Wanting to snuggle

It is one of the greatest feelings as a Mama, to know that snuggling with my children puts them at complete ease and helps them fall into deep sleep. I know the days are limited when they will ask “Mama, will you snuggle with me?” It surprises me that I still have the privilege and honor, being beckoned in the evening by my six-year old girl and eight-year old boy. A time will come, I tell myself, when their doors will be closed and they will prefer to retreat into their own world, by themselves. And that will be okay; they will be on the road to complete independence (at least that’s what I keep telling myself). But for now I soak up every second and minute of snuggle time that they ask for. Our lives are so fleeting. What a gift to just snuggle and hold each other in our arms. What a gift to still get to sit on the couch before bedtime and read books to them. What a gift to sit between the two of them, with a giant pile of library books on my lap, reading the titles aloud and giving them options of what books catch their fancy. To then hold the books upright on my lap, each of them taking turns flipping through, flicking one book forward at a time, perusing the choices, carefully examining the cover illustrations, title and font choice all as possible predictors of whether the story will be one they enjoy or not…..talk about the complete opposite of “don’t judge a book by its cover”. Ha! Here, nightly, books are indeed judged by their covers. What a treat it is, to sit snuggled between the two of them, reading books aloud to them. They love it. I love it.

Then off to bed they go. I tuck each of them in, singing “Jesus Loves Me” and saying prayers together; prayers of thanks as well as holding up people in prayer before our Lord. As of recently Jacob now sings or hums the harmony while I sing the melody. For the past 8 years, each night as we’ve tucked him into bed, we’ve sung to him “Jesus Loves Me”. We’ve done this ever since he was a wee little baby. If I calculate 8 years x 365 nights/year of singing this, we’ve sung this 2,920 times to him thus far (minus some missed nights here or there for extenuating circumstances)! Wow, I didn’t even fully realize the sheer quantity of times we’ve sung this song. These words are so simple and yet carry such profoundly deep truth. I pray that these words are deep in his thoughts and that the truth of Jesus’ love for him, is at the core of his understanding of who he is and how truly valuable he is. Within the past weeks when he started singing harmony, I was amazed. He can hear/visualize the notes I sing and then sing other decorative notes that complement and add to the ones I’m singing. What a fun new stage of bedtime tuck-in’s. I can only imagine that he has been carefully studying and listening to our worship team at church, hearing how they sing melody and harmony and how beautiful it all sounds together.

Jesus loves me this I know

For the Bible tells me so

Little ones to Him belong

They are weak but He is strong

Yes, Jesus loves me

Yes, Jesus loves me

Yes, Jesus loves me

The bible tells me so

Natalie’s approach to the song is different. She loves to add in sounds at the rests. After I sing each line, she adds in a note or two, sometimes serious and sometimes silly, sometimes understandable in words, other times just audible sounds. She loves to anticipate the rests and jump in at that very moment with her own sounds to add. Her timing is impeccable; always ready to jump in at the perfect moment of rest and always the perfect note length before I start in on the next line. She is such a hoot! She’s my silly, funny, zany one. She makes me laugh and smile. Oh my word, the other night she started us in on a massive tickle fest. I don’t think I’ve laughed that hard from being tickled in a really, really, really, really long time. Her tiny squirmy fingers could just find the perfect sized pockets of space between my arms that I was using to shield my neck, and began to tickle me like crazy. I completely lost it in laughter. She didn’t relent and I kept laughing. She thought it was the most hilarious thing ever that she was able to unarm me and get me that delirious with laughter. That was a precious moment- we had never had a tickle fest before and she indeed won!

So tonight like usual, they both asked if I would lay next to them and just snuggle for a few minutes. So I did. Natalie loves to fall asleep lying on her left side. Jacob loves to fall asleep lying on his right side. They both face the wall and I lie there next to them with my arm over them. I don’t know what it is about having Mama lie next to them, if it’s a subconscious return to feeling/hearing their Mama’s beating heart from when they were being formed in my womb, or if it’s just the warmth that comes from being next to someone, or hearing my steady breath….but whatever it is, it is suuuuuuuuch a joy to feel them relax and just fall into sleep. There is comfort there for them; a sweet repose in their mama’s arms. Oh just like when they were little babies, I can tell when they fall asleep because all of a sudden they get super heavy. It’s as if there whole body just lets go and they become heavy like a sack of potatoes. Sometimes there’s super short random twitches of a leg or an arm- that’s when I know they’re already in deep, deep sleep.

What a joy. I love getting to snuggle with my kiddos. They are such lovable kids. I’m so thankful that for those few minutes, everything in life stands still. They find peace and contentment in my arm’s embrace and I get to just hold them, quietly pray for their future and lift them up before our Lord, thinking of who they are becoming and expectant to see what plans the Lord will have for them.

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Code Word

“Mom, can we play a game?”

That’s usually code word for “Quality time is my favorite love language, but I don’t know about that yet, but I do know that sitting with you for a prolonged period of time is really important to me.” Jacob loves, loves, loves to play board games. I’m sure it’s a mix of the mental strategist in him that loves to have his brain spurred on to challenges and the part of him that yearns for quality time, sitting still in one place with someone. He loves, loves, loves to play games. Faithfully his Daddy sits with him each and every morning before he heads off to work to play a game with him. The days, far and few between, when Daddy needs to leave earlier than 7am and can’t squeeze in the time, there is profound effect on Jacob. His heart yearns for that one-on-one quality time.

