Monday, December 8, 2008

Christmas Letter 2008

Christmas 2008

Dear Friends and Family,

I so enjoy getting cards and letters from all of you. Since life is so unbelievably busy, it is nice to one time a year catch up on the lives of people who are so important to me. However, I do realize not everyone enjoys reading as much as I do, so I decided this year to post our family letter, and those of you who wanted to read could, and those of you who don’t would not feel obligated or guilty for not reading. Plus, if we all do our part to stay “green” the world will be a better place….right?

So on to the Merrick family news.

As usual the year was full of ups and downs. However, I will only highlight the highs in this letter. (The lows are not that fun to read about). The kids are getting bigger so the activity load seems to be increasing. Kayci and Haley played soccer this year. It was really fun to go and watch their games. Often Steve and I would have to tag team to be able to get the kids to their respective soccer games that occurred at the same time. Kayci really has a knack for the game. She is fast and aggressive and just loves to play. She scored about 6 goals this season. Haley was in a different age division. And being on the small side anyway, she had a rough time with some of the bigger boys, but still loved playing. She was a hard worker and gave it her all every time. Both girls had great, loving coaches who just made the game fun. Both girls also did gymnastics and tennis most of the year.

Courtney tried her hand (feet rather) at ballet and tap this year. I thought she would love it. She constantly dresses up and dances around like a princess here, but I was wrong. She really hated it. I’m not sure if it was the being told what to do that so offended her princess ways, or the fact that all of the kids were her age and younger. But she did not enjoy it. She was cute doing it though.

I am still homeschooling all of the girls. This year is the first year to be teaching all three. Haley is in the 5th grade, Kayci is in the 2nd, and Courtney is in Kindergarten. It is tough homeschooling all three, but for the most part we are still enjoying it. I still get to be creative in my lesson planning and the girls are home with me all day. It frees us up to do some fun things that we may not be able to do if they were attending regular school. So, until I get a big sign that I should stop, I guess I will keep going. As long as I can still play tennis, 2-3 times a week, I can handle being with the kids full time.

Kayci and Haley have really developed musically as well this year and enjoy playing piano, guitar and violin. Courtney loves to just sing "Jesus Take the Wheel."

Steve continues to be super busy. He is still working at the church, teaching at Azusa Pacific, and doing some free-lance arranging stuff. (He doesn’t like me to brag about what he is working on, so if you want to know you’ll have to ask me in person.) For the most part, I think he is happy doing what he is doing. I think he wishes he didn’t have to work so hard to keep us alive, but he acknowledges that making a living doing music is a blessing. Our family is really blessed to have such a hard worker as the head of our home.

The orchestra at our church, bought our whole family Disney passes this year. The girls and I have been enjoying that. It’s great; we’ll do a hard day of school and then go to Disneyland for a couple of hours before the crowds get there. We’ve got a system down so we can be the most efficient with our time while we are there. We even bring our own snacks, so Disneyland is not making a penny off of the Merrick’s!!

In August we made our annual trip to Colorado and enjoyed time with all of our family. The kids went to the same camp that I used to go to as a kid. It is a great tradition. It is so beautiful up there. When I return home I always wonder why we don’t move to Colorado?

I guess that is all of our news. The year seems to have flown so fast that I have a hard time separating what I told you all last year, from what has happened this year. I hope this letter finds you all well. One lesson I continue to learn is that God has a purpose for each of our lives. (Whether we like it or not HE DOES). He puts us in each other’s lives for such a time as this. I am so thankful to all of you for the part you play in my life and the life of my family. We are blessed to know you.

The Merrick Family
Stephen, Jennifer, Haley, Kayci, and Courtney

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Busy, Busy, Busy

Christmas has come to be synonymous with busy for the Merrick family. Rehearsals and performances color our entire month. And while my kids have every right to be bratty and complain about all the hurriedness and late nights, they continue to amaze me with their creativity and joy with which they handle our busy schedule. I don't even have to put stuff together for them. They pack their DVD player and their Polly Pockets and create a Polly world back stage at whatever venue we happen to be preforming. It is really cool. They don't complain and only ask for an occasional cookie after their quarantine period each night. Every night I am impressed.

Haley asked me a very interesting question this week. While we were looking at pictures of variety of animals Haley asked, "I wonder if ostriches have bottoms shaped like a box so they can screw in two more legs if they need it." This was not asked as a joke, but as a serious question. She went on to explain that they looked unbalanced and was worried they may get tired and tip over. I think this is very deep thinking for a 9 year old. I can already tell she will solve some of the worlds biggest problems someday.

Courtney also had an interesting question. She asked, "Mom, how do you get married?" I started to tell her the general idea and she said, "Do you just dance a little and then kiss?" I said it was a little more involved than that and she said, "Well I'm thinking about doing it for a little while." I started to tell her that it was a lifetime commitment, blah, blah, blah...but her idea was so cute I decided to just leave it for now. What if we could just dance a little and then kiss? How many men would I have married by now? Ummm...let's see 1,2,3,....0. Nope, no scenarios have happened like that in my life. I'd still be single if that was all there was to it. :)

One last interesting comment from this week: I was trying to explain to Kayci and Courtney that they needed to be kind to each other because they would be friends their whole lives. I told Courtney that even her best friend Jenna would probably not be in her life forever, but Kayci would be, so she should be kind. Courtney said very confidently, "Jesus and Jenna will always be in my life." There was not negotiating. This was the truth as far as Courtney was concerned.

My kids are so awesome.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Conversation with Courtney

My five year old could keep this blog going daily, but I am pulled in so many different directions, that finding time to record it all is just something I can't do. I have one friend, fellow blogger Jodie, who, as I have shared before, does it all AND keeps a daily record of her children and their shenanigans. I, being only a type B+ at best, am doing a mediocre job keeping up on the happenings of my children, but this had to be recorded, because I know I will forget this precious conversation.

I was tucking Courtney in for bed at my mom and dad's house. She said she was scared. She usually shares a room with big sister Kayci, but Kayci was sleeping over at her cousin's house. I tried to reassure Courtney that she wasn't alone, that Jesus was with her always and she could talk to Him and she would feel safe. She said, "I can't hear Him though!" I said, "You can't hear Him like you can hear me, but you can feel Him in your heart. " I kissed her and left the room. However, my mom-sense told me that there was about to be a very cute conversation. And I was right:

Courtney: Dear Jesus, I am scared in here by myself, could you talk to me?
Courtney: (whispered voice) What????
Courtney: Could you please talk super-duper loud because I can't hear you very well.
Courtney: (soft crying) See I told mom you wouldn't talk to me.

It was sad, but so cute. I of course went back into the room and tried my best to explain what we all wonder from time to time. Is God listening to us and does He really interact with us in a way we can understand. I think it was more of a lesson to me then it was to Courtney. But she soon fell asleep to the droning sounds of my ever present voice and all was well in her world.

I Have Much to Say...

...yet I wonder if anyone cares. I don't mean that in a pathetic, reassure me, way. I just wonder if the drivel that is my form of communication is boring or provocative. I wonder this, because I am really starting to notice that most people don't listen when others talk. I find that when I am visiting with my family, I feel like I have to say a full paragraph's worth of information in under 10 seconds or I will be interrupted. It could be completely quiet while my family is sitting around playing a game of hearts. I think, "This would be a good time to share an interesting story." So I might start a sentence with, "I saw this really cool thing on the Discovery Channel the other night..." and for some reason this triggers the sharing of everyone else's recent TV experience. This springboards the conversation into several avenues, including, but not limited to, "Watching too much TV," "Jen and her messy house," "Who needs a snack," and "Who's turn is it anyway in this game?" By the time everyone else has shared their kernels of interest, I can't remember what I was going to say. Then I wonder, do I do the same to those trying to talk with me? Do I finish other people's sentences, because I want to talk about what I want to talk about? I am sure I do. This must be the core of why I blog. No one can interrupt, and I can pretend everyone is listening with awe and intrigue.

In my mind, I am very interesting. In my mind, most everything I have to say is riveting. But on the occasion I say something boring, I am always quick to say, "I will try and space out those boring stories." I am very thoughtful that way.

By the way...

I just read this blog and, "I will try and space out these boring blogs."
Thanks for hanging in there anyway.

