Sunday, January 7, 2018

Game day

Saturday was the Big Day. Our Upward basketball players had their first games of the season. It was So. Much. Fun!

Little K is on the 1st-2nd grade team, and we can see the difference already between last year and this year. Her dribbling skills have improved; she can actually get the ball up to the basket and even sometimes into the basket; and she seems to understand the difference between offense and defense this year. Like all my other kids, her defense is definitely a strong point. My kids seem to know how to stay on their player and make them uncomfortable. Which is the only time I can encourage this.
Beyond that though, she loves to practice; she loves her team; she loves her coaches; and I think, she loves the game of basketball. She hasn't diagrammed any plays on the white board for us at home, yet, but we are just beginning.
Her older sister has come out of retirement and re-entered the basketball arena after a hiatus of a few years. It took her a few practices to get the rust off, but she has seen enough games of her older siblings' that it all came back quickly. Oh, there is plenty to work on, sure, but she can hold her own out there. Now that she is on the sixth grade team, she plays full court, and the exercise is so good for her! After the first practice she moaned all the next day about how her legs hurt. I was only slightly sympathetic, much more pleased with the result and upcoming exercise instead. The game this weekend was a good one. Being just the first they come on the court with some things not known. Traveling, how to inbound pass correctly, how to play as a team, timing and rules ... they are learning all these things just as they are learning to be better teammates and players. I love how this league builds up each kid, not just in their court skills but also their interpersonal skills.
And I love basketball ... So since my son is done, and the older girls don't play ... I can still get my fix watching my two younger ones play, and play with smiles on their faces.

Looks like we made it

A new year according to the calendar. Seems a lot like the old year.
We spent this last holiday in a similar spot as we have in the past - sick on the couch. Three of us succumbed to whatever gross bug wheedled its way into our home. Thankfully no signs of the other 4 getting it. But all my fun planned for NYE were whisked away. We were going to have friends over and play games and eat amazing snacks.
Instead we ended up playing Pictionary with the girls - they had not played this (!) and enjoyed it; the 7 yr old wants to play it all the time now. We didn't actually use the board game style, just 'freelance' taking turns and guessing at each others Christmas themed drawings. We then got out Trivial Pursuit for Kids - bringing out all the old goodies - and the girls liked that one too. Once again, the 7 yr old asks to play it all the time now.
I didn't last until midnight. I think I might have made it until 1030, since I remember my son getting home from work.

But we're off to new adventures now. A new year brings a new word to mind. Last year I was all about Living an Abundant Life (see John 10:10) Not a life filled with stuff and things, but a life well lived and embraced and enjoyed and whenever possible, say yes. This year I will continue to work on that mindset, to help my family embrace life and living; but also to initiate. This year's word is Initiate. Actually I want to more properly say, Take Initiative. We don't need to sit back and let others invite us over, or sit back and wonder, why don't they ever ask us? We need to be the ones planning, asking, doing. Take Initiative.

Friday, December 29, 2017

This Christmas

Someone asked me the other day, "So what did you get for Christmas?"
And I just went blank.
I couldn't think of anything my kids had gotten for me. I could come up with some of the fun stuff the kids got (ukulele, Lego's, art stuff, food,) but not my own. I know it was a most relaxing holiday, but I didn't realize how relaxing! I mentioned that to The Mr more than once.

I really enjoyed this holiday season this year. I saved a little bit every month setting it aside for Christmas costs. I had my gifts bought and ready a week before Christmas, and the yearly letter . . Well it only took four drafts but I managed to get that out too, mostly. I think because I had a different focus this year, I had a better time. Instead of worrying bat how many gifts I would get the kids, and how the gifts would be perceived by their friends, I planned two gifts per child, one was something they wanted, one was something I thought they needed. And the stockings were just stuffed with snacks! Because these children don't seem to stop eating!

