Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Man, Oh Man!

Senior Year for my Dominic is well under way.
Announcements have been ordered.
Cap and gown too.
His last Homecoming has come and gone.
And his Senior Pictures have arrived!
So, to all my peeps who have been around since the day I gave birth to this guy...
are you ready to feel old?!?!

And the picture, when being taken, that brought tears to my eyes...

It doesn't seem like THAT long ago that this young man had just entered the world.
I can still picture him under the oxygen hood fighting for his life.
And can still feel the wrench of my heart when the doctors told me that his infection could cause Spinal Meningitis.
He had a 20% chance of living.
And of that 20%, a 50% chance of being mentally disabled.
Yet here he is!
I am so grateful!
And so excited to see his college plans develop over these next few months.
P.S. Two acceptance letters have come in...!
George Foxx
and his #1 choice...

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Halloween 2013

I have to admit that I really do love Halloween. Not so much a fan of the pumpkin carving.
But I love the dressing up part!
And the decorations.
Last year on Halloween I was fighting a tummy bug,
so this year I was feeling grateful that we all were well.
Connor was able to wear his costume to school this year so I got him all ready to go, feeling a little sad that I wasn't working at the bank. ( I always wore a costume to work on Halloween.)
As we walked Connor to his classroom, we admired all of the parents in costume; and upon arriving back home Emmy and I immediately got to work.
I decided that I at least wanted to do some sort of scary makeup and Emmy wanted to join in on the fun...

Yes, I let her have full access to the makeup and she was so proud!
(We even ran to Costco like that.)
Then it was off to visit Dad at work for an impromptu lunch date.
The ladies in the office went crazy over EK!
They filled up her treat bag with all kinds of yumminess and took tons of pictures.
She was definitely the princess for the day. (They even had a crown for her!) 
We made it back to town to watch Connor's school parade and participate in his class party.
Shortly after, it was off to the cousins' house for trick or treating...
Here's a pic of Luke Skywalker and Merida...
(They both were very excited that they naturally had hair to fit their characters. It was Emmy's idea to color her hair orange instead of buying a wig. "Mommy, I have curly hair just like Merida!!") 
Our group... 
There is a house on our route that has the most amazing decorations every year. 
This year did not disappoint!
And my kids, as they do every year, stayed across the street with Ma.
They want nothing to do with that spookiness! 
These two totally hit the jackpot with candy! 
And as if that weren't enough, we stopped at our church Halloween party on the way home to see a bunch of our friends...and get MORE candy!
Then we had meltdown.
Too much partying.
No nap.
But not before checking out how our pumpkins were doing on the front porch...
[From left to right: Emmy's, Mommy's (with Daddy's electric drill), Connor's]
Note...Connor designed his own...I was skeptical and told him I didn't think it would work...
I stand corrected!
Happy Halloween!!!
(A little late.)

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Pumpkin Patch 2013

Last year we liked Larry's Produce so much for pumpkins that we decided to go back again this year.
When I think about how many years we have gone to the Clayton Valley Pumpkin Farm (since Dom was little) it makes me a little sad to break tradition. But Larry's has such great deals and almost all their activities are free!
Kids Pic Last Year at Larry's:
And This Year:
(Why is it that even though they're all getting so much older it is still difficult to get a good picture of all three of them?!)
Emma Kate was happy to pose with the pumpkins! 
This year we took some cousins with us. 
They had so much fun together! Even Dom got in on some of the action.
The hay bale pyramid was a hit!
Love this next one...! 
Overall is was a fun trip. But it was HOT! Gotta love October in California right?!
Next year we will NOT go on a Sunday afternoon.
It was CRAZY busy and we couldn't even find a wheelbarrow for our pumpkins.
But we made it and got great pumpkins for great prices!
And fun pictures!!!

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Something Different

So usually I flood my blog with pictures. And updates. And milestones. Today is a little different.
Today I am taking a moment while Dominic and Connor are at school, and Emmy soak in the last few weeks and the mixed emotions I am feeling right now. This post is more of a journal entry, a reflection (and hopefully I don't get in trouble with my teenage son!)

