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Bucket List and a Good Buy

Last week we were able to cross off a bunch of California bucket list things.

And now I’m tired. I mean TI-RED! I might just drift off to Zzzzzzzz……Sorry, dozed off for a moment, what was I saying?

To start, we drove to Yosemite, probably our #1 thing on our bucket list. I knew we wouldn’t get to see the glorious waterfalls that occur in the spring, but I was still excited about its beauty.   And it was beautiful.  And wet.

Very very wet. But did that stop us? NO WAY!

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That’s us standing in steady rain, in a big sequoia tree. In the dark. Perfect hike for little kids. Wet and dark. Thankfully, the next day was absolutely gorgeous and we set off with hopes of seeing some amazing panoramic views. But to get there, we had to drive on winding, twisty turny roads. Curve after sickening curve. The kind of twists and turns that make one…ahem, me…sick.  But did that stop us?

Why yes, actually, it did. I was so carsick we had to abort our original plan and just head out of the park because I couldn’t hack it.  But on our way out of the park, we did manage to see a few glorious views (after all, I needed to get out and walk and get some air.)

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Plus Isaac had to make sure that anyone who walked near us knew it was his birthday. “I’m four! It’s my birthday!”

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Gotta love that kid, he cracks me up.

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And here I’ve finally regained some semblance of normalcy.  At least enough to fake it for a picture. And that was our Yosemite experience. Making memories, people, just not the kind I had intended.

Then, it was a tour of Pixar.  And it was quite a dream come true for me to see where the magic of Toy Story, Monsters Inc, Cars, etc. happens. What a super cool place. Listen up kids, this is why you should work hard and stay in school. So you can work at Pixar!

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Next day we went apple picking, though there weren’t many apples to be picked. We only needed 3, one for each boy.  Papi to the rescue, he searched high and low and in between for 3 acceptable apples! Thankfully, Justus was helping too, otherwise who knows what might have happened.

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Along with apple picking came apple turnovers, apple cider doughnuts, and apple cider. Pretty sure I gained 5 pounds that day. But it was so worth it.  I should have taken a cue from the boys who ran off their apple delights jumping from hay bale to hay bale and joined them. But instead, I sat in the shade and watched them have fun.

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Some were more successful in their jumping than others. But bonus points for style and effort!

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Finally, we finished our week with a little purchase. And here it is…

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Our new house!  Just a little something we picked up for our move, paperwork is all signed and it’s ours!  I’m looking forward to moving into it and making it a home.

So, it was a very busy stay-cation week. The boys are overtired. The hubby is…as energetic as usual (how does he do that?)  And I’m utterly exhausted. I mean, zero energy left. Falling asleep as I type.  Good night…Zzzzzz

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Porkchop and Acorn

“So much of what I see reminds me of something I read in a book – when shouldn’t it be the other way around?” — Meg Ryan, You’ve Got Mail

So much of what inspires me in life come from what I read in books. And our Wednesday at the pumpkin patch is a perfect example of just that.

In gearing up for our trip to the pumpkin patch, we started reading books about pumpkins and fall. Because that’s what we do. We read books, learn and get ideas. The book that most stuck with us was Sophie’s Squash by Pat Zietlow Miller. Cutest book ever.

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Seriously, I love Sophie and her squash. So much so, that I might or might not have planted the seed (squash seed to be exact) in the boys’ heads that when we go to the pumpkin patch, it might be fun to find our own squash/pumpkin to name and draw a face on and love.

When it came time to choose, they were quite determined to find just the right gourd to love. Diego found his right away. A small, green pumpkin. Green is his favorite color.  When he excitedly called me to look at his choice, I knew right away it was a match made in pumpkin heaven.  Isaac had to search a little harder. I wasn’t sure what he was looking for, but then, he squatted and discovered his dream gourd. And ya know what? It looked like a miniature version of Sophie’s squash. And then there was Justus’ choices, bits and pieces of gross, broken gourds and pumpkins he found squashed in the dirt. So, I chose for him because seriously, I’m not bringing gross things home.

Dawn Kincade Photography

Dawn Kincade Photography

Could they be any cuter? Or more proud of their choices? I think not. I love them. My heart melts.

Next they named their gourds such original, fitting names that fit their personalities. Diego named his green pumpkin Acorn Rosado (do not forget the last name, I made that mistake and was quickly corrected!) And Isaac chose the absolutely perfect name of Porkchop.

