Monday, January 2, 2012

Good bye 2011!

Since last I wrote we've had an amazing summer, a wild fall and a fantastic holiday season full of wonderful traditions. Which is great. We also had a few changes. Which could've been a bummer, but turned out great as well. The lastest of those was on Christmas Eve.

Wait.

Back up.

Billy & Ricky are growing up (read plotting their exit). So when the day arrived that they sat and discussed their favorite holidays I was, well... flabbergasted. Rest assured, after picking myself up off the floor due to the shock of the clinging going on, I took note of their voiced special memories. Christmas Eve was at the top of the list.

Oh great! We always go to the same snow park & eat dinner at the same funky diner. Also, we had guests.

THERE WAS NO SNOW!

I called many ski lodges, no one had any snow. No one expected any snow till well after New Years. 

Plan B. & a family meeting later we decided on going to ice skating in Yosemite.

We all piled in the cars and headed up the highway. After a short pit stop to grab some lunch & shop at a favorite store, we were on our way to behold the beauty of Yosemite. It never gets old & is super-cool to share the awesomeness with people who have never been before, which was the case for two of our extras. After leaving the ice skating rink we headed out of the park & down to a favorite mountain top Mexican restaurant. It wasn't tradition, but it was incredible none-the-less.

Saying goodbye to 2011 was such a thrill on New Years Eve. We have a great time with this every year. I was so pleased to hear that my sons feel the same way. I feel like I got a tiny glimpse of what they'd like to incorporate into their adult lives...when that day comes.  Then, of course New Years Day was filled with shooting guns & eating beans haha! 

Oh this three week long Christmas/New Years vacation has been heaven sent. We were all just done. Our medicine? Well...there's been lots of video game playing, movie watching, book reading, texting, shopping, cooking, staying up late, sleeping in late, sleep overs, get togethers, junk food eating & general merry making.

I am thrilled to welcome 2012 with all of it's potential & wonder!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

End of School Year-ness

First of all let me just say "The good things are always the hardest things". I love, love, love this saying, or should I word it, "this reminder". Let's just say it had been a gnarly school year for sure, but it had also been a good one. This was my first year teaching two highschoolers....and all that (((THAT))) truly in tales. April, May and  June had been a check list of sorts. The song of our lives sounded something like "that's done", "okay now this over here is done", "Imma release that""it's time to close that chapter" etc, etc, mas infeno!

On a side note & just for giggles, I want point out here that when I wrote "highschoolers", spell check told me my spelling was wrong. Wanna know what their suggestion was? It was assumed  "preschoolers" was the word I was looking for.

Yeah.

Seriously though both of my boys grew physically, spiritually and academically. Growing pains hurt, for everyone.

While we were busy finishing up our last days of school at home, each outside thing (as we refer to any class/activity taken outside of our home) were slowly trickling to an end as well. This is the part of the blog where I tell you WHAT WE'D BEEN DOING ALL THAT TIME!

Let's Start with the basics:

Ricky finished his first year of Highschool well. He worked hard and accomplished much. He is already looking forward to starting Drivers Ed/Training next year!


This has been a year of growing for Ricky. He went from shopping in the boys section to shopping in the Men's section...in sizes bigger than Jeff or Billy. He is way taller than me, of course. We are sure before summers end he will be taller than Jeff! Heck, that may happen even before the month's end! Oh, and his voice, he has an incredibly deep voice. I mean really deep.


Ricky did awesome in Scouts this year! He had to change uniforms twice because he grew so, so much! Thanks to Granny for resewing patches! He looks forward to advancing in rank next year as he progressively makes his way to Eagle. He is also super pumped to be joining the Explorers Program! He had a wonderful time at the first training day he went to. All of this is such a part of who he is!

Ricky is still madly in love with singing. He never smiles bigger than a day spent singing! He has finished with both the community choir & the church choir for the year. However that's not saying much because it starts back up in three weeks. Even though one group only ended a week ago he is super pumped to get back at it!



Billy finished his Jr Year of Highschool. He is filled with excitement at the thought of being a Sr!

Billy also finished his first year as a part time college student, in Fresno City Colleges immersion program as an "A" student!! He told me that for the most part his classes were easier than things I taught him here at home, which was odd to hear. For those of you who are curious we didn't have any real problems setting him up as a life long homeschooled child in a Jr College. He tested in great & they glanced VERY quickly at his transcripts. The end. He was in the Latin/Jazz band, which counted as one of the two classes he was eligible to participate in each semester. Billy isn't fond of this particular variety of music, but it's a foot in the door so to speak. The first semester he took a computer class, the second a writing class. When I said "we didn't have any real problems", I was insinuating we did have a slight hiccup. That was in regards to the writing class. You see I had looked through the catalog with the knowledge of his academic experience thus far in my mind. I knew what he needed for filling in gaps. I knew what he was eligible to take ACCORDING TO THEIR TESTS. So it was totally lame to have to push for him to be placed in the class we wanted him in. The staff was worried that the class would be too difficult for him.

You know what?

After the very first assignment was turned in the teacher asked him if he wouldn't rather move up to a higher class. Grrr. Lame beginnings, but a great class non-the-less. Oh, & he is registered for Fall classes to boot!

Billy Finished the driving experience & passed  both Driving Tests the first try no problems! While he collected permit hours he traveled in rain, over mountains, while it snowed, at night, on freeways, in busy neighborhoods with little children darting about, in fog, in 5:00 traffic &  in holiday traffic, in the Bay Area. Breathe. He is a good driver. Really.



On to the Traditions:
There are signs in life that mark particular occasions. Those exist for the exodus of the school year as well. For my boys it goes like this;

CHEFA's Sqaure Dance. It is a wacky, zanny, silly, just-let-loose-laugh-and-enjoy yourself kind of night!



CHEFA's Formal...and After Party






The Vincent Family Evaluation of the School Year. This time around we took a picnic dinner to Lost Lake. It consisted of Applesauce & Raisin Biscuits with a ton of ooh so gooey, glazey frosting (Ricky) Homemade Lemon/Limeade with Strawberries & Raspberries blended in (Billy), Fava Bean Salad & Triptrip cooked in a garlic oil (Me).




 

The Vincent Family Congratulatory Dinner. This is where we dress nicely, go to a restaurant of the boys mutual choosing and tell them how wonderful they are. This year they chose Olive Garden. We normally present them with the badges that they've earned via the Contenders Program we utilize in our school. We had a scheduling glitch with that one though...oops!

AND. Then there's ALL the End of the School Year Parties! Which of course includes one in our very own little school. We bought the boys a few little gifts to enjoy over the summer, made a "Welcome to Summer sign (which is still hanging up) & ate yummy food. This year Ricky BBQed us his version of a BBQ sauce, bacon &  onion ring sportin' cheese burger like a local restaurant serves. Usually he makes his own onion rings, but this day he didn't have the time, so he used frozen. We ended our night at YoDiggity.










Annnd..... then there was the steady stream of  the Graduations, and ALL the Graduation parties! Parties, parties, parties  galore. I tell you man, it was a jungle out there! I'm talkin' College, High School, Jr High & even cute little Kindergarteners.



As you can see we'd been tying up loose ends with the curriculum side of things and wrapping up all those FUN muuuusssttt does.  Quite frankly the big shabang had all but reduced my brain to confetti. So yeah, bye now! hm-mm buh-bye! That was soooo my theme song the last month & 1/2.

Yes we do actually celebrate holidays!

Okay first of all. I know I haven't written in 300 years & then I bombard the blog with gobs of entries. So first let me explain a few things. Some of these entries have been sitting in draft for what seems like a lifetime. Written, yes, but waiting for me to upload pictures to go along with them. Some have been sitting there for so long, like this one, that the title keeps changing & the content keeps growing. I blog for two reasons, to share our lives with all you all & to mark a memory to pass down the family line. So here we go...

