Anniversary Celebration during COVID

December 20, 2020

Oh my goodness today was a special day. Steve and I celebrated our 23rd wedding anniversary! The kids, first time I remember it being something that was of interest to them in celebrating, wanted to make the day special for us. How sweet is that! Natalie and Jacob whispered in delight a secret surprise plan for us. There were two requests: 1) that we would help them get some things from the store, and 2) that we would make sure we didn’t come into the kitchen until they were done. Initially Natalie had tried to convince Jacob that they could ride their bikes to Trader Joe’s and get the ingredients themselves, which is something they’ve done before. However, in this time of COVID and the fact that the pandemic has lingered on for sooooooo long (March 2020 through December 2020 and it’s stillllllllllll going on) and with all the stories of increased cases and Los Angeles being the most infected county in the most infected state in the most infected country, Jacob said he really feels uneasy going to stores right now. I get that. It is unnerving, certainly, how many cases of COVID there are right now. There have been unprecedented outbreaks and cases; we continue to stay home as much as possible, wear masks all the time when we go out, and try to stay vigilant about not hanging out with other people. We all wish this pandemic would be over already. Just last week the first vaccine was released. But now there’s even talk about the virus having mutated to a different strain, which could be even more contagious. Oh how I pray that this will end soon.

LA County624,0008,875
San Bernardino County160,0001,327
Riverside County147,0001,744
Orange County127,0001,775
San Diego County127,0001,280
California1.89 million22,736

But we can still celebrate an anniversary! So Steve took Natalie to Trader Joe’s. She went in to buy the groceries while Steve waited outside….she wanted it to be a complete surprise! This was midday Saturday Dec 19th. Little did I know that the very things I picked out from the pantry and refrigerator were ingredients for the dinner they had prepared! Ohhhhhh nooooooo!!! So when Steve and Natalie came back from their 5 mile run (World Vision training) and I proudly pulled out of the oven a spaghetti/chicken parmigiana baked casserole, oh the look on Natalie’s face! That was the VERY thing that she and Jacob had planned to make for our anniversary. They too had the great idea of making use of the leftovers from Jacob’s baked chicken from the Friday night dinner he had made! Oops. So back to the drawing board. More whispering. More secret surprise conversations between the two of them.

So Saturday evening Steve drove Natalie back to the store. This time she asked if she could go to Bristol Farms- for a nice “shee shee” protein, as she called it. Steve let her know that the butchers there are always very friendly and able to chat about the meats. And indeed that is what she did, as she recounted to us later. She walked up to the butcher counter and let the man know that she and her brother were hoping to make a nice anniversary dinner for their parents. After listening to her, he kindly said he was the seafood guy and would go get the man in charge of the steaks. He went and explained the situation to the other butcher, who came and chatted with Natalie. He asked her if she had a budget and she said ‘no’. So apparently he recommended to her some dry-rub aged new york something or other that weighed in costing $98. As he began to wrap the steaks, Natalie said “excuse me sir, do you have something that costs less??” She said she was imagining coming out of the store explaining to Dad that she spent almost a hundred dollars on steak and figured that was too much. Smart girl! And how proud we were of her that not only had she gone into the store by herself, but that she felt comfortable talking to the butcher, AND that she didn’t hesitate stopping the butcher from wrapping up those steaks. I think other people might have already felt committed to those steaks, not feeling free to say something to the butcher; Steve and I included. So she came home with rib eye steaks; but we didn’t know about it.

Sunday morning Dec 20th, Steve and I headed out for a drive in the MR2 convertible. That’s a fun little sports car we bought this year (Steve saw it in Redondo Beach on one of his bike rides along the coast). So we went for a top-down drive up the coast. But first we drove up the 405 to Mulholland Drive, to Bel Air Presbyterian Church, where we had gotten married 23 years ago. The parking lot was gated; closed. But we parked on a little dirt patch overlooking the valley and there had our in-car picnic lunch. Steve had picked up yummy sandwiches for us, so we sat there eating our food, grateful for this opportunity to be out while our growing-up fast kids were at home.

Off we drove….. Sunset Blvd, then up Mandeville Canyon, then to PCH….and up through Malibu. A beautiful drive. How grateful we are that only 5 days before Christmas, late in December, we have such glorious amazing winter weather. Glorious sun. Warm enough for me to be in a sleeveless floral blouse! Both of us with our sunglasses on, basking in the sun with the roof down on this convertible. Truly a beautiful way to spend the day.