But today when he walked up to me and asked “Mom, can we play a game?” I could tell from his eyes that something deeper was going on. I asked him, “Buddy, what’s going on? What’s the matter?” Thankfully he is able to put into words the feelings he has. That is one thing I’m proud of- that our family is being built on the sharing of our thoughts and feelings. He couldn’t come right out with it and needed to first ask if he could have that one-on-one time. But as soon as my eyes locked with his, I could tell he wanted to be known. The worry. The stress. The fear of failure. The fear of being a disappointment. Today marks the first day he will pitch in his AA baseball game. The coach gave him the heads-up that in today’s game at some point he’ll put him on the mound. Wow. In watching this season unfold, I’ve seen more than ever before how much of baseball is a mental sport. There is a mental toughness athletes need to have to play baseball. You need to be okay having everyone watching you when you’re up at bat…..I mean everyone….every player from both teams, the coaches, the parents in the bleachers….that’s a lot of pressure and focus on one athlete. You need to be able to stand up to that. That takes courage and mental strength- to walk up to that plate and be in the mindset of attacking the ball. And now today he is going to take on the challenge of pitching. Standing there on the mound, trying to focus on the 1,2, 3 steps of pitching. Trying not to let balls or walks or runs affect him. Being able to focus on pitching regardless of things happening or being said. He is hoping with all his might to throw strikes. But chances are that many balls will be thrown. And that’s okay.

We were able to sit down in the living room and talk through all this with him. He had so much buried deep inside: deep, unnerving worries that started messing with his confidence. Worry that he’ll disappoint the coach. Worry that if he doesn’t perform well, he’ll never get another chance to pitch. Worry that he’ll throw a wild ball and injure the batter. Worry that runs will be scored on account of him. Worry that he’ll throw balls and no strikes. Worry that his teammates will be disappointed. Oh.my.word. So glad we were able to sit with him, hug him and tell him ‘it’s all going to be okay. We are so proud of you for being willing to take on the challenge. We offered to him to let him tell the coach he’s not quite ready yet for that pressure. He said, ‘no, I really want to try.”

In 15 minutes he steps into a world that requires a great deal of bravery and courage and mental toughness. Being on this team is such an incredibly good growing experience for him. Though it makes my mama-heart worry for him, I know this is shaping him to become an even more amazing person. He is learning the skills of intense focus. The skill of being able to tune everything out. The skill to say “no matter what happens, I will continue to persevere”. To realize that even if he doesn’t throw what he wants, there’s always another opportunity. That bravery and courage of his, I am so proud of. So very, very proud of.

I’m so beyond thankful that he could feel all of that welling up within him. He was in touch with his feelings. Perhaps to some that’s not being masculine. But in my book- that’s the best kind of guy in the world! A guy who can be tough and courageous and yet at the same time be able to verbalize his feelings and be well aware of what’s going on in his heart. My stomach is tied up in knots for my boy today. I couldn’t even eat lunch in light of all this. I’m nervous for him and proud of him all in one.

Can’t wait for today’s game to start. 8 minutes and counting.

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Wilshire Blvd. Biking

Perfect weather + Family time = Awesomeness

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This morning Natalie squealed with excitement when we told her it was the day of Ciclavia. “YESSSSSSSSS!!!!!!!!” she exclaimed. Then off she ran to her room to get dressed for the day. The kids have looked forward to our Ciclavia outings for the past couple of years. What an absolute joy to ride bikes for 3 hours together, pumping our legs up hills and cruising down hills with the wind blowing in our faces. IMG_3447We began our route at the furthest west end of the event: Wilshire & Fairfax.  9:15am. Screen Shot 2014-04-06 at 8.27.30 PMPassed LACMA and the LaBrea Tar Pits. The kids absolutely love this event because they get to ride their bikes in the street. Big streets. All lanes of traffic are closed off to cars. It’s just bikes. Bikes, bikes, bikes. Hundreds and thousands of bikes. I love this event too because it draws all kinds of Angelenos to the streets. It’s a spectacular people-watching event. You have athletic bike riders with their slick street bikes, three year olds learning on their bikes with training wheels, older men with tattoos and long hair on their low-rider bikes and beatbox music blaring from their boom boxes and everyone in between. All ages. All kinds of faces. All kinds of bikes. Tandems, Velomobiles, Unicycles, Mountain bikes, Street bikes, BMX bikes, Beach Cruisers and more. It’s truly a fabulous event.

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The kids were powering up Wilshire Blvd. on its hilly portions. We all especially looooooved the downhill coast towards MacArthur Park. The wind was blowing in our face, the blue sky, the view of the lake of the park and its huge fountain of water spraying looked so refreshing, bikes everywhere. That was a great moment. Loved that moment.

Not too long after that Jacob had an unfortunate fall. Just as he was pumping his legs to climb a hill, the chain from his bike fell off. Doh! He landed haaaaaard on the asphalt. I was certain he was going to get up with a bloody face and/or bits of asphalt embedded in his elbows. Road rash on his left knee- thankfully that was all. He was pretty shaken up. It was amazing- what felt like seconds, we had two police, one Ciclavia volunteer and a road marshall all at our side. They were there as we were peeling him off the street and getting his bike off to the side. The immediate emergency attention was astounding. They talked to Jacob to find out if he was going to be okay, they gave us all we needed to deal with his bloody knee and they helped us get the chain back on his bike. Incredible help just at the moment we needed it. I was thankful. IMG_3460

Could he shake it off? We tried having him continue by walking alongside as Steve walked his bike and Jacob’s bike. But the further we continued on the route it became clear that perhaps it was prudent to make a u-turn and begin the trek back home. We were almost at the 6-mile end of the Ciclavia route…..within 1/2 a mile of the final hub. Ohhhh we had come so close to the end of the route. Steve had just said aloud to me “This will be the first year we complete the whole route.” Jinx.

5.5 miles each way….11 miles roundtrip, an accomplishment all in itself. One worthy of IMG_3466our traditional stop for Yogurtland en route. The past few routes have been through the Downtown LA corridor and this one stretching the Wilshire Blvd. corridor was a new, unfamiliar route to us. They were so excited to see the Yogurtland along the route!