In April my groom & I celebrated our 17th wedding anniversary.  He wasn't available to sneak away on the actual anniversary date. However I received a bouquet of flower delivered right to our doorstep. It was custom made with daisies, because they are my favorite flowers.  Peach roses & baby's breath were added, because that's what filled my wedding bouquet. White carnations were added because that's what sweethearts exchanged when we were in high school. Yes it added to his total lovability! later that week I convinced him to play hooky from work & we slid off radar. We spent a dreamy afternoon hiking up at Pine Flat Reservoir. You should maybe see the magic for yourself someday. With all the wild flowers & green carpeted hills it is beautiful in the spring. However that's not why were there. I don't know about you, but I have yet to meet a couple who didn't need to press restart on their marriage. We did, presumably you did too. Pine Flat is where we did just that many, many years ago. It's basically a memorial for us.





But wait there's more in April ... Easter & Ricky's Birthday...on the same day. First things first. What did we do about Ricky? Since both boys were gone the whole week before Easter on a local missions trip we decided not to try and fit in a party this year. Ricky is growing up, but he is still tender to tradition. I had to think out-of-the-box. We decided to ask our friends from Give Me Some Sugah to make him up a gift basket. If you follow the link you can see what they made for him. We had this delivered during choir practice as close to his birthday as possible. All his classmates sang him happy birthday. This was the closest we could get to an actual event to let him know he is special to us.



We have a tradition of waking up our kids singing them the birthday song. The Shugert family called earlier than we had anticipated waking Ricky up, to say happy birthday. So while he was yet sleeping, with the speaker phone on, they sang to him! Very cool way to wake up! Even though we had Easter to attend the day of his birthday we still busted out the photo albums to reminiscence Ricky's life, such as when he would make bows & arrows from bamboo growing in the backyard. I hold the last 14 years close to my heart.

Speaking of Easter. My Mother in Law hosts a thoughtful meal. My Grandparents played a big role in my growing up years. That fact that my Grandfather was Armenian was evident in our meals. My Mother in Law tries to include some of those foods on Easter for my sake. That is very thoughtful indeed. We had a great day full of good conversation & lots of yummy food. They also had a small time of recognizing Ricky's day.

May brought us Mothers Day & Billy's Birthday....on the same day! Yes that again. It's neat, but also a pain to schedule events. We decided on no party for Billy either. Since we didn't have outside family to add to the mix Billy & I busied ourselves via the internet scoping California for some fun activity, we hadn't already done. We decided on visiting Solvang. Ever been? Such a cute Scandinavian village! We had so much fun. We got our Danish pastries on at Olsens's Danish Village Bakery eating almond rings, kringles & tarts. We went to Ingeborg's Chocolates where we had some chocolate covered honeycombs & marzipan goodies. We had aebleskiver, frikadellar, medisterpolse & rodkaal among other unnameables at a smorgaasbord restaurant (is that redundant? I wonder?)  called The Red Viking.

We didn't just eat. However maybe it's a good thing we rented a surrey to tour the town in. It's called pedal off the snacks as you munch, munch, munch! After we felt like we'd shopped & ate our way through downtown Solvang we hopped in the car & went critter searching. We went to Pacific Breeze Alpaca Farm, Ostrich Land Ostrich Farm, Quicksilver Miniature Horse Ranch & Seein' Spots Miniature Donkeys & Mules Rescue. On the way home we stopped at Oceano Dunes to watch the waves & birds as we ate our picnic dinner.





Later that week we celebrated the gift of Billy's previous 16 years life with dinner at the in laws. The next day Billy & Ricky took the money they got from both sets of Grandparents, us & money they had earned along the way to the store. They bought themselves a movie, a few video games & a new 360 game system.

The In Laws hosted a Family Reunion at the end of May. Lots of good food & fellowship. It's always a pleasure to see extended family, to show my sons their "people". My Mother in Law is a genealogy buff. So it is at times like this that she really sparkles. She has binders full of information on each section of the family line complete with photos & news paper articles. She says something to the effect of "if you don't want your family to know about your life choices, make sure you don't get published, cuz I will put it in here" Anyway people pretty much sat around visiting, looking at photo albums & her binders. Holidays in this family usually lead to a long walk after eating a large meal. Those who chose to do so on this day in late May got rained on. Just another testament to this years odd weather patterns.

On to June for my birthday we went to Manresa Beach.  We brought the cast iron dutch oven & had a beach bonfire! Jeff  made us fillet sandwiches with a buckaroo sauce for lunch. Billy made us another version of lemonade. This version had blender-ized fruit that had been frozen into ice cubes & popped into a thermos with the juice. Ricky made us a chocolate cake that had coke & mini marshmallows in the batter (I know, but trust me it was delish!). Then we all went for a shell collecting walk. After that Jeff & Ricky went boogie boarding. Billy started the fire again. We made Red cabbage with potatoes, onion, apples and bacon. We played Corn Hole & Ladder Ball, so fun! Before we went home we stopped off and got some of Gilroy's famous Garlic Ice Cream. Yum!






Then of course there's Fathers Day, which played out a lot different this year. We actually celebrated Jeff & all his Dadliness the Monday before Fathers Day with a special dinner & speach. This was because the actual date had us up dark & early taking our sons to buy last minute items they forgot to tell us they needed. Then  get them to our church parking lot, while it was then bright...but still very early. They were leaving on a missions trip to Mexico. After dropping them off we went home to prepare for heading up to Millerton Lake. This is where we stayed for most of the day. We were with our great friends, the Solteros. We were together honoring the life of their oldest son who recently passed. The day ended at the In Laws where we had a celebratory dinner for both of the Jeffs (father & son).



July leads us to our latest event,  4th of July baby! Independence Day is important to this freedom loving family. Which was also played out unorthodox-like this year. The reason why, the bad news, was Ricky being on tour with our church youth choir during this holiday. That took the wind right out of my sail. BUT. I picked myself up by my imaginative boot straps & carried on...to Bass Lake.  Yes, we missed him. For one Jeff nor Billy would sing all the crazy patriotic songs with me. Okay so maybe they aren't exactly crazy songs, maybe it's just the way we sing them. Maybe. We all texted him on the 4th. I also put a crazy tall 4th of July hat in his luggage. If you know Ricky you know two things. #1 He loves hats, the sillier the better. #2 he is a goofball. That made my momma's heart feel better, more connected to him. Know what though, there was good news on this end too. We were able to have a special day with Jeff, Billy & I setting our timers to OFF! As a result Billy ended up sharing many of the thoughts rolling around in his head. We eagerly soaked it all in. For lunch we had fettuccine alfredo with peas & prosciutto. Yes cooked lakeside, what can I say, I had a craving. We ALSO had the traditional dinner of BBQed chicken, watermelon slices, blueberries & goop, baked beans & coleslaw cooked lakeside. Oh & Billy made incredibly delish  brownies to boot! Yeah...we didn't go hungry that day. We had a wonderfully lazy day lounging around eating, reading, swimming, taking leisurely walks & just breathing in the fresh mountain air. Then of course the evening was topped off with the shimmering display of fireworks over the lake!


