Wisdom from Grandma on Life


My Grandma Barbara and Grandpa Lowell

My Grandma’s birthday was this Thursday. I wasn’t able to visit her for the day, but wanted to call her to wish her a Happy Birthday and catch up. She lives in a nursing home with my Grandpa, who needs a lot of help due to his health issues. Grandma on the other hand is there simply because she is his wife and she goes where he goes. She is still healthy as ever, vibrant, and joyous. I admire her so much and her steadfast love she has for my Grandfather. So I asked her the question I have asked myself lately and others when we talk about age: how old do you feel? I find the question interesting because I know my answer and I love hearing the answer of others. I find that each one of us emotionally feels younger, typically finding ourselves surprised when looking in the mirror and seeing this person with more wrinkles and less hair than the one we feel. The body ages much faster than the spirit I think. I myself feel 25 when I am actually 34. When I talk to my other family or friends who are older than me, I hear answers that are often 10 to 20 years younger than where they really are. So I don’t always expect to feel 25. At some point, my spirit will age and I’ll be 50 saying that I feel 35. I like this. I find it beautiful and fascinating. My grandma’s answer caught me by surprise. But it blessed me more than anything else I expected her to say.  In her thick, Colombian accent she said to me these words:

“I don’t feel like an age anymore. I feel more like a place.  I’m at the top of a mountain looking at my life and my family’s life as they really are, no longer the way I used to. Up here, it is clear. There is no more stress or bitterness or worry. It is like I can see for the first time. I look down and see my whole life and yours and our family’s. And what I see is how blessed I am and how blessed you are. It is a very free feeling, darling. I tell you, my biggest regret is rushing through life so much and not stopping to enjoy each moment.  I know this time in your life is very busy with work and all the kids. But experience it. Be there in the moment. There will be a time in the future where you remember this busy time and miss it. And you can believe me because my blinders have been taken off. I know. I can see at the top of the mountain what you may not see. You are very blessed. I am very blessed. I am happy to be 75. It is easy to see everything here.”


The Hills with their some of their children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren

I haven’t been able to stop thinking about her words. I felt it was true wisdom. I came home and told Owen what she told me. He told me I should blog about it and I agreed. I don’t want to forget her words and I believe others should hear it too. Today, in the midst of the sick, crying baby and the 2-year-old who dumped the fish food all over the carpet, and the 6-year-old running around like a crazy man around the house with the neighbor kid, Owen and I walked up to each other in the kitchen, gave each other that knowing smile that  said, without words—oh look at us and our crazy little life right now, and we hugged a long time, and kissed each other. It is a beautiful Christmas season, this year. And while I look forward to 2014 and all that God will bring, I will enjoy each day of this December. And I pray you do as well.


Blessed Summer Moments week 4 and 5

Birthday Party on the beach for our one-year-old friend, Gianni

Birthday Party on the beach for our one-year-old friend, Gianni

As always, summer is just flying by. I had planned a schedule that I was going to follow. I had lofty goals of home-school-like morning sessions, and personal goals like working out daily, reading a novel, blogging once a week….nope. But, it is not because I am at home sitting around and being mopey. I mean sure, keeping up a house with two babies and a very active 6-year-old, and a hubby who likes to eat and then leave his dishes can sure add up and take time, but we have been doing stuff. Sea World trips, a day trip to Corona Del Mar (amazingly beautiful beach! Wow!), the Orange County Swap Meet, day trips to our own beaches in Oceanside, swimming in the inflatable pool in our back yard, family trips to the park, pizza dinners at Wings, Pizza and Things, a family reunion in Mission Viejo, fellowship group once a week, barbeques at friend’s houses, birthday parties on the beach, and even a “Gender Reveal” party (My very first one. Great idea!).

My babies had a play date with baby Kloe

My babies had a play date with baby Kloe

Today I actually had planned a down day to hang out the house because I’m just exhausted being out all the time. Of course, given we were home and so that made time to get the oil changed and squeeze in a trip to the grocery store so again, no down time.

But throughout these busy days, there have been some little treasurable moments I must record.

recreation of the pyramid we did in 1995 with all the cousins. We are missing a few here.

recreation of the pyramid we did in 1995 with all the cousins. We are missing a few here.

Jameson– He learned the word “people” one day and the next day “lost”…..While at the family reunion, I changed his diaper in the bathroom and he told me all out the “Pepo” outside and how much he likes his cousin Peyton. Then he said, “Peyton is my people. He is MY Peyton.” Then on the way home, he dropped his flip-flop on the floor of the car and cried out, “I lost it. Oh no my flip-flop! I lost it!”

Now for the new generations of cousins to do a pyramid. The third cousins (the chidren of the cousins).

Now for the new generations of cousins to do a pyramid. The third cousins (the children of the cousins).

Benjamin– He learned how to walk finally. He took his first steps on the 4th of July at the Davis’s barbecue. My friend, Carmen Gonzales got to witness it with me. Since then, he has gradually increased his steps. I’ve seen him now take as much as 9 steps before falling. And he is so proud of himself. He gets this adorable look on his face when he makes eye contact with me while he is walking. His eyes twinkle and his little lips purse with a hint of a smirk.

Kanan and Jameson, snuggling on the couch.

Kanan and Jameson, snuggling on the couch.

Kanan—He has grown up so much. He has become so much more helpful. I have been working hard at pouring into him scripture that teaches him how to love like Jesus. It actually inspired me to write a children’s book on it which has also taken up some of my nights as I am both writing and illustrating it. But with those talks, we talk about helping his brothers, helping me, using positive, encouraging words with his siblings, and showing compassion when they cry. Today—while frustrated at Walmart, waiting for our car to get its oil changed, I watched Kanan doing something to  Benjamin and there was water on his hands. I immediately suspected trouble. “What are you doing, Kanan?” I asked in a tone that suggested, he was in trouble. “I’m washing the boogers off his face,” he said with a genuine, loving smile. Ugh! I was so moved. A year ago, that would have never happened. Kanan would never care to touch something as icky as boogers.

