Friday, August 31, 2012

Change-A-Roo Time

Remember the movie The Bridges of Madison County? I loved the book and the movie, but the biggest take away was Clint Eastwood saying, “The only thing you can depend on in this life is change.”  That quote has stuck in my head like caramel in a teenager's braces.

Shaved Lucas and his chemistry assignment
Change, is everywhere. Not just in carpools, hair color and couch cushions, but every-darn-where. It throws me off balance trying to adjust to the end-of-summer-start-of-school groove. Turmoil hid inside me because many new adjustments scattered my day, like toddler toys in every room of the house. This season is a clutter of changes. I hopped on Blanche and took her on a four-mile spin. I felt free and revitalized listening to good music, praying, mapping out life, and being an encourager to myself. At mile three, I started to feel the unicycle strain, however, I returned clear headed and rejuvenated, like after a good house cleaning.
Don't cha love Overboard's shirt? 
My first week back in fourth grade went smooth like butter. The teacher I worked with for five years retired and my new boss is a bright, tech-savvy young ‘in. We make a good team.
Oh yes,  Lucas came home from Camp Del Corazon without hair. He bid the mullet fare-the-well and his buddy shaved his head. Living hairless has served him well these blazing-hot first days of school. However, I miss the mullet. Thank goodness, hair is changeable and temporary!
Daniel LOVED his first week of sixth grade, signing up for flag football and reveling in the change that lockers and new class schedules bring.  Today is his birthday and the morning was kicked off with Overboard waking him up with his favorite donut, singing Happy Birthday. However, he is a sad birthday boy … that brings me to The Chicken Report. 
The good news is that we are collecting five eggs a day. The bad news? Today we shipped off the cutest and cuddliest hens because time has proven them to be growing-loud roosters. Is there any other kind? Why yes, there are. Quiet, feather-footed chickies that are mistaken for hens, until they start cockfighting and crowing at the crack of dawn! The past mornings my Teckie put them in the garage to cut down on the decibels of crowing my neighbors must hate. When we returned Boots and Queen, um, I mean King,  Daniel had a droopy-broken-birthday heart. 
I tried to convince my Teckie to exchange the roosters for feed, however, they returned with two little black "hens." Daniel's spirits shot up, as for mine? No comment.
Bye Boots and King the rooster formerly known as Queen the hen
 This week I waved my white flag to life’s shifting cycles.  Everything changes.
 The trick is to keep good  balance and juggle newness so that life is enjoyable, appreciated, love-filled and steady. When, and if, you feel overwhelmed? Hop on your unicycle :0 )

Sunday, August 26, 2012

A Perfect Ten

It was a premature celebration (he was born on August 31st) but one that had to unfold  before the start of school, big brother’s return from Catalina Island and summer’s official ending … Please welcome … Daniel’s 12th birthday! Yes, for the first time we caved and hosted a slumber party with thirteen buddies, sleeping in pitched tents and each doing a stellar job as energetic-competitive-sweaty preteen boys. It doesn't sound like a dream party to me, but was a hit with this crowd.
They played a game called Bigger or Better. Splitting them into two teams,  they started with a paper clip and knocked on doors asking if they could have something bigger or better. Trading up and up until the game ended in 45 minutes, the Red Team won, returning with an 18-inch flatscreen TV with broken DVD player. The Black Team did great also, but stopped early, satisfied with a ginormous working nerf gun ... boys!
"Daniel Bingo” was our wind down before our BBQ dinner and then flashlights were handed out at dark. On our street, they played Flashlight Tag and Ghost in the Graveyard until a cake break. Daniel requested an ice cream cake with mint chocolate chip ice cream, and chocolate cake. Of course, I obliged and created a custom cake topper for this kid who soaks up the Military Channel like a dry sponge.
After all that? You think these kids would collapse. No! Cue “The Sugar High”. At 10:30, they watched Hunger Games (a surprisingly good movie with macabre story line) eating Fire Hot Cheetos, peanut butter pretzels and carrots. I feel like Overboard sharing food details. I can't help it, it must be in the Italian genes :0) 
After the movie, our den rug was floating in a sea of crumbs only The Weiner Sisters and my niece-dog, Cinco, could appreciate.
A pooped out Cinco
We played many games to tire these kids out. Try as we did, they still had to be shushed a few times, finally sleeping about 3AM. At my age, going to bed at that horrendous hour is a bad sign. But to these sticky little dudes, it meant a fantastic night, an ideal celebration, or unintentional parent torture. You decide.

I hit the hay about 1:30 AM because I knew that chocolate-chip pancakes, homegrown oranges and thirty soon-to-be-scrambled fresh eggs were calling me after the five hours of sleep I devoured. It felt like fifteen minutes.
Those boys were up with the sun (an imposter “hen” was coca-doodle-dooing! Do you know what that means? Maybe  another rooster? Stay tuned) and running around having nerf gun wars as my Teckie and I worked like a well-oiled machine pumping out breakfast. Of course, with a little help with some friends.
We get by with a little help from our friends!