As we were returning to the area, exiting the 405 at El Segundo Blvd, all of a sudden it dawned on me that Natalie had asked that we give them a 15-minute heads up via text before coming home. So I sent a hello to our “Fam Fam” group text. Funny thing…..we were told that we could not come home yet. So sweet- they were busily making last minute preparations. So off we went to the beach to soak in the sunset.

When it was time to go home we were met with the MOST amazing smells coming from the kitchen!!! It was still not quite time yet, but we both really needed to go to the bathroom, so we came home and walked to the back house where Omie used to live and used the bathroom there. As we walked past the kitchen I took one look in the window and my heart just leapt with delight….there stood my two teenage children working together at the kitchen counter.

They prepared for us the most exquisite steak and mashed potato dinner! Yes, they grilled steaks all on their own!!! And the most creative red velvet heart-shaped cakes for dessert. Absolutely incredible that we have such giving, responsible children who are both willing and able to celebrate and surprise us! So so so grateful.

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Looking back over 2017

The year in review….


Steve building our outdoor fireplace


The inauguration of Donald President as 45th President of the United States


Maddie and Clawdia got fixed, to keep the neighborhood tom cats away


Natalie’s perfection of her peanut butter cookies


Jacob spending time being mentored in robotics by Donald, from FLL 2nd Life Team


Time with the Cousins at a home that Grammy & Grandpa rented in Temecula


Jacob tried cello classes for half a year


The year we had to put Charlie down to sleep. What a faithful doggie.


1st time being filmed! For a Netflix video about LEGO


Many glorious hikes with our Tuesday “Adventure Club” friends


SpaceX relanded the 1st stage of a Falcon 9 rocket!!!! Back onto a barge!!!


Natalie as ‘Rafiki’ in Lion King Jr. (Haven Academy of the Arts)


Snow White and the Inland Oil Spill, Animal Allies Season

FLL 16555, The Masterminds (Xavier, Noah, Natalie, Tensaye, Jacob)


Trip to Carrizo Plains to see the big bloom


Competed at FLL World Festival in Houston, Texas


Steve’s Grandma & Grandpa Wallis celebrated their 70th Wedding Anniversary


End of an era at Music Rhapsody                                                                                              (started when Jacob was 6 months old, ended when he was 11 1/2 years old)


How can we be old enough to have a kid in Junior High??? This was Jacob’s 1st ever drop off at a J-Hi beach event organized by OCF (Oceanside Christian Fellowship).           

A heart-gripping moment of reality for this mama.


Enjoying summer with Daddy in the backyard


Summer creations (Natalie’s piñata cake & Jacob’s reconstruction of the German robot)

pa with us

Did came to live with us for 2 weeks after Grandma Ursula had her hospital emergency. A new chapter of life begins for Dide now……out of Ursula’s house to a Memory Care Unit.


Natalie is double digits!!


Jacob’s exciting 1st use of pneumatics; post-season learning


My babies are growing up. They’re riding bikes to summer camp now.


Steve perfects the lemon drop.  Now I don’t have to wait for a date night to Houston’s.  Steve helps me make it through the summer and fall months of my father’s transition.


The excitement of a new FLL season: Hydrodynamics                                                             Now the Masterminds are a team of 2


Natalie begins oboe lessons with Teacher Alina!


A historic day! Natalie gets to meet a real-live penguin, in person, for the 1st time!!!! Headed to the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach for this Animal Encounter!


Whether it’s lorikeet birds, penguins, dogs, cats, bunnies… name it….Natalie LOOOOOOOOVES animals!


& playing with Friends LEGO sets; especially when Daddy plays along with silly stories

being launched off the blob

Jacob’s 1st time away at summer camp; OCF J-Hi went to Hume Lake


The year that Natalie thoroughly enjoyed baking and decorating cakes


Jacob asked to get baptized!!!!! In his amazing love and maturity he waited to come back home from Hume and get baptized at the ocean so that we, his parents, could be there. So happy that Jacob looks up to his J-Hi leaders Ryan Guzman and Jack Shodall!


