Friday, January 30, 2009

Seattle Children's Museum....

Ok, drama aside,
back to our regularly scheduled program....
The Seattle Children's Museum!

Bren and I took a day trip
this week
with my friend Melissa
and her two adorable girls.

You will recall Melissa from
the shoot I did of her family last month.
Her husband is deploying to Iraq soon
and is already gone doing the preliminary stuff
before he actually leaves the country.

So, Melissa and I will be filling lots of
days with play dates, and
grown-up mommy activities.
I'm really looking forward to
spending more time with her!

To our delight, Bren and Angelina made fast friends
and were a great match for eachother.

They danced on the stage together and
excitedly explored the whole museum!

I'll admit,
I was a little teeny bit nervous
when I saw the start of this masterpiece!!
Those of you who remember the famous
art work of a few months ago,
know why!!
But it turned out to be a box with a bow on top!

The craft section was a favorite for all the girls.
Bren made a "tiara" from the scraps in the recycle bin.

And she
(when I say, "She", I mean "I")
made a little birds nest
complete with mommy bird perched on the side
and four eggs
out of clay.
Bren did make the little eggs!
No way I'm taking credit for those beauties!

We ended the day with a little rock wall climbing
and headed home!

There's no better way to spend a cold, rainy Seattle day
then exploring something new indoors!!
Next stop....
the Imaginarium in Everett!!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

On Raising Teens..........

I was all set to write about
yesterday's trip to the Seattle Children's Museum,
but something else is clouding my mind right now.
So, I'm going to share a few of my rambling thoughts
on raising teens.

I have no answers, mostly just questions.
A series of attempts, a few successes
and many failures.
Raising teens has been my biggest parenting challenge to date.
I once heard someone compare raising teens
to being thrown into the deep end of the pool
with only minimal swimming skills and no life raft!

I agree.

I love my kids.
I want the best for them.
I want them to grow up to be happy,
productive, well-adjusted adults who make good choices.

I don't care if they are the smartest,
the most athletic,
or the best looking.

I don't even care if they choose not to go to college.
I just want them to be happy in their chosen paths,
to be a blessing to other people
and to lead lives that they are proud of.

That's it.

The problem is that it doesn't matter what I want for them.
My plans for how I want them to turn out
or the choices I want them to make,
hold no water at all
in the grand scheme of things.
I cannot choose for them.
I can't get inside their heads
and make them see their world 5, 10, 20 years down the road.

I spend so much time worrying that they will make choices now
that will negatively affect the rest of their lives
and because I cannot chain them to me
all day and night,
I'm really powerless to control what choices they make.

And that drives me crazy.

Now when I say powerless,
I don't mean that I haven't put in time on my knees
praying for God's intervention,
or that I haven't taught them right from wrong,
or that I haven't spent countless hours discussing
life choices and the consequences of making the wrong ones,
or that David and I don't administer punishment when needed
or that we turn a blind eye to infractions.

What I am saying is that
no matter what I do....

it is simply not possible to
excercise mind-control
over a teenager.
Believe me, I've tried!
And the mind of a 17 year old?

Well, it's a different planet all it's own.

I'm not sure there is a method of mind-control
that would have any effect on a mind like that anyway.

So, naturally, since David is deployed,
Zach is trying to drive me crazy!

He's always been a strong willed child.
From about 20 months he's been trying to overthrow the throne daily!
That strong will should serve him well in the future
because he's also a child who must take the hard road at every turn.....
he'll be needing that strong will!

I'm assured over and over again by people who have been in my shoes
that Zach will be just fine.

Somedays I'm not so certain.
Other days, I can see that he's making strides
in moving toward adulthood,
and I can see the light.
this child must learn just about everything the hard way.
Including lessons about sneaking out of the house.

A right of passage, you might say,

I mean we all did it right?

Zach has been caught and amply rewarded for his efforts
about a dozen times
but there's never been any danger or law breaking involved...
just his desire to make up his own rules about what happens
after mom and dad go to bed.
He's been grounded for weeks,
had cell phones, computers and game systems taken away.
We've even delayed the joy of him getting his driver's license
until we can be confident
in his ability to make better choices.

Still, he presses on...
testing the waters
trying to overthrow the throne!
Maybe now.

Maybe this time.

Perhaps after what happened,
he will see that this is not all about
fun and silliness
and getting his own way.

