Monday, June 27, 2011

My how time flies!

Today I was reminded how fast life goes.  My parents left after a whirlwind trip and my baby is already eleven months.  I can't believe it.  I was talking with my dad on the way to the airport about my pregnancy.  It was physically rough but emotionally inspiring.  I was surrounded by love and support and that made all the difference.  And now my baby is on the eve of his first birthday.

Max is hilarious and wonderful and he is the glue that binds all of us together in love.  He is surrounded by love from morning to night, especially with Savannah and Sam here and having just had a visit from Grandpa and Grandma Miller.  He even had a visit from Auntie Kendra today and yesterday, and Uncle Dave and Cousin Tyler.  (All three came for dinner yesterday to meet my parents... it was alot of fun.  Kendra came to stay with the kiddos while I took my parents to the airport.) 

Anyway they think that everything that he does is "tute" (as sage says) or cute as the rest of us say it.  Savannah taught him how to do a high five and to blow back when she blows in his face.  He is super ticklish and loves to cruise around pulling books off shelves, and basically items from their places.  He loves his older brothers and sisters and smiles and laughs with them almost on demand. 

When he is upset they go to great lengths to make him happy.  On our way home from Seattle this past Thursday Max was sad, I had went the "scenic route" during rush hour, BIG mistake.  Anyway, just moments from home we had Lady Ga Ga blaring (as per request from Grandpa Dave) and he finally settled.  But this was a rarity.  He is normally a pretty go with the flow baby.  On Sunday we went to Taste of Tacoma and while all the kids danced, shopped and ate, he just watched from the pouch, nursed (in the pouch) and fell asleep (never mind the hundreds of people making noise all around.)

I must admit that I was blessed with good babies.  All of my littles were wonderful and the time always went by too fast.  I asked my mom last night when we were looking at old photos of my older four as babies, if in heaven I could hold them again, even just for a day... kiss their little cheeks, nuzzle their sweet baby hair and rock and nurse them to sleep.

In a way Max has been that to me, my "bonus baby." Having him has allowed me to revisit those sweet memories and make new ones as well.  I love you my sweet boy,  I love all of my sweet babies.

I thank God for my beautiful children and I am trying not to take a single moment for granted. I know someday the house will be clean, the laundry room empty and a loud silence will fill the rooms. But until then I remind myself over and over again, this is love and they are my blessings.

Friday, June 17, 2011

The Everyday and Children Learn What They Live

Today started off with a bang.  I got the idea in my head to walk to school... the girls and I have walked home several times and always talked about it and because Monday is their last day, I thought today was as good as any.  But that meant getting everyone out the door and ready for the almost two mile walk to school.  We did it!  And the girls were on time!  We had to jog a little and poor Sam stayed back because he wasn't in the mood to walk the whole way, but in the end it all worked out.  The walk is beautiful and very peaceful and I loved sharing it with the kids.

Otherwise today was an errand day, a tv and play outside day, a pizza for dinner day and a settling day.  Six kids with six different personalities and six different set of emotions and personalities makes for a very colorful house... and led me to read the kids this poem...

Children Learn What They LiveBy Dorothy Law Nolte, Ph.D.

If children live with criticism, they learn to condemn.
If children live with hostility, they learn to fight.
If children live with fear, they learn to be apprehensive.
If children live with pity, they learn to feel sorry for themselves.
If children live with ridicule, they learn to feel shy.
If children live with jealousy, they learn to feel envy.
If children live with shame, they learn to feel guilty.
If children live with encouragement, they learn confidence.
If children live with tolerance, they learn patience.
If children live with praise, they learn appreciation.
If children live with acceptance, they learn to love.
If children live with approval, they learn to like themselves.
If children live with recognition, they learn it is good to have a goal.
If children live with sharing, they learn generosity.
If children live with honesty, they learn truthfulness.
If children live with fairness, they learn justice.
If children live with kindness and consideration, they learn respect.
If children live with security, they learn to have faith in themselves and in those about them.
If children live with friendliness, they learn the world is a nice place in which to live.

Seattle, Sentiment and Sons.