Jameson and Benjamin, playing with Dad (My Owen)

Jameson and Benjamin, playing with Dad (My Owen)

Owen– Even though he has been working like crazy, I’ve been able to have some blessed moments with him. When we got back from Utah, I got to watch him win an award from the Mayor of Oceanside for best business of the month. The man who introduced him, spoke so highly of Owen and the business–basically saying that Owen and his business, was the future. It was so awesome to see my husband valued and praised in front of so many because I know that he deserves it. That man works hard! I also have been able to hang out with him in his office while he worked and I worked on my book. The day before yesterday, he even washed my car for me.

So now I have four weeks left, counting this week. I will continue to try to soak up every minute with joy before I return to work on August 9th. We start with tomorrow–little Benjamin’s first birthday. We will celebrate this weekend. Can’t wait to put a little party hat on his chubby head.

Blessed Moments: weeks 2 and 3

Julie, me, and Dez at the wedding

Julie, me, and Dez at the wedding

Had so much fun and adventure the last two weeks, I haven’t had time to write about it.We went to Amanda and Alex’s wedding and had a great time there with our friends. Owen and I got to dress up and have some much needed adult time.


Then took off to Utah that afternoon with the kids. The trip out wasn’t too bad. The kids watched movies and slept a little bit. We got to Mesquite, Nevada and stayed in our usual hotel, The Virgin River, and then drove up the rest of the way to South Jordan, Utah.

Grandma Susie, holding Benjamin at the Park

Grandma Susie, holding Benjamin at the Park

Blessed moments included the whole family sleeping down stairs in the basement on different beds all lined up together. It was fun. Should have taken a picture. Owen’s parents OK and Susie gave the kids their birthday presents. They LOVED them. Although funny thing is, most of them enjoyed playing with eachother’s toys rather than their own. Jameson did get an Elmo baby that he just loved. He slept with him every night. When he went to bed, he’d push the baby Elmo’s chest and it would say, “Elmo’s sleep.” So cute.

988481_10151982311309746_49105038_nOwen and I also got presents. Two 100-dollar Visa gift cards! So excited. I havent’ gone shopping for myself with 100 dollars to do as I please in a long time. It felt great! I got a pair of jeans, a pair of sweet Nike’s from the outlets, a shirt, a dress, and a pair of sandals. Yep. It was awesome. 🙂

Other than shopping, that week we tried to stay active. We went to the splash pads, the resevoir, and a water park to stay cool on hot days. At the resevoir, our friend from Oceanside, Desiree Maciewski and her kids actually met up with us. They happened to be in the Salt Lake area as well, visiting family. It was super nice to hang out with her in a different environment. Such a beautiful family.

1017480_10151565436188725_1210933402_nBack at the family house, the kids rode their skooters a lot outside on the street–it was a gorgeous and safe neighborhood with friendly neighbors and lots of kids.

One day we took the kids to this really neat trampeline place. It was in a business park and the entire place was filled with trampelines so that you could jump from one trampeline to the next. There was tarzan ropes and basketball hoops high on the walls and of course, balls to throw into them. There were even some neat foam pits. The kids had an absolute blast. Even Benjamin wanted to jump!

boys with their Grandma Great

boys with their Grandma Great

We did get to spend some time with the family. We went with OK and Suzie, Arza and Rainey to a beautiful park in Salt Lake. It was huge. Sort of the Salt Lake equivelant to Central Park. We had a picnic and threw the football around a bunch. Owen’s sister Holly and her family came over often. Kanan and Jameson loved that. They played often with Bell and Gavin. Sometimes with Spencer too when Spencer was in the mood. Often times, big Spence likes to hang out with the adults. Owen’s sister Lindsay came over one night and made a delicious stirfry for everyone. OK made an awesome speggetti and sausage one night as well. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to see OK and Susie and as much as we’d liked because they had to work and  then sadly, Susie’s dad died and so they left for the funeral about two days before we had to leave.

OK, cooking up dinner

OK, cooking up dinner

We did however, meet up with OK again in St.George on our way back down to Cali. He took us to dinner at a great buffet restaurant. I had prime rib and it was divine. 🙂

We have been back for a couple of days and have just enjoyed spending time together. Jameson is back on his skooter again and his bicycle—much needed after a 12-hour drive. I got a SlipandSlide on sale at Kohls for the boys. They are loving it! I also got to visit my friend Carmen a couple of days ago and help her pack. She and her family are moving and are very excited to have their own place after 6 months or so living with family. Kanan got to color, play legos, and watch shows with his favorite buddy, Kameron while we were there. Last night, I skipped fellowship group to go to a Vigil for a colleague who tragically and unexpededly passed away last Sunday. While a vigil wouldn’t typically be considered a “blessed” moment, I was very moved by how much the students loved him. So many great stories were shared. He lived a short, 52 years, but made a huge impact on the lives of his family members and students while he was here. In many ways, that is what life is about. I pray he knew the Lord and is with him now.

Blessed Moments: week one of summer vacation

Family minus K in Big Bear

Family minus K in Big Bear

This summer, I’m going to blog about the blessed moments I  enjoy week by week.It often feels like summer just flys on by and I often wonder where the time went and whether I experienced all that I wanted to experience while there. This summer I have eight blessed weeks to spend with my husband, my boys, my friends, and my family. Those eight weeks have to charge me up for Fall before I can get recharged during winter break for round two in the spring. I want to savor every blessed moment. What’s a better way than blogging about it, right?So my summer kind of started this last weekend because I did have to report to work on Monday, but was allowed to use that time how I wanted and so I used it to organize my classroom for the Fall (something I usually do at the end of my summer break, but still during break.) So this first week of Summer’s blessed moments will start the weekend of June 8/9.