Solar eclipse! All kinds of fun things to do as homeschoolers 🙂


Natalie’s 1st birthday party with friends! A belated 10th birthday celebration.              Olivia, Lilly, Isabel, Grace, Ella Jayne, Allie, Natalie Bartleson and Natalie!


Crazy antics with these kiddos. Lots of silliness.                                                                       But so deeply happy that Jacob and Natalie love each other and enjoy playing together.


We sold the green van. 1998-2017.

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A new chapter

January 25, 2019

How has it been over a year since I’ve made a blog entry? Amazing that the last was December 2017 and here we have now arrived at January 2019. Time flies. I’ve heard that phrase for years but now, more than ever, fully understand how true it is. Time does not stand still. It races and flies by. Whole segments of my life and role as mom now stand behind me. It’s crazy because I long for so much of the way it used to be, but these treasures are now out of reach:

-sitting snuggled up on the couch, reading from beautifully illustrated picture books

I used to sit with stacks of books. Stacks upon stacks. The kids would sit there with me wanting me to read book after book. It was such a gloriously delightful love for this mama’s heart. We borrowed hundreds, if not thousands, of picture books from the library. At one point I remember pondering what if I had started a spreadsheet and typed in all the titles we had ever read together….how many books would be on that list? It would have been soooooooooooooooo many. I would walk out of the library with multiple bags, bulging, filled to the brim with books.

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Her love of penguins continues to grow!

August 15, 2017

“Penguins, oh I love them so,

Embracing their cuddly cuteness,

Nice, happy, amazing creatures they are,

Gorgeous, wonder-filled, feathery.

Up above the ice they waddle,

Interesting, lovable things.

Now, who will take me to see them?”


Today I was the blessed one to take her to see them. Oh the joy. A deep, deep, overwhelming astounding joy. Today her dream came true: getting to meet a real-live penguin up close and personal. She has dreamed of this moment for years and years. Her love of penguins began at a very early age. Today was epic. Such a rich, full day that I want to make sure I capture as many details of the day as possible to forever remember this day that filled Natalie’s heart to overflowing.

On Feb. 12, 2012 she received her beloved “Lulu” giant penguin stuffed animal from her loving brother Jacob.

I can’t remember if Natalie had an interest in penguins before that gift from her brother, or if it was love at first sight for Natalie when her eyes beheld that amazingly cute stuffed animal in the gift shop. The aquarium did not yet have their penguin exhibit open to the public, so I know she didn’t see penguins that day while we visited.


Certainly her love for penguins grew and grew after that day she received Lulu.


For the months that followed she looked forward in anticipation of getting to one day see penguins! The aquarium was already advertising that their exhibit would be opening up in May and that in the meantime the penguins were growing accustomed to their new habitat.

On May 14, 2012 we had special member preview privileges of the grand opening of the June Keyes Penguin Habitat at the Aquarium of the Pacific. We made sure to get there super early so that we could be the first in line for the very first timed entry group at 10am, to enter the exhibit! That day Natalie’s love of penguins was so beautifully captured by an LA Times photographer who was there chronicling the grand opening.

And from that point forward her passion for penguins continued to grow.

(and this was going to be a post about her meeting a penguin in person, as her birthday gift….but I never finished this post. Oops)