Written Thursday June 16th

Today we took Savannah and Sam to Seattle to Pikes Place Market.  Sage, Saxton and Brayden are still in school, so we thought we would take the opportunity to spend a little one on one time with the two oldest.  It was a really relaxing day, including the car ride where neither of the them made a peep.  First we took them to the original Starbucks to get a coffee and then to Piroshky Bakery to get some goodies.  We then headed to the park to eat and look out over Puget Sound.  Sam was funny feeding the pigeons... he even wanted me to take a picture of them.  He asked later to borrow my camera and took some of his own throughout the day.  We walked through the market sampling fruit and other things and having some clam chowder, a must have when you come here to visit.  The rest of the time we just wandered around, listened to the sidewalk musicians, watch Sam ponder which animal to buy at a booth, and bought bubble gum to chew and put on the gum wall.  Finally we had some Italian gelato and finished our little visit back in the park enjoying the sun and watching Max crawl around... he was too busy to nurse.  He finally showed us that he knew how to crawl-crawl instead of his reagular army version.  I was pretty excited at that.  :) 

I cried today when I walked in Sam and Brayden's room and saw Sam's neatly made bed with his little blue scorpion that we just got in Seattle today placed in the middle.  The tears didn't come suddenly, but creeped up as I went from their room to the laundry and saw his clothes in the basket.  I had this urge to go hug him so I went outside where the kids were playing to find him.  The girls saw me first and asked what was wrong and they laughed when I told them.  I didn't care, and found Sam and hugged him and kissed his head.  I went back upstairs to finish folding the clothes and thought about the fact that I didn't mind doing eight people's laundry.  It meant that all my littles were here. As I watched Max pull out pjs as I put them away, I laughed at him and realized my emotions are all over the place today. 

One thing I know is that at night, when I lay in bed, I am content at the fact that all the kids are here.  Last night Jerry and I discussed the sleeping arrangements; the oldest (Savannah) and the youngest (Max) are in one room, the two middle (Sage and Saxton) are in another and the second oldest and youngest are in the forth bedroom.  A funny buddy situation that works.

One cool thing is noticing the effect the older kids have on the little ones.  Jerry and I smiled at each other this morning as we noticed that Brayden (who doesn't always brush in the morning) was brushing his teeth with Sam.  Sam then came and told me that he sprayed a little AXE on Brayden after they showered.  Despite their polar opposite personalities, they are getting along, which proves that sometimes Yin and Yang do fit together nicely.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

My "real life" movie

Written June 14th, 11 pm

I'm at the airport waiting... I almost can't believe they're going to be here.  My heart is pounding and I just want to hug them tight!

This morning when Sage got in bed with me and was so excited that today was the day.  Max saw her and crawled over to her.  He nuzzled her and was so excited to see her.  Love comes full circle.  When babies are born... so is love.  To see the love among my children is the greatest gift... it overshadows any pain I have felt.  They are my heart.

June 15th

Today was my first day with Savannah and Sam.  I can't even explain how wonderful it is to have them here.  Last night I was laughing and crying at the same time as their plane pulled up and they got off.  I couldn't stop hugging and kissing them.  It was wonderful.  I can't explain it.  When I finally got to bed after one this morning, I felt so relieved and happy that they were here.  Just knowing that they were sleeping in the other room was like winning the lottery. 

It is funny, I was driving to the airport and this One Republic song came on and at the end of it is an extended instrumental set.  I have heard it before, and it is like a song playing in the background of my life as if it were a movie that others were watching.  From the everyday things to the extra-ordinary.  Mondays for the last several weeks are gymnastics, swimming and then two soccer practices.  Jerry comes after Brayden's swimming and Saxton's practice and grabs all three little ones and I stay with Sage for her practice.  I often call my sisters during this time and we have phone dates.  Just this last Monday Colleen and I had our regular heart to heart, bypassing any bs and getting down to the real deal.  Tuesdays are normally a down day.  In the morning I take Max to swimming and then many times I do a billion loads of laundry.  However this past Tuesday was Brayden's Family Day at school and Jerry and Max and I went.  It was very cute, filled with songs and even a little outdoor picnic. 