Big Bear Crew

Big Bear Crew

Friday, June 7th- Sunday, June 9th: Drove up to Big Bear with my hubby and two of our sons (Kanan stayed with his dad for this week’s rotation) and met up with my brother, his wife, and their friends for a relaxing weekend in a huge cabin in Big Bear. We cooked dinners together, played pool and pingpong, went shopping (I got a gorgeous yellow infinity scarf and a cute creme colored summer top), the boys went fishing, took naps, chatted…it was awesome. A wonderful way to kick off my break by forcing me to just be still. At home on a usual weekend, I’m running around trying to get everything I can’t get done in the work week done—ie laundry, house work, meal prep,etc. I felt like I really grew closer to my brother and his wife, and fell absolutelyl in love with their friends. Just good people.

Buddies---Jameson and Peyton

Buddies—Jameson and Peyton

And as an added blessing, our son Jameson, who is 2, and my brother’s son Peyton, who is almost 3, had an absolute blast together! They were two peas. It was so sweet. I grew up close with my cousins and really want that same experience for my kids and their cousins. This was such a moment. 🙂 I also got to take a break from my coffee boycott and enjoy coffee all weekend, with that yummy vanilla cremer.

Oh and bittersweet moment here, but needs to be noted–Benjamin decided this weekend in Big Bear that he didn’t care for breastfeeding anymore. He decided to tell me by biting me in a final session before absolutely refusing any other session thereafter! The rest of this week will be marked with my own withdrawals from the special moments as well as physically havign to adjust (He cut me off cold turkey! My body is freaking out!) And third–feeling excited about the multivitamin I have been wanting to take but haven’t been able to because it has all these herbs in it that could affect Benny Boo, the juice detox now in my near future, and the DHEA I have been wanting to take to get my adrenals back in gear (I’ve been depleted for too long and have blood work to prove it. Can’t wait to see the results–energy, better mood, and a whole bunch of other positive effects that I have missed because they are so shot (Thanks to career, coffee, and kids…haha).

Monday, June 10th— Got to spend the whole day organizing my classroom for the Fall. Last year, I didn’t get a chance because I had just had Benjamin, so I started the Fall late and completely unorganized. This followed me the rest of the year. Not this Fall. I am organized, baby! And in a new room, which will be installed with a Smartboard and a class set of Chromebooks! See ya later, paper!

Loving Captain Underpants---Kanan and I

Loving Captain Underpants—Kanan and I

Tuesday, June 11th—1)Took a three hour nap on the couch in the afternoon while the babies napped. 2)Took both babies individually out for a bikeride. They loved sitting in the Weeride seat (sits in front, between rider’s legs) and were all smiles for the ride. 3)Went shopping with my hubbies and the babies—groceries, a fishing pole for owen, a tricycle for JJ, and a helmet for Benjamin (who looked adorable in it, btw).

Wednesday, June 12th— 1)Went to Kanan’s last day of school family picnic and watched him run around with his friends as Jameson followed, while I chatted with another mom named Amery, who moved her from South Africa. 2)Filmed a commercial for a local Party Supplier with my hubby at the studio. 3) Read the first 2 chapters of Captain Underpants (the first book) with Kanan as the babies napped.

JJ and Kanan stopping their skooter session so Mom could take a picture. JJ was so excited!

JJ and Kanan stopping their skooter session so Mom could take a picture. JJ was so excited!

Thursday, June 13th— 1) Went to the Oceanside Farmer’s market and sampled yummy foods with the boys. Then watched them skooter around together. Jameson was so happy and excited. It was the first time I really saw Jameson as a little boy and not a baby. So precious. He is so good on his skooter too for just getting it–a real natural. Who would think he is just barely two years old? Kanan of course, is a natural. 2) played with Benjamin while JJ napped and witnesed Benjamin get the wooden rings onto the stick for the first time (What is that toy called?). 3)Enjoyed great fellowship and bible study with our fellowship group that night–heard awesome news too. Our friends, the Davis’s, finally sold their business.

Friday, June 14th–Took the boys to Grandma Linda’s to go swimming and visit a little. I love being able to see them on a whim. JJ loved the water but was afraid to go past the steps with just his life jacket on. But he had a blast on the steps and Kanan had a good time dog paddling around the pool. Today, Benjamin also said “Dada” AND “Mama” for the first time! He said “Dada” when excited to be home with Owen in the living room. And he said “Mama” when he was upset about being put down and wanted me to pick him back up.

Free Stuff To Do With The Kids This Summer in North County San Diego and San Diego

Saturday/ Sunday

Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday
Every Sunday from June 23th –August 18th. Heritage Park concert 4-6 (Oceanside)

Every Saturday and Sunday @ Mira Mesa Lanes, kids bowl free from 11AM-5PM (2 sessions. must register)

Every Saturday and Sunday @Kearney Mesa Bowl, kids bowl free from 9AM-6PM. (2 sessions. must register)

June 16th–La Jolla Cove 2-4pm concert

Saturday June 15 Walnut Grove Park in San Marcos. Festival of Rock and Blues

Saturday June 15—Tamarack Beach Fest

Saturday June 15—8pm-midnight Café 101 cars show.

Saturday June 29th—Oside 125th anniversary parade 10am-12pm, concert @ 5pm, movie (Bring it On)@5pm in ampatheater.

Saturday July 27th—Christamas in July 3-8pm Carlsbad State Beach



June 24-25

Grunion Run on any Oceanside beach (Fish all over the sand!).

