Tuesday, June 29, 2010


Wow, two posts in one night!  Because this one will show up on other blogs as the most recent one I've written, be sure to read that one next to provide some context :)

Night two of Martin being gone - tonight I went to bed without my cell phone.  I was feeling particularly confident that I would have a good night's sleep and didn't need that extra "security."  In our old house, when Martin left, I didn't sleep a wink all night because we had NO neighbors.  I always thought "If I scream, nobody can hear me!" Since we've lived here, I have felt safe; we are in a great neighborhood with people very close by.  We know our neighbors, and for sure if I screamed here, I would be heard.  Plus, we live across the street from a court judge who has some great connections, and that just makes me happy.

Tonight, however, I felt fear like I have never felt it before.  I'm normally not a "fearful" person.  I do fear bees, especially black bumblebees, and they send me running for my life.  My only other real fear in my life has been someone breaking into my house.  Maybe it's from too many 20/20 episodes, or from hearing someone knock on my bedroom window in the middle of the night when I was a little girl.  That's about it: bees, and someone breaking in.

So, back to tonight.  I went to bed around 11pm without my cell phone near me, feeling rather confident after having a good night's sleep last night.   I fell asleep after about 10 minutes and awoke at 2:15am to use the restroom.  I glanced at the boy's bedroom door and heard silence and knew Micah was sleeping (Jaden was on our bed).  On the way out I turned off the bathroom light, which I had left on earlier for comfort, thinking "It's almost morning now!"  Yeah, right.

About 10 minutes after returning to bed, I started to doze off again when I began hearing things.  I heard some footsteps, and then they stopped (we have wood floors under our carpet so you can hear everything).  I heard sounds of someone trying to be quiet and not be heard.  This continued for a few minutes.  My heart has never beat so hard.  I am pretty sure I almost had a panic attack.  I listened for about 15 minutes.

During that 15 minutes, many scenarios went through my head.  I was breathing heavily, I was sweating.  I was lying on my stomach with my eyes wide open, imagining what would happen to my children if I were killed and would they get hurt too.  I wondered if there was a way I could get to the phone without being heard, but every time I moved the bed made a noise.  I felt paralyzed by fear.  During that 15 minutes, I prayed.  A lot.  But my prayers did not even make sense and were all over the place.  It was mainly just "Jesus, help me.  Jesus, protect me."

The worst part was the silence in between.  Then I would hear movement again, then silence.  It sounded like someone did not want to be found out.

At 2:30am, somehow I mustered the courage to get out of bed, and I was shaking.  I got up quickly and rushed down the hallway to turn on the light.  I saw Micah's bedroom door closed and I panicked again.  My mind went crazy as I pictured an intruder in there with my son.

I ran down the hall and opened his door, and found Micah sitting on Jaden's bed in the dark.  I panicked again.  Then I saw it.  Micah was eating a Cars Lollipop from his birthday party.  He broke the silence by saying, "Mommy, I want water!"

This boy is going to give me a heart attack, I tell you.  One day he will read this story and laugh.  But I am not laughing.  Now I cannot go back to sleep, and he is up from a sugar high.  What do we do now? Play games?  I am up blogging because it is the only therapy option I have right now!!  

What is the moral of this story?  I have no idea.  It is 2:57am.  I guess the moral is, many of the things we fear never end up happening.

Lord, thank you for protecting us tonight.  Now please excuse me while I TRY to go back to sleep!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Missing Him.

Martin left on Sunday for a trip to Ohio, where our youth group is attending a big conference with 7,000 other teenagers called "Challenge 2010".  The youth have  been raising money for this trip for two years straight, and so they are VERY excited to be there right now.  Last time he went (which you can read about here), both boys simultaneously got the stomach flu the night before left.  This time has been much easier so far, although it's only Day 2 and we have been missing him badly.

Last night Micah got really sad that daddy was gone and cried for awhile after he went to bed.  Today we had a playdate ALL day, which helped to keep them occupied.  During that playdate, Jaden hit a baseball through the living room window and it shattered.  I had to laugh, because Martin has told me over and over, "Just wait; boys break windows with baseballs."  :)  Tomorrow the window repair man is coming and I will be paying him $125 for that.

But seriously, how could you be mad at this face?!

Anytime my husband leaves on a trip, I suddenly have a whole new respect for single mothers and military wives.  It reminds me to be so thankful that my husband IS coming home, and isn't gone for 9 months or longer.  I don't know how these women find the strength to keep going in situations like that; they amaze me.  I did a photoshoot on Saturday of a family, and the grandmother was there also.  We started talking and she asked about my family, and then she said, "You're lucky.  Your husband is with you.  I have nine children and my husband died when they were 6 months to 12 years old.  I had to raise them as a widow."  She went on to say that she was a full-time professor of Psychology at a University (in the Philippines at the time).  WOW.  I asked if she had help, and she said she did have help. But STILL!!! A full-time professor with NINE children?  This woman amazed me.