Wednesdays are half days.  In the morning I have my counseling session and errands and then I get the girls.  Homework, housework and then gymnastics and swimming.  Thursdays are Jerry's days off.  This last Thursday we had our dentist appointments.  (He goes with me because I am a baby at the dentist... I have a deep fear and can hardly gather myself in order to go.)  Then we were on a hunt, which extended into Sunday for a bed for Sam. Thursday night we took the girls and Max to the (dog)/park and for ice-cream.  Friday night is another soccer practice and Max and I got a Costco Pizza and salad for dinner.  Yummy!  I do love their pizza. 

Saturday was my own version of an amazing race to soccer games.  We had Brayden Friday night (sometimes he is with us, sometimes his mom,) so Saturday I was up early making sure that all three kids were dressed and ready for soccer.  Max also needed gear to last all three games.  We had to be out of the house by 8:30, Braydens game was at 9:15, so we met his mom there and watched his game for a while, then the girls, Max and I loaded up and headed across town to Sage's 10 am game.  She did great... really close to a goal a few times... but we had to get all packed up and bolt a few minutes early to go back to the YMCA for Saxton's game at 11.  She did great, her dribbling is really improving.  The rest of the day was pretty chill...

Sunday Jerry and I got a sitter and headed to find Sam his own bed.  After a successful trip to a furniture store and IKEA we headed to Redondo beach for lunch.  Max was so close to falling asleep so we took a walk on the boardwalk.  It was positioned over Puget Sound and the view was breathtaking.  I had not been there yet and was like a kid in a candy store.  For those of you who don't know me too well, I get really excited.  My ex used to say, "I wish you wouldn't be such a dork when you get excited... you don't have to say everything you are thinking.." but I honestly can't help it.  I am an ooohhher and ahhhher!  Jerry doesn't seem to mind... he just smiles. 

Our lunch was wonderful... and Max slept for most of it.  He is such a trooper, sometimes spending hours in my pouch during the kid's activities, going for stroller rides while walking the dog, crawling around following me from room to room as I fold laundry, clean, put aways clothes, ect upstairs.  His favorite toy is a laundry cup.  He also cracks me up by pulling himself to a stand wherever he can.  He likes our laundry hamper, the shower (when someone is in it, he doesn't mind if he gets wet, quite the opposite, he loves it!  He loves water! Baths, pools, you name it!) and the mirror in the bonus room, where he talks to his "twin."  He is not a huge fan of his exersaucer unless he is right near me, like while I am doing the dishes and he can hold a spoon.  He is basically my little buddy and goes almost everywhere with me.  Much like the other kids did... especially Savannah.

kids to their activities in our air-condition-less car. I continued to take babysitting and nanny jobs even when we moved back to Indiana because it allowed me to keep her with me.  These were not always easy jobs, sometimes working for women who were not much older than me, but acted superior because they could afford the help.  I nursed her and all of the kids for at least a year, and it was nice to have them there with me.  I remember when I went back to school when Sam was a baby I made sure to set my schedule so that I could take breaks to come nurse him. 

Wow... I really went off subject...

So the kids are here!  Yeah!  We had an awesome first day!  We dropped the girls off at school and headed to Chamber's Bay to the dog park and the beach.  Savannah and Sam loved it. Puppy was a hoot at the dog park and we even saw a new dog that looked like Jack (their dog, was my dog...) but this dog's name was Jerry :)  We played with crabs and picked up rocks.  I was fascinated by the seal swimming off shore... still don't get tired of seeing them.   We headed to pick up the girls, drop off puppy and headed to Target.  I had a strange moment watching them all head into the store ahead of me... seeing the four of them all grown up and remembering instead when I had the four of them (a newborn, one, three and five year old) all piled in a cart.  Time flies by, those memories are a blur... and I am determined to blog about this time so that I don't forget. 

Later we headed to the YMCA for the girls last gymnastics class of the season.  They will be gone for a little over seven weeks so they will take the summer off.  Brayden also had his last swimming lesson.  Then showers, or in Max's case, a bath, dinner, desert and bed for everyone now but  Savannah who is still up, sitting by me texting her buddies.