There is alot of evil in the world
and it breathed down Zach's neck
and twisted it's ugly fingers around Zach's wrists
on Monday night.

Here is how it happened,
Zach and a friend of his who regularly
spends the night at our house
snuck out
at 2 am
and started walking to our local McDonalds.

I don't know?!!!

Because I said "no",
when he's been caught doing this before
is my best guess.

Zach's explaination.... "we were hungry."

On the way there,
a car full of teens drove past them
and yelled out the window
at Zach and his friend.

Zach just figured that it must have been some kids from school
who knew him
and were just messing around with him.
The car came to a stop a few hundred yards from them
and switched into reverse.
At this point Zach's friend took off running
into the closest neighborhood.

Zach still did not sense danger
and thought that it had to be someone he knew.
It wasn't until 6 guys got out of the SUV
and started running toward him
that he knew he was in trouble.

Zach said that one of them grabbed him from behind and
had his hands pinned behind his back.
They were yelling at him and asking if he had any money
ipods or cell phones.

Zach felt the guy who had his hands pinned,
loosen his grip and try to reach into Zach's jean pocket.
This gave Zach enough leverage
to pull one of his hands loose and clock the guy in front of him
right in the jaw.

Alarmed that Zach had gotten free enough to fight back,
the guy who still had one of Zach's hands
was knocked off balance and Zach was able to wriggle free
and take off running
toward the same neighborhood that his friend had ran into.
A few of the guys started chasing Zach
and the other guys got back in the car and
followed him into the neighborhood.
By this time, Zach's friend had reached a porch
and was knocking on the door screaming for help.
Zach joined him and the car sped off.
The homeowner called 911 and the police came right away.

They later found the car full of kids
whose ages ranged from 16-18.

They were all arrested.

It terrifies me to think of what could have happened.
If there was a gun or knife involved,
if Zach hadn't been able to break free,
if these had been older guys,
we could be facing something entirely different here.
And so,

I would like to think that this is the end of the sneaking out.
I would like to believe that when I lay my head on the pillow at night
that all will be well in my house until morning.

Zach seems freaked out enough now, so I could get a little rest,
but I'm not naive enough to think
that this will be the end of my "take the hard road" kid's antics!

I think that mothers of teenagers have the same
comraderie that pregnant women have.
We can see it in each other eye's just as plain as a big ole baby belly.
We're all scared, unsure, tired, confused
and frustrated.
Unless you are one of those mom's who has compliant easy kids
who never buck the system
and never roll their eyes in disgust at parental rules.

Those kinds of mom's of teens
are like the pregnant women
who only gain 1 pound during their pregnancy,
didn't have to buy maternity clothes until their ninth month
and had a 20 minute labor and delivery.

It happens and yipppee for you if you are so blessed,
but it's not the norm, and this post is not for you.
This post is for the mom's who are in the trenches every day
trying to keep a cool head and a confident appearance.
It's for the moms who get doors slammed in their faces,
who get told they are out of touch,
lack understanding,
are so mean,
going crazy,
are over protective,
or just plain wrong.

It's for the mom's who had big dreams for their kids,
but who have learned to adjust those dreams to match
their kids desires and abilities,
even though yours looked so much better.

It's for the mom's who sincerely believe
at the end of the day that they have done their absolute best
to love their child and to guide
and teach their child in the right way,
but who look at the circumstances around them
and can't believe that any of it could possibly be sinking in.
It's for the mom's who wrestle with so much guilt
over why it's not sinking in.

What is she doing wrong?

What could she do more of?

Less of?

Does anybody know how to fix this?

It's for the mom's who get excited about "C's"
and try to smile when other mom's brag about their kid's straight "A's".
It's for the mom who is struggling with thinking
that their child's lack of "A's"
is somehow
It's for that tear stained mom
who tosses and turns at night because she's worried
about her child.

It's for the mom's who have to do this on their own,
who have either deployed,
or absent
and father's
and too far away family.
It's for the mom's who have learned
or are learning
to let go
and let their babies make mistakes
even big ones
in the hopes that the lessons learned will be valueable tools
to help shape their future.
It's for the mom's who cling to their faith
and the knowlege that God loves her kids
even more
than she does
and that He has a plan for them
that is greater than her plans.

I'm right there with all of you.
Freaking out right along side ya!

Just like that belly bulge we had for nine months
that bonded us as mom's
our stories of triumph and failure,
of success and defeat,
of battles won and lost,
of great enduring love
through less than desireable circumstances
are what bonds us now.