The woman's daughter, a friend of mine, just survived breast cancer.  She has had multiple surgeries and went through chemo.  She is a mother to two girls, ages 6 and 7.  Her husband is in the entertainment industry and works sometimes 60-70 hour weeks, far from home.  She went through her battle with breast cancer with strength and patience, taking her kids to school, picking them up, making all of their meals, etc... all while she was in pain.  This woman also amazes me.  

When I start to feel sorry for myself, I think of my friends: women of strength and patience, some who have waited for their husbands for days or months on end.  I realize that 6 days is nothing, and I have nothing at all to complain about.  

So, while I miss my husband, I am thankful that we will see him in 5 more days.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Stop and Think

Sometimes things happen in our lives that cause us to stop and think, "Is God trying to tell me something?"

For me, God has been closing doors.  Doors to things that I was excited about and thought was the right thing.  He closed two doors for jobs that I thought for sure I would get.  He closed the door to me being involved in a ministry I was excited about.  He closed the door to three major things I thought would be happening in the Fall.  And so I had to stop and think, "Is God trying to tell me something?"

Three weeks ago I sat in church and listened to our pastor speak.  He told us to turn to Haggai in the Bible, and I couldn't find the book.  I know where Haggai is, but it took me at least 5 minutes to actually located it in my Bible.  Then he read from Haggai 1:9 - "'You expected much, but see, it turned out to be little.  What  you brought home, I blew away.  Why?' declares the Lord Almighty. 'Because of my house, which remains a ruin, while each of you is busy with his own house.'"  I felt God speaking to me, but just tucked that little Scripture away in my heart and went on about my day.

Wednesday of that same week, I had a meeting where the final door was closed to this ministry I care so very much about.  As the day went on, I began sadder about it and began to question why.  That afternoon, I sat down on the couch, grabbed my other Bible, and just randomly flipped it open.  It opened exactly to that SAME book, chapter and verse- the one I had such trouble finding just 3 days before.  Haggai 1:9 - "'You expected much, but see, it turned out to be little.  What  you brought home, I blew away.  Why?' declares the Lord Almighty. 'Because of my house, which remains a ruin, while each of you is busy with his own house.'"

In this passage, the people of Judah were busy taking care of their own houses and building their city.  They had forgotten about the most important house - the house of the Lord.  It was lying in ruins, surrounded by a bustling city with people too busy to stop and care.  God says to them, "Therefore, because of you the heavens have withheld their dew and the earth its crops.  I called for a drought on the fields and on the mountains, on the grain, the new wine, the oil and whatever the ground produces, on men and cattle, and on the labor of your hands."  (Haggai 1:10-11).  God proceeded to tell them to focus on rebuilding the temple, and the people obeyed and got to work.

I thought about it for awhile, and then I finally got what God was trying to say to me.  He was telling me that I have been so focused on doing things for Him, that I have often neglected my relationship with Him.  I have spent my energy on my outside "house" all while ignoring my inside "house."  Let me say that again - we can do things for God, but they can never substitute for our relationship with Him.

When we get so wrapped up in the details of our life, sometimes God will call us out.  He wants to get our attention.  Sometimes He allows things to happen so that we will get our eyes back on Him.  Not necessarily bad things, mind you, but just everyday inconveniences that make us stop and think "what is going on here?!"  He will start closing doors.  Sometimes that is the only way He will get our attention.  He calls us to seasons where He strips us of things that we don't need in our lives anymore, to get us back to where we need to be.  It is hard, but it is worth it.

So now, instead of getting upset about these closed doors and these inconveniences (and I do still get upset sometimes), I can remember that God, in His love for me and you, cares so much that He wants to help us get our priorities straight.  He wants to be first in our lives again.  

We can be encouraged, because "'The glory of this present house will be greater than the glory of the former  house,' says the Lord Almighty. 'And in this place I will grant peace,' declares the Lord Almighty."  (Haggai 2:9).

