Saturday, June 30, 2012

The Third Annual Claytonopolis Great West Tour

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"Someday when our kids are bigger and better able to manage themselves, unbuckle and buckle themselves in the car, get their own snacks, and walk long distances, we are going to really enjoy this trip to Washington--stopping along the way to visit all the sites, eat great food and have better visits with friends and family."  That is what I said to my husband as we sped through the middle of nowhere, Wyoming, listening to a symphony of crying and whining children, hulking a variety of snacks in their direction, yelling at the eldest to "Put your seatbelt back on!" for the umpteenth time.  We just wanted it to end.  We just wanted to get to our stopping place in Montana so that we could rest and let the kids jump furiously all over the beds before they crashed for the night.  We knew they would wake us, early at first light, like the song-birds.  We took them swimming before breakfast to wear them out once more before we got back into the car to make the final leg to Washington.

We dragged our lot into the breakfast room at the hotel.  Of course, we only booked hotels that served free breakfast and accommodate dogs.  Yes, we are "that" family.  At breakfast we received lots of stares.  It had happened to us a few days before when stayed at the previous hotel before we stopped at my sister's house in Colorado Springs.  I guess we are a sight to behold with what some people call "stair step children"--kids born one right after the other.  After breakfast, I said to my husband.  "You know, I have enjoyed all the stares and comments about our family this trip. I'm proud of our family.  Our kids are clearly adorable and I am happy we have them."  I am sure many people delighted in watching our little hobbit babies eating their fruit loops and making little coos. 

Now let's back track a little.  My husband changed the departure date on me.  I had the two youngest girls scheduled for immunizations the day before we were to depart.  I wanted to give them 24 hours to see if they would have any adverse reactions.  But, my husband was eager to get back to his childhood home--Washington.  So I did not argue.  This meant washing, packing and cleaning time would be cut short a day.  None of the beds in the house were going to get clean sheets.  That's okay, I thought, because they would just be full of dust when we returned.  But, the morning of the new departure day we awoke to, Annie, our 21 month old, puking and diarrhea.  I guessed we were not going to leave, after all my mad preparations.

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By the late afternoon, Annie had not puked again so we decided to leave anyway. I figured that it seemed to be a mild virus, so if we have to stay a little while longer at the hotel puking at least we will be seven hours closer to our final destination, which was 31 hours away.  In the rush to leave I left some food in the fridge.  Oops.  We arrived at the hotel and settled in for the night.  But, all night I tossed and turned.  My stomach was upset.  Nothing ever came of it, but I was achey all the next day.  On that day we drove another seven hours to Colorado Springs to visit my sister.  

The night we arrived, we all slept in the same room with one bed and one blow-up mattress.  Round 3 of the virus.  At 3:30 in the morning I awoke to Alex puking all over me.  That's right.  My five year old child covered me in vomit.  Then he told my sister in a sleepy stupor that mommy bought the spicy chips.  The ones he just lost allover mommy.  I had trouble getting back to sleep and some of the kids awoke a few hours later.  It was over 100 degrees.  It was very uncomfortable on account that there is no air-conditioning in much of this mountain city.  We were melting.  Annie threw a three hour fit.  She was overtired, hot and disoriented.  I took her for a drive to cool and settle her.  She calmed down.  

My sister had a big barbecue planned for 27 of her closest friends. Or should I say not planned.  We bought the barbecue the night before and my husband put it together in the morning.  Then we shopped for all the food and assembled it in the afternoon.  It was quite a feat.  But, it turned out to be a grand affair and everyone seemed to have a good time.  As I began to think about tucking myself into bed around 12:30 a.m. Kristiana puked all over her bed.  Round 4 and the final round of the virus.  Fortunately, she was alone on the blow-up mattress.  It was relatively easy to clean up. This was the day the big forest fire broke out in Colorado Springs and plumes of smoke ascended over the city.  It was an ominous sight.  By Monday, when we departed the air quality was very bad. It was hazy and ashy in the city.  We were happy we had not planned to stay longer, and we prayed for everyone the fire affected. 