We also made a stop on the red carpet laid out by the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures. There we were able to make our own personal flip-books! How fun to watch our 7-seconds of motion turned into a 58 page flip book! Each kiddo got to make their own and we also made a family one. All for free! That was very exciting and something we had never done before.

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IMG_3506 IMG_3502With our flip books in hand, a final goodbye photo with the Oscar statue, we packed up our bikes and headed back home. So thankful that our kiddos love the great outdoors, adventure and exercise.


Rounded out the day with playing baseball in the backyard, a family game of Ticket to Ride and an evening church service. An awesome day. So thankful. Even Charlie had a great day- new tennis balls and several games of catch. He was a happy camper too.

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Splashing Joy

Today as I looked out the window, my heart was all kinds of happy. Jacob and Natalie were splashing away in the jacuzzi. It’s their giant bathtub or miniature pool, however you want to look at it. They love it! This morning Natalie begged Steve, “can we pleeeeeeease go in the jacuzzi today?” He set it to 88. They splashed, played, cannon-balled, jumped, splashed, sprinkled, dove……you name it. The squeals of delight and peals of laughter were beautiful. The mile-wide smiles on their faces were precious beyond words. These are the days. Days of joy. Days of beautiful sibling relationship. Relaxing days when I can be making dinner with an eye on them while they are joyfully independent.

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2 incredible compliments

Yesterday Steve gave me two incredible compliments!

1) “This is the best pie I have ever eaten.”




I was speechless. Really?!?! In 38 years of life and all the tastes of pie he’s had….this was the best pie he had ever eaten?! I seriously couldn’t believe my ears. I figured he must have been throwing in extra points for cutesy factor that Natalie and I had been the dynamic baking duo. I love baking with her! I love that I can be washing and cutting strawberries by the sink while she’s at the counter ever-so-carefully and very precisely measuring out 1 1/2 cups of flour using a 1/4 measuring cup. I have complete faith in her measuring skills! I’ve watched her like a hawk for many recipes and this girl can read and measure with preciseness! It’s a joy getting to bake with her. But, nope, that had not added value to “the most amazing pie ever”. Perhaps, I thought, there were some weighed in points for the fact that I intentionally baked a pie on Pi day (March 14th) to celebrate 3.14 in math. Nope. Steve assured me that his statement was based solely on the flavor and texture of the pie. Wow. What a compliment! It was one that Natalie and I were beyond thrilled to hear. A homemade strawberry pie made from scratch, with a lattice top…..the most amazing pie Steve has ever eaten. What a fun compliment!

2) “Look at Mama……a lifelong learner.”

This is what Steve said as I eagerly looked up the orbital pathway of planet Jupiter, as it corresponded with last night’s night sky. Why was I wondering that, you ask?  Yesterday the kids and I went to the Planetarium at El Camino College. The professor told us that Jupiter would be visible in the night sky. The only thing is…..that the kids and I couldn’t remember if she had said it would appear as the bright shining ‘star’ in the location of the eye in the Taurus constellation or the bright shining ‘star’ in the Gemini location. She had told us both would be visible and that Jupiter would be visible in one of them. Drats. We couldn’t remember which one. After dinner we were outside looking up in the night sky, holding up our iPhone and iPad with our “night space sky” app. However, it only showed constellations and star names. I couldn’t find “Jupiter” as one of the labels. So I went inside and started doing searches online. I really, truly wanted to find out which one was Jupiter that we were looking up at. With excitement I found the answer online. It was just then that Steve said “Look at Mama…..a lifelong learner.” It was then….right then….in that very moment, as my mind chewed on that compliment that I realized that’s a very true assessment of who I am. I love to learn. I love, love, love to read and find out new information. It’s invigorating to me. And, yes, that drives how I homeschool my kids. Learning doesn’t fall into specific hours of the day. Learning happens all day long. Do I read things and research things throughout the day? You betcha! Just thinking that my lifelong learning self might be creating/forming/encouraging mini-me’s to develop as lifelong learners as well…..oh that made my heart all kinds of happy. It’s not how much knowledge Jacob and Natalie can acquire during their homeschool days with me; that’s not the goal. The goal is to keep the love of learning alive. To never let the joy and beauty and sheer joy that comes from learning be squashed or dampened or tainted for them.


Thankful for two sweet compliments from my hubby.


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Two different weekends

It’s amazing how different one weekend can be from another. Amazing to think that two weekends ago it was raining cats and dogs and this past weekend it was hot, hot, hot. Such different activities for each of the weekends too.

The weekend of great rain, I had the great privilege of accompanying Natalie to Legoland for her very first Lego League Challenge. She and her friend Sophie worked for two months in anticipation of this event. They needed to select a natural disaster and then choose whether they would research how people prepare for that disaster, respond or recover. Their research then had to be presented in Legos as well as on a trifold poster board.  They extensively studied how to prepare for floods. They had 10 very specific ways to prepare for a flood that they showed in lego form and spoke about very clearly to the judges:
1) a classroom
2) an amphibious house
3) reservoirs
4) a floodgate
5) a robotic arm
6) boats
7) trees
8) land grading
9) drainage and filtering
10) roads

The girls did phenomenally well!!!!! I was soooooooooooo proud of my Natalie girl and her sweet friend. What a confident, skilled  little lady Natalie is growing up to be.

The following weekend in what felt like mega-heat in comparison, Jacob had his very first AAA Baseball game of the season. He was nervous. Worried about the 50mph baseballs that would be pitched at him when it was his turn at bat. Worried that one of those balls might hit him and injure him. Yeah, I would say that’s intense! Not to mention having all eyes on you while you’re at bat and everyone’s looking to see if you’ll hit the ball. Whoooo-weeeee that takes some confidence and guts to step up to the plate! As an 8-year old he’s the youngest guy on the team; this is a division of the league that is for 9 and 10 year olds. But, he went out for the try-outs and got picked up by the team. What a nervous joy it was for him last weekend. Excited to be in with the big guys….but at the same time nervous about the speed of their throws.

