Friday, August 29, 2008

What Goes Up Must Come Down

There are a few constants in life--gravity, for one. And then there are all of those catchy phrases like "what goes up must come down," and "if you spit in the air, it will land in your face." Another thing that you can pretty much count on in life is the certainty that if you leave something on the shore of the beach, when the tide comes in and goes out again, it will be washed out to sea.

You would think that you could count on something like that. I certainly was counting on it yesterday after Elliott accidentally dropped his half eaten nectarine into the sand.

"Just leave it there, Elliott." I wisely counseled him. No big deal, right? Tide comes in, the tide goes out--along with the yucky, half-eaten nectarine...

Well, wouldn't you know it, but darned if that nectarine wasn't sitting smack in the middle of a pool of sun-warmed sea water that had been left behind after the tide went back out when we showed up the next day! I kid you not!

We drove down to the beach today and I was so pleased to see this very large and shallow pool in the sand filled with water. Almost like a little pond. I thought, "Oooh, how fun. A warm puddle for the kids to play in..." And then, BAM! There it was, a grotesque, mangled nectarine with the skin still on it where Elliott hadn't gotten to it yet, smiling up at my guilt-ridden face.

Hhhmm... "Steer around that, kids. You can play in the nice puddle, but let's go over this way." (I wonder what else got washed up into that puddle.)

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Frollick and Play

So yesterday and today were in the hundreds of degrees and that means that at the coast it is nice and balmy. My Elliott must have sand in his blood, I think. He has such a passionate love for the beach. We haven't been able to go much this summer, it being northern California and all... I don't know if you know much about northern California beaches, but apparently they are usually pretty cold and overcast (and lots of sharks I think). But we were treated to perfect beach weather today. 106 degrees in Santa Rosa, but drive about 25 minutes to Dillon Beach and its perfect 70 degree weather with a nice ocean breeze.

I'm so proud of my boy, because he's usually pretty skittish when it comes to the water, but today he played hard in the surf for a good portion of the day--even after a big head dunking spill... And let us all give Caiden a big hand (or "mad props" as some might say) for her ability to not ingest too much sand. I could tell it was a real sacrifice on her part, so I'm grateful. (My friend's horse died from eating grass with sand underneath so all the sand he ingested eventually carved out a dent in his guts somewhere so that all the sand would get stuck in the depression and it eventually killed him.) She loved rolling around in the sand and crawling everywhere. She also loved the water...

I've been struggling with patience lately for this phase my 3 year is going through. It's a very loud and obnoxious phase. I love him to death, but when he's running through the house yelling non-stop (even when you ask him to) and loudly speaking jibbery non-sense (his way of talking to Caiden in baby talk) and picking on Caiden and making her scream, too, its all I can do to stay calm. Some of my friends ask me for advice on behavioral problems and I was thinking today... A good problem solver is to take these crazy cowboys and let them loose at the beach where the crashing of the waves on the shore will cover the noise of their shrill shrieks and screams and they can run, run, run, themselves ragged. Then you can go through a drive-thru somewhere, feed them, dunk them in the bath, and send them off to bed. And you can count on them getting up only once--okay, maybe twice--before they go to sleep... Then you can worry about fixing those attitude problems tomorrow. At least today was fun...

BEACH TIP: Always bring baby powder with you to the beach to get off all that sand. Works like a dream--painless sand remover. And/or airplane blankets work excellent for this as well.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The Road Before Me

The days behind me have been tough. The days before me promise to be rough. Every day my job as a mother seems to demand more and more and quite often I feel as though I have nothing left to give. I have many days where I feel like giving up. Like everything is too hard and there is no relief. I feel empty and drained and at a loss. I feel incompetent. It feels as though nothing can make it better... But then... I leave my house for a few hours and meet with God and even though I come to Him, downcast, downtrodden, and hopeless, He "leads me beside the still water, He restores my soul." I am literally amazed each time I do this as I come home with my burdens lifted, my spirits lifted, and my hope restored.

Some days it is impossible to leave, so I must cling to His promises. The verse that has been ministering to me lately is Proverbs 3:5,6. "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths."

But what made this really hit home for me was reading the rest of the chapter which goes on to say in verses 19 and 20, "The LORD by wisdom founded the earth; By understanding He established the heavens; By His knowledge the depths were broken up, And clouds drop down the dew." So if that is how much understanding, wisdom, and knowledge that my Lord has then why would I possibly try to trust my own miniscule amount of understanding instead?

