This weekend we celebrate two birthdays, mine and A.J.'s. 9 years ago I was due on my birthday but AJ waited two more days to come into the world. This year my birthday landed on Friday and I woke up to cards on the table from my sweet husband and kids. Mike was already at work but he was nice enough to leave things out for me to find. As each kid woke up they ran right to me to say Happy Birthday and give me hugs and kisses. I loved that they remembered immediately upon waking. My favorite Father-In-Law had invited us all to breakfast to celebrate so off we went to IHOP.
Gabby and I shared a huge plate of crepes and cheesey-bacon potatoes and eggs. It was delicious and lots of fun. With breakfast over we went back home and I decided to clean out my van (hey, we don't do school on birthdays so I had an opportunity and I seized it.) For some reason cleaning out the van is therapeutic for me. Plus the sun was shining and it was gorgeous outside! G.G. (kids great-grandma) stopped by with a card and a fabulous $50 GC for Barnes and Noble for me and we played with Ivan a bit.
Jillian and I tucked in for some naps. Ahhh. At 4pm Mike and I left to go see Alice in Wonderland at Muvico. If I have never mentioned this theater I should now. It is fantastic! We go to the 21 and over theater which has huge rocking 'love seat' style couches, a restaurant right outside and best of all..no youngsters! (See, how that old age is creeping into my vocabulary?)
When we arrived we were told that it was a BOGO day for the VIP theater so we only had to pay for one ticket! SCORE! It was a little early and we were hungry so we stopped at Bogart's-which is located right outside of the screening room. We ordered the most delicious caesar salad and steak sliders. YUM!
The movie was fantastic. I admit I was skeptical of a bastardized version of Alice. I tend to be an Alice purist. But I was comfortable with this as it wasn't an adaptation of the original works but rather a sequel of sorts. There was really only one scene I felt did not 'fit' with the movie, aside from that it was very well done. One thing I noted that was quite funny was that the mouse was a composite character of both the dormouse and mouse from the original story. They took elements of both those characters and merged them into one. I found this funny since these are the characters the girls are each playing in our performance next month.
Today I am headed out to P.F. Chang's with my mom, sister, and her lovely mother-in-law. I am looking forward to visiting with her again and also hanging out with Mom and Laura.
Tomorrow is AJ's birthday party which will be an old style family picnic type party at the ranch. We will have three-legged races, egg and spoon, water bucket brigade etc.. And for dessert a cupcake decoratng contest to be judged by the adults. I know it will be a fun day. Ginny is suck with a sore throat today so my hope is that she will feel better tomorrow. We have had such a terrible time with sickness this year but if facebook is any indication it seems to be the case for a lot of people this year. :(
"The Middles" That is what I call the trio that is AJ, Ginny and Caleb. They are all that is noisy, rambunctious and silly in this family. Which is not to say the others are not but these threes are even more so. Recently and sadly Mike's Aunt Terry passed away and so he drove to Nevada to attend the services. He decided to take The Middles with him and his mom, they could not have been more excited to go on an unexpected trip. None of them had met Mike's Aunt so they were not as affected by having to attend a funeral as they would have been had they known her. To them this was just for fun. This left me home alone with 3 girls. Ok, I guess that means I wasn't home alone but let me assure you, it was QUIET around here. Almost eerie. The older girls are very self sufficient and happy to be reading or writing. Jillian is great at hanging around with me, playing toys or singing to herself. We happened to have a busy weekend so that is why we did not all go on the trip. The girls had swim team and a swim meet, some Dr. appointments, we had a protest to attend (more on that later) and an event at church, plus the girls had their favorite event of the year...the Sunday School All-Nighter at church.
This meant that on Friday night I was home with JUST Jillian. How strange that was! I ended up hanging out and eating dinner at the Sunday School party, Jilly and I did some late evening grocery shopping and then the little stinker fell asleep on the floor at 9:30! Which she never does. It may sound like heaven but it was quiet, lonely and boring. I discovered I need the happy chaos surrounding me or I get a little twitchy.
But this post is supposed to be about The Middles. I got a call the first day and I heard AJ's voice telling me that they had stopped and played in the snow. He was overjoyed and it was a lot of snow, not just the little bit we sometimes get around here. My sweet husband, God bless him- brought his camera and took a lot of pictures (Nanny actually took the pictures so he is actually IN them.)
Ah....there's my man and my sweet baby boy! He hasn't stopped kissing me and loving on me since he got back. Mike's been pretty happy to see me too.
And there is my other boy out there!
