a barn party

The kids were invited to a Barn Party a friend was throwing on Saturday. They had a petting zoo and pony rides. The grandparents skipped out on this one, but Uncle Zeb got dragged along. I think he may have been a little confused why we would have a party and pay to have livestock come for the kids to pet. Apparently, since he’s the last sibling left at home out of 6, he has made friends with a lot of chickens and ducks and goats, so it’s nothing special for him. But the kids were a wee bit excited.

Greta became quite attached to the bunny and asked me later that night if she could have one. Nope. We have enough living organisms in this household. No need to add something that may multiply faster than Aaron and I.

These pictures were stolen from Amanda since I only got to stay for a half an hour and then headed to my cousin’s bridal shower.

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One of the highlights was yours truly getting to put this pumpkin’ on her first pony ride. Unfortunately the ride only lasted mere seconds before she burst into tears and begged to be removed from the pony.

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And the best photo taken of all time. Thank you Amanda for this priceless treasure that makes me laugh every single time I look at it. Aaron apparently decided to sit in the petting zoo and take a crap with a chicken on his lap.

H I L A R I O U S 

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day at the aquarium

We became members of the Aquarium of the Pacific recently. I believe it pays for itself in one visit for our family. And as a bonus we received a free parking pass and 2 free guest passes. These were put to good use with Aaron’s family. I think Grandpa enjoyed the aquarium as much as the kids did. We’ve been there a ton of times but for some reason never waited for the sea lion show. It was great and Greta does a very good impression of waving her flipper and opening her mouth for a treat.

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Favorite shot of the day, love the sea lion swimming behind her.

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And after we had a nice walk along the harbor for lunch at P.F. Changs. By the way, they have great lunch specials that I never knew about. I have made a mental note of that.

I believe this evening was when Aaron and Zeb decided to have a pullup contest. Aaron claims that since Zeb only weighs 115 pounds, it didn’t count that he could do a few, and Aaron could only do. . . wait for it. . . zero. In fact it became a humorous little quarrel among the two of them, egged on by myself, over who was stronger, tougher, and taller. Although Aaron wins on the strength, Zeb was a head taller. But no doubt if Uncle Judah was here, he could waste the both of them. he he

been a little m i a . . .

Aaron’s parents and his youngest brother came into town for a visit. The kids were beyond excited. It’s been awhile since they have seen the kids and I know the kids have changed so much since the last visit. But immediately they were right at home with Grandma and Grandpa, totally comfortable. It was fun to share Family Worship night with them along with Family Drawing Time. See, no one escapes Family Drawing Time. If you are in this household during Family Drawing Time, you will participate. New house rule. And they were very cooperative, I think they actually enjoyed it. Although Grandpa’s picture of Pharoah, well, it was a little stretching if you ask me.

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A favorite pastime when Grandma and Grandpa visit is the food. Grandma starts baking her infamous caramel rolls, homemade pies, fresh bread. And Sawyer was pretty happy to wake Grandpa each morning and request his french toast making skills.

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The boys adore their uncle Zeb. But come on, what 4 and 7 year old wouldn’t think a 17 year old is cool? He’s alright. he he 

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I don’t think my in laws have a fast enough connection to read this. he he

Zeb brought with him some movies we haven’t seen which was great because Aaron doesn’t go to movies, and although I go alone usually, I never saw these ones. Our evenings, after the kids and grandparents went to sleep, and Aaron some nights, were spent watching movies or playing Wii. Oh, and one night Zeb was sleep walking and attempted to strip in the kitchen. But that’s a whole different post.

A little bit about the Wii. To set the record straight, I haven’t touched the Wii in probably a year. So I was pretty much out of practice. And despite this I could still smoke my 17 year old brother in law in bowling. Oh, and the Wii Fitness, well I scored an age of 31. I know you are thinking, wait, aren’t you only 28? True. But to score anything below 50 years of age on the Wii is huge for me! And I believe my competitor scored, what was the age? 64? Yes, I believe it was 64.