Press on, my sisters!

I'm told the labor is well worth it!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Gearing up to slide down and silly getting......

The boys loaded up their snowboard gear in the van
early this morning.
It's another snowboard day at Steven's Pass!
I had a request for action shots of the boys,
which I'm dying to do,
but since I've never skied or snowboarded before,
and I'm told that there are no adequate "observation" areas
at the resort,
I'm avoiding a major rescue effort and staying off of the mountain
until we plan a family trip in April.
I'm not sure why I think I'll be able to stand up on skis in April
but somehow I will just feel safer
when there are more family members there
to break my fall!

So, since I can't get action shots,
I was sure to get "unloading" shots!

And "standing with gear" shots.

And, of course, "walking to bus" shots!

I even snapped one of the bus itself,
cause I'm all about the details.

While we waited for the bus to pull away
full of
crazy people who like to slide down steep inclines
at breakneck speed while having small surfboards attached to their feet,
Bren and I planted ourselves
at a window table in the McDonald's across the street,
where she and I ate egg McMuffin sandwhich's
that I will later have to work off!

As we waited,
we became increasingly silly.
Could've been the sugar in the OJ,
could have been the early morning hour,
could've been that it was snowing,
or it could have been that we were
just happy to spend this time together
giggling and making funny faces for the camera.

I tried my best to get us both in the frame
of my 50 mm lens
for mommy-girlie photos,
but I'm not known for my long arms.

I switched to my kit lens which has a bit of a wider angle,
and finally got both our our whole faces in one shot.
But I kinda like the closeness of the other ones better.
We continued our photo shoot in the van,
posing and snapping away
while we waited for the frozen van to warm up.
Bren loves turning the camera on me,
and she took a few before we drove off for home.

Just before we left, right in front of where we were parked
were two couples sitting in a booth by the window
cracking up laughing at Bren and I doing a photo shoot in the van!
We waved at them, Bren blew them a kiss, and we were off!
Who knows what they thought,
and who cares, right?
You have to risk humiliation sometimes to make great memories.
Bren had a blast,
and that's all that mattered on this cold snowy morning
in a cozy McDonalds by the highway.
Soon enough, she's the one that is going to put a stop
to public silliness with mom.
So, I'm getting all the silly I can get
while the silly getting is good!
If you don't regularly indulge....
try it,
I guarantee you'll be better for it!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Let the SALES begin!!!!

Remember these.......?
You can find these fabulous sets and accessories
on sale right now in my e-bay store!!
More to come this week and next
so bookmark me to check back often.
I'm selling a ton of brand new and gently used
sets for Spring and Summer!!
Here's the link

Monday, January 19, 2009

Here, there and everywhere.....

Here is what the boys are up to today...

And here is what the girls and I are going to do....

Here is where David is.....
(San Diego)

via this....

It's a beautiful day here in Washington State.

We are seeing the snow-capped Olympic Mountains clearly

along the horizon

and the sun is perched up high in a rare blue winter sky.

After almost 2 straight weeks of grey skies,

cold rain and heavy fog,

this is such a welcome change!

I hope you are all enjoying your long weekend!!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The "R" word.....

Yup! It's time!
Surprisingly enough,
despite the heart palpitations I get
from writing some of my post
or the breathlessness I feel when I read some of
your comments,
Blogging is not a form of cardio excercise!
And although some of my photos
make my heart race,
photo editing does not count toward the recommended
30 minutes of daily excercise
that every American is encouraged to get.
My life has become....*gasp*....
due to a severe case of the new phenomena
called "Bloggers butt",
change is on the horizon.....
Change I can feel!
With the newness of the year
comes a new resolve
to get my butt in shape.
But not just my butt....
the whole family is in on it!
Whether they want to be or not.
We've already heard the complaints about
us not buying the "good" milk
and the fact that there is no more soda
or ice cream in the house.
But, despite all the groaning now,
we are all going to be better for it.
2008 was a very tough year for me
both physically and emotionally.
If you follow my blog you know that
New Year's Eve was the one year anniversary
The recovery has been long and hard
and is still ongoing.
Having spent so many weeks and months
unable to get up and move around,
I'm continually thankful
that most of that is past me now
and I can once again begin to
see the results of my
increased mobility!
I'm not running any distances yet,
but I'm moving with enough
intensity to break a sweat.
It's been a while since I've been able
to tolerate even that small level of intensity
and it feels so good!