What was so wonderful about today was just seeing them all together again.  And now there is a new piece in the puzzle this summer, Max.  Tonight they were all just fascinated with him as he crawled, pulled himself up and plopped down on his butt.  They had him laughing and following them from room to room.  Savannah was loving watching him play with his image and even kiss the baby in the mirror.

My goal is to try and blog regularly while they are here.  Having their presence prompts a barrage of feelings and memories to come to the surface.  I am hopeful that I can work through these issues and still comment on all the simple memories as well.  Our situation is a hard one.  Everyday they are gone a part of me mourns them and longs for their return. But now I am able to be fully happy and complete with them here.   And on that note I am going to sign off and eat some ice cream.  Good-night friends... thanks for your support and I appreciate you taking the time to read my blog.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Africa: If you haven't read my blog yet, please read this.

We are finally here!!!
Two years ago today I arrived in Africa with an organization called Think Humanity.  It was a dream of mine and I had finally realized it.  Why Africa?  I have been asked this many times.  All of the college philosophy courses I took asked the same question, 'if someone is drowning in a pond in the park you are playing in, vs. someone drowning across the city, who would you save?'  It seems pretty simple, you would save the closest person to you.  But what if there were many other people around, they could/would help, and what if there was no one in the other park, the one across the city.  Wouldn't you then try and go help save them?

I have attended four colleges, Indiana University, IUPUI, IPFW and Colorado State University.  It took me over a dozen years to finally finish school.  For those of you who went to high school with me, you might have seen me studying at my locker, or asking a ton of questions in class.  I was a nerd.  So why did it take me so long to finish?  Because I got pregnant, four times, moved, got married, took care of my family.  But in August of 2007 I finally started my first day of class at CSU and went full time until I graduated in December of 2008.  My degree was creative, I had been a science major the majority of my three previous schools so I ended up with a Liberal Arts degree with a science concentration, a history minor and also a concentration in African Studies.  An odd combination, but one that felt right.

I spent hours, days, weeks, months going to class, reading and studying Africa.  I would dream about the people I learned about.  I would lay awake at night and worry about them, wishing I had some way to reach them and help.  Then on earth day 2008 I found Todd from African Bags. I had asked him if he would like to help with my Save Darfur petition.  He said yes and we struck of a conversation and friendship.  It is through him that I became a part of passion Africa and that is where I met one amazing woman and friend, Beth Heckle.  We chatted on line and I think it was a match made in heaven.  She is the one who introduced me to Think Humanity, and ultimately the one who would bring me to Africa.

I spent the next several months learning about Think Humanity and the people that TH helped in a refugee camp in Uganda. 
Think Humanity's Mission Statement: Think Humanity was created to provide relief, support and hope for a promising future to refugees in Africa. Our mission is threefold:
  • Joining in the fight against malaria by providing refugees with resources and manpower;
  • Providing love, comfort and security to orphaned children; and
  • Creating an overall positive change for refugees

My family and I began helping a little boy by the name of Mumbele.  He eventually became an orphan and was my other child who lived across the sea.  Through Beth we were able to send him clothes and supplies.  Before my divorce I had dreams of adopting him.  However Ugandan adoptions are extremely hard and take thousands of dollars, money I didn't/don't have. 

However when I went to Africa with TH we were able to speak with the head of the UN camp and pay to release him from his current living situation and get him baptised and under the care of JP, a wonderful man who has a beautiful family.  His daughter, Lisa is my namesake, and he holds a special place in my heart and in heaven.  Mumbele also was able to stay with us and we gave him his first shower, brought some clothes for him and fed him while we were there.  He was a different little boy when we left.  He is in my heart and prayers everyday. 
JP in the middle, surrounded by his family and Mumbele right in front of him.