Monday, November 10, 2008

I need Something Funny on this Blog

I just reread my angry blog from last week. Wow, I was really fired up. Much has happened since that blog and it has only been one week.

Here is a quick summary. We elected a new president and while I am not a big fan of this new president, I can appreciate what this victory means for those who do like him. Aside from the fact that people are pretty sure that George Bush has single handedly tanked this country (which is lame to say). I am sure that for the African Americans in this country that have suffered unfair prejudice, being held back by the "man" are now celebrating, because "the most powerful man in the world" is now a black man. I know this is exciting and really the change that many were hoping for. I hope I get proven wrong about what I think this particular president means for our country...unfortunately, if anything goes wrong in this administration, it will still be George Bush's fault.

I had a great time with my family up in Bakersfield this past week. I love when we are all together. I love the laughing and the storytelling the most. It is awesome. My dad barbecued, my mom slaved over the trimmings and we had a great birthday celebration for my niece and nephew. Pregnant JRG was visiting from Oregon and Jonni was visiting from across town so the three of us were together. Most of the time, when we are together, we laugh a lot. Add my dad into the mix and the laughing is constant (as long as my dad stays awake). I wish I could communicate some of the funny moments this weekend, but I think I would have to conclude with "you just had to be there." I am very thankful for my family, quirks and all. I love that we really do enjoy being together and make efforts to make these events possible. I love that I still have two grandmas who can travel and get around well, who also love being with all of us. They have such great stories to tell and I am so glad they are still around to tell them.

I still haven't really come up with anything funny for today's blog, but I can give you the start of a joke I was thinking about while my grandma and sister and me were crossing the street:

"A grandma, a pregnant woman, and a middle aged mother walked into a bar...."

Please give me an ending for this joke...I think it has a huge amount of potential.

Monday, November 3, 2008

I Wasn't Going to Bring Politics Into This but...

After reading two of my favorite liberals who blog, I am so depressed and really confused, I decided to write out one of my genuine questions . I know, I know these are fighting words, but I really don't understand. I have never claimed to be the sharpest tool in the shed, but I do know how to think. I don't blindly take someones word, or tell someone they are wrong just because I don't agree. I honestly try to see things from others point of view, and usually come to the conclusion, "OK, I can see how they would think that..." But there are some things I just don't see how a rational, thinking person could embrace and defend so vehemently.

1. How can someone be pro-life yet for the death penalty? This question may be among the most asinine questions. As if an innocent baby is even on the same playing field as someone who has committed a crime such as MULTIPLE murders or rape or the KILLING OF A CHILD who has been living for sometime outside of the mother's womb (like 1 hour-18 years old). These are the only offences that get the death penalty, and this is after years of appeals and years on death row. We aren't taking these criminals out as soon as they are caught and then killing them without first exhausting all possibilities. An aborted baby, is never given any of these possibilities and their only crime is being conceived. How the hell can someone put these two things together?

There are just under 1.3 million abortions a year. Those people who are pro-choice (actually pro-abortion, but get offended by such a label) claim that abortion and partial birth abortion should be a women's choice because of cases like incest, rape, and the health of the mother. John McCain was raked across the coals for "air quoting" mother's health. He said that mother's health has come to mean so many things. Everyone went nuts over this, saying he was insensitive and out of touch. The truth is, "health of the mother" can and does mean mental health, not just whether or not the mother will live or die if this life is brought into the world. This includes the mom not wanting the baby, not being emotionally ready for a baby, or simply not wanting to be inconvenienced with the idea of a baby with or without special needs. You cannot tell me that all 1.3 million abortions each year are in the name of "saving the mother." I've read different statistics that say less than 1% of all abortions are because of the rape and incest. The other 99% are because of the inconvenience factor.

One blog I read vehemently exclaimed, "What about the courage it takes for the mother to choose an abortion...?" Are you kidding me? Other comments included, "If I want to kill my's my body...I don't need anyone telling me what I can do with my body." or "When John McCain gives birth out of his penis, he can tell me what to do with my uterus."

These comments and 775 more like them were from mothers!! Come on people, its seriously not about telling anyone what to do with their body. It's trying to protect those who have no voice.

By the way...I don't think abortion should be illegal. Because I think people will do it no matter what...but I don't think they should be so easy to come by that it acts as a form of birth control. And don't even get me started on being able to take my child to get an abortion without my consent. What kind of society are we living in that this is what we are fighting about?

People say, "Don't be a one issue voter..." Truthfully, it says something about the character of a person who would defend this practice with such passion.

So yes, I am pro-life and pro death penalty. But in the name of being fair, if you can prove to me if at any point a baby DESERVES to be put to death like some of our criminals. I am willing and wanting to listen.

And I would be willing to give up being pro-death penalty if you would be willing to give up being pro-choice.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

The Vadar Family

For you Star Wars fans out there that secretly hoped that once Darth revealed that he was good, went on to marry and have children. These photos are for you.

We had such a great time walking into our church party. No one knew who we were, but were very impressed to see a family of 5 Vadars marching into the church. I think once people found out it was actually Steve Merrick's family, they were even more impressed. I'm almost positive I heard a few, "I didn't know he was the type to dress up..." or "He's always so serious, it's nice to see a funny side..." Besides the sweltering heat inside the gym (and inside our costume) it was really a fun night.

Thanks Steve for coming up with and implementing the idea.

Monday, October 20, 2008


I don't get grossed out very easily. In fact, I recently had surgery on the back of my leg and had the surgeon talk me through everything she was doing. I even asked to see the growth she removed after it was all over. I don't mind blood, I've cleaned up my share of vomit, poop, urine, and other bodily fluids. I enjoy shows like House and CSI because they show the cause of death or illness in detail.

However, today, I met my match. I am hurridly trying to write this blog, because I am seriously going to get rid of my breakfast when I am done.

Today, marks the day in history, when I gave up coffee. (I gave up alcohol in June...that story remains to be written...let's just say the name "Martini Merrick" fits.) But today, Oct 20, 2008, while laughing at Sarah Palin's skits on Saturday Night Live, enjoying a cup of coffee, perfectly flavored with my favorite hazlenut cream, I came to the bottom of the cup of morning gold, and found....a dead fly. Yes, a dead fly flavored, what I thought was, an extraordinarily good cup of coffee. What kind of hurried person doesn't even have time to look in her coffee mug before filling it with her inspiration for the day? I guess that would be me.

I really cannot talk about this any longer. My day is ruined. My mornings are ruined from now on. What do I have to look forward to if not my morning cup of coffee, saturated with cream, forever marred by the giant fly, that probably stopped on Faith's poop before flying to its death in my coffee cup.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Oh yes, one more thing.

A year ago today Haley and I were in our car accident.

First, can you believe it has been a year?
Second, thanks again to all of you who helped out on that scary day.
Third, it turns out that the accident ended up being a huge blessing to our family...we may try to do it annually? (Totally kidding).

Just some useless information from the Merrick Family History Book.

Just some thoughts

Can you feed your children mac and cheese too much? I was wondering this while I was cleaning dishes that had mac and cheese stuck to them while boiling another pot for today's lunch. Also, used to be when I would say we were having mac and cheese the girls would cheer, today Kayci said, "Mom, that doesn't really sound good to me." It's easy and no matter how low we get on other groceries we always have a couple of boxes stuffed in the back of the cabinet somewhere. I know, I know, I need to do better. I am going grocery shopping today.

We are getting ready for the final 5 year old birthday party of my mothering career. It is sad, but true. Courtney turns 5 next Monday and we are having our promised 5 year old bash this coming Saturday. It really seems like I just did Haley's 5 year old party...but time tells me we will be doing her 10 year old party in less than 6 months. (Sigh) I'm just starting to get the hang of having little kids and now they are growing into big kids. It doesn't seem fair.

I had the honor of being a part of a birth just a week ago. I watched as a new life took her first breath in this world and I was overwhelmed to the point of tears . There really aren't words to describe this miracle. It inspired me to ask Steve if we could maybe, possibly, think about, having one more child. His response was something like, " NO $%#&ing way Jenn." Oh, well, it was worth a try.

We were praying over our dinner the other night at a restaurant and Courtney was very deliberate about her prayer. With eyes squeezed shut and hand clasped tightly together, these were her words, "Dear God,.... and please help Kayci keep her pull-up dry tonight. I'm serious. She really needs to do this..." I cracked up because of the "I'm serious" part. That's what I say, apparently way too much.

