Road Trip

We have had an awesome week with our nieces visiting.  Cousin time is always fun, rarely do we get them for a whole week so that was a  treat.   My parents had booked a hotel room for us to spend a final summer getaway (as long as we found places for babies to be).
There was a lot of juggling, babies here and there, a house sitter for the puppy and everything finally fell together.  We were packed up and just waiting for me to be done working so we could jump in the car and head to the beach.  Got all loaded, sat in ferry traffic and had just made it across the bridge when there was a distinct thunking under
hood.  Not good.  I pulled over, text our friend who always gets us out of car binds and waited for him to come save us.
He came and looked and turns out some little piece had broken off and the spark plug had come loose.  It wasn't drivable so he attached a tow rope, we loaded all the kids in his truck and let Dee man the wheel of mine and towed us back to the island.  Poor Dee!  She was a rock star and white knuckled her way through it.  He fixed it enough for us to drive home until he got the parts for a true repair.  Now 2 hours later than we were hoping, we drew names for who got shotgun in which car and headed out.  You would think that would be easy, but one of our guys has some anxiety issues and the minute we got rolling again, the tears came.  My heart breaks for him, as I try to look at the bright side "we weren't in an accident, we're all fine, we are just getting a late start, we will get to the beach soon"  Finally got him calmed down, yes it was stressful, yes it was scary but all in all it was ok.
We finally got to the hotel around 10:30, said a quick Hi to Nana and Papa and tried our best to get kids settled in to go to bed.  Looking forward to some stormy ocean beach time with the family.  Incredibly thankful for our friends who are there to support us, help with short ones, rescue us when we get stuck and listen when I need to vent about it.  We are here, we are safe, we are enjoying some desperately needed core family time.

Home

When they say "home is where the heart is" I always thought how cliche and cheesy it was but it's the truth.  We had lived in our little paradise since Dee and I were first together and our puppy was our baby.  We brought all of our kids home to our beach house and couldn't imagine any other reality.
What a whirlwind the last year has been.
I remember the day so clearly, sitting at Carlos' Island Cup soccer tournament and finding out that the house was going on the market.  The stress of losing what we thought of as our home, not having hard feelings because we knew we were just renters and that as much work and love as we had put into that home, it was never truly ours.  We had a friend start up a fundraiser for us, learned that our community is pretty amazing and we are supported by so many.  We ended up with a house that actually fits our family, that we love and that we are making a home.
Dee and I were sitting here thinking how amazing it was that the newest foster baby we have now is the first to ever be brought home to this house.  It felt like a new start.
There is room here for people to have their own space, but I find that many nights we are all in the bonus snuggled up watching a show just like we were in the old house.  Our family is stronger and closer than ever and it feels good.
As tough as moving was, the tears, the hard work, the emotion of it all...I'm actually glad we did it.  It feels right.  I truly miss waking up to the smell of the water, the amazing view, the garden and the yard but the weird part is that I don't actually miss the house.  We have pictures to capture those memories and it's sad that in the next few weeks that cool old farmhouse will be rubble, but our memories will live on, it was about the people and not the building.

Weight Loss Ramblings

So let's take a minute to be honest here.  Three years ago I started on a journey to lose weight, needing to take off a significant amount for my health, but physically and emotionally.
After trying different diets, Weight Watchers and Paleo I started on the Dukan Diet.  I have to say, the weight came off fairly quickly and there wasn't much exercise going on.  It was basically (there is more to it for sure) very strictly eating lean proteins and vegetables.  Yup, no fruits, no cheating.
It took a year but I had lost 68 pounds!  Not shabby.  I felt so much better, proud of my accomplishment and it showed.  No more cargo shorts and t-shirts, I got a cute haricot and stepped up my fashion game.
Well, there is something about losing a lot of weight that didn't change, that nobody told me, that would truly effect how I felt about my body.  When you lose a lot of weight, you end up with a lot of extra skin.  That makes for what looks like a fat roll around your stomach and flappy under arms.  It's very discouraging.  I supposed the rich and famous opt for surgery but for us poor people, you just live with it and still feel fat.
   Two years has gone by since I was at my lowest adult weight and the pounds have been slowly coming back on.  I am not doing Dukan anymore (and to be honest, I tried it a couple of times and my body doesn't respond to it by shedding the pounds) and have tried a few other diets.  I even had a woman come up to me and ask me if I was going to try Dukan again because it was clear that I had put on weight.  First off, WHO SAYS THAT!? But secondly, she was right.
On some level I want to say "screw it" and love my body, but I can't.  I'm an emotional eater, I know this about myself but that still doesn't stop it from happening.  I crave sugar.
So here I am again, putting it all out there as I start again with clean eating, exercise and dedication to lose weight slowly.   Support would be awesome, just an encouraging word here and there to keep me going.  Just know, that it's not out of laziness but I don't find exercise to be enjoyable and always hurt after (fatness makes your joints really hurt).  Ready to ditch the cargo shorts and t-shirts again, get slimmed down and back into my cute jeans.

