He’s growing up

Wow…..it started with the purchase of deodorant this summer….

last week he got glasses…..(which by the way he looks SO handsome with)

and yesterday I took him shopping for new basketball shoes. Wowsas! This boy just doesn’t stop growing. As he placed his foot on the youth-sized shoe measurement, the store clerk gasped “oh wow. we need to measure him with the men-sized shoe measurement”. Yes, that’s right, my 8-year old boy now wears 7 1/2 in men’s shoes!

As a result, his basketball shoe choice went from a selection of four available shoes to a selection of 30 different ones! Wow! His eyes lit up at all the different choices before him. Wow. Wow. Wow. This was a boy’s dream come true- looking at all the colors and types of styles in the men’s dept. of basketball shoes. And let me tell you what my eyes noticed?! Yes, in the “youth” dept. basketball shoes were ranging in price from $29-$59. Now in the adult section they range in price from $59-$129. Dude!  Okay, adult world of higher prices- here we come.

It is a joy, though, to see the excitement on Jacob’s face as he grows up and enters the world of ‘grown-up’ stuff. My little baby is not a baby anymore. He’s growing up to be a man.

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Love through bacon

Each morning, I’ve learned, that a breakfast of protein is key to the successful start to the day for all of us. A carb-only type of breakfast leaves me hungry a couple hours later, or less. If only given cereal or pancakes or french toast, my kiddos are more disagreeable in the morning.  Isn’t that weird? It’s definitely true. There are more arguments and irritability in the morning on those days. However, if protein is a significant aspect of the breakfast then WOW! my kiddos are patient, loving and kind with one another. Isn’t that crazy? It is an absolutely fascinating phenomenon to me. So guess what?! I make sure to always have protein options ready for breakfast!!! Somehow that protein gives their bodies the fuel it needs to do all of its growing, functioning, moving and thinking and still there’s enough energy left over to extend love in action. Irritable, argumentative tones somehow magically vanish with bacon, ham or eggs. Amazing.

So this morning as I stood in the kitchen for what felt like 35-40 minutes cutting off all the fat from the bacon strips, I thought to myself “man, cutting fat from bacon sure is a labor of love!” Here I am cutting off all this disgusting fat, so that I can fry up the meaty aspect of bacon to get the sought after protein without all the nasty, unhealthy fat of it. I do this so that my kiddos and I can have a peaceful, beautiful morning together. Perhaps I should look into buying some premium bacon at specialty shops- where it’s big, thick slabs of bacon with more meat than fat. Because let me tell you, the Costco packs of Farmer John bacon and even the Vons packs of all kinds of bacon…..all of it has soooooo much fat on each slice! I used to just cook it all in the pan and then dry to soak up all the fat with paper towels when I took the bacon out of the pan. But that’s gross. Not to mention I would have at least an inch or more of liquid fat sizzling in my pan. Disgusting. So now I take the time to cut off the fat while the bacon is still uncooked. There’s also the method of baking it in the oven- but then you have fatty, greasy cookie sheets and liquid fat in your foil-covered baking sheets.

Anyway, I look at my time standing here in the kitchen cutting off bacon fat as my small offering of love in action for my kiddos. It will help them get started on a great day. Isn’t that funny? But that’s the loving work and sacrifice of a mama.


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A full, incredible week

Learning through adventures is such a joy! There are SO many opportunities to learn in context and to make deep, lasting connections. Man, I love living in Los Angeles- being able to find and experience so many adventures with our family. I love that all of these experiences all happened in one week of our living…..

We hiked a 2.5 mile trail on Mt. Baldy. IMG_6785 Jacob met the Mission Specialist at SpaceX.IMG_3103

Natalie attended a lecture by Steve Winter, a renown National Geographic photographer. 10264180_10101713958170896_967922309611497004_o

We watched the Blue Angels, Patriots, Hornets, Harriers and more at the Miramar Air Show. IMG_5604

We biked several miles through the Heart of Los Angeles at the Ciclavia event. IMG_7176

A full, incredible week. I am so thankful and feel so privileged that we get to live and learn in these ways.