This Christmas seemed a little unusual for us. Not much went the way we thought it would. I'm hearing that same story from a number of people actually. Something to do with sickness. But that wasn't the full story for our house.
Because of when Christmas day was this year - Monday - it meant we went to Christmas Eve candlelight service on the morning of Christmas Eve ... That's just how it happened to be at our church. So knowing my in-laws were coming down for Christmas Day we decided to open the presents under the tree that the 7 of us got each other. I didn't think my in-laws would appreciate the chaos as much. After our traditional chili and rice supper, (in which I forgot to make the rice, and so we had to postpone supper another half hour to get that done) we ate we took the obligatory in front of the tree pictures and then the fun began. Most of the kids are old enough and had enough experience with this process that they know to be patient, watch what others are opening, and enjoy the process of gifting and receiving. The 7 year old ... well she has some more lessons to learn. She was all into wrapping and giving, but sure was focused on the getting that evening. We had a fun time though, and I reveled in the moments -- knowing that someday in the future we might not all be together at the same time on holidays. The kids got to bed pretty late, which means The Mr and I got to bed even later, after we stuffed the stockings.
Christmas morning came, and I woke up sometime after 8, and no one else was awake. I made a special treat for breakfast (French Breakfast Puffs) and still no one. Finally one or two kids came into the kitchen, we woke up the others, and they all opened their stockings at the same time. A late breakfast was interrupted by The Phone Call. The in-laws were ill and would not be coming. So we finished opening the gifts we had left and we realigned our plans. We decided to crash the party at my aunt's house. We got there in time for dessert (good timing!) and games. Fun times! We played Scattergories with the relatives and then later a computer/cell phone game called Jackbox QuipLash. It was a blast.

Oh, and the answer came to me eventually: A candle; a tank of gas (An awesome gift from a teen driver); a toaster (yep, I asked for a new one) a gift card ($ to spend on myself?!), and running socks (because you can never have too many of those)

Monday, December 11, 2017

And boom, December

It seems like it was just Thanksgiving Day ... but now it's almost Christmas?!
We've been going non-stop since turkey day .... The boy had his 19th birthday ... pretty low key this year. Welcome to being an adult, where birthdays aren't always a big deal.

 We also had some fun company at our house. The niece and her new husband came for the weekend with their dad in tow. We really enjoyed getting to know the newest member of the family .... He fits in perfectly with this crazy bunch.
We also had what we hope is a new tradition -- gingerbread house making. We recruited an honorary family member to be on our team too. Such a fun event at church!

Swim has begun in earnest. The Girl Who Swims has had her first meet, and to me, she looks fast! She will have a couple of meets a week until February. I'm sure glad we have stadium chairs to ease our sitting and watching times.
This past weekend we got our tree at the same tree farm we've been visiting for years and years. Amazingly it only took us a few minutes to decide on The Tree. We decided to put it in our front room with the raised ceiling - usually it's in a different room with a shorter height distance. So we were able to pick out one that was taller than we have had in the past.

But before all that fun and games, the Mr. and I had a vacation of sorts in San Francisco. We left on Wednesday morning and came back late Friday night, leaving the older 3 kids at home to fend for themselves. (The younger two got spoiled by an aunt and uncle.)
San Francisco was amazing. I had a wonderful and relaxing three days ... which I think I really needed. I haven't talked so much with my husband in a long long time. We spent our first day there walking the waterfront, from Pier 1 all the way up to Pier 45. We saw some neat sites, gorgeous scenery, and even went to the arcade "museum" that the kids know from the movie Princes Diaries.

I think my girls were more impressed by that than by all the miles and hills and other things we saw and did! On Thursday the Mr had his company meetings to attend so I had the day to myself. I contacted a friend of mine from my high school years and we got together. It was the first time I had seen her in probably 25 years or so .... And it seemed to me like we were back in those days again. Conversation flowed, fast and freely; we had so much to talk about and many things in agreement. It was a really great time, I shouldn't have been nervous beforehand.  That evening the Mr and I walked to the dinner party. Actually I/we walked just about everywhere. This city is one of the most walkable and easy to get around. I'm such a non-city girl (ie. hick town girl!) but even I could figure it out after a little bit. And there were runners everywhere!! We both wished we had packed our running shoes, but we didn't realize how nice and sunny it would be there in December.
 The architecture around the city was so beautiful too. I enjoyed seeing all kinds of different buildings as we walked. Even our hotel was pretty amazing.