I'm Baaaack!

Have you missed me?  Muah ha ha ha!  I finally have a working computer and am able to blog again.     Didn't work too well trying to update the blog from the phone.
Get ready for a recap of what we've been up to lately.  So much to report!

Midsummer Nights Dream

Trey just wrapped up a 12 show run of MidSummer Night's Dream at Bloedel Reserve.   What a production it was!  I was so proud of his dedication and how seriously he took his role.  Very different from a cast of many kids as he's been in the past and quite the intricate storyline, too.  After seeing it 9 times, I think I may actually have an idea of what the show was about.
It's a fun one, that's for sure.  Many laughs and such a great venue.  Picnic dinners with friends, then watching the show.  It was a treat!

It's Happening!

The time has come for us to pack up 13 years of memories and stuff and move.
It is completely bittersweet and I don't think the reality of it all has truly hit me.  The boxes and minimalist living makes me logically know it's happening, but I can't even grasp not having our daily life in this house.
It's helping that we are moving into an incredible home; one that shares a driveway with my parents and has enough space that the boys will have their own bedrooms, a giant kitchen (yay me!), a built in 12 foot dining room table, a tv/game room for the big kids and a play space for the little kids, a washer and dryer INSIDE (no more walking down into a creepy, wet basement to wash clothes) and so much more to look forward to.   Seriously, the only drawback is that we will have to pay almost double of what our current rent is.  It's completely fair, just what the going rates on the island are at.
   The big day is March 1st, so if you are in town and want to schlep a box or two, we would love the help!   A lot is done already as we have been able to store boxes in my parent's garage but a move is a move so still work to be done.
   As we navigate the last three weeks in our home, without a stove and dishwasher and amidst boxes, we will remember the good times.  This house will always hold a special place in our hearts, we got married here, brought all of our babies home here and have created so many wonderful memories.  I can't wait until the work is done and we can sit in our new home and just breathe.

Peter Pan

I can't tell you what a joy it has been to watch Trey light up on stage in Peter Pan.  It's a fast moving, fun show and I think my boy has talent!  The songs stick with you, too.  I can't tell you how many times Erin has asked to sing "I Won't Grow Up" or Hook and Peter's "Oh My Mysterious Lady"  It's been quite an experience.  I have taken Erin twice and the first time she adored Peter (didn't realize until after the show that Peter was a GIRL) and she was terrified of Hook.  The second time she had a plan, she was going to dress up as a pirate and overcome her fears and talk to Hook but then when she met him she would make a tick-tock noise so Hook would be afraid of her!  She's a smart girl.

We will all be sad to see it wrap up this weekend, the cast is an amazing group of people that Trey now calls friends.  So thankful Trey has been a part of it.