Well, the kids have finished their bowl of mac and cheese and we still have school to finish. Thanks for the comments lately. As always, they are inspiring to me.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Stomach Flu, Migrains, and Lice....OH MY

The sparsity of my writing is directly related to the above mentioned plagues. Our summer concluded with a representation from all the categories mentioned in the title, and I can say with out a doubt that I have discovered, so far, what the worst part of parenting is. Looking at the given list, you can choose the one you think worst, but let me bring it to a more personal level before you make your final decision.

Caution: The material ahead may not be suited for just anyone, definitely not the faint of heart, and definitely not anyone who thinks a family with lice is subhuman.

We returned from on annual vacation to Colorado in good spirits. The trip was great. Everyone got along, the food was awesome, and once again I found myself wondering why anyone would live any other place. Less than 24 hours in the door, Kayci started throwing up. She's always had a nervous stomach so I chalked it up to a flurry of activities during the last week. I diligently held her head back as she threw up everything she had eaten in her short life, then comforted her as her body felt, even though there was no more food, it should keep heaving just in case. I lovingly washed her bedding, covered the couch with a towel, selected her favorite movie, and filled a sippy cup with diluted Gatorade and ice. I was doing laundry anyway from the trip, so washing a few more items was no big deal. Especially since this was only the result of a nervous stomach.

I guess nervous stomach is contagious.

During the subsequent days, Courtney contracted this vile illness, followed very closely by me, and soon after by Haley. Steve says his stomach "felt kind of strange," but never actually visited the great porcelain god like the rest of us. My care for the rest of the family greatly diminished as I crawled repeatedly to the toilet wondering if there was a special place moms could go to be taken care of when they were sick. (I would settle for the Pound...they care for sick wounded animals right? Then they put them out of their misery when it looks like all hope is lost?)

So after this epidemic was over, and all the beds had been washed and remade, the second plague dropped. Kayci (why does it always start with her?) came out from her bed saying that her head was itchy. Being very compassionate I said, "There's nothing I can do about it. Go back to bed." She had been complaining about an itchy head for a while and I just assumed that it was dry scalp and a ploy to stay up an extra two minutes instead of going to sleep. She has dry skin, so not a bad assumption. The next morning she was itching her head like crazy and said, "I can't stand it anymore mom!!" So I looked a little closer at her now raw head. (Did I mention there was blood under her finger nails from scratching her head so hard?) I think parent of the year award won't be going to me. I decided to search the Internet to see if it could possibly be lice. (I really doubted it could be this, but I decided to at least rule out this possibility.) After reading about it and looking closely at her head I told Steve of my suspicions, to which he dismissed my idea as idiotic, until we found a "bug" crawling on the top of her head. I immediately went to Target and bought 4 bottles of alcohol and 2 $40 lice treatments, because one thing I did know, lice was contagious and the Merrick girls share brushes. After treating Kayci with insecticide I started to brush through her hair, more bugs than I care to share, fell out of her hair. It was awful. I checked bugs...I checked bugs...Steve checked bugs....I checked Steve....NO FREAKIN BUGS!! To make a long story short 28 days later, 2 different shampoos, Listerine treatments, 25 days worth of washing and remaking beds, 4 and 1/2 hours per day of combing through every one's hair picking out lice eggs, steam cleaning all the carpets, running every pillow and stuffed animal through the dryer multiple times, we are finally lice free. We are on day 10 currently of no bugs on us. It really was a nightmare.

The kids are under strict rules to never, never use anyone else's brush or hat. They all have their own brushes and are not allowed to share even with each other. The penalty for disobeying any of these rules is they will be sent away to live with an evil stepmother somewhere. You think I'm kidding...but I am NOT.

The stress of the lice sent me into the worst migraine ever known to a human being. I know about pain because I have given birth three times AND i have had kidney stones, apparently equal to child birth in pain level. The pain was so bad that I had to go to the ER and even their strongest narcotics only dulled the pain. I told them I was at a level 9 for pain when I got there, but apparently this only encouraged them to ask me more questions. My friend Tana weathered this storm with me and sat in the ER and talked to me to keep me from taking my own life. My friend Lisa also dropped everything she was doing to come and take care of my lice infested kids. She is a true friend considering she has 4 kids of her own with full heads of lice inviting hair.

While I think these were some of the worst times I have had as a mother, I was humbled by Kayci one night while we were saying our prayers. She said, "You know what mom, having lice hasn't been so bad, because we've stayed home together, we played a lot of games, and you spent a lot of time with just us by ourselves."

There are so many things I can learn from this statement.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

English please

I really am not a racist. However, after reading this blog, some of you may feel that I am right on the border of becoming one.

Yesterday, while driving Haley to yet another sleep over. (This kid is so lucky!) We realized that we had forgotten to pack her toothbrush. I was on a tight schedule anyway and didn't want to turn around and go home. Plus we have spent almost $2700 on her braces, and I don't want there to be holes in her teeth when the braces finally come off. So, being the good mother that I am, I stopped at an AM PM mini-mart. Apparently, toothbrushes are in high demand, or at least stolen a lot because the only way to get a toothbrush was to wait in line and have the cashier bring me one. You know, kind of like buying cigarettes. I thought this was odd and slightly annoying, but I got in line. When I finally arrived to the front of the line I said, "Could I have a toothbrush please?" And immediately there was a look of panic that went across the cashier's face. During my request I had pointed in the general direction of the hanging toothbrushes, where also hung, dental floss, combs, chapstick, and other highly theft worthy items. Above where these things hung, was a shelf full of tampons. And that is what the cashier brought me. I said "Toothbrush," she hears "Tquwiojlso" and notices the big letter "T" on the box of Tampons and assumes that must be what I asked for. She put the box in front of me and I said, "No, no, no a toothbrush." She again looked panicked, said something in Spanish to her co worker, who was too busy to answer. She turned her back to me and looked closely at each product hanging on the wall. Unfortunately, the word toothbrush is not written on the package. So she showed me a comb. To which I said, no and gave the international sign for toothbrush. Then she understood. She apologized and rung me up. I couldn't even speak, I was so shocked by this occurrence.

I know there is a big controversy about whether or not people who speak different languages, that come to this country, should be required to speak English or should we (English speakers) make sure all signs and documents are linguistically accommodating. I have my own opinions. However, it seems obvious to me that if you work in a store you should at least know all the English words for what you are selling. Maybe I am unfair, but I doubt if I go to France and need a toothbrush, and ask for a toothbrush, that I will get a toothbrush.

And in related news, while picking up a cake at VONS yesterday, the checkout lady, with an obvious knowledge of the English language asked me if I could just carry the cake because, "I don't GOT any big bags." And the kid who helped me in the bakery, when asked if he could write on my cake said, "Sup...I'll get someone to help you."

"Sup?????" Do I look like a homey? I am concerned when our customer service in America can't even address an adult correctly, say a sentence that is grammatically correct, or understand the words coming out of a customers mouth.

Remember, we are the change we have been waiting for.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Happy Anniversary

When I woke up 12 years ago this morning...from a night of fitful sleep...I could have never dreamed what this day, 12 years ago, would be the beginning of. Yes, I knew I was marrying the man I had been dating for almost three years, but I honestly was too young to understand that it was more than just a cliche' that my life really would "never be the same," as of this day. For those of you who know me well, you know that I am not that great with change. This is really a gross understatement, because there are times when change makes me physically ill. Getting married was a huge change, obviously. So my wedding day was not the joyful occasion is usually is for brides. I cried most of the day and pretty much for the next three years straight and intermittently since then. Poor Steve.

We got married, took a limo 45 minutes east to our first hotel, where a U-haul truck waited to take me away from everything that was familiar and easy. Yes, on top of the giant change of getting married, we also moved all the way across the country. Big Change #2. Every night of the honeymoon Steve would get me to stop sobbing by telling me he'd take me back home the next day. I would fall into an exhausted-from-crying-all-day sleep. Then I would wake up the next morning and feel like maybe I could go on toward Boston for one more day. Steve says I either cried or slept the whole 10 days we drove to Boston. Nice honeymoon huh? I will say it again, poor Steve. He should have left me on the side of the road, but what has proven true to his character over and over, he is loyal and stubborn and he doesn't give up on people. (Even people he should give up on).