This whole shebang was a rare undertaking because of the required responsibility and energy.  Without a doubt, Daniel was worth every ounce of effort, gray hair and lost sleep.
Don't even think of blowing out my candles!
 After the last boy was picked up, we asked Daniel how the party went. He quickly answered “It was a ten! A perfect, ten out of ten!”

Wooo Hooo! Raise your soda and let's "cheers" to twelve years of Daniel (clink!).

Friday, August 24, 2012

"The God Part"

Spending time in the Emergency Room with Lucas, we had hours of concentrated talking time. He told me about a story he heard at AMEN (our young men’s church Group).  It went like this …  There was a man who possessed great faith that every day he would thank God for things not yet received. He was so sure that God would pull through, sometimes waiting years, yet always keeping a heart of deep gratitude and constant thanksgiving every day. Lucas explained that it is all about having faith that God can and will do the impossible.

I liked the story and then he said, “But wait, let me get to The God Part.”  Thinking we just went over “The God Part,” I zipped my lips as he went on. 
“When Jenny (a dear friend, maybe more)  told me she was backing out of going to Camp Del Corazon (, I laid on the floor thanking God that she WOULD go.”  In the ER, with oozing skin and swollen parts, Lucas was sharing “The God Part” of the story and how he tried the Faith Lesson learned at AMEN .  How camp was only six days away and he was bummed that she said she could not go, but thanked God that she would.
At our Cousins Getaway, far removed from home life :0)
Let me back up … The reason we were in the ER was that while I was away this weekend with my cousins in Santa Barbara, my sons and their friends built a ramp. This bumpy incline barely qualified with ramp status.  Just rusty nails and old-sloping-wood hammered together.  Lucas jumped his bike off it.

Without a helmet.
On the pavement.

He messed up the right side of his body and was covered in road rash, a huge swollen elbow and knee, much pain and a boy-zest for his many abrasions.
I know what you are thinking. Where was his father during the helmetless-jalopy-bike-ramp session? All I can deduct is that fathers have a different approach (or lack of) when it comes to supervising their sons.

Nuff said.
Back to the story.
Here is "The God Part."  When Jenny went to withdraw from camp due to missing too many tests her first year of high school, she was told that if she did not attend they would not pay for her transportation from Arizona to California for future Camp Del Corazon (www.campdelcorazon.orgtrips. THIS truth she could not live with and decided to suck it up and go. And, as I write this Lucas and Jenny are on day two of what Lucas calls the best part of every summer.
In the end of that long ER night, Lucas hobbled out with no broken parts, just an elbow contusion, irritated-gross skin, and a brain full of lectures on helmets from doctors, nurses, and me. Exhausted, I drove home, happy to have had the precious time with my fifteen-year-old son  and amazed at how he is teaching me about "The God Part" of life.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Vacation Blues are the sign of a good time

It’s so cliché to say “I need a vacation from my vacation,”but we came back from Kauai exhausted, yet high as kites after all the adventure. 
My tekie hanging on for dear life!!
The Vacation Blues clouded my head for a bit. Our visit was packed with ziplining over valleys and rivers, kayaking for miles, hiking to waterfalls, Zodiac boating with dolphins along the Na pali coast, exploring Kuaui, partying at a yummy luau and viewing the fake-looking-perfect sights  everywhere(cue the swan).

In addition, we made new friends and I forced my guys to "shop" at Hilo Hatties. It just about killed them.  Whew! Daniel tried scuba diving and both boys discovered they love virgin pina coladas (what’s not to love?).

Did I mention that wild chickens roam Kuaui everywhere, and I mean everywhere you go? It's like a petting zoo.  Daniel playfully took it upon himself to catch a wild chicken or two. And, the Chicken Whisperer did it!
Just like home
We woke up to the crowing of many roosters.  Truth be told, my Tekie and I wore ear plugs, unlike Lucas, who opted to sleep outside on the patio listening to the tropical rains fall at night.
Nature lover or future bum? You decide.
I admit when we returned to California I felt a bit out of balance due to the time change,  but recalibrated after many naps and passing days.  It is key to stay in balance to enjoy life, no? YES!
We are the corny tourists in matching Hawaiian garb ;0)
My thirsty plants, the Weiner Sisters and brood of chickens (still alive, but one is molting), were happy to have us home ... and it is good to be back in our groove.
 It makes you appreciate the specialal times when you step out of the every-day routine for a stint. God's beautiful world is amazing!
A little slice of heaven
Being  home means that Fourth Grade (AKA: work) starts next week, my son is deep into band camp, laundry is piled high and my husband jumped back on his treadmill of work. I am  stealing away this weekend to Santa Barbara to spend time with my out-of-state cousins. All this before THE GRIND starts, and I still have  the vacation spirit alive in me.

Two miles kayaking followed by a hike and lunch. This is where we landed. Not so bad, eh?
 Visiting a Land of Oz is awesome, however, Dorothy was spot on when she said, "There's no place like home."  It is the best place to return to!

The 1,2,3's of scuba diving
When our money tree starts blooming, we will return to this magical “Garden Island.” For now I hope you enjoyed some of my photos from this once-in-a-lifetime family vacation! 
The Kuaui Krew
The Kauai week was  a cherished tropical blessing!