Can This Week Be Over Yet?

So we all have "those weeks" where it's hectic and you are trying to get things done and everyone seems a little more on edge and stressed out, right?  Meltdowns are more common, both kids and parents.  That's been this week for us.  It's hard.
Many resentful feelings on my end because the kids are too old to be entitled freeloaders and should be helping more around the house.  Feeling that they should be grateful for the mom taxi taking them everywhere, doing their laundry and making their lunches.  But that's not the reality, they aren't even aware that I feel this way sometimes and if I tell them they shrug it off.  It's not that they don't care, I have to remember that they are kids and so all consumed with their own reality that its always a shocker to them when I get fed up.  Instead of a "thank you, mom" it's a "you put WHAT in my lunch? Gross" and when you ask them to take their clean, sorted, folded laundry to their room you would think you asked them to scrub the kitchen floor with a toothbrush.  I should probably be asking them to do more, but with the resistance I get with the few things we do ask it seems easier sometimes to just do it myself.  Truth be told, I'm a control freak and they aren't the best at cleaning to my expectations and I have to do it again so it's easier for me to just do it myself.
We have a lot of kids (7 in the home right now, ages 12, 11, 10, 4, 2, 1 and 5 months) and that equals a lot of pure maintenance work for the parents.  Lots of dishes, laundry, taxiing, listening, playing, tucking in, feeding, etc.  This is a choice and I'm not complaining, just tired.
I love a big family and I wouldn't change it for the world but there are days when I wonder how life would be different with just one child.  Would we be always hanging out and talking about our feelings?  We connect with our kids daily, sit with them through their struggles and do our best to empathize and help resolve issues.  We make family time and read with them after we put the babies to bed.  We support each other but life is rushing by.
I am being very intentional to the things I say YES to lately.  Honoring time and togetherness.  We are surely missing out on amazing events, but we are becoming stronger as a family.
This I must remember this week as things seem to be in chaos mode.  Take time to sit down and breathe it in.  These days that our kids (the boys especially) want to spend their time with us is rapidly passing and I don't want to miss a minute.

Back Up the Hippie Bus

This weekend I literally stopped myself, while I was walking through the kitchen, to laugh.  I have becomes a total hippie without even realizing it was happening.
Yeah, I still shave my legs and drive a gas guzzling SUV and my boys are playing XBOX and we have a not REAL hippies.  Let's face it, the hippie van wouldn't hold all of our people and I can't grow out my straight hair to save my life.
We have always tried to eat well, make homemade rather than store bought as much as we could and all but it's getting ridiculous.
I stopped and laughed because I was testing my kombucha brew, after I had just pulled kale chips out of the dehydrator and had filled it with "zucchini gummies"  Don't mock until you've tried them, they are seriously not bad!  My kids even like them (all but one who refuses to try them) and have asked that I make more.  A couple weeks ago I made Black Bean Fudge and they have asked when I'm planning to make it again.  Seriously, people, there are some healthy tasty options for regular people out there.  I do try to find a balance, we do eat store bought processed stuff and there are nights when a run thru McDonalds is just about all I can manage for dinner.
We have also started doing some family meditation.  Can you believe it?  Nope, me either.
I'm just a typical soccer/theater mom trying to make smart choices for the family.  Sometimes they are a total bust, sometimes we find a great new healthy snack!

Eyes Wide Open

The last week I have been picking up one of the little guys I nanny for at school and we have been staying to play at the school playground for awhile.
It has been seriously eye opening for me, so this post isn't meant to be judgmental in any way.  I think I am able to get a different perspective as a non-parent at this school, I really don't know many of these parents and they tend to sit and chat with each other or at least sit near each other and I'm the outsider.
I think we all, at times, have fallen into the trap that is having our children playing while we are checking out Facebook, ordering from Amazon, seeing if we got any new emails, chatted w friends, etc.  I've done it, especially back when my boys were younger and the three of them would go play and not seem to care if I was there or not.  Honestly, with a playground full of kids they don't really want to play with their mom!  I'm good with that, but here is an observation I have made.  Every single day, as I sit alone at the school playground and watch the kids play, there have been times where parents were completely oblivious to what their child was up to.  Yesterday it was two moms talking about how overbooked they are, not really complaining but saying with pride how every single day they have activities after school (except every other Friday).  As if that meant shot their child up the social ladder!  While they were talking, one of their children was close to jumping off the top of the monkey bars and another was swearing at the other kids on the playground.  They were literally less then 20 feet away from the moms.  Next to them was a mom so consumed with her smart phone, that her daughter (who was maybe 10 feet away) had to call to her 12 times to get her attention and show her that she could skip 3 rungs on the monkey bars.  She had literally been hanging there, arms fully outstretched for a couple of minutes calling for her mom.  The day before it was a dad who was busy on his phone and his young son had just scored a long goal on the soccer field and the game came to a halt for a minute while he tried to tell him the news but he never looked up.
For me, this is sad.  I've been that mom and my kids have been those kids.  What am I going to do about it?  Make a change.  Nothing is more important than my kids.  Nothing.  There is no Facebook post, email or recipe that can't wait.  I will still do a quick peek or answer a text, but for the most part I am making a promise to my kids that my attention is on them (even if I'm not hovering over their every move or directly playing with them).  I'm not aiming to create self centered kids, but ones who accomplish things on their own and don't have to yell for me 12 times to give them a thumbs up.

A Perfect Morning

 I am truly blessed with friendship, true, deep friendships.  I don't get to see my friends daily, seems life lately is busy with the kids doing their things and time passing.   Our family is big (we have 4 adopted and 3 foster babies right now) so we rarely get invited places and truth is, it's tough for us to enjoy an evening anywhere w all the littles.
Anyhow, we have friends who have made it a point to focus on their family and live intentionally.  They have travelled to 22 countries in the last 2 years and were home shortly before heading off to their next adventure.  I admire them having the courage to do this, leaving what's comfortable and known for new places, cultures and experiences.  They have been blogging ( and you can subscribe to their Daily Livits, too.
Back to I was pulling into daycare one afternoon to pick up the babies, I saw Colleen and the kids pull in beside me.  What a pleasant surprise!  I had known they were in town but wasn't sure we would be able to connect before they left again.  We gave each other big hugs and caught up briefly and made tentative plans to get the kids together for a Nerf War.  It just made my day to have someone go out of t
their way and follow me into the parking lot just to say hi.
On Friday we got a chance to have coffee, a BYOC very casual get together for the kids to play and us to catch up.  Mary, Alice and Grammy came, too.  I baked up some blackberry scones (
and Grammy brought fruit salad.  The kids took off into the yard and it was if time had never passed, they played and laughed and I'm fairly certain they were so consumed in their play that they didn't even know we were there.  The adults got a chance to sip coffee on the porch and catch up on life, time seemed to slow down and it was truly a perfect morning.
I cherish these women, how I feel when I'm with them and can't begin to express how lucky I am to have them as a part of my life and my children's lives.
It was sad to say our "see you laters" but also know that we will never forget that morning at the house, when all was right with the world.

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.


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.


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
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.  




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!