Wednesday, May 23, 2012

How We Celebrated EARTH DAY

In our town we have designated areas where residents can tend to their own garden plots. Rich and I thought it would be fun for our family to have a plot, knowing that it would be a great experience for the kids to plant and harvest their own food.  So in early April we put ourselves down on the waiting list for a plot, and to our surprise we were assigned plot #9 on April 21st, just one day before Earth Day!  The timing couldn't have been more perfect.

So the very next day - on Earth Day - we gathered our gardening tools, grabbed a few kids, and headed off to prepare our plot of land.  

Five year old Andrew lags behind, pulling the ice chest full of cool drinks.  It was a hot day, and we would need lots of water!

Once we got to our assigned plot and the kids got a good look at it, they started in with the complaints -- just as I thought they might.  "We have to weed all of THAT?  That's going to take FOREVER!"  

 But dad wasn't going to hear any complaining.
 "If we all work together, this will be done in no time.  Everyone grab a tool and get started."

Aislynn picked up a hoe and started right in.

 Andrew got busy!

A.J. got right to work!

And Alex did as well.

Even Avery got to work, which surprised me.  I thought she would just stand around watching everyone else work. She tends to have a bit of a "Princess" mentality when it comes to any kind of hard labor.  And at first she was reluctant.

But it didn't take long before she was actually enjoying it!  In fact, all the kids were! 

Well, all except Aria...who took one look at all the work to be done and said, "This is not fun! Can we leave now?!"   

Just look at that face.  This was a girl who would much rather be at the pool.
 You want me to do WHAT?  Pull weeds?  I don't think so!

Of course Rich was a hard worker.  He always is.

What's the saying?  Many hands make for light work?  Something like that.  In our case, it's definitely true!

We decided that the best way for Aria to be of help was to pick up all the stuff that we pull up and toss it into the waste bucket.  So we put some gloves on her and told her to get to work!

And that's exactly what she did.

I won't say that she was all that happy about it, but she did take pride in her work.  She picked everything up that we pulled, and when she was finished not one weed was left.  She turned out to be a hard worker after all.

She took time out to strike a pose for me, showing off her gardening outfit:  sunglasses, a bathing suit, a skirt and boots.  

Shoveling the manure was big hit with the kids.  Everyone wanted a turn!

 Alex shows his little brother how it's done!

A.J. takes a turn

When she thought I wasn't looking, I caught Aria "playing" in the dirt when she should have been picking up the weeds....

and I just let her to it.  After all, a three-year-old has gotta have some fun, right?

Finally, after only an hour's work, our garden plot was free of all the weeds!  Whew!!  That was some job!

 The next time we come back it will be to build a few planting boxes and to plant some seeds in the ground.
Mommy is so proud of all her little gardeners.
And I think they are kind of proud of themselves, too!

linking up today with The Bunny Hop

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Tuesday, May 15, 2012

The Ref

These past few weekends my 12 year old has been the referee for my 7 year old's soccer games. A few months ago, he took a couple classes and passed a certification test -- then the association gave him that uniform and a whistle and now call him a "Ref".  I'm still trying to get used to seeing him out there.
 Here he is with Aislynn during a game

I give him credit.  Being a referee is something that I'd never sign up to do.  I'm a people pleaser and don't like when people aren't pleased with me, and you know half of the calls you make out there will make half of the crowd not pleased with you.  My personality couldn't take it.  And Alex is a lot like me, so at first I worried about him.  
I stood guard at every game, just waiting for some parent to make a derogatory remark about the calls he makes....just waiting for some loud mouth to shout, "Aw, come on, Ref!  What was THAT call about?  Are you watching the same game as we are?  Come on!!!"   Because boy, if I heard that, I would march right up to that parent and say, "Dude, really?  He's a 12 year old kid doing his best.  I don't see your butt out there calling the game.  Do you volunteer your Saturdays to referee youth soccer games?  No? I didn't think so.  This isn't World Cup, Buddy, so just sit down and keep quiet."  (and I say "Dude" and "Buddy" because it's always the dads, isn't it? Always those competitive dads!)

So far I haven't had to throw my Mama Bear weight around that soccer field because Alex seems to be able to hold his own out there.  For the most part the calls he makes are right on, and when he does make a mistake I have not heard anyone make a negative comment.  Of course, I cannot be everywhere along the sidelines, so perhaps I miss a few comments here and there?   It's possible.  Maybe I should send out spies?  I have enough kids pull that off.  I'll send two on the opposite sideline and then plant two on our sideline, and they can all signal to me if someone says anything mean about my Alex.  

Because no one messes with any of my kids.  Grrrrrr!

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Monday, May 14, 2012

Mother's Day

Happy Mother's Day

 Me with my mom and eight of my nine kids 

Mother's Day is my favorite day of the year.  I even like Mother's Day more than my own birthday.  All I did to earn my birthday was to be born, and hey, my mom did all the work to make that happen.  But Mother's Day is entirely different.  You don't automatically get to have a Mother's Day, but instead you earn it.  
You go through a lot to earn a Mother's Day.  Some go through the morning sickness, the stretch marks, the pains of labor and birth, while others go through piles and piles of paperwork, home studies and eventually court dates to bring their babies home.   
No matter how we get them,  we all go through the sleepless nights and endless concerns and worries that goes into raising children.  We sure put in our time, don't we?  No job out there is more demanding than being a mom, because being a mom never ends.  There is no vacations, no retirement.   From the day they are born, they are ours to love, to protect,  and ours to worry about.  Do we ever stop worrying for their safety?  I don't think so.  Maybe "worry" is the wrong word.  I guess it's more like a constant concern for, something that on some level you are always thinking about in the back of your mind:  is my child safe today?  is he out of harm's way?  did she buckle her seatbelt?  Things like that.  When you become a mother, your heart lives outside of your body, just walking around out there being exposed to who knows what every single day.   If you think about it too much it can drive you crazy.  So, we somehow push it to the far back of our minds.  But it's there, nonetheless.
I'm 42 years old,  yet I'm sure my mom still worries about me from time to time

As mothers, I'm willing to bet that we all doubt ourselves along the way.  Am I doing enough?  Did I make the right decision?  I am being a good role model?  Should I have made her keep her shoes on at the fire station?

because wow, look at these feet!