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Best Friends

If I had a camera in my hands this morning, I would have wanted to take a snapshot. The moment was precious. It was heartwarming. It was dear. It was what a mother’s heart yearns for and cherishes. It was worth more than all the gold in the world. Jacob and Natalie sat on their stools at the breakfast counter, intently listening to my reading aloud of Ginger Pye, the chapter book we are going through, and they had their heads touching, wanting to be super close to each other. There they sat nestled against each other’s crowns, their eyes sparkling with excitement as they listened to the words of the book. They stared at each other lovingly, they gave each other eskimo kisses and they laughed heartily together. I couldn’t believe my eyes. This was heavenly. Not all mornings are like this. Sometimes one or the other needs their space or is a bit irritated about something that the other one has said or done. But in general they are best friends. They deeply love one another. They are good, good friends. They long for each other’s company. Their friendship is a gift to this mama’s heart. I pray that this friendship continue for their whole lives long. Before breakfast they had been out in the backyard rip-sticking together. They had set up a very elaborate obstacle course of random items: a boogie board, a baseball mitt, two soccer balls, a tennis racket, a scooter and a balance. Very, very happily they were making sharp turns trying to avoid the items all the while encouraging each other with hoorays for each accomplished completed route through the course. When I dropped them off at school, they happily ran off together to the entrance; bounding with joy. I am so thankful today for the confident children that they are; how much they love each other and are convinced that they are loved. I am a thankful Mama today who wants to hold onto this morning’s sweetness.

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Just dropped off my baby on Wilshire Blvd

Eeks. I just drove away from the main Nikon repair shop where all broken Nikon cameras in Los Angeles go to get repaired. It felt so strange leaving my camera and two lenses there. Bizarre feeling. They wrote down a few numbers, put it all in a cardboard box and said I could anticipate an email within 24 hours of review by a technician. If I approve whatever cost/repair they recommend, it will be 7-10 business days before it is ready for pick-up. I love my camera. I loooooove taking pictures. My photographs are how I chronicle my life and my family’s life. They serve a very important role in the place of my faulty memory. As I drove away, leaving my very important camera with people I didn’t know but somehow am expected to trust, it made me start thinking about all the things/people we trust. Last week when I was at Knott’s Berry Farm getting buckled into a seat of  the crazy insane Supreme Scream 250-ft drop ride, I had the exact same thought: “Wow, I sure am putting a lot of trust in whoever designed this ride and manufactured this safety harness.” I know there are a lot things I trust without even thinking about it. For instance, I trust that other drivers will stop when they see a red light. More than anything I want to remain forever conscious of the fact that the Lord calls me to trust in Him daily.

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Pudding and Rockets?

Yesterday I asked Jacob if he would like to help me make some banana-vanilla wafer-pudding. “Sure, mom!” So I handed him the vanilla pudding I had already prepared, a cutting board, knife, several bananas and the bag of vanilla wafer cookies. He had watched his sister the week before make the very same dessert, so he knew what he needed to do. He began slicing bananas and then proceeded to layer all the ingredients together in a bowl. Seeing that he was fully aware of how to prepare the dessert, I moved on to doing some housework.

Jacob called me over. “Mom, mom! Come look!!” So I walked over to see what he wanted to show me. Oh.my.word. Ha! I love how my son’s brain is wired. Here he is making a pudding dessert but he’s thinking about space. “Check this out Mom! I made the grid design of the engines of the original Falcon 9 version 1” “And look Mom!!!! Watch! I’m going to now make the Octaweb design of the later Falcon 9 engines, using the cookies!”

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Wow! Who thinks of rocket engine configurations while making a pudding dessert? Yes- my 8 year old son. How did that thought even enter his mind? How does handling banana slices and vanilla wafer cookies trigger a memory of a research project he did last April? We ended last school year with a H-U-G-E unit on Space. He thoroughly researched SpaceX’s rockets and even got to go on a tour to the facility. I stood here in our kitchen in awe of how the neurons in his brain fire off and make connections. This is pure awesomeness! He clearly must have loved, loved, loved that unit on Space!

Falcon 9 (v.1) original engine configuration        Falcon 9 (v. 1.1) Octaweb configuration

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The Bay

So right now I’m feeling all kinds of guilty that I’m choosing to sit down and journal while there is soooooooo much to be done around the house. But the reality is that if I don’t take these moments right now to reflect and record today’s special moment, I’ll want to draw on this special memory in years to come, but my mind will fail me. I wish I had the type of memory that remembered all things- big and small. But oftentimes even the big things don’t have much stickiness in my memory. I’m not sure what that’s all about….so I journal and blog to try to hold onto the memories.

This afternoon we met up with our friends at “The Bay”. It’s a very, very special place. The  calm, waveless water by Long Beach/Seal Beach, right near Naples. A gorgeous place. A calm place. A place of many, many fun times for Jacob and Natalie. It is here that we meet our beloved homeschool friends from our Adventure Club. During the summer the families meet at the bay every week. Today was going to be a hot day, so several of us agreed that in the afternoon, once our homeschool academics had been completed, we would meet at the bay. Let me tell you…..that time and place with those ladies and their children is beyond delightful!