Tonight, Elliott, Caiden, and I went for a walk around the neighborhood while Daddy was out. It was so nice and peaceful. Still a bit warm, but starting to cool off and the sun just starting to sink below the rooftops. And as we walked, the aroma of dinner cooking or being had was faintly lingering in the air around individual little houses--each one smelling a bit different. It was comforting walking by and knowing that it was dinner time for others, too. The calm of the day being broken up sporadically by Elliott's whoops and war-cries.

In case you feel alone, dear mommies, you are not. It's a rough road, but fortunately it is one that is well worn and tried. What is happening to you or what your crazy kids are doing has been done or has happened before. We all know that this road can also be a glorious road and one with many blessings. Hope in the Lord and remember His promises to you. He loves you and has called you by name and has chosen you to be a mom. I pray He gives us the wisdom, knowledge, and understanding to accomplish our tasks well. And I know that when I pray for myself, I can most likely pray the same things for you. So I will. And maybe you will be doing the same for me...

Monday, August 25, 2008


...wild blackberries! We found bramble after bramble of blackberry bushes behind our new friend's house, along with a really cool walking/biking path. I adore summer berries. We have blackberries, blueberries, or raspberries with our oatmeal or cereal in the morning. And peaches! Don't you think peaches and nectarines and all of those other summer fruits are just divine?

Alas, summer is almost over and fall is on its way! Pumpkins, apples, and lots of other fall goodies to be had.

We are enjoying our last few weeks of summer (no kids yet being school age) and looking forward to our beach camping trip to Carpinteria near the end of September. Hope you all are enjoying the end of summer too...

Sunday, August 17, 2008

My Girl

"Talkin' 'bout my giiirl..."

What can I say? I am so in love with my girl. She's pretty, sweet, funny, playful, patient, enduring, lovable, happy, content, and just down right cute! My little Caiden Keats. How blessed I am to have you. I have to admit, I was a little nervous about having a girl. I didn't know how I would do. But you bless me every day. I love you so much that I can't even really put it in to words. So often I tell my friends that I love having a girl and when they ask me why, I just can't explain it. I think you're great. You fill my heart with overwhelming joy. And even if you're supposed to bond more with your Dad than with me, I don't care. I think we get along just great. And I have a feeling that you're going to grow up to love us both just fine.

Some of the things that make you, you include:

1. An uncanny abilitly to swerve around your brother's intimidating, bulldozing path.
2. You love to eat shoes.
3. You crawl around eating up scraps of food or whatever else is left lying on the floor, but submissivly spit it out when I come over to get it out of your mouth.
4. You have a wonderful open mouth full face smile that is incredibly infectious.
5. You love to be happy and almost always are.
6. You have an amazing amount of patience with Elliott as he knocks you about, rolls around with you, picks you up and tries to carry you, takes things away from you all the time all day long, gets all up in your face, constantly invades your personal space, and is generally loud and obnoxious. It takes quite a lot to get you to cry from these things. In fact, I am often shocked to see you actually smiling as Elliott grabs you and rolls you over on top of him and squeezes you tight.
7. You are almost always the first one to greet Daddy when he comes home from work.
8. You love to go outside.
9. You love your brother. You think he's the absolute best thing since sliced bread warm milk.
10. You give kisses even when we don't ask for them.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Knock, knock. Who's there?

Grandma! Grandma's coming to town. Woohoo! That's what Elliott and I were shouting and yelling as we drove up to Baggage Claim #1 to pick up Grandma from the Oakland Airport. "Grandma! Woohoo! Ka-chow! Yeeeeaaah!" we yelled, getting pumped up. And just to make sure he was stoked up to his full potential, I put on the "jyon jyon" song (Elliott's name for "Apocolypse Please" by Muse) which usually makes him start yelling "Yah! Kachow! Alright!" and gets him really pumped. He was ready. But as soon as he actually saw her, his excitement went to almost danger level. He was so excited, I think he just about broke through his 3 point harness system in his super hero seat as he screamed her name and strained forward to get at her and be heard. It was great.

So, we've got Grandma here with us for a couple of days and we're really excited. She brought some really neat gifts, including Elliott's new bug light he's holding below. The second photo shows how dark it was in real life without the long exposure that David used on the first photo. This is Elliott and Grandma getting ready for their "campout" with Elliott sitting on the couch holding his light. He was so excited. He kept running around the house trying to get things just right. Run down the hall! Turn on the bathroom light! Run back out to the couch and climb back up. Jump down! Run to the kitchen-- turn out the light! Run back! Get up. Jump down! Run down the hall! Shut the bathroom door! Run back! Sit on the couch and grin. Shine the light all around the room... Get up. Sit down. I'm surprised that boy ever went to sleep.