Every Monday-Thurs @ Kearny Mesa Bowl 9am-4pm, kids bowl free. (must register)

Every Mon-Friday at Mira Mesa Lanes from 3pm-5pm, kids bowl free (2 sessions. must register)



Every Tuesday Free museums in Balboa Park in S.D. (Each week is different. See * below) 

July 2—10AM–Vista library: Dr. Seus readings.

July 9—10Am—vista library: see rare animals

July 16—10AM—Vista Library: magic and animal show

July 30—10AM—Vista Library: puppet show

July 30—11 AM—S.M library: infant massage class 

Aug 6th—10AM Vista Library: see animals

Aug 6th—11AM San Marcos Library: Intro baby ballet

Every Wednesday 1030AM—Mission Branch Library in Oside—story time for ages 0-2

Every Wednesday 4pm-8pm Downtown Vista Farmer’s Market

Every Wednesday 1-5pm Carlsbad Village Farmer’s Market

July 3rd—915PM @ Corazon Park: Fireworks

First Wednesday of the month for July and August—stargaze with Telescopes at Fleet Science Center in S.D at Dusk

July 10th—10AM Vista Library: child craft

July 17th—1030AM S.M Library: story time

July 17th—2pm S.M library: make paper airplanes.

July 24th—Vista Library @10AM: summer craft

July 31st—S.M Library: tumbling for toddlers. Must register before.

Aug 7th—S.M Library @ 930AM: toddler music skills


Every Thursday 9AM-1PM Farmers Market in downtown Oside.

Every Thursday 2-9pm Sunset Market in Downtown Oceanside

Every other week (June 13 and 27, July 11 and 25, Aug 8 and 22)

@2:30pm San Marcos Library—Read with a dog (for beginning or struggling readers. Builds confidence



1030Am—Mission Branch library in Oside—story time for ages 2-6. Every Friday-Sunday @Kearny Mesa Bowl 9am-5pm, kids bowl free.(2 sessions. must register)  

June 14-15 Walnut Grove Park in San Marcos. Festival of Rock and Blues.

June 28, July 5, July 12—Jazz concert at Stagecoach park in Carlsbad 6-8pm (swing, jazz)

July 19—Del Oro Park in Oside 5-9pm Concert and Family Fun

July 19 and 26, August 2 @ Poinsettia Park in Carlsbad: Jazz concerts. Various Jazz, R&B bands.

Aug 9, 16, and 23—Calvera hills Park in Carlsbad 6-8pm: Jazz concerts (afro pop, soul, big band swing)

June 14-15 Walnut Grove Park in San Marcos. Festival of Rock and Blues

June 15—Tamarack Beach Fest

June 15—8pm-midnight Café 101 cars show.

June 29th—Oside 125th anniversary parade 10am-12pm, concert @ 5pm, movie (Bring it On)@5pm in ampatheater.

July 27th—Christamas in July 3-8pm Carlsbad State Beach


*Here are the different Museums that are free. They take turns every week. First week of month–Ruben Planet Science Center, S.D Model R.R Museum, S.D Natural History Museum. Week 2–Museum of Photographic Arts., S.D History Center Week 3—S.D Art Institute, S.D Museum of Art, S.D Museum of Man, S.D Air/Space Museum, Japanese friendship garden. Week 4—S.D Automotive museum

Quite Time Info: Websites for your kids to do fun learning activities—builds reading, math, and other skills and perhaps might give you some sanity time when you need a quiet house:









Baby Boot Camp: Operation Sleep Through The Night

8477753510_abe0d00eee_zMeet Benjamin. He is 8 months old and getting ready to crawl. He is a smiler. He is sweet. He loves to eat. He loves his brothers and his daddy. He really loves his mama. He loves to nurse.
And he loves to wake up throughout the night for some milky snacks. As a matter of fact, he likes to stay pretty much physically attached to his mother via the mouth. All. Night. Long.

And it is I who created this deliciously sweet baby monster. And I did it fully aware of all the remedies. All the warnings. All the consequences.

But he is just so darn adorable and sweet. And I have to work in the day, so I miss out on so many hours of time with him. Night time has been a way for us to reconnect. To bond.

But I’m tired. I’m beyond tired. And I’m ready now for my full night’s sleep. He is 8 months old. It is time.

So I’ve come up with a plan. Starting this Friday night, the first night of my two-week long spring break, Benjamin is unknowingly entering a two-week baby boot camp called Operation Sleep through the Night. I’ve come up with the exercises and the two-week plan based on all the mommy knowledge I have gained from both experience, friends, and the bazillion books I read with my first child, Kanan—(who was sleeping through the night by 5 months, to my then disappointment. Oh if I only knew the future!)

8403863986_fb8abd7f7c_zI’ve read all the books and the methods from every angle and perspective. Baby Wise. Baby Whisperer. The No Cry Sleep Solution. Cry it Out. The Ferber Method, Dr. Sear’s Attached Parenting and the Family Bed. You name it.

This is my plan:
We will work in four day intervals. I have learned that it takes 3 days to train a child. So we have three days for each phase and then one day of “rest” to sort of affirm the training and maintain consistency before bringing in the next big change. If crying is going to be involved, both Benjamin and I need a day to just get the most amount of sleep given the new circumstances. By the end of the two weeks, the goal is for him to be sleeping through the night in his own crib in the kid’s room, right next to his two older brothers who share the bunk bed.