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Oftentimes the older boys of the group like to swim across the bay, from 57th St. to Naples. Today I joined them. Whoa! That was quite a swim!!! Swimming in the sea is no joke….with the current….the saltiness of the water….the choppiness of the water’s top due to the wind. But I did it! I swam from the beach all the way across to where you see those clumps of palm trees, across the bay.

(Photo Credit: Greta Eskridge)

thebayThe joy for me though was sharing that swim with the 4 boys and one girl who also made it across. Noah, James, William, Jacob and Emmerly had set out……while I sat on the beach deliberating whether I felt up for the challenge today. I had watched the boys go across in the past and had always quietly wished that I’d muster up the courage to try the swim. Today I hemmed and hawed quietly in my mind. My girlfriends were here on the beach- I would thoroughly enjoy getting to spend time chatting with them. Oh but the thrill of that exercise and the fun of getting to see if I could meet the challenge of swimming across were calling out to me today. And my sweet friend Greta said “you should do it. Go for it!” Sometimes that extra encouragement is what I need. So off I went. I swam and swam and swam. At one point a sail boat came through the channel- but cleared past me, no worries. It’s quite a different experience than lap swimming at the local pool! Man there’s no ‘taking breaks’ hanging on the sidewall or standing up. My breaks were sometimes swimming on my back.

When the kids noticed I too was coming, they shouted “try to catch up with us!” Ha! Yeah right. They were quite a bit ahead of me. I eventually caught up with them at the dock. They have a routing of tying up their surfboard and the boogie boards. 3 of them had rode in on those, paddling with their arms across the bay. 2 of the others had swam across just like me. I was SO impressed with those who swam. It is indeed quite a feat to swim across like that with nothing to hang onto for a break.

But then the hilarity began! They just pulled themselves out of the water onto the surfboard and up onto the dock. For the life of me I couldn’t do it. The surfboard had no wax on it and was suuuuuuuper slippery. If I had any luck getting my knees up on the surfboard, then I had to contend with the fact that in the process the surfboard had moved up in a rather vertical position up agains the side of the dock, with the way I had shimmied up onto the board and distributed my weight. I tried and tried again. No luck. All the while I kept trying, the boys were climbing up on the dock, up and over a railing and then jumping back into the bay from a high wall. They were having a blast! Emmerly in the meantime was collecting crabs along the dock. She has an incredible knack for catching animals! Her reflexes are sooooooo lightning fast! As the boys were jumping and she was catching crabs, I kept trying to get myself out of the water and up onto that dock. But with no ladder, mussels and algae agains the dock pilings to contend with and not enough upper body strength to hoist myself up, I had one failed attempt after another.

It was so sweet having the boys try to break down the “how to use the surfboard to get up out of the water onto the dock” procedure. They were doing it in slow-motion, explaining each step of the way, where I should place each hand and foot….and then they’d jump up onto the dock easy-peasy! Jacob then stayed with me trying to encourage me and help me figure out ways to stabilize the super slick-slippery surfboard that kept moving vertically away from me. When I thought about it later, it dawned on me that it was probably really significant and helpful to him to watch Mama totally, utterly fail at something. He doesn’t get the benefit of watching me do things I can’t do. And yet today he witnessed that. Mamas cannot do everything. He was so sweet keeping me company and trying to help. At one point though he said “C’mon JUST get up!!” He could feel my own angst of having tried what felt like a bzillion times. Seriously I think I tried for at least 15 minutes…..perhaps even 20 minutes. It felt like forever. At one point I thought to myself “you better reserve energy for the swim all the way back across the bay. you’re wasting a lot of energy treading water, trying to kick yourself up onto this surfboard and hoisting yourself up out of the water.”

But, finally! Finally. Finally. I made it up onto the dock. Hip hip hooray!!!!! What relief. 🙂

And then I climbed over the railing….walked over to the wall….and got myself ready for the jump back into the bay. Sweet Emmerly was going to make that first jump along with me. She had never jumped off before. This was a first for her and I at the same time. As we clung to the railing and I saw some trepidation in her eyes, with her inching closer to me…..I began to think “we just need to do this…..okay let’s count to 3 and do it”


And we jumped. Emmerly and I. What a sweet moment. And there were jubilant smiles on the boys’ faces.

Shortly after we made the swim back across the bay. Emmerly brought back with her a small bucket with the crabs she had collected from alongside the dock. Jacob and her shared the long surfboard…..trying to paddle with their hands all the while trying not to knock over the bucket of crabs.

The crabs made it to shore on the ride across the bay! We all made it back. A bit tired from that hard workout- but indeed feeling like a million dollars for having met the challenge!

(Photo Credit: Greta Eskridge)


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