Saturday, July 16, 2011

My Sons



My boys are growing up on me. They are more independent with every passing year. That's as it should be, yet they are working me out of a job. I have enjoyed every stage of their lives...every age. Challenging? Sure, but also a joy.
 Let me tell you a bit about my affectionate, fun loving, bold, reckless, adventurous baby boy. Oh how he loves to sing all through the day, every day. He also loves to give big bear hugs & is full of sweet gestures. He is incredibly generous. He is supportive, loyal & kind. He is a real prince charming. He genuinely wants to help people. He is the hardest worker you will ever meet. He loves to work with his hands, he loves to tinker with things. He is an intuitive problem solver. He is willing to be anyone's ever ready sidekick, he doesn't feel the need to have the light shine on him. All of these things make him a great leader. I've always thought it neat that Ricky was born in late Spring as the trees are full of lovely fruit & grapes are heavy-hanging on the vines, they are busting full of enthusiastic life, so is he! Speaking of food, he loves to bake us up yummy treats & he really rocks the BBQ! Ricky is outgoing. He is creative. He's gentle, but he is a mans man! He is action defined! He is Mr. rough & tumble through & through! He is our bold & adventurous thrill seeker! He is our lover of outdoors & emergency preparedness is his game.  He loves all things martial arts. He loves to converse with anyone on politics, theology & weaponry. He is funny, he loves to laugh & I love to laugh with him. Oh I just adore this guy.  Ricky is always my youngest baby, yet nearly a man.



 Now let me tell you a bit about my devoted, reflective, quick witted, talented, ever eager first born son. He loves to play all things percussion, his favorite being the West African djembe. His love for circling the globe doesn't end with instruments. He's also into cooking us up exotic foods as well as trying new foods cooked by others. He's eager to travel the globe seeing artifacts & Gods creation. He loves exotic animals, whether in land or sea. His sometimes gruff seeming exterior is instantly melted by small children & the elderly, letting you see his truly gentle spirit. His intellect is visible in his writing & speaking expressions. Given enough time, he could see straight through a brick wall. His words are as smooth as butter & and as meticulously piercing as a knife. He shares his brothers love for martial arts as well as discussing politics, theology & weaponry...imagine what my living room looks like! He loves to run, it seems to free his mind & challenge him to new heights. Billy isn't always active; he stealthily watches people & he really likes just. being. together. Billy has a keen discerning eye for the finer things in life, he recognizes quality or the lack there of. When Billy creates things they are done with precision & focus. The year that Billy was born, his birthday landed on Mothers Day. Yes, that's right, he was my very first Mothers Day gift! I should've known then, it was a sign of things to come, he has never gone"the expected route".  So many circumstances made his arrival a difficult journey. Billy is my miracle, I am so grateful to have him. Billy has a deeply sarcastic, dry sense of humor &  I love it! The more he grows, the more fun it is to talk to him. Billy is morphing like a caterpillar he's coming out of his coma a new ((awesome))) creature. Billy has grown up so much this year. He has experienced many firsts such as his first job & first college classes. He received his drivers license as well. I have heard good reports back on his work ethic & I can attest to his calmingly (is that even a word?)great driving skills. I have one official year left with my oldest baby, I cherish it, I cherish him.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

High Energy (mostly ) Christian Playlist

Okay so here's the deal, the guys & I joined GB3 last month. It's a fitness club literally 5 minutes from our driveway. I never really thought this day would come. I am more into doing the outside thing. However we live in Fresno, time to face the facts. Bleh! Besides GB3 set an excellent (frozen) price for the 4 of us! The three guys are well beyond happy to get their iron pumpin', which makes for easy PE. I however think that it's incredibly boring. Like fall asleep boring. I refuse. Unfortunately 6:00 am is when our 4-pack needs to go to the gym in order the get back home in enough time for family devotions and math w/ Dad. I don't thinks it's unfortunate because it is so early. I am in love with early morning-ness!  I am bummed because not many other people are interested in watching the sun rise as they exercise. This basically means no fun classes, like Zumba are available for me. Therefore I decided I needed to compile all my "Get Your Fanny Movin' Chica!" songs. Contrary to popular belief, I am electronically challenged. So after deciding which songs would crack the metaphorical whip, asked Jeff to upload them onto the ipod. Here is that list. Starting with my "calm" warm up song & going from there.

Warm Up (& cool down)
#1 Manifesto-The City Harmonic

#2 Hold Me- Jamie Grace & Toby Mac

#3 Say Hey-Michael Franti (not Christian)

#4 Shackles- MaryMary

#5 Pocketful of Sunshine- Natasha Bedingfield (not Christian)

Time to get funky
#6Extreme Days- Toby Mac

#7 Outcast- Kerry Roberts

#8 J Train -Kirk Franklin & Toby Mac

#9 Movin'- Group 1 Crew

#10 Boomin' -Toby Mac

#11 Never Let Me Go- Family Force Five

#12 Extreme Days- Toby Mac

#13Soliders- Out Of Eden

#14 Phenomenon- Toby Mac

#15 No More - Beckah Shae

#16 Supersonic -Family force Five

#17 Rawkfist-Thousand Foot Krutch

#18 Whip My Hair -Willow Smith (not Christian...and yes it is a little girl. Let's just say I totally have some people that inspire me to sing with her when she says "Don't let haters keep me off my grind, keep my head up and I know I'll be fine, keep fighting till I get there...I'm down and feel like giving up? I whip my hair back & forth!!......)

#19 Faith, Hope & Love- Beckah Shae

#20 Catchafire-Toby Mac

Yes, I am aware it is heavy on Toby. I didn't set out to do that. Let's just face it. He has wild, crazy, voluminous ENERGY! When his music is pumpin, so am I. After the fact I have thought of other songs (Toby & not) that I could've added. Maybe they will got into volume two of "Get Your Fanny Movin' Chica!"

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

ROLLER COASTER OF LOVE, OR YOU KNOW, MARCH.

When my sons were younger we didn't do much. We had an easy, breezy life. I remember feeling lonely and bored some days. Other days I was content to just be. For the most part I loved our gentle, quiet life.

As my sons have become teenagers that has rapidly changed. Jeff & I made the decision to ride this wave, to embrace this exciting time with our sons. However I do wish Spring wasn't quite so incredibly busy.

At any rate I've been buckled up and ready for the spring sensation roller coaster. I love my children. I love providing opportunities for growth, fellowship and fun. Love is my source of energy. I find joy in exposing them to wonderful people, great events and exceptional works! Joy is what drives me forward in this season.

Let me share with you a bit of our March Madness. This is always pretty interesting as we not only deal with all the hub and bub of a rise in activity level, but a side issue. I was walloped again by my yearly storm of life, you know the crazy makers paradise! Grr, boo, hiss! Something I will never "get over". Something I have released to God time and time again. Something I leave in his hands again as I go about today. I am talking about the death of my little sister. Also the knowledge of the lingering death of another little sister. I hate March for this reason. (***for those who don't know, my two sisters are victims of Frederich's Ataxia, a form of Muscular Dystrophy.***)I hate everything about the disease. I hate that it overtook them. I hate that I carry the burden of not sharing in their fate.

This year March got even worse. My sweet, sweet Jacki & her family lost their son. He was 24 years old. A parent should never have to bury their child. Although this was a difficult situation, it was also a joy. We got to watch as God brought this family together. We were able to cry with them and rejoice with them as well. We had a wonderful visit at a pizza party and shared memories together at the memorial.
Billy & Ricky at Pizza Party

The last time we saw AJ. Shown here with little sis Kayleen.




                                Life is delicate, March reminds me of this...every year.