I think the photo is so classic with Elliott's bugcatcher and undies in the foreground... What else does a small boy need?

Photos by David Escalante

Monday, August 11, 2008

Grilled Salmon and Spinach Risotto

Last week I made this simple little dinner for us at home.  It looks amazing right?  Well, a lot of that has to do with my personal photographer.  But also, as I said previously, I have been trying to focus more on being good at my job and taking special pleasure in serving my family.  My goal, lately, is to make a place of refuge for them.  To not just slap some dinner on the table for them, but to present it to them with love.  Anyway, this was one of the results and it was well worth the little effort it took to snip off a few lemon tree branches, set the table and plate the food.  The salmon was so so simple, I just cooked it on the grill for about twenty minutes and seasoned it with sea salt and freshly ground pepper.  The risotto was  a God thing, because I happened to stumble upon the recipe that very day after I had just gotten back from a little produce vendor and I happened to have all of the things the recipe required on hand.  It really was very simple.  Don't let the name risotto scare you, it just takes a lot of stirring and watching.

The real victory here is that my family is blessed.  My husband feels good when he gets home and that makes me happy.  That's my job!

"The wise woman builds her house, 
But the foolish pulls it down with her hands."
Proverbs 14:1

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

I Love My Job!

I have to admit that I generally find the negative side of life the easiest to write and jest about. It just seems so much more colorful and interesting.  But, I really do love what I do.  And lately I have been finding special joy in taking care of my family.  What made me happy today (which was actually not today, but a few days ago, but I'm late on posting this) was Elliott and my watercolors setting on the table while we had lunch together with Caiden. 

Disclaimer:  I honestly didn't know my table was that dusty...  That's gross!  But don't worry, it is now spotless.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Cute Faces

Today we took a 3 hour trip to the local library.  One hour to get there.  One hour to be there. One hour to get back.  You should have seen me...  First, I set out, attempting to walk to multiple mile trip to the library with Caiden in the stroller and Elliott riding in front on the footrest of the stroller (He does that quite often--it works!).   But Caiden kept getting mad and kicking Elliott off and then I realized we forgot our water bottle...  So we walked back to the house and realized Caiden threw out her pacifier somewhere along the way.  I couldn't find another one and Caiden kept screaming whenever Elliott tried to hop on the front of the stroller.  So I grabbed a water bottle, got Elliott's bike and helmet, and borrowed the strap off of an old (diaper) bag.  As we re-walked our previous steps toward the library, we spotted Caiden's dropped pacifier, only to have her throw it out somewhere along the way a second time, never to be seen again.

What was the strap for,  you might ask?  Well.  Elliott did great on the way to the library.  Stopping every couple of yards or so to rest in a shady spot and take a sip of water.  But on the way home...  That is another story entirely.

It was hot by that time, not to mention naptime.  So, I hooked that blasted strap around Elliott's handle bars and dragged him and that stupid bike all the way home...

On a separate note, entirely:  I'm going to try my hand at stir-fry tonight...

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Ridiculous MySpace Photos

Annoying, but true, my blog editor is having some trouble so we'll see how this post turns out.

(Hence the above sentence being underlined and bold; my photos not centered; and not being able to have the pictures side by side...  Grrrrr!)

Another annoying thing is people's MySpace photos that they take of themselves.  Allison and I like to make pretend MySpace photos and laugh at them, so we thought, "Why not make a little game out of it?"  So, Allison already posted some great ones of herself on her blog and then tagged me.  Here are my attempts at being really super cool...  I tag Nine Online!  If you would like to participate in our little game even though you weren't tagged, just leave a comment with a link to your post.  Have fun...

Friday, August 1, 2008

Last One Out's A Rotten Egg!

Does this photo vaguely remind you of you and your co-workers leaving the office on a Friday? If not in actuality, at least in spirit...? The weekend, hooray! I hope you all have a splendid weekend...  Do something cool.  Personally, I'm hoping to visit the Crate and Barrel Outlet in Berkeley or spend the day in "the city" (San Francisco)...  Although, I'm sure these guys will just be happy to get in some peaceful country grazing...  Look at them chomping at the bit to get to the grass on the other side!