Jacob did amazingly well! When he got up to bat, he hit the ball!!! He got to 1st base and then stole 2nd. He played 2nd base and 3rd base during the game. He had two amazing plays when he got a kid out from the opposing team. It was so awesome seeing his confidence sky-rocket! So proud of my boy!


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150 of them

Today was a glorious day. Even started off feeling productive. Made a quick run to the grocery store to get all that I needed for a crockpot chili dinner. Granted, would have been even more awesome had I planned that with enough time along with a plan for a whole week’s worth of meals. But, hey, one step at a time. I’ll eventually get there. Today I made the run for chili ingredients in time for when Steve needed to leave for work at 7am. I quickly cooked the ground beef and chopped up onions and celery and the green bell pepper. Threw everything in together all the while Jacob and Natalie were playing a marvelous game called ‘La Boca’.  Then I had them jump in the car while still in their pajamas and we drove the game back to our friends’ house who had let us borrow it.

Science began.

We watched a computer animation showing when in the Moon’s revolution around the Earth the Spring and Neap tides occur. Screen Shot 2014-02-25 at 8.10.55 PMI taught the kiddos that the Moon’s orbit around the Earth is not circular. This animation is not drawn scientifically. Instead, the Moon’s orbit is elliptical in shape. As a result, there is a point in the orbit that the Moon is closer to the Earth (called perigee) and a point in the orbit when the Moon is furthest from the Earth (called apogee).

Screen Shot 2014-02-25 at 8.12.47 PMWe studied a “Moon Phases Calendar” for the month of February and compared it to the Oreo-cookie moon phase observations the kids had made in the early parts of February before it started getting too cloudy at night to see the moon.

Screen Shot 2014-02-25 at 8.10.45 PMI taught them how to read a tide chart.

Screen Shot 2014-02-25 at 8.10.23 PMAnd then they consolidated all of their learning together, by trying to formulate an explanation in their own words of a “Perigean Spring Tide”.

I love, love, love that my 1st and 2nd grade kids are learning how to write complex thoughts in their own words. I remember back in the day when I taught junior high school, how many students would turn in work that was just copied textbook lines. If I asked them what it meant, they had no idea what to say. So I’m training my kids from a young age how to put complex thoughts into their own words. Words that they can then read back and fully understand as well as words they can use to explain the concept to someone orally. Today felt like one of those proud mama moments, when I could listen to the reading of their written explanation and smile because I knew success had been met. They knew what they were talking about. Yay!!! Victory!!!

Then we did some more homeschooling. Jacob worked on his “Space Race” timeline. Natalie and I read the biography of Lyman Frank Baum who wrote the ‘Wizard of Oz’ in the year 1900. Wow! I had no idea that the story was 114 years old! Natalie also learned who Judy Garland was and how became famous in her role as Dorothy in the first movie of Wizard of Oz that came out in 1939. Next I had Natalie read the summary of the production so that she would have a background knowledge of it before going to see it at a theater this weekend with Daddy. I figured that if she will be in the Haven’s Wizard of Oz Production in May, it would be neat to let her get to learn the story and already see a production so that she has a full understanding of what she’s going to be a part of.

Lunches were made and packed. Kids were dressed for the tide pools and ready with their hiking boots on. We rolled out at 10am on the dot, just as I had set out for. Oh wow today sure was feeling like a successful day already. Love it when that happens. 🙂

Off we went to Abalone Cove to meet up with our Adventure Club friends. Initially we were calendared to head to the CA Science Center today, but when a few of the moms learned that this week there are really, really low tides and really, really high tides, it was too great of an opportunity to pass up! Being able to connect the -0.8 low tide with our study of space was awesome!!!! I absolutely love making connections like that! I was bursting with excitement to share my researched websites/links/pictures with the kids this morning. What an incredible way to study space! Getting to witness firsthand the awesome combined pull of the moon’s gravity and the sun’s gravity during these days reaching New Moon in combination with Perigee…..wow!….now that’s what I call science at its finest. Days like today are what make homeschooling truly glorious!

And then there was the time at Abalone Cove. So much to soak in and treasure….

• the “island” as Jacob called it

• sitting still on the rocks….so still actually that I could hear the clicking sounds of crabs nearby.

• the tide way, way, way out

• Natalie running down the trail towards the ocean, eager beyond eager to meet up with her friends and begin the adventure. Her unabashed, joy-filled running towards the beach oh what pure, pure joy for this mama’s heart

• the kids taking notice of tiny hermit crabs

• standing still to watch itty bitty hermit crabs scuttling on rocks, in pools of water

• sculpin fish

• dry rocks for as far as my eye could see. Us climbing on rocks, balancing on rocks. Barnacles on rocks. Hundreds and thousands of barnacles. Rigid, hard barnacles that amazingly withstand the pressure of feet and body weights standing on them.

• a bright, sunny day. My face actually feels a bit ‘tight’ from the sun exposure from today. You know that “I’ve been in the sun a lot, tight feeling?”

• William ‘fishing’ with his white rope and a mussel tied on the end as bait

• Natalie smitten by William and wanting to hang out near him and watch him fish and learn how to ‘fish’ with his rope and mussel

• Jacob shouting “Mussel Central!!!!!” when he went out adventuring further on the giant island of rocks

• Natalie’s shrieks, nervousness and clinging to me for balance and safety transforming with time over to laughs, independence and leaping from rock to rock. She just needed to warm up. Glad we were there long enough to give her that time to grow comfortable.