We purchased a Wii fit for Christmas
and have really enjoyed that as a family!
If you don't have one
definitely look into it!
My little representative Mii character,
although cute,
well-dressed and benefiting from great hair,
is, sadly,
a bit thicker than I'd like at the moment,
but part of the fun is watching her shrink as I do!
Wii fit has a built in motivating factor because
it allows you to compete against each other
for the best times and scores in various events.
For my family,
this is all the incentive we need
to get us to use it often.
Finally a healthy way to channel all of our competitive spirit!
It's much better than fighting over who gets to ride shot-gun,

(yes, we still have this fight even between three teens!


being seen entering or exiting the back or middle seat of a mini-van

is social death!)

who has the most myspace or facebook friends,
who sent the most text messages that month
or who cleaned their room up the best.
Ok, that last one NEVER happens,
but a girl can dream, right?

And the comedic factor
of watching Michael hula hoop
is worth the cost of this system
and then some!
I haven't laughed so hard in years!
It is truely a sight that must be shared!
I'll capture it and put it on you-tube the next time
I get him on there.
It will quickly become your drug of choice
to cure sadness, boredom,
acute cases of "the blahs",
swimmers ear and hang nails.
And so,
as we begin 2009,
I can proudly say that I've joined
the millions of people
who have made the resolution to get healthy this year.
I feel a little bit more accountable
because I've posted it on the world wide web,
but that's a good thing!
David and I are doing Weight Watchers on our own.
We haven't joined the meetings or the web tools,
but having each other as motivation
is working well for us so far.
We are on Day 13 and so far he's down 15 pounds
(because he's a stinking MAN
and the pounds just fall off of him
whenever he drinks an extra ounce of water!)
and I'm down 9 pounds.
We are currently obsessed with points
and are having fun creating the most filling meal
for the fewest points.
Another great way to let our competitive nature run wild!
We've discovered new ways of choosing food,
have found some really tasty low point snacks
and have been downing water like crazy.
This will most likely be an 8 month or longer journey for me,
so no quick fixes here,
but the "after" is going to be so worth it!
Once I reach my first 25 pound goal,
I'll post before and after comparison photos.
Wish me luck!!!


Don't forget to watch American Idol tonight!!
I'll start the "live-ish" blogging
once we get through all the trial weeks.
Can't wait!!

Monday, January 5, 2009


The time is fast approaching
when red hearts take center stage!

Carefully chosen Valentines will fill makeshift
mailboxes in grade school classes,
and chocolate hearts abound!

I vividly remember the Valentines Day
party that we hosted at my house
for my third grade class.
Where I went to grade school
at Annapolis Area Christian School,
(AACS, baby!)
each class had a class mom who would arrange
party hosts for different holidays throughout the year.
The parties would be held in student's homes.

Being the romantic that I was even then,
I was just thrilled that the Valentines Day party
would be at my house!
To be associated with the holiday
that was all about sending out love notes
was just divine in my book!

Mom and I decorated the party space with red and pink hearts.
This would be a party to be remembered.
Eyes would meet across the room,
true love would be declared and
everyone would have a great time!
third grade boys and third grade girls are not on
the same wavelength.
At least in my day they weren't.
I'm not even sure if they are on the same planet!

Within five minutes of arrival,
most of the boys that had any appeal
were out climbing the trees in my neighborhood.
We girls, dressed in frills,
ready for our prince charmings to tell us how beautiful we were,
sat there and looked at each other.

A few of us ventured out to oooh and ahhh
over how high our chosen boy had climbed,
but the party for all intents and purposes
had definitely taken a more
rustic turn.

Everyone reunited once the cupcakes
were served, but
very little electricity was exchanged.
No love-lorn glances,
No declarations of true love.
Just a bunch of sweaty boys
trying to prove that they were
master tree-climbers
and a bunch of disappointed girls
who realized at precisely that moment
that Valentines Day is over-rated
and the only real Princes in their lives that day
were their Daddies!

Bren is ready for "daddy is my real Prince" day
in this Baby Go Retro set!

The weather forced us inside for these photos,
but luckily,
Bren has a fun bedroom
with walls that made the perfect
background to this set!

I took a few practice shots
to make sure the lighting in Bren's room
would work for the shoot
and I ended up with two really cute ones!
Happy New Year everyone!
I hope yours has started out on the right foot!
I'll be back to blog about my