And there is my Ginger! Do you see her? Look close.
Looks like the beginnings of a good snowball fight!
That's my girl! She's got spunk!
That hair is just too much.
The snowball fight gets sneaky. Is Caleb ducking down there or is he totally in the dark about what is about to happen?
Genevieve spots the camera, she looks ready to strike!
She changed her mind and went for AJ instead. Looks like Caleb tried to stop her...
Looks like she saved some up for Daddy!
Who threw that? says Daddy.
And there is my wild and crazy Ginge. Even in the snow she's still wearing a skirt. That girl won't wear anything but skirts.
A day or two later all I heard about was the giant mammoth. They all went to the Nevada State Museum and Ginny was particularly excited to see how big it was.
Caleb sure loved the agility course In Mark and Kim's backyard...oh and the dogs too...they all talked about the dogs.
I am so glad they had a good time and I even more glad that are all back home. We are complete again.
I was inspired by my good friend Anissa's recent blog post where she gave a short summary of things that were coming up throughout 2010. I began to ponder on what things I would have to look forward to this year. I don't think I have mentioned that Jillian passed the 20 month mark 2 months ago and so this is officially the longest I have been 'not pregnant'. This is a strange feeling for me as any other year I would be posting that I was looking forward to the arrival of a new baby. Instead I have other things to anticipate this year.
* The first thing is a big order from Amazon. I am not a binge shopper anymore and in fact I have been the complete anti-shopper since we dedicated ourselves to being debt free and to bulking up several months worth of living expenses. We now live on a cash only system, I do not use debit except for gas and we do not use credit cards anymore. We have learned that something saved for, means more, and is appreciated more...at least around here. Plus it's a great feeling to always know exactly how much cash you have left for the month at a quick glance. Holy digression! All of that merely to say this. Have you ever jokingly said to someone, "Well maybe we have some long lost relative who will leave us money?" I've said it. Completely joking of course. Well, it actually happened to our family. We really had a long lost relative in France who passed away (and brief tangent, I am sad that I did not know her or know of her and I would love to hear any stories regarding her if any family is reading this that may have such information) and left a small sum of money to the family.
After about a year of entanglements with the French and American Governments we now have the inheritance...minus about 80% in fees. (Robbery if you ask me.. another digression) Tonight we had a wonderful family dinner at Musashi with all Four of us married couples (Been dying to say that!) and my kiddos. Mom and Dad presented each of us with an envelope containing touching handwritten notes from mom and some cash for us all...you haven't lived until you have seen a 4 year old open a card with a $50 bill inside of it. Too cute! So long story getting LONGER. We have these terrible, flaking calphalon cooking pans. We are probably dying as I type this from ingesting the little flakes and the kids are starting to think that Mac n Cheese is supposed to have little black specks.
So after a bit of discussion we decided to spend half of the inheritance to restock the kitchen. Out go the nasty pans and in comes the new pans. This is definitely a worthwhile investment here as I cook from scratch a whole lot, they will be used daily. I have been building a stash of cast iron pans as I have found they are definitely my cookware of choice and they will last long enough to be passed down to my grandkids. Today I ordered several enameled cast iron dutch ovens and pots. Also an electric (and why didn't spellcheck notice I spelled that electirc at first?) teakettle for my little girlie teadrinkers, a steamer insert, a marble rolling pin, biscuit cutters and some fiestaware pieces. I will take pictures of our Christmas in January when it all arrives. It was very exciting to get to do it.
Phew! Moving On!
*Softball season! Part looking forward to, part dreading. Gabby will play in 12 and unders and Ginny has decided to continue playing mini-sox. Should be fun, or harrowing...or both.
*Marriage Retreat! I don't have a nursling (well I do but she can go two or three days without doing it so I don't count it as a needy nursling) this year so we can go to Pismo for the annual marriage retreat. I am SO looking forward to that time and also hoping that we can share the trip with Chad and Laura this year since Laura is a married lady now . ( Teehee! I said it again!) I am really looking forward to some special time with my man and some fun in the sun and fellowship with friends.
*Seattle with Anissa. TBD. Not sure when we will go this year but the 2nd annual Seattle trip WILL happen at some point because Anissa and I need to eat a lot more seafood.
*AJ's 9th birthday and the remodel of the boys room. Space/StarWars theme. And possible the moving out of Jillian later in the year.
