Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Happy Birthday, America!

Happy 4th of July!!

Do you have any special traditions?

We love to go to a little coastal town called Cayucos.
They have the cutest parade.

 Here's the family

 There are always some great bikers.

 And fun vintage cars.

 So many levels of cuteness.

 Cutest Family Award...
Keystone cop and his little prisoner!!

 These guys were rockin' out to Footloose.

 Delivering the Papes

My Favorite Float
A tall ship and historical costumes... perfect.
 The Tappers

 Representing our Vets

And finally these guys...
They were doing a choreographed water ballet routine.
I laughed so hard.

Hope you are having a great holiday week.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Don't Lose Heart

This month has been a rough one, friends.

Here we are at June 27th, and I've only been able to count 5 semi-good health days.

It's hard, and I'm tired, mentally and physically.
It's hard on my family, too, and that makes me sad.

I'm focusing on these thoughts to get me through...

 I am glad that God has better things planned.

I am thankful for the hope He gives to me for the future, 
even if it's clouded in the present.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Friday Favorites

Here's what some of my favorite peeps have been up to lately!

Cool friends that make cool stuff!!

Making Citrus Smiles!!!

My sweet, dear friend Beth and her awesome husband Nate just made this video.

After 19 months of waiting, God has made them a baby!!

I'm so excited for them and this blessing from above!

And last, but certainly not least...

The Amazing Jones Duo made an Etsy shop called Kiss the Sky!

They are making beautiful prints and canvases with scripture, songs and special dates.
They can even been customized.

You should go visit Denise at Victory Road, because she is doing a give away right now!!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Bittersweet June

June has been beautiful and bittersweet all at the same time.

Our Josh graduated from sixth grade.  I am still processing that it occurred.
We are so proud of him and all that he has learned and accomplished over the last seven years.

 The last 3 years Josh has had the privilege of being involved in a small homeschool co-op.
It was such a special season in his life and something that we will truly miss.
It has been a huge blessing and gift from the Lord.

The kids celebrated their years together with a major water war.
And a giant water slide. So fun!!

Good thing that there was a lot of water, cause I couldn't hold back the tears 
as we left the parking lot for the last time.

Then my little baby turned seven!! SEVEN!! 
When did this happen??  I can just barely pick him up anymore.
We love our little bear so much.

We sent him on a scavenger hunt for his new fishing pole... you just can't wrap those!!
Which do you think he likes better?  Present or cash??

Last week after these celebrations was a bit rough.  I think it was a big transition week.
It seemed like the kids couldn't stop rubbing each other the wrong way.

I think transitions are like that sometimes.  At least they are for me.
I can get seriously moody when I'm ending one thing and moving on to another.

So we made a "summer bucket list" to usher in the summer.
To help us look forward to the season ahead and make some fun plans.

Hopefully, we can fit it all in and enjoy ourselves!!
Do you have some fun summer plans?

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Belle and Blue

WIWW #28

pleated poppy

This post is going to be short and sweet.  Just thought I'd let you know ahead of time.

Top & Sandals: Marshalls; Jeans: Walmart; Necklace: F21
Ring: Jason

I am aware the quality of these photos is awful... sorry, it was late at night.  I happened to mention Belle a few days ago, because out of all the Disney princesses, I pretty much just like her (her and Nala... she counts).  Jason got all excited and said, "Hold on a second.  Oh, oh, oh!  I have something for you.  Austin got this off his cupcake and I saved it for you, cause you love Belle."  And then he just beamed and put it on my finger.  Is it not the perfect accessory?  I'm going to wear it out... my blingy Belle ring, from Jason.

 Tee: Marshalls; Skirt: Goodwill; Necklace: Linkel Designs on Etsy
Shoes: Nine West Outlet Clearance last year

First the Belle ring, and now I'm painting my nails turquoise blue.  My dad said it was ok as long as I didn't paint them black.  Actually, that was the color I was thinking of next.  The turquoise is just to ease me into the black.  I haven't painted my fingernails in years (or at least a lot of months).  I keep seeing Essie everywhere, and this turquoise color was sitting all alone on the wrong shelf at Walmart.  I felt sorry for it, so I took it home and almost died of toxic fumes.  I gotta say I like the color and it's not chipping yet, so it gets to stay.