We made it to Boston. We survived and even enjoyed our time there (thanks to some true friends who visited). We definitely grew up a lot there by navigating around a city we'd never been, braving blizzards, walking a block to do laundry, surviving on $1400 a month, starting jobs at a strange school, just to name a few of our growing up experiences. We returned home to California, two years later, with the idea that life was finally going to be a little easier for us, only to discover I was pregnant with girl-child #1. Three girl-children later, a new house, financial struggle, job changes, car accident, good memories, bad memories, more growing experiences and cliff hanging circumstances we are now celebrating 12 years together. I told him last night, at the end of the day, he really is my perfect match. He said, "what about the beginning of the day?"

This morning when Courtney jumped into bed with me and said, with her little hand on my face, "I love you sooo much mama, I just had to come tell you....can you fix me breakfast," I was overwhelmed with the memory of this morning 12 years ago. I was so sad, so young, so worried, but had I known what was coming, had I know what waited for me because of this decision of marriage, I think I could have done it all better. If some one had set me down and said, "Yes, this will be the most challenging thing, and the most uncomfortable you've ever been, but just wait for the good stuff that is can't even imagine." Maybe I would have enjoyed the steps it took to get here, instead of kicking and screaming through most of it. Maybe there is a lesson to be learned here. Just maybe....

....maybe I won't have to kick and scream through the next 12 years which I know will include my three girls becoming teenagers, learning to drive, bringing home boys they like, forming opinions that have nothing to do with me, making decisions that I wish they wouldn't make, and slowly leaving the home Steve and I have made for them. I know that there are going to be a lot of tough times in the future, but I am guessing that the good stuff that is coming...I still can't even imagine. Of all the unknowns that the future holds, Steve's love for me and loyalty to me and his girls has proven itself over and over. I have a partner, a steady, confident partner, that won't have to pull me through the next 12 years, but that will walk through these years with me.

There is something very comforting and secure about knowing that.

Friday, July 11, 2008

I am back

Things have been busy since I last posted. Thanks for those of you who have kept checking faithfully. I appreciate those of you who were concerned for my well being and even checked in. It's hard to get time with my own computer these days. As I talked about before, my kids have turned into video game junkies and we are constantly battling to claim the right to the computer. With three kids, (Four if you count the senior video game junkie), each with an hour of allotted time, I don't see my computer until the evening and then, the garble that is my brain, cannot be deciphered into a coherent blog. My friend Jodie has kept up, everyday, with her blog. But she is amazing and I am...well I'm just Jenn.

The video game phenomenon that has entered my home is surprising. I don't think I was much into such things as a kid. We did have Atari and that was cool. I do remember spending some time in front of my favorite game "KABOOM" that required great skill and speed. This game, for those of you who have never heard of it, consisted of three barrels of water stacked on top of each other. From the top of the screen a bad guy of sorts dropped lit bombs over a wall. The object was to catch the bombs before they fell to the ground. Each level got faster and faster. If you dropped a bomb then you lost a barrel of water until you had only one to catch the fast falling bombs. I really loved this game and if I can be so bold as to claim that I was actually the best at this game in my family. I should probably qualify it with JRS was not yet walking when I mastered this game, but the best is the best...and that was me. I also remember how cool we thought the game "PONG" was, and how, even my parents, were very into "BEZERK" and "SPACE INVADERS." I do remember how cool it was when PAC-MAN came out. It was a game that one could only play in the arcade, so when it became available to play in your home, things began to get interesting for video game fans across the country. My parents even used to play Atari with our neighbors. That was annoying, because, what were we supposed to do when the grown ups were the ones playing with our toys? ASTROIDS was another that provided hours of entertainment. The graphics of this game were so simple compared to what we see today. The wedge shaped gun in the middle that moved in a circle, at your control, to shoot white or purple blobs that may or may not have been shaped like rocks. There were also the white dots in the back ground that gave the illusion of being in outer space. It was simple, but I thought it was cool!!

Then came the day that my dad brought home an IBM PC jr with a dot matrix printer that was the size of the desk by itself. It had the real floppy floppies and was run using DOS. I remember learning how to program just a little. For example, I would program it for each family member's name. As soon as one entered their name I had it set to give a specific message to each. At one point when dad would enter "John," I would have the computer respond with, "Hey John, I heard your head is so oily you can drill an oil well on it." Nice huh? I bet more parents wish they could have had such a charming child. I was about 12-13 so I can blame it on adolescence. I learned how to type on this computer using a game called Mastertype. The words were in all four corners of the screen inside space ships that were coming toward the center. The goal was to type the word before it blew up your mother ship. It was very fun and I am the typist I am today because of it. The coolest game on the IBM was KINGS QUEST I. To this day, I would love the opportunity to play these games again. I think they have gone as high as KINGS QUEST V. These were fun games. You had to find things, solve puzzles and keep the prince alive until the quest had been completed. I had hours of fun on this game.

Did I say I wasn't into video games when I was a kid? How soon we forget!!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Things I thought I wouldn't Have to Teach

As a mother, there are things that I have assumed that I will be called upon to teach the offspring that have been entrusted to me for these 18 years. Manners, getting dressed, showering, going potty on the big potty, math, reading, feeding themselves, driving, just to name a few of the things I was ready to teach. Some things I thought would be self explanatory, a sort of non issue. However, now that I think about it, just because it is obvious to me that you don't do certain things, doesn't mean, by being born from my body, that my children would know that certain things are inappropriate behavior.

I was faced with one such occurrence recently. I may have gone through life blissfully ignorant that this had occurred, but my good friend Joy knew I would want to remember this for all time. (Also, I think she may have been deciding if she should press charges for the molestation she had just experienced at the hands of my youngest child.)

Here are the events as I understand them: Courtney, being innately cute and huggable went to give Joy, also innately cute and huggable a Sunday morning hug. However, somehow my daughter's hand became pinned against Joy's chest. Now here is where the lack of parenting came in on my part. I never told Courtney that when you find your hands in an awkward position like she found herself, you should never squeeze. NEVER, NEVER squeeze. I have learned a very significant lesson here. There are some social graces that are not obvious to kids.

Please, Joy, don't turn my daughter in. She knows the right behavior now. She is in counseling and I think her adult-phile tendencies are being squelched at a young age.

May is the month of Days for Me

Since my earliest memories, I was always excited about the month of May. The whole month just felt different. It meant so many happy things when I was a kid. It meant mine and my sister's birthday, which was always fun. It also meant that school was out, which is the most wonderful time of the year. Remember how fun the last few weeks of school used to be? The month of May still feels special to me. It's obviously still my birthday month. It is still almost the end of school, which brings such joy to my heart that I can't even express it. Now we get to add in Mother's day too. Basically the whole month is great. The sad side to all of this though, is I'm not a kid anymore and the special days come and go now with not as much excitement as they once held.

Mother's day this year was pretty good. I had requested the day off from playing at church so I got to sleep in. That was the best part of the day. The girls made me feel really special. Kayci came through my room at about 6:30 am yelling "Happy Mother's Day." She is so cute. After the initial adrenaline rush from being startled awake, I fell back to sleep. Haley used her own money to buy me some tennis socks, a tennis hat, and a tennis thermos. All of it was over priced because she purchased it at the Claremont Club, but she was so excited to give these gifts to me I was very touched. Steve, always clinging to the adage..."You're not my mother," surprised me this year by asking the neighbor to mow our grass. This ended up not being that great of an idea, but Steve was really trying to make life easier for me. In the neighbor's defense, he is only 12 and not at all raised in the same way I was. (This meaning, I did a good job when asked to do something; I listened to instructions, and cleaned up when I was done.) This kid, in spite of mine and Steve's warnings, ran over 3 sprinklers with the lawn mower, butchered the lawn with our edger, did not empty the grass from the mower, and did not sweep up excess grass left around the yard. Because of this fiasco, I spent mother's day first at Lowe's buying new sprinklers and other gardening tools, then home to repair the sprinklers, re edge the yard, and trim my lemon tree. My lemon tree is straight from hell. It has thorns on it that are about an inch long. These thorns actually pierced the bottom of my shoes. One branch fell, after being cut, and landed thorn down into my skull. I am pretty sure it touched brain tissue. By the end of the day, I was cut up pretty bad, but my sprinklers worked, my yard was somewhat straight again, and my tree was nicely shaped. (Except for the top...I can't reach it and have a fear of falling off of ladders and my kids finding me in a pool of my own blood.) Steve came home about this time and offered to bring home any food I wanted. I chose Chipotle (since I had already treated myself to Del Taco for lunch). It was a very successful day.