Before this weekend, I was undefeated in Wii boxing. And I thought the Wii gods were on my side since Zeb was itching to play me in boxing and we could only find one numbchuck. Wrong. A numbchuck conveniently appeared on the last night of their trip. And again, let me set the record straight before other information is spread throughout the state of Minnesota, I had to work all day Monday while Zeb got to practice. Apparently he had just as much to lose as me since he too was undefeated. The game was pretty close. We each had one knockout and the final game went to round 3. I lost. But I did learn that I am no longer 18. Not even close. It’s sad because in my mind I am 18, but oh no, the rest of me didn’t agree. I am a decade more than that. And the next morning I paid the price. For some reason my stomach muscles which haven’t been used since I birthed my last child decided to separate themselves from the interior lining of my abdominal wall and shriek in defiance at their wakening. Along with my shoulders feeling like someone wedged a sharp pencil in between each joint. The Wii was not my friend. However, since Aaron sucks much more than me at the Wii, I may challenge him to a little boxing match to up my self esteem.

I will post some more photos of when we went to the Aquarium and the rest of their visit. But I think my husband is now contemplating a divorce since I have had to spend hours catching up on everything I neglected, like online bill paying, emails, my blog, photo editing. So I better go spend some quality time showing him that I am still the champion of Wii Boxing in this household. 

an artful afternoon

I’m back, sort of. Aaron’s family is leaving in the morning and I hope I can edit some photos and post about what we’ve been up to with them during their visit, soon. All depends though. I think my house has been neglected more than the blog, so I will have to morph into the domestic goddess that I am not and wave my magical wand that I do not possess and work some miracles on this place that we inhabit, pronto. But in the meantime here is a post I had worked on early last week.

It’s been really hot here sporadically. Like 92 degrees hot. Very uncharacteristic for this part of SoCal, and it’s only April. This particular Monday I got to leave work early and on my way home I stopped at my favorite art supplies store. The kids were pleasantly surprised for their impromptu afternoon painting session. Sawyer was pretty focused on his “castle”, and Greta, well Gunnar told me her art seems a lot like that guy named Pollock. Have no clue where he learned about Jackson Pollock, but it’s pretty cool to hear it from my 7 year old.

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family drawing time

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We recently instituted a new part of our day called Family Drawing Time. My kids love art, no doubt. They love to draw and paint and create. I have been slowly reading and savoring every part of Amanda Soule’s book, The Creative Family. On my blogroll her link is Soule Mama. Although I don’t agree and am not capable of many things that she writes about and accomplishes in her daily tasks, there are some really awesome suggestions in her book. I find her blog inspirational and a taste of something very foreign to me. I am a born and raised city girl, whereas she raises her family in Maine. We have different philosophies, but I appreciate her dedication to her children. She is probably the most creative and resourceful person I have read about, and her book is fantastic. 

This book is where the idea for Family Drawing Time came from. I take no credit whatsoever for it. Other than me buying the supplies and instituting it with the familia. The first night the kids were bathed and I had the box all prepared and ready for use in the art closet. We had some time before bed and Aaron wasn’t home, so I thought it was a good idea to try it out. Needless to say, the kids LOVED it. It has become part of our routine. 

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And although I cannot promise them that we get to it every single day. We definitely try. I bought a medium sized tray at Target and got the kids their own special sketch pad that is only used during Family Drawing Time. We have supplies in this box that only come out during this time as well, like pastels, special colored pencils, charcoal pencils, markers. The kids know it’s a quiet time and they can do whatever they like. Doodle, draw a picture, shapes, just test out color combinations, it’s up to them. They are allowed to bring magazine clippings as inspiration or have books to look at to get ideas from. 

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The kids are not the only ones thrilled with this activity. Aaron is a big sketcher. Well, he used to be when he had the time. I actually can’t draw well at all, but I still love this time to doodle in my own journal. I don’t think about writing lists or folding laundry or anything else. Just draw or scribble. It is so soothing for the kids. Greta will test out all the pinks and purples in the whole bunch on her pad, and even attempt an occasional “W” (her letter of choice at the moment). But the most exciting thing is that we are doing it all together, as a family, and the kids see that mom and dad are not trying to multi task. That we are enjoying it right alongside them.