So, we came home with our precious adopted family members, plus a few others and the boys were ready to get to work…after they showered because even I have my limit as to how blackened and browned knees should be.)

First up was painting with pumpkins. What would it look like if we rolled our mini pumpkins in paint and then rolled them onto our paper?

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And when the joy from that experiment started to wain, I sliced the pumpkins in half and we used them as stamps.

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By this time, they were really messy so we just jumped right into handprints!

Next up, was drawing faces on our beloved new friends. And this, my friends, was the absolute highlight for them. The moment they’d been waiting for. Giving face and personality to Acorn Rosado and Porkchop.  They chose their colors carefully, stuck their tongues out, and set to work. They also drew faces on other mini pumpkin friends, Diego named his Chalk-colors (Chalk for short) and Isaac’s other friend was Gold-Pumpkin.

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That night, Isaac snuggled Porkchop and Gold-Pumpkin as we read Sophie’s Squash before bed.  Then, they sweetly laid their gourds on a pillow and tucked a towel blanket around them for the night.

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Good night, Porkchop.

Good night, Acorn Rosado.

Good night, Gold-Pumpkin.

Good night, Chalk.

Good night, John-Boy…wait a minute…

Good night, Diego.

Good night, Isaac.

And may tomorrow’s book inspire the same amount of excitement as Sophie’s Squash did this week.

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Bedtime Baloney

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Last night, I let the boys stay up for 30 extra minutes because we have family visiting. I was trying to be nice, giving them extra time with family we don’t see too often.

BAD. IDEA.

The usually smooth bedtime for Diego and Isaac was a hot mess of tears, whining, attitudes, and acrobatics.

“I don’t have to go to the bathroom.  I’m not going to.”

“I don’t want that one.  I want what he has.”

The interruptions started before we finished “Dear Jesus” during our prayer time.

“I don’t want this here.”

“Mommy, I need your help.”

I have to say, I was starting to lose my cool.  My afternoon hadn’t gone as planned and I was not in the mood for nonsense.  One of the reasons my brother and his wife are visiting is because my husband and I had hoped to get away for one night this weekend.  It would be the first time we’d both be away from the boys for a night. It was a big deal, and I was really looking forward to a time with just my hubby…and I was really looking forward to sleeping in past 7am and lazily rolling out of bed.

This afternoon, I got a call that changed my plans.  Something came up at work and my husband told me to pack his bag, he was coming home to change, pick it up and leave.  When he got home, he said things changed and he’d actually be leaving the next day.  Our night away turned into dinner and a movie, assuming all goes well and he comes back on time.

While disappointed, I was pretty ok about the whole thing.  I feel incredibly blessed with all the great experiences we’ve had recently.  Plus he did the dishes and clean up so I could sit down and put my feet up.  Have I mentioned I love this guy?

So I sat down to write a “Get Real” post.  I hit “save” and lost everything I’d written.  Are you kidding me?!   To say I was annoyed is putting it mildly.  But I couldn’t do anything about it, not to mention, it was time for the boys to go to bed.  So now you know my mindset heading into this bedtime nightmare.

After making it through the crying and the meltdowns about this and that, I finally finished up their bedtime routine, kissed each, and left.  Then I made the mistake of going to the bathroom.  That’s when the wailing started, “Maaaaaaama. Maaaaama.”

Seriously?  I’m just looking for two minutes peace!  When I get to the bedroom, I see Isaac hanging precariously and purposefully out of his bottom bunk bed.  I mean, his entire upper body is hanging off the mattress while his lower body is laying on the bed perpendicular.  If only I had the ab strength to do such a stunt.

“I fell.”

WHAT?! You don’t just suddenly halfway fall out of your bed into that position!  

Annoyed, and not hiding it well, I put him back in the bed and go to the living room and sit down.

“Mama? Mama?”  Lord, please help me, I’m about to lose it.  “Look,” he says and points to his blanket which was no longer tucked in how he likes it.

Blanket fixed, I kiss each of them and start to leave when Diego complains, “Isaac keeps scaring me and…” but before he finishes, I cut him off. I’d had enough of their bedtime shenanigans.