March brings good with it as well. For one can you say, "RAIN, RAIN, Glorious Rain"!?! I do realize that not everyone in this country feels the same way about water right now. For their situations, I am truly sorry. BUT. For just a moment let us shelf that and be utterly grateful for rain in such a baron land. I just love springtime in central California. It is absolutely magnificent, extra especially so this year! I just love all the green and the blossoms are incredible!
Our neighbors front yard

 Speaking of weather this spring. It snowed in Fresno! No joke, really it did! And. It snowed in the central coast mountain areas. We were hiking in the Bear Gulch area of Pinnacles National Monument the day it happened. At one point we were in a cave with an amazing waterfall flowing down the side and snowflakes floating down through open cracks onto our heads. I'm glad we were there for this wildly breathtaking natural event.
A shot of the Pinnacles with snow freckling them
                  
Ricky climbing in one of the many, many caves.
                                           
  A sky-lite view of snowflakes falling into the cave.
                                             
Billy & Ricky climbing a staircase out of a cave.
 Every March we get to celebrate the birthdays of two very special girls. Elizabeth & Trisitea are not technically my nieces, however that is how we tell the story. Let's let Marilyn Monroe pick this one up for us as she amply puts it "Sometimes things fall apart allowing better things to fall together". Having these two not-so-little-girlies in our lives has been a huge joy for my guys and I. Jeff & I have had the privilege of taking them to a play, out dancing, to a "fancy" dinner and given them "jewels". I have painted fingernails and tootsies as well. I have gone on creek side picnics and other such imaginative play. Even Jeff has played along with ballerina and tea party when they'd beg. Ever hear the one about the uncle whose "nieces" had him wrapped around their little fingers?..I'm just sayin' is all.  Anyway. We've both read countless bedtime stories and said nightie-night prayers. Heck even Billy and Ricky have joined in with jacks, jump rope, hula hoops and taking baby dolls for walks. This year they began teaching the girls a bit about piano and drum playing.

The "March" point? Two years ago, when she turned 10, we bought Elizabeth a hope chest. It is delicate and feminine, just like her. I have had a blast contributing to it ever since. This year Trisitea turned 10. I sheepishly confess that I was terrified to give her a hope chest. In my defense she isn't very...shall we say "girlie". I was afraid she would be utterly disappointed. We did manage to find an old seafaring trunk, which is gold for a tomboy! BUT. That isn't even the best part. She was thrilled with it yes, however she was mostly thrilled that she was getting this extra special "I'm a women-to-be gift. Wow. Who would've thought all this time I wasted in worry? She was on the other side of the coin eager with anticipation at HOPEFULLY receiving the same jester her sister received two year prior. As I sat munching on the sugary nirvana that Elizabeth created for us all to enjoy my mind drifted from the party. It was so special to know that what I do matters, it really matters. I will never forget that day. I will never forget Tristiea's excitement. I will never get over how she scanned the remaining packages after she got the hope chest in search of "just one more package from me". When I handed it to her she said "is this what I think it is?, Is this the first gift for my hope chest?" Awesome. Purely awesome!

In March we went to a dinner theater performance that CJ, our "nephew" was in. He played his part well, we enjoyed the food! Oh my, my and the dessert was de-vine! I should mention that this particular play was put on by a local charity. The proceeds from the play went directly toward water wells in Uganda. We were thrilled to support the cause...and CJ.

In March Billy & Ricky searched out and designed knives for this years Fine Arts Faire. They each made two. They spent any "extra" time they had working at their papa's shop. Jeff & his dad were overseers for this endeavor. The boys were really pleased with the outcome of their products, as were we. Unfortunately they came home from Winter Camp sick and so were unable to attend the Faire. However we did bring the knives in so they could be on display at the Faire. They had rave reviews! We are pleased for them.

                                                     
Ricky working on knives at Papa's shop

In March Billy & Ricky went to the Rock and Worship Road Show, follow the link if you've never heard of it, or you know, you're curious. http://therockandworshiproadshow.com/artists/ We dropped them off at noon in front of Starbucks, across the street from the Savemart Performance Center, with a backpack full of waters and snacks. There they met up with a clump of other teens. Together they marched off to begin their long wait. This concert series is a mere $10 and is 1st come-1st serve. Which translates...wait in line for hours to insure your tickets get bought, hence the backpack. Late that night to avoid traffic jams we met again at Starbucks.

In March Billy & Ricky went to Aquire the Fire. This is a two day event meant to help ignite the desire to live a God pleasing life in the hearts of teens. Check it out if you want to by following this link. http://www.acquirethefire.com/  This is something we've been wanting to send our sons to for several years. In the past, it just never seemed to work out. Therefore this year we were so pleased to be able to send them! Jeff was so excited he even upgraded their tickets. They met up with friends while they were there leading to a great time of fellowship in between sessions and during meals.


In March our church hosted A Night to Remember. This was to teach young men how to treat young women. Our sons had to dress formally, use table manners, speak kind words, listen attentively etc..etc..etc..Think of it as Christian Charm School. It was an event filled with great, unforgettable lessons.
  
                                                           
Billy and a bunch of friends
March Madness is behind us, thank you Jesus for that. It's hard to finish the last leg of schooling with summer vacation on the horizon and all the wrapping up of the school year activities. In that sense Easter break is like a bit of heaven. It gives me a chance to exhale before resolving to tackle the remainder of the school year. Easter Break begins this weekend and I am oh so glad it does!

Monday, April 11, 2011

A Modern Day Hero...and a hope for us all.

Yesterday we celebrated, along with his family, the life of an ordinary, yet truly remarkable man.


We listened as his sons talked about their Grandparents. How Grandpa would go tent preaching & Grandma along with the children sang songs and played instruments. They talked about the gospel, love (and music) that was clearly in that home.

We listen as his sons talked about how their father (upon growing up from little boy in tent services to head of his own household) continued purposeful shepherding of the church and most especially of his home. He never made his role as pastor more important than his role as husband and father...and grandfather...and great grandfather. They shared about the gospel, work ethic, nurturing, music, love and laughter in his home.

We watched as his legacy unfolded before us. We watched his children, grandchildren and great grandchildren honor him in their own special way, with music. They sang and played instruments individually, in small groups and as a whole family. Even his elderly, rickety brother and his wife were singing for him! The attentiveness that this man gave to guiding his flock was evident. It is so every Sunday as we worship with his family. We see their integrity. We see what God has done in the life of a faithful servant and his generations after him.

This man was Bob Parker. He was Pastor at Riverpark Bible church many years ago. He had been in "retirement" for several years. Though it is said that he never really caught on to that concept. As evidenced by his continued heart felt service to God & His people. This memorial had attendants from many of the churches he visited or was a short term pastor at during his "retirement". He was also cherished by members from the original "Riverpark" as well as those (like us) attending now.

It was a powerful picture of what life can be when our priorities are lined up correctly.

Not all of us can stand and say we have a legacy like the Parker family. A legacy that went even further back than Bob himself. Sadly many people have parents or grandparents who did not lead honorable paths. However a difference can be made right here, right now for future generations. We honor Christ by striving after His gospel. When we lay our troubles at his feet, when we release our hurts for him to carry, when we step back and let him worry about the vengeance we are free from harbored hate or malice. Loving and praying for our forebears comes more easily. Joy is readily available. Peace reigns in homes and in our hearts.

What will they say at your memorial? What will they say at mine? Let us all have the strength to do the things that lead us down the path we truly want for ourselves and our children and our childrens, children......

Thursday, April 7, 2011

BBQ Cups, experience the yum!

I have been collecting recipes, and writing a bit of a story about each one to boot! I do this for my sons despite the crushing fact that they don't seem to really care about this cookbook thang. I am banking on the fact that one day they will understand just how special this is. You know, a family heirloom sort of treasure. If not at least I have my niece Elizabeth. Five years ago she leaned over my shoulder and saw me writing out a story about a recipe. She was thrilled with my explanation about this endeavor. She continues to ask me about it. With the encouraging, "when do I get my copy". Or the annoying, "aren't you done yet".

On to the point. One recipe is from the kitchen of Grandma Debbie, my good friend Jenny's mom and Elizabeth's Grandma. Debbie made BBQ Cups while her kids were growing up. When Jenny became a momma herself she carried this on. One fine day (when the clouds parted and heavenly light beamed down on a kitchen platter) she made these tasty bits for my sons. They love, love, loved them! I asked for the recipe and as they say "the rest is history"!!

