Saturday, October 15, 2011


As I sit here and write this post, my two older kids are outside playing in the bright cool fall air. We couldn't ask for a better day. Their giggles and laughs pour into our open windows while I listen to music and try to put together all of my thoughts. Jake sleeps and I am able to take a moment to myself. Quiet.

My mind is rarely quiet. I think on things, sometimes deep, sometimes pretty inconsequential topics but always going. This is what has been tumbling around here lately...

Mornings around this house is usually harried. If we don't have places to be, we have responsibilities that I want to instill in our family. We call it a routine as we aren't held captive to a strict schedule, but we do have a good rhythm. Rooms to be cleaned, breakfast to be eaten and hair to be brushed (that gets out of control fast - moms of daughters know what I am talking about!) Sometimes some quick words come out of my mouth, not harsh mind you but just stern. Barking orders to motivate my kids to get tasks completed. I rationalize as to why I have to bark at them but it is really necessary? How I must sound if I was to step away from myself and look on.

Then I think about Grace...

What does that look like as a parent? Do we never raise our voice to motivate our children? To instruct them about their next task at hand? There has to be a balance... So I continue thinking...

How does God parent us in our own disobedience? How does he motivate us to move for His purpose?

I have heard there are great resources about grace based parenting. I need to feed my inner curiosity and look into this all.  To search God's Word in how He loves us. How I want to crawl away and just be quiet and learn from the One true God who does have the answers. Life with 3 kids doesn't allow so much quiet but I take moments to still my voice and listen.

We settle into our daily rhythm and then my harsh words soften. My frustration and anxiety is cast aside for a time of purpose, learning and growing.  Kids settle down and start school and  I see this.

I scoop away the fork which was none too soon. Kylie softly instructs Jake in her math studies. She reads him her word problems and pretends that he has all the answers.

She holds him tighter as he fumbles around to get comfortable. She continues her work... I really don't think she even knew I was watching what was going on between the them. Then they lean in.

And he finally gets to his place. Moments like these are rare but when they happen they need to be praised. All the barking, all the parenting, all of it is just whisked away and we are thankful.

Thankful for the moments when we are together. Thankful for kind quiet words and soft embraces. Thankful for Grace...

2 Corinthians 4:15
All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011


When my Mom asked if I would go to California with her I jumped at the chance. While I don't think I would want to make my full time residence there again, part of my heart still remains in the City by the Bay. I was born and raised there and it still feels like home when I go back. I think the thing I like most about it is the variety of things that can be done there. One minute you are at the beach and the next  you can be up in the mountians under tall redwoods. Ahhh, I miss the redwoods... but we will get to those later.

My mom was a teacher in the Portola Valley School District for who knows how many years and I was able to go to K-5th grade there. The district was coming together to celebrate its 150 year anniversary so that was the reason for our trip. We also visited our Great Aunt Isabelle (Great, Great Aunt to Kylie, Luke and Jake) The trip was a whirlwind and I am still kicking myself for leaving my camera back at the hotel for our visit to Aunt Isabelle... Sigh.

But lets go back a bit.

The kids did a great job traveling. I loaded up their backpacks with what I thought would be fun things for them to do but you know what? They didn't touch it one bit. Actually though, they did get out their plain notebooks and used those for writing and coloring. What we all noticed though was the huge amount of laptops for movies and iPads. The great thing about this trip and the long plane ride was the abundance of connection and discussion that went on for most of the trip. Makes a Momma's heart full.

Of course we stopped at the gift shop to kill a little time.


Waiting to hop on our first plane!

The trip to Charlotte was just a blink in comparison to our flight to California. This picture was when we switched planes. The kids thought it was pretty awesome that we could be out on the tarmac!

Food was clearly entertainment as we used it to break up our trip. The kids thought they were hot stuff having cheese and crackers. Of course they got some unfamiliar cheese and then ate my sandwich instead... Sigh.

For the rest of the 5 hours we just looked at the view and wondered when we would fly over Arizona to wave at our friends who recently moved there. It was fun listening to the stories of the kids and their desire to parachute out of the plane to meet them! Um, no.

Our trip to California was pretty uneventful. I wished I was able to get a great picture of both of the kids passed out on me but I was too afraid to move lest I wake them up. That hour of silence was precious to me. I was able to listen to the loud hum of the engine and just chill. This picture pretty well sums up the way we all felt when we landed. To think of it though, it was 8pm Eastern time.

Things sparked up when we hit the hotel. I wish I had a running picture log of "things you only see in California" but most of the things couldn't be featured on this blog... Hey, this a family blog ya know! I digress but in the first 5 minutes of us landing in Ca, Luke asks me "um, Mom? Why is that bald guy wearing a dress?" Great... Anyhoo, I have never seen a compost garbage bin before so since we compost now at home, the kids thought it was pretty cool. Thus these pics.

