Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Sprinkler Fun

What kid doesn't deserve a good run through the sprinkler on hot summer days? I remember doing so fondly (though not so fondly when I recall that my dad was fumming when I had run the grass to death...) and when I found out a sprinkler attachment was only a few dollars I decided to give the same fun memories to my kids.

What, we don't have a back yard? Well, no we don't . Nor a front yard for that matter. So what grass am I picturing my kids running through? That's right - the two foot wide strip of it in front of our house. Laugh all you want, these kids had a great time and I got my good mommy points for the day!

At first they were only brave enough by holding hands, squinting their eyes shut, and running as fast as they could through the sprinkler.
Often Carter just plain ran around, just giggling at how the sprinkler "missed" him. Oh, he's so tricky!

I love the squinched eye squealing pictures. This is what I am talking about!
Finally, as they got braver, they went through the sprinkler on all fours as "dinobots". Don't know what a dinobot is? Ha, some transformer fan you are! It's robots that transform into dinosaurs instead of cars of course. Don't worry, Nathan has made sure to educate all the other kids on these old school transformers (because we only let him watch the old original (less violent) transformer shows). Sorry about that ladies.
Top it off with a fudgicle on the porch and we had a rockin day!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

I choose you!

I am not usually one for the pensive deep posts. My method is simple - use the blog to remind me to take more pictures of my kids and our family and then write some family history type summary of the pictures and click post. Not the funniest, not the deepest or best read, but will help us remember as a family, share it with friends/family, and then preserve things for posterity.

However, today I have somethings to say that has nothing to do with some cute pictures of my kids (though there are always more of those to come!). It has to do with a realization that I want to capture and share with my children.

As most of you know, I started teaching aerobics when I moved to Oregon, using a part of my Exercise Science degree I haven't since college. How much better can it get to be paid to work out right? I have really enjoyed it, though it has been an on and off struggle to make sure it stays in the background of my life, not the foreground where it could interfere with our family life. Not that I have ever taught more than 8 or 9 hours a week, which is far below part time, but the amount of energy that it took mentally to prepare for classes and shuttle the kids to and from got to be too much. I felt like that was all I did. So, I cut back on some classes (and gave myself a good pat on the back for making the hard but right choice) and have only been teaching 4 paid hours a week for the last few months.

Funny how sometimes I guess Heavenly Father really wants you to be committed in your decisions, as the same temptation came back recently, with a different face. This time it was to teach more Zumba classes, which is my FAVORITE type of class to teach because it actually is more than a workout - it also honestly makes me happy. I feel like it pulls together parts of me I haven't used in a long time - specifically my love for dance. I struggled with saying no because of how it uplifts me. However, to say yes, I would have had to do some real finageling with the kids - to avoid putting them in the kidcare at the YMCA (which they don't like much) and then to get Nathan to school on time. I had some sweet friends who offered to help me make it work, so I almost said yes.

But, last night as I finished my prayers it hit me - the clarity I needed to be able to say no to further opportunities that would affect my family life. I knew that saying yes would add another morning of craziness - the stress of trying to get the kids where they needed to be and then to prepare for my class, not to mention my body being tired from overexercising.

Now is not the time and season. In ten years I will probably be done having kids and all my kids will be in school from 8-2 and I will have plenty of time to dance my little heart out or teach whatever. But, right now my calling is to be a mom. And all the things I have heard about how "you will miss these years" and "don't wish away your children's childhood" sunk a little deeper into my heart.

I want my kids to know that their mom didn't be a stay at home almost exclusively because "what else would she be doing?" (which is what I think I grew up thinking!). I CHOOSE to be home with you. I want to be a part of your day, every day, all day. I want to be your main influence, especially for the first pre-school years. I want to be that point of security, that constant. And I want you to know that YOU are my priorities. I don't want you to remember mommy always doing something else. That when you are home, I am with you, interested in you and caring about how you are doing. I want you to think that I have nothing better to do - because really, I don't. I teach and personal train because I want to improve people's lives, to make a difference. But, it doesn't get more impacting than to spend my days with these impressionable little spirits.

So, my sweet little boys - even on the bad, crazy pull-my-hair-out days - I choose to be with you!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Surfing! (No, something besides the internet!)