• Jacob taking notice that there were sea hares out of water. The concern. The care. And yet he wasn’t interested in trying to pick up the sea hares so, instead, he shouted out for William. “WIIIIIIIIIILLIAM!!!! There’s a sea hare that needs you to rescue it!!!!!!” And then there would come William leaping and bounding over the rocks in his flip flops and would with great ease pick up the sea hare and deposit it in water. That’s when the “Sea Hare Farm” idea began. The kids began to search for sea hares out of water in need of the coolness and wetness of water. Jacob and Natalie would shout out the discovery of a dry sea hare and wait with a pointing finger to show William which one was in need of his rescuing. He started rescuing several. Some of them inked on his hands. His hands were purple and then the water turned purple as we watched the ever so slowly moving swirls of purple ink rise up from the mid-back section of the sea hare. Amazing. Beautiful. Truly astonishing. The search for sea hares ensued. Before we knew it, more and more and more sea hares were being added to the ‘farm’ to let them be in water.

I volunteered to be the post for the kids’ easy tracking of the ‘farm’ so that each time they went out looking for another sea hare, they could spot me and then quickly return to the same place. They were SO ambitious and kept coming back with more. That was my other volunteer job: helping them keep track of the count, so that as each of them went in search of a sea hare without water, then as they returned I could let them know where the count left off. The whole team of them had such incredible diligence and persistence to search far and wide for sea hares out of the water. I imagine God designed sea hares to withstand the 5-7 hours of low tide, but it was extremely cute nonetheless to help the kiddos in their mission of care today. William, Magnolia, Grace in search of sea hares with Jacob searching for ones in need of rescuing and Natalie keeping station with me at the pool of water. Then others came to join the mission…..Isabel, Abigail, Olivia, James, Asher. This went on and on and on. After about the 70th or perhaps it was the 80th ‘rescue’, then all of a sudden Jacob found the courage to try holding one himself. Shortly after then Natalie mustered up the courage and asked to hold one. When Magnolia reached over to give her one, Natalie changed her mind. Later though….she mustered up some more courage and indeed held one! All by herself! She was beaming!!!! So incredibly proud of herself for conquering her fear in picking up the slimy creature.

[Sidenote: tonight while I tucked Natalie into bed, I asked her what made her change her mind about trying to hold a sea hare. She said that she kept seeing Grace picking them up and not being scared. “And Grace is younger than me Mama!” A young girl Grace, who will be turning 5 in a few months, is the one who unknowingly inspired Natalie to be brave. Isn’t that just so cool!??]

Then after that moment, Natalie was leaping, springing, practically running as she scrambled from rock to rock in search of sea hares needing to be ‘rescued’. She cupped her two hands together and oh so gingerly held each sea hare as she carried it to the pool of water deemed the “Sea Hare Farm”. What a beautiful sight to behold. She had gone from being nervous and timid about the creatures, to running to be a part of their rescue. She probably had no idea how completely exhausted she would be by the day’s end from all that rock scrambling! Both kiddos had a serious workout today. It is not easy to keep your balance as you walk on uneven levels of rocks for three hours! I’m so thankful that we get to enjoy days like today as our schooling.

The quest for sea hares continued. Once they had found and carried 100 sea hares to the pool of water, I thought they would tire and be done. Nope. The search went on. Wow. These kids were showing incredible tenacity! I finally capped the search by announcing the end goal: 150. And yes, they reached it! They even exceeded it……the final count was 155. Yes, 155 sea hares were brought to the coolness of water by the hands of loving, caring children today. One hundred fifty five. That number is staggering to me. That level of dedication from the kids. They scoured the rocks far out, once they had already covered the ground in search of them near the pool. The number of rocks they traversed for these sea hares was truly beautiful to witness. I can’t even imagine what all these sea hares did several hours later at high tide. Would they be tossed about in the swirling madness of the water currents? Would they stay stationed tight onto the surfaces of the rocks there at the Sea Hare Farm? Unanswered questions. But not a single thought of the kiddos and that was fine. They were leaving with hearts full of contentment with the care and concern they had demonstrated.

They also were leaving with seriously purple hands! Hands stained a deep, deep shade of purple. I really thought William would have purple hands for a week. Magnolia and Grace had mega purple hands as well.Natalie had some purple. And Jacob had this whitish, almost translucent snot-like slime all over his hands from the sea hare or two he had picked up. Tonight after doing some research I discovered that sea hares produce two substances: ink and opaline. Screen Shot 2014-02-25 at 10.37.16 PM

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I didn’t take this picture, but I found this one online that shows where/how the sea hare emits the ink.



This online picture I found shows a sea hare emitting the opaline. It is this sticky stuff that Jacob got all over his hands. And it was sticky indeed!!!! So sticky that he couldn’t get it off his hands even when he tried washing it in the sea water or wiping it on his shirt. Get this! Turns out that scientists have performed experiments to understand the role of opaline for the sea hare. They’ve learned that this sticky substance, when it adheres to the antennae of lobsters (their predators), then the lobsters end up having to stop and spend a lot of time trying to remove the sticky substance from their antennae, to no avail. So there the lobsters sit trying madly to get it off their antennae all the while their sensory receptors on their antennae can no longer detect the presence of food nearby. Incredible! Yeah….and that’s what Jacob had all over his hands. Natalie had purple ink. Jacob had opaline.

William must have had a combination of both opaline with purple ink, because when he would slip the sea hares into the pool of water, counting them off “76….77….78….79”, he would then stand up and I would see purple oober-sticky stuff hanging from his hands. Oh me oh my! I was laughing my head off watching how totally unphased he was by what was all over his hands!

What a truly glorious day.

I’m so thankful I get to have days like these with my kiddos.

Goodnight world. I’m off to dream land. Who knows, perhaps I’ll be dreaming of sea hares, considering I saw so many of them today.

