Breaking News: Snow Day

In case you haven’t heard, my area is officially in a state of emergency…breaking news. It snowed. In preparing for an upcoming blizzard we seem to have forgotten to prepare for an unexpected couple of inches.

It took Ray over two hours to get home last night.

My kids were all… Woo hoo it’s snow…

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My friends are all…

 

I hear ya but it’s my blog and I’ll post what I want.

Ray’s all, “What are you gonna do that’s productive today?”

I don’t know… here’s my 9 a.m. they’ve already been out for an hour version of Snowmageddon.

I just added miles to my climb of Mount Washmore. If you’re having your own snow day, I hope you enjoy it. 

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Things I’ve Said This Week

Forget Briaisms… the things flying out of my mouth these days. Let me just share a smidge of it.

“God is good. Everything He made is good. He made squash so squash is good. Eat it!”

“No, honey there aren’t mosquitos in the house. I just have a raging case of adult onset acne. They’re pimples.”

“I’m not sure where my nerves left but I may have seen them in a hand basket headed for hell. If you don’t calm down right now…” Please note that somedays I’d take 10 toddlers over 2 teens. Somedays I’d take 10 teens over two second graders… just depends on the moment. 

“Attention island keiki… it’s snowing!!!”

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“How does my daughter know every line to Waterboy? Thanks Tye.”

“I think you need to watch War Games so you’ll understand what’s about to happen when I go all global thermonuclear war up in here!”

“Really. They are trying to teach him tenses… ride, rode, rid…I don’t care how he says it. I just want him to communicate it.” ~ That would be after leaving a particularly harrowing speech therapy appointment. 

“I’m not going to be held hostage by your toys.”

This is just a smidge of what I say on a mostly daily basis. We could be our own reality show or is it just me?

 

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Women Of Faith and My Gran

My grandmother was nothing short of amazing. My mother says that when someone dies you only remember the good about them. In my grandparents case, all of them… I can say that must most certainly be true. She was a little spitball of fire. While I’m not little, I think the spitball must’ve thankfully been passed on to me and then Bria. Her compassion fell firmly on Hanan’s shoulders. Her need to analyze every situation and be slightly wary is all Arleigh all the time. All of my girls inherited her kindness and her need to make sure everyone feels loved. 

When I was little Gran would fill a wheelbarrow with a giant soft quilt and toys. I would be plopped in the middle of it and she would wheel me to my grandfather’s feed mill. BEST STROLLER EVER! I still remember the rust coming through the sides of the light blue wheelbarrow. I wish I still had it… that and Dee’s iron kettle. (Does anybody know where that dang kettle is?) Anyway, I have great memories of her and lengths she went to for my happiness. 

The thing that my Gran loved most in the world was have all of her children, grandchildren and great grandchildren in one place. She told me once that her dream was to have all of us live in a giant house like they did at South Fork on Dallas. More that once I think I told her one of us might go to jail if her dream ever came to fruition. She just wanted one giant happy family under one roof. Today, I totally understand her sentiment. She had the market on Faith and Family before those duck hunters ever figured it out. Because of that, I have some great childhood memories. 

Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows. We know how to throw down. We hurt each other’s feelings. We also know how to make up. I’m sorries are never easy but I saw that example, often with trays of cupcakes on many occasions. We get mad. We cry. We make up. We get over it. I hope my kids see that even though we don’t live as close to them as we’d often like. We also know how to take care of each other. I’ve seen that over and over, mostly at funerals, sometimes over health scares. You guys, I just LOVE my big family to death even if they only see me once a year. 

So a weird thing happened while I was sitting at the Women of Faith conference. Thelma Wells was telling her story. I heard bits of it years ago. She was talking about the God given revelation that her family was knit with people from all nations of the world. She spoke about forgiveness and holding your family close. Now, here’s something you may not know about me. I have a ridiculous sense of smell. I must’ve been a hound dog in a former life of something. I gagged when mom changed my diapers. I’m getting to the point, I promise. As Thelma talked about her family I started smelling a familiar smell. I thought maybe it was the tuberose I put on before I left that morning. Nope. It was distracting me. Then it hit me. It was Gran. I know I sound like a  fruit loop but I could totally smell Gran and what a comfort it was. No one was sitting in either seat beside me. I just imagined her sitting with me bouncing in her seat with laughter, tapping my arm saying, “I told you that was important!”