Another wonderful thing that happened when I was there is a met a little girl named Dolphin.  We had just arrived in the camp and had gone to a soccer (futbol) game.  Here there are no lawnmowers, only machetes to cut grass.  People walk miles on dirt paths to come watch the games.  It is the highlight of their week.  She was all by herself.  I was worried about her.  I had not become accustomed yet to the sight of small toddlers walking around by themselves.  It was love at first sight.  I just adored the look she gave me.  TH sponsors a school and Lucy, the teacher came up and introduced me to her, and told me that she was one of our students.  I later found out that both of her parents were HIV positive and were not feeling well that night so she was left alone to get home.  Lucy told me that on Wednesday it was hygiene day and she would get a bath, a new outfit and get her hair treated for lice and possibly get a de-wormer.  I spent as much time with her as I could.  She was my little friend and an amazing little person.  I remember watching her play with the cap to a bottle of pop.  To her it was a new toy.  We had treated everyone at our AIDS day event to a pop.  Most had never had it.  Dolphin loved it, but loved the caps just as much.  She is wonderful, full of spunk and so cute with her little friends. 

Each day we had different things that we needed to accomplish.  One day we handed out Malaria nets, soap bars and salt to those with HIV/AIDS.  Most were women, mothers who had been raped and needed these essential items to be healthy.  If something happened to them then there would be no one to care for their children or other family members they might be responsible for.  We also provided them with something to drink as some of them may have traveled over ten miles on foot with babies in order to receive their goodies.  Not to mention it was hot and there is no electricity and they live in huts, no air conditioning in refugee camps. 

One of the first things we did is hand out Malaria nets, dozens of them.  This was a life changing experience for me in itself.  We drove out to a part of the camp where you could look across Lake Albert and see the DRC (Democratic Republic of the Congo.)  I had done a whole semester independent study of the Congo and knew of the horrors that had taken place there.  Rape, murder and almost unspeakable atrocities happened to the refugees that fled to our camp.   It is thought that possibly 6 million or more people have been killed during the fighting. 
This is Rita, she was responsible for eight children,
only one of them was her own.

Our mission was to hand out Malaria nets to all the new refugees.  Each net can protect up to four people and last up to five years.  If there are more than five people in a family then they can get two nets.  The whole process quite a while and it was amazing to watch these families, the majority women with small babies on their back, stand in the blazing heat, battling biting flies and wait for hours for a five dollar malaria net.  At the end of the day when all were gone it was sad to see how upset those were who did not get one.  Those that had nets took off and headed home, they did not want to risk losing their net.  To them the nets meant the difference between life and death.  One little girl stood out in my mind.  She was a nine or ten year old orphan and when she saw that there were no more nets, she didn't take any chances and took her net and ran.  I followed her with tears in my eyes, wishing that those who had donated could see what these nets meant to everyone.  Every thirty seconds a child in Sub-Saharan Africa dies of Malaria and we can help prevent these heartbreaking losses, and it is my opinion that we have a responsibility to do so. 

We also went to check on our goats.  One of our projects was to get a sustainable goat farm up and running.  On the day we went to visit them two twin kids had been born.  It was a miracle to them, it was a miracle to us, to see all of the months of fundraising come to fruition.  Goats mean goat milk as well as other income for the refugees to cover food, medicine, ect... Our next goal was to provide them with a bike to make the five mile walk to water a  little easier.
Another fun project was collecting Crocs to give out to the kids.  This was so much fun.  Their poor feet were so sad from walking on the dirt, in mud and from Chiggers.  The ability to give them clean new shoes that could be washed and would provide decent support for them was awesome!  Crocs, as well as my own children's school had helped us collect enough to bring along, we had Crocs shoved in every part of our bags and back packs.  The kids all sat so patiently while we laid them all out.  I was so proud of them, they didn't push or shove, instead they even made an effort to allow the little ones to go first.
Going to Africa changed my perspective on life.  My priorities changed.  "Things" that seemed important before didn't seem to matter that much anymore.  The Africans I met had the most positive outlook on life.  They had no material possessions, yet they were the happiest people I had ever met.  In fact, while I was going through my separation and divorce, they were my inspiration. It was one of those moments when I truly got more than I gave.  My mantra was, "it's just stuff."  My safety and sanity were what mattered.  My ex had come with me to Africa, however the trip back and the first hour home were some of the worst memories in my life, but that is a story for another day...  The bottom line is that no matter what, I will never forget my amazing experience in Africa or allow anything negative to ruin that memory.  My dream is to return someday, hug my friends who I have missed, and start my next chapter of helping those who are across the pond, but still desperately need our help. 