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May 21, 2017

Dear Lord,

Thank you for today. Thank you for the abundant outpouring of love that my friends shared with me today. Thank you for Steve. Thank you for the idea he had to surprise me with the gift of fun through my meaningful friendships with my tuesday adventure mamas. Thank you that in this year of feeling so separated from them, with all the Tuesdays I have missed, that they made a special effort to drive all the way to our house and hang out for the afternoon and evening. They were here for a whole afternoon. Wow. They surprised me. They were all hiding behind the dining room wall. Waiting. Eager. Anxious to say surprise!!!! And then they all burst into song. It felt like soooooooooo many people singing me happy birthday! And when I had walked in, Steve was casually lying on the couch, all comfortable and relaxed, watching a baseball game on tv. And yet that was not at all the pace he had been going at in the couple hours prior to that. He was running around like a madman at crazy intense lightning speed, preparing all the food for 38 people!!!! Going grocery shopping, buying chicken, pork, and carne asada. Buying the famous motherlode chocolate cake at costco. Getting the backyard ready for the huge amazing party. All the while I thought he was out at Campus El Segundo, watching Jacob play his last soccer game of the spring season. And I thought my outing to the Chado TeaHouse in Torrance with Greta and Jana, was my surprise. They hadn’t told me where they were taking me. They said they’d pick me up at 1pm. And they did. Actually at 12:55. They were both dressed in the most amazingly cute dresses. And had super cute shoes on. And Jana drove us in her Honda. But Greta and I had to sit in the back seat. Turns out Greta even sat in the backseat from Lakewood to Hawthorne, because Jana had gotten a recall on the Honda’s inflatable air pouches possibly not deploying. And she wanted Greta, as her passenger, to be safe. So the bouquet of flowers rode shotgun. 🙂
Chado was an awesome experience. I had a white tea. So yummy. But even more yummy was Jana’s lavender earl grey. Wow. That was spectacular. I’d definitely order that again. And Greta had Darjeeling Wonder Surprise, or something along that line. I thought this was my gift. Flowers. Cards from each of them. A special luncheon at a tea house. We had a whole tray of delicacies to eat…..finger tea sandwiches, a scone, desserts. And, yet, no. That was just the beginning.
So overwhelmingly awesome.
Truly awesome.
I’ve never had a surprise party before. This was a first.
I had no idea that the surprise of it would cause my body to exude lots and lots and lots of sweat. All of a sudden I was sweating profusely. The back of my back was drenched. Even my legs were sweating. It was an incredible physiological response- quite fascinating indeed!
Here they all were, hiding behind our dining room wall. And as soon as I passed from the living room to the dining room, they all burst into song.
They all drove here for me. For me.
Do you know how special that makes me feel?
Am I worthy of so much love and attention?
What a beautiful afternoon and evening.
I don’t remember the last time our house had so much bustling energy.
Kids everywhere. Activity non-stop.
Hammock swaying.
Swings swinging.
H-O-R-S-E basketball
Dumping ice on driveway.
Stomping on ice.
Chalk drawings on the driveway
Smashing chalk with feet
Mixing chalk with ice water to make chalk paste, all with feet
Heads being bonked by flying basketballs
S’mores being made at the fireplace
Playing with the fountain; exploring how it works
Davy walking around with the conical bday party hats all over his body
Ping pong being played
Rip sticks
Lego-EV3 building
Chess inside
LEGO Friends playing in Natalie’s room
Kids visiting Omie non-stop; wanting to see her “little house”
Lots and lots of food
Mexican food: tacos, rice, beans,…..margaritas
Massage gift card
Thoughtful cards from kids
A home-sewn apron made for me by Lilly
Natalie so proud of herself for keeping this all a secret
Ohhhhhhhhhh I get it, now I know why Omie went to Home Depot to buy geraniums
Ohhhhhhhhhh I get it, now I know why Omie arranged for the cleaning ladies to come yesterday
I’m so glad the cleaning ladies came
I would have been SO embarrassed to have my friends see the mess of our house
Phew! I feel so glad I finally organized and cleaned up the messes in our house
Wait- where did Steve put all the robotics stuff/boxes I had put out on the ping pong table?
Ohhhhhhhhhhh I get it, that’s why Steve got up at 5am to start the smoker
Hey- so cool- he put the broken dining room chairs somewhere. Where?
Friends are so cool
We have an incredible community with this group of friends
I feel really special that they did all this for me
I’m humbled
I don’t feel worthy
Wow they just gave me a confidence boost!
Thank you Lord
Thank you
My heart is full and bursting
Going to lay my head down to sleep and think happy thoughts
I’m 44
I just experienced my 1st ever Surprise Party
That was incredibly fun!
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He’s back home

August 12, 2017

It is so good to have Jacob back home. I missed him sorely this past week. It was a very, very big week for him……heading off to Hume Lake with the OCF Youth Group for the very 1st time. My mama’s heart is so happy to have him back home. But in the course of this past week I can already see how good it was for him to stretch his wings and fly from our nest. He has come back with a maturity. He has come back with the confidence that comes from having made decisions on his own for a week and the joy in sharing/talking about a life that he led on his own. My baby boy is growing up.

I am so thankful that he had such a fulfilling time.

I am so thankful that the very first thing he shared about on the car ride home was about the speaker and the impactful messages he shared.