One of the things Thelma Wells said was that she was praying for God to help her understand why a particular family member treated her the way she did. I won’t tell you her story. Let me just say this family member seemed to be so awful she could be seen as a bit of a monster. Her answer was that God loves everyone and Thelma doesn’t know what happened to cause her to be that way. If she could forgive her grandmother, we should all be able to treat the rest of our families with love and respect. 

To lighten the moment…speaking of respect… about half of my family have their butts firmly placed beachside this week. When we left church on Sunday it was snowing so I sent them a text with a picture of the kids enjoying the snow. I received a picture back with a note that said, “Here we are in the sun.”

Please know I love and respect them anyway. Next year…I’m going. Ray, good luck with the kids and their nutty schedule. I also had a note from a cousin also stuck in the cold that after all my Hawaiian pictures I deserved it but whatever man. One day I will live in the sun again. 

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Our News

I had delusions of grandeur. I so wanted to write something that would move you, something that would touch you deep at the bottom of our soul, something that would make you leave a comment… just kidding. Sort of. I did want to write to touch you in the same way that I was touched this weekend at the Women of Faith conference in Fairfax. The reality is, I have four kids home from school for the next two days. I have a husband home from work. I have daughters that require a chauffeur and other people who want to eat. The noise… oh my word, the noise… Bria and Jack are currently huddled watching one of the Home Alone movies. Ray is listening to talk radio while he works. Arleigh and Hanan are texting me or calling me. And the dogs…oh the dogs really want to go outside almost as much as the want back in because apparently I’m living in hell frozen over. (Not really but move from paradise to 10 degrees and see if you like it.) Writing under these conditions even when you’ve prayed for intervention from the Holy Spirit. Well, I think I heard God saying, “For the love woman, NOT RIGHT NOW!” Maybe not exactly those words but you get the idea. 

Still, I filled Facebook and Instagram and maybe Twitter but I’m not sure the link was working with two beautiful faces and hints to big news. I’m sure considering I heard several, “Oh my word! You’re adopting again?” comments that I need to set the record straight. Because I choose to stay married…no. We aren’t adopting again. We are excited to be sponsoring a little girl from Uganda that has a great story. AND Grandma is also sponsoring the cutest little doll from El Salvador. 

Meet Winne and Delmy. 

So here’s the story. We already sponsor kids. Currently, we’re at two sponsored kids all with different stories. For today, I’ll leave you with Winnie’s and Delmy’s brief story.

I signed up to go to the WOF conference with our new church. I knew that I might not know a soul going. It was a little out of my comfort zone. I’ve been to the conference before. It was pouring. Friday night traffic and a long drive, I knew not everyone would be there. I sat down and noticed an orange bag on my chair. Not everyone had a bag. In fact there probably wasn’t even a bag in every row but there it was attached to my chair. 

In the middle of the ceremony we heard about child sponsorship but it’s nothing really new for me. I got a text from Ray asking how things were. Great. I told him about the bag and how it was weighing on me but don’t worry. I wouldn’t sponsor her. His text back said, “Why not?” Then I’m weighing it. We sponsor two different kids from two different organizations. The bag is on my seat. We have four kids…four expensive kids and Northern Virginia seems to be sucking money out of my pocket. It was my seat. I open the bag. Her name is Winnie. She’s the same age as Hanan. She has parents and Ray and I have discussed how to help people parent in third world countries. We’ve wondered how to change the cycle. Then I see it, she lives in Uganda. Uganda was where we started the adoption process with Jack, inquiring from a baby home there. I kept coming back to it was MY seat. So, I filled out the papers. 