Monday we rushed through Wyoming, reading the Hunger Games the whole way.  Andrew drives, I read, the kids watch DVDs mostly.  It was an exhilarating adventure.  We stayed the night in Billings, Montana and began reading the second book in the trilogy, Catching Fire.  We have now begun the final book, Mockingjay, and are racing each other to the end.  At first, we were skeptical, because the grammar is quite poor in places.  I suppose the poor grammar might be for effect in the same way that there is southern slang in Huck Finn

There's not much more to say about the journey north--puking, heat, barbecue, fire, swimming, reading.  This time around we felt very prepared for the trip and therefore we were not very phased by anything that happened.  We arrived safe and sound at the home of my husband's parents and we have settled in.  We have been going to movies and seeing friends and relaxing all around.  We are so blessed to have this wonderful family.

This is the mess that Annie made in the back of the car over the four day trip. And this is after me trying to clean out as much as I could at every stop. The odor was a special scent as well. 

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Friday, June 29, 2012


Because babies are cute and change everyday, here are picture updates of Lucy, 2 months today.  Hopefully soon I will have a post about or trip to Washington.


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Tuesday, June 19, 2012


Some friends thought of me and brought me some gifts today.  I am ever so thankful and humbled at this honor.  I know that seems trite.  But honestly, It never ceases to amaze me how kind, caring, and charitable people can be.  Thomas Hobbes said, "life in the state of nature is solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short."  But I believe though we are fallen, the spark within humanity, placed by God Almighty, makes life beautiful and bright.  May we all let "It" shine.



Sunday, June 17, 2012

Snack Attack

These kids do not eat meals.  They snack, which of course drives me mad, because I have to feed them all day and at inopportune times.  These girls crack me up about their snacks too.  They don't want a grill cheese sandwich.  They want a vegetable tray with ranch dressing (Okay, and candy or sugary cereal, but that makes me sick to purchase knowing what's in it).  We have been obsessed with vegetable trays this summer.  So here are my two goofy girls, who helped themselves to this veggie tray.  They took it out of the fridge, climbed up on the table and devoured nearly all of it.  Well done girls. 

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7 Quick Takes - Mommy Takes

Usually, I update on the kids or each member of the family and what we are doing as a family. This post is a little different. It's a weird post for Father's Day. Perhaps in a few days I will come up with a Father's Day post.

1. Glum - I wrote about having the baby blues in a previous post.  With previous babies, I had never quite experienced something like this.  It was quite a roller coaster.  There were moments when I felt overwhelmed and I felt if I did not get away from the whining, clinging and demands, I might hurt the children.  Thankfully my husband has been home and available for these moments.  If I had been alone, I would have tucked them away in there rooms for some unscheduled quiet time, a.k.a., Mommy-timeout.

Now, I seem to be evening out back into myself.  For the most part I am well.  But, I still seem to be a little glum.  I still am looking to find the beacon of inner-light.  I feel it is coming.  I think that going into summer mode has complicated things.  I need my regular routine and order.  Having a new baby forces us to scale back what we can do, plus, my husband has less routine with his job, and we are not organizing home school lessons.  I just need to keep busy...and I wonder where my son gets it.

6 weeks postpartum visit with my midwives - They were both there to catch baby Lucy.


2. Darn Song - I regularly go to group exercise classes at my gym.  During the relaxation portion of the yoga class I go to the instructor plays the song below.  Darn song!  It is about losing a loved  one.  Every time it plays I start crying, because I think of my brother who we lost tragically.  No one has noticed my crying, because at this point in the class everyone is red faced and dripping sweat and the lights are a little dim.  (Yeah, this song plus postpartum hormones = emotional lady).  It's played right before the portion where we lay down and turn the lights even lower.  So I have time to collect myself.  Darn song keeps making me cry, they need to stop playing it!  Don't they know that some people are going to feel very strongly about the song selections.  There is another one about a woman giving a baby up for adoption.  It's very sad.  It's so odd to get all emotional at the gym where I ought to feel great from the endorphins. 