Anyway when I saw the following entry over at Rocks in My Dryer I just had to share it! She has such a great visual presentation, much better than any recipe site I searched! So anyway, go to the store, get the ingredients and get your cup on! You can thank me later for this wonderful, simple goodness...

BBQ Cups @ Rocks

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Maintenance

    These last few months have been a gnarly ride! This in turn left me functioning much like a zombie doing life. Not good. A month or so ago I tried, yet again, to find some comfort through a woman's ministry. I was trying to find a way to climb out of my funk. I only went one evening. However I knew right away it just wasn't for me. Maybe one day it will be the right thing for me to be a part of. For now it just isn't the right fit. However some wonderful things did happen while I was there that night, things that made going just then worth it. For instance I became aware of a few book titles I am definitely going to add to my summer reading list!  I received a really nice ego boost from a sweet, sweet lady, which is always a good thing. I also became aware of an exciting movement. Now usually I steer clear of anything with the word "movement" attached. However this is different. This is exciting! Check it out. http://www.truewoman.com. I am now following this on Facebook which gives me regular ingestions of good things. As to the rest? For now, in all the emotion encompassing world, I feel safely afloat with just God, a few sweet girlfriends and Jeff.
    I am a lover of quiet time alone with God & my thoughts. To be certain, I have been in need of some knock down, drag out, cleansing, quiet time alone with God. This weekend, while my kiddos were out of town I got just that! I spent the weekend getting away from the madness, falling into the rest of Jesus and the wisdom of His words. I cried, I yelled, I laughed, I slept. Much peace and guidance came from these days events. It's called soul maintenance people!
    I love being a mom. However with my boys gone it was my "get out of jail free" card. You know, my chance to bust loose for a minute. That is exactly what Jeff & I did. Our plans did have a bit of a hiccup. However all is well that ends well. We got up Saturday morning and hit the road. We talked, and talked and talked. It was good. While we talked the car kept right on rolling along. Up and down we went to Soquel, back down to Santa Cruz for lunch, back up to Scott's Valley. We drove into the Santa Cruz mountains to view giant redwoods in Felton & beyond, down into San Jose for ice cream, back up, then down in Capitola just cuz it's so stinkin' cute and ended at Rio Del Mar for a picnic dinner on the beach.  Normally I would say that level of driving wouldn't be stress reducing. However the scenery was gorgeous, I mean come on clearly California in the Spring cannot be topped. Also the conversation gave adrenaline it's purpose. I love you Jeff. I especially love that Snow White's in Aptos was playing the music of our young love. Good, good memories! This was total couple maintenance!
   The next day we spent at home. Alone. We slept in, which in & of itself was amazing. Jeff & Charity Vincent do not sleep in, at the same time. Ever. We tackled a big nasty project that we've been putting off for like a year. We spent the day showing some garage love. Which actually brought on more driving. We bought 4 storage cabinets for the garage from our friends. They live in Coarsegold. Jeff actually was a truck driver in a former life, I think. Haha. Just kidding, but he really does love to drive. Well I love getting lost in the greatness of working along side my man. We are a good team. Projects are always full of laughter with us.
   Jeff has his man-cave full of tools, exercise equipment, ipod base, BBQ gear, outdoor fridge and all other things manly set up for his grunt fests. The rest of the sports and outdoor adventuring stuff is nicely organized to boot! In addition, the game room aspect of the garage is functional as well. I guess these things are all really part of project manliness too. Oh and me? My itty, bitty corner is all prettified as well. The garage is home to a monstrous amount of "stuff". When "everything is in it's place" it functions splendidly. However the teeth grinding problem was WE NEEDED PROPER STORAGE!! We now have that. You may ask why I add this to a list of stress releasers. Well. This project has been haunting me. Angering me. My house remains fairly clean. The shock of walking into the garage ruined a perfectly good day...too many times to count. Home maintenance at it finest!
  Now I look forward to some much needed dinner plans that are already in the works with some special ladies in my life. You girlies are all so different, all so necessary. You each represent a piece of my heart. This is called emotional maintenance my friends!

Monday, March 7, 2011

The hidden costs of a Winter Retreat

The conversation that started it all....

R: "Mom can we go on the Winter Retreat?"

Me: "What? Wait. The Winter Retreat?"  "Oh yeah, I guess it is still winter."

B: "Huh?"

Me: "Well we've had the windows open all week...and most of last week. The sun was shining so brightly we had the air conditioner on in the car a few days already. Sure doesn"t feel like Winter"

B&R: "Yeah weird, so can we?"

I was frozen for a moment, just thinking on winter...on snow. I love when it comes so softly.  There's beauty in a heavy sky with quiet, gentle falling snow flakes. The world seems so still.  I also like what happens after a crazy rush of white; a glistening blanket covers the landscape. Would it be redundant to say I love it? I have a great, vivid, technicolor memory of snow and evergreens. I really wish I could visit the high mountains more regularly, it's where I feel most tranquil.....

B: "Uhhh Mom?"

Me: "That will be nice. Playing in the snow sounds great. Those youth leaders sure know how to fuel the cheerfulness! Yes, you can go, wait, how much will it cost?"

Suffice it to say B&R went on the Winter Retreat last weekend. They had a superfluously fun time, learned valuable lessons and all that jazz. In addition, Billy came home with a black eye, scratches all over his eye and mouth.. and sick. Ricky also came home sick. WHATEVER! I had wondered about the weather extremes making them ill. However I didn't bank on sick kids being at the retreat. There were. They shared. My kids are extremely healthy so I am sure we will be through with this tomorrow..but still. Geezz!!! Oh, and the "battle wounds"? These are things you come to expect as a mother of active boys. I don't believe I've ever received both of them (at the same time) unmarked. That is just life with boys.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

The Three Stooges...or Stages???

                                   CJ, Billy & Ricky met when they were 4, 3 &1

While they have been busy growing  up together CJ has spent many weeks/weekends at our house. The older they get the harder it has become to facilitate such bliss. However recently they were able to celebrate the lives of George and Abe together. It was a 4 day weekend of teenage boy heaven! They concocted big plans to squeeze into the time they had together. In the effort to help I gave both of my guys $10...and Jenny sent CJ with $10 of his own. Billy & Ricky decided they wanted this to be extra special since it was likely not to happen again for a long, long time. Anyway they threw in more of their own money and a few gift cards to make the time look like they thought it should.

It all began Friday afternoon. They met at Starbucks in Riverpark.  By the time they were retrieved that evening they had conquered sugary bliss at Starbucks, taken in a movie (The Eagle) at Edwards...where they added to the diabetic coma with soda and popcorn. Oh but they ended at Jamba Juice for that touch of health. Amazingly enough they weren't really all that hungry when we met up for dinner that evening. Even though we met at Harlem Waffles and Wings, weird. Maybe not weird to normal people, but we are talkin' 14, 16 & 17 year old males! I ordered food to go and basically left it hanging around...sure enough eventually my 3 little squawking birdies showed up for their dinner. They spent the evening playing board games watching movies, playing video games and gnawing the siding off my house. Well sorta.

My boys have separate rooms. So when "sleeping" came around CJ decided to spend one night in each boys room...Okay. So seriously. Are sleepovers really necessary?  I mean isn't this the question we ask ourselves each time? At like 2:00 am! I know, I said yes. I deserve no sympathy. Speaking of which CJ spent the last night on the sofa. We have hardwood floors. He chose too though...well I guess I'll give him sympathy.