You see, the last several weeks (rather, all Summer) Dominic has been trying to narrow down his college choices. Jeff and I have really taken a backseat approach to the process, until about 3 weeks ago when I came home to a very upset young man agonizing over making decisions. I got involved. And recruited some help from a very knowledgeable friend, whom I will forever be indebted. (Is that a word or did I just make that up?!) Long story short. Dom has come to some conclusions. This Fall he will be applying to 4 schools. All private Christian universities. All in Washington and Oregon. And next Fall, God willing, he will be attending one of the following:

Seattle Pacific
And George Foxx

He wants to Major in Political Science and Minor in Bible.
I tried so hard to get him to apply to backup state schools and universities...just in case we can't get enough funding for him to attend one of his choices. But he insisted that he would not be able to study Bible if he went to a public school. True. And he feels called in that direction. We whole heartedly support him so here we go! I don't know how we're going to pay for it. I don't know what any of that looks like. But I am told that funding is left to be worried about for next semester and I believe that if he is called to study Bible and attend a Christian University, the Lord will provide.

For so long now I have known that Dom is headed for great things, including an amazing college experience. But I could never picture what any of that actually looked like. Until he decided on his schools. I can vision the general area of the U.S. in which he'll be living. The weather. The coming home for the holidays, etc...And most of all I can picture my young man moving away.

That, my friends, is the difficult part. That is where the tears well up in my eyes and my heart starts to ache. Not out of worry. Or concern that he isn't prepared. He is so ready. I am not.
I know I have 11 whole months to enjoy his being home with the family. But I only have 11 months to enjoy his being home with the family. Sure, there are things that have annoyed me about the teenage years. Like how he takes up the whole kitchen counter in the mornings while he's getting his breakfast and lunch packed up, while I am trying to work in there too! But then, I think about how next year I will miss that. I will miss seeing his happy smile every almost every morning. My weekend nights of lying awake waiting till 11:00 (curfew) to hear the key turn in the front door, praying he'll get home safely, will be replaced with a different kind of prayer, knowing that it won't be followed by a young man coming home that night. A prayer that he is safe wherever he is. A prayer that the Lord will protect him and guide him during this next chapter in his life.

Many years ago I chose a Bible verse for him and it sits in a frame on his night stand in his room.
It reads:    "I know the plans I have for you,"
               declares the Lord, "plans to prosper
         you and not to harm you, plans to give you
                            hope and a future."
                              Jeremiah 29:11
I could not have found a better verse for my son. It speaks to his life, all he's been through, all he's overcome, and all he's capable of.

I know I sound like a broken record when I talk about how the time goes so quickly. But if I had only known, I would've taken more time for play. Not worried quite so much about the house when he asked me, "Mommy will you play Legos with me?" I would've stopped, and if not played, watched and memorized his sweet little face and his little boy voice. Because that little boy is only in my memory and pictures. He's most definitely a man now. He not only looks like one and sounds like one, but has his own thoughts and ideas about the world. Goals and dreams. And that's where I get excited! He is at such a pivotal time. A time where he has endless opportunities. The next several years he will grow and experience so many amazing things! He is intelligent and has worked so hard. Not to say the next few years will be easy, but it will be a lot of fun!

I look forward to seeing what lies ahead for him. And I will always only be a phone call away. But for now, I'm trying not to sweat the small stuff. To teach him all I can to prepare him for living on his own. To just enjoy his presence and share in the excitement of Senior Year.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

1St Day of Pre-School

This week marked the last very first day of school in our family.
That's right.
My baby started Pre-School.
And she was SO ready!
She couldn't wait and cried on the boys' 1st day of school because she wanted to go also.
Look at this big girl! 
P.S. I ordered her a backpack from PBK but it didn't come in time.
We bought a substitute at Target for this week, but it's GIGANTIC on her!
She is going to the same pre-school Connor attended.
All of the teachers are still there and remember when Emmy was born.
Every morning is filled with warm hugs and smiles.
Some would think that after the 3rd kid, I would be used to these milestones and not get emotional anymore. WRONG!
But it helped that she was totally happy, got busy right away, and before we even started to say good-bye, she looked up from her book and said, "Bye Mom. Bye Dad!" 
That was it.
Just like that.
Time to leave my baby at school.
She had a wonderful morning and is already meeting new friends!