Truth


I had this saying come across my Facebook feed not too
long ago, and the timing couldn't have been more perfect.
See, we have been dealing with some drama we never
would have even imagined we'd be dealing with.  Now, a couple
weeks later, I feel like I can tell the story as more of a public service
announcement.
My parents and I took the kids to see A Christmas Story at the 5th Avenue
Theater a few weeks ago in Seattle.  It was the final dress rehearsal so we
had some waiting to do.  It was cold and there is a big covered area and
the kids were sitting just to the side of us playing with dice they had
brought when one said, "Mom, look what we found" as he held up
a dirty hypodermic needle.  My heart skipped a beat or two and as calmly
as I could I took the needle away from him.  I went up to the box
office to have them dispose of it and had to wait for security to be called
(because nobody wants to touch a dirty needle!).  I took a minute to talk to
the kids about needle safety, which I assumed they knew since we had a
diabetic foster child with daily injections but clearly not enough because they
had picked it up.
We went into the theater and it was inside that I learned that one of the boys
had poked his finger with the needle just to see how sharp it was.  Really!?
Panic struck and I spend the majority of the show texting Dee to call the
pediatrician and another friend who was googling info on what we needed to
do.  We made a dr appt for the next morning.  At the dr there was a blood draw
and talk about concerns of Hep C, making sure his Hep B vaccination was current
and if we needed to start any anti-HIV medications.  Scary stuff.
Round one of blood tests was negative, but have to be repeated every 6 weeks
for the next 6 months. 
In my 42 years I have never found a hypodermic needle.  I never would have
thought to have a conversation with my kids about what to do if they found one.
I wish I had.  I hope you talk with your kids.
 




What's Important

 Today, in the midst of all of our housing drama, when it seems our world is a bit unstable and the idea of change is unsettling, I got an email reminding me that it is time to renew the scholarships for the little girls in Guatemala that Carlos raised money for and has sponsored the last couple years.

To be honest, my first thought was that we have already done a lot, that our life is crazy and the timing is bad so maybe we could find a co-sponsor.  I told Carlos that money was due ($720 in the next month) and he didn't skip a beat.  "I'm on it" were his words.  I suggested that we find a co-sponsor and he wouldn't have it.  He is determined to raise the remainder of this money and continue to sponsor these girls.  I am a very proud mama and yes, of course that's what we are going to do.

If you want to read more about Carlos' efforts - click here or here for the Inside Bainbridge story.  

If you want to donate, know that your money will help Louisa and Irma go to school another year.  Included in that they will get new shoes, nutritional supplements and school supplies and  an education that will change their futures.
 

Carlos has raised over $2,000 to help support these girls and their family over the last couple years.  Along with schooling, Carlos wanted to  spend some of the money to help improve their daily life.  Little things like a birthday gift or food basket for the family. 
Their family now has chickens, a table and chairs, gardening tools, beds and their kids are going to school!  It's pretty amazing.





Nursemaid's Elbow Saga

 So our girl has a glitch - nursemaid's elbow.  It is not such a fun thing to deal with as it is basically her elbow becoming dislocated without much having to make that happen.  First time was me taking her pajama sleeve off, another when a brother was helping her up, my mom putting pajamas on - you get the idea.  It's fixable (I have learned how to put it back into place) but it's incredibly painful.
After 6 dislocations, we knew something had to be done. A visit to Seattle Children's and the orthopedic specialist landed her



The Island School

This year I was asked to write a little something about why the Island School was so important to our family to encourage people to donate to the Annual Fund.  Sounds easy, right?  We LOVE it and are so incredibly blessed to have our kids be getting this education and more than that, the foundation for just being great people. 
As I sat down to write, though, I realized that it really is hard to put into words what this school means to our family.
Dee and I have made life long friends with other parents and the faculty, the boys have become amazing, confident, free thinking little people, Erin already thinks it's her school and feels welcome to snuggle up on a couch and read and ALL of our foster babies have been showered with love there.
I can't imagine being anywhere else and feeling the same way. 
So what does it take to get people to contribute?  That's my question.  I want what I write to inspire.  This school has 100% of the Board and faculty contributing but it's always like pulling teeth to get donations from the parents.  That I just don't get.  It's not about the amount (of course the bigger the better, right!?) but participation. 

Calm in the Storm

So our family is in a bit of transition - the house we have rented for the last 13 years is now up for sale and we live day to day not knowing how long we will be able to live here.  It's odd, we have truly made this our home.  We have clearly always known that we don't own it, but the arrangements we have made with the landlord have been that we do the maintence and upkeep and pay reduced rent for doing so. 
The thought of leaving is strange.  We love it here and even with its quirks, it has been a perfect fit for our family.  We worked a ton to get it perfect for our wedding last year, we brought all of our kids (55 of them!) home here and despite the size and one bathroom we have made it work well.
If you know me, you know I'm not a fan of "limbo"  I'm organized to a fault at times, and like to have my ducks in a row.  I'm also not a fan of change, even though I believe that change can be a great thing.  A lot of me is in denial, I hear myself telling others that maybe it won't sell and he will pull it off the market.  A lot of me wants to believe that will happen.  Another part of me thinks maybe this is the time we will find a perfect situation to live next door to my parents so we can help them/they can help us as things come up and be even closer than we are.  I would love that!
In all of this, we have been overwhelmed (there is no other word for it!) by the support we have been given.  The kind words of encouragement when we run into people at the store, kind posts via Facebook.  A friend even started up a fundraiser for us and it's shocking that people are willing to donate to us staying in community and continuing to foster babies.  It honestly brings Dee and I to tears to think about how incredibly lucky we are to live where we live and to have so many amazing people in our circle.  We are truly blessed!
For now, we remain in limbo and doing all we can to shelter the kids from our stress and dreading calls from realtors asking to look at the property. 


