November 30, 2016

Thanksgiving at home: First time in 18 years

Let's just say that we didn't plan to spend Thanksgiving at home this year. I think the last time we celebrated in our own home was back when Moriah was a baby.  Yeah...that's about 18 years ago or so. 

Let me tell you....We absolutely loved it!

Here's a little run down on how our plans were miscommunicated.

You see...Donnie and I didn't communicate our Thanksgiving plans very well this year.  He had forgotten that we had spent Thanksgiving with his side of the family last year so that meant it was time to drive up to Jacksonville and spend time with my side of the family.  With not much talk of our Thanksgiving plans, I hear from the kids that he told brother or dad not sure who that we would be heading down to see them Thanksgiving.   

This conversation happened just a few weeks before Thanksgiving. 

Kids: Hey where are we going for Thanksgiving this year?
Me: Ummm....I think it's Jax.  
One of the kids:  I think Dad told uncle Tim we were going to see them this Thanksgiving.  
Me:  Oh no!!  We're suppose to go up to Jacksonville this year.  
Later on that day...

Me:  Donnie why did you tell whoever that we were going down for Thanksgiving?   We're suppose to go to Jacksonville.  
Donnie: Ok...I'll let them know not to expect us.  
Me:  I don't know.  I guess we could go down to Citra this year since our plan is to go up to Jacksonville in March before we leave Florida.  
A few days before Thanksgiving my mom calls to ask what our plans are.  I tell her we are going to celebrate with Donnie's family this year since our plan is to go up to Jacksonville for a few months before we leave Florida. This will give us more time to spend with his family. My mom was fine with it since she had to work on Thanksgiving day anyway. 

Another conversation takes place a few days before Thanksgiving.

Me: Donnie did you tell your mom we're coming down for Thanksgiving.  
Donnie:  Oh...I thought we were going up to Jacksonville.  And no I haven't called her. I'll give her a call. 

Donnie comes back and says: Well my mom isn't planning anything for Thanksgiving day since she thought we were going up to Jacksonville.  Plus my brother and family won't be in town either.  They are planning to meet up on Saturday instead. 
Me: What?!  It's to late to go up to Jacksonville. I already told my mom not to expect us. 
Donnie:  I guess we can celebrate here.  It's been awhile since we have had our own Thanksgiving.  
Me:  Yeah, you're right. Well....I guess I better get shopping.  

And that's exactly what happened. 

On our Thanksgiving day each one of the kids cooked a dish or helped in some way to make our dinner a delight.  It was absolutely yummy!  Here are some pictures sharing some of the dishes the kids made.

Kole made a yummy Pumpkin pie

Add caption

Making Oreo Delight

Lots of pudding and whipped cream
Galen making corn casserole....and he's not a dodgers fan.  Shirt was a hand-me down. haha!
our yummy turkey turned out delish

Moriah made Sweet Potato Casserole my fave.

Shiloh made Cheddar and Bacon Green Bean Casserole

oh my so good

Big "kids" table
"Little" kids table
Ana still eating

Loved our company.  Mema and Pops came to join us.  They live about 35 minutes away so why not right?
I love this picture. Pops sharing his wisdom

And why is it that people don't touch the salad?
Tsavah taking her selfies....

And yes...we are getting so close to our departure that I actually teared up a little today.  I know it's going to be good and know it's not a  permanent move.  Who knows what part of the US we'll be in next Thanksgiving?

November 17, 2016

Unrealistic Demands and Expectations

The other day I decided to ask Galen and Kole to join me on my daily jog.  I normally like going solo because my jog time is time.  My time to mentally escape.  I usually go for a nice hour walk, stroll, jog.  I listen to my favorite podcasts, and enjoy escaping in my thoughts. 

On this particular day the boys came along.  They didn't disturb me with the many questions they usually have.  They didn't do much talking with each other either.  They rode their bikes quietly a bit ahead of me. There were a few things that caught my attention during this quiet hour.  

