So where was I? Oh that’s right, we were seated at the wedding on time despite a few wrong turns along the way.  The bride (Chad’s cousin) was glowing and her future husband was as well.  It was my first Catholic wedding. Combining mass with the sacrament of marriage was beautiful. The only downside to the entire ceremony was the eleven year old next to me who kept repeating: “That didn’t work with you and dad.”  Taking four children of divorce to a wedding opens up a lot of “fun” conversation.

Then it was off to the reception which, according to every high/low game we have played since then, was everyone’s favorite part of the trip.  Amazing food, fun dancing, more amazing food, all in celebration of a couple who were just floating they were so happy…it truly was the best wedding I’ve attended.

When we were all full of cake and some of us were also full of wine, we left the glamour of drinkable running water, electricity and wi-fi to head to a little shack in the woods of Gilroy, CA…

Long time, no write. And I have a certain man in my life who likes to remind me of this often.  Said man has requested I blog about our trip to California this past week, and I am obliging him.

We left town early on Thursday morning.  The kids were pretty quiet for the first few hours as they were still waking up.  Within a few hours, Ashton was reading aloud from a book.  He had found a “Bucket List” for pre-teens, and one item was to “beat a grown up in a foot race.”  Ash quickly responded, “I could totally win that! My feet grow SO FAST!” And thus began my list of humorous comments said on our trip. 

We made a stop at the Turtle Bay Museum. We are members of our local Science Museum primarily because it allows us free access to other museums when we travel.  We needed a place to stop for our picnic lunch, so we ended up making a quick run through the museum.  It was HOT, like 105, so it was nice to have some time in the AC and to stretch our legs. 

We loaded back up and made it to Chad’s sister’s in Sacramento around 3:30pm.  The kids immediately hit the swimming pool where they stayed until it was time to get ready for bed.  The next day we were on the road again, our eventual destination was The Cupertino Inn, but we had plans to hit a few places on the way. First, we visited the largest permanent Monopoly board in the world. The kids love Monopoly, and one kid in particular was very excited about this quick stop.  After a picnic in the park, we made our way to the Tech Museum for more [free] forced family fun!  The museum was a blast! We experienced real earthquakes in a simulator, repaired the space station like astronauts, created our own rollercoasters then rode them, raced in wheelchairs, and played a giant game of Labrynth.  It was a very, very fun museum.

And then we were off to the hotel! Chad changed our reservations a few days prior to our trip because the previously booked one didn’t have free breakfast (very important with four kids!) and we couldn’t tell if it had a pool.  Overall, it just wasn’t that kid friendly!  The new hotel did not disappoint! Outside of a little glitch at check in (they had no suites available so we ended up in two separate rooms) we hit the pool! We were told at 5pm they would begin serving happy hour, which ended up being a huge buffet with a free open bar! The kids piled their plates with meatballs, burritos, cheese and crackers, while Chad and I enjoyed generously poured beverages.  The kids couldn’t stop talking about how much they LOVED the hotel and wanted to stay forever. 

The following morning was a bit crazy…after enjoying a large breakfast buffet, I raced around trying to pack up while ironing clothes and getting kids ready for the wedding.  Somehow we made it out of the hotel by 9:40am, and after a few wrong turns, we were at the church by 10am, seated, and ready for the ceremony to begin…

more to come!

Pics can be found at www.flickr.com/photos/oxenaoli

Last Friday we stopped by my Fairy Godmother Pam’s house to drop off her birthday gifts. The kids somehow ended up exploring the attic (her house is like a kid’s paradise with nooks and crannies and hidden doorways).  Carsyn found an American Girl Doll which she proceeded to carry around with her the remainder of our visit and, much to her delight, it was offered to her to keep.  To say she was thrilled would be an understatement. Apparently the doll is Savannah, but Car has named her Maddy after Pam’s youngest daughter who was the original owner.

Here is a pic from Friday night of Carsyn, who had crawled into my bed to watch TV.  Maddy is the doll closest to her.

And on a side note, just to show how much my daughter LOVES her American Girl Dolls, here is a text string from a discussion she had with Chad a few weeks ago:

So Friday night we had an extra cute 4 year old hanging out with us at Chad’s, and we were down one 11 year old boy who was at a birthday party.  They played, we all ate nacho’s, and Chad and I watched The Truman Show. That movie holds up. Still great.

I didn’t even push bedtime because experience has taught me that Car and Mar will stay up past 10p regardless of what time I put them to bed. It’s not worth the struggle. So long after Ash was sound asleep, these two crawled into bed to begin the book reading, sheep counting hour that preceeds this scene:

Saturday morning found me at the stove making pancakes much earlier than I would have preferred.    And it found Carsyn playing hair stylist to Mar…nice mohawk!

Chad had graduation to attend, and we were once again down the 11 year old who was at yet another birthday party, so the four kids and I played at the park and basketball hoop while I continuously repeated that it was too cold to go swimming at 10am on June 9th in 50 degree weather.  Once they all put their feet in and found the water was 81 degrees, I gave in and told them I would let them swim at 11am if they let me get a few things done at home.  They were not allowed to complain about being cold ONCE. They happily swam for an hour.

First swim of the season!

Saturday night Chad and I went to a party and then grabbed some dinner and groceries…don’t all couples grocery shop on date nights?  Sunday morning I woke bright and early to begin preparations for Ash’s Family Birthday Party.  We still made it to mass at 11am and the party was pretty much ready to begin at the 1pm start time.

So Ash’s cake was fun to put together. I made a simple white cake using this recipe, then made cream cheese frosting and bought a bunch of Cookies and Cream Hershey Bars.  I frosted the cake then took the chocolate bars, broke off one row, then cut diagonals across the top to create a castle look. Then I threw a bunch of fresh strawberries on top. Ash’s favorite candy bars and favorite fruit together? He was a happy kid.

