Friday, February 28, 2014

Do I Look Like a Zombie?

It has been a long week of school work and whining. I thought it would be fun to take the kids to The Pie and then to the zoo, just to get a much needed break from the house.

 If you haven't been to The Pie, you are missing out. It is just about the most awesome pizza place anywhere, a University of Utah institution. Of course, I didn't want to have to deal with parking at the campus, so we went to a satellite restaurant in Midvale. But the pizza tastes just the same...totally, deliciously awesome. 

But for some reason, when we got out of the car, the weather turned south. And of course, everyone had a coat except for Zach. It quickly became clear that the zoo was not going to happen. Hence, I made up my mind that it would just be a pizza outing instead.

As we were waiting for the pizza, Eli randomly walked up to me and made this face...

He then asked me if he looked like a zombie.

"Yes, yes Eli. You absolutely look like a zombie!"

The rest of the day was pretty crappy, but this was a shining moment. This kid is always there to put a smile on my face.

Noelle at 5 Months

My darling little Noelle is now 5 months old. Holy cow. And she is growing and learning quickly. Just a few days ago, this little girl started rolling over. She is a pro going from her back to her stomach.  I didn't even realize she was doing it. I guess this is what happens when you have 6 kids. 

I put her on her back, on the ground in the living room. Then I went into the kitchen to get something. When I came back, she was on her stomach facing the kitchen. I then sat back down on the couch and was working on updating my new iPhone. A few minutes go by, and Noelle was still on her stomach, but now she was facing me. Somehow, she had turned all the way around so that she could face me.

She is such an amiable, loving, smiling little girl. Most of the time, she doesn't make a peep, but just watches everyone and takes it all in. She especially looks at me and is constantly studying my face. And now she is starting to grab at stuff. I find her little hand on my face most of the time that I hold her. 

Noelle is also starting to eat solid foods, when I get around to formally feeding her. She really likes peaches mixed with rice cereal and bananas aren't too shabby either.

I guess we will keep her.

Hoover Dam, Quick

The drive home from San Diego was epic, compounded by the fact that I had to uphold the family tradition of pictures at the Hoover Dam.  It really is not on the way home.

We pulled into the parking garage. Rinar waited while I ran the kids down to the sign. I really did not want to pay $10 for parking, for a 15 minute visit. We were there for just about 5 minutes total.  But I got the pictures I wanted.

And wow, my kids have grown.

I wonder if the next time we make it down there, Raef and Zach will be at the top of the circle. It would not surprise me at all.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Going Home

I can always tell when it is time to go home.  It basically comes down to how much clean underwear is available.  We are about down to the last pair for all the kids. Hence, tomorrow morning, we are hitting the road. It is time to go home. 

Today we went to church and then got around to doing something at about 3:30 pm. We started to just drive around and then I remembered the wetlands in Carlsbad called Baquititos. It was a trail that started close to the freeway. Holy cow, was it loud. The noise started to dissipate as we got along the trail, thank goodness. It was beautiful and there were lots of birds in the far distant waters. I just didn't care for the freeway. The kids enjoyed grabbing sticks and dragging them, racing each other, and trying to throw rocks into the water.

As the sun got lower, I knew we had to try to get to the beach in time to watch is set. Fortunately, the beach was only about 1 mile away.  We made it and it was wonderful. However, I forgot my good camera, so the only way to capture anything was on my little camera phone.

Rinar and I really did not want the kids to get wet. It quickly spirals out of control when a kid gets wet at the beach. And believe me, there were some close calls. But mostly, we got away pretty unscathed.

And now it is time to get back to life and the heartbeat of the every day. It is the place where the magic happens, the day-to-day things we do to help our kids grow and realize their full potential. Raef and Zach only have 6 years before they will be on their way to great things in this world. I don't have a lot of time left to help them with the day-to-day. Time is slipping away. I just hope that all of these little moments we have had and will have will be enough to get them on their way to an amazing life. 

I have been very blessed. I am so thankful that after years of sacrifice and hard work, Rinar and I have ended up where we have always wanted to be. We live in an absolutely beautiful little corner of the world. The more that I think about it, the more I realize that it is everything I could have hoped for my family. And with all of the traffic and chaos of Southern California, I know I have it good. I look forward to going back to my peaceful oasis in the city.

And this is my new mantra. I have been thinking about this quote a lot lately. I have come to the conclusion that if I want to be successful and accomplish the goals I have set for myself, I am going to have to start consistently waking up earlier every single day. This is hard for me. I have never been a morning person. In fact, I can be downright grumpy. I usually set my alarm for early and then when it comes time to wake up, I frequently talk myself out of it. But this is not going to work. I have known for a long time that I need to get up early in the morning. I have procrastinated making that change in myself for far too long. I am feeling the urgency of it now. But changing this will come down to choosing it daily, step by step.

Every single day I make decisions. And the little decisions add up to big things. And those things will determine my destiny.