Just yesterday, my across the street neighbor, brought over a picture of me working in the yard on Mother's Day. He thought it was funny...I thought it was normal.

My 35th birthday was a full and busy day. My mom and dad and youngest sister (JRS) made the day very special by making the effort to be with me in spite of their own busy schedules. The girls sang for three services in the morning and then had their musical that night. Since Del Taco was too far away, we had Taco Bell for dinner...for some that sounds lame for a birthday dinner...for me it was perfect. Jonni and her friend took me out to Bj's where you get free Pazookie's on your birthday. It was a great day. I was with all the family that could be with me and received a lot of nice phone calls and text messages from people who remembered. That is always a nice feeling. The whole choir and orchestra sang happy birthday to me at church. While it was embarrassing...I felt special. I really do have a good group of people that support me.

I was awakened just this week with the thought that the years 30-35 went really quickly. In five more years I will be 40 and my baby will be ten. I actually felt like I was going to have an anxiety attack right then. The fear that it is all slipping away so quickly makes me want to squeeze more things in with the kids. I hope the next five years go painfully slow. But I am starting to realize, time just picks up speed the older I become.

Fish Tacos

I'm not the best cook in the world. I'm not very creative. I have my standards: mac and cheese, spaghetti, burritos, and sandwiches. Then I start this cycle again. I prefer eating out (who doesn't?). But my kids are getting too accustomed to what should actually be a treat. So I have been trying to be more creative with my cooking. The Internet provides a lot of good ideas for cooking and Rachel Ray also has a lot of good ideas. Although, I am finding the Rachel's "prep time" and "actually prep time" are highly different. I guess she has people to prepare the ingredients for mixing...I however, am "those people," and the prep time is usually doubled for me. Other than that, my family has been impressed with the variety. (Ok, no one has said they are impressed, but if I were them, I would be impressed.) I have made Sante Fe Chicken Salad, Chicken Parmagian on rolls, Baked Mac and Cheese, just to name a few.

Here is my latest accomplishment. Fish tacos. They were delicious, not hard to make, and very nutritious. The only down side is my house smelled of fish for a week. Yuck. For that reason alone, I may never make them again. I thought the end result was very pretty. I was proud of myself for trying something way out of my league, so I took a picture. Sometimes a pat on the back can even come from yourself.

I'm Not Dead...yet

It's not that there hasn't been plenty to blog about lately. In fact, anyone who spends anytime around me, at all, hears me say..."This will definitely make it into a blog. " But alas, MY computer, has now become all FOUR of my kids' computer. Yes, I said 4. Steve has brought home something that has stolen my girls from me as well as my computer. He thought that he would share his tendency to be addicted to video games with the innocent minds of our children. He purchased LEGO Starwars. This was a present to Haley in March. Kayci lost our first copy of it soon after, Steve immediately replaced it with another. He has broken and lost things of mine that he has NEVER replaced...but that is another blog altogether. The girls now revolve their lives around this game. They wake up early in the morning to play. They want to play more than anything else. They hate homeschooling even more because it takes away from time on the computer. They don't want to play with their friends, unless they want to play Lego Starwars. Limits you ask? Oh, I have tried, but when the head of the household actually took his whole day off, 9 1/2 hours , to play himself...I have no hope for reinforcement of my rules. Sometimes being the only grown-up in the house is exhausting.

This has been my view of my family lately.

I am hoping, now that I have a few minutes to catch up on my blog, and my friend's blog that I can catch everyone up on what's been going on over here in Merrickland.

Stay tuned...don't give up on me yet.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Courtney and her latest comment

Courtney has started putting very cute voice inflections on all of her conversations. Everything ends like she is asking a question, but she is actually telling you something. I'm not sure how to describe it except to say that she starts at one pitch and ends on a much higher pitch by the end of the statement. If you don't understand...I'll demonstrate for you. Just ask.

Today, with her cute inflection, she said, "Mom. Guess what? Teeth get loose and fall out and then a gold tooth comes in and takes its place." I, of course, laughed. She, of course, burst into tears because she doesn't like to be laughed at. I tried to explain that she was so cute that I couldn't help it. She tried to explain that she saw a kid at Kid's Court that had a gold tooth. I told her that was from a cavity or a crown or something else and that teeth didn't grow in gold.
Kayci then piped in and said, "Only rich people get gold teeth in their mouth. Or sometimes bad guys have gold teeth too."

My kids are soooo smart.

By the way, during the tears Courtney said, "Now you're going to tell everyone that I said that (About the gold teeth)." So please do not mention this story to her. She is very sensitive about these things. I just don't want to ever forget these great stories.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Dreams and Other things to figure out

Last night I dreamt that I was driving fast on a mountainous road. I took a corner too fast and was thrown from the vehicle into a pile of rocks. (I'm sure the pile of rocks represents all of thw work I am trying to get done around here.) The only injury I sustained was a nasty gash on my head. The rest of the dream was a mix of me trying to play tennis, find a hospital and an occasional episode of vomiting on the side of the road. When I finally woke up from this bizarre dream, my head hurt on the side that supposedly was injured in the accident and I felt like I was going to throw up. I don't know what it all means, but I welcome any and all interpretations.

Steve has been extra busy lately. He is very happy, because he is working with people he respects and he is doing stuff for which he is gifted. He has been waking up early all this week to go to recording sessions at the Disney Studios for one of their upcoming DVD releases. (Jodie, he has had a part in the music of the next Pooh movie.) He is on cloud nine. I am happy for him.

We (Steve and I) had an interesting conversation with our neighbor the other night about cleanliness. I find it very necessary to have a clean or at least tidy house. Steve, on the other hand, thinks it is unnecessary to clean things that will be messed up anyway. He thinks a house should be functional and relaxing. Not a museum. Laundry should be done just often enough to have one clean pair of underwear and socks everyday. I cannot relax unless things are tidy. I cannot sleep well if the laundry is overflowing. Steve does not think it is necessary to make the bed since we will just be sleeping in it again later. (By the way...the whole two years we were in college together, he NEVER made his bed or even washed the blankets he slept with...EWWW.) I cannot start my day well if the bed is not made. I am not the best housekeeper. I have a sister and a mom who take the cake on this ability. However, I do like to keep things somewhat tidy. (If Jim is reading come over at times when I haven't gotten to clean the kitchen yet...give me a break.) If I go into Steve's studio area, I am always on the verge of an anxiety attack because of the mess. There are wires, papers, more wires, and other musical paraphernalia all over the place. It is actually dangerous to your health to walk in that place barefoot. The mess doesn't bother him at all. In fact, that is where most of his genius is expressed. It is comfortable to him. It's weird how we find ourselves with people that are our polar opposites...isn't it? We are definitely a team, but we approach the game with two very different strategies. So far, his strategy seems to be the one the kids prefer following. You know that myth about the man who was cursed to roll a bolder up the side of a hill for eternity? Picture me rolling the bolder up hill and my family standing on the top throwing clothes, toys, and other out-of-place items down the hill on top of my boulder. That's how I feel sometimes.

But....I really couldn't be happier or more content. The alternative would mean me doing all this stuff and working a full time job. Steve's lack of cleaning abilities lends itself to being an amazing musician, which means he gets a lot of work, which means I get to stay home with my kids. It's not bad at all. Really. It's just funny. Funny because it is true.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

What Did I do With my Hours of Freedom?

Many of you may be wondering what I did with my time off. Let me warn is not exciting and maybe somewhat disappointing to those of you who would give your right arm to have two hours alone.

After I was done blogging about my new and temporary freedom, I decided to lie down in my bed and just relax for a minute. I think I would have been instantaneously asleep, but the phone rang. An old friend of mine needed help on some math problems. An hour later, my time was up.

I know, not that interesting. Not very productive. But it remains a very surreal memory for me. I actually was in my home for 2 hours without anyone in the house with me. It felt strange and made me think that this is how it will be, someday, when the kids go off to their own lives. How sad that day will be. It almost makes me want to have more kids...just to prolong the inevitable...almost.