*Camping in Yosemite! In the works is a camping trip to Yosemite. Hopefully Jeff and Kelli will be going with us and Mom and Dad if they want to (but I haven't invited them yet so Mom if you are reading this, you are invited to go along too.) We plan to do some cave exploration, hiking, fishing, squirrel following, campire singing, game-playing and whatever else we decide to do. Cooking with cast iron pans probably. ;) Cornbread anyone?
* Swim team. We like it. We love it. We want more of it.
* Diabetes Camp. I am hoping to get Gabby accepted into a sleepaway diabetes camp this year. I am so excited to give her the opportunity to meet other kids who live day to day in the way that she does. And also send her to a place where I do not have to worry about her getting the best possible care she can while she has a load of fun.
*Ginny turns 7, 7!!
*Maddy and Gabby turn 12. My hands are shaking. Did I type that? 12? Last year before I have two teenagers in the house. It feels like they already are teenagers though. They act like them. Hmpf.
* Being debt free!!! We will have all debt except the mortgage paid off this year. And let the freedom ring!
My fingers hurt now so I'll give it a rest and you can wait for updates as the year progresses. Carpal tunnel. Ack. Fingers cramping......
One fun thing about the kids getting older is that everyone wants a share in the workload of Thanksgiving Dinner. I am sure this has my mom doing a little happy dance. So many years she prepared the large majority of the meal herself. This year I am responsible for the mashed potatoes, green beans, pies, cranberry sauce and cornbread. I won't be preparing all of that myself either because now I am actually old enough to have kids who want to share in MY workload. HEAVENLY! Maddy is making an apple pie, Gabby is making pumpkin pies, Ginny is making the cornbread and the boys will be assisting me in making the cranberry sauce. It's going to be a great meal because so much love and togetherness goes in the making.
I have been blogging for a long time. I've always been a writing/journaling type girl so blogging always sort of fell in line with my way of expressing myself. I didn't have a computer from the time I could breathe like a lot of people- shh..I am a little bit old, I remember when no one had a computer and they were huge, clunky and cost about $15,000. We got our first computer when AJ was born, roughly 8 1/2 years ago. There were no 'blogs' per se back then. Or if there were they were probably a bunch of techno jargon written by programmers. So me, wanting to share my experiences and pictures of my family, started a website at the now defunct geocities. This before it was Yahoo! Geocities. Before Google. Does anyone remember when Yahoo was new? They were going to take over the world until a little engine that could called Google started picking up steam and crawled over the hill chugging , 'I think I can! I think I can!" Yahoo is still there of course, but it stands in the shadow of Google, and Geocities is no more. I didn't even realize it was gone until I tried in vain to seek out my old site.
After awhile I abandoned the geocities website and for a millisecond tried my hand at coding on Angelfire. Being a mom to three little ones I just did not have time to learn it all and so I quit blogging for awhile. About a year later I found a site called Diaryland and it was my first introduction to the actual 'blogging' format. It was actually called a weblog and not just a personal family website. There was nothing fancy about Diaryland. You could customize your font, give the blog a title and choose a background a font color. Life got busier and busier for me and I only posted on it for a short while.
In 2004 blogging had taken over the web. Not to the extent it has today but the Mommy blog certainly existed. I decided to give it a shot. I still enjoyed writing, pouring out my thoughts and feeling, sharing my daily adventures with the blog reading public. A month or so before Ginny, my 4th child turned 1 I started Pieces Of Us. I don't remember why I chose Typepad, other than that I was confused by Blogger and not a fan of the style. There weren't a lot of bloghosting sites at that time, at least not for the amateur blogger, so Typepad it was. And so began years of blogging. Since I began blogging has exploded, it's morphed into microblogging- enter Twitter. I guess I am just old school because I tried to tweet but just haven't' been able to love it like I do blogging. I like to sit down, ponder and write it all out. Snippets are not my way, I am long winded! I need more than 300 words.
Blogging has not only been a way for me to share with others, it has so many other benefits. I have used it as a cross reference of my life. When I can't remember a specific date, event, cute kid quote...I have probably blogged about it and I can find it. Mommy Blogs are the best friend of those with Mommy BRAIN. No more of the "Which kid was it that used to..." It's like a scrapbook without the mess of glue dots and deckle scissors. I can't imagine not blogging. It's a peek in the windows for the outside world, and a peek back through time for me.
Just for fun I am linking a smattering of old posts, sort of a patchwork quilt of words.
For weeks Mike has been planning to surprise AJ with a special day at Magic Mountain . This morning we got up and Mike told AJ that he was going to go run errands and to get on his shoes. AJ did so and off they went. A little bit later I got the cutest phone call from AJ. He was so excited when I answered the phone.
