Friday, February 20, 2015

All About the Journey...

Yessss... another 3 day week end with the kids out of school.  Thank goodness for Presidents of the United States!
I woke up giddy and decided with the near 80 degree days we have been having that it was most definitely a beach day. I hadn't been to Stinson for a spell so Stinson it would be.  I packed up the car with me and the littles.  (Hard to believe that I still call Ella a little at 13 years old.  Saddest day of my life when she refuses my fun like her big brother.  When I asked him if he wanted to go he said he too many things to do....Yea right.)
So by the time we were backing out of the driveway Tom said that he couldn't work because everyone was out of the office....double yes he was coming with us.  

Over the Richmond bridge we go...

And as we were about ready to get off the exit to go to Stinson Beach we realized that all 11 million bay area residents and some tourists to boot were headed there as well.  So we kept right on driving up the 101 and decided to go to Point Reyes seashore so I googled that and we were an hour away.  Say what? How did that happen?  Nope not going to drive that far.  Ok what's next?  Tom googled beaches close by and up comes Rigby's cove.  Perfect only 10 minutes away and you have to hike a mile to the beach so nobody will do it and we will have the beach to ourselves.  Wrong.  All 11 million people and tourists were doing that too.  No parking anywhere...double dang.  OK what's next on the docket? The marin headlands and walk to the Point Bonita light house...I love lighthouses.  
Always have...always will.  
Their seemingly romantic history and guiding ships safely home gets. me. every. time.  

So with our picnic basket over Tom's arm we headed out. Loved it...loved it all.

We ended up finding a beach after all and fighting over who was going to have the last of my sugar cookies...ahhh perfection.

Not ready for our day to be over by a long shot we headed into San Fran and ate dinner at "Little Chihuahua"  our favorite burrito with plantains and black beans followed up by some bi-rite salted caramel and because now I love their creme brulee...a little bit of both to end our day. 

 Just another reminder it is never about the destination but always about the journey.

If we ended up going to Stinson beach where we wanted to go, I would have missed this...

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Yea so...I am a messy cook

You know how some people have clean kitchens even when they cook?
Not so much me.
My kitchen looks like an earthquake hit each and every time I cook/bake/enter my kitchen.
I have tried...really I have.  
Sometimes I concentrate on putting things away after I get them out and I close cupboards when I open them or I have Ella follow me around and do it behind me.  It doesn't make a difference my kitchen throws it all up anyway. Every pot is dirty. Every utensil is on the counters and spills to prove what the spoons/whisks/spatulas were used for. Every surface gets used with the ingredients and the making and when that one gets full I move to the next flat area until every area including my kitchen table does not have a clean square inch.  The funny thing is I have to have a really tidy kitchen in between because as messy as it is when I cook in kitchen can't stay like that because then I feel all crazy inside. 
I know it makes no sense.
No dishes even allowed in the sink when I am done
no sense and a lot of work for myself

I have always known this.  My kiddos have always known this and my honey (who cooks and I can't even tell he has been in there because there is not a spec of his ingredients anywhere or even a spill from the pot.  Oh my gosh I just realized he might me have magical powers because he is so clean...that it is even weirder than my problem) has always known this.  In fact he thinks I'm funny.  That's not even fair because now that I think he has magic powers I don't think it's funny.  Oh and by the way I would put his cooking skills up there with like Alice Waters and I am dead serious.  So he is clean and cooks like Alice Waters.  Now I am just mad.