Last night I had the rare opportunity to hang out with some of my old girl friends from college. I had forgotten how much fun we used to have. The memories and stories that we brought to the table kept us all laughing for the entire two hours we were together. I am tempted to share some of the funniest moments, but I don't think they would translate well. A lot of you- just- had- to- be- there- moments. My face and sides were sore from laughing so much. The stories ranged in topics from a chance encounter with Brad Pitt to a 12 year old story about an unfortunate bunny that seemed like a funny story at first, but it just became sad...and for that reason it became funny again. See what I mean? You just had to be there. If you want to know the stories, ask know how I love to talk.

Two good things that happened:
1. Today I got to play tennis across the street from the ocean. Sure, my partner and I were killed in the match, but it was beautiful and such a neat thing to get to play at the beach.

2. Steve just called me today just to see how my day was. It felt good.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Alone in the house

Well after a series of kind of strange and interesting circumstances, I find myself alone in the house this afternoon. It wasn't something I had planned, but it has worked out that way. As Steve and the kids were leaving, Steve asked, "What are you going to do here all by yourself." And that's when it hit me, I am going to be here by myself for an extended period of time. All by myself. I remind myself of the guy from The Twilight Zone episode, "Time Enough at Last." After a lifetime of being thwarted at every turn when it came to reading, he finds himself completely alone with no one to tell him he can't read. He begins organizing the books in the library into months to be read. He is so excited to have "Time Enough at Last," to read every book he wants. Then the unfortunate happens. He stumbles, drops his coke-bottle like glasses, and can no longer see. The show at this point ends. I empathize with his plight only because here I have been given a great gift of time alone, and I can't think of one thing that I really need to do. I am wasting my time sitting here at this computer instead of accomplishing things that I always wish I could accomplish...if it weren't for the kids. Sure, there is cleaning that can be done, the lawn always needs work, but I am so overwhelmed with this gift all I can think to do is write and share my joy and confusion it seems.

Haley learned the word hypocrite in church last Sunday and decided to use it on me today. She said that I am being a hypocrite. The reason behind this bold accusation is that I don't let her watch certain shows with questionable content, yet I will watch episodes of Friends while folding clothes. She knows this show has questionable if not Amoral content, so therefore I am a hypocrite. Steve is trying to explain that one can be hypocritical without being a hypocrite per se. Thanks honey for the support.

It's really quiet here. I can hear birds chirping and no kids arguing. It's weird. This is what it would be like to have my kids in school during the day. Interesting thought. I could either get a lot done, or I could sit here all day and write. Hmmm.

What to do? What to do?

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Toilet Paper

There are two things that occur DAILY that really test my patience. I feel like, since becoming a wife and a mother (12 years ago almost for the wife part) these things should no longer get to me. But they do and I am powerless to change either one.

I honestly cannot, at all, understand the mentality behind someone who uses the last bit of toilet paper and then does not replace the roll. I have read other commentaries on this very thing and have come to the conclusion that God has seen fit to match up two types of people in every household. The toilet paper roll changer and the non toilet paper roll changer. I am the changer in the house. And because of this ability, I seem to always be the person who changes the roll. Why? Because it is ALWAYS empty when I need to use the "Facilities." You may say, "Jen, surely you exaggerate." I wish I was exaggerating. But alas, the members of this family have all conspired against me to make sure the toilet paper roll is empty EVERY FREAKIN' TIME I SIT ON THE TOILET. (For those readers who feel I am always playing the victim and adding chapters to my "Poor Me Book," in this case you are exactly right.) There are days when I actually laugh about this. But as often as it happens, I still forget to check the status of the roll before I sit down. (Mostly because with the pace of my life, by the time I finally allow myself to relieve myself, it is pretty darn close to an emergency.) There are days when I am on top of things and put extra rolls near the toilet. Sadly, there are other days when I am left lamenting my precarious position safely inside the confines of a locked bathroom door with no hope of help.

The second thing that drives me crazy, and seems to send me into a bad mood almost immediately, is the constant demand for food from the three small members of this family. For the most part, I feed them three balanced meals a day. While ideally two meals should be sufficient, I make sure (with a few exceptions) that the girls have three good-sized meals a day. It is the in between meals that drive me nuts. My youngest, will finish a meal, and I'm pretty sure out of boredom alone will want a snack 10 minutes later. She doesn't just ask for a snack, she wines and says, "I'm starving to death." I think it may be the wining that drives me crazy. It is like finger nails on a chalk board. As I write, the girls are eating their lunches. I am enjoying the next 10 minutes when no one is asking me for food. It would probably be a good idea for me to eat, but after fixing lunch for everyone else in the family, I just don't ever feel like fixing anything for myself. I cut up a cucumber and this is what I will eat for lunch. No mess, no plate to wash, and surprisingly filling. But my eating habits are not the topic for discussion today. It is the annoying need for kids to eat all day long. My mom used to say, "The Kitchen is closed until the next meal." It seems like that was enough for us. That phrase doesn't work, for some reason, with my kids. Neither does the smoke coming out of my ears when one or more of them ask for more food after I've just finished cleaning up from the last meal.

The best is when I am sitting on the toilet trying to figure out how to get a new roll of toilet paper and one of the kids knocks on the door asking if they can have a snack. Those are the priceless moments of motherhood.


It seems that my blog has been suffering lately because of the craziness that is our life. My awe inspiring friend Jodie puts me to shame with her very current blog, her busy life, and her well taken care of kids and husband. I don't know how she does it, but maybe I should dedicate a blog to her. She really is an amazing woman. A good example for me and for others.

I met Jodie during the uncertain days of college. I always thought I had it all together. I thought I knew what I was doing with my life. I knew that I was better prepared for life then some, because my parents had practiced a lot of tough love with me. While many of my friends were given a weekly allowance for expenses and entertainment, I had to work my tail off to pay my bills and have any hope of "fun money." I didn't have to pay for my tuition; I did have to buy my own books. I thought this was tough and maybe a little unfair. I didn't get to do all of the fun college things, I thought, because I had to work whenever I wasn't in class. Then I met Jodie. Jodie also worked as a tutor, but this was only one of her jobs. You see, she worked to pay for all of her school. ALL OF IT. This is no easy task at a private Christian university. I admired her from day one.

Then we were lucky (luck had nothing to do with it...God knows things) enough to have a class together. Yes, 8:00 am on Tuesday and Thursday morning we sat through an hour and a half of Grammar. Most of you may wonder, "How in the world is there enough content in Grammar to fill up a semesters worth of time?" Let me tell you, there is a lot to this old English language that many don't understand. But Jodie and I were the two students in our class (call us nerds if you must) that made it our business to learn it all and learn it all well.

This bond formed in Grammar and in the LEC (learning enrichment center) was a solid bond. We graduated from college right next to each other and have only looked back to laugh at ourselves then.

She and her husband were one of the few to come and visit Steve and I in Boston. Yes, they came to visit us in Boston when I was so lonely and so desperate for a friendly face. The weird thing about this visit is I don't remember much. This concerns me. I remember being so glad they were coming. I remember picking them up from the airport via subway...something new to them I think. I remember we had a nice warm Easter Sunday...then the blizzard of 1997 that dumped three feet of snow. Things start getting fuzzy after this. I have been told that I was hit in the head by a well aimed snowball thrown by her husband...but I don't even remember that. We took a trip to New York. Ran in the rain and got soaked in order to see the Statue of Liberty. Sadly, it was so cloudy and rainy that when we got to vantage point to see said Statue...she was covered in fog. We were all so poor that we brought our own lunch to eat in New York...that I remember.

Jodie is a teacher, a mother, a wife, a yearbook editor, and a friend. She does it all well. On top of all of these attributes, she loves God too!! She and her husband have the gift of hospitality and make everyone who visits feel like an honored guest. She is willing to help out whenever she is needed. Her writing is an encouragement to me, her character is an example to me. (She may be politically a little misguided, but one can't have it all right?)