I realized that I tend to get very focused on a task at hand, whatever that task may be...usually household chores or de-cluttering.  I have this thing about wanting everything just right before I can truly enjoy things.  I know it sounds pathetic but I usually play that mind game of when the house is "straightened" or clean then I truly feel a sense of accomplishment and enjoy "life"  There is this perfectionist side of me that controls my emotions but never completely surfaces.  So I'm a free spirit with perfectionist quality. If that is even possible?  

Not to go into a psychological analysis on how my mind works but I can give you a glimpse.  And come on now...we all struggle with some sort of complex.  You might say you don't but you do.  

So anyway...this "perfect woman" lives in a corner of my mind.  She tells me that I have to follow certain agendas in order to feel good about myself. Yes...I struggle with that side of me.  When that "perfect woman" tries to control my emotions, I tend not to enjoy the moments in my life.  I start feeling a little anxiety.  The feeling that I have to quickly get things done.  I feel like life is flying by and I have to get moving and doing!  Just picture White Rabbit from Alice in Wonderland and you'll know what I mean.  

If I could only stop and breathe just for a moment. 

Here's the thing though...I'm always good at making mental notes to "stop and smell the roses", to stop, breathe and take in the very existence of the present moment.  But that's just's only for a moment that I do this and quickly jump back to my agenda. God forbid I get behind...the ugly, perfect woman starts to surface.  And that's when I pull out my Kava tea.  And no this isn't an advertisement for Yogi tea.  Well...if they want to send me a few dollars I wouldn't mind it at all.  :)

So back to the other day...

As the boys were ahead of me I stopped right in the middle of my jog and looked around. I stopped to listen.  I heard birds chirping, squirrels rustling through the leaves near the road, and in the boys.  I thought about the ugly perfect woman that gets so caught up in the plans and agenda.  I thought about when we start our travels how that will look like.  Will my location become just another place? Will this ugly perfectionist follow me on my travels?  Or will I truly enjoy my surroundings and the moments.  

The adventurous, care-free, free spirited part of me day dreams about what my travels and adventures will look like.  Will they be like my imagination?  I always like to imagine what it will be like to be in the midst of an amazing place.  I often think of myself exploring Mayan ruins.  Or hiking in and throughout Colorado. Or watching the sunset in Costa Rica while enjoying a glass of wine. 

my imagination
another imagination to become a reality
I snapped out of my imagination to truly take in where I was.  I stopped and looked around at the trees.  I took in what was surrounding me.  I breathed in the air of the beautiful November day in Florida.  I thanked God for where I was that very moment.  I took a deep breath.  Watched my boys on their bikes and thought of their current lives.  

They seemed so relaxed and carefree.  There was nothing that bothered them.  I reflected back to my youth of playing in the cornfields of Iowa hours on end.  Riding my bike to Mr. C's to play Pac Man.  Swimming in our community pool until I could feel my stomach growling because of hunger.  Satisfying that hunger with a peanut butter and strawberry jelly sandwich on white bread.  Those were the days.  

My thoughts then veered off to thinking on kids in general.  I started thinking about children who may be filled with anxieties and stress they don't necessarily need.  I read a book a few months back called Race to Nowhere: Beyond Measure where it discusses the stress our kids are placed under just for the sake of grades, athletic aptitude and after school activities that consume their time. parents we can justify and say these activities are needed to help them in the future.  When in high school the demands become ever more consuming. Their time is spent making sure the grades are sufficient enough to get into a good University, taking the SAT, applying for scholarships. The amount of stress, anxiety and depression some of these kids are experiencing is unreal.  All for what?  Yes..we can say it's for their good and future success but is it really?

There was a paragraph in the book which I can't necessarily quote word for word but it talked about where a study showed that stress and anxiety levels of most children were much greater than their working parents?!  Why is that?  Most kids usually have to follow the schedule dictated by the parent and school.  