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are you going to have any more?

that is the second most asked question people have for me. The first being, “are they all yours?” My usual answer is yes, and then no.

I have been thinking a lot lately about that second question, not because we are debating or even thinking of having another child because we both would answer absolutely not. I don’t quite know how to formulate into words or express exactly what I feel, but I will attempt it, because I know I am not alone in my thinking.

Awhile back some of you may remember an emotional post of mine entitled Capable, well, it was emotional for me. And I cannot believe that I wrote that over a year ago. This may give you some insight into how much can change in a year. I was torn between feeling inadequate because of the number of children I had, wondering if I was doing them a disservice by giving them several siblings, and the joy I see when they are together, happy and content with each other. Well, a year later, I feel nothing but confidence that I haven’t accomplished anything greater in my life than giving them each other. I never have heard in my home the words or phrases such as “i’m bored”, “no one will play with me”, “can we invite another kid over to play”. They are so content and happy together, the 3 of them. There is nothing better in the world than to see how they can make each other laugh better than anyone else in the world. Without thinking they just include each other in games they create, making sure to have a character for all 3 of them. Now, here is the dilemma, well not really a dilemma, but it’s tugging on my heart strings for sure. Now that we have decided not to have any more children, are they missing out? I am amazed beyond words at how having Greta changed the dynamic of our family. The qualities that Gunnar and Sawyer possess now because of her are all because of her. I think all the time about what a fourth child would bring to our family. How Greta would be if she were to be an older sister, or what it would be like for her to have a sister. And I can say 100% that if we could financially afford it, we would most definitely have a fourth. 

But we can’t. And I won’t sacrifice raising my kids in the manner I choose to answer my what ifs. I won’t trade the organic food, or the swim lessons, or the art supplies, or the summer camp, or the ability for me to work part time instead of full time. But I cannot help but wonder what it would be like if we could have all that and give the kids what they want more than anything. They ask almost daily for another brother or sister. Just today, we were driving home and Gunnar had asked if we could have another kid. My usual answer, “don’t you think we have enough kids?” was met with Sawyer’s response, “but mama, then we could have one more person for all our games! we could have an even bigger game!” And how true that is. The dinner table would be fuller, the laughter louder, no doubt more tears, but oh, the bigger games! 

Last weekend I took the kids to an old theater in Santa Monica that was showing Mary Poppins. And believe it or not, it was their first time. I was probably just as excited as they were to be there to introduce them to Mary Poppins and all her wonderfulness(she’s my idol by the way). And as I was driving to the theater I thought about what it would be like if I had another sibling. If I had one more sister, or a brother. And it made me a little sad because I don’t. I am very close to my sister, and maybe that is why I am sad for what isn’t. How awesome would it be to have one more person on speed dial to call when you are excited or thrilled about something, or have that extra set of ears to tell them what a sucky day you had. Had I been an older sister, would I be more patient as a mother? The men in my life have always been very influential. My father, I don’t even need to go there. The men in my life whether they were friends or ended up as my husband, have all been special to me, and I can’t help but wonder what it would’ve been like to have a brother. Would I understand my husband better? Would I laugh louder? 

I just can’t help but wonder. And I think I am a little sad that I won’t ever know. Sad for my kids too, because they will never know how one more brother or sister would’ve changed their lives. I know I need to be grateful right about now for the sister I do have, and for the three beautiful children that are mine. But in the back of my mind I know that they could have so much joy, so much happiness, from the large family that I wish I could give them. Sure, we’re large already in a way. Yet, to give them the greatest gift I could possibly think of, each other, and then have the ability to multiply that, but choose not to, it causes a bit of pain for me. 

All these questions I ask myself that linger in the back of my mind and heart, I wonder if I can answer for my kids. And I can’t. Trust me, I do wish I could. And I cannot blame it on my age, or the little sanity left I may have, but we won’t have another child and I hope that my children see that at some point I had to let the what ifs remain exactly that. But I don’t think that will ever take away the mourning I have for the kids that will never be mine. For the ones we didn’t  have. To my kids’ disappointment, the three amigos will just remain three. I think they are a pretty fantastic set myself, but no doubt I will forever wonder what another brother or sister would’ve brought to this family.