Me and my brother James in Kampala, the capital of Uganda on the day before we flew home.  He and his brother Emmanuel and sister Elizabeth saw the rest of their family murdered, yet their smiles light up a room.  I loved James from the moment I met him.  He sat by me the first night and I felt like we were soul mates.  I miss and love you sweet James.  I miss and love all of you!    

Monday, June 6, 2011

Gentle Woman, peaceful dove, teach us wisdom, teach us love... and please, help us with the dysfunction.

Jerry and Brayden have a bedtime ritual that includes the Hail Mary.  A few weeks ago Saxton decided she wanted to join in, and now on the nights Brayden is here both Sage and her climb onto his bed and they all say prayers.  Last night it was just the girls and I and they wanted to sing the Hail Mary, and some how I started singing an old song we sang at my high school, Bishop Dwenger.  The girls just smiled and asked how I knew the song.  I told them I learned it long ago (that's a bit depressing) in high school.  I didn't remember the whole song, but enough to make them happy.  It struck a cord in me.  It made me think of my dad.

For those of you who don't know me to well, I come from a dysfunctional house.  I love that word, dysfunction.  It almost always follows with ohhhh, like it is just understood what the word means.  It isn't understood.  If it were understood then I would not be where I am.  I would not be in counseling.  I would not be leaving random messages on my dad's answering machine at work that he doesn't respond to.

My biological dad is an alcoholic.  (I say biological, because I also refer to my stepdad Dave as Dad.  He deserves it.)  Anyway, alcoholism sucks.  It really does.  It sucks the life right out of the person it is inflicting and everyone they know.  I remember going to alanon with my mom and the leader of the group would call alcoholism a disease.  This upset me because at the time my Aunt was fighting breast cancer.  That is a disease.

But I accept now that there is something wrong with him.  Two years ago this coming August he pretty much disowned all of us, my siblings and my mom.  While I was going though my own private hell of my separation, he decided to send a book out to my siblings, mom and I listing the things that were wrong with us and what mistakes we had made.  My ex got the book in the mail and repeated it to me verbatum.  That was an unforgettably heartbreaking night.

Where does Mother Mary come into this.  My dad introduced me to Mary.  Not the man who sent that book, or disowned us, but my dad.  He told me as a little girl that Mary listens to us in a special way.  He took me to the grotto that is on the lake at the University of Notre Dame years and years ago, I was probably six or seven and told me how people claimed she visited there once.  I found the idea of that to be awesome.  I started praying to Mary right then and there.

As a new mother my dad told me that Mary is the special person to pray to in respects to all things "motherly" or for anything to do with "motherhood."  I took him up on that and said thousands of Hail Marys when I was pregnant, in labor and over the years when I needed for someone to talk to about my children.  Even when I am upset, sometimes I will start praying outloud. 

I remember once when I was part of MOPS the church where we met had their pastor speak.  He discounted Mary in a round-a-bout way, said that Catholics placed to much of an emphasis on her.  I was sittting at the back of the church, I stood up and said I disagree.  I told him that Mary watched over my baby when she was in the NICU, the same baby who was now healthy and sleeping peacefully in my arms.  He apologized. 

My family is dysfunctional.  Isn't yours.  My father speaks to non of us, but his lessons are still heard.  This is not the last time I will discuss him.  The topic is often too painful to speak about, but maybe it will help to write about it.  My sisters and I talk about it sometimes, almost in a whisper as if we aren't supposed to be, that he doesn't deserve the breaths it takes.  But he does.  He is our dad.  He gave us eachother and gave me the ability to pray, and believe that at least one person is listening. 

Friday, June 3, 2011

My hands are full...