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Week in Review

I'm glad I have a blog.  I never remember what I did the day before, much less the week before, but I can always go to my blog to check.  Can't remember that funny quote that Jaden said (that I thought was so funny)?  I just hop on my blog to check!  Can't remember what my kids looked like last year?  Just hop on my blog to check! :) Just kidding.  I remember what they look like.  Sometimes.  It is a little like a journal, a tad like a baby book, a smidgen like a daytimer, sometimes like a devotional, and kindof like a photo album.  So today, for the sake of myself a year from now, here is my week in review (you know, just in case I forget):

After Micah got out of school last week (his last day as a preschooler - sniff sniff), we celebrated by going to McDonald's with some kids from his class.

(Micah at preschool with all his "loot" from his friends) :)

Wanting to start the summer off right, the very next day we had a playdate with my 2 really good, precious friends and their kids.  These girls are so dear to my heart; we met at MOPS and now we try to get together every week.  As we shared about what God had been speaking to us about lately, it was amazing how God had spoken the same thing to each of our hearts that very week (without us even talking).  I love it when that happens!  Between the 3 of us we have 7 kids- ages 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, and 7 months!

On Saturday we went to the City Yard open house, where kids can ride on tractors, city buses, school buses, firetrucks, police cars, and more. They give out TONS of free stuff, and there was a classic car show too.  So much fun!


That night I had my gold party - have you heard about these?  They are awesome!  You just invite a bunch of people to your house to sell their old gold jewelry, they get paid on the spot, and you make 10% of all the profits.  I had a very small party and still made $110.  If you live in Southern Cal. and want to book a party, let me know and I will hook you up with Joe, my "gold guy".

On Sunday we had church and then rested - Sunday afternoon naps are my favorite.

(Jaden always falls asleep with his finger in the loop of his blanket) :)

Monday was "Mom's Day Out" for me and my BFF Heather at Disneyland.  Our passes are expiring soon, so we went by ourselves with no kids for a whole day - it was awesome!  We went to California Adventure and Disneyland, went on roller coasters, saw World of Color, got soaked on the water ride, and stayed until 11pm.  We are total suckers for roller-coasters and always know right where the cameras are on every one :)  We both have awesome husbands who watched the kids for us; God has blessed us!!

Today I woke up and thought "Oh no! It's summer! What am I going to do with the kids today?!"  and I saw another friend on Facebook posted the same thing.  I was so tired today from Disneyland yesterday that we took it easy and went to the park.  The rest of this week is pretty low-key too, but I realize that I pretty much need a plan for every day.  By 10am, the boys are climbing up the walls and need to get out of the house.  Do you find that you need a plan for your open days, or do you prefer no plans?

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Summer Fun List!

I saw the cutest blog post the other day about Summer Fun lists, and it got me thinking.  I sat down with the boys and asked what they wanted to do this summer, but they didn't really get it.  For Jaden, every day is summer because he is not in school yet, and Micah was only in school 3x a week so we could do what we wanted on the off days.  However, since this is our first official summer before "real" school (kindergarten) begins, I made a list anyway.  Drum roll, please....

-Go see "Toy Story 3" at the movie theater!  (first time at the movies for the boys)
-Visit Disneyland one last time before passes expire
-Go to Seaside Lagoon (a local enclosed beach for kids)

-Visit Mimi & Papa (my parents) for 4 days
-Take swimming lessons
-Soccer for Micah (the whole month of July)
-Visit my sister (she lives 40 minutes away)
-Go to the beach
-Go camping (Yosemite, here we come!)
-Go to Chuck E Cheese
-Have playdates with friends from school
-Have playdates with other friends too
-AND have dentist appointments for the boys (fun!)

What's on your list for summer?  Let the festivities begin!!

Friday, June 4, 2010

2 Weeks of Dinners!

Before I had kids, I was a whiz at coupon clipping and meal planning, often saving over 50% of my grocery bill at Ralphs or Vons.  Somewhere along the way (probably between having my coupons spit up on and tailing 2 small children through the grocery store), I didn't have as much time, and my coupons started piling up in a drawer somewhere. Now I'm lucky if I go through them once a month and even more lucky if I use them.  I have switched grocery stores to save time, and now frequent 4 places every two weeks to grocery shop: Trader Joe's, Costco, Target and the 99 cent store.  I also try to go to the local Farmer's Market at least once a month for extra fruits and veggies.

At Trader Joe's I buy a lot of frozen foods, quick packaged dinners, canned foods and snacks.  At Costco, I buy chicken and ground beef in bulk, as well as tortillas, bread, lunch meat, cheese, a hot Rotisserie chicken and the occasional GINORMOUS pizza (for only $7 with a coupon).  Target is where I fill up on cereals, snacks and everything in between.  The 99 cent store is for fun - I have found awesome deals on name brand cereal, snacks and even organic produce.