Phase 1—Sleep in own bed. This is what has contributed hugely to the problem. Benjamin has a cradle in our room where he starts the night. But once the first middle of the night waking takes place, my tired bones find it so much easier to just nurse him while lying in my bed. Unfortunately, that leads me to fall back to sleep and not wake up until he wakes again….next to me. Where my movement wakes him. Where his movement wakes me. Where he can smell me. Where I’m a quick at quick access. He used to have a pacifier. He won’t take one anymore. Why when he can have the real deal? Days 1-4 Friday, March 22nd-Monday, March 25th—Sleep in own bed (the cradle in our room). Mom does not have to go to work. So I will deal with the fatigue and nurse him upright in the rocking chair after which I will return him to his cradle. If he puts up a fight and decides to scream his bloody head off for longer than a few minutes, I will save myself and my husband from the pain by putting him in the Pack ‘n Play in either the living room or the office so he screams are a bit more distant and hopefully won’t wake his brothers either. One baby crying is bad enough. Three kids crying is not an option. If I fall asleep through his cries, so be it. If I don’t then I will go in at half hour intervals and rub his tummy and whisper hushes to him and then return to my bed. Past experience shows each night will involve less crying. Day four should involve acceptance to the new way.
smiley benPhase 2—No more Breasts. Bottle for Food.Part of his desire to wake and eat, is the comfort and connection he gets from breastfeeding. Unfortunately, the continuous nursing has also created in him a veracious appetite at night. I don’t know how much he is eating. Just 4 ounces spread out throughout the night? 16 ounces spread out? Who knows! All I know is he is nursing often and sometimes, they get really sore! So we need to wean him of his need to pacify himself with my breasts and return to the pacifier, but appease his hunger. Thus—the bottle.
Days 5-8, Tuesday, March 26th-Friday, March 29th. I will pump before bed. And use the expressed milk to feed him in the night. If he just wants to be pacified, I will offer the pacifier. If he downs the bottle at the first middle of the night feeding and wakes to eat again I may need to pump again in the middle of the night to prepare for the second feeding. I have no idea what to expect because I don’t know how much he is eating. For all I know he won’t even accept the bottle or the pacifier. In this case we have a long few nights and the process might jump forward a few phases. Again, CIO issues will be resolved in the Pack ‘n Play at 30 minute intervals if I cannot sleep through it.

Phase 3—Cut down to One Feeding.  Days 9-12 Saturday, March 30th-Tuesday, April 2nd. Pretty self explanatory.
8373525785_0b86b07a12_zPhase 4—No More Feedings. Official Sleep through the Night Countdown in the Crib. Days 13-16, Wednesday, April 3-Saturday, April 6th. Baby will sleep in his crib in the kid’s room. Any waking will be only solaced with a pacifier and some tummy rubs. No picking up. CIO in Pack ‘n Play– if needed in the living room or office so as to not wake up the kids.

The Goal—Day 17—Sunday Night—the night before I return to work. Baby will go down to sleep in his crib ideally and not wake up, if so, easily solaced with a pacifier if needed with no inconsolable screaming. Hopefully, he can just sooth himself. We shall see.

The Books that Taught Me It ALL

Benjamin’s Birth–My Third C-Section–Looking Back 7 Months After

7607382182_aea34748ce_mI can’t believe it has been 7 months and I still have not written about my experience giving birth to Benjamin. All the little details and fresh emotion from the experience is gone now—but I will zero in on some key moments.

I went into the operating room for my third c-section rather fearful. I barely remember my first c-section—because it was an emergency and I was in so much pain from labor and my uterine infection that it was all really a blur. With Jameson, my second c-section, the epidural they gave me before the surgery spread so strongly that I had a hard time breathing and felt a lot of stress and weight on my chest. It was a bit scary. But then I got through it with some oxygen and I was pretty high….the video Owen took of me shows my flicking my tongue and talking so quietly and jumbled that I was not even understandable. So with the third c-section, I was fearful of two things—one, would be that the epidural would make it difficult to breathe and weigh on my chest again. And second—that a crazy complication would happen and I’d bleed to death on the table. Yep….I thought that this could very well be the way God was going to take me out of this world.

But I survived.

They gave me a spinal block instead of an epidural this third time, but just like the epidural, it worked too strongly and sure enough, the weight spread across my chest and made it difficult for me to breathe. The oxygen mask helped as I told the anesthesiologist about my prior experience so he knew what to expect. I writhed and moaned and he gave me the mask. After what seemed like a few terribly uncomfortable minutes, the effects subsided and I could breathe again.

The pressure and movement then came from down below  and I heard the doctors talk excitedly about the baby they were pulling out.  But Benjamin didn’t really cry. And I heard voices of concern. They brought him to Owen and me without tears and then took him to be cleaned up and monitored to see if anything was wrong.

During the hour in post-op, I knew they were going to send him to NICU. Just like they took Kanan, my first to NICU. And I was right. The doctor came in and gave us the news.

Benjamin’s blood sugar was a bit low. That was their first concern. The second concern was Benjamin’s lack of tears and lethargy. They figured it might be due to the sugar. So they said they wanted to get him into NICU until his blood sugar got back to normal.

It did. But they didn’t let him out. They hooked him up to IV’s.

Then their concern was that he was not eating enough. When he did, they would take him off of IV’s and look to releasing him. He did. They took him off the IV’s but didn’t release him.

Their next concern was to get him to eat even more. Eat more than even a perfectly healthy baby downstairs would eat. And until then, they refused to release him.

I was pissed. But what was my alternative? Take my baby against the doctor’s orders?

On the second morning, I called to see if I could come up and nurse the baby. The nurse on the phone said yes. So I went upstairs to nurse him but the nurse who answered wouldn’t let me in because they were in transition of shifts. I shared my frustration, calmly but firmly—saying that I wish they had told me this over the phone or else I would not have walked all the way over there. Next thing I knew, the nurse was telling me to calm down and that no matter what I felt, I couldn’t take my baby that morning. Now I was really pissed. Calm down? I was calm. Now I was not. Take my baby? I just wanted to nurse him. I knew I couldn’t take him right then. They’d made that clear. Then the worst happened—the nurse attempted to hug me and tell me that she knew I was frustrated and what could she do to make me happy. Uh, how about you don’t touch me? Then she grabbed her manager. The manager then came out and told me that I couldn’t take my baby home right then and I needed to calm down. Now I’m yelling. I’m not here to take my friggen baby! I just came up to feed him! What the heck! I seriously had to put my hands up in the air and back away in calm surrender after this explosion because I recognized it was heading in a bad direction. Just leave me alone ladies. I’ll walk back to my room and will come back later.

