Friday, April 29, 2016

Simply Fifteen

It's much too late to start typing up a post tonight, but I went for a late run and I'm too wired to sleep. Jon has an early morning meeting and went to bed earlier than usual, so I'm going to take advantage of the quiet and catch up a bit here once again. I should say it's mostly quiet because Michael is up getting a late night snack. He's always hungry and the refrigerator is mostly empty again... it looks like he'll be satisfied with a chunk of cheese. 

I came home from my run and realized that my suspicion is likely right. It smells like death in the boys' room, and it's not because of sweaty clothes or something rotten in someone's pocket or a plastic container of some sort of critter. A house we once lived in used to smell just like this every few months when a rabbit would get trapped under the house and die. Then the repulsive stench would rise up through the floor vents. Well, it's the same kind of stench. The boys have all the windows open and they are sleeping in layers of clothes because the night is cool. Jon went down into the crawl space but couldn't find anything. I wonder which of the boys will go down in the morning to investigate some more. I'd give a prize to anyone who finds and discards that rotting corpse, but if I know my boys well, finding the carcass will be the prize itself.

We are in the home stretch for the school year, and tomorrow will be the last flag football games before playoffs begin. Summer will be here soon. We are on the cusp of something new once again, so I am praying about how we should use our summer months. I'm also praying about new opportunities (which translate to making decisions) for the coming school year. Change. It's ironic that change is a constant, predictable part of life.


I've been super late posting pictures of Olivia. In fact, I was really late in taking her pictures this year. We like to schedule a little time during the month of her birthday to take some pictures each year, and this year was no exception. We had some fun ideas, but busyness and then the flu prevented me from following through as we had hoped. Her birthday past and our little annual photo shoot still hadn't happened. Eventually, we concluded we had no choice but to keep things super simple and close to home. We had the idea of twisting flowers into a crown (so many pretty examples online!), and gave ourselves about an hour one evening in between making dinner and racing to the airport to pick up Jon.

I like simple. I should never underestimate the power of simplicity. The simplicity of our photo plans was quite fitting because, after all, Olivia has an elegance about her that is simple and refreshing for her age.

In the morning I picked up a small bouquet at Trader Joe's while I grocery shopped, and some floral wire and tape at Michael's. I supplemented with some flowers from our yard and made the crown early in the afternoon, then placed it in the fridge on a plate between layers of damp paper towel. Later, Michael loaded the bike into the back of Jon's truck, and we took off in time for the golden hour. Our first two stops were just a few doors down the street from our house, then we went down to the train tracks nearby. 

This is my Olivia at 15...

We liked the tropical look of this background, and the dappled light

The train was coming, and she doesn't like loud noises. Never has.

I think resourcefulness is a quality every woman should strive for, no matter what her means. Resourcefulness is closely related to creativity and I have found it to open up many unexpected possibilities in life. I try hard to be resourceful, and this was an example. We chose this spot because it was close by, not because it is pretty at first glance. We knew there was some pretty grass along a path that runs by the tracks, and that the evening light would be shimmery. The problem is that the overall area is not great, and the background is cluttered (fence, RV's and cars, buildings, etc.). It wasn't ideal, so I had to be very selective about how I framed up the images.

I love the smiley pictures of Olivia. Her aqua braces and her prettiness combined is perfect for 15.

For those who are interested in these sorts of things (and to prove that expense is not necessary)~

Dress: Marshall's for $20 (We love it because it has a good lining, it has pockets, it is a good length in comparison to similar styles, and the zipper on the back is a fun contrast to the girlie-ness of the white)

Flowers: $10

Floral wire and tape: approx. $7 (only used a small portion of the rolls)

Bracelet: Inherited from Olivia's great-great aunt

Props: I think one of the tires on the bike has a hole now because there were goat heads everywhere. Michael will patch it for me if it does. Not sure what a patch costs, but we likely have what's needed int he garage.

Location and Pictures: Free

Tomorrow is here. Good night.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

For my daughter...

An article made it's way across my screen the other morning, and I read it because the topic of feminine beauty is of interest to me. After reading, I forwarded it on to Olivia's email account.

My heart is passionate about eternity, and I strive daily to instill within my children that our lives were made by God for eternity. The temporal is a mere vapor, here today and gone tomorrow, but scriptures reminds, persuades, and calls us to live in light of eternity.