If I'm having a good day, I will plan our dinners ahead for 2 weeks at a time (preferably before grocery shopping).  Meal planning is something I dread doing, because I know the boys won't want to eat about 90% of what I make, but once I do it, I'm glad I did.  I'm always interested in hearing what other people make for dinner so that I can get some new ideas.

Today I made our 2 week dinner plan, and I thought I'd share it with you in case you are in a dinner RUT, like I am most of the time!  I keep a paper calendar on the fridge with dinners filled in for every day, but I switch them around a lot depending on what we feel like having.  Then I just cross off the dinner when we've eaten it.  (I know many of my dishes are from Trader Joe's, but you can find similar things at any grocery store).

In our family we do not eat a lot of red meat or fish (mainly chicken), so you may want to substitute accordingly.  We also try to mix homemade meals with easy meals that I pick up at the store.  I did not include the side dishes, which always include a vegetable or salad.

I hope this helps at least one person get through this next month with some dinner ideas!  If you haven't gone grocery shopping yet, this may be your lucky day!! :)

Thursday, June 3:  Costco Rotisserie Chicken & salad
(Um, did you know that Costco Rotisserie Chicken has a Facebook Fan Page??)

Friday, June 4: Southwest Casserole
(something I made up - basically corn tortillas, ground beef, onions, corn and tomatoes all mixed with cheese and enchilada sauce and stuck in the oven for an hour) :)

Saturday, June 5: Orange Chicken (from Trader Joes), Rice and Broccoli
(If you don't have a TJ's, Costco also carries this as well as most grocery stores now).

Sunday, June 6: Chili Casserole (idea from Trader Joes):
2 cans of chili in a 8x8 pan, covered with corn bread mix (already pre-mixed).
If you use the recipe link above, I do not use the black beans or cheese on top.

Monday, June 7: Tomato Pesto Pasta (an idea from my friend Anna) -
Cook some rotini pasta, shred 2 cooked chicken breasts, and mix with Classico Sundried Tomato Pesto sauce.

Tuesday, June 8: Pizza

Wednesday, June 9: Baked Chicken and Potato Medley from Trader Joe's (or your choice of side)

Thursday, June 10: Spaghetti and Meatballs (Mini party meatballs from TJ's)

Friday, June 11: Taquitos (from a box), Beans and homemade Spanish Rice

Saturday, June 12: Rotini pasta and Sausage Links (our favorite are Adell's from TJ's or Costco).

Sunday, June 13: (Potluck at our house - leftovers) :)

Monday, June 14: Meatloaf (best recipe ever, and I'm not even a meatloaf fan)

Tuesday, June 15: Fettucini Alfredo 

So there you have it, folks.  I do not always cook from scratch, or always the most healthy, but I try to always have salad and veggies as a side.  Now I want to hear your dinner ideas!  Please send them in so we can all read how you do it, too!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Mommy's Unite!

I have written before many times about MOPS (I know you're thinking "enough already!"), but I came across this blog today from Constance Marie (who played the mom on the George Lopez show) and couldn't agree with her more!   While I doubt she actually belongs to a MOPS group, every woman I know needs to join MOPS.  Yes, you have to pay dues each semester (each group varies). But honestly, I would rather spend dues on something that will benefit me AND my baby emotionally and spiritually than a gymnastics class or baby sport - besides, it's cheaper than those classes, I promise!! :)

Read what she has to say here....

My topic for today: Get thee to a mommy group ASAP!!!
"Seriously, there should be one in the frickin’ lobby of the hospital, just to let you know, ‘Your life as you know it is over!’
A mommy group is like a bunch of buddies during a war, bonding in the trenches while going through LOADS of stress. If you’re in the trench alone it’s a scary place, but if you’ve got your buddies, somehow it doesn’t seem as bad. And when you have to leave the trench to pee, someone has got your back! There is a reason our periods all sync up after prolonged exposure to other women!
Before I had the baby, being the type A control freak that I am, I had lined up support. I had my mother and mother-in-law, plus Kent was going to take a few days off work to help. I was all ready to go, right? WRONG!
No one explained to me how it was really gonna go down. That the bleeding, cracking, toe-curling nipple pain during breastfeeding — and being the only one who was on call to nurse every three hours all day and night — was going to make me feel lonely.
No one told me that I would be in constant pain after having seven layers (Yes! Seven layers!) of my abdomen split open, and would still look puffy, bulging and pregnant! I mean, crappity crap crap. That could depress anyone!
No one warned me about the psycho hormone crash I would be experiencing 24 hours a day. That made me feel alone.
Then I realized that — even though everyone was trying to do their best — NO ONE was truly, physically in the trench with me. I needed help.
So when I walked through the doors of my mommy group and heard the first woman speak, I let out a sigh of relief that lasted, oh, about five minutes."
And read more here.