That was the most frustrating and looking back, funniest experience I ever had with NICU.

Baby Benjamin finally came downstairs to stay with me after noon on the second or third day. I don’t remember now. We had one night together before going home the following day. His cheeks were so chubby, they sagged! And they were scratched up from his nails. He was precious. I was so happy to have him with me. And I’m so happy God chose to give him to us.

Here are some good reads on c-sections, NICU experiences, and raising boys

Turning Left: the next chapter in my hypothetical future memoir

It has been a while since I’ve blogged. I remember a time in my life when I had time to blog like once a week. I love writing. I love finding poignancy in the fragments of life, in the little windows. One day, I hope to find the time to be able to do that again. It seems nowadays life is just so busy. But tonight. Tonight I have some time and I feel inspired. I normally have about 8 blogs a month I write for Owen’s clients and so when I do have time in the evenings, I’m spending them writing other people’s business blogs. But this month the baby is due. And so Owen gave me the month off. Another one of his bloggers is taking over the blogs this month and that means I have time to breathe, pack the house, prep for the baby, and then in two weeks—July 17th to be exact, take care of a newborn again.

Tonight, Owen has some Christian rock ballads playing in the living room stereo, the cool summer breeze is blowing through our balcony window bringing in light whiffs of smoldering coals from the bbq shrimp kabobs we made for dinner, Jameson is sound asleep in his crib, and Kanan is off with his dad. I just sat down and pulled out my grandmother Lois’s composition book of her memoirs. My project for this summer is to type up her stories so she can give them to her kids. My grandmother’s stories are the best. She really has had an amazing life. And just the idea of starting the first page of her book, gets me thinking about my own life and where I am right now. I am in the midst of living out the stories that one day I might be able to share with my kids. And right now so much is going on. So I thought, I’d take a pause here for a moment and write some of it down. How much of the emotion that permeates this very moment I’m not sure I can explain when I’m 85. Will I even remember it exactly? I don’t know.

Owen and I and the boys are at a cross roads in our life. And we just decided to turn left. The blinker is on and the car is starting to idle out. We are excited. I’m a little scared. But we’ve got God taking care of us and that makes it feel less scary. Like a roller coaster. You know you will be okay in the end because you’re confident in the ride’s engineer. But what is the ride going to be like?

I look back at the road we have been on. I am ready to turn left. Where have we been? Two people who lived in the world and had a blast, but found ourselves in a place where the world just didn’t satisfy anymore. Two people who found Jesus and then found each other, married quickly and experienced a volatile first year of marriage as we got to know each other fully. We made adjustments and grew, our rough edges smoothing out with each friction to something much softer. In our second year of marriage, we moved and mourned the surprise death of my father, then had a beautiful baby together named Jameson. In our third year of marriage, we grew some more as Owen finished school, started a business, and watched Kanan and Jameson grow as well and fill us with love and laughter and inspiration. We also discovered to our surprise that we were pregnant again, and watched out little apartment shrink and our stuff crawl up the walls with each month my belly grew. We anticipated the possibility of me staying home with the kids when I was pink-slipped, praying God would use this to build Owen’s business to the point of breadwinner and bring me home. We recognized that our timing is not God’s timing when my layoff was rescinded and used the benefit that we still have two incomes to look for a house to rent and call home for our growing family.

And now here we are. We found a three-bedroom house in a cute neighborhood next to all of our friends and places we go often. It has a backyard for the kids to play in and sits on a quiet street that dead ends, so I don’t have to have a heart attack if the kids ride their bikes on the side walk. We move in 14 days and the baby is due in 17 days. Owen’s business is growing and he continues to learn and make it better. A new school year is around the corner where I will return to work about 4 weeks late from maternity leave and try with all my might and lots of prayer to teach full time in Temecula and raise three boys, maintain a house, and be a supportive wife to my hardworking husband who is desperately trying to build the business enough so that in one year, I can take a leave of absence and be really be home.

So much changes with renting this house. We will have more room so it will actually hopefully look clean and therefore reduce our stress. It will have a backyard for the boys to play in so they don’t get restless on those Saturdays when I have to catch up on all the work I couldn’t do during the week because I spent it teaching instead. But it will also require us to spend differently. We actually need Owen’s business income now to maintain. Before, it was just extra cash for paying off things and saving for a rainy day. The baby changes things as well. Now on top of adding an extra human to our home, we need to find a daycare provider who can take care of both our baby boys—and for hopefully cheap because we will be tight. We have no idea yet who that is going to be. And on top of all of that, Kanan starts kindergarten in the fall. He will be going to an elementary school near his dad’s house in Oceanside. It is full-day, thank God. And I found a little Lutheran church next door to the school that has a preschool and after school program for kids in the public school. So Kanan has a place to go to afterschool and be safe until I am able to grab him after my commute home from Temecula. Not too bad either in price–will cost us about a hundred dollars a month.

So we are turning left. Down a road of a house, a brand new baby boy added to our two active boys we already have, a growing business, a teaching job in Temecula, kindergarten, and finding/paying for daycare for our babies. I’m looking up articles and ideas on how to cook fast and healthy meals so I don’t get too stressed in the week with just making dinner. I’d love ideas on how to organize everything else too….chores, family time, work time….you name it. Do kindergartners have homework?