Anywho I never even think to take pictures of my kitchen in it's disaster state of course but on Sunday we celebrated Valentines with the kids where we have a menu and a special meal that is cute with heart jello and heart pasta and have chocolates and such. Anyway a short story definitely longer I was having a contest with my sis in law over whose view was better at that moment.  We took pictures and exchanged them and she was overlooking the sunset over the pacific ocean and we just had just finished dinner and I was walking into my kitchen getting ready to clean it up.
She won...shocking I realize and I was disgusted with myself.
My favorite comment of my week by far was after I had cleaned up the Valentine dishes for like an hour and then I got tired so I sent Ben in there, which BTW we normally don't make him clean up on Valentines because that is part of our gift...I know we are super nice like that, but I didn't care this year and I took back half of my gift.  I mean he still ate our cute meal and the chocolates so I didn't even feel bad.  I needed help and then he got tired after washing like 8 pots and pans and sent Ella in there.  She was a little shocked as well that she had to clean but again I didn't care and it was at this point that Tom made my favorite comment.  "What is going on there? Someone has been in that kitchen cleaning for like 3 1/2 hours.  All we ate was pasta."
It's true so we all laughed for like 15 minutes straight because seriously we had like pasta and a salad and some veggies and some bread.  Oh and I made my famous sugar cookies.  I don't want to down play the meal...I mean it was good and all but really c'mon 3 hours plus of cleaning up?  

I made pasta.

This is the picture I took for my sis in law and our little contest.  
I lost.

I want to be cute like bloggers and instagrammers and take pictures of my kitchen with me baking and everything looking tidy and adorable.  But if I am being honest with myself I don't think it is possible.  On Sunday I was looking at my insta feed and there was a gals picture of a vase with red roses and a beautiful valentine dinner and a clean kitchen and my concerns were validated I will never ever be able to take amazing pictures of me looking cute with a gorgeous meal in a clean kitchen.

Say what? Is that seriously garlic salt next to my cookies on the kitchen counter?

All these dishes...for pasta

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Motherhood is not for Wimps...

I could hardly wait to be a Mama.

I played house for the first 13 years of my life.  
Intermittent in there was pet rocks, tree tag, and all the usual kid playing but the main feature was house.  I took care of my babies faithfully and I took my role dead serious.  I could hardly wait for babies of my own.  I dreamed of what kind of mother I would be and I pictured my self rocking and reading and singing endlessly.  I would have a gentle voice even when they were naughty and I would teach, guide, love and protect every day of their lives.  

I was going to be the perfect mother.

Fast forward twenty one years and 3 months to last Saturday.  
My honey and I wanted to go play in San Francisco.  Benjamin had a game off of highway 24 in Orinda at 3:30 on our way home out of the city we would watch the rugby match.
So after my run I walk in the door, ready to get the other two kiddos out the door with us.  These two have been fighting pretty much consistently for a couple of months now.  Which is hard to take because they used to never fight and would play so adorably 95% of the time.  So the fighting is a tough pill to swallow.  So no surprise but they are fighting when I walk in the door.  
I tell them the plans and they fight getting ready, they fight over breakfast and they fight getting dressed.  They fight over which games to take in the car and they fight over where they are going to sit.  They fight all the way into San Fran. They can really fight over might be a talent.  
 We pulled over onto the side of the road and I told my two children in not the gentle voice (that I thought I would use even when they were naughty) that they needed to do 350 jumping jacks and run laps.
Did this solve the problem?
No it did not.
Not that I really thought that it would but maybe they would just be a little too tired to fight.
Or truthfully maybe I wasn't thinking at all but I just needed to do something...anything.

Motherhood is not for wimps.
My friend gave me this sign when my Nicholas was just a little guy.  I thought it described that stage of my life perfectly with little sleep and toddler tantrums.  Ha! I had no idea what age and multiple kiddos could do.  Looking back those days were skipping through the tulips. :) But no matter the stage...parenting is not for wimps. 