Today the four kids and I were at the grocery store.  Granted this can be a bit of an undertaking especially if we are at Jerry’s store (he manages a Safeway), but today several people said to me, “you have your hands full.”  Sage found this very amusing, wondering aloud several times why people continued to say this to me.  Finally she blurted out, “she doesn’t really have her hands full, in fact two are missing.”  The lady gave her a funny look and then walked off.  I smiled and laughed to myself.  Hands full?  I had my hands full when I had a newborn in my arms, a one and three year old in the cart and a five year old hanging on to the side.  A ten month old, six, seven and nine year old… not so bad, three of four can pee by themselves. 

However, I am busy.  When I had started to blog I had hoped to write several times a week.  A journal of sorts of my life, which I am noticing is flying by in a crazy sort of way.  Let’s see, last Friday Max turned ten months old.

Saturday the girls and I hung out and then Jerry and I went on a Date.  We had dinner at Katie Downs, an adult only restaurant that is literally on the Sound.  We were able to eat out on the deck… it was wonderful.  We went for a drive and I got that ‘seeing a whole new place’ feeling that I love.

 Sunday we headed back to Wild Waves… it was cold and overcast but the kiddos still swam and Jerry and I even rode a water slide.  We got dressed and they rode some ride-rides.  Saxton and Brayden decided today was the day to ride the log ride and they had the whole boat to themselves.  They got soaked, but rode it several times.  Very cute.  Sage ended the day by deciding to ride a small roller coaster she had yet to ride.  She loved it and all three of them rode that several times.

Monday we headed to check out a new beach, Owens beach.  We didn’t stay long, but did check out some tiny tiny crabs and found some cool antique china shards.  A lady there had told us that there was a movie production studio once where now just stood old remnants of a dock.  And during WW II there had been a battle ship there and a cafeteria and that is where the dish pieces came from… they washed up after storms churned them from the sea bottom.  Very cool to a history dork like myself.  I’ll be back.  We decided to head to Point Defiance and have our picnic on the water.  We parked  and walked along the Sound to pebble beach.  The kids were a little out of sorts on Monday, cranky would be a good word and the walk was good for everyone.  After our lunch on our way back we saw a harbor seal fishing.  This was very cool.  We had fresh Copper River Salmon and corn for dinner… Yummy!!!

Tuesday was back to school and back to swimming for Max.  Wednesday I took Sage with me to my counseling session.  She has been having a rough time lately and I want to figure out what is going on.  My counselor thinks that she is finally feeling relaxed and safe enough to sort through all of her “sadness” that she remembers from when my ex and I were together.   She related it to a bottle of pop that has been slowly shook up and now whenever that bottle is tampered with it fizzes out everywhere.  Sage has been in counseling at school for months, but I want to also figure out additional ways to help her and the rest of the kids to deal with everything that has happened.  Sometimes it is amazing how a simple analogy can help make sense of some really complicated junk.  My friend who is also a therapist gave me another great analogy, ‘if you were on a plane and the oxygen masks were released, you put yours on first and then your child.’ She was referring to my quest to make myself better in order to be a better mom for my kids. 

Thursday was NW Trek day with Saxton.  I went with her and her class on a fieldtrip to see all the big animals in their natural habitat.  It was a great day.  I had a great group of kids and the park was located in a beautiful forest.  We saw deer, elk, buffalo, rams, birds, bears, cats and other animals.  We had a picnic in this tree-house like overlook and took several adventure walks.  I loved spending the day with Saxton and seeing her play with her friends.  Max was a champ and hung out (literally) in my pack all day.  Jerry had a golf tournament for work and was able to spend some one on one time with Brayden. 

Today the weather turned gorgeous and puppy, Max and I headed to Chamber’s Bay to go to the dog park and for a long walk. When I still lived in Fort Collins I would go hike in the foothills of the Rockies. I called it “hiking to heal” and I swear it helped me survive my separation from my ex. Now Chambers is my new hike to heal location. I walk, run and work stuff out. I even went down to the beach today and chucked giant rocks and said a sort of prayer as each one plunked into the water. It was very therapeutic and I highly recommend it. 

Tonight the kids had their spring carnaval at school.  They had a lot of fun.  Jerry and I had fun watching them.  At one point as I watched them run outside all excited to play with the parachute I told Jerry, wouldn't it be fun to be six, seven or nine again and so excited about these little things.