There is such a short time to enjoy childhood.  If you truly think about it, it's a mere 14 years.  That's if you consider a child is of age 4, then into the teen years to the age of 18, when they are considered an adult by today's standards.   Once they become independent adults they have years upon years to become "adult like".   Unnecessary stress placed on our kids eats at their very soul.  Demands that shouldn't exist in their daily to do list.  Kids should be stress free and care free.  Enjoying their childhood, riding their bikes and playing with neighborhood friends. 

I then started thinking of these same kids becoming adults.  They become adults molded by what is expected of them.  Most don't know how to take a moment to enjoy their very existence.  I was listening to a young man share his story of how he lived that expected life. He finally realized he was full of stress, anxiety and depression.  He was in his freshman year of college, excelling in his academics as expected but wasn't happy.  He realized he couldn't continue living this way and something had to change.  He went to see a career counselor at his college and she asked him what he wanted to do.  She asked him what his fears were. He answered saying he was afraid of being a beggar on the streets.  She as him what is the best thing that could happen if he took a leap of faith. He said he would meet interesting people and maybe write a book.  He realized that he had to go for it.  Take that leap. This young man quits college, saves a little money and spends months hiking through central America.  The amazing thing that came out of it is a memoir and now is speaking in high schools throughout the country encouraging kids.  This young man has no need to worry about becoming a beggar.

Now why did I even go into all of this.  Oh thoughts.  I think on topics like this almost all the time. I struggle between my "created demands" and enjoying the moments of reality.  I do see my life changing.  I see myself getting rid of those things that take up my moments.  I don't want to be consumed in creating a "perfect environment" because the "perfect environment" is in simple laughter, kisses, cuddles on the couch, going on fun adventures, and just living as simply as possible.  This is the life I want to create while guiding my children to live theirs.

November 10, 2016

Why I almost DIDN'T Vote!'s been a circus.  I deliberately stayed away from listening to anything regarding this election.  Call it ignorance.  Call it stupidity.  Call it wise.

the owl who came into our pool enclosure

I felt I didn't need to fill my mind with hate from either party.  I got enough of it from Facebook, social media outlets I happened to stumble on, from relatives, from friends, from commercials...should I continue.

I didn't want my mind to be consumed with this circus.  Through out this whole election process, my views had been that both candidates are absolutely flawed in many ways.  

And yeah...they both have positions I can agree with. 

Moriah bought herself a record player for her 19th birthday

Honestly, when I first heard Trump was running I thought he was put in there by the democrats just to see what the Republicans would do.  Yeah...yeah...I sometimes think conspiracy.  

Call it crazy? Oh gotta have fun with it, right?

The more I would catch the latest "news" on how unbelievably crazy Trump was acting, the more I thought "There is no way he will last!"  I honestly never sat down and watched him speak.  I think maybe I caught 15 minutes of a debate? So I really didn't understand what the heck people liked in this man.  I even had friends saying to support Trump.  What?! I don't think so!

I did watch a documentary about his life, success, power and how he began his race for the white house.  This somewhat biased documentary left me thinking he's definitely a total narcissist.  Even if this media outlet intention wasn't to paint a narcissistic picture, many would say he's a narcissist.  

To be fair...I watched something about Hillary just to see what people liked about her.  My conclusion is that she's connived, calculated and controlled her way in and through Washington even before Billy caught her eye and maybe, just maybe saw a ticket to be his mouth piece throughout Bill Clinton's presidential trek in Washington.  Oh and she's a symbol of Hollywood.  Which I knew that for a long time too.  Just my opinion. 

park day last Saturday with the whole family
So fast forward...Trump is still in the race.  When it came to vote during the primaries, I did vote for the best candidate I thought could beat Hillary.   It wasn't Trump.  I dismissed Trump as the clown with lots of money who also symbolized Hollywood and I was definitely not going to vote for him.

Once the Primary results were in they boggled my mind.  I couldn't believe Trump was actually elected as the Republican candidate.  What?!  I thought of my conspiracy again and felt like this was such a joke.  He's a joke, Hillary's a joke and she's going to win.  The democrats had all this planned out! 