Today Rich had to work, so after church we went to his station to have lunch.  I've had quite a few Mother's Days at the fire station!
The kids don't mind spending Mother's Day at the fire station...not when there's a t.v. room like this!  I think we need this kind of set up in our house!

We also attended a Mother's Day mass at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels ~ it was the biggest church my kids had ever been in, and they were impressed.  Here they are standing next to the baptismal font.  I love the mural on the wall.
 Is Audriana praying in this photo....or just about to sneeze?  
Inquiring minds want to know!

The Bishop gave the mass today, which was kind of cool.  Of course, I told the kids it was the Pope so that they would be good during the hour-long mass.  Was that wrong of me?  "You don't want the Pope to see you misbehaving, do you?  Sit still."   They were all like, "Ooooh, the Pope! We better be good!"   Hey, whatever works, you know?
It was such a beautiful place.  We aren't used to attending church in such a grand building.  Our church building has not been built yet so we are in portable buildings, which is a bit blah, but we love our church community and all the friends we have there, so it's all good.  But I think I will make it a point to bring the kids out to the Cathedral for mass a few times a year.  They really enjoyed it and say they want to go back.  But maybe that was only because the Pope was there.  Hmmmm.

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Friday, May 11, 2012

San Francisco

You'll never guess where I've been.
Well, I guess you might since I just titled this post
- duh -
which ruined the surprise, didn't it?

(Don't you just hate when your kids say the word duh
I thought I'd just throw it in there to annoy you!)

last week I spent four days in San Francisco
with just my #5

Just me and Avery!
Let me start off by saying
that Avery and I had the BEST time together!
The BEST time! 
I'll admit that I was a bit nervous about traveling 
and leaving the other kids...
you know, because I'm a bit wimpy like that...
but now I am SO glad we went on this trip!

On our first day there it was a major importance for her to get THIS sweatshirt.
She just had to have it.

This exact one.
So we shopped around for the best price.
We walked everywhere.
And we ended up back at the first place we looked
(of course) 
which was $2.00 less than everywhere else
and $14 less than the one in our hotel's gift shop!

Once she got her souvenir sweatshirt
we walked around the Fisherman's Wharf.
All I could think of was how much Rich would love it there!
Because he absolutely LOVES crab!
He would have lost his mind down at that wharf.

Later that first day, we met up with my friend Jen.
She and I met through the blogging community about two years ago
and have become good friends...
but we had never met face to face.
So since she lived about two hours from San Francisco
she drove up to meet us!

And this is Jen! 
In this photo we are up in the Nordstrom's Cafe
which is at the very top of the mall.
(she treated us to lunch there ~ isn't she sweet?)

Jen knew her way around downtown, which was very cool.
Because I didn't have a clue.
She insisted on taking a few photos of me and Avery 
while we were in the mall.
And I am forever grateful that she did...
or else it would look as if Avery went on this trip by herself
since I am always the one behind the camera!

The next day after breakfast
Avery and I got on the number 28 bus

and then we got off that number 28 bus
and got on the number 30 bus...
and that bus took us all the way to the Golden Gate Bridge!

And then we used these two feet
to walk us across the bridge...
and back again!
And we took a few photos along the way!

Then we got back on the number 30 bus 
and met up with Avery's Girl Scout troop at the Exploratorium
where Avery spent a lot of time with the giant bubble maker 
 being inside a bubble is pretty darn cool 
 until it POPS

Then that night we got on a boat....

and toured Alcatraz Island

which was very interesting 

but yet a little creepy at the same time!

And then the next day we rode a Trolley car

and then a subway train 

which took us all the way to Oakland 
for the Girl Scout 100 Year Celebration!
And I hate to say it
but it wasn't too much fun at this Girl Scout event
except when Avery won this pink cape
and enjoyed this ice cream.

But other than those two things...
it was boring.

So we left.

We got back on the train
and the train took us back into downtown San Francisco
and then we walked to Chinatown! 
Avery's FAVORITE part of our trip was Chinatown.

She just loved shopping in Chinatown and never wanted to leave.

People always ask if Avery has any Asian in her
(she doesn't)
but she does seem to fit right in amongst the Asian cultures

She just has that "look" don't you think?

We walked ALL over that day.
We walked so much that Avery actually whined and complained.
Quite a bit.
But I won't get into that part.
Let's just pretend she was sweet and adorable the entire time.

We walked up and down steep, steep streets
like the very famous Lombard Street
which is the craziest street that I've ever seen!

Avery did a lot of firsts on this trip:

- first time on an airplane
- first time on a city bus
- first time on a trolley car
- first time on a train

Here she is at the airport waiting for our flight home.

We were gone four full days.  
I did miss the other kids
and they all missed me
a lot!
But it was so nice having all that time with just my #5 !!