First 5k




So Carlos and I decided that it would be fun to train for and run a 5k. We set out doing the Couch-2-5k app and trained religiously 3 days/week for about a month, then it was the end of the school year and baseball season was wrapping up and our training suffered. 
The 5k was picked and paid for, we were doing the Run or Dye color run in Tacoma at the end of June. 
The day came and I have to admit that I was nervous.  I knew this run was casu, lots of kids and not serious runners so probably a good first pick for us. Turned out we jogged some and walked some and did the 5k in about 40 minutes. It was really fun and I was proud of how we did. 
We have vowed to start our training again  and sign up for another 5k. This time we WILL jog the whole thing, but I'm proud of our accomplishment.  


Trey





Carlos





Levi





I'm Baaaack

Bet ya thought I'd forgetten I wrote a blog!  Yeah, life got a little busy for awhile there.  Spring for us means it's baseball and with two boys playing on two different teams we end up being at the ballpark 4-5 days out of the week.  I truly love watching them play so I can't complain.  Other things (the blog, housekeeping, healthy meals) take a backseat.
Tonight was a playoff game for both Carlos (AAA Tigers) and Trey (AA Dodgers).  Both ended in a loss, Trey's season is over and Carlos' team lives to play another day.
Here are some baseball pics.  Will try to be better about posting!



Baking w the kids

Over the years it has always been hard to find a way to spend quality one on one time w each of the kids on a regular basis.  I am hoping I have found a solution to that problem! 

You see, I love to bake.  I bake when I'm happy, I bake for therapy, I bake to because I love to share and make people happy. I think I'm decent at it and hope to pass this skill along to my kids.
Here is my plan. Each week, I take time out to bake something w each of the kids.  We choose a recipe together, work together to make it and then they decide who they would like to gift it to.
On Friday I made pie for Pi Day (3.14) for teachers at Island School.  It was the perfect time to have Erin help.  She decided on blackberry peach pie and she helped make one to gift to her Godma Kris.  She will always help...pouring, measuring, mixing, rolling.  The girl does it all.  She could hardly wait to give it to Kris, she was so proud!
Today was the boy's turn.  Carlos made granola for his friend, Elaina (and some for the family!).  Levi made a blackberry pie for his friend, Ryan, and Trey made peanut butter cookies for Nana and Papa (shhhh, don't tell...we haven't delivered them yet!)
I'm excited for the chance to bake w all my kids!





Lent - what are YOU giving up?




 

We are embarking on a "de-crapify" your house for Lent project and (so far) it has been refreshing! 
We got a bag full of kid hangers out of the closet in the girl's room on Day 1, and today I cleaned out Erin, Miss L and my shoe bin.  What a difference it makes to have all the shoes that don't work gone.
The idea of the project is to get rid of a bag or stuff per day for each day of Lent.  The website has ideas for places to purge.  Doesn't matter if you donate, give to friends or throw away the stuff, it just needs to leave the house.  Also, the size of the bag doesn't matter.
Can't wait to see how clutter-free we are by day 40!
I challenge you to do this, too...what do you have to lose?  Oh wait, your clutter!


Random Cruise Pics

 It was an incredible, relaxing, perfect vacation.  We were incredibly grateful and feel so blessed that my parents chose to take us all on this trip.
I highly suggest it if you can make it happen.  Get pampered, endulge and kick back and relax while you see beautiful cities.
If you want to see more pics of the ship and get a feel for our experience, follow this link.  This blogger got some great shots of our ship as well as info about the experience.
THANK YOU NANA AND PAPA!!!