On Friday we had some time before our flight so we walked up to Coit Tower, and then back down and over and up Lombard Street. And then back down Lombard. I think I probably walked 4 to 5 miles each day. By checkout time we were ready to sit on the local transit (BART) and let it take us to the airport. Of course, it has been years since I've been in this corner of the world, and I wasn't really confident on using transit. We picked a train car that we thought would take us where we wanted to go, and got on. As I was looking around trying to see where we were going, looking at people on the BART, I noticed someone interesting. Out of the millions of people in this city - those who live there and those who visit - I saw a person on this train car with a Christmassy hat on. I smiled to myself, then looked closer. She looked kind of familiar. Upon looking even closer I realized with some awe that it was my high school friend who I had been with the day before! Some might call that pretty random, but, I think God was smiling down on me, giving me just another blessing to a great vacation. I was so happy to get home and see my babies, but I have some great memories to sustain me when I need them.
December has already been packed with fun and activity - and we're only 12 days in ... I'm looking forward to all the other fun stuff to come!

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Thankful-- Part II

Dear Brother,

We missed you here at Thanksgiving holiday. The family, minus 1, got up and out to the park in the morning, ready to run. The weather was amazing. I had been praying for "no rain" on this morning, and with grateful hearts, we were able to run/walk the 5k without a rain drop. It started pouring just as we were heading back to the cars to go home.
The girls really impressed me at this run. The youngest ran almost the entire thing. She did the walk/run sequence but more running than walking. The neighbors were there and their son motivated her by just being in front of him .She wanted to pass him and finish before he did. So, I stayed with her the whole 3.1. Once she passed him she would walk a little and as soon as she heard him coming, she would take off running.
Our older girls made me proud. The Girl who Swims had caught a cold ((hmm, perhaps her earlier weekend travels contributed to his. more on that later)) but she walked the entire 5k with The Mr. The other two girls kept each other going, walking and running. I think my Girl who Sings has the running gene in her - she just doesn't want to own it yet. I'm hoping that even after this past cross country season, she will continue to run. I know she wants to do Track in the spring; I'm just praying she will embrace her inner Paula Radcliffe and keep at it.
The Boy - now that he is of college age, we're giving a lot more freedom to him and his choices. He chose to play football that morning with friends, which is totally fine. He made it home in time to get to the Family Feast.
Ah, the Family Feast. My sister says she counted 42 of us there. I'm thankful my brother has a large home! Everyone brought food and drinks to share - there were plenty of leftovers too! After the feasting we gathered around to watch a slide show on my parent's slide projector. (My youngest was fascinated by this vintage piece of machinery.)
We had some fun times with "Who is that?!" and,
"What are they doing?" and,
"Oh, remember that."
As I mentioned earlier, our Girl who Swims was traveling the weekend prior to the holiday. She had her first ever visit to Disneyland with her swim team. They had a training trip to SoCal, which she raised enough money to go on. And she had a fun time! I know she wants to go back again, since she didn't get to do everything she wanted. I wonder if they can convince the coach to do it again.....

Wednesday, November 22, 2017


Dear God,

Thank you.