I wonder what other juvenile mischief I can get myself into this week.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Month 2 ~ Repentance

Part of Man year

If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, 
and the truth is not in us. 
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just, 
to forgive us our sins, 
and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 
1 John 1:8-9

During May of Man Year, Josh focused on the theme of repentance.   

He learned about what repentance is... a deep sorrow for past sin/wrongdoing or regret for a past action.  He also learned that the Greek word for repent is "metanoia" or "a change of mind."  That makes a lot of sense, doesn't it?  God helping us change our mind and behavior.

Josh drew some comic strips that illustrated the elements of being wronged and repenting with a sorrow for the wrongdoing, followed by a change of behavior, forgiveness and reconciliation.  I couldn't photograph and post them, since they are pretty tiny characters!!  But they are very cute!

Throughout the month, Patrick and Josh read and discussed the book "Beautiful Outlaw" by John Eldredge.  They talked about who Jesus is... both fully God and fully human.  I eavesdropped on some of their discussions about what it is to have an intimate relationship with Jesus.  He is not just a religion or part of an organization, but a God who came to sanctify us and make us holy, "walking beside us" throughout our lives, and guiding us by His Holy Spirit. 

At the end of the month, Patrick took Josh on a hike to illustrate the idea of continually walking in repentance, and what to do when you take the wrong path.

Bifurcation became the word of the month.  Essentially, it is like saying "fork in the road," but we think that bifurcation is a really fun word to say, and it gave Josh a good mental picture.  He started thinking about how bifurcations can lead to other bifurcations, and that he should really think about the paths he wants to take.

We also acted out (well, I directed) the story of The Prodigal Son, to illustrate repentance and the heart of God toward His children.

This was really fun to do.  Afterward, we had a good family discussion about the grace and generosity of the father, as well as the sins of both of the sons.  We talked about why the brothers made the choices they did and how their choices and the way they handled their emotions and desires affected their lives.  Ultimately, our heavenly Father wants what is best for us, and rejoices when we repent from our sins and when we are reconciled to Him, and often to others.  We need to look to Him with an abundance of gratitude and thanksgiving, instead of feeling deprived.

Finally, here are some conclusions Josh came to, regarding the theme of repentance:

"I think truly repenting is truly acknowledging your sins and asking God to take care of them, then to right your wrongs and ask for forgiveness. Learning about repentance is sort of freaky, because God is ultimately altering our minds! I’ve also seen He is way more human than I ever thought.  Jesus is not distant, He wants a relationship with us. We shouldn’t hide things from Him, but give Him every detail of our problems and sins. He wants to forgive us, take it away from us, and throw it into the depths of the ocean."

 In a letter I wrote to encourage him, I said this:

"Josh, I see in you a heart that sometimes struggles to repent, but deep down I see that you want to do the right thing.  I see your tears and your sorrow when you realize you have hurt someone or rebelled against God.  I see your contrite heart and your willingness to ask forgiveness.  I see that sin grieves you, as it does God.  I’m thankful that you don’t want it to rule your life."

Friday, June 8, 2012


A couple of weeks ago, we were driving up to visit Denise's family for "Macaytion."  I think my brain is still in Bass Lake.  I feel like the past couple weeks have rushed by in a flurry of end-of-the-year school activities.  I am catching my breath this afternoon and reflecting.

Last night as I was singing "I Love You So Much" to my little J-bear, I was thinking about how much I delight in my children.  Sometimes we get angry and frustrated with each other.  Other times, I have to discipline them, and although necessary, it isn't fun for anyone.  But for the most part, I really delight in my children.  I like encouraging them and cuddling them and getting to know the people whom God created them to be.  I love to celebrate their achievements and divide their sorrows.  Sometimes on the way down the hall, when I am headed for bed, I stop and look at the kids' photos on the wall and I say, "I really like our kids."  And Patrick says, "Ya, me, too."  And then I go in and kiss them and make sure they are still breathing... I still do that, even though they haven't been in a crib for years.