Justin acting goofy

Justin a little more serious...don't ya love his facial hair?

love my big girls

Ok...back to reality. 

Yeah...I realized this wasn't a joke and he was legit.  Too late...I had set my mind that I would not give him my vote which meant I was not going to vote.  This meant that this would be my first time ever not voting for a president. 

Fast forward to election day, I wasn't sure what I was going to do. Did I still feel I shouldn't vote? I wasn't sure.  I also felt I didn't want to vote just because it was my American civil duty or supporting my "republican" party.  (Which I consider myself more of an independent if anything else).  I personally believe we have the same right to choose not vote.  Did I care I was throwing my vote away? Nah...not really.  I felt that Trump and Hillary were pretty much the same.  Would Trump really change anything?  Maybe? 

I know by now you all are wondering what happened?  What changed my mind?  

First I don't agree with Obamacare.  I believe it's people's choice to get healthcare wherever and whenever they want.  Never once has it cost less.  I honestly believe he will repeal:

 “When we win on Nov. 8 and elect a Republican Congress, we will be able to immediately repeal and replace Obamacare.”

Another issue I carefully tread on but stand strongly against is the funding of organizations that provide abortions in the name of Women's healthcare.  Hillary was adamant about protecting the rights of women so much so that she would definitely use taxpayer money to fund her agenda.  She stated during her rallies:

  "I will oppose efforts to roll back women's access to reproductive health care, including Republican efforts to defund Planned Parenthood. As president, I'll stand up for Planned Parenthood and women’s access to critical health services, including safe, legal abortion

Yes...this is an issue that is quite touchy.  I personally believe in that all life is sacred.  However, I also believe that a woman has a choice.  However, if a woman wants to choose to terminate her pregnancy then she can find the money to do it.  Do I believe Roe vs Wade will be turned under a Trump, not really.  Yes...I hate the fact that women do choose to end their pregnancy.  Almost every time it's for no real reason other than it's an inconvenience. 

While doing some work in the local pregnancy center, I got to see first hand some women considering to end their pregnancy which was well over 15 weeks gestation.  I listened, heard her heart, shared facts on abortion.  As Christians our place is to love not condemn, regardless where we stand on certain issues.  I never judged and still don't judge if I hear a woman had an abortion.

On election day, I was speaking to an agnostic elderly woman I know, who is a Hillary supporter.  She told me how she was so scared of Trump winning.  I listened.  I assured her not to be scared because I was pretty sure Hillary was going to win.  I also told her how I wasn't sure if I was going to vote.  She listened.  I told her how I agreed with both candidates.  She listened.  I also shared how I strongly disagreed with the funding organization in name of "helping women" get abortions. She listened.  She shared a few of her personal views on the topic as well.  I listened.   

I realized after our conversation that I definitely had a strong reason to cast my vote against Hillary and give it to the candidate that had a greater chance defeating her.  So at 6:30pm I drove over to my precinct, sat down at the very back of the room and began the voting process.  I skipped over the presidential candidates at first and voted for the other things such as judges and amendments, etc.  I then took a deep breath, thought again about what I was doing this for and colored in the bubble for Trump.  Honestly,  didn't think it would count.  However, it sure felt good to vote for the things I agree on and that was the repeal of Obamacare and no funding of abortion clinics. 

Let me tell you...I am still in shock that Trump won.  I didn't expect this outcome at all.  I believe there were so many undecided voters like myself who at the "midnight hour" they decided to cast their votes.  Every vote does count and Every vote adds up! 

I stayed up until after 3:30 am Nov 8-9th to watch Trump give his victory speech.  I was actually very impressed by him.  He didn't seem like the crazy narcissist he seems to be.  He was humble in his Trump humility. 

I honestly believe he will try make America great again.  I loved the fact that he will focus on our infrastructure.  He's someone that has history of getting the job done.  Look what he's built for himself.  I think I can trust that he will do a great job.  Let's hope at least, right?  I also hope that he will learn to be more humble.  Maybe his presidency will.