Saturday was great for Billy & CJ because Ricky was off with his Boy Scout troop for the day, they had some time alone. After they finally woke up, at like noon, they did an hour and 1/2 work out. Then they ate rich creamy goodness...acorn and leek soup. And. A. Loaf. Of. Bread. Though he will probably never admit it...I think yesterday was a bit much for Billy. I think his body wanted some real food. Also to set the record straight CJ ASKED for the soup. I wasn't going to even suggest  he eat it. They then went for an hour or so walk. Upon arrival back at the house they ate more food. Then spent the remainder of the day watching movies and playing video games. CJ brought his 360 along for the visit, but no controllers. Since my boys have a 360 fund they bought a controller....and yes they walked to get it. Ricky came home in time for more food. Then the 3 of them returned to the brain atrophying state of video games and movies.

Bright and early Sunday morning we were up and out the door to church. Next we went swinging down to Hanford with a car full of gushing, exploding, rampaging hormones for a party with CJ's parents, then back home. Ricky went to choir practice. Billy & CJ? Oh, you guessed it...more mid-semester media mania...marathon?? mayhem??? Yeah you couldn't tame those stallions.

Monday Beaufort Billy had responsibilities to tend to. It was nice for son #2 to have some time alone with C.J. However Cletus CJ & Rupert Ricky slept in till noon, they're hilarious. Then in an effort to continue with the brain dwindling experiment the zonked men-folk, looking like they'd taken a dozen sedatives watched movies and played video games. Mean while I was bakin' up some acorn,  butternut sqaush with apple sauce whole grain muffins.  I ended up drizzling  lemon and orange goop over the tops. Nutrient packed yummytime! They ate like a dozen each. Somewhere in there I kicked them out the front door (locking it) and made them go for a walk. Okay so...what of it? They needed it.

.....and, um, yeah, to all that your mind is dwelling on ....hmmm? No. I don't normally allow this. As a matter of fact I never have before. So why did I now? These boys have heavy loads on their plates. Life is tough. Work and schooling are stressful. They are on the last leg of the school year and really, really needed a break. Every teen-aged male inspires their parents to say "look another awww moment". Ten minutes later those same teens can bring their parents to the point when all they want to say to those ever hungry males is "get yourself a big-o bowl of SHUT UP!" It's a safe guess to assume these guys needed to numb out. So I allowed that. Sometimes in parenthood the right medicine is to lighten up...it's called grace.
                                                                   Here they are now.
                                                                      Cletus, 17

                                                                 Rupert, 14
                                                                 Beaufort, 16




Wednesday, February 23, 2011


 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge: 
but fools despise wisdom and instruction.
Proverbs 1:7 (King James Version)

Sunday, February 20, 2011

"It's his birthday and he'll eat if he wants to"

Today we drove down to Hanford to celebrate the birth of a great guy, our buddy Nathan Shugert. He is Jeff's partner in crime. Well...I mean, is irritation a crime? A sport? A talent? An Art? Whatever it is they are beyond proficient. They are hilariously lame. They tease each other relentlessly, they rough house, they boisterously convince everyone else they should be in a mental institute...or have large doses of something...not sure what. Hmm...It's all in good brotherly bliss, but most of it I just don't get. I do admit it is fun to watch the proverbial twinkling of their eyes when they act out some goofball scene. I will also say that they are on the true playing field of Christian brotherhood. They hold each other up in prayer, and hold each other accountable. They are always ready to lend an ear or a hand No. Matter. What. I appreciate this man in my man's life, even the retardation.

We left basically straight after church to arrive on time. The almost hour long drive gave me reason to pause. I am glad we had today. What glorious weather, it makes me feel alive! Crisp clean air, blue skies... rare commodities around these parts! As I sat in the car I just let my eyes meander. I was lost in the green, like I had no cares in the world. At a frozen pace, I was lost in my own bliss. When we arrived I was ready for a nap.

Malibu & Lincoln (who calls himself Baby Zeus) were at the party. These two are Jenny & Nathan's little niece and nephew. We hadn't seen them in over a year...when you're talkin' 'bout babies that's a long time! They are incredibly cute. Oh and their new puppy Jasmine, she's ridiculously cute as well.  I think the only thing that won my heart more was the deep blue sparkling eyes of Trisitea as she sat on my lap looking up at me. Okay so maybe she didn't exactly sit. Okay fine! She draped her long legs and arms over my short little body. I love my cuddle time with all my little peoples. I am so glad she hasn't decided she's too old to snuggle. BUT. Her warm self melting into to me made me want to take a nap.

As I sat and talked with Bob, Debbie & Jenny (Jeff & Nathan were yakin' it up in the kitchen) I discovered we all needed naps.

 Instead.

We sang the birthday song as obnoxiously off key as possible. Watched him open his gifts. We ate a yummy meal. Megaliz the mixing Yoda (Elizabeth) made a cake from scratch. It was not to be missed. We had a plate made for eating later at home. (**And girl Auntie did eat it at home. YUM!! My birthday is June 9th, I'm just sayin' is all**) Then we high tailed it back to Fresno for Ricky's 4:00 choir practice. Yeah...

PS Ricky, who shares an interest in boyscout with Nathan, had spent the weekend making a special gift for him. Ricky was out in the garage with his wood burning kit and on the back patio with his whittling kit creating the master piece every chance he got. Unfortunately in the rush to get to the party we forgot to bring that & the gift Billy bought for Nathan to share with his family. I love my kid's generosity and kindness. I love that they have a man aside from Dad in their lives that they feel is worthy of being honored. I suppose, after all, that's why he's Uncle Nathan to them.

Facebook: pushed into it kicking and sreaming... in the end I LOVE IT!!

I understand all the concerns in regards to the break down of society that so many are murmuring about here lately.

I get it, really I do.

However, Facebook has been fabulous for me. Well almost. Okay so I have one slight problem. I LOVE IT. Not the gismos and games. No, that's child's play. I love the people. I love them so much I can't wait to "talk"  each day. The updated photos are just wonderful. The problem is maintaining Facebook can be a bit time consuming. This is why I took a three month hiatus a few months back. At first I really didn't think I would return to Facebook. However a few things changed my mind.

#1Sharing the music videos throughout the month of December had been so precious to me the year before last. I really wanted to upload a daily video once again. So I did.  It sOoOo blessed me that since then I have been fairly consistent in getting a video or two up once a week. I love encouraging others. I love sharing talented christian artists in a non threatening way.

#2 Facebook had become the information station for me. It was like using the yellow pages. Whether setting a status to ask a question, or "searching" I found the inquiry was likely to be discovered at location. I liked being a part of a community of people who could give me advice on a local dentist or restaurant and vice-versa. Very convenient. I wanted that resource back.

#3 Facebook was the new way to deal with events. Invitations, thank yous, class assignments for my children etc.. Much information trickles through.Unfortunately when I backed away for three months we missed several bits of information. Oops. I really needed to get back in the "calendar" loop.

#4 I know it's silly, but when I'd log onto Facebook and a flower or hug or what ever was sitting there waiting to greet me I'd smile from my toes to the top of my head. It was sweet. Yes I could live without it, but you know...

#5 Some really awesome people from my past have found me via facebook. I just loved that. I missed re-learning about them.

#6 1st a history lesson: I refused to even look at Myspace. I reluctantly started using my email account (maybe 5 years ago). Sometime last school year I was bullied into joining Facebook. When I submitted to that, a new band of people started hard core on the "let's get Charity to text...or even use her cell phone" campaign. They won. It's only been since like June though. I can clearly hear Jenny yelling at me early last summer,  "You mean to tell me Jeff bought you this really nice phone and you refuse to use it!" To me Facebook, email and text are the same animal. In the sense that you are visiting via electronics vs face to face. When I submitted to one it was easy to follow suit with the others.When I was off  Facebook I began receiving texts like crazy!!  I guess there was/is no escaping at this point. But. That's okay. I'd rather master myself then get rid of it/them.

because....