One of the things I love the most about Denise and her husband, Michael, is that they delight in their children, too.  Noah, Emilie, and Josie have been loved and encouraged and enjoyed.  Their parents are purposeful about it.  I can just tell. There is love and joy in Josie's eyes, tenderness and warmth in Emilie's heart, and a steadfastness and strength in Noah's character.  They have been delighted in a lot.

Aren't they all so cute there, chillin' on the couch with their blankets in the morning?

They are pretty cute on a boat, too.

Jason followed Noah's lead and tried out the knee board.
He is 6 (almost 7) and he loves to try new things.
Sometimes it scares me, but I also love his adventurous spirit.
His happy, fun-loving attitude makes me smile.
I like that about Jason.

Josh has always been more cautious.  
He kind of regrets that he didn't try kneeboarding.
But he did try fishing, and he jumped off the boat in the upper right... TWICE.
I like that he knows himself and what he wants to try.
I like that he is not easily talked into anything... 
and that when he's ready, he's ready.
He's solid and when he decides to try something, he really sets his mind to doing a great job.
I like that about Josh.

One morning at Bass Lake I read Psalm 28.  I love verses 8 and 9.

The Lord is the strength of his people;
    he is the saving refuge of his anointed.
Oh, save your people and bless your heritage!
     Be their shepherd and carry them forever.

I love that our children are a heritage from the Lord.
And I love that He delights in us and sings over us.

It is amazing to me to think that the Lord delights in me as I delight in my own children.
Yes, He disciplines me as a good parent should, but He is also happy to call me His child.

My son, do not despise the Lord's discipline
    or be weary of his reproof,
for the Lord reproves him whom he loves,
    as a father the son in whom he delights.
Proverbs 3:11-12 

The Lord your God is with you,
    the Mighty Warrior who saves.
He will take great delight in you;
    in his love he will no longer rebuke you,
    but will rejoice over you with singing.
Zephaniah 3:17 

I am glad to have such a good heavenly Father.
I am so thankful that I am delighted in... it's almost too much to even grasp.
It makes me feel like smiling and dancing.

(Do you like Denise's commentary?)

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Pennies Add Up, A.K.A. Bribery

I shamelessly staged this photo.

Sometimes I bribe my children.  I prefer to call it an incentive, because that sounds better and I don't feel like a bad parent. 

Back when I was in fourth grade, I hated to read.  One day my dad went to a parent teacher conference, and Mrs. Ertel told him that I needed to improve my reading skills.  She suggested paying me a "penny a page" for a while, and then maybe I would like reading more.  My mom and dad were not sure what to think about that, but they gave it a try.  One day, after I had read almost every Beverly Cleary book ever written and probably several other books as well, I told my dad that he owed me $20.  He was kind of shocked, but he paid me, and after that I liked to read just for the fun of it and did it for free.  Now you would have to pay me to stop reading, but I'd probably just sneak books under my covers with a flashlight.

At any rate, I decided to use this method with my children during Kindergarten when they were emergent readers, and I pay them through the second grade.  They receive a penny a page or sometimes a penny a minute, depending on the book, and we keep a log.  I currently pay Jason about $5-6 per month. I happen to think it's a good investment even if it is bribery incentivizing (that's not even a word). 

I use incentives for the dentist, too.  A friend of mine once gave her son a Nintendo DS for not having any cavities, because she said it was cheaper than a dentist's bill for a filling.  Well, there's no way my kids are getting game systems out of me, but after Josh got a couple cavities, I started paying him and his brother $5 a piece when they visit the dentist and get a "no cavities" report.  It saves time, money, and pain, and I figure they are learning very good brushing and flossing skills through this incentive program.

Are you judging me yet?? I really wouldn't blame you.

It is the price I pay for having literate children with shiny white teeth.  Bless you, Mrs. Ertel, wherever you may be.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Maycation Edition

WIWW #27

pleated poppy

Memorial Day weekend, I had the great pleasure of hanging out with Denise's family.
They have a family cabin on Bass Lake.  It is just beautiful and breathtaking there.
They go every year for "Maycation."
We loved hanging out with Denise and getting to know her sweet family.
It was so fun and such a great blessing!
Thank you, Jones Family!!!