It really feels like it’s a whole new life ahead of us. A new life filled with new blessings and trials. Of opportunities to grow closer together and closer to God and also to find new cross roads in the distant future. On July 14th, the day we move out—we are officially through the intersection. And three days later, when Benjamin comes, we will be on the road, the two of us in the front seat holding hands and giggling, three kids in the back seat with crackers and juice boxes loaded, and the stereo playing that old Amy Grant Song, “Thy Word is a Lamp Unto my Feet.”

Okay Grandma Lois, I’m ready to type out your memoirs now. Thank you for inspiring me to think about mine.

“I am a Flower Quickly Fading, Here Today and Gone Tomorrow”

“I am a flower quickly fading, here today and gone tomorrow”—such a powerful line from one of Casting Crown’s songs.

We all know that people die. We all know that we can die right now. But it’s funny how even though we know, we don’t live our lives like we know.

A year ago, my father died. And his death threw everything in perspective again. None of us expected him to die. It was accidental. He was too young and we had many plans with him still.

It has been a over a year since then and once again, I am reminded of this truth. Just in the last two months, people in my little bubble of existence have either died or lost precious ones who have died. One of my good friends just lost a friend. She was pregnant and healthy. She went into labor. Everyone was joyously waiting for the baby to come and to celebrate with her. But she died. She died during labor. Thank God, the baby survived. Had to be in the NICU for a little bit due to some complications. As for the mother—autopsy revealed she died from a rare condition called amniotic embolism. Somehow some of the baby’s tissues entered her own bloodstream. It killed her. Left her husband, ten year old son, and newborn baby and her extended family without her just like that. I don’t even know this woman. But my heart breaks for her family and their loss.

Then last month, an acquaintance from high school with whom I loosely stayed in contact via Facebook died in her sleep. She was 7 months pregnant. Baby didn’t make it. She was newly married. This was her first baby. She was only 32 years old.

Then just now, my husband shared the news that his friend from Utah, a woman I’ve met a couple of times on our trips up to visit and with whom I too stay loosely connected via Facebook, lost her 5 month old baby. I assume it was SIDS. Her post said it was sudden and unexpected. I can’t even imagine. She too is newly married. She had twin babies with her husband. Now they have one baby.

These stories can’t help but sober me to my own fleeting existence and those of my family. I don’t know what I’d do if I lost my Kanan or my Jameson. What would Owen do if he lost me or one of our boys? What would I do if I lost my Owen? What would the boys do if they lost their daddy? It could happen.

I’m pregnant too. And in July, I will be on the operating table getting my third c-section. I got pregnant very quickly after my second c-section. Four months after the surgery to be exact. That is only one month after the uterus is technically “healed.” It is recommended that after a c-section, a mother wait a good two years before she gets pregnant again. And it is recommended that one does not exceed 3 c-sections as each one adds more scar tissue. Each surgery is higher risk to the mother’s life. So I just can’t help but feel a bit uneasy about this July. What if I die? Or what if my uterus ruptures before that day because I got pregnant so soon and the baby and I both die?

I know what you are saying right now—you can’t think like that. Worrying won’t help. You will probably be fine. Don’t stress yourself out over things out of your control. I know these things. And I know that if I died, I’d be with my Lord and Savior in heaven. Honestly, I’m not scared of dying for me. I’m scared of dying for my children and my husband. As much as I’d rather be with the Lord than all else, I want my children and my husband with me when I do. Or at the very least, I want that they had enough time with me before I left them. My children are young. They need their mommy. My husband needs me—I am his wife, his other half, the mother of his children.

Please pray for me that I can enter this next surgery without fear and instead just peace. I fear a panic attack. Before my last c-section—the nurses had us sign a “Living Will” in case I died during surgery. We laughed at the obsurdity of giving this to us when I was already hooked up to all the tubes. But I didn’t have fear. Then there was a moment during the actual surgery when I felt a great pressure on my chest and I felt like I couldn’t breathe. The doctor’s gave me more oxygen and I felt better. But it was scary for a few moments there. One of my friends had her c-section a few months ago and lost a lot of blood during the surgery. She was fine in the end, but recovery was hard. It was scary for everyone too during the process.

I don’t want to go into this surgery in July without thoughts or recognition that I could die. I think that is unwise and naïve. But of course, I don’t want to go in fear or with an overwhelming anxiety about it either. That too is not good. In the end, I could die tonight in my sleep. I could die tomorrow on the freeway. My children could die today. Or we can all live until we are 120. We all have no control of this, no matter what we think. We can be safe and be healthy and that can limit our possibilities for death, but in the end, there are outside forces that we cannot control.

So we just need to live each day, loving our God, loving each other, and loving the lost and the suffering. That is all that matters. Whenever I do die—I want to hear my Lord say “Well done my good and faithful servant.” And I want those I’ve left behind to have the hope of Jesus, knowing that we will see each other again in the eternal future outside of time. And that if they are pained by my death, that they will have find hope and comfort in the hope of our Savior.

If you have accepted Christ as your Lord and Savior, please pray to our father in heaven for those people in my little circle who have recently died and left their families or who have lost their babies and their wives and mothers the last couple of months. Pray that God use all of this for good in the lives of those who love him and are called according to his purpose, as he promises. That through the suffering and pain, those that don’t know him find truth and comfort in him—and come to him.

Jameson is 9 Months Old!

Loves to sleep on his belly with one leg, froggy style--- just like his Mom!

Yesterday marked Jameson’s 9-month birthday! And it has been a month of progress, for sure. 🙂 Jameson got another cold this month—this time from his brother, Kanan. This one was fierce— high fevers, runny nose, cough, tummy aches, and lots of lethargy. Jameson had a couple of rough days so I took the Thursday off on President’s Day weekend to stay home and just be with my boys. By Sunday, both were feeling better. Last week, Jameson still had a little runny nose but was feeling much better. This week, we are free of runny noses! Ugh! Lets hope and pray we can go longer than 2 weeks this time before we are hit with another virus. Sooooo over this winter and its viruses. That was the 4th cold this season and we are not even out of February yet. Come on Summer!