"Hi mom!" he said, his voice about 5 octaves higher than normal, "We're at MAGIC MOUNTAIN!"
They should be home in about an hour and I cannot wait to hear how their day went. Special times like these I know he will remember for a long long time and so will his daddy.
It's a fair assessment to say that our whole family is addicted to books. One can surmise that just by stepping into the living room. There are bookshelves in every room, even the bathroom. What can I say, we love to read. Mike and I both love to get into a good book when we have the time and our kids have always observed this and picked the habit up themselves.
Maddy is known to be our most avid reader. She is always reading, in the kitchen, the car, the line at the grocery store. Usually she is in the middle of about 4 books at once. Currently she is firmly entrenched in the Warriors series . No kidding, it's a series about warrior cat clans. But she loves it and it keeps her reading so we enjoy seeing her devour them. Other favorites are Nancy Drew, which are probably her top pick, Harry Potter, Maximum Ride, Inkheart series and Redwall. It's obvious that fantasy and mysteries are her main choice.
Gabby is not far behind her. She is also an avid reader. She enjoys books with an animal theme and also is into the Maximum Ride series. She also enjoys classic books as well. She is the child who finishes a book and then insists that I must read it too because it is SO GOOD. Usually I do and she is correct, it is that GOOD.
AJ is a lover of books despite his reading struggles. I am determined that dyslexia will not make him hate reading and so we read together every day and he is really improving. We have found that reading graphic novels and comics really help him in his reading mastery.It's ben a tough road for AJ but the fact that he really WANTS to read helps him move forward, It's a pleasure to see him move past decoding after all this time and actually read.
Ginny is known for getting the most obscure books at the library. This is just SO Ginny. These are the books that no one else has probably thought of checking out. The ones that have been sitting there in the library for years. But Ginny gets them and we end up enjoying them together. She has found a lot of tresures this way. She is well on her way to independent reading and I am certain that the girls room will soon have all three girls burning the midnight oil each night.
Caleb is at the age where he enjoys his favorites read over and over. Mike Mulligan and his Steamshovel, Make Way for Ducklings, Olivia, Curious George, Harry the Dirty Dog...these are all frequently read around here. Caleb has surprised me and done really well during our regular reading time. He sits and colors or draws quietly while I read and pays close attention to the story I am reading.
And that brings me to Jillian. Jillian is so different from my other kids. She shows no interest at all in television and has never sat and watched a tv program. She will sit for hours and look at books with one of us however. I couldn't be more tickled. She begs each night for "more stow-eeeees". She likes books with animals or brightly colored photographs, books that have soft places to tough, books with flaps. She is an 'active' reader. She is not fully patient with hearing the story but we talk about everything in the pictures and she points out all the things she sees. This makes her very happy. I actually distracted her from nursing today by asking if she wanted a story. She jumped right up and ran to her bookshelf. This pleases me very much because I can see that she is growing up into a full fledged toddler.
So there you have it, a legacy of reading in our little (or not so little) household.
While looking for a particular photo I got drawn into the worthwhile time suck that is looking at old photos. Sometimes I pull up a photo that seems like it was very recent only to look at the date and find two years has passed. How does this happen? I am not generally a super nostalgic type of person. I am not a clinger-on to the past. But I do look back fondly on simpler times. I would never trade what I have now to go back, I love the big, crazy, chaotic jumble that is our life. But the memories of earlier years are so sweet too and I am thankful for blogging, videos and photographs that remind me of them. If not for that, I would not have this sweet one to look upon...
Look at that sweet, exhausted little girl! So enamored to hold the baby brother that she watched being brought into the world!
Sometimes there are memories of sadness. :(
And the sleeping kids! Oh how I love the sleeping kids!!
Kids playing mama, be still my heart...
Very scary hair.
The not so happy things that have also molded and shaped our family into what it is now.
It never ceases to amaze me that I grew them all. It's like a surreal dream where you are one person and the next minute your are completely someone else. Not a bad someone else, but someone else entirely.
I can rest assured knowing I have treasured every moment and taken nothing for granted.
Where has it gone? This year is like lightning! Here are the first lines of a definitive post from each month in 2008:
January So I was joking with Mike that we should change the baby's middle name
to Clementine since I have eaten so many of them (if it's a girl of
February Jillian Clementine Munoz was born on 2-28-2008 at 2:28 a.m. That's a lot of two's and eight's! March Caleb's new favorite word is "wub" which of course means Love. He is
constantly coming up to one of us and saying, "I wub you MOM! I wub
you Gabby!" It's so sweet.