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Just a pack of gum……but it threw off my day

It seems silly, yes, I know. It’s a first-world problem for sure. But the reality of it was an indicator of how ‘out of control’ my life sometimes feels. Today the kids were going to exchange Valentine’s with their sweet friends from our Adventure Club. Two weeks ago I felt on top of things- the kids and I were touring Pinterest for ideas. There were grand visions…..of beaded heart wands….penguins….packets of gum, to wish friends an “Extra” special Valentine’s. All hand-made items. Beautiful stuff. We did all the shopping at Michaels and Target to gather all the necessary supplies. I was on my A-game. The vision and materials were accounted for. The kids created samples of their visions to see if they would work. We tried dipping hearts in a Borax solution- to create crystallized formations; they turned out beautiful but realized we didn’t have the time to create enough of those with our road trip planned for the weekend. Creative energies were flowing. My heart was thrilled to see how much dedication my kiddos were pouring into handcrafted Valentine’s for their friends. It made the sprawling mess of our dining room table totally worthwhile to see and live with for a week.

On Sunday Jacob realized he was going to be short several sticks of Extra gum for his Valentine’s. So, Monday morning after dropping off Natalie at school we headed to Target to return the blow-pop lollipops for the butterfly Valentine’s that they had changed their minds on, and to buy more Extra gum. While we were there we bought some bananas and bread as well. At the checkout counter I told the lady we didn’t need a bag. So off we walked with our few items and headed home. I felt like I had wasted our precious morning homeschool time for this trip for gum. I love the morning time the best- it’s when my kiddos are the freshest and most diligent with their school work.

Well, lo and behold! Later in the day it was discovered that the pack of watermelon flavored gum we had bought was nowhere to be found. It wasn’t in my purse…or the car…or anywhere in the house. The bananas and bread had made their way into the house, but no sign of gum. Had we left it at the checkout counter???!? Grrrrrr. Aaaaaugh. Are you serious?!?! Last night I was ever so hopeful it would show up, so I went to bed optimistic for the morning discovery.

This morning no such discovery was made. Drats! So that meant getting all of us in the car for an early morning trip for a pack of gum. I was frustrated. This had already been planned for and the trip had already been made the day before. I felt like I was wasting my time. Again. For the second time. I already felt that way with the trip to the store the previous day. And now it was happening again. Grrrrr. I didn’t like starting my day like this. Now I was wasting a second morning of precious homeschool time. I kept trying to tell myself “it’s all for the amazing thing of teaching the kids the importance of loving on others through the beautiful gift of handmade art and cards”. I asked myself a few times why in the world I didn’t just take my kids to the grocery store and pick out a few boxes of the pre made Valentine’s. Why do I always seem to have a knack for doing things that are more involved?

Then we came home and the rush was on to finish the project. I also had the great idea of doing all the prep work for a crockpot dinner. The minutes were ticking. I needed to order pizzas for the Valentine party. But we hadn’t yet done any math, reading or writing for homeschool. Ugh. That feeling of not getting things accomplished the way I had imagined them or wanted them to be done.

It was time to get dressed. I wanted to wear my fun red dress. But that required finding my bra that crisscrossed in the back. Where in the world was that bra?! Drats. Dang it. Now is when I’m bummed beyond bummed that my laundry pile is out of control. Once again that horrid feeling- life feels out of control. Here I am patiently sitting with my kiddos day after day helping them figure out how to create beautiful hand-crafted Valentine’s, but aspects of my life feel out of control. Laundry always feels out of control. I can’t stand laundry. It is the bane of my existence.

There are things I know I am doing amazingly well and others that make me feel like I don’t have my act together. Organization and cleaning- those two things get me down all the time. Raising empathetic, loving kids who can communicate their thoughts and feelings clearly and who absolutely love to learn, those I know are marks of my success as a mom.

I know it was just a pack of gum. But if felt like it indicated so much more. In teaching my kids to love on others I somehow felt like I had made an exchange once more and had missed the mark. We dedicate so much time to learning and to loving, but not enough time on cleaning and organizing. I want my kids to grow up to be loving, capable, intelligent people who don’t struggle with neatness and organization. And yet the schedule of our week somehow never reflects the practice time in cleaning and organization. It doesn’t magically happen- I know that for sure.  I’ve realized that the structure of our week doesn’t have ‘cleaning’ and ‘organization’ practice times built in. That’s going to need to be my next step.

The question is when? Ha! That limited commodity of time. It’s all about prioritizing, I get that. For instance I need time to clean off my computer hard-drive. I didn’t think this was possible- but I’ve completely filled up my hard-drive and I can’t download a single other picture. The 17,000 pictures I’ve taken and downloaded in the past 12 months alone take up a gargantuan amount of memory on my computer. Plus all the thousands of the previous years. I’ve hit the limit of my computer’s memory. Yes, I have an external hard drive and copied over all my pictures. But, really, did all the pictures get copied over? I can’t get myself to delete the 17,000 originals on my hard-drive without a surer sense of them truly all existing on the external hd. It would be a bummer of bummers if I lost part of our pictures in that process somehow. I should sit and organize my pictures into folders and then take a closer accounting of what transferred or didn’t. Or for that matter, make photo albums of the pictures that are the most precious. But with what time?

I’m trying not to get overwhelmed but I feel it creeping in. Time to clean. Time to organize. When/where/how do I make that time? It means giving up and changing other time allotments. That will need to be the focus of my next attention.

Or I can just go to sleep, call it a night, and hopefully wake up refreshed and less stressed tomorrow morning.

But reality is that tomorrow morning when I wake up and the light is streaming into Natalie’s mess of a room…..I won’t have any downloaded pictures from today’s Valentine party to remind me of the look of complete joy that was on her face as she anticipated passing out her beaded heart wands to each of her friends. Each one of those wands required her to spend time picking up, one by one, 50-70 beads and then stringing them individually, one by one, onto a pipe cleaner. That means she had the dexterity and patience to create intricate crafts utilizing between 700-1,190 small beads! And she did it with complete joy streaming from her heart! There wasn’t a single moment of “ugh! mom I wish I hadn’t started this project!” Nope. Not at all. She was dedicated and completely full to overflowing with radiant joy at the thought of loving on her friends in this tangible way. Today seeing her sit on a picnic blanket holding her vase with all the heart wands looking like a gloriously radiant bouquet of flowers each catching the sunlight in a sparkly way and her face expectant of the joy that would come with the delivery of each special gift to her beloved friends……that moment…..that precious moment is emblazoned into my memory. I hope to hold onto that forever……but especially tomorrow when I have a conniption fit over how messy her room is.