Dress: Nordstrom Rack; Necklace: F21 Clearance;
Tights: Target; Shoes: Payless forever ago

Denise specifically told me not to bring any clothes like this.
There are no fashion shows during Maycation.
She said I could even wear the same clothes every day and it would be okay.
So I did not bring any clothes like this, because I am good at following instructions.

Jacket: Billabong via; Jeans: Tommy Hilfiger via GW; 
Shoes: Sperrys

The first morning was pretty chilly and overcast.  I was glad I brought my jacket.  
I love this jacket.  I copied a friend of mine and got it on clearance a couple years back for only $29.
It has a cute little detachable faux fur collar.

I learned from Denise's mother-in-law that these shoes are deck shoes.
I have been calling them boat shoes.
I am going to have to stop doing that, because I want to be an official boat person
who knows correct boat lingo.

I like to go really fast in boats.  Denise does not.
She let me go fast, because she loves me and she is a good hostess.

Fedora: F21; Boyfriend Cardigan: Tommy Hilfiger;
Top: Marshalls; Necklace: Lisa Leonard

Denise and I called each other to coordinate matching sunglasses, necklaces, gray, and stripes.
No we actually didn't... seriously.
She's got my son singing the Maycation song... you know that old Go-go's "Vacation" song?
When did you teach him that, Denise??  He said he got it from you!

Patrick has two very distinct Maycation looks.
First, the "Old Scottish Man with Flip Flops and a Tweety Bird Fishing Pole Look"
Second, the "Laid Back Shades Look"

Be sure to vote for your favorite.

Somehow I have not a single photo of Denise's husband Michael.
That just means we have to get together again to fix that.
And because I need to practice Speed Scrabble so I can demolish him.

More Maycation photos to come in the near future.

Friday, May 25, 2012

A Jungle Story

 Josh's random fact for the morning: 
"Giraffe's have the tallest stature in all of the jungle." 
Then he started laughing hysterically 
and said that if a lion came to eat a giraffe, 
the giraffe could swing it's head down and club
 the lion like it's golfing, and yell, 
 Then the lion would hit an elephant,
and the elephant and lion would both go 
tumbling into a waterhole.
My friend said that is SO not "hakuna matata."
I think it would make a lovely children's book.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

PTS... what?

Scaling the Mountain: Part 6

I sat in my doctor's office a couple of months ago.  I had been through a gamut of medical help, doctors, and treatments for all the strange things my body has been going through the past couple years.  I had improved in so many ways, both physically and mentally.  But there were still symptoms that just didn't respond to any treatments or resolve in any way.  I had had a headache... a single, ongoing headache for about 19 months.  I was still experiencing hypervigilant feelings.  A certain sound, atmosphere, or even a person would trigger a "fight or flight" response in my body that I couldn't control, and that would last for days.  My heart was still pounding.  Nightmares were still plaguing me.  I was still so fragile.  Outside of my immediate family and doctors and nurses, there were still only eight people I felt a sense of safety with... felt I could be myself with.  Something still wasn't right at all.

My doctor looked at me with gentle eyes.  I think you have a Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, he told me.

How can that be?  I haven't been fighting in Iraq.  I haven't been assaulted or witnessed a violent act.  I just didn't understand.  I thought that if I admitted to having PTSD, I would be diminishing the experiences and traumas of others.  But I couldn't deny that the symptoms lined up.

It doesn't just have to be a result of a single event, he informed me.  It can be a series of events or stresses over a period of time, he said, assuring me.  It could be a result of feeling trapped or helpless.

He agreed to give me some meds on one condition.  I would have to go to see a counselor and do some work with cognitive behavioral therapy.  It would be hard work, and it would probably take a while.

I am afraid to admit all this.  I feel afraid of what people will think... about this "label," about me taking meds.  I am embarrassed to admit how horribly I have been at coping with stress.  I am ashamed to admit that in past years, I took on a bunch of guilt that wasn't my own, and I let it rule me.  I was too frightened to ask for help back when I needed it.  I didn't want to be that honest.  I didn't want to hurt other people.  So I kept everything inside.