#7 Facebook had been a wonderful tool to see a little glimpse into the lives of all my people. To me it has been a relationship enhancer...not a stunt in relational growth.

Let me give you an example. Monica, my best friend from like 4th grade through high school found me via Facebook...last summer. After the total pick-myself-off-the-floor shock of it all we had some wonderful "talks". After catching up on life over the last 10 years or so we made plans for her to come visit my house. She was just as lovely as ever. She walked in with yellow flowers, my favorite color. We talked more, and more and more. We then decided to meet for dinner with her two sisters and her mother. It was a magical night. At a later date she and I met alone for dinner. Since then we have shared in at least 4 of her family gatherings. She has scooped me up and placed me right back into her family as if no time had passed at all. We have plans in the works for more fun times to be shared. I am so grateful that she found me. I have missed her so, so very much. I have enjoyed our long talks on the phone and in person. However as two busy momma's facebook gives us the ability to grab a moment to reconnect no matter the time of day. Can I just say that is big!

Of course Monica finding me and all that jazz is just an example. I have tons of great stories brought to me via Facebook. I just need to make sure I don't log on too, too much. I'm a work in progress, what can I say.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

In which I say thank you...or bust!

I have had a rough few months, proceeded by a rough life. So what? Who hasn't? It's really a matter of half full or half empty. The choice is, of course,  left in my hands. And. I admit, I don't always make the wise choice.
Remember that one about when it rains it pours? Well that's where I reside. I'm sure that's where you all reside as well. I don't know that "it" ever isn't that way. Meaning I don't believe life is ever easy. I think sometimes our spirits are able to handle "it". Sometimes not so much. It's when I'm overwhelmed that I tend to feel like no one cares, or  understands.  Interestingly enough as I have been going through this where's-my-bonkie funk people have been praying for me.
How do I know?
Because they have told me so. Over and over again.
Now I am not the girl who bellows to all who will hear when I am down. No. I am the girl who hides under the rock. Yet some how God placed the desire to not only pray...but tell me they were doing so, in the hearts of  many, many people around me; strangers, casual acquaintances and those I am close to. He was is there all along, if only I were to stop spinning long enough to look. Really. I know. Sometimes stating the obvious is what is needed.
All the trauma/drama/chaos that was is bothering me is not the point. I am aware. It's high time I act like it. So many wonderful things have happened over the last few months. Some of which you would have read about through my boys blog. However they had to give that up...it proved to be "just one more thing". At any rate...onto the good, good stuff.

~ In the recent Court of Honor Ricky was given badges and has moved up in rank. Boyscouts in general has been a wonderful thing for him. He has met some really neat guys and loves all of the "man" stuff involved. Today he went on a snow day trip. The weekend before last he went to a party one of the boys was having. He has been a busy guy making gifts for so many people. He loves life and he loves people. He is our joy.

~Billy had to prove himself in semester #1 at Fresno City College. It is now semester #2 and he received every part he tried out for in the Latin/Jazz band. Through his first job he has paid for a full week African drumming camp to be held this summer. He is moving right along with his goals. He has reconnected with a long-time-ago friend. Attending her party was a highlight. He has also made a new friend, attending that party was great as well.

~My older brother, Eric has added three new additions to our family. Crystal, his fiancee, Nathan her son, and Zoey their little girl. Zoey?...she is adorable...need I say more? We were so happy to be able to give Nathan a birthday gift. We hope he feels he is our nephew. He is such a character! We enjoy him.

~I had a lengthy loving conversation with my sis-in-law Angela. I hold it close to my heart.

~Parties are great and we have had a few this month here at home, just us four. Chinese New Years found us eating take out from our favorite local spot. While we ate we watched Gladys Aylward's story on Netflix. Next came Valentines morning complete with chocolates and a new movie. We also had a lunch of heart shaped raviolis in an amazing sauce. Let us not forget our 100th day of School Shindig...which was also all about food. However this time we played games. These were easy breezy days. Very roll with the punches. I have to say it touches a tender spot deep in my mommy-heart that my teenage sons REALLY want a 100th day of school party. Somehow everything else from elementary school is for babies. Yet. This. Is. Sacred.

~Jeff was diagnosed with Vertigo. Yet even though he missed a week of work and went Dr hopping we/he did not suffer too badly. We are truly thankful.

~It looks as though our previous landlords are going to make right on their poor choices. So that is a happy ending to a retarded story.

~The IRS was lame, as they very often are, I guess it was our turn to be bit by the unconstitutional nastiness of it all. And yet we survived. We were so blessed. We paid all our bills before their inappropriateness took place. We experienced  much less drama than could easily have taken place. We are really grateful.

~I was able to help a good friend with a huge organizational project...and be an encouragement. I just love that!

~I have been approached by a few people over the last few months who have expressed their gratitude for what they see in my life...and in turn have brought to their lives. Wow. Just wow.

~So many wonderful people have resurfaced in my life. It is just unbelievable. I. Heart. All of you!!

~I have learned to say no. I have drawn healthy lines in the sand. Yet I have also opened my heart to a whole new level of understanding and acceptance. God is good!

Two main points have been relearned over the last few months.

#1 God is in charge. He knows what is best. He loves me enough to tell me no when that is what I need to hear. He loves me enough to comfort me through my tantrums. He comforts my aching heart. He knows.

#2 I have been given so, so much. I need to look at what I have, not what I don't have. I need to show gratitude. I need to say thank you...or bust!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

A whirl wind of sorts or the birth of Zoey Lynn

We have spent the last month and a half waiting for the phone to ring. I have gone to bed with my cell, Jeff's cell and our home phone all at my ear. Saturday I thought for sure it had finally happened!

False alarm.

It was my good friend Jenny announcing the anticipated arrival of seven adorable puppies. The momma dog was really struggling so it was with much fear....and later relief that I received that series of late night, early morning texts.

Back to the (human) baby. We have had her name spray painted (well basically) across our calendar in eager anticipation. We have made loose plans and then canceled them because she had not yet come. Such as a day trip to the Natural Bridges Monarch Preserve. Every year I put this day trip on the calendar. Every year I erase it. We waited till 11:30 the night before to cancel the trip.

Butterfly fail.

No baby, no leaving town.(imagine how we felt flying off to Maine)

Sunday was a day of crossing T's and dotting I's in preparation for Monday morning. We were making sure everyone was on the same page for the second semester of our school year. We had hair cuts, double checked all the teachers manuals, filed paperwork, updated calendars and day planners etc. I was exhausted and had a killer headache. Jeff offered to go buy dinner while the boys and I finished up our tasks. While he was waiting for our take out order he got THE phone call. So gnarly haired (no it didn't help that we just had our hair cut), funky PJ's and all we hurriedly got ourselves to the hospital where we began the game of  "hurry up and wait" We arrived at 6:30 in the evening. We got home at around 3:30 in the morning. Poor Crystal, what a delivery!

No. We did not start school yesterday. That much was in our control. However the normal "Manic Monday" of it all was enough all on it's own. Not to mention the activities the boys are in did start back up, including  Billy (Permit) Vincent stacking up the driving hours and starting his second semester of college. What a game that is, especially when you are drunk on sleepy!

Back to the baby. Our niece, my brothers daughter Zoey Lynn Steproe has made her debut. Lynn is the middle name of our sister who passed away several years back. Nice touch. Zoey has beautiful little lips and the sweetest rosy cheeks. She has dark hair, like me! She looks a bit like her Mom. Really though she looks a whole lot like her name sake. She has Rebekah Lynn's long beautiful pianist's fingers and her long, slender feet. I'm not quite sure what it is about her facial features, but the moment I saw Zoey, I saw Rebekah.