3. Leg-acy - I thought that giving birth would provide relief to the varicose veins in my leg.  I was just praying for an early delivery so that relief might come.  In the end, I was granted that early delivery, even though my three other children were all delivered in the 40th week.  I do not know why this caused me so much agony.  My leg certainly seemed to have less trouble in the days after the birth.  It seemed a slow improvement.  It was not instant relief.  But a few weeks later things seemed almost normal.  Today, just the nested veins behind my knee feel a little hot and achey.  But the rest of my leg feels right.  It feels normal.  I would like to lose ALL of this baby weight to help things even further.  But, I am happy the vein problems are only present while pregnant.  If we have another child, I will have to be better prepared for this problem and anticipate fully the measures I will need to take to endure better.





4. Sad Day - our favorite kids store is closing.  I cannot imagine our lives without this store.  The store sells so many of our favorite things.  There are also kids activities there and a play area, all for free.  I sort of hope that the store finds a way to reopen, or reconsider. :-( It's been a great addition to our community.

5. New Addition - My mom came for a visit and we thought this would be a perfect time to tile the kitchen backsplash, since she is an expert at home renovation.  We are lucky to have her talent.  We love home improvement.


Pretty Natural Stones - marbles and granites, and sandstone 

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6. My baby can swim! It's one of those proud momma moments.  This swim class did not allow parents to stay, which I thought was great, but I had no idea what was going on--trusted though.  By the end of the week, they had a show-off day.  I could not believe that in a mere five days of 30 minute lessons my baby learned to swim on his own, without his momma teaching him.  I am so glad he learned this new skill.  But, it was also a reminder to me that someday my baby bird will spread his wings and fly away from my nest (hopefully not until he's' 30 ;-).  Two nights this week he read the bedtime stories to me instead of vice versa.  I was pleased with this as well.




7. Not a Newborn - Lucy stopped looking like a newborn this week.  She is just barely fitting into size one diapers. By next week she will be into size two for sure.  Both Lucy's and Annie's newborn phase went by so quickly.  I hardly remember being pregnant and giving birth; and Lucy seems like an infant now.  I am sure I will blink and she will be a toddler.  I am definitely trying to savor my babies these days.  I do not know how people with just two children don't long for those days when their babies slept on their chests and made baby noises. There are drawbacks to babies, but the goodness of each child always seems to outweigh.  I was just thinking the other day if I had stopped after two I would never know Annie and she is such a wonderful child.  I could not imagine not having her.  Which just shows me, how important each person is. 

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Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Celebrate the New Christian

Baptized, Chrismated and First Communion

Welcome Lucy Macaria

"All you who have baptized into Christ have been clothed in Christ." (Gal 3:27)


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 The Communion of Christ's Church

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Thursday, June 7, 2012

Wholly A Sin

To clarify further, I think loneliness is wholly a sin no matter how you dice it up, because it dishonors God.  To say you are lonely dishonors God, because God "is everywhere present and fills all things, treasury of blessings and Giver of life."  He is all Good.  To wallow in loneliness and despair is to not recognize God's presence and is to deny hope in Him.  Loneliness is blasphemy.  

Look to the hermits.  A hermit is never alone truly, because he is in the presence of God.  A good hermit is never lonely and never despairs.  So if you despair in loneliness, know it is sin that makes you feel this way.  God does not desire us to be lonely.  He created the whole universe as a sign that we are not alone.  Yet, if you feel lonely, this is an affect of the fall.

"And the Lord God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a help meet for him.  And out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air; and brought them unto Adam to see what he would call them: and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof" (Gen 2:18-19).

I know it is hard to swallow this pill in your isolated and dark feelings, but really this should bring you hope that God is there to lift you up and love you.