I am going to start focusing on making better "small" decisions. It is going to start with waking up early. I know this is the key to great successes in my life. I know that if I lead, my children will follow. I have greatness within me. I feel it. I know that it is there. And the older I get, the more I realize that the greatness does come from consistently doing the small things, day after day after day. And when I mess up or get off track, I am going to forgive myself and start over and just keep going. And as many times as it takes until I become master of myself, I will do it.

But not until Tuesday. Tomorrow will be a long drive home.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

San Diego Some More

Another day in San Diego, and we sure had a lot of fun.  I wanted to see Coronado Island and my kids wanted to see The Lego Movie. So, Rinar took them all to the matinee and I went for a walk with Noelle. We went to the beach and we were able to see this awesome hotel. I was pretty excited about it.  It is the Hotel Coronado, the very one featured in one of my favorite movies of all time, "Some Like It Hot".  I think the movie is hilarious and stars Jack Lemmon, Tony Curtis, and Marilyn Monroe. As I was looking at the hotel I couldn't help but think of Josephine and Daphne frantically climbing down from the third floor of this hotel trying to escape the Chicago mobsters.  Good times.

I had to check out the lobby. The woodwork was very dark and a lot smaller than what I remembered in the movie. So, I am going to take a guess and say that they did not film from the inside of this hotel. But the lobby was pretty fantastic.

After the movie and my little stroll, we had to find some good eats. I got some recommendations from my friend Katie.  There was a lot to choose from, but we went for Hodad's, which was featured on Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives. We got there just before 3 p.m. and the line was out the door. When we ordered our food, I tried to get less so that we would eat everything, but I still ordered too much stuff. Oh, well. The food was decadent and very filling. Our server was really great and I loved the ambiance. It was a fun afternoon in downtown San Diego.

I also wanted to see the Mormon Battalion in Old San Diego. The church has done an incredible job of making this an enjoyable visit. We watched a movie that was interactive. We moved from room to room. The message was wonderfully uplifting, but it still had a fun element to it. Zach, Julia, and Eli got to wear some period costumes and when the tour was over, they were able to pan for gold.

After the Mormon Battalion, we walked around the old town for a few minutes. There were a lot of people out and the atmosphere was electric. Unfortunately, every ten feet or so Harry reminded me that he wanted to go to the hotel and go swimming.  Yes, it was a very short walk.

And guess who turned 6 today?

As we were driving to San Diego this morning, Rinar's mom called to wish Eli a happy birthday.  They talked for a little while and then I heard Eli, in his innocent little voice tell his grandmother that he was sorry that grandpa died. But then he gave her some consoling words. He told her it was okay because grandpa will be resurrected someday and that when we die, we will be resurrected, too. Yep, pretty much the most perfect little kid. I am blessed, very blessed.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Ocean Beach

It was beach time today. After we got our fill of the amusement park scene, it was time to get back to nature. We drove down to Cabrillo National Monument and thought it would be fun to go to the tide pools. Unfortunately, the tide was too high and a bit too stressful for us to supervise. So, no tide pools. Still, we did a little hike and the kids got to throw some rocks into the ocean. They always love throwing rocks.

We then went in search of a beach and ended up at Ocean Beach. We were there for about 2 hours and the kids seemed to enjoy themselves.

On the way home, I wanted to stop by the temple and get a few pictures.

And since the kids were pretty sandy, we had them get into the pool as soon as we got back to the hotel. They were able to do lots of swimming and were pretty darn tired when they finished. 


Somehow, I was able to get all six of my kids down to San Diego in one piece, by myself.  God is good.  We decided to do a little trip with our kids for their birthday present. Rinar went down for work at the beginning of the week and then we would drive down to meet him.

I decided to leave late Tuesday night so that I would not have to stop and feed Noelle mid-drive. We ended up leaving around 8:20 p.m. and pulled into my Grandma's driveway at 12:15. I didn't even speed!

Grandma was kind enough to let us crash at her house. I carried all of the sleeping kids into her condo and put them on make-shift beds. Everyone was pretty darn tired.

After a short visit with Grandma in the morning, the rest of the drive to California was pretty uneventful, thank goodness!  But when I got to the hotel I was beat. Fortunately, I got some much needed sleep/ Thursday morning, we were ready to go to Legoland. My kids were very excited. The weather was ideal and it was not crowded. We were able to ride all of the rides with very few lines. It is definitely true that Legoland is for little kids. Raef and Zach are too big for this place now. Zach wanted to ride the scary rides. The only roller coaster was closed for maintenance. That was a major bummer. But we still found fun things to do. 

This was the 'scariest' ride in the park. Zach actually wanted to ride it twice. Raef did not.

We split up at the end for that second ride and while they were gone, I misplaced my phone. Fortunately, it was turned in to lost and found. Hallelujah! While Harry, Julia, and I waited for everyone else to return, we took some pictures. And this girl really likes to pose.