To hear Jacob recounting the story about how people train for years and years to climb Mt. Everest, but when they reach the peak they are only allowed to be there 15 minutes. And that they need to be careful on the descent because most deaths occur on the descent. That we are not meant to live our lives at the peak. That though campers enjoy themselves at Hume and would wish for life to be like that all year round, it’s not what life is about. That they go there to experience Hume for just a short while, and then to descend the mountain intentional of sharing what they learned.

This. This is what it’s all about. He got it. Lord thank you for your Holy Spirit’s moving in his life this week. Thank you that in the midst of all the fun and games, He heard your voice. Thank you that the very first things on his lips was to share with us his heart’s intent to come back down that mountain with a purpose and intentionality. Thank you for what lies ahead. Thank you for the friendships you were forming for him during this week. Thank you for the ways those friendships will be critical and crucial to his growth in these coming years of junior high and high school. Thank you for pulling him off the waitlist and allowing him this opportunity this summer. Thank you for all the people who poured their hearts and energy into Jacob this week to help grow and develop his faith and his character. Thank you for words like ‘honor’ and ‘valor’ that were core to the message. Thank you that as he lay his head on his pillow tonight he said “Mama, Daddy, I just don’t have words to explain it all. It was just so awesome. There is so much I wish I could explain, but I just don’t have words for. Could you sign up to be counselors next year so that you could experience it and know what it’s all about?” Oh the sweetness. His heart’s desire to be understood. To share the bond of the awesomeness of camp with us. To want us to be in on what was so life-changing for him. Thank you for that sweetness Lord.

But Lord my heart breaks too. He shared that the low-point was when all the cabins were having the competition of who could pick up the most trash. Jacob was crouched down picking up an item of trash. Another camper came and squashed Jacob’s hand with his foot and told him to let go of the item, so that he could have dibs on it. Jacob asked him to get off of his hand. But the kid didn’t. And then the kid formed a fist and punched Jacob in the back, causing him to sprawl to the ground. What kind of jerk kid does that? When Jacob shared that, my heart sank. I’m so saddened to think that Jacob had his first encounter with a bully. Someone who in the midst of a camp experience would stoop so low for a few competitive points, to punch him. Lord that broke my heart. Lord, I would love to protect him forever from people like that. But I know that I can’t. The shock and surprise that must have washed over him. He said he lay there on the ground crying. I can understand why. He’s had no experience of meanness like this. He had no reason to have his guard up. I pray oh Lord that you protect Jacob’s heart. I pray that this first encounter with meanness and someone breaking the two all-important camp rules of “don’t touch other people and don’t touch other people’s stuff” doesn’t cause Jacob to grow guarded. I pray that you would allow him to feel safe and to be guarded against future harm.

Thank you for his J-Hi leaders Ryan and Jack. Thank you for the words of wisdom and encouragement you poured through them into Jacob. I pray for his relationship with them. I pray that these 3 years to come, in the OCF Junior High Youth Group, that you would speak mightily through Ryan and Jack. They will be part of the story of Jacob’s life and his growth. I pray that they would be closely connected with you oh Lord, so that they in turn could pour your truth and love into him, during each of their shared moments. It’s such a beautiful feeling to know that others are intentionally carving out time out of their lives to spend time with my son. It makes me feel so grateful.

I look forward with great anticipation of how friendships will unfold for Jacob in these junior-high years of his life. I pray oh Lord that He will seek you out daily, to guide and direct his steps and decisions. I pray that whatever work you began at Hume this week in his heart and mind, would be something that has enduring effects his whole life long. I thank you that he was able to memorize the 5 Scripture verses of this week as well as the 4 verses from last year’s camp. Oh Lord I don’t know yet what those 9 verses are, but I pray that you make those verses super duper sticky in his heart and mind. I pray that your Word would be holy and sacred to him his whole life long. I pray that your Holy Spirit would call to his attention the words of those verses in the moments when they matter most. Thank you Lord that he is yours. Thank you that I can entrust him to you. Thank you that you love him even more than I do. Thank you for reaching out to him this week at Hume. I give him to you oh Lord and ask that whoever you are growing him up to be, that he would have his heart and mind fastened on you, your ways and your desires for his life. Fill him up oh Lord as he sleeps tonight, with beautiful memories of camp.

I can’t wait to hug him again in the morning.

