Sunday, January 31, 2010


Today is Audriana's 17th birthday! She was born today, January 31 in 1993 at 1:06pm in Pasadena, CA. It was Superbowl Sunday, and the big game was in Pasadena! I remember the hospital gave me a rose rattle when Audriana was born, to symbolize the Rose Bowl and Superbowl Sunday.
Audriana was 8 pounds 6 ounces and 22 inches long. I remember being very surprised that I had had a girl. And so, so happy! Her fingers were so long...the first thing I thought when I looked at her was that she would be a piano player one day.
Audriana has always been very headstrong and independent. As a little girl, she would always say, "No...I do it!" whenever I tried to help her get dressed, or if I tried to boost her up in her car seat, or just about anything else.

As most of you know, her life changed on February 17, 1997 just after her 4th birthday, when she was severely brain injured in a car accident. That truly was the worst day of my life. As her mother, I was completely heartbroken. Like we parents tend to do, I had had her whole life "mapped" out and planned in my head, all my expectations and plans for my little girl. They were just shattered in one instant. She was in a coma for 8 days and they couldn't tell us if she would wake up or not, or even if she did...would she be in a vegetative state? What would her quality of life be? Although I was very grateful that she survived, I was so sad that her once perfect brain had been "wiped away" just like that. It was so unfair. What would her life be like? It was so hard to see her like that, when just a few days before she was running around, learning to tap dance, enjoying her preschool days, learning to write her name, etc.

She had two brain surgeries and one plastic surgery reconstruction on her face, and spent 6 weeks in the ICU and 3 months in a rehab hospital. She came home after those 3 months not able to walk, not able to talk, not having control over the right side of her body, her vision was impaired, and she had to learn the most basic things all over again. But she was a fighter. She has always been a fighter and so strong and stubborn and independent!

We did rehabilitation therapies with her in our home for the next 3 years. We worked with an institute in Philadelphia and would fly her back there twice a year for evaluations and to have her program updated. Over those 3 years she worked very hard and we worked very hard with her....and she learned to walk again, she learned to talk again, and slowly our little girl came back to us. And today, she is in the 10th grade, she goes to the movies and the mall with her friends, she is very active in her church youth group, she loves Starbucks drinks, is a HUGE fan of the Twilight series, and is a great big sister to seven younger siblings!

Of course, this is a very long story.....but my point today is that I am so extremely proud of my daughter, especially on this day, her 17th birthday! Audriana has endured so much and has come such a long was in her recovery. I believe that her brain will always heal and that the future is a bright one for her. She has plans of going to college and working with special needs children, either as a teacher or teacher's aide.

Happy Birthday, Audriana!
I love you so much!

Friday, January 29, 2010

Oh. My. Gosh.

So today Tony had to be at work at 12:15.  I had to take the kids to piano at 11:30.  Normally I give him a ride to work if there isn't a car here that he can use, and I take him early if I have something to do or somewhere to be, but today the Excursion was here because Rich was driving my car... so Tony asked if he could take the Excursion to work, that way he wouldn't need be dropped off at the mall an hour before his shift.  So I say OKAY....but be sure to LOCK up the house before you leave. 

Be SURE to LOCK UP the house before you leave.

Yes, I said it twice.

He says OKAY to that.

Twice he said OKAY to that.

And. so....I leave at 11:15 for piano.  Me and all the kids.  Tony is left at home for 45 minutes until 12:00 --the time he needs to leave for work.

During those 45 minutes, I just had a nagging feeling that I needed to call to tell him to be sure to close the garage door.  But then I second guess myself.....naw...I need to insult his intelligence.  Don't call.  Let him feel like a responsible adult.

So.  I don't call.

At 2:00 I come home to find the Excursion gone,  of course, and the garage door up and our house wide open.  He forgot to close the garage door.  (when am I going to learn to trust my instincts and listen to the still voice inside my head?  For as long as I can remember, that little voice has never been wrong.)

Oh.My.Gosh.  My house was OPEN for anyone to walk in through the garage door for two hours.  No cars in the driveway to make it appear as if there's someone home.  No car in the garage to make it appear that someone is home.  Nothing.   Just a wide open garage with a whole bunch of stuff in it, and an unlocked door that leads into our house.

I think....GREAT...what am I supposed to do now?  For all I know there could be someone in the house at that moment, stealing things.  Or maybe hiding in a closet or under a bed....waiting.  Yes, these thoughts go through my mind.