From early on in the day, Eli had his heart set on winning a Despicable Me stuffed animal at one of those silly midway games. This was another reason we split up, so that he could try. And wouldn't you know, the kid won a huge purple doll on his very first try! He did it on his own. He had to toss a couple of really bouncy balls into a basket. Rinar, Raef, and Zach all tried and failed. But not this amazing kid...

I think the best part of Legoland was the fact that all of our kids expressed their gratitude many times to both Rinar and me. They would give us spontaneous hugs and tell us thank you, especially Eli.  Even today, he gave us both a hug and said thank you for taking him to Legoland.

Monday, February 10, 2014

An Amazing Cake

Thank goodness for sisters!  I have been so busy doing stuff and getting ready for our trip to Legoland that I really forgot about Eli's birthday. I mean, I am not that heartless. The trip is for his birthday, but I really didn't think about a cake for him or anything.  Never fear. Catye just whipped this beauty up for our Sunday dinner.

Isn't that amazing?  She made the entire thing herself, by hand: fondant, cake, everything. I am super impressed. And Eli was absolutely ecstatic about his cake.

He doesn't turn 6 until the end of the week. But it is going to be a birthday week celebration for this sweetheart.  We just love Eli.

Friday, February 7, 2014

A Chance to Smooth Out My Rough Spots

I have been blessed with a beautiful daughter, Julia. I love her so much. But I am realizing each day how different we are. Children come to this earth with a personality. The essence of who they are, who we are, never changes. I know this to be true. I was who I am before I was born, and so was Julia. And she has a strong personality. She is a darling girl, but she can be very stubborn and manipulative; the ultimate master of passive aggressive manipulation.

I had debated all week whether it would be worth it to send her to a dance camp at the local high school. She had expressed interest in going to "ballerina school". And I really wanted to support her in her interests. I have never been in the dance world, not even a little bit. But I figured it was only one day, it was for a fundraiser, and she would probably just love it. Hence, at the last minute I decided to take her to the camp.

It was great when we got there. She found her friend Sophie and they were having a great time flipping upside down on the dance bar.  This lasted for about ten minutes and then in an instant, all of a sudden Julia couldn't do it. She was begging and whining for me to help her. She did not have the ability to put her foot on the wall in order to flip upside down. She said her foot was too slippery. Then they started dividing up the little dancers into groups based on age.  I took her over to her group and she wouldn't let go of my leg or leave my side. She wouldn't even try to do anything they were doing. There were about 100 other little girls trying their best to do the warm-ups; everyone, except for my darling little daughter.

I started to get upset with her. I tried my best not to lose my cool, but I couldn't keep it in check. Then she mentioned that she was hungry. Okay, I thought. Maybe she just needed some food in her stomach and then she would be willing to do this whole dancing thing. We left the high school and I took her to 7-11. I let her pick out a donut and some chocolate milk. After consuming this delicious snack, we went back to find her group. The frown persisted. She wouldn't try. She said she didn't know how. She didn't know how to do a sassy walk or a jumping split. The nice teachers tried their best to engage her and get her to have fun and do it.


Julia just continued to frown and absolutely refused to do anything.

I took her home.

But my stomach started broiling. I literally had an ulcer attack. I had to lay on the couch for about an hour, eat an entire bag of Combos, and chase it down with a handful of tums.  I was so stumped. It just really bothered me that my daughter would not even try.  I may stink at a lot of things (dancing would be at the very top of the list), but I would never NOT try.

She does this a lot. One minute she has climbed to the top of the pantry to reach a treat on the very back of the uppermost shelf and the next second she can't possibly hang up her coat on the bottom hook of her box in the laundry room. One minute she is jumping down 8 steps of the staircase to the landing below and the next second she can't walk up the stairs to put her doll away. It is just too hard.

I get so infuriated over it, and I really don't know why. She is just so different from me. I don't want our relationship to be a future cinematic feature. You know how it is. All of those relationship movies are usually about a mother and daughter, never about a father and son.  I don't want that kind of relationship with her. I have to figure out a way to relate to her, to understand her, and to parent her in a way that will help her grow. Getting mad or upset with her is only my form of manipulation, just like the frown and helpless act is hers.

At times she just baffles me.

I didn't mention the whole dancing thing to her to make her feel bad today. And in comparison to how I would have handled this ten years ago, I did pretty good. I have grown in outward appearances. But honestly, on the inside I am pretty much the same. The rotten thing about that is that she can probably sense that from me. That is never good.

Something really turned her entire attitude when we were at the camp.  Was it hunger? Was it the massive amounts of little girls? Maybe she is not good with crowds and chaos? Maybe she needs to be in a smaller group setting? Maybe dancing just isn't going to really be her thing?

I know I am not going to figure this out in one day. But I recognize that it is something I need to figure out.  I desire to have a rich and meaningful long-term relationship with her. I think that in order for me to accomplish that, a lot of the change is going to have to come from me. There is some rough part of me that needs to be polished. The good news is that she is only four.

I have time.
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