I’ve taught my kids how to appreciate their education and how to be good friends with big hearts. Now I need to focus some time and energy on developing their/my organizational/neatness skills.

Wishing myself luck with that one. Ha!


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Natalie asks for Natalie

What a wonderful evening. Listening to music on YouTube or Pandora or iTunes simply does not even come close to comparing to listening to the music live, being played by an orchestra. What a wonderful evening. I am so thankful I was able to go once again to Royce Hall at UCLA. I am so thankful that my kiddos appreciate music and have the maturity and patience to sit through a two-hour performance. Sitting there with my mom, Jacob and Natalie tonight while listening to absolutely beautiful pieces of music was such a delight to my soul. Natalie had my left hand and my mom’s right hand on her lap with her little hands clasped into each of ours. That right there was a precious moment and made my heart overflow with joy for my Natalie girl. What a treasure and delight it is to her soul, I imagine, to have Mama on one side and Omie on the other side. She looked so poised and content and radiant. I love my baby girl. At intermission, just after having listened to Weber’s Clarinet Concerto No. 2, with soloist Natalie Hoe, my Natalie asked me if there was any way she could meet her. I replied “I don’t know.” “Mama, can I ask?” “Sure, of course.” With confidence she walked herself towards the exit and asked an usher if she could please meet Natalie Hoe. That sweet woman didn’t know who Natalie was, considering she was outside of the concert hall the whole evening, having just filled her job of collecting tickets at the door. We continued on through the lobby. I spotted a young man with a musical instrument backpack on his back, he dressed in a white dress shirt with black bow tie. Bingo! He was someone we could ask. We asked if there was a chance we could possibly meet Natalie Hoe. He directed us to the double doors backstage and said we could go through there to meet her. So off we went down the hallway to the double doors. Standing in front of the doors was a man who I didn’t feel confident enough to walk right past. We asked him if we could please say hello to Natalie Hoe. He indicated there would be a reception now; seemed like a ‘no’ answer. Then to our surprise, the young man who we had initially asked, walked up to assist us in the moment and said that he was going to take us backstage to meet Natalie. Whoa! Wow! Amazing!!! So he motioned us to follow him and he took us back-stage. And there she was, in her beautiful shimmering gold-colored dress, her arms full of beautiful bouquets of flowers and her ever so sweet and gentle countenance. My Natalie was star-struck. Screen Shot 2014-02-09 at 10.46.56 PMShe stared with joy at Natalie Hoe  and was delighted beyond delighted to get to say hello and compliment her on her music. What a delight. What a sweet moment for my Mama’s heart. My Natalie is going to go far in life with her confidence in asking questions. That leaves me with a beautiful feeling. She is only six. “Six” I tell myself over and over and yet she has the maturity of a sixteen year old. I love her confidence. Love it. Love it. Love it. I feel confident that in her life she is going to ask for help when needed and advocate for herself. She already does! Tonight was no exception. It’s moments like these that solidify in her mind the great joy that comes from not being afraid to ask. So glad she experienced that success tonight!

And my sweet Jacob. So often I wonder what goes on in his mind. Oftentimes throughout the day I hear him humming something. What music is it? I often think he lives in a world of musical thought that only now and then I break through with my voice. I picture musical notes dancing through his thoughts. He’s in some other world, perhaps composing music in his mind or perhaps imagining himself playing pieces he’s already heard. I don’t know. Maybe none of this is true. But the number of times in a day that I find him humming something leads me to believe otherwise. Tonight just after we had met Natalie Hoe, we stepped outside for some fresh air. Who walked right past us? Jefferson Friedman, the composer who was there tonight for the West Coast premiere of his piece “Sacred Heart Explosion”. Jacob got this ecstatic star-struck look on his face as he recognized him. “Say hello to him, Jacob” I encouraged him. But, no, he got so shy he started to say “Mama, you, you, you…..you say hi”. I called out to Mr. Friedman but he had already briskly walked past us. Too late. A lost moment. What would we have said, though? I honestly have no idea. What does one say to a living composer? Perhaps a simple “it’s a pleasure to meet you.” But that’s what I’m thinking of now, in hindsight.

As we walked back into Royce Hall and settled into our seats, Jacob turned to me and asked “Mama, one day can I be in this orchestra?” “Sure, Jacob. I don’t know how these young musicians get to be a part of this symphony group, but we can find out.” And indeed we will research it. I just have this feeling that music is going to be a lifelong love for Jacob. I sat there listening to Dvorak’s Symphony No. 8, watching Jacob out of the corner of my eye…..his eyes fixed on the musicians on stage. What was he thinking? I know what I was thinking? I’m so thankful for rich, beautiful music like this. I’m so thankful to be here with my children. I’m so thankful that my mother taught me an appreciation for music. I’m so thankful to be spending this evening here with one child on each side of me. What little grown-ups they were tonight. 🙂 My mama heart is so proud.

A six year old and an eight year old, sitting still and quiet with hundreds of people in Royce Hall for two hours! That was worthy of a fun and crazy treat! So off we went to Deede Riese in Westwood. The last time we came I treated them to a cookie each. This time we went crazy and each of them got an ice cream sandwich!!!! I know, I know- crazy! Two cookies with ice cream in the middle. The kids were over the moon with excitement. I was thrilled to shower them with thanks for being such well-behaved children. So, yes, this crazy mama stood in line for 45 minutes, in the line that took the full length of the block in Westwood to give my kiddos a treat for being such incredible children.