The highlight of our Santa Cruz trip was by far living out a whim to take a surfing lessons. Why not? Doesn't putting on a beyond skin tight (like have to do more than a shimmy and a shake to get into it!) wetsuite, going out into deep freezing water, and trying to stand up on a board and not injure yourself sound like fun? Ha - none of those even came close to stopping us.

After the wetsuit shimmy, we had our short on-land low down from our nice instructor, David. He got a kick out of these crazy moms (people were always shocked to find out that we were not only moms but how MANY kids we had) who were high on vacation life. We paddled out to sea with our extra long strofoam type surfboards (I guess "training" boards? So dorky I am sure, but I was happy with it - they weren't slick or hard if you banged them). After that we took turns watching each other and trying to ride the wave. Our instructor would help give whoever's turn it was a big push to help us get up on the wave and after that it was placement of your feet and balance that seemed to determine how long you rode.

Go ahead, I know you want to ask it. The answer is YES! Yes, both LeeAnna and I stood up and rode more than one wave. Not for more than a few seconds, of course, but we did it and it was exhillerating! We loved it so much we almost took another lesson, but decided not to push it and ended up renting some boogie boards our last morning instead. Yes, we had to hide behind them when surfers passed, but though not as cool we definitely had a good time with the boogie boards too, as we had more control over them!
*Disclaimer - We wanted documentation of this crazy activity, so we bought a water-proof camera and luckily had a nice enough teacher to carry the camera on his surfboard most of the time (after informing us we weren't going to be able to stroke or surf very well as newbies with it on our wrists!). So, the quality of the pictures suffered and, go figure, we didn't get any pictures of each other on top of the waves like we wanted because the teacher had the camera (plus we were usually watching each other ride the wave from behind), but oh well. At least we have proof that we were on the water for surfing lessons, even if you never choose to believe that we did really get on top of the waves and do more than have a surfboard photoshoot!

Our nice teacher Dave. Thanks for the self portrait.
Look it's me! Yeah right...we watched these surfers from the cliffs, slightly more appreciative of how hard this stuff really is!

More surfboard, no wonder I had so many pictures of myself as a teenager and none of me now! When you don't have kids to take pictures of...

Here's some of us boogie boarding. I actually really love boogie boarding, again because it has a very small portion of that thrill of riding a wave, but is so much simpler! Oh, and PS -it is amazing how much wetsuits keep you warm! We were in disbelief and as a now west coaster (i.e. COLD water, not like the gulf water in TX and FL!), I was almost ready to buy one so I could actually get in the water in OR.

Funny story - there were NO waves to be found when we first got our boogie boards, hence the above under-the-pier photo shoot, as well as the following story. There were sea lions everywhere, which isn't unusual at all for this area. There were bunches of them clustered on little floating piers beneath the main shopping wharf. I wanted to go check them out, as they weren't far away and were still in the designated swimming area. About halfway LeeAnna decided I was crazy and kinda gave me a "I got your back" and stayed put, while I crept closer. Funny how somethings can precariously boarder between brave and stupid. I got pretty close (about 8 feet away) and then the one sea lion that was awake had had enough and started barking, waking the others who also started barking. We swam away like mad and they didn't pursue. Why I did this, I am not sure, but it sure was cool to see them close up!

Finally, our second favorite thing to do was the beach bike rentals. Wow, if you could capture the feeling of riding along the coast of this gorgeous beach with sunshine and a light breeze blowing your was amazing. We felt like we were in a movie. It was so picturesque and relaxing, I would love to do that every day.

The funny thing is that I teach 3 cycling classes a week at the gym, but am slightly scared of regular bikes due to past crashes or other people crashing into me. But, I am proud to say there were no injuries!

Right before we left we did a little souvenier shopping and had to take a picture with these winners. I guess their claim to fame was that Regis and Kathy wore them on their show, but, needless to say, we only took a picture, no need to own these babies!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Santa Cruz - Things we saw and ate

10 years ago in Houston I met a crazy little blonde girl named LeeAnna who has been my best girl friend since (had to put the "girl" disclaimer in there of course, because it doesn't get better than my hubby!). We thought we were the coolest of cool. In our world, we thought we had it as good as it came. We defied all odds staying friends past high school, loving rooming together in college for a year, got married in the same temple 3 months apart from each other, and together have 7 little boys ages 5 and under! I have been so blessed to make good friends in all areas we have lived (you guys are lifesavers!), getting me through the day to day with a smile. There is also something really great though about someone who has known you through the years.