April A Doctor walked into a room wearing a long face and told a very sick
little girl that she had Type One Diabetes. I felt feelings of relief
mixed with fear. Relief to know what was wrong and to be validated.
Fear of the unknown and what this would mean for her life. May On our walk today Ginny noted some graffiti on a wall. "Who wrote on this wall!?" she commented to herself, "Maybe a little child!" June The good news is Gabby's nose is most likely not broken. July Maddy and Gabby have been working on their recipes for their fair
entries. I explained to them that if they were going to enter
something in the fair I wanted it to be truly their work with no help
from me. So with that I turned them loose in the kitchen totally
August I am not the type that puts babies in front of TV much but there are
times when I need to be able to put Jillian down and get some things
done. There is only one thing that totally mesmerizes her and it's
Signing Time. September This year we had a stalemate. The boys all wanted to go on a camping
trip. While I love the mountains I have no desire to be crammed in a
trailer with a baby so all of us girls wanted to go to the beach. October I came across some pictures today. I had to hop on my old computer
because that one is attached to a scanner and I wanted to scan in some
photos from when my girls were born. That as when I saw it. A file
folder I had never opened. November Never ever tell a child they will not have to have a shot. Even if the Dr's assure you that such is the case. Don't do it!
December This is one of my little "mom" things that I love doing. Once in
awhile i notice one of the kids has done something without being asked
and without the idea that they may get recognition for it.
Lisa- The Blogger
This is me. I like to think I am complex and multi-faceted but I think much of the time I am a silly, zany, free-spirited person who really enjoys life. I like to make people happy, I like to be happy. I am a sanguine through and through. I love crafting, Pinterest, gathering ideas, computer stuff, watching movies, sleepovers and hugging on my offspring. I don't like internet haters who assume to 'know' me just by what they read here. There is a reason this is called 'Pieces' Of Us. It's just a small peek in the window. You may think you know, but you have no idea.
Mike- The Sportsman
Mike is more than just a sportsman but he does like to shoot a deer now and then. In his other spare moments which are few and far between he is taking college courses to finish his degree or tending to his pack as Cubmaster. He loves to spend time with the kids and they think he is pretty great even if he is a goofball who loves to embarrass them.
Madeline- The Free Spirited Bohemian One
This kid could be happy with just some books, a drawing pad and a pencil. She has an aptitude for art and has really excelled at drawing over the past year. She is patient and kind but has a mischievous twinkle in her eye. Maddy is dependable, if you want something done, she's your girl and she does it with a cheerful spirit.
Gabriella- The Creative Ray of Light
Gabby has sparkle, she has pizzazz, she has talent. She is the kid you never have to tell to practice the piano instead you tell her to take a break. She loves to chat with her friends on the computer (what teen doesn't?) and write stories with her twin sister. She's a practical joker and has a terrific sense of humor. Did I mention she is also a talented actress as well?
AJ- The Deep Thinker
This boy is going places! AJ is always thinking. He is a true philosopher pondering the whys of everything but he is also an inventor/engineer also determining the hows. He spends hours building and taking things apart. We worry that he will one day blow up the house but for now he is pretty darn useful at optimizing our computers and rewiring things that break around here.
Genevieve Audrey- The Spunky One
Spunky doesn't even begin to describe it. She is a social butterfly and she loves to sit and chat as long as her victim will listen. Ginny is a tiny little thing but her spirit is huge and she's smart to boot. She is proving to be an excellent big sister and is teaching Jilly the ropes.
Caleb Allen- The Littlest Man
He doesn't like it when you run your fingers through his hair so we do it all the more. Caleb is just so cute and snuggly. He is always full of enthusiasm whether it be positive or negative. He either really loves something or he doesn't like it at all. We love him regardless.
Jillian Clementine- The Boss
She may be small but she makes up for it big time. Jillian likes to let people know who is in charge and we often have to take her down a peg... or five. She says funny things so often that she has her own blog Jillyish. She loves to use huge words like intrusive and incredible or any other adjective that shouldn't come out of a three year old. She will also tell you that she is too shy to say Hi but don't believe it because she is pure drama.
Jess..ica- She hiccups
She may not be blood but we claim her as one of us. Honestly, I don't know what I'd do without her around. She makes us laugh and she can sing like a hamster. Everyone needs a friend with a hamster voice. Now she'll probably ask me to take this down but I'm not gonna. Because we love her.