse, guilt, addiction, mistakes, psychosis, illness, mental confusion, withdrawl, tears, violent outbursts, exhaustion, a hospital visit, sleeplessness, fear, uncertainty, doctor's appointments, phone calls, fighting, arguing, helplessness, hopelessness, surrender - the list goes on and on.

We do not know what tomorrow holds.  I don't even know what the next hour holds.  I am weary and burdened.  I know that God will give me rest.  I am just waiting for that to happen.  I am confused.  I am worn down.  I am trying to give it up to God, and not just "give up".  It is just so hard to do.  I struggle.  I fall.  I get back up.  I hold on to HOPE.

Taylor made a mistake.  It is now up to him to do the right thing.  He is to appear in court on Thursday.  In all probability he will go to jail.  He will face the consequences of his actions.  

Is this what I want for my son, no.  Do I have any control over it, no.  I have to accept that whatever happens - it is in God's plan.  I know that God has a plan for his life and for mine.  I have to TRUST in that.  It is all I can do.

I have a lot on my plate.  I want a peace that surpasses all understanding.  I am preparing my heart to go on a Mission half way across the world.  I can not let Satan steal my focus, my clarity.  I will fight each step of the way to keep my eye on the prize.  Giving it all to God, the pain, the glory, the disappointments the victories.  

He has it all figured out.  

I just have to rest in that.

Pray for me, pray for us.  Prayer is powerful - this I know.