Feeling so proud and thankful for my children. It’s nights like these that I hope to tuck away into my memory forever. So thankful that music is a part of our life. So thankful that my kiddos love their musical education and look forward to nights like tonight.

Who knows what the future will hold! Perhaps one or both of them will pursue something with music. Just laying the foundation, one brick at a time, for an appreciation of music. Opening their eyes and ears to all that can be created in music. What a joy it is to be a mama and to expand your children’s world!

This mama bear is going to bed, with a full happy heart.

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Dangerous and difficult. I admire astronauts.

This is what tonight needs to be all about…..my hot cup of tea in my fancy tea cup….my yummy smelling candle lit……and my heart thankful that I’m living here on planet Earth. Tonight Steve and I had the opportunity to go out on a date (thank you Grammy Jeannie!). We headed over to ArcLight Theaters to watch ‘Gravity’ with Sandra Bullock and George Clooney. Wow was that intense. Made me realize so many things.

1. Being an astronaut can be scary stuff if things go wrong.

2. Now I totally get what my friend Beth was describing- of the mess in space from when China purposefully destroyed one of its own satellites- and created a ton of space debris. Oh.my.word. Now I understand the Kessler Syndrome: “wherein impacts between objects of sizable mass spalls off debris from the force of collision. The shrapnel can then hit other objects, creating even more space debris”. Scary stuff I’m telling you. Scary. Intense. Not good. At all.

3. Oh my word I feel myself understanding what my friend Thelma meant when she said with all sorts of angst in her voice “AND WHY WOULD THEY DO THAT?!”  Okay so the Chinese tested an anti-satellite missile test and purposefully blew up one of their own satellites. It resulted in the largest recorded creation of space debris in history with at least 2,317 pieces of trackable size (golf ball size and larger) and an estimated 150,000 debris particles. My word. I never knew about that. It really did happen- in 2007. That is a lot of trash just speeding through space! How is it that even space is now messed up by humans? Wow.

4. I was happy tonight to have my feet firmly grounded on Earth. There were so many gnarly situations that Sandra Bullock was in, as the main astronaut. Wow. Being lost in space is no joke. Being without communication to Mission Control on Earth would be beyond scary. Having limited or no exit plans back to Earth would be a harrowing reality. I seriously thought I was going to cry by the end of the movie- there was so much built up suspense and emotion throughout the movie. It made me realize what incredible amounts of courage astronauts have when they blast off into space and leave behind all the securities and comforts of life on Earth. I’ve been in awe of all that I’ve been reading and learning about space…..but tonight I have a newfound awe and admiration for astronauts.

5. Almost every night I’ve been opening up an app on my iPhone and pointing it up to the night sky to learn how to identify the constellations. Space is a-m-a-z-i-n-g. It is so vast. There is SO much out there! I’ve been finding myself reading and reading a ton of literature about space. The stuff fascinates me. I truly am very intrigued by it all. The irony of it all….that tonight when we went on our date night and watched Gravity….that today is the marked “Day of Remembrance” that NASA has set aside to remember those who actually have lost their lives in the exploration of space.

“Virgil I. “Gus” Grisson, Edward H. White II and Roger B. Chaffee perished in NASA’s first major tragedy on Jan. 27, 1967. A fire broke out in the Apollo 1 module during a ground test at the launch pad about a month before the scheduled launch.

Almost 20 years later, NASA lost seven more astronauts when the space shuttle Challenger broke apart 73 seconds after launch on Jan. 28, 1986. Francis “Dick” Scobee, Ron McNair, Mike Smith, Ellison Onizuka, Judy Resnik, Greg Jarvis and NASA’s first educator astronaut, Christa McAuliffe. Exceptionally cold weather had caused a seal, called an O-ring, on the shuttle’s right solid rocket booster to fail at liftoff. This allowed pressurized hot gas to escape from inside the booster, which damaged the attachment between the booster and the orbiter.

On Feb. 1, 2003, NASA suffered another space tragedy when the space shuttle Columbia broke up over Texas on its return home at the end of the STS-107 mission. Following the accident, studies showed that a piece of foam insulation from Columbia’s fuel tank broke off during launch and hit the orbiter’s left wing, damaging the heat shield. Commander Rick Husband, pilot William McCool, mission specialists Kalpana Chawla, Laurel Clark, David Brown, payload commander Michael Anderson and Illan Ramon, Israel’s first astronaut, were lost when the orbiter’s heat shield failed to protect the vehicle from the intense heat upon re-entering Earth’s atmosphere.”

6. When I see pictures of Earth taken from space, there is just an awe that overwhelms me. A beautiful sight.

7. Working in weightlessness. Wow.

8. Muscle atrophy. Bone loss. Issues with vision. Radiation exposure. Breathing recycled air- never having fresh air for months on end. Being away from family….far far away. Astronauts accept these risks and realities. They are brave, brave, brave people.

9. So thankful that the Internet exists and that I can learn so much at my fingertips. So thrilled to get to sit at home with my kiddos learning together. What a special day it was on Monday when we were watching a live camera feed of the two Russian cosmonauts who were out on a Space Walk at the International Space Station. The feed was on our computer for the full six hour duration. As we walked through the kitchen we kept checking on their progress. Soooooooo incredible to think that here we were doing homeschooling and there they were at the ISS walking in space, tethered, doing their work. Absolutely mind-boggling. So thrilled we live in a day and age that we can witness this because of incredible technology. I love the internet!

10. Happy that tonight was Date Night. Happy that I got to spend time with my hubby and best friend. Thankful for his humor as we walked into the theater, when he turned to me and said “I think I’m going to leave my jacket on so that as you grip my arm during the movie, your nails don’t bury themselves into my skin.” Ha! He totally knows me!!!! He knew that the suspense of this movie would be at the extreme of what I could handle. I was thrilled to get to hold hands with him. To cling to him.



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