She deals with life in such an incredible way. On top of it all, her life may be a little harder than most of us can understand. She is, on a daily basis, dealing with the fear, pain and uncertainty that comes along with having a brain tumor. If anyone has reason to curl up in a ball and turn bitter, she does. Instead she welcomes everyday and finds opportunities to enrich the lives of her students, her family and her friends. She is amazing and I'm proud to call her my friend.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Jelly Beans and other dishonesties

Courtney is entering a new and not so endearing phase in her life. She is 4 and 1/2 and is pretty certain that anything she says and does is cute because she is the baby. Sadly, up until age 4 this has been true. She is and has been the most joyful child to ever be birthed in Southern California. I'm pretty certain she came out of the womb smiling. I distinctly remember her smiling while she was crying when she was an infant. She just couldn't help it. Back when she was "Nee-Nee" or "Not-Nee" she could do no wrong. But we all know, all good things must come to an end. While she is still a very happy little girl, there has now come some deceptiveness behind those dimples and eye of blue. It is sad. But in someways very funny. I have to admit, this is not new. All three of my children now have entered this phase of deceptiveness, so I will take a deep breath and say...this too shall pass. (Or at least the lying and stealing will become harder to detect.)

The first incident happened while she was being babysat by an old college friend who also has a daughter Courtney's age. Allegedly, Courtney discovered Claire's stash of jelly beans from the Easter festivities. There were 11. Courtney was told specifically not to take them because they were not hers. Courtney, being the mental giant that she is, took 10 and left one behind. I guess in her little mind, leaving one behind meant she didn't take all of them and that wasn't a crime...really. She even said, when confronted, "Claire needs to learn to share." We had a very stern talk about stealing and how wrong it is no matter how much you want something. I think I got the message across because she looked at me very seriously, trying to smile, with a ever so slightly quivering chin and said, "But you're not going to call the police right mama?" Being the loving parent I am I said, "Not this time, but if you steal MY stuff, I will." I think she learned her lesson.

I like to tell the kids funny stories about when they were babies. Things I know they don't remember and things I'm certain I will forget if I don't pass them on to the little sponges that are my kids minds. They love hearing the stories and often ask me to tell them their own personal stories. Courtney, however, has added a new dimension. She makes up her own. Seriously. None of my kids have gone this far. She likes the stories so much, she has added her own versions. Just this morning, I said "I'm so glad you're my baby." She responded with,

Courtney: Remember when I was a baby and you tried to take my blanket and I said Wah, Wah?
ME: Um, no Courtney I don't remember that at all.
Courtney: Remember when I was a baby and you left me at home and took the other sisters somewhere and I was mad?
ME: Um, no Courtney...If I left you...I left the sisters too. And I probably had good reason.
Courtney: Remember when you buyed me from the hospital and you didn't have any money?
ME: Oh, yes. They wanted exact change and I had forgotten my wallet. You remember that huh? That other family almost got to take you home.

I don't know where she gets these. But as soon as I tell her something isn't true, she is quick to point out that she doesn't lie because then she'll get a spanking. The message is not getting all the way through.

Case in I precious third born just asked me to help her with her shoes. As I was putting her shoes on, I asked if she had brushed her teeth. She gave me a cautious toned (which means she is lying) "yes." I just looked at her with those I-know-you-are-lying-eyes. And she said, "Why are you staring at me mom?"

"Is this the little girl I carried?....Is this the little girl.....Sunrise...Sunset."

Friday, April 4, 2008

Trip to Oregon

My mother was a super hero, because she basically drove the entire 14 hours all by herself. I hate to drive. I have always hated driving. It began back when I got my big Pontiac Safari Station Wagon stuck on a safety pole in a Taco Bell drive through. I have not wanted to drive since. Then factor in our recent car accident, and the fact that 85% of the time in Southern California there is traffic, and you get me going way beyond hating driving. I loathe it. My mother, on the other hand, prefers to drive. We make a good combination in that regard.

My kids were amazing on the 14 hour trip to Oregon. They barely complained. We only had to watch two videos in 14 hours. The rest of the time they slept, read, colored, ate snacks, and basically entertained themselves. I was so impressed with my offspring.

My dad brought along some great knock-knock jokes that kept us all asking for more. My dad has such a great way of delivering every joke that it's funny even when I don't "get it."

The trip went pretty fast too. Once we got there we had the joy of another"Seymour Surprise." JRG only thought I was coming....much to her relief I soon discovered...I brought along mom and dad too. She suspected they were coming, but she wasn't sure. I dropped them off at the entrance to her neighborhood, pulled up in front of her house, and then she saw them walking up the street to her house. It was lots of fun. Then to add to the "Seymour Surprise," a couple of days later JRS flew in. So the whole original Seymour clan was together. It was a lot of fun. My family knows how to have fun together. Sure, in some ways we have to keep our relationships superficial because we have some deep seeded issues, but for the most part we love to play together and laugh together. I know families who go years without talking to each other. Not us. We are as close as we've ever been and they are the greatest support system in my life. I am very thankful.

Why I Like To Stay Home:

Warning: This is not my typical light-hearted funny blog. It is my attempt to make sense of somethings going on in my life. Some may say I am trying to sound like a victim. I am not a victim. I own what I am about to say and am not ashamed. Please do not read if you are looking for a is not funny...but it is still true.

I am a home body. Anyone who knows me well knowsI love to be in my home. Sometimes I feel like I need a break, but my break doesn't necessarily mean I like to leave the safety and comfort of my own home. Safety. Comfort. Predictability. Stability. Familiarity. All words associated with my home. When I am home, my world is very comfortable. There are, of course, the continuous changes and surprises that come with having three girls under the age of 10 and a musician husband, but I can handle these occurrences within my home. I know my immediate family's opinion of me. When I make mistakes, my girls, and Steve are quick to forgive. They really don't have much of a choice, I realize, I'm all they've got. When I act unbecomingly, my husband is quick to call me on it so that I can fix it. When I hear my children mimicking the way I talk in a frustrated way, I know I need to fix the tone in my voice. If I can be so bold as to give myself a compliment, while I sometimes resent being told something about me is offensive, I am usually pretty willing to change.

Outside my home, I am reminded that it is not safe. There are freeway shootings, car accidents, and heartless crime. And while these are major problems outside the safety of my home, the lesser yet equally frightening problem outside of my home, is the unpredictability of those who you let your guard down with because they are your friend. There are people in this world who have a perspective on me that is not entirely true. However, this perspective has been fueled by years of hurt and resentment...most of which I have been totally clueless about...and there is no changing this perspective as far as these people are concerned. Being a recovering people pleaser, knowing that someone is disgusted with the person I am, is like carrying an overstuffed backpack that I can't put down, everywhere I go. I want to put it down, but it is so stuffed that the straps are too tight to budge. I can't reach the zipper to unload it so I just trudge around with this monstrosity on my back waiting for a solution to getting rid of it. I can say, "It doesn't matter what other people think." But those are just words. And it does matter, to me, what some people think... especially when the view is dead wrong. Yes, I can even acknowledge that while some people may have known me for a long time, their conclusions about me are not even close to being right. I am learning that I can't change what someone thinks about me, but it doesn't mean I don't lose sleep trying to figure out how I can.

The funny thing is this. I have a good life, with many good friends and a good family. For the most part my family and friends take me as I am, call me on the stuff that needs to grow up, and we keep going down our merry way growing together. But in one small conversation, my world is turned upside down and I start to question, "How in the world does anyone stand being in the same room with me?" I'm almost 35 years old. I feel like I should be a lot further along in my journey than this.

Oh well. I am home now. My husband adores me. My kids want nothing but me. My friends, my true friends, are still calling. And in spite of all the flaws in my personality, I am reminded that Jesus thinks I'm pretty cool too. He made me the way I am and maybe , just maybe, I wasn't meant to gel with everyone I came in contact with. I guess I have to be OK with that.

Two Good Things That Have Happened:
1. I laughed my real laugh a lot with my mom and dad this past week.
2. My kids got to spend a week with their cousins and can't stop talking about how much fun they had and how much they miss them.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Ok Maybe I did Look Like Waldo

Please read comment #3 on "Remember High School," to totally understand this post.

I really didn't realize that I looked so much like him. I am so glad to have friends who were willing to point it out. I am thankful everyday for Mr. Dr, Mrs. Blue Eyes, and Drummer Bubble Boy. I am surprised more people didn't point it out. I seem to have forgotten my glasses though.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Roger Federer

I saw him. In person. I breathed the same air he was. I could hear him talking under his breath. I waved at him. I watched him win an easy match.

He was beautiful, and one of my dreams have been fulfilled.