So I park the car and tell the kids to STAY in the car.  I go into the backyard and get Milo, our dog.  You know, because he will protect me.  All 7 pounds of him.  (he's a Toy Fox Terrier)  And then I go into the house and go room to room, checking under beds and in closets, in the bathroom, behind the shower curtains.  I check every inch of the house.

Nope, no one there.  Nothing missing.  It's safe.

So I get the kids and they come in, and I call Tony on his cell and give him a really hard time about it.  He felt awful, of course.  Said he *thought* he pressed the button and *assumed* the garage closed as he drove away, but no...he didn't watch it go down.  It won't happen again, he assures me.  Well all I can do is be grateful that everything turned out okay and hope that he learned a lesson today and won't repeat that mistake again.  You just hear about home invasions all the scary!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

I Believe....

I Believe...
That just because two people argue,
It doesn't mean they don't love each other.
And just because they don't argue,
It doesn't mean they do love each other.

I Believe...
That we don't have to change friends if
We understand that friends change.

I Believe....
That no matter how good a friend is,
they're going to hurt you every once in a while
and you must forgive them for that.

I Believe...
That true friendship continues to grow,
even over the longest distance.

I Believe...
That you can do something in an instant
That will give you heartache for life.

I Believe....
That it's taking me a long time
To become the person I want to be.

I Believe...
That you should always leave loved ones with
Loving words. It may be the last time you see them.

 I Believe....
That you can keep going long after you think you can't.

I Believe....
That we are responsible for what we do
and what we say
no matter how we feel.

I Believe...
That either you control your attitude
or it controls you.

I Believe...
That heroes are the people who do what has to be done when it needs
to be done, regardless of the consequences.

I Believe....
That money is a lousy way of keeping score.

I Believe....
That my best friend and I can do anything or nothing
and have the best time.

I Believe....
That sometimes the people you expect to kick you when you're down
will be the ones to help you get back up.

I Believe...
That sometimes when I'm angry
I have the right to be angry,
But that doesn't give me the right to be cruel.

I Believe....
That maturity has more to do with
what types of experiences you've had
And what you've learned from them
and less to do with how many
birthdays you've celebrated.

I Believe....
That it isn't always enough,
to be forgiven by others.
Sometimes, you have to learn to forgive yourself.

I Believe...
That no matter how bad your heart is broken
the world doesn't stop for your grief.

I Believe....
That our background and circumstances
may have influenced who we are,
But, we are responsible for who we become.

I Believe...
That you shouldn't be so eager to find
Out a secret. It could change your life Forever.

I Believe....
Two people can look at the exact same
Thing and see something totally different.

I Believe...
That your life can be changed in a matter of
Hours by people who don't even know you.

I Believe...
That even when you think you have no more to give,
When a friend cries out to you -
you will find the strength to help.

I Believe...
That credentials on the wall
do not make you a decent human being.

I Believe...
That the people you care about most in life
are taken from you too soon.

I Believe...
The happiest of people don't necessarily
have the best of everything;
They just make the most of everything they have.


Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The First Day of School

Yes, I know these are late in posting, considering school started at the end of August.. What can I say except that I have nine kids and life gets busy? But beter late than never, right? That's my motto, anyway.

So here are photos that were taken on our first day of school this school year.  Notcie our new school room?  I love it because we can leave our stuff set up and come back to it.  Last year and previous years we had to use the kitchen table and most of the time we ate our meals around all the school work and books!  So this room is working out much better.

And then we have Aislynn who started preschool at the church.  She goes 3 afternoons a week and loves it.

She was a little nervous on her first day!

And my high school girls, ready for 9th and 10th grades.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Funny Andrew

Last night Andrew made me laugh.  We were finishing up our dinner, and he was picking away at the food on his plate -- which had all the vegetables left on it -- and here is how the conversation went: 

Mommy...can I get up?
After you finish your food.
He frowns.
Will you finish it for me?
Me? No thanks.  I've got my own food.
He frowns again, then smiles at me.
I'll give you my dollar!   He had earned a dollar that night for helping out around the house.  It was still in his pocket, so he takes it out and shows it to me as proof of his offering.
I think a minute.
Naw...I don't need a dollar.  I need one hundred dollars.
He frowns.  He gives that some thought.
Then he looks at me with this serious expression and says,
Okay.  But first I have to go buy some.

I suppose he thinks we buy money with money.
I started laughing, and he got all mad at me.