I called Mom. I told her about World Vision. I told her that only 5% of their expenses are for management. I told her what I’d learned. I told her about how helping one child get food and an education has the potential to help an entire family. I told her that it has the potential to change a village. She said, “Where do I sign up?” So, the next day I had her information and I walked up to a booth and saw a girl who is almost four, one of Grandma’s favorite ages with huge brown eyes. I knew she was perfect. I filled out Mom’s paperwork too. (Frankly if you send the money I’ll fill out yours too.)

Here is one of World Vision’s videos. I wish I could share of of the videos I saw during the conference.  

If you would like to sponsor a child and start just a little bit of change in the world, you can go here. Please, please tell me if you do. I’d like to share something with you. All you have to do is leave a comment. 

When I get my thoughts together and the noise level in this house to go down, I’ll tell you all about what I learned at WOF. Happy Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. I hope you choose to spread love today

… maybe by sponsoring a child. 

 

 

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The Obligatory Children Update

Since I haven’t been updating and our trip to Kentucky was so ever loving short over the Christmas break, I’m interrupting my newly found string of adventure posts with updates on the spawn children. So you’ve been warned. My family has made it clear they want to know. Here comes the proud mom post… Feel free to ignore it if you must.

The oldest…

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Arleigh is a typical teen with a phone glued to her hand. She has added instrument number 4 to her repertoire. Crazy since I can’t read music. Seriously, I told you this would be the proud mom post…She was just recommended for a writing course that we’re pretty excited about. She’s decided to she wants to find a way to write for her career and she’s really, really good at it. Maybe she should take over this lame proud mom post. 

The second…

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Hanan is preparing for high school. Sigh. This is the week her course application was due. She’s joined a recreational cheer squad which has helped her find her aloha and that means this mama is closer to finding hers. Life has been an adjustment for all of us. She is at a large school and was happy to receive a supporting role in a new theater production. So basically, the kid is busy. She keeps me on my toes all the time and I’m happy to say that she’s turning into quite the responsible young lady. The social aspects of middle school are hard. No, really, really HARD. I’m constantly amazed at what she has to navigate. 

It’s hard to find pictures of Hanan by herself. She’s at a stage where she constantly hides from a camera if I’m taking the picture. Funny how I see selfies all over her Instagram but I can’t take pictures. She’s also at the age that she’s forbidden me from speaking about all sorts of things. Here’s a list…

  1. Boys.
  2. Accomplishments.
  3. School.
  4. The social ramifications of knowing who was suspended for what. (Scary.) 
  5. Basically all things Hanan.

So I’ve broken a few rules but again, proud mom post and all.

Number 3…

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Have mercy. This child! She is so so fun and so so aggravating. Clearly, she doesn’t love the metro at all. When she is not busy irritating the living tarnation out of her sisters she has taken over as Jack’s body guard, instructor, tutor, boss, playmate, aggravation, and most recently roommate. It’s helping her finally sleep through most nights though so I’m good with it. She’s found a her passion in playing soccer, even the crazy fast indoor soccer. During her first game, one of her teammates left for a trip to the ER and needed stitches on her face. Pray for me. Did I mention that after four years of asking, Santa finally caved and brought drums. I thought, there’s a basement with a door. It will be fine… There is a constant state of saxophone, piano, guitar, and two kinds of drums happening in this house almost every afternoon. Sometimes it’s beautiful. Sometimes it’s noise. Just pass the Tylenol…please. 

Number 4…

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Mr. Jack… He genuinely likes life on the mainland especially with so many firsts, like Build-A-Bear. (Thank you Uncle Jim and Aunt Carolyn!) He still asks when we’re going back to Hawaii. In fact, when the metro drove by Reagan National Airport, he was sure that’s what was happening in spite of the fact that I hadn’t packed a darn thing. It’s not all sunshine and roses over here. He’s doing great but we had a rough morning. It happens. He loves going to a new speech therapist after school. Legos for Christmas are still a favorite. His favorite is a new helicopter from Uncle Mike and Aunt Sharon. He has such a sweet disposition, he puts up with all his bossy sisters really well. Except this morning… boy howdy. When it’s rough around here, it’s rough. Of course it doesn’t help that he now feels the need to tell me his eyes are freezing every time we leave for school. None of us enjoy the cold anymore particularly at a bus stop. 