After checking out the room we headed over to Aunt Isabelle's. I sure hope I feel as well as she looked when  I hit 103. Heck, when I hit 70! She is an amazing woman with so much wisdom to share. I wish we could have spent hours listening to her stories about her life. I know she must have a few. We had plans of wonderful pictures with four generations of women but Aunt Isabelle kind of threw us by wanting us to kidnap her away from The Towers. Our minds ran to her safety first and all plans kind of went haywire. For now, we will keep the memory alive in our minds and reflect on them often.

The next morning we headed down to what we now call "The Breakfast Place" where we refueled on none other than COFFEE! Yes, this is my boy with our coffee. Love him!

Kylie sipping on something more civilized... Hot chocolate.

We headed out after breakfast to check out my Mom's Alma Mater Stanford. On the way there we passed this... Any guesses? ;)

The campus is beautiful and so we stopped to take a look at some of the main buildings. 

Then we checked out... er stalked my old house in Portola Valley. There were two small dogs barking at us on the deck so we peeked then ran!

We loved this driveway and the kids thought it was crazy that it was so steep. I remember when I was five, the snow had fallen and there was a lot of ice. My mom was bound and determined to make it to school so we were going to walk to the bus stop. Well, remember the ice? We fell down the whole driveway and my moms knees were so scraped up I think she still has scars. My memories were flying down on my back. Fun times!

Our next stop was my old Elementary school. They had redone some of it but the basic structure was still the same. So many great memories there that I was able to share with my kids!

One being tether ball. I still beat them...

After almost making the kids cry, I decided to head out and hit another memory of my childhood. Webb's Ranch. When I was a kid we would go there to pick out our fresh vegetables. Because it was fall, it was filled with pumpkins and wonderful things for the kids to do. 

I had never seen some of these varieties of pumpkins and it made me want to load up my suitcases and take some home with me. Yep, my kids talked some sense into me so I didn't.

Finally made it to the Portola Valley School District picnic and we had so much fun! There were many things for the kids to do. We were able to meet most of my teachers and some old classmates. There was memorabilia from years past which was fun to look through.

During all the hustle of the day though, we noticed a grove of Redwoods. My kids love hearing stories of my childhood and playing in the trees and outdoors was one of my fondest memories. I was an only child so being outside was one way to entertain myself, loosing myself in my own imagination. So we all sat in the grove listening to the quiet of the wind and telling stories of my playtimes. How awesome these trees are!

We re-entered the fun and chose to hang out in an art studio. The teacher was more than happy to pull out some fun materials for the kids to work on.  

Kylie chose to draw her surroundings. We had talked about the dry grasses on the hillside and the chapparal that covered  a lot of the land we traveled through. California does not get a lot of rain during the summer months so the grasses turn all brown.

One thing that took me by surprise was Kylie's determination. Sometimes when she gets discouraged she quits but these monkey bars were begging for her to go all the way across. She worked so hard figuring out the different levels and bends. Blisters started appearing on her hands but she would not give up. Finally she made it through and I have never seen her so proud! After a few more times making it across, she came running up to me in tears. The blisters had ripped and she was in a lot of pain. She sucked it up and again mentioned how thrilled she was to make it across. (they looked really bad!)

She thought it was safer to just play house!

After the get together, we still had some hours until the car needed to be back so to the City we went!

I think my Mom would rock at Amazing Race! I think we hit as many landmarks as humanly possible in just a few hours!

Hmmm... I wonder where her love for walls comes from?

And what is a trip to SF without a little street vendor fun? This guy was painting with spray paint. They had loud music playing to lure you in and wow, did it work. They had a crowd!

No trip to SF is complete without seeing the seals at Fisherman's Wharf. Wait, no... these aren't the seals!

These are the seals!

Alcatraz out in the distance.

The Golden Gate Bridge - rather foggy!

Pretending like it really had a quarter in it. Am I the only one who refuses to pay for these things?

Transamerica Building.

Wish I got a picture of this Merry Go Round! It was double decker and my kids had to ride on it! My Mom obliged them and you would think it was Christmas morning! Kylie and Luke of course headed right to the top.

And lastly a great dinner at Alioto's. A Fisherman's Wharf icon. Yes, we feasted on sourdough bread too. Mmmmm.

After dinner we walked alongside the sidewalk markets. Such great memories for me as I remember doing this often as a kid. Bowls full of chowder....happy sigh...

Morning greeted us with an awesome sunrise and so we headed off to the airport. Sad to go but so happy to be returning home to Jon and Jake. We missed them so much and wished we could have shared our weekend with them!

Bye California!!! We will be back!