Yes it are so funny, the things you say.  You crack me up.

and so I stop laughing, because the kid just can't take it. 
He's so ridiculously sensitive.  But so darn cute!
I ended up finishing his food for him.  I took the dollar as payment.
And then I offered to pay him one dollar for a kiss.
So he earned his dollar back.
Ahhh....just love this little guy!  At 3 years old, he just charms the pants off me :)

Tanaka Farms

Tanaka Farms

On the tractor ride :)

Pumpkins!  Everywhere!

Picking our own vegetables!

Petting the animals :)

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Grandma's House

This is my mom.  She lives an hour's drive from us, and with our busy schedules it's hard to visit more than twice a month.  The kids love spending time at Grandma's house, though.  I wish we lived closer! Bear. 
He's a really cool dog. 
My mom has had him now for about 8 years.

Aria brought this doll out of the guest bedroom (where the toys are) and I couldn't believe it -- this doll is so old!  I used to play with this doll when I was a little girl whenever I visited my grandma's house.  I hadn't seen it in years .  This doll was actually my Aunt Sandra's doll first (my mom's older sister)  so that means it's more than 60 years old.  I wonder if she was ever given a name?  I can't remember calling her anything.  I think she looks like a Mathilda, what do you think?  Margaret? 

Aria had fun playing with Mathilda Margaret.

She had fun swinging on the bench rocker, too.

Okay, this photo trips me out because I have the same exact photo of me standing in this same place when I was Aria's age.  This is the front yard of my grandmother's house, which is now my mother's house since my grandmother passed away in 2007. Since I practically grew up in this house, I have old photos of me standing in this spot throughout the years, posing for Easter photos and things like that.  Who would have thought that many years later I would be taking pictures of my own kids standing in the same exact spot?? 

Friday, January 15, 2010

When Life Gives You Girl Time.....Make Pudding!

Yesterday I was left in the house with just the girls.  Rich took all the boys dirtbike riding for the day.  The house seems so much quieter when the boys aren't here!   So the first thing we did was made pudding!   There's nothing quite like pudding in the morning!

Look at those eager faces!

Aria is ready, with whisk in hand.....

First they each got to pour one cup of milk.

Then they each took a turn at mixing.

Aria thought everyone's turn should be shared with her.

Aria puts the mini marshmallows on the top!

And eats a few along the way!

It's not fun unless you can lick the bowl afterwards!


Thursday, January 14, 2010

Read to Me

In a corner of our family room, I set up a little reading area for Aria.   This kid loves books.  It's her most favorite "toy".  She will dig through her toybox and pass up all the toys just to get to a book.  Every day she goes over to the reading area and selects a book.

Then she plops herself down and begins to look through it.
Everyday, she reads.

 Even on crazy-messy hair days, she reads.

Even before I get her dressed in the morning....she reads.

I love that she seems to already have a love for books.  Reading is one of my very favorite things to do.  It's not surprising that Aria loves reading books.  When she was an small infant, I would spread a blanket out on the family room floor for her to roll around on while I did various things around the house.  It wasn't unusual for me to enter the room again and find this:

and this.....
Aria always had an older sibling willing to plop down on the blanket next to her and show her a book.  During our homeschooling day back then, part of the kids' daily schedule was to READ TO BABY for 15 MINUTES.  Not only did this help with their reading fluency, but it also gave Aria some entertainment, and she was learning, too!  So I guess it's really not too surprising that my 16 month old picks books over toys.  I just hope it lasts through the high school years!  Wouldn't that be nice?  Instead of an iPod for Christmas she will request gift cards for Barnes and Noble :)

Monday, January 11, 2010

Cell Phone VS The Bible

(got this from another blogger, and I don't think she'd mind if I shared it here:)

Ever wonder what would happen if we treated our Bible like we
treat our cell phone?
What if we carried it around in our purses or pockets?
What if we flipped through it several times a day?
What if we turned back to go get it if we forgot it?
What if we used it to receive messages from the text?
What if we treated it like we couldn't live without it?
What if we gave it to Kids as gifts?
What if we used it when we traveled?
What if we used it in case of emergency?
This is something to make you go......hmm.......where is my Bible?
Oh, and one more thing.
Unlike our cell phone, we don't have to worry about our Bible being  disconnected because Jesus already paid the bill.
Makes you stop and think where are my priorities?
And no dropped calls!

Have a blessed and wonderful day!