I feel like I let everyone down.  

Including myself.  

And especially God.

But God is taking me by His right hand, leading me again, onto yet another path of healing.  I am learning to walk with Him one step at a time, one obstacle after another.  I'm learning to breathe in His life again.  I'm choosing to cast my anxiety upon Him, and truly believe that He cares for me.  Some days I am dealing with the effects of something that triggered my mind and body, and I am trusting Him to walk me through.  Other days, He delivers me from symptoms, and I feel like me... no headache, no hypervigilance, no pounding heart or nightmares.  I am learning to walk in gratitude no matter how I feel.  When I am weak, I thank Him for His strength and faithfulness, and that I can grow in compassion.  When I am feeling stronger, I thank Him for joy that comes easily, fresh hope, and the ability to think clearly.

I am thankful for Him and for the help He has provided for me.  I am thankful for the family and friends who have stuck by me, encouraged me, and let me be me.  I'm thankful for wise counsel.  And I'm thankful for those little pills that are helping the dendrites in my neurological system to start flourishing again, while I'm doing the mental and spiritual work I need to do.

As hard as this has all been, 

I am thankful for this season 

and I am thankful for my life. 

Wednesday, May 16, 2012


WIWW #26

pleated poppy

I'm experimenting with some basic primary colors lately.
I tend to feel more comfortable in neutrals, but every now and then I'll branch out a bit.

 Cardigan: Marshalls; Denim Dress & Red Belt: Thrifted; Shoes: Nine West Outlet

I found this denim dress at Goodwill... new with tags.  That's always fun.
It's slightly big, so I'm trying to slightly shrink it.
The belt is genuine snakeskin.  I hate snakes, but I like to say GEN-U-INE with a Texan accent.
Sorry if my legs are blinding you... I'm shielding my eyes.
That's enough random for this outfit.
Moving along...

 Cardigan: Target; Top: Thrifted; Scarf, Jeans, & Boots: Gifts

Patrick calls this my Greek outfit... all the white and blue, you know.
On Mother's Day Eve, I wore this to a restaurant called The Wild Donkey.
They serve Greek food and Mexican food.
I ate Mexican food in my Greek outfit while being 1/4 French.
Does this mean anything to you? 
Me either.

Sweater: Marshalls; Blouse: Kmart; Necklace: Lisa Leonard

I cut my hair.
Well, I didn't cut it, my nice stylist cut it and massaged my scalp.
To me, this is short and daring summer hair.
Nobody else even noticed.
I'm such a huge risk-taker, aren't I?

That is all... except my boys and I were talking about half birthdays yesterday, 
and I realized my half birthday is today.
Both my birthday and half birthday fell on a Wednesday...
That seems weird.
Does that always happen?

These are the kinds of things I think about when I am up past midnight.
I should have gone to bed at ten.

Monday, May 14, 2012

All the Married Ladies...

Back when our biggest decisions were what color Wayfayers to wear and when we would buy a churro.

Patrick and I have been together for twenty-two years... at least on June 1st it will be, but I'm rounding up because it's my blog and I can.  We've been married for over 18 years.  In all that time, you would think we would know each other pretty well.  We do in a lot of ways, but there are still  new things we are learning about each other or relational aspects we are continuing to work on during any given day. 

On occasion,  we have had the privilege of taking couples through premarital counseling... sharing some of the wisdom we have gathered from the Bible, other couples,  books, and our own experiences.  Sometimes Patrick even gets the opportunity to become a California state deputy for the day and marry couples.  I like it when he does that, because he is really good at making weddings meaningful and personal, and he looks extremely handsome in a suit.

Anyway, you'd think we would have the marriage thing down after all this time, wouldn't you?  But we tell couples that we don't have all the answers, because we don't.  Sometimes we have answers, but we are still trying to figure out how to implement them smoothly.  Knowledge and practical application do not always coincide.