I sweetly warned them that if either of them makes another peep again, they’d go to go to bed before Justus tomorrow.  I left their room and reheated my tea before I heard Isaac start whining for me again.  My wonderful hubby took one look at me (the smoke coming from my ears and the horns growing out of my head) and told me he’d take care of it.

Sometimes bedtime just STINKS.

 

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A High School Graduation, PB&J’s, and Manual Labor

This week, my nephew graduated from high school. I remember when he was born. They called me out of my high school chemistry class for the phone call and my brother told me he had a son (good timing, too, I hated chemistry!)  And this week, that baby boy graduated high school.

My brother, a teacher at the school, gave my nephew his diploma. I cried...it wasn't pretty.

My brother, a teacher at the school, gave my nephew his diploma. I cried…it wasn’t pretty.

How did this happen?  Where did the time go?  So of course, I start thinking about my own boys. My husband recently told me Justus is a different kid these days–he’s just grown up a lot in a month!  And it’s true. All my boys are growing up so fast.  Just look at yesterday…

Yesterday, they decided to make their own PB&J sandwiches for lunch.  This is the first time they’ve wanted to do it all by themselves. “Mommy, I’m going to make mine first, eat it, then I’ll make yours. Would you like that?” Diego asked me.  How sweet, although I never did get my sandwich…

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Peanut butter is much stickier to spread than one might think! Ya gotta really put some force into spreading it!

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I love that he wouldn’t use his left hand to hold the bread in case he got jelly on it.

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You can already see the pride in his face as he puts the sandwich together. He did it…all by himself!

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Mmmmm, PB&J has never tasted so good!

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Isaac with his many hats worked as hard on his sandwich as he did on his hat placement.  And for your information, that would be a Captain America knit hat,  Mickey Mouse ears on top of that, topped off with a cowboy hat. It’s awesome being 3.

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His balance is seriously incredible with the hats precariously teetering off one another.  And I’m also impressed that he see around that huge brim as he spreads the jelly.  He’s a kid of many talents!

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Sweet bite of success.  My boys are growing up!  *sniff sniff*  And they amazed me even more this afternoon.  Our neighbors are putting rock in their flower beds.  Long, hard, tiring work.  So my boys chipped in to help.  I’m telling you, I couldn’t believe how hard they worked.

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My oldest leading the charge! And to him, this wasn’t work, it was fun!  Oh to be 5 again!

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Isaac traded in his tower of hats for…goggles. One must always accessorize apparently.  And protect one’s forehead from dust.

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Even my littlest one is in on the action, pushing stray rocks back into the pile. Or at least carrying the broom around looking important. I tell you, this is one proud mama.

I’m proud of them because as they grow up they work hard, they want to do for themselves, and they help out. I mean, look at this little guy helping me empty the dishwasher…

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He can barely reach high enough to put the bowl on the counter, but he’s determined to help mommy.  Does it take me twice as long to put away the dishes?  No.  It’s more like 3 or 4 times longer.  But, he’s learning to help.  He’s doing his part. And that’s important.  They each have a job:  Isaac usually puts away the silverware, Diego gets the plates and bowls, Justus gets in the way.

They’re growing up!  I see it in so many ways.  Sure there’s still whining, crying, attempts to negotiate or argue with me, after all, they are little kids.  And yes, I want to tear my hair out or bang my head against a wall sometimes…often.  But, before you know it, they’ll be graduating college and becoming independent, helpful, self-sufficient members of the adult world.  *sniff,sniff*  Pass the kleenex.

Today, my nephew is a high school graduate heading off to college. Today my boys made their own lunches and did some manual labor to help a neighbor.  Today I’m remembering to savor the little moments with my babies.

 

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“The Only Name”

Have you heard the song, “The Only Name (Yours Will Be)” by Big Daddy Weave? If you haven’t, go listen to it.  It’s awesome. I love it. My boys love it. We rocked out to it one morning recently. Every time we finish singing the lines, “The only Name that matters to me,” and “There will be one Name that I proclaim” I ask, “Whose name?” And they raise their hands and yell, “Jesus!” I love that. Love it.  With all my heart, I love watching them proclaim Jesus is the only Name that matters!  Here’s what it sort of looks like…

“The Only Name (Yours Will Be)”  by Big Daddy Weave

Yours will be the only Name that matters to me
The only One Whose favor I seek
The only Name that matters to me

"JESUS!"