Sunday, September 8, 2013

An Itchy Tail

We have been considering getting another dog for probably about a year now.
Libby is 10 years old and is starting to show her age. We like the idea of getting a new puppy while we still have a dog, in hopes that the older one will sort of show the puppy how things roll around the house! 
Jeff has always wanted a Basset Hound, so we've searched a little here and there online, a couple times finding some new litters for sale.
But it just hasn't worked out and we always have chopped it up to the timing not being right for us.
A few weeks ago I was looking online and found that there were a couple new litters out there.
Hmmm...I thought but didn't pursue it.
Then on the first day of school, Jeff was home and we took Emmy to visit Ma (Jeff's mom.)
She is a big dog lover. We started talking with her about how we'd like to get a dog before we replace the flooring in our house, how we could fit it into our busy lives, etc...
She had some good ideas and upon arriving back home, I hopped online again.
I emailed two breeders.
One responded right away saying that she had one male left and would give us a good discount if we didn't need AKC registration.
Then she texted me his picture...
I literally teared up over his cuteness and so did Jeff after I passed the phone to him!
That evening we sat down with the kids, telling them we had some exciting news...
Dominic was knocking his head on the table in disgust, thinking we were pregnant again!
Everyone was very excited to hear that we had a DOG joining our family and before we knew it
we were thinking up names and Dominic and I were planning a trip to Fresno to pick up our new little guy.
Jeff was to stay home with the kids, seeing as how it's a good 3 hour drive each way to Fresno.
Here's Dom holding him for the first time...!
We had brought our crate with us and a new pillow for him, but just couldn't bring ourselves to put him in for the ride home. So I drove and Dom held him on his lap.
The puppy had no problem riding in the car...slept the whole way.
Let me tell you!  We had some excited people waiting at home for us!

Everyone wanted to snuggle and play with the little guy, well except for Libby.
She was pretty indifferent. 
After a couple hours of getting aquainted we put the kids to bed and I sat down for some puppy snuggle time. I noticed some bumps on his skin and asked Jeff to come take a look.
Those were not bumps...they were TICKS!
That's right...deer ticks...ALL over our little guy and God only knew where else they now were in the house.
We spent hours plucking and crushing each tick off his body with a pair of tweezers.
I held him and Jeff did the dirty work.
It was one of the most disgusting experiences of my life!
We thought we got them all, gave him a bath, and put him to bed.
He slept all night though!!!
It was a good thing because little did I know that we would be battling those things all week.
Every time we combed through his fur we would find more, even though we had treated him with Advantix on Monday. We found well over 50 on his little body throughout the course of the week!We spent the whole week vacuuming, cleaning up poo, pee, and ticks, doing laundry...everything in hot water, checking the kids bodies, each other, and Libby.
I am still exhausted.
And itchy.
I cannot tell you how itchy I have been, paranoid that one is on me.
We signed up for the poop and the pee and the chewing things up.
We even signed up for possibly not sleeping through the night for a while.
thank you very much Emmanuel and Elizabeth Ramirez of Fresno!!
But I am happy to report.
I hope.
That we are finally tick-free!
And the little guy thanks us by sleeping through the night...EVERY NIGHT!
I never have had kids who sleep through the night...but our puppy does!
And we finally decided on the name, Benny.
Emmy came up with the name.
(Her favorite song is "Benny and the Jets.")
It was the only name that every one of us liked.
I think he likes it too;)
Thank God that week is over with and we get to move on with what we DID sign up for...
But...I just found a flea.
Womp. Womp.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Back to School!!