NOW, get thee to a MOPS group by going here!! :)

(P.S. Mothers of Preschoolers is for any mom who is pregnant or has a child from birth through Kindergarten.  After Kindergarten, there are groups called "MomsNext" for the next stage in life, and you can also find those groups by searching on this website).

The Strong Willed Child

You may have read my comment last week where I joked that Martin and I had been looking at books on "The Strong Willed Child" while on our date to Borders.  I have written a little about it before, but it is a hard topic to share.  Admitting you have a strong willed child can either bring criticism upon the parents (because people assume the parents are doing something wrong), or it can bring preconceived ideas about your child into a playdate or other situations where that child could be treated differently.  I have never wanted Micah to be looked upon as different or difficult.

At the same time, though, I feel like parents need support, and they need to be a support to one another in situations that feel beyond our control.  In finally admitting to others that my child has certain behavioral issues that are very difficult, I have found love and support and encouragement when I needed it most.  My hope is that chronicling this journey through my blog would also encourage others.

In doing some research on Strong-Willed Children (SWC), I have found that there are a lot of helpful books and resources out there, and that parents of SWC often end up finding each other and becoming great friends :)  We first noticed Micah's tendency towards being strong-willed at birth, but it really came into play around 18 months and I finally started journaling about it at age 2:

Journal Entry -  (age 2 years, 1 month)
"He is independent and wants to do his agenda, not ours...He is very stubborn and tests me constantly.  For example, I tell him not to touch Jaden.  He stares at me, takes one finger and touches Jaden really fast, and then runs away."

Then he turned three, and I thought "Yippee!  Those days are behind  us!"

Journal Entry - (age 3 years, 10 days)
"Micah is still not potty trained (after about 5 months of trying).  He does not want us telling him when to sit on the potty or go.  We know he CAN do it; he just doesn't want to."

Journal Entry - (age 3 years, 2 1/2 months old)
"Micah is officially potty trained at 38 months old - WHEW!  This kid has brought both of us to tears with the potty training thing."  (We started potty training at 2 1/2)

Now, those two examples are not what brought us to think we had a SWC.  But they are just two examples of hundreds.  In reading through two great books on the topic, I am learning so much that is encouraging, and finally receiving some tools we need to move forward.  One book is:

Setting Limits With Your Strong-Willed Child by Robert MacKenzie, and
Parenting the Strong-Willed Child by Rex Forehand and Nicholas Long.

Both books are amazing and I feel are helping us understand Micah so much better.  I have read Dr. James Dobson's book "The New Strong-Willed Child" which also has some great tips, but these two books give more of a step-by-step process for dealing with specific behaviors.  When others (without a strong-willed child) hear that you have a strong-willed child, many people start recommending books on Christian parenting, which do not deal specifically with SWC.  Truth be told, SWC need a completely different type of approach than your general stubborn kid.

Here are some quotes from a good article about SWC:

"The SWC knows there's nothing he really has to do. So when parents issue edicts and ultimatums, the SWC will take the consequences rather than do what he's told. The SWC wants to have a sense of control over his or her life. If you find you're in a constant battle of wills with your child, there's a pretty good chance that your child, and possibly you, are strong willed."

"The difference really is about temperament. A defiant child has trouble with authority. But a SWC will fight against the way authority is communicated. The SWC wants to have a say in things. He or she typically won't resist the idea of authority." 

This is true and just scratches the surface of what life can be like with a SWC.  We now have two boys with two very different personalities, and it is interesting to watch how we parent both boys and they respond so differently to us.  What works for one does not work for the other.

I will write more about this subject the more I learn about it, but let me just encourage you - if you have a child that does not have diagnosable behavioral issues (and yes, we have had evaluations done), or if you know something else is going on, but can't figure out quite what it is, read these two books to see if your child might respond to these methods.  And of course, I cannot overemphasize the power of prayer.  I think I pray more for myself right now, that God would give me wisdom and patience, than I do that God would change my child's behavior.

Micah is actually a very loving and kind child, who has virtually no behavioral issues at school or church (his teachers frequently tell me he is the obedient and well-behaved child).  His behavioral problems almost all manifest only at home, where he is most comfortable.  Micah's behavior does not change our fierce love for him; we love our boy more than we can explain and know that God created him with this fiery passion that will be used for Him one day.  Our job is to accept the way God made him, help mold and shape his behavior, and direct it towards God's purposes for His life. But WOW, is this easier said than done.