“JESUS!”

Yours will be
The friendship and affection I need
To feel my Father smiling on me
The only Name that matters to me

"JESUS!"

“JESUS!”

Yours is the Name the Name that has saved me
Mercy and grace the power that forgave me
And Your love is all I’ve ever needed

When I wake up in the Land of Glory
And with the saints I will tell my story
There will be one Name that I proclaim

"JESUS!"

“JESUS!”

Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, just that Name

That was our dance party. And yes, Diego was dancing around shirtless. He does that. And please forgive the Michael Jackson gloves…not sure what was going on there, except they love gloves. And…they love Jesus, the only Name that matters to me.

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Hannah Part 5: Mommy Prayer Warriors

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Hannah prayed when she had nothing but heartache. Do we press close to the Lord during our heartache? “Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.” (Ps 27: 14)  Pray, pray, pray. Jesus told his disciples a parable to encourage them to “always pray and not give up.” (Lk 18:1) The answers may be slow in coming and completely different than what you were expecting, but through it all, the Lord is with you. Pray.

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Regarding our children, let’s follow through like Hannah did. She dedicated Samuel to the Lord, teaching him about God during his earliest years. I’ve dedicated my boys to the Lord in church and I’m working on my follow through. Reading the Bible, praying with them, talking about Jesus, making sure they’re in church, developing a relationship of trust and love, worshiping together, leading by example — things that build on one another to create a home where God’s presence is evident. There are no shortcuts, it’s simple building blocks.

Even after Hannah sent her son off into the world, I bet she never stopped praying for him. Nor should we stop praying after they hit a milestone, or go off on their own into the world.  Our children need us to pray for them even when they grow up.  Why not pray for their grown up years even now when they’re little? That God will use them now as children and as adults.

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Friends, no matter your life stage, prayer is meaningful. Prayer is rewarding. Prayer is talking to, crying out to, pouring out our heart to our Father in heaven. Prayer can happen anytime and anyplace and we don’t even have to look good doing it or feel perfect before we start. But prayer should be honest and open and come from your whole heart. Prayer is powerful and effective. We need to pray.

Let’s be mommy prayer warriors.

(1 Samuel 1)

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Hannah Part 4: Pour Out Your Heart Like Water

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Hannah had a son, Samuel, whom she dedicated to the Lord. He grew up serving God in the temple and became Israel’s last judge, a gifted prophet, the nation’s spiritual leader, and he anointed Israel’s first two kings. Not bad, Sam!  The prayers of a righteous mom are powerful and effective.

Hannah prayed.

Do I pray for my kids beyond, “Lord, may they not drive me crazy today?” (Not that I ever pray that way!) Consider this verse,

“pour out your heart like water in the presence of the Lord. Lift up your heads to him for the lives of your children” (Lam 2: 19)

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I keep seeing that phrase, “Pour out your heart” and am realizing that God wants us…me…to get deeper in prayer with Him for my children. Draw close to Him. Have heart to heart talks pouring out my hopes and concerns for my boys.  Take some time.  My most fervent desire for them is they know Jesus with their whole heart, to seek His will in their lives, to follow His path for their future, to be best friends with our Lord and Savior, and to stand firm and trust Him no matter what.  I need to pray for the lives of my children for their salvation and their future.

Hannah prayed. She poured out her heart to God long before she had Samuel, and she continued to pray for him long after, I’d bet. And Samuel was dedicated to the Lord, all the days of his life.

Hannah had three more sons and two daughters after Samuel. Whew, God sure did bless her! Every year, Hannah would visit Samuel at the temple where he was serving the Lord. I can’t imagine only being able to see my child once a year, but knowing that he was serving God must have made her proud.  Hannah couldn’t be with him as he grew, but she could pray for him. I love how God honored Hannah’s prayers not just by giving her more children, but in how He blessed Samuel’s life and service to Him.

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Pour out your heart, like water.  Water just flows, sometimes urgently and violently rushing, sometimes just peacefully trickling along.  But it’s always moving, never static.  And so should our prayers. Keep praying, never stop.

Let’s be more like Hannah, let’s pour out our hearts like water in the presence of the Lord. Lift up our heads to him for the lives of our children. (Lam 2:19)  Our children’s lives depend on our prayer.

(1 Samuel 1)