One of the areas we are still working on is joint decision making.  I think we process things differently.  It could be because he is a man and I am a woman.  It could be that he is more analytical, and that I "overthink" or think more intuitively.  It could be something he ate or my hormones.  It could be the moon, but I don't believe in astrology.  So many factors.

Sometimes, we come together on decisions so quickly and without even a hint of difficulty or tension.  For instance, when we bought our sweet van, it was smooth like butter and the whole transaction went down with all the ease of a Barcalounger.  (Sorry, it's Monday morning, and that is the best metaphor you are going to get.) 

Other times, things get a little wiggy.  For instance,  about a year ago, we finally decided to get rid of our 17 year old television set (someone actually paid $5 for it at the garage sale), and upgrade to the current millennium (I had to look that word up in the dictionary, because I think it should only have one "n," but apparently it doesn't.)  Patrick did a bunch of research on TV's and studied up on things like HD and plasma and things I have zero knowledge about.  He did research on Consumer Reports and found out how large a TV should be for our size living area.  Then I came in and started actually measuring things out one day with a measuring tape, and I imagined what a large, rectangular black object would look like on our wall.  I started panicking and imagining my living room looking like a bachelor pad.  Things were not smooth like butter anymore.  We might as well have been speaking two different languages, because there was no helpful communication going on at that point.

Over the years, we have come to find that the single biggest thing that helps our joint decision making process is getting Jesus in the middle.  Praying about decisions, letting Him guide our thought processes, and receiving His peace and wisdom.  I'm pretty sure we left Him out of the TV decision, which is one of the reasons it went so badly. We also have some history that we need to let Jesus come in and heal, but that is another story entirely, and I think I'll leave that between the three of us.

Right now, Josh's school situation for next year is looming in our minds.  That's a big one.  Josh + School = ????   Jesus is involved.  We are doing are best to communicate and make decisions one step at a time.  I am trying not to get overwhelmed and project too far into the future, and Patrick is trying to engage me in calm, logical conversations.  We are praying every night.

So how do you make joint decisions with your spouse?

Do you have a specific process that you engage in?

What helps you to communicate in the midst of problems or challenges?

Sunday, May 6, 2012

On Guard

"Snakes.  Why did it have to be snakes?"

My next door neighbor called on Friday.  She told me that she was on her way home, when she saw something slithering across the street.  To avoid hitting it, she swerved and turned into her driveway.  It was a nasty, legless snake (yes, I'm aware all snakes are legless).  Then she got worried about my boys, so she called to let me know that the snake was headed into either my yard or hers.  She said it was a big one.

Great.  Why couldn't she have just run over the horrible creature?  I think that counts as self defense.

I hate snakes.  I don't have a phobia or anything, but I really can't stand them.  I am fully aware they help with the rat and mouse population, but I don't trust them.  I always check the toilet to make sure there are no snakes waiting for an unsuspecting victim to attack.  Didn't that happen in Rikki Tikki Tavi?  A snake was in the bathroom or coming out of a toilet or something... or did I just make that up?

I told the boys that there may be a large snake somewhere in our yard and to keep their eyes peeled.  Now Josh is afraid to go into the garage, and  Jason is afraid to go out into the yard.

You don't have to be afraid and alter your whole life, I told them.  You just need to be aware of your surroundings.  Then Patrick told them that the snake would likely be more afraid of them than they were of it. (Maybe.)

This whole incident got me thinking about Satan and his snake-like ways.  He wants to scare us and get us to live out of fear.  But I want to be alert and wise to his devious ways.  I don't want to be afraid to step out in faith or afraid to live the life God has called me to live.

"Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you."  James 4:7

He needs to flee, because my God has the power to squish his venomous little head.  I have the power in Christ to cast aside fear, and to live out of love.  I can stand up to Satan and anything he is trying to steal, kill, or destroy, so he better run.  

And if he doesn't, I have a van, and I'm not afraid to use it.

(Update:  The guy up the street says it's a 4 foot garter snake and that he sees it all over the neighborhood while he is walking his dogs.  Hmmm.... I feel so much better now.)

Thursday, May 3, 2012

In 'n Out

You know that's right!!

Jason is ready to take your order.

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