Thank You for a week of unscheduled time, for time off of school, and time at home. Thank You for the ways You bring us rest when we need it.
Thank You for bringing our girl home safely from California. I know, I worried needlessly, but thank You for seeing me through it. Thank You for cell phones so I could hear her voice each night she was gone, and texts at various times. Thank You for the fun she had at her first time at Disneyland. Thank You for the terrific swim team she gets to be a part of and the great coaches that take such care of our kids. Thank You for the safe driving this last week as our girl started swim practices at 530 each morning, which meant being up early and driving to the pool before most people are even awake. Thank You for hearing the prayers for her to be alert and awake each morning when she drives.
Thank You for the choir that my other girl gets to be involved with. She loves to sing and is so excited to be 'first soprano'. Thank You for giving each of our children unique gifts and personalities ... And yet, in some ways all five of our kids are so similar, and so like us too.
Thank You for a college that is in our town that our boy can attend. Thank You that he is living at home now, saving up money for the next stage in life. Thank You that he has a really good job at the local grocery store. Thank You for bringing different people into his life to help him learn and stretch and grow. Thank You for the times we all get to be home together and laugh together. I love these six people so much.
Thank You for the basketball teams that my two younger girls get to be a part of. Thank You for a league where my girls will get to learn how to play and hang out with their friends and learn more about You. Thank You that they get to be on teams with their friends and with some great coaches too!
Thank You God for our families. Thank You for my in-laws who live close enough to visit for a day. Thank You that our children have been blessed by knowing their grandparents. Thank You for my parents who also live close enough to visit any time. Thank You for their generosity and the way they model Your love. Thank You for their 63 years of marriage this month, and that they still enjoy each other.

Thank You for a great cross country season for our girls. It didn't end as we had hoped, but we know The Girl who Swims and Runs has another chance at state next year. Thank You for the new friendships we made this season. Thank You for the perseverance our girls put in, even when they didn't want to run.
Thank You God for so many blessings, so many that we take for granted. Thank You for this life You have given me. I hope to live it abundantly.

Saturday, October 7, 2017


Dear Mom,

Sorry we haven't been out to see you in a while... we've being taking advantage of the sunny afternoons to play while we can. Let me catch you up on what we've been doing.
I took the home school girls out to Dallas Park for an impromptu picnic and exploration. This park has some of the fun 'vintage' play equipment that the kids love - like swings, merry-go-rounds, and teeter totters! You're never too old for a teeter totter.

 There were plenty of leaves to crunch through too.

We went across the bridge and explored the arboretum that is there. I had never walked through it, but I'm planning to go back in the spring when everything should be blooming. We saw plenty of new plants and trees (thankfully with signs to identify them) and I think it would be pretty to see when they are blooming. The creek was still low, so we went down and threw rocks in it, and saw the tiny fish that are there. Little K even discovered a crawdad (although she called it a crab.)

Later in the week some friends went with us to the local pumpkin patch. Little K had a terrific time. M. enjoyed it, and I had to near-promise her that we would go to a place that had more big kid activities. They both really liked the pumpkin donuts and apple cider!

We got a bike ride/run in this week. We went to the park and the girls rode their bikes while I ran. Win-win! I'm working on making sure they get some exercise each day. A challenge in homeschool is that we don't have a PE class, and we have to schedule that in. That's another reason I am loving this time of year - the sun is still out, but not too hot, and we can get outside and move around.

We also got in an afternoon at the children's museum in town - I finally bought a membership, so we can go there a lot more.

Last weekend we hosted two Japanese students who were over in Oregon for a week. We only had them with us from Friday night until Monday morning, but it was a great time. Our girls asked if we could do it again next year. We took them to the high school football game - a first; to the shopping outlet mall - their choice; to church - probably a first; to my dad's 85th birthday party (they were wide-eyed when I showed them the picture of me and my 9 siblings!) They were very sweet girls, very interesting to talk to about differences in our lives and theirs. One girl's remark was that the difference in eating made quite an impression on her. I'm not sure if she meant the food or the manner in which we ate!

The Boy has now finished two weeks of college. I'm so thankful that he chose to stay home and go to a local community college this year. We've been able to talk about school and life just like we did in the past. He has also started a new job at the local grocery store. It's stretching him a bit, but I'm excited about that challenge for him. I know he can do it.

Cross country season is close to an end! It has gone by fast for me; it feels like we have not had as many meets as in the past, but that could just be my impression. Both my high school girls are running this year, and doing well, even though one has not embraced the fact that she is a runner and could be a really good one if she wanted to. We've been fortunate to have good weather for all the meets so far. Only two more meets and then it's Districts ... the big one.
We'll be heading out to the farm soon, to pick some pumpkins. And then I suppose the rain will start and we'll find indoor activities to motivate the kids to finish their school work.