LeeAnna the past year and a half has been battling with a chronic illness and all the "growth" that comes with it - the months of not knowing what the illness is and then the challenge of figuring out how to deal with it. For those of you who know her, she has disautonomia (sp?), a nervous system illness specifically affecting her parasympathetic nervous system (or involunatary systems - heart rate, blood pressure, breathing, etc.). It's been a rough rough road and she, as always, is one of my heros for the faith she has held onto through it.

With that, we started talking about getting together and kinda creating some new memories. We have only vacationed together once, with our hubbies and two small kids, and that was 4 years ago. At first it was whismical and then it was a "why not?" She used her connections to her parents timeshares (which kinda dictated the place we went - just wherever we could get a free timeshare) and amazingly enough it worked out!
So, we left our kiddos with our amazing husbands and bid farewell to the real world for a few days. We started out with breakfast at our favorite local girls breakfast spot, Morning Glory, in Ashland. Then we took our time heading down to Santa Cruz. LeeAnna had never been to CA before, so we stopped for dinner in San Fransisco and took a look around the city. I grew up in CA until I was 11, and lived in the bay area, with my dad working in San Fransisco, so I have a lot of memories there, but haven't been there since. Though, I thought I was going to meet my untimely death driving around in San Fran! Plus, silly me, driving away from our 100 degree weather forgot to pack any jacket! Good thing LeeAnna brought two. Still, the wind blew threw us and we shivered our way through Pier 39.

This is at what was labeled as a "picturesque photo spot" showing (through the fog) Alcatraz and the Golden Gate. Though, ever since the golden gate was painted a different color (it's kind of a rusty red now - sorry if to pop your bubble if that is news to you!), I always thought it was such a gyp that the bridge isn't gold any more. Random fact for you - we had a friend in our 4th grade class whose dad worked on the building and I still have one old gold rivet from back when it was actually gold. We used to walk across the bridge for field trips. Amazing none of us died on those...

I was actually surprised at the joy I found in recognizing things from when I was 11. I haven't walked down that memory lane ever, having not been back, and it was so fun just the little things I remembered. Like the left handed store on Pier 39, or, my favorite store, Chocolate Heaven. So I drug my poor friend, who can't have sugar due to her medical condition, through a mouth drooling chocolate heaven in the name of memories. Thanks mom and dad for all the fun memories!
LeeAnna really wanted to ride the trolley, but I didn't have enough cash. So after walking 8 blocks to get there, we just settled for a picture.
We pulled into Santa Cruz Thursday night and slept until I think 9:30 the next morning. And then the only thing that got us out of bed was that the free breakfast ended at 10! What a life...This was the view from the Santa Cruz beach. Just gorgeous!
Here's me in front of the famous Santa Cruz boardwalk.

We ate at some amazing places. Friday night we just picked a restaraunt that smelled good and looked busy. Turns out, it has the world champion pizza throwing champ (and an up and coming pizza thrower) there and he does a show on Friday nights! Wahoo! It was quite impressive.

The most impressive food though was on Sunday when we drove down to Monterey for the day and ate on the pier at Isabellas. Dinner was pretty good, but here is dessert. Not only was it death by chocolate, but look at the presentation - the name in powdered cocoa, decorative strawberries, and a small bowl of dried ice just to make it smoke and for effect! I should remember that for my next dinner party....I am sure you would all be so impressed!

We spent a lot of time in the car, driving to the beach and LeeAnna insisted on a car picture. We blasted our chick songs all the way down Pacific Ave. Ah the good old days.

Sunday we drove down to Monterey (here is LeeAnna on the docks at Monterey)had lunch and then went down to Carmel and talked on the beach. Heavenly Father is so obvious in the beauties of nature! It was so awesome to just talk about life with someone who I have always looked up to for their faith. I really came back from the trip feeling not just rejuvinated but recentered.

I will be back with another post on the fun (and crazy) things we did...