Saturday, January 9, 2010


So Anthony is driving now.  Got his license on Wendesday.  I'm thrilled about this big step in his independence!  But yet....ugh!  Another thing a mother has to worry about, right?  Him being there out on the road.  My baby.  At the mercy of all the other drivers out there.  Who we all know text while driving.  Drink while driving.  Eat while driving.  Run red lights.  As they say, it's a jungle out there!

Does it ever end?  the worrying about your child?  I think that no matter what age they are, us mothers always worry on some level about children's safety.  My mom even says that she worries about me when we go on our road trips -- that she has an uneasy feeling until she hears that we are home safe.  No one tells you this when you sign up for the job as Mother.  Or was it in the fine print and I just wasn't paying attention?

Anyhoo... last night Anthony took Audriana to the movies.  They went to the 9:15 showing of Sherlock Holmes.  Big brother with his little sister...ages 18 and 16 years old.  As they walked out the door,  Anthony with car keys in hand, I couldn't help but to remember back when he was 3 and she was 18 months. They shared a bedroom and she would climb into his bed all the time. He would help give her a boost up.  (He once dislocated her elbow by pulling her up onto the bed!)
I remember back when she was 4 and he was 6, soon after our car accident where she was so hurt, and he helped turn her head back and forth while we did her patterning therapy.  I remember when he was 9 and she was 7 and he defended her when a bully at school was picking on her.   And now he's driving her to the movies.  DRIVING.


They are getting older.  So that must mean that I am, too.  Yikes!  :)

Friday, January 8, 2010

In the New Year.....

I got the following "advice" in an email this morning, and I thought I'd post it here for everyone to read.  For the most part, I agree with everything.  The "sit in silence for 10 minutes" and "get 7 hours of sleep" sounds wonderful, but might be a little unrealistic for me, lol.

Happy New Year!!

Health :

1. Drink plenty of water.

2. Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a beggar.

3. Eat more foods that grow on trees and plants and eat less food that is manufactured in plants..

4. Live with the 3 E's -- Energy, Enthusiasm and Empathy

5. Make time to pray.

6. Play more games

7. Read more books than you did in 2009 ..

8. Sit in silence for at least 10 minutes each day

9. Sleep for 7 hours.

10. Take a 10-30 minutes walk daily. And while you walk, smile.

Personality :

11. Don't compare your life to others. You have no idea what their journey is all about.

12. Don't have negative thoughts or things you cannot control. Instead invest your energy in the positive present moment.

13. Don't over do. Keep your limits.

14. Don't take yourself so seriously. No one else does.

15. Don't waste your precious energy on gossip.

16. Dream more while you are awake

17. Envy is a waste of time. You already have all you need..

18. Forget issues of the past. Don't remind your partner with His/her mistakes of the past. That will ruin your present happiness.

19. Life is too short to waste time hating anyone. Don't hate others.

20. Make peace with your past so it won't spoil the present.

21. No one is in charge of your happiness except you.

22. Realize that life is a school and you are here to learn. Problems are simply part of the curriculum that appear and fade away like algebra class but the lessons you learn will last a lifetime.

23. Smile and laugh more.

24. You don't have to win every argument. Agree to disagree...

Society :

25. Call your family often.

26. Each day give something good to others.

27. Forgive everyone for everything.

28. Spend time w/ people over the age of 70 & under the age of 6.

29. Try to make at least three people smile each day.

30. What other people think of you is none of your business..

31. Your job won't take care of you when you are sick. Your friends will. Stay in touch.

Life :

32. Do the right thing!

33. Get rid of anything that isn't useful, beautiful or joyful.

34. GOD heals everything.

35. However good or bad a situation is, it will change..

36. No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up.

37. The best is yet to come..

38. When you awake alive in the morning, thank GOD for it.

39. Your Inner most is always happy. So, be happy.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Yay! New Portraits! It's about time!

My friend Dana, who lives in Utah, is a wonderful photographer and she came out to CA for the Christmas break to visit family.  And lucky for me, she was able to squeeze us into her busy schedule to do this photo shoot!  We were long overdue for a family group portrait.  The last one we took was before Andrew and Aria were born!  So I'm so thankful we were able to get these pictures done.  Below are just a few of Dana's favorites from the shoot.   Anyone in the Utah area who would like a wonderful photographer to photograph their family, check out her photo blog at .  Her contact info is on there as well.

The Group Shot

The Boys

Anthony, age 18

Alex, age 10

A.J., age 6

Andrew, age 3

The Girls

Audriana, age 16

Afton, age 14

Avery, age 8

Aislynn, age 5

Aria, age 17 months

Group Shot
Me and My Baby