Fighting is just one of the examples that make parenting difficult.  It certainly isn't the hardest...although it does grate on my nerves day in and day out the most.  When you have teens, the worries and stresses you have seem to make fighting pale in comparison but it is all of it.  It is the years of all of it.
I went over to my best friends house on Sunday and I plopped myself on her couch and we started to talk like we were in a middle of a conversation.  Because that is what it is like with her, there is no beginning and end to anything we have to say.  She just looks at me with tired eyes and says, "How do we still suck at this after 19 years?" I knew what she was talking about she certainly didn't need to say...parenting.  
Yep, we all suck at it.  
It doesn't matter how long you have been doing it.  It is one of those things that you don't get better at with time because even if you get cocky for just a moment and you think you might be getting the hang of it another child either hits a phase or crap hits the fan with something that you haven't been confronted with before and you are like, "Well what the heck do I do with this one?" 
I am no longer trying to be the perfect parent.  
Those days are long gone.  I have excepted that and certainly realize how ridiculously unrealistic that goal is.  It's emotional suicide...that's what that goal is.

I guess that's why we needed to be parents to keep our egos in check and realize that we don't have control over these amazing humans we have been blessed with.  Because the only constant in my parenting is the appreciation of them. These beautiful, caring, amazing humans that I have the privilege of living with. They are not me.  They have there own dreams, hopes and desires.  They choose paths that I think are dangerous and I try to guide them back to safer ground.  But in the end it is their choice to be led back...their choice.  You can't make them do anything.  I can barely make them clean their room for crying out loud.  Of course you have consequences that you hope will deter any unwanted behavior but they can still do whatever they want.  
Their choice.
So all I can do is love them. 
The real love no matter what...the unconditional kind,  the Christ kind.  Not that surface love that we all so freely give when they are behaving and doing and being who we want. That is easy love.  Any parent can do that. 
All children deserve more.
My flawed kiddos deserve that love and they have it in spades.

I will keep working on my gentle voice though. ;)

This picture has nothing to do with anything except to say that I was going to put other pictures in here and it didn't feel right.  This one felt right.  A foggy morning on my honey's run last week.  Parenting for me is a lot like this picture I guess.
I am trying to figure out where to go and how to get there but it can be tough sometimes.
But then the sun came out this day, just like every other day in the bay area in winter,
 at about 12:30. 
Things become clear and I know exactly what I need to do and how to do it... until it becomes foggy again. ;) 

Friday, January 23, 2015

The Moments...

We do not remember days, we remember moments.
This is life...moments.
Did I understand this fully even a few short years ago?  Probably not and sometimes even now I forget but not as often.  

My life plays in front of me like a movie and I sit back and watch this amazing show.  

I used to wonder where the magic of the holidays went to.  I may have mentioned this before because I used to think about it a lot. I just couldn't figure out how the holidays once so full and rich seemed a little lack luster.  I have always enjoyed them and always cherished the special time of year but I would think back to being a child and I couldn't figure out how to recreate that same magic in my adult life.  Thanksgiving and Christmas were just another day and there was a certain disappointment in that.  
Where in the heck was the magic?  That feeling of anticipation and wonder.

There is an acceptance now.  I am not a child.  I get it. 
But does November and December even in there non magical state have to be flat out insane?
No I know they don't.  I am the boss of myself and I am taking my favorite time of the year back and eliminating all the stupid stuff that mean absolutely nothing.

 Certain aspects of the holidays make me bat crazy and here they are in no particular order...
 # 1 crazy is the shopping.
I realize I can't eliminate this completely but really? This is totally out of control.  Here we are celebrating Christ's birth and we are running around with our heads chopped off  buying hundreds of presents and spending hundreds of dollars that we don't even have. 
This makes zero sense to me. 
Why has it come to this?
Now we are all believers in Santa in this house including me so of course he is going to bring a  couple of presents...but couple being the operative word here.
But beyond that not much else is necessary.  My children needed clothes and well I think that is it.
Between thrift stores and Amazon not one trip was made to the mall.
Problem # 1 solved.  