To forgive is a giving action.  I give you something, and that is my love and pardon from transgression.  When God pardons us, He also gives us something.  His love.  We are to do the same. 

Psalm 130

Out of the depths I have cried to You, O Lord.
Lord, hear my voice!
Let Your ears be attentive
To the voice of my supplications.
If You, Lord, should mark iniquities,
O Lord, who could stand? 
But there is forgiveness with You,

That You may be feared.
I wait for the Lord, my soul does wait,
And in His word do I hope.
My soul waits for the Lord
More than the watchmen for the morning;
Indeed, more than the watchmen for the morning.
O Israel, hope in the Lord;
For with the Lord there is lovingkindness,
And with Him is abundant redemption.
And He will redeem Israel
From all his iniquities.


Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Needing You

Alex said last night, "Mommy, Lucy needs you most, more than anything else in the world."  He said it just like that with the emphasis on "you," and very matter of factly.  I cannot tell you how much I loved hearing him say that.  I loved it because it's true.  I loved it because my young, innocent, five year old observed it.  Then he followed that declaration up with another little gem right before he went to bed.  "Mommy,  Lucy's a booby fan!"  Very funny and also true.


Now meet my best baby-sitters.

Big Sisters



Plastic Turtle (per Kristiana while mommy showered)


Beethoven No. 9 and Paci (per husband alone with baby while mommy was at the gym)


The Despair Within

Do you know what it feels like to be in a room full of friends and family (in other words, people who love you) and yet feel isolated, alone and in despair?  I am sure you do.  Everyone feels lonesome and woeful at times.  But, I think loneliness is one of the worse kinds of sins, because it is such an inward focus.  I should know because I have struggled with bouts of it throughout my life and I know how I get there.

Loneliness and despair is a very ugly place.  It is a place where I think no one cares about me; no one cares if I were in existence or not; no one loves me; no one thinks I am interesting or important; I am ugly, stupid and unworthy.  It should be noted that in this line of reasoning it is all about me and this is why it is a terrible sin.  There is no reason to think this way.  Everyone is important to someone, or could be important to someone. And I know I am.  It has been a long time since I have felt troubled in such a way.

I have felt this way a lot recently and there is no logic to it.  I know a lot of it is related to hormones making me feel emotional and apparently this is how I deal with my excess emotions.  I turn it inward.  I will be with my husband and he will leave and I will simply fray.  I will be cuddling my helpless newborn who depends on me for everything and weep because no one has called me to see how I am (you see how frivolous that is).  Or I will spend a morning or afternoon with friends, return home and then ask myself now what?  

What is unanswerable and inexcusable is why I turn it into this awful, lonesome, pity-fest.  The only answer is sin.  I keeping praying for the Lord to help me with this--to help me turn my thoughts away from such evil.  But perhaps, it is the sin within that keeps me from receiving His grace in the first place. Part of me says that I need to forgive past hurts.  I need to not just to excuse what made me feel hurt, but release those who hurt me completely from the hurt.

“And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses. But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father in heaven forgive your trespasses.” (Mark 11:25-26)

How can I be so blessed and yet despair?  For no reason, I despair.  Every time it begins, I try to turn myself back.  I count the ways my friends and family have loved me.  I point to all my material blessings and my life's advantages.  I pray to God to help me away from thinking poorly about my life.  I pray for Him to help away from these inward thoughts.  I scold myself for being so selfish. 

I think by confronting my problem, I think I scare it away and heal it.  Obviously, turning to reconciliation with the Lord is what is best of all. 

In these instances, my father would turn me toward the poem, Desirderata.  It provides great inspiration in down times.

Go placidly amid the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence.
As far as possible without surrender be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even the dull and ignorant; they too have their story.
Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit.
If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain and bitter;
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.

Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.
Keep interested in your career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs; for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals;
and everywhere life is full of heroism.

Be yourself.
Especially, do not feign affection.
Neither be critical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness. Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself.

You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be,
and whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.
With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be careful. Strive to be happy.