Emotions were flying. Family was bonding over the birth of our newest member. Trips down memory lane were taking place. For instance my oldest baby was born in this very hospital. He was even born in the same room as his little cousin. We now have a picture of him at sixteen years old holding little Zoey. We can place that next to the pictures of him as a fresh little miracle in the very same room. Isn't that cool!

Welcome Zoey Lynn, we are so in love with you. Thank you Eric and especially Crystal for all your hard work in getting her here. Congratulations Nathan you are already an awesome big brother!

Monday, January 3, 2011

Christmas & New Years

Well our Christmas played out a LOT different this year.  For one we spent our $$$ on a fabulous trip to Maine!
More on that later.
For now let's just say the timing of the trip...you know...basically...um...December, meant that we had to miss out on some of the seasons annual festivities of social-ness.
You know what?
We lived.
Imagine it!
Yeah, I know.
However we made sure to go to Coyote snow park & eat dinner at The Hungry Hut on Christmas Eve. This is a tradition that cannot be messed with.

Despite losing much of the month in travel we did manage to see most of our family (to get those memories in) and also get most of those treasured family recipes made. Speaking of which, I owe a big thank you to my brother Eric for his enjoyment in being as big a dork as I am, I love him for it! (Christmas carols sung loud & off key while baking, decorating and creating sugary bliss!!) Yeah we had a great December! Heck we even managed to squeeze in a long-time-coming trip to Laser Quest with the Shugerts. Yah Baby! We had planned on winding down the evening at the Colorado Grill afterward. Well the kids did anyway. You see Jenny spotted our local Thai restaurant and just had to experience it! Time to keep the silliness that ran a muck during the laser tag fanaticism in check? Not likely with this crew. Yes it's true our trip to the two separate restaurants left the kiddos at one joint on a soda & milk shake buzz. While Jeff & Nathan (needing no such stimulants) acted just as silly in the Thai restaurant. But really, would we want it any other way?

We managed to take an awesome break. To really unplug. Ricky especially needed this as he is obviously going through the same massive growth spurt Billy did a few years back. Ricky slept till noon everyday for two weeks! There was much leisure time the remainder of those days as well. Apparently Ricky was worn out from all that sleeping in!

2010 went out with a bang! I mean literally. The four of us had a great time on New Years Eve playing board games and gettin' some wii action. We were eating decadent sweets and a dinner fit for royalty. We were singing energy pumpin' songs and movie watching. Umm, what else? Oh just a little bit of dancing like crazy people, watching the ball drop while counting down, throwing confetti, shooting silly string. Then of course there was the running outside with noises makers, party blowers and a small amount of explosives shouting  into the night air "Good Bye 2010, Hello 2011!!" Somewhere in there was a toast of Martinelli's complete with a speech and a midnight sweet......and a kiss from my honey.

New Years Day was perfectly, leisurely, nothingness. Well basically. What did we do? It's called Funky PJ wearing and  HGTV Dream House viewing my friends! Billy did make pancakes some time around 2:00. Then it was off to the in laws for beans and a new movie.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Kissing 2010 Goodbye

These are some of my favorite memories from 2010. There were so many wonderful moments to think back on it was hard to narrow down a list. Of course there were also some not-so-wonderful moments, but we aren't going to give those the time of day! Downers, we stick our tongue out at you! So there!

January: We had beans with the in laws, a family tradition going back generations.

February: J, B, R & I started Insanity. I kept up with them fairly well. (They are now doing P90X, not me)

March: Tabitha & Crissy found me on Facebook.

April: We finally made it to Death Valley, best of all we went with the Shugerts!

May: Ricky Graduates from 8th Grade. How special to do so with long time buddy Aubrey Lim!

June: Eric announces he's gonna be a Daddy. Little Kayleenie turns sweet 16. We got to go to Morro Bay with the Chavez clan. Hannah Orazem makes even Ricky appreciate Art co-op class. Monica finds me on Facebook. (sorry couldn't pick just one)

July: Mike marries Angela and that's just the beginning....

August: Billy get's a drivers permit, starts his first job and begins taking community college classes.

September: CJ goes with us on our annual Camp-at-a-new-location trip. I mean come on now!

October: Crystal announces she's gonna be my sis-in-law while she, Mom and I are shopping for little miss Zoey Lynn.

November: I ate Aunt Ceci's Cranberry Relish in her living room on a recycled glass plate. The amber color was my favorite!


December: J, B, R & I spend 7. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, & 7 days in MAINE! Yah Baby!!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Children Won't Wait by Helen Young

There is a time to anticipate the baby's coming, a time to consult a doctor;
A time to plan a diet and exercise, a time to gather a layette.
There is a time to wonder at the ways of God, knowing this is the destiny for which I was created;
A time to dream of what this child might become,
A time to pray that God will teach me how to train this child which I bear.
A time to prepare myself that I might nurture his soul.
But soon there comes the time for birth,
For babies won't wait.

There is a time for night feedings, and colic and formulas.
There is a time for rocking and a time for walking the floor,
A time for patience and self-sacrifice,
A time to show him that his new world is a world of love and goodness and dependability.
There is a time to ponder what he is - not a pet nor toy, but a person, an individual - a soul made in God's image.
There is a time to consider my stewardship, I cannot possess him.
He is not mine. I have been chosen to care for him, to love him, to enjoy him, to nurture him, and to answer to God.
I resolve to do my best for him,
For babies don't wait.

There is a time to hold him close and tell him the sweetest story ever told;
A time to show him God in earth and sky and flower, to teach him to wonder and reverence.
There is a time to leave the dishes, to swing him in the park,
To run a race, to draw a picture, to catch a butterfly, to give him happy comradeship.
There is a time to point the way, to teach his infant lips to pray,
To teach his heart to love God's Word, to love God's day,
For children don't wait.

There is a time to sing instead of grumble, to smile instead of frown,
To kiss away the tears and laugh at broken dishes.
A time to share with him my best in attitudes - a love of life, a love of God, a love of family.
There is a time to answer his questions, all his questions,
Because there may come a time when he will not want my answers.
There is a time to teach him so patiently to obey, to put his toys away.
There is a time to teach him the beauty of duty, the habit of Bible study, the joy of worship at home, the peace of prayer,
For children don't wait.

There is a time to watch him bravely go to school, to miss him underfoot,
And to know that other minds have his attention, but that I will be there to answer his call when he comes home,
And listen eagerly to the story of his day.
There is a time to teach him independence, responsibility, self-reliance,
To be firm but friendly, to disciple with love,
For soon, so soon, there will be a time to let him go, the apron strings untied,
For children won't wait.

There is a time to treasure every fleeting minute of his childhood.
Just eighteen precious years to inspire and train him.
I will not exchange this birthright for a mess of pottage called social position, or business or professional reputation, or a pay check.
An hour of concern today may save years of heartache tomorrow,
The house will wait, the dishes will wait, the new room can wait,
But children don't wait.


There will be a time when there will be no slamming of doors, no toys on the stairs, no childhood quarrels, no fingerprints on the wallpaper.
Then may I look with joy and not regret.
There will be a time to concentrate on service outside my home;
On visiting the sick, the bereaved, the discouraged, the untaught;
To give myself to the "least of these."
There will be a time to look back and know that these years of motherhood were not wasted.
I pray there will be a time to see him an upright and an honest man, loving God and serving all.
God, give me the wisdom to see that today is my day with my children.
That there is no unimportant moment in their lives.
May I know that no other career is so precious,
No other work so rewarding,
No other task so urgent.
May I not defer it nor neglect it,
But by the Spirit accept it gladly, joyously, and by they grace realize
That the time is short and my time is now,
For children won't wait!