Our culture does not see life this way. Rather, the temptation is set before us to live merely for the present, and to live in such a way as to amass the most glory and riches for ourselves. It can be subtle at times, but no matter how it is presented, it is always a wicked lie that doesn't deliver. In fact, it cannot deliver-- not in light of eternity, and not even in light of temporal personal satisfaction. We were made for so much more than this, lovingly created with a unique purpose by Almightly God.

There are many implications to this, but one of them has to do with biblical femininity. I want my daughter to grasp more fully that womanly strength and beauty delights the Lord when we understand our purpose and role. I want her to understand the grandeur of it's potential, even unto eternity. Not only is it a way to please our God, and to lay up treasures in heaven, but it has a trickle affect on those we influence. There is power in our created purpose that the world cannot comprehend, and therefore it cannot emulate.

We live in a contaminate world, and as a consequence we breathe in contaminants. I pray we are in the business of building up our immune system against our culture's disease-causing lies. I pray that our hearts and minds are solidly equipped with life-giving truth which will attack the deception we face all around.

I don't know what the Lord has planned for this girl of mine, but I am sure she is on the cusp of something exquisite if her life is lived for the glory of God! Like one who is blind folded or with hands over the eyes being lead to a surprise, I pray she follows with expectant hope and trust that he will lead her to wonderful and glorious things.


Trust the Lord with your whole heart and lean not on your own understanding.
Your worth is in him alone;
He alone can satisfy you with good for all of your days.
Follow Him with your whole being:
 You will shine bright in a dark world as 
God's face shines bright on you!


"Bless the Lord, O my soul...
...who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy, 
who satisfies you with good."
Ps. 103

If you are interested in the article that unclenched these thoughts for my daughter today, you can find it here:


Saturday, April 16, 2016

My Boys

Is it possible to be tired and restless? My eyes are dry and heavy, but I am impatient for something. Anything, really. I can't put my finger on it. Jon will be returning from an out-of-state trip soon, and we'll be going out for dinner after I meet him at the airport. I'm looking forward to this, so maybe that's where my impatience comes form.

We're at the end of another week and I am glad for it. Except for Olivia, who is more mature than the rest of us, we did the least amount of school we could get away with because we cannot stand the monotony inside when there are beautiful days outside. I least I can't. Since the boys would prefer to skip school altogether every day, no matter the weather, I think we struck a nice balance. We are all counting down the weeks till summer.

I've camped out in the Psalms this week, refocusing on some of my favorites. At a time when I needed to be reminded once again of God's deliverance in my life, the end of Psalm 91 was an encouragement to me. It was a reminder that God has not only saved me (as if that weren't enough), he has clearly saved me from situational/relational destruction. It did my heart some good to dwell on these verses:  

“Because he holds fast to me in love, I will deliver him;
    I will protect him, because he knows my name.
 When he calls to me, I will answer him;
    I will be with him in trouble;
    I will rescue him and honor him.
 With long life I will satisfy him
    and show him my salvation.”

I called and he did answer; he was with me in trouble and he rescued me. As much as I struggle with certain things in my life, I know this to be true.

And I praise him for it!


One of my favorite things in the spring is to walk out into my yard and gather flowers.
White roses may seem regular to native Californians, but they are some of my favorites. The climbing roses below are also special because they were given to me by a friend and have moved with us over the years.

This week I took the boys to Old Town for lunch. Olivia could not join us; I have a feeling that we'll increasingly be doing things as a smaller group as my growing kids get busier with their own lives and responsibilities. I would have preferred for her to be with us, but time with just the boys was fun, too.

There's always so much to look at. Are all boys fascinated by trinkets?!

Doing a little jig..

He had some coins that were burning a hole in his pocket. He held his four quarters tightly in his fist as he compared prices. This boy would spend all of his money on nicknacks and junky toys if he could!

We hung out in this courtyard for a while, looking at all the displays and taking our time. Michael was still feeling car sick. See him on the bench behind me?! Poor guy.

The gem and fossil store is always a hit with the boys. Michael bought a shark tooth, and I had to convince Jacob NOT to buy me anything. It was a sweet thought, but he'd have to borrow money. In contrast, Andrew is saving up for something and it never even occurred to him to bring a couple bucks to spend.

Still feeling queasy, but handsome nonetheless!

It just occurred to me now that I should have combed Jacob's hair in the morning. Most days, the younger two boys still forget.

