Saturday, October 4, 2014

julian 2014

Amid the beginning of the school year chaos, we make sure to schedule a day to hang with the Stewart clan in Julian. They are our tradition compadres.

Winter snow play in the mountains? Check.

Spring strawberry picking? Oops, got to get back on that one.

Summer beach camping? Check.

Fall trip to Julian? Check.

We have our priorities set. So even though we're overwhelmed with school, sports, and work, we schedule time for Julian.

Before we headed into town, we went apple picking.

Kevin and I stopped for reinforcement at the local winery.

The kids roamed freely through the rows of apples as the grown ups caught up with each other. We knew we were going to be heading down the mountain with 3 full bags of apples; enough for 3 families, but it was worth it to see them examining each tree for the perfect fruit as we laughed and shared the latest happenings with our friends. We may have seen a few kids tasting as they picked. You know, just quality control in action.

It is our time to come up for air. There is something about this small quaint town that has me at hello every single time. The main street makes me long for times past. While the kids fail to notice the aesthetics, they never fail to beg to visit Mom's apple pie shop and the local candy store.

And because we dig this tradition so much, we said "yes" to both. Sugar for all!

The bottom line is this. I'm an ultimate sucker for traditions. These are the times that will fill the pages of our family story. Each page dripping with memories that will forever be imprinted on my mama heart.

Much love,

Saturday, September 13, 2014

beach camping is actually fun...really

Before I crossed over to the dark side of the world of camping, all I could envision was dirt and discomfort. I wasn't able to look beyond my preferred mode of vacation, which includes comfy beds, pools to lounge by, and room service just a call away.

However, once our friends, Josh and Linda, convinced us that camping was an experience, not just a vacation, we went for it.

I have to admit we rent a trailer each  year. I can only go so far, friends. Not only do my boys and Kevin count down the months until our next annual beach camping trip, but so do I. The experience has won me over like a fool.

As soon as we get there, we get into relaxation mode. The kids immediately create a world in the tree forest and disappear. Days are spent at the beach building detailed sandcastles, boogie boarding, and reading high quality literature like PEOPLE and US Magazine.

Sure the dirt bugs me and I crave the comforts of home by the end of the trip, but the experience is worth it.

Until next year.

Much love,

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

choosing the hard way

A few weeks ago, Luke went into his karate testing uncertain and doubting. In fact, he wanted to back out at the last minute when he blanked on certain moves that he'd be tested on later in the afternoon.

He was certain of failure and ultimate doom. Don't we all have those moments?

I put on the brave mom face and reassured him with a gentle smile, as we moms do when our babes are down.

Internally my stress level was busting at the seems as his nervousness doubled by the minute.

By the time we arrived at the dojo, I wasn't even certain if I could watch him test. I was afraid he was right and I didn't know if I could tolerate the discomfort of watching him freeze in front of the judges and his peers. 

As parents, we're rock stars when we know our kids are in their zone. We can cheer, take pictures, and live in the moment because it's comfortable.

However, watching our children in discomfort is painful. Whether it's holding down an infant for a shot or watching a painfully shy little perform in a class play; those moments bring out parents' fears and anxieties like none other.

Luke's turn finally arrived towards the end of the testing event. He stood in front of a packed room and performed his katas without error. He nailed it. When he finished and took his final bow facing the judges, I could feel my anxieties melt away.

The students all got in their places and finished with a horse stance while the judges placed a new belt behind each of them. Some kids had tears streaming down their little cheeks while others shook through the pain. I watched Luke grimace while he obediently held his stance. Meanwhile, I had to control every urge to beg Sensei to let them sit and rest.

It's in our mama bear DNA to rescue our cubs.

But, I sat.

I waited.

And watched my sweet boy struggle.

Eventually I saw Sensei put two belts behind Luke, which is unusual. In fact, I've never seen him do that at any of our testing events. As the helpers walked around, they asked Sensei why there were two belts, but each time Sensei would just put his hand up to them and nod, as if say, "I got this."

Once the boys finally sat, with their eyes still shut, they were told to look behind them. Luke turned and stared at his two belts in confusion. All the other children started to put on their new belts in excitement and I could tell that Luke's anxiety was building as he continued to stare at the two belts.

Sensei approached Luke and sat down with him. I saw him whispering to Luke and Luke looking at him carefully as he spoke. 

As I silently edged my way closer, I could hear Sensei telling Luke that he had two options:
1. Pick the next level belt color. 
2. Pick the belt that is two levels higher, but be willing to work extremely hard at the new katas. 

Finally, he told Luke he believed in him and told Luke to grab a belt.

Luke hesitated and then grabbed the next level belt. 

His self doubt got the best of him, but Sensei knew better and gently guided Luke to put the belt back down and encouraged him to reach back again and pick up the more difficult level belt.

Sensei didn't waiver. He believed in Luke. He knew he could choose the hard way and succeed.

Luke just needed that voice to tell him that he was capable and ready. He needed that reassurance that he was ready for the challenge when he didn't believe it himself.

Don't we all need someone like Sensei in our moments of self doubt? More so, how can we be like Sensei to those around us. Who can you say, "I believe in you" today? Don't wait. Four simple words can make a difference.

And most importantly, to my Luke:

I believe in you. Forever and always.

Much love,

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

8 is great

Our Fun-Time Charlie is 8. It's hard to believe, but all those well meaning "mature" ladies in the grocery store were right. 

Luke will be 12 soon enough and I've learned that kids grow up too fast. Before you know it, they are hanging out in their  bedrooms and saying things like "oooo-kaaaay Mom" when you ask them to unload the dishwasher.

So with Charlie and his younger brother, Jack, I hold onto these years all the more tightly for they are sacred.

I try to not wish time to speed up or dream of a few years ahead as I find myself now looking back and longing for a repeat of those early years.