In case you’re wondering about the adults, we’re good. It’s a busy season at work for Ray. The kids make it a busy season for me here. We do occasionally enjoy a night out by ourselves…when he can get away from work. I even enjoy the nights out when they’re for work. 

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That was taken at his Christmas party. We had a really good time and won a wine opener that for the life of me, I can’t find. (Not that I’m looking at 9 in the morning.) 

We’ve all jumped on the rat race that is Northern Virginia and are finding the aloha in our mainland adventures. If I haven’t heard from you, it’s your turn. Let me know how things are please.

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Choosing Happy

In the days after Christmas, we made a trip to visit Mount Vernon with Nana and Papa. I love taking the kids to places steeped in history. It’s fun for them to stand inside the home that George Washington lived in and created a life in instead of just reading about it in a history book at school. Little did I know that I was going to get my own history lesson. 

I was so impressed with the stories about Martha Washington on our visit. 

She knew more heartache that anyone should bare. She lost her first two children to childhood illness. Her fist husband died shortly after her daughter. When she married George Washington, she had two small children. Her daughter would die at 17 from what was probably epilepsy. In the end, she outlived all four of her children and both of her husbands. It’s no wonder she chose to sleep upstairs after George passed away in their bed. 

Still, during one of the documentaries we watched we listened as it was said that she told George that she had learned that happiness was far more about your disposition than your circumstance and she would choose to be happy. So let me break this down for you. She buried all four of her children and both of her husbands. She saw the ravages of war first hand and helped boost the spirits of the troops. She endured more pain and suffering than any human being should have to suffer and she CHOSE happy. 

I have to tell you, I don’t know if it comes from age, feeling like my children are growing up and slipping away, the trials associated with so many moves or the losses that I’ve seen that seem so very small in comparison to what Martha Washington faced but lately choosing happy often seems hard. I’ve just been grumpy and judgmental and sometimes downright angry. This little family adventure really put me in my place. When you ask why the blog posts have been so few and far between… well there’s your answer. I don’t usually do New Year’s Resolutions but this is going to be a lifelong resolution… I choose happy. Some days I do better than others. Yesterday happened to be a bust but today is looking great! 

All that said, if you appreciate history, Mount Vernon truly has something for everyone. 

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Washington inherited the one and half story farm house. He raised the roof so it became two and one half stories. We were actually able to go see the cupola from inside. It’s only open a few weeks of every year. Pictures aren’t allowed inside. You can get a peek at some stunning photos of the inside here. Because Bria asked, I now know that the name came from an admiral in the British navy. 

Ray was fascinated with the outside of Mount Vernon. Washington used a process call rustication. It looks like stone but it’s actually pine wood siding. They beveled the planks to make it look like the shape of stone and then after painting it they threw sand on it. Up close it reminded me of stucco but from a distance you totally think it’s stone. It was absolutely beautiful.

My favorite part of Mount Vernon is the back porch. It’s expansive and over looks the Potomac River.

IMG_1815 We were there on a very cold and gray winter day but I could imagine summer with sweet tea and picnics on the lawn, the kids running down the hill with fishing poles. If I could just replace the colonial chairs with a good rocking chair and swing, all would be right with the world.

There was a bull that spoke to me. IMG_1874

No really, he spoke to me…

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The fact that a camel was on the farm was a great joy to my little people.

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You can’t tell from the picture but Jack is saying “Hey Mike. Mike. Mike. Mike. Mike. Do you know what day it is?” 

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We found a few deer wandering into the back side of the farm from the woods. Hanan was trying to catch it. I’m not sure what she would do if she did.

We had a great day. I’m so excited that Ray got me a membership. I can’t wait to go back…when it’s warmer.

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