The sad thing was, had it not been for my friend Tana, I wouldn't have seen him at all. You see, we bought night passes for this tournament. Roger's match was the last day match. There was plenty of room in the stadium, so we thought they would let us in anyway. But the first guy we went to said, "OH, so sorry, you can't go in until 7:00." My heart dropped. I had come so close to seeing this paragon of tennis greatness in the flesh. Just on the other side of these great walls of the stadium was an icon of tennis genius and complete kindness. And because this gate keeper thought rules were rules, I was going to miss seeing Roger. With tears burning my eyes I dropped my shoulders and headed over to watch some other tennis on lesser courts. Tana, being a super hero disguised as a mild mannered doubles partner made this simple suggestion. "Let's try another gate." Genius I tell you. Sheer genius. So we went to the other side of the stadium, confidently handed the gate keeper our ticket and he said, "These are for the night match, but there is plenty of room in this match, so go on in." My heart leaped for joy like it hasn't in a long time.

I climbed the steps of the stadium, looked down on the court, and there he was.

Roger Federer...I almost cried.

Remember High School

I have relatively good memories about high school. I had a good circle of friends. We had friends that were popular and friends that were nerds and I, at any given time, could be considered either one. I was the ASB president, but I was in all honors classes; I didn't go to parties, but I did go to church. I could have been called a geek, a goody two shoes, or a popular geek. Anyway, I have spent a good part of my life being insecure. I specifically remember thinking as a high school student that I would be so glad when I was out of high school so I wouldn't have to worry about how I looked anymore. I actually thought it stopped mattering after high school.

Oh, how wrong I was. The need to be approved of only became stronger and more sophisticated. Especially when it came to how I looked or dressed. I have always hated to be looked at in anyway. I think it goes back to being called ugly in fifth grade, or the guys who made fun of my yellow tights in Kindergarten as I got onto the bus, or the girl who made fun of my Lee jeans in junior high, or....I could go on and on. I'm sure everyone has their stories, but mine have caused an unnatural insecurity that still plagues me to this day. Now, before you think I am trying to get sympathy, let me announce that I know I am weird in this area. I know that I am still stuck in the mentality of high school that if you are ugly, or not stylish, you are unacceptable on all levels. I know this is not true and at age 34 1/2 I am almost over it, and will basically wear what I want and hold my head high no matter what.

Well I thought I was over it, until last Wednesday.

You see, I had purchased a very cute hoodie that happened to be red and white striped. I bought the shirt with a pair of white pants and thought I would be sooo cute someday when I was brave enough to wear white pants. (Maybe on board a ship when I was being the first mate or something). Anyway, not feeling particularly brave last Wednesday I wore the shirt with jeans. Red white, and blue always look good together. For me, walking out in front of a group is always difficult. I still struggle with the egocentric feeling that when I walk into a room everyone stops what they are doing and looks at me with a critical eye. I know it is ridiculous, and those of you who know me well, are shaking your head at my arrogance, but to know me is to constantly be shaking your head. So walking onto stage for rehearsal on Wednesday was as daunting as it always is, but I did it and smiled confidently. Then it happened, the thing I fear everyday, someone looked at me and noticed something that had to be joked about. I don't remember from whence it came, but I heard muffled laughter and a "There's Waldo!" I laugh even as I write, because yes I did have on the perfect combination of colors to be Waldo. I hadn't even thought of that. Then as I tried to regain my composure from almost bursting into tears in embarrassment, another person whom I call friend put up a sign that read, "Where's Waldo?" So this underscored that what I was wearing was indeed joke material. If two people said something in that short of a time span, the whole choir and orchestra were probably all thinking the same thing. I was immediately taken back to that sick feeling in high school when you knew you had worn something socially unacceptable, but you still had to go through the whole remaining day of school. That feeling of not wanting to make eye contact with anyone, and if your gym clothes were not already so smelly that you would wear those for the day. Yes, I still get those feelings. However, I did recover quite nicely...I think. I knew how hard I was struggling to not run off the stage and go home. So my response showed that I have ever so slightly matured past the age of 15...

After, Mr. Dr. said, "Really you had no idea when you were buying that shirt that it was a Waldo shirt....maybe the rack of "Where's Waldo" books next to it should have been a clue."

I swallowed my embarrassment and said, "If Waldo had looked this good, he would have sold a lot more books."

See, old dogs can learn some new tricks.

Monday, March 3, 2008

The Dreaded Question

It happened today while we were in the car.

That question I knew was coming eventually, but thought I still had some time.

I wasn't prepared and therefore my response was fragmented and weak. I'm sure Haley was unimpressed and maybe slightly embarrassed by the stuttering buffoon her mother suddenly turned into.

We were listening to Dr. Laura on the radio. I like her show. It helps me treat my husband and kids better by listening to her perspective. I think I have always assumed that the kids aren't really listening. But today I found out I was wrong. One of the callers made the comment that she and her husband were "trying to have a baby."

Haley:, "How do you try to have a baby?"

Me: Gulp..."Ummm when you are married, it is something you and your husband decide to do together and if God decides it is the right time you get to have a baby...hey look it's Disneyland.

Kayci: So you talk about having a baby and your tummy hears it and gives you a baby.

Me: No, not really. God is the one who decides if you can have a baby.

Haley: Why do you need to talk about it with your husband if God is the one who decides to give people baby.

Me: That's a great question...umm err...this is actually something that we will talk about when you get a little older. There are somethings too hard for kids to understand. (And truthfully too hard for me to explain right now)

Kayci: I'm thirsty.

Me: Me too Kayci. Let's talk about things that would be good to drink right now.

I need to start putting some serious thoughts into this conversation. I don't think this is the end of their questions. No, no...I think this is only the beginning.

Two good things that happened:

1. I went to the chiropractor today, and it has been a month since I have gone. I really feel better. I am glad there is relief for the stress that accumulates in my neck and forces my spine into skewed positions.
2. I am getting the kids hair cut today. It has needed to be done for sometime and I am finally doing it!

The Butterfinger Story

My husband is a funny guy. Most people don't know this side of him, but he really is one of the funniest people I know. I guess it is because he is not always funny that his humor still makes me laugh side-splittingly hard after 15 years of being together. Haley was the recipient of one of his well calculated and perfectly timed jokes.

Now that Haley receives her own allowance, every once in awhile she elects to buy herself a candy bar. I often struggle with this. I think since it is her money she should be able to purchase what she chooses within reason. However, I am not a big fan of the amount of candy these kids would eat left to their own decision making abilities. So in spite of this inner conflict I allowed her to purchase a Butterfinger candy bar from Target. Now, while her money saving abilities may be a little underdeveloped at this point, her candy hoarding abilities are top of the line. She gleefully flaunted to her sisters and dad that she had her own candy bar. Of course Kayci and Courtney both cried that it wasn't fair and they wanted some candy, but I responded with it is her money and it is her candy bar. Haley carefully hid her candy bar and mistakenly announced to everyone that she had hidden it. Hourly and daily, she would announce that her candy bar was still intact and still hidden from the rest of the family. This is when Steve's mind started formulating the joke of Haley's lifetime. I'm not sure exactly how many days Steve waited, but his timing was perfect. Haley still had not eaten her candy bar or revealed her secret hiding place. I didn't even know where she was keeping this sweet treasure of chocolate. While I was quizzing Haley on her times tables, Steve walked in casually with a Butterfinger. The same size of Haley's precious purchase. He stood right in front of her eating it. He exclaimed, "I found your candy bar!!" Haley at first started to laugh, as did I, because we both thought that Daddy would not be so mean. But as time wore on and the candy bar disappeared the thought crossed both of our minds that, yes, he would do it if he really wanted it...he'd replace it...but he would eat it. So Haley's laughter became mixed with tears. She was still laughing and smiling, but tears were coming out of her eyes. That's when Steve thought the joke had gone far enough and admitted to going to the store just to get a candy bar to trick Haley. Oh the look on her face was priceless and the laughter that spilled out of both Steve and Haley was just precious. To get Steve to laugh his real laugh is a rare occurrence, but this day we got to hear it. As I write this you may be thinking that we are cruel, cruel parents to think that this kind of joke is funny to play on an 8 year old...

Then yes, I guess we are cruel...because it was VERY FUNNY.

Two good things that happened:

1. I finally got the front and back yard mowed.

2. My parents came to watch the girls last Thursday and then played tennis with me and a new friend. I'm so glad to have parents who still want to hang out with me.