#2 crazy is the decorating.
OK clearly this is a problem again of my own making.  While decorating is so fun and really something that I wildly enjoy... it is still a lot of work.  I am super lucky that my honey loves to make all my dreams come true and works along side me always.  But no matter it is a massive undertaking to make my house a twinkling wonderland. So I have simplified majorly.  While my house was stunning and wonderful it didn't seem as overwhelming this year.  I put up the decorations that I loved and tossed the rest.  It felt good to me and I wasn't overwhelmed putting them up or taking them down.

#3 crazy is the baking and the cooking.
OK so I lucked out a little this year with major help. Now I completely realize that this may never happen again but my dear family that lives by us catered Thanksgiving...seriously. The whole meal...seriously.  Did I care that we didn't have my rolls or Ann's stuffing?  Nope.   I don't know how to get my head around this incredible luxury.  I mean the meal was catered from a top golf club in the country...Monterey Peninsula golf club. I have to just add seriously here again but probably not for the final time.  Because it made Thanksgiving 2014 my favorite Thanksgiving almost of my adult life.  I loved having a year off of cooking and cleaning that beast of a meal.  I am a vegetarian and a traditional thanksgiving meal isn't really my favorite food anyway.
So while there was still a ton of cooking and baking it was just the right balance. Well except for making my own gingerbread house...that was almost torture. That was not one of my favorite moments.

#4 crazy is all the parties
Parties are fun in moderation but everyone is so excited about Christmas time that everyone wants to have a party.
My answer to this was to not go.
I know, I know not the answer for most people and especially for all the party loving people out there. But for me it was and I went to exactly one party this year and it was my honeys work party in San Francisco. ;) 

What was the result of all this cutting back? I will tell you...  

I just sat back and watched this movie of my life with everyone I love. 
The highlights are the moments I will honestly cherish forever.  I had Nicholas celebrating with us and that meant more than I can say. All 17 of my favorite humans on this planet gathered around our table Christmas eve basking in the candlelight glow laughing and talking. I watched my kids decorate the Christmas tree with music blaring, hot chocolate and dancing. We drove to the Christmas house and burst out laughing as we rounded the corner and saw those ridiculous lights. We played countless hours on the beach and watched the sun set over the ocean while we sat on the rocks.  I watched Nicholas play and joke and laugh with his brothers and sisters and cousins and I thanked my lucky stars that he was home with
I watched as the men in my life bought our raquelette cheese in our favorite cheese shop in San Francisco. We hiked lands end trail and made our own wishes and dreams in the labyrinth overlooking the golden gate bridge.

These moments were magical.

In the end the magic just doesn't exist because of childhood innocence that I had come to expect. It still exists because my family created it...we made room for it.

This is our trip to Carmel for Thanksgiving.  

Tom and I went on a run and this happened.  There are simply no words.

Random day in November and it was Nicholas's first city day with us since being back from his mission. 

And there was this....

And dad in the cheese aisle at Costco

Tom's birthday 

Per Tom's request we spent his birthday at six flags and to Thai dinner that night.  We had so. much. fun.

And Christmas Eve was spent here.

And buying our Christmas eve fixins were bought here

Christmas Eve night at pear cottage

Christmas Day

Back to Carmel.  

We did have a Christmas break flu. It was really bad and I am not sure I have the strength to write it down because this is soooo long and I am sooooo done.  But basically in a nutshell I am still humiliated because as I was sleeping cozily over at the bed and breakfast Ann was over at her house helping Charlie.  He barfed all over the bed, himself and Ella at 1:15 a.m. I didn't get the call to come pick him up until 4:15 a.m.  He had been barfing every 15 minutes and he continued to do so at our bed and breakfast until we got the next call at 6:00 that Ella had just barfed.  We ran over to the house and grabbed Ella and both children preceded to barf for the next 24 hours.  They didn't move for 3 days.  So while they laid in bed we tag teamed and played the best we can.  It is shocking that I actually enjoyed being locked up with these two.  I don't know there was just something about it.

Our morning breakfast.  Almond croissant, quiche and fruit and tea....unbelievable.

So grateful for these times spent with the people I love so much!

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