Yup! That's right...another school year has begun!
But not just any school year...
For this guy.
We're talkin'
I'm not going to get all mushy about how fast the time has gone or how OLD he is.
Let's talk about...
What! What!!
Do you remember your Senior Year?
How fun it was.
How exciting.
How I turned 18 during the middle of the year and could write my own absence excuse letters.
Do you remember how scary it was to be so uncertain about your future?
Where you were headed.
What you'd do with your life.
Yes, that's all happening around here! 
The interesting thing is when I was a Senior I didn't think about how scary and exciting a time it was for my parents.
(Especially MY parents, seeing as how I was giving birth to a baby my Senior year. I digress. Sorry.)
I remember 3 years ago when Dominic was starting high school as I was talking to some moms of older kids. They told me how fast high school would go.
And I am really nervous about how quickly this year will go.
Next year at this time, he will be away at college.
Yes, tears are welling up in my eyes right now!
Anyway, here's the scoop...
Not sure where he's going to apply for college.
Narrowing it down to private schools in CA, OR, or WA.
Wants to major in PoliSci and minor in Bible.
Has maintained a 4.33 GPA even through his Junior Year.
Praying for many scholarships.
But as for now, he has a pretty busy schedule.
He's still working at Krispy Kreme one day a week.
Involved in Youth Ministry and Leadership at church.
Part of "Be The Change" club at school.
And taking this load this year...
AP Gov/AP Economics.
(Has the best Gov teacher EVER...sounds a lot like "Throck," my Gov teacher in high school.)
AP French IV
AP Psych
English IV
AP Calculus
Can we say...CRAZY?!?!
So proud of him!
Just for kicks I took a minute to find a picture of him as he started high school. A little Freshman...! 
Let's back up a few years and talk about 2nd Grade...!
Here's another big boy!
Connor is a reading maniac and loves school.
I was pleasantly surprised on his first day to find out that his teacher was a former client of mine at the bank!
He took a sigh of relief when I leaned over and whispered in his ear,
"You're gonna love her!" 
Coco is starting Taekwondo back up again this Fall as a Blue Belt.
Playing Soccer for the first time.
And continuing with Cub Scouts.
This little man keeps me the busiest of all three. 
And since I pulled a pic of Dom 3 years ago, I thought I'd pull one of my Coco too.
Starting Pre-K.
4 years old. 
As much as I loved our Summer this year, it's been nice getting back into a sort of routine.
There's something magical about a new school year.
Emmy's my last one to start.
This year she's off to Pre-School.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Star Wars Lego Party

Connor has known for a long time that he wanted his next birthday party to be a Star Wars Lego Party. And I have know for a long time how stressful this would be!
I love the end result of throwing parties and actually really enjoy the creativity and craftiness that comes along with it.
But it is also VERY stressful...especially the getting started stages.
This was also the first year that I really let Connor control the guest list.
He was SO excited!
Lets' take a tour of what the little man and I came up with...

Welcome sign on the front door...
Here's a picture of the food table...
(The party was held from 3-5:00, so we had snacks and cake.) 
Connor came up with the idea to hang some of his Star Wars Lego fighter planes over the table and I found some old foam balls in my crafting supplies, which I painted and glitzed to make "planets." 
I downloaded a Star Wars Font for all the signs... 

And Aunt Shawna made this amazing cake!!!
You can see more of her work @ ShawnaBakes on FB!
(Notice all the individually shaped fondant Legos!) 
And the drink station... 

When the Jedi Knights and Princesses arrived we asked them to sign Connor's birthday book.
The girls got a Princess Leia headband to wear and take home. 
At the end of the party everyone took home a light saber (made of pool noodles and Duct Tape.) 
We hired Play-Well Technologies to bring their Legos for the main attraction! 
I spoke with Chris from Play Well ahead of time, told him the theme we had going, and discussed the activities. He was awesome! He brought thousands of Legos, conducted a training session, and the fun began!
(Here are the girls with their headbands...) 
Even though there were Legos "everywhere" it felt very organized! 
The kids immediately got to work on their Force Field Generators... 
Yes I said "kids!" 

Connor was in heaven with all his buddies over playing what he loves so much. 

After the Lego portion of the party was over we wrapped up with cake... 
And after friends were gone and only family remained we opened presents. 
This was the first birthday Connor was able to read all of his own birthday cards!! 
And lastly Harley and Emms brought down the party playing with the adult's water dispenser.
They filled cup after cup with water, drenching the table and themselves.
But they were busy for at least an hour!! 
Well Buddy we did it!
Your 7th Birthday was a success.
I hope it was all you had wanted.

(I think it was because when we asked you what your favorite part was, you responded,