For Charlie's 8th birthday, we celebrated at Get Air. The lucky guy even had his birthday party on his real birthday. That's one benefit of having a summer birthday.

He enjoyed every single minute of it!

That's just his nature. He's also a sensitive guy, with a great sense of humor. He's adventurous and always up for fun.

Love you always, Charlie. Always.

Happy 8th Birthday!

Much love,

Sunday, July 6, 2014

just say Om...ombre diy canvas art

Sit down.

Cross your legs.

Close your eyes.

Breath deeply and say Om....

And then finish it with -bre because Kevin and I got our Picasso on this weekend and made a crazy awesome DIY ombre canvas art piece for our dining room wall.

After obsessively searching over the last year for the just right art and arguing the pros and cons of a funky gallery wall vs. a statement piece, I finally searched "DIY ombre canvas art" on Pinterest and used this blog post as our inspiration.

Not only will we save major cash, but perhaps this final decision will cure me of my insomnia.

We wanted the same color scheme as our inspiration piece, but changed our lines to horizontal. I also wanted the color to extend all the way to the edge of the canvas.

Just personal taste.

Fortunately for me, my software sales by day husband is a repressed artist by night. However, this really can be done by someone with stick figure expertise, such as myself.

Case in point: my recent artistic chalk rendition of Kevin getting tubed:

Now let's show off Kevin's abilities, shall we?

Measure your canvas with your brush to plan how many shades you need. We used a  2" brush on a 36x48 canvas. Our wall is 13 feet long and we wanted to have one large focal piece.

The most complicated step is making sure that you mix your colors carefully so you get the right gradation of color.

We followed the directions on the blog and started with the dark color, which was a deep forest green and then added white on each plate, starting with one drop on the next, two drops after that, three on the following, etc. However we now think we'd do it backwards. Start with white and add green. We had to go back to a few plates and add more white as the colors were not showing enough difference.

Kevin did a simple sweep for each row. Because we needed thicker rows, we used the same color on two rows.


 When we found that two colors were too similar, Kevin simply went over the row that needed to be lighter with some white streaks of paint.

I am so thrilled with the end result. I just may have done my happy dance and clapped with glee. And I'm just saying for the record, that having a guitar playing, paintbrush swaying husband is pretty dang cool.

Here's the final house is always this orderly by the way.

Or not.

This room is half way there. Home decorating is a marathon. Now we're planning for the wainscoting, painting all the trim in the house white, and window treatments. 

Like all things in life; one step at a time.

Much love,

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

better late than never

Hello, Friends.

It's been awhile, hasn't it? Life seems to grip you like the current of a swiftly moving river. You just do your best to wade in the water and grab the closest floating object to keep you afloat.

Since we are such level headed folks, we thought it would be a sane idea to adopt a second rescue dog. I know, we are so smart. He's been a handful, but our trainer has helped us to see that there is hope. I'll cling tightly to that hope because this big boy, Ben, is testing my patience. Love him, though...just not when he darts to our neighbors pool or throws up multiple times on my new rug.

We also had a chance to catch up with my college roommate and fellow mom of boys. Isn't it amazing how we don't look a day over twenty??? It's okay, I give you permission to laugh at that one. Andrea and Art speak our language: skateboarding, bodily functions, and high energy. Enough said.

In the midst of end of the school year activities, we found an opportunity to catch our breath at our annual Memorial Day celebration at the beach. Dipping my toes in hot sand and watching the boys crash in the waves is all I need.

Then the reality of June hit us.

This year was bittersweet as Luke celebrated his 5th grade promotion. He won't drive to school with us and hang out in my 1st grade classroom before and after school next year. I was a hot mess the entire week leading up to promotion. I was obsessively reminiscing and scanning through old  photos and videos. By the time Jack, our 3rd son moves on, I'm sure I'll pull myself together from this whole "you can never ever grow up" affliction I seem to have.

Well, we'll see about that. This mom gig is rough on the heart.

Jack celebrated his last day of kindergarten. Both sets of grandparents were there with Kevin and I to see him receive his elaborate memory book his teacher made for him.

Charlie was pumped about the last week of second grade. We don't call him Fun-Time Charlie for nothing. They had a water day and awards ceremony during the last week of school. His teacher gave him a massive chapter book to read over the summer. Yeah, he's got to get on that.

Now we are settling into summer mode. We're enjoying sleeping in...till 6:00 a.m. (thanks, Jack!) and hanging out at the beach. It is our go-to place where everyone is happy. Do you have such a place? Do tell...

And with that, I hope you are each having a fun-filled summer.

Much love,

Monday, April 21, 2014

why we heart san diego

We live in the north part of San Diego county. It's a small rural town by California standards. We have property for the boys to run. We're researching chicken coops. Snakes are our neighborhood pets in spring and summer. I never thought of myself as a country girl, but as I listen to the rooster from across the valley crow, I find myself more and more at home with the idea of this being the place that we plant ourselves.

But what I especially love about our location is that we have so much at our travel fingertips. The coast, the mountains, the desert, and the city.

This last week, we embraced the opportunity for a spur of the moment trip to San Diego. We packed our bags and transformed into tourists in our neck of the woods. Fortunately, some friends of ours decided to join in on the fun, too. I love unexpected bonuses.

We spent a day at Sea World before heading back to the hotel.

Once we arrived at the hotel, the kids declared that riding scooters along the tropical grounds, collecting jellyfish along the sandy bay, and swimming at the lagoon pool made it the "best trip ever!"

Don't get me wrong, there were bumps along the way. Kids whined, they fell apart at Sea World over rides, and fought like they do at home. However, the change in scenery seemed to buffer the usual effects of such mood killers.

Hope you enjoyed your Easter and time with your families.

Much love,