Our dear friend Paige hanging with the kiddos…My kids are blessed to have many “Aunties”…

Beautiful day for a party!

We raced from the party to Ash’s game that started at 3:15pm. I then hung out with Carsyn and watched Jason’s game which was on the same field at 5:30pm while Chad, Ash and Ty headed to Ty’s game a few miles away. We all then met up at Ty’s game and headed to Super Taco. A few of us were a bit crisp from the sun…All of us were hungry and exhausted…

Handsome boys in their uniforms…and the supportive sis who sat through a heck of a lot of baseball yesterday…

Alas, I found myself falling asleep on the couch by 9:40pm. I called Chad, said goodnight, and the rest is history. I didn’t stir until the sun peaked through the curtains!

Quote of the week: “You are going to make a great therapist!” ~ Texted to me from my hairdresser after our appointment. Made my week.

Yikes. Eleven is just way too close to ages ending in “teen”.

I told him he wasn’t allowed to make himself breakfast today because I had a special breakfast planned.  So he began attempts to wake me up at 6am.  I held him off til 7.

I made him pancakes topped with fresh strawberries. The kid is addicted to strawberries. His sister made him a card that says “The #1 Brother Award” complete with string so he can wear it around his neck.

He asked to re-light the candle so he could make another wish.

Regardless of genetic connection, my son got a lot of behaviors from me, and we have quite a few things in common: his need for blankets on the couch, his compassion for others, his love of cuddling and all things cozy.  He loves to bake and try new recipes. He loves to be outside. He loves to talk, play games, and treasures family.

The similarities end there. He falls asleep the minute his head hits the pillow and is up before the sun, while his “lazy” mom can barely open her eyes until 8am.  He passes on dessert, doesn’t have much of a sweet tooth, and is concerned about the healthiest option.  He never sees his responsibility in any situation…it is always everyone else’s fault.  While he likes to give, he’s also very good at receiving.  I have yet to see him try something new and fail.  He seems to have a natural gift at anything he attempts.  I remember the day I realized that he could naturally hit, kick, throw, or shoot a ball.  I remember when he began beating me in any sport we played. He is naturally talented in most of the areas where I struggle.

He knows how to push every button I have and he knows how to melt my heart into a million pieces. He made me a mom and the first year of his life was the most fun I’ve ever had.  He continues to be the best gift anyone has ever given me and I thank God for choosing me to be his mama!

Ash @ 11 months

Ash @ 11 Years

A few things I discovered today while on a walk with the cutest 4 year old ever:

First bloom in the garden…two lavenders!

A Buddha Board…we stopped into the office at my apartment complex to ask a question and discovered this board…you paint with water on a canvas and it creates a fun picture that will erase when it dries. A reminder to: “Stay in the moment.” (I think this will be on my birthday list.)

And we wrote a poem on our walk:

The cotton from the trees

Blows in the breeze

And makes us…SNEEZE! (Marshall yells that last part…)

Have a wonderful weekend!

I absolutely love my little place, but one of the drawbacks to apartment living is not having a yard.  Although I  have a cute little deck, it does not get any sun. None. Ever.  So growing a vegetable garden is impossible.  Last year I researched shade gardens and was able to plant a few pots on the deck, and I do love flowers, but I definitely felt like I was missing something not being able to putter and watch my tomatoes and zucchini grow.

My apartment complex started a community garden last year and set up 9 garden plots. There is a lottery to win one for the season, so  I put my name in this year but wasn’t overly optimistic.  There are over 300 apartments in my complex, and I am not the luckiest girl when it comes to drawings. So imagine my surprise when I found out I got one!! I was giddy!!

I wanted to plant with the kids, so yesterday was the scheduled day to get up, hit Home Depot, and buy our plants.  We chose 4 tomatoes, 4 zucchini, 2 cucumber, 2 basil, 1 dill, 1 rosemary, 4 strawberries, and 2 lavender.  When we started planting, I quickly lost all control over the project. I had three kids digging, planting, climbing in the dirt, and re-organizing the nice little layout I had created.  I took a deep breath and decided to release control and let go! The final result is not nearly as chaotic as it felt during the planting process!

Oh and I had to take a picture of another plot that had this beautiful Artichoke plant! The kids and I had to observe some restraint because we were suddenly CRAVING some buttery artichoke! They wouldn’t miss just ONE would they? (Of course we didn’t, but we thought about it…)

Looking forward to some garden puttering this Summer!

So wow…this has been a week.  School has been incredibly heavy lately as I currently have two classes, one on crisis intervention and the other on cultural and spiritual issues. In short, we are studying about domestic abuse, violence, sexual assault, child abuse, incest, suicide, tragedy, self-injury, etc. After class this past Wednesday I just sat on my couch and sobbed. It’s been tough, not that it has has scared me into thinking this profession isn’t for me, just tough to accept the realities of life. I also volunteered this week for the first time at a local Food for Lane County location that serves free meals on weeknights, another reality I am not faced with on a regular basis. This is all good for me…good growth and challenges…but still an adjustment to peak your head out of the little world you live in so safely.

So when a friend asked if my kids and I wanted to sneak away for a quick trip to the beach this weekend for a night, I might have replied with a quicker than normal: “YES PLEASE!” I haven’t even told my kids yet, and they will be beyond excited to spend 24 hours with some of their favorite people.

Outside of the trip, it’ll be a weekend of homework, garden planting, hopefully a few walks, and enjoying family.

I can almost smell the ocean now…

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