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Thinking Bigger

May 17, 2015

It all started with a homeschool Nature Study topic and two assignments from school. Our Tuesday adventure group was going to begin a trimester study on Insects. Separately, Jacob’s 3rd Grade teacher asked him to write a Research paper as well as an Opinion paper. She said students were allowed to merge them into one paper and submit a Research/Opinion paper. Loved the idea of merging! Killing two birds with one stone. Perfect. But you know what would be even better? Accomplishing 3 to-do’s all in one fell swoop! Writing a Research/Opinion paper about Insects! Yes! Yes! Yes! I proposed the idea to Jacob. He loved the idea of addressing 3 assignments with one focused attempt.

And then I added on a challenge: to study something about insects at large. To think ‘big picture’ or really big topic about insects. I know Jacob has incredible skills at thoroughly researching one topic in all of its minutiae. He loves to read about one specific topic in exhaustive detail. I knew he would do fine selecting one type of insect such as crickets or bees and researching every aspect of that one specific insect. But I wanted him to grow in his skill-set. To learn how to think ‘bigger picture’ about a topic; to study something broad and learn how to make summary statements. I gave him the picture of a funnel and challenged him to stay up at the broadest rim of the funnel by writing broad over-arching statements about insects, instead of zeroing in, with specific detail, at the most concentrated narrow end of the funnel, writing about the specific colors, body shape and habitat of one specific species of insect.

Screen Shot 2015-05-17 at 10.58.06 AM


But man was that a struggle. “WHAT?!?!?!?! You want me to study everything there is about ALL 1,000 known species of insects?!?!?!?! WHAT?!??!?! I could never do that!!!!”

The idea of studying insects at large seriously overwhelmed him, in a debilitating, anxiety-producing way.

But then he narrowed it down to the idea of eating insects as a source of protein, in a world where there are huge concerns about all the land and water resources needed to sustain cattle for our world’s beef consumption. 

And we even ended up researching which restaurant in Los Angeles serves cricket tacos. Yup- fieldtrip to eat crickets. And we did it. And wow was that an experience, feeling the spindly crunchy legs in my mouth. Maybe if as a society we taught our kids from a very young age, feeding them insects, then they’d grow up thinking it was no big deal. At my age, not gonna lie, it took quite a bit of courage to try. And as I ate those cricket tacos it was not an easy thing for my mind to be comfortable with. 

Jacob ended up doing an incredible job researching this topic! And he created a very informative poster board that he shared with our homeschool friends. 

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All the sounds of basketball

December 8, 2014

Last week began Jacob’s entry into the world of league basketball. As the practice started and I heard the rhythmic thumping of a whole bunch of basketballs on the court, I smiled.  This sport sounds different than many others. For soccer you have the cheers from the parents along the sideline and the coach shouting some directions, with the movement of the ball relatively quiet. In baseball you have the sound of the umpire loudly calling strikes and balls along with the sound of the bat making contact with the ball. But basketball…..hello………now this is a sport with A LOT of sounds! All those basketballs being bounced during practice. The stomping of running feet up and down the court. The referee’s whistles. The scoreboard buzzer sound for every moment the game is stopped. So many sounds.

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Heading back home from Shaver Lake

July 27, 2014

A morning mountain bike ride. The kids did amazingly well!

Straight from the lake into the van for the drive home. Dusty and dry-skinned we hit the road, eating pb&j sandwiches, celery sticks and blueberries. Then the tears began to flow. It’s always so hard for Natalie to say goodbye to fun times. With each mile of distance between us and Shaver Lake, her heart grew heavier and heavier. All the fun of a week of camping and lake play with fun friends had come to an end.

Writing down the highlights of the trip, to add to our camp folder.

The van piled high with stuff. Dirty stuff. Dusty stuff. Stuff we would spend all day unpacking, cleaning, putting away. Bamboo sticks, stuffed animals, books, bags of snacks, blankets, towels, camera bag…and so much more.

A stop at Sonic in Kingsburg….corn dogs, a cherry slush, a vanilla shake, a banana cream pie shake…

Mama reading aloud several chapters of Caddie Woodlawn…the kids totally into the book, visualizing the setting and story as it unfolds….asking questions along the way “what does that mean?”….daddy smiling as he heard Mama read with different voices for each character

Charlie- exhausted beyond exhausted. Did we forget him? My word he’s so quiet on the back bench. Not a peep out of him. Not a stir. A week of swimming in the lake wore him out.