After a bowl of soup and tortilla chips with salsa for lunch, we just had to go to the candy store. It's a tradition that their father started. We brought back some dark chocolate mints for Olivia.

I was late getting Olivia from school that day. Then we circled back home for a few moments, and off we went to Jacob's practice. Everyone else decided to come too... I feel like we're always a car-full of people and noise, covering miles of roadway each week.

Back home again, I had to figure out something for dinner. The younger two boys went to a nearby lot and gathered caterpillars. Tons of them. Again.

I think learning about nature this way is much better that learning it from a book. Or worse, never learning at all because wonderment and appreciation of God's creation was never nurtured. Kids have a natural curiosity, but in our culture many kids are not permitted time and opportunity to discover.

Watching with intensity

Still in cleats, he sent his pets off on a boat ride.

My three boys all enjoy cactuses and succulents. Michael started this trend, then Andrew took if a step further with cute little displays that I think he could profit from. Here's what Jacob did with the tiny pot he bought for $0.86 that day. He's hoping it will take root...

Life with my boys has certainly changed. They are growing, doing new things, acting differently than before... Their individual characteristics are becoming more evident, and, in various degrees, they are owning and developing interests and skills that match their personalities. I think the changes are cool to watch. I'm gradually seeing who they will become as men, and I thank the Lord for the privilege of being their mom. Someday, they will marry women that will know them still more. This last sentence caused me to pause with a little lump in my throat, but it is good and right. I am not raising them for me. My prayer and hope is that they would grow to love the Lord with their whole being, and serve him with the help of a loving wife perfectly suited for each of them.

We returned home from our games tonight pretty late. I had promised to make a stop at Starbucks (Jacob's gift card is burning a hole, too!) but the doors were locked when we got there. Instead of driving all over town trying to find one that was still open, I offered to make hot chocolate when we got home. As they showered up and I chopped up dark chocolate for the steaming milk, I made mental notes of this day with my boys:

*New shoes look like old shoes within days. Andrew's new shoes already have two holes in the canvas. I'm not sure how there could be holes on the top of the shoe, but there is apparently no explanation. The rubber edges of Jacob's new shoes came apart, so Jon tried to glue them. That was a nice thought, but they looked terrible and he recommended that I get some new ones. The glued ones are supposed to be "hacking around" shoes, but the newer pair already look similar. I don't think Vans were constructed for my kind of boys.

*Socks are an issue, too. I've long stopped turning them right side out when I fold laundry. And boys who wear holes in their socks because they "forget" to wear shoes when they climb trees or skateboard in yard have to buy their own socks now!

*I overheard Jacob and Andrew from their bathroom tonight: "I'm left to right... no, wait, you're left to right. I'm right to left." They were talking about which side to part their hair. Cowlicks complicate things regularly for them.

*We were in a rush leaving for Andrew's game tonight. Only Andrew and I seemed to be aware of this, so when I sent them to the car Michael was skateboarding, and Jack was playing ball with Olivia on the lane. Of course, Jack was in his socks without shoes. When I put the key in the ignition, everything was locked up solid. The key wouldn't turn, and the steering was locked. I made sure it was correctly in park, I checked the breaks... nothing. I was starting to sweat when I remembered to ask Seri what to do, and pretty soon we were on our way. Apparently one of the boys had been in the driver's seat pretending to drive. I'm still not sure what he did in there.

*Silliness is constant. It's out of control, and mostly it's funny. Michael is usually to blame. On the way to the game, he put on my felt hat and made incessant jokes. When we stopped at red lights he would lean close to his window and stare at the driver beside us, no doubt with a bizarre expression. Some find this funny, but when the light is long and Michael doesn't look away, most begin to get uncomfortable. My other kids find this hilarious. On other days, the younger boys enjoy playing Sweet or Sour with the unfortunate people we stop beside.

*The games tonight were great. Jacob's team is undefeated, and they are in second place so far. He played an awesome game, making an interception and touch down. He is getting fast and nimble, and his ability to be in the game (to stay concentrated) is improving drastically. Andrew played giants tonight, but he played well despite his nervousness. Andrew plays in a way that is very concentrated; he knows his plays well and enjoys strategizing.


A frequent prayer of mine as days close and new ones begin:

"Let your work be shown to your servants,
    and your glorious power to their children.
 Let the favor[a] of the Lord our God be upon us,
    and establish the work of our hands upon us;
    yes, establish the work of our hands!"

Ps. 90: 16-17