Jameson loves his brother Kanan. Jameson crawled on to him by himself and cuddled with his big brother on sick day.

Swing time at the Beach!

Regardless, Jameson had a few little outings this month. I took him and his brother and cousin to the beach to walk around and play in the park. Jameson went on a swing for the first time. The pictures I took crack me up. He was so unimpressed by the swings, I was surprised. He didn’t dislike them. He just didn’t smile and squeal like I thought he would. Instead he just sat in the swing, holding his ninja doll and sort of staring blankly out in the distance. I’m sure he was probably just more interested in all the people walking along the boardwalk than what he was doing, but nonetheless so funny. He also began bathing in the bathtub without having to use his sling. He just sits his little bottom now in the tub and crawls around and splashes in the shallow water. He loves Loves LOVES taking baths. And so of course when I had him and Kanan take a bath together one night, he was even more excited. I have never seen Jameson smile and laugh and splash so much. Even Kanan just beamed with adoration at the naked chubby baby loving him so much in that tub. I’m not sure how much longer I can have Kanan and Jameson bathe together as Kanan is approaching his 5th birthday. It feels like Kanan is getting too old to be sitting in the bathtub in front of me. I’m not sure when is the appropriate time to let the kids go in this department, so any thoughts or insight would be helpful. Until then though, Jameson is ecstatic to share the tub with his brother, the big brother he just loves so much.

Showing off them three pearls! Before he cut his 4th on his 9-month birthday

Superbowl was also a fun day for us. Jameson had a great time flirting with all the 6-13 year-old girls who played with him while Owen and I caught up on adult talk with our friends. Jameson refused to nap, but he held out okay. He loved his little buddy Luke Adam’s jumper and his drum toys. And the little guy even tagged along with Owen and I as we set out one Sunday to buy ourselves a car. He went with us to three dealerships, sitting the longest at the BMW Encinitas where we found our Highlander. Everything was great and funny enough, he didn’t start freaking out until the Sales Manager tried closing on us with these dealership maintenance and road-side assistance packages that would be financed and tacked on to our car loan. We didn’t even have to suggest to Jameson that he turn up the fussy baby in that moment. It was perfect timing. Sorry Mr. Sales Manager. Fussy baby means we are done. Lets just sign that paperwork and be on our way, mkay?

Mom takes off work to stay home with sick babies

Playing with Mom's childhood puzzles

Now as for growth and milestones—the little monkey is gobbling up solid food all day long. He eats solids for breakfast, lunch, and dinner with two snacks in the day as well. At dinner, he is so hungry for his solid dinner that I can barely eat. If a spoon is not putting food in this boy’s mouth, he is whining. We are trying to teach him “more please” and “all-done” in sign language so we can hopefully cut the whining down. Every time Owen and I show him the sign, he smiles super big and just stares at our hands. I can tell he is thinking and taking it all in. But no signs yet of him doing it. Not giving up though. 🙂 He must be going through a growth spurt though or just not getting enough food in regardless of how hard I try because he has been waking up at 3AM again, screaming his head off until I come in at 5 and feed him. I won’t feed him before 5 AM. He is too big to be still eating at night. The problem is that the whole 3-day rule to the crying it out, just didn’t work for this one. After the 5th day, I decided to try problem solving. It was either teething, hunger, or just a stuck internal clock. I decided to try the hunger option first. He goes to bed at 7 and I go to bed around 10 or 11. So I decided to come in before I went to bed and do a dream-feed with just 4 oz of formula. Done. The kid didn’t wake up at 3 AM that night. And he even slept through the standard 5 AM wake up and feed me scream-a-thon that he has been doing the last couple of months, every single day. So that was it. He was just hungry. Now, I don’t want to continue doing a dream-feed. He has three teeth. Scratch that. He just cut his fourth tooth yesterday, on his 9-month birthday. So he has four teeth now and a dream-feed is not going to be good for cavities and such. So I’m hoping to just do this for a week or so and then stop again and see how it goes. Hopefully, it’s just a growth spurt. The problem is because I work, I cannot guarantee that he is getting enough food in the day. He is with his dad in the morning, who then drops him off at Grandmas, who then is picked up by his babysitter—Kelly, who then takes care of him until I pick him up at 4. And in between all the hands, communication is not always clear and I believe the changing people and environment sort of excite him—and so often times, I am told he just didn’t want to eat this meal or drink that bottle. I’m not really sure what to do about it. Hopefully, I won’t have to dream-feed long to compensate and instead, Jameson will just get used to the routine and eat better. Technically, Jameson has only been in this routine for one month. He had just Owen and then one sitter everyday up until the beginning of February. He may just need a little more time to get used to this program.

Berry Time!

So with other milestones—yes he has cut his fourth tooth. Also he can stand now on his own without support for a good 10-15 seconds before falling. He is just so proud of himself for doing this. You should see his beaming smile and excited squeal when he is able to balance this long. Also–today, he took his first few steps while holding my hands. Before today, I would try to “walk” him around, but he didn’t know what to do with his feet. I’d have to move his feet for him. But today, he moved his feet forward all by himself. And once he did it once with me, he wanted to do it again and again and again. He was sooooo excited that he could “walk.” Our babysitter Kelly has been able to watch the “steps” leading up until this moment and told me a few days ago that she thought Jameson would be walking soon. I wasn’t so sure. But now I can see that yes, it looks like we are on our way to a toddler here soon. Maybe a month. Still, it doesn’t mean he will be just walking around everywhere in a month. Kanan took his first real steps at 11 months but really didn’t start preferring walking over crawling until he was about 13 months old. It will be interesting to see which route Jameson takes.