The alphabet game….Jacob stuck on finding the letter “J”…he missed the sight of a Jack-in-the-Box and needed to wait miles upon miles upon miles for sight of another exit with food stops. He was going crazy that he couldn’t find a “J” in Kern County. Natalie won the game!!! With her “Z” find going up the GrapeVine on a license plate of a passing car.

Pillow fights….4 pillows flying between Jacob & Natalie….crazy, insane, hysterical laughter

Making up songs to the tune of “Let it Go” from the Frozen movie. Songs all about pee and poop. The kids had hit the point of delirium. Steve and I sitting in the front trying to hold back our smiles. We had been in the car for 6 hours at that point, with the interchange of the 5 to the 405 reducing all the way down to 1 lane and a verrrrrrrry slow crawl for construction. We let them just entertain themselves, and us really too.


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Daily struggle

July 17, 2014

It’s a daily struggle…..trying to feel like I’ve been productive enough, that I’ve accomplished enough. Today I had 8:30am-3:30pm to myself, without kids. I have high hopes for 8 hours. So much should be able to be accomplished, right? And, yet, time just slips through my hands like grains of sand. It’s 2:30pm and I’m bemoaning how unproductive today has felt. Now I’m grieving the loss of that time. And, yet, I should just trudge ahead doing things moment by moment, knowing that I’ll eventually make a dent against the giant to-do list that grows exponentially every day. How did the day slip by?

8:30-10:30 Coffee with a friend

10:30-11:00 Driving home. Getting checks ready to send off at the post-office for YL. Writing a congratulatory card for a friend who just finished his doctoral program. Figuring out what in my pantry could be a good in-the-car snack gift for the YL folks.

11:00-11:30 Driving to LMS. Saying my goodbyes to the YL team.

11:30-12:20 Standing in line at the local Hawthorne Post Office. Trying not to go over the edge of insanity with hoooooooow long that line always is. How rude and unfriendly the postal workers always are.

12:20-1:00 Eating lunch. Emailing. Uploading YL pictures to FB.

1:00-2:30 Feeling overwhelmed. Most of my day is already gone. Little bit of everything. Going to Natalie’s room and sitting with her dolls that she asked me to babysit. So cute. I needed this time. She even wrote up a feed, play, nap schedule for her dolls that she posted up on our refrigerator. I can play along. The first day I dressed up both dolls in green outfits and put green ribbons in their hair. I sat them on Natalie’s bedroom floor and surrounded them with green items……so when Natalie came home I told her I had taught them the word “green”. Oh she was ecstatic. She was tickled that I had played along. So then the next morning as she skipped to her camp, she asked me if I would teach them the color blue. I sure did. Dressed them up in blue outfits, blue ribbons and surrounded them with blue items. Today’s request: to focus on the color red. No problem my sweet baby girl. I love it that she loves to use her imagination. This kind of stuff drives Jacob crazy. “You know, Natalie, that Mom does NOT sit around feeding your dolls or playing with them, right??!?!” Sure I do. For a few seconds- before I go pick her up. I have them all set up in her room to welcome her back. To give her the sweet thought that Mama had sat down on the floor and played with her dolls. Today I needed that. It was great to sit on the floor with my angst of my squandered day, to feel like a little girl and simply dress those two dolls in red-colored outfits. Oh the joy of childhood simplicity. To sit there and pray for my sweet Natalie- that her childhood, her playfulness, her imagination, her innocence, her lack of stress would last as long as possible. Then I returned to dishes and laundry. Hopeful that today I can finally conquer laundry. Hopeful that at least today every single clothing item in our home is clean.

2:30-2:45 Sitting down at my computer to close my eyes and soak in the worship song “Oceans”. Trusting that the Great Unknown, my Lord, called me to hang out with this sweet friend this morning. Someone who I had never had coffee with. I felt a tug on my heart yesterday to reach out and ask her to coffee. I want to trust that God gave me that tug. I need to keep my eyes focused on the fact that God’s Spirit moves and hopes we would respond. I want to have faith that His sovereign hand will be my guide. That the time I spent going to encourage the YL team and that I spent standing in line to send off all the camp donations and payments, is time that God uses in His grand economy. It’s not wasted time. It’s time spent for the edification of His people. I need to stop feeling unproductive and unsuccessful.

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