happy. freakin. holidays.

ours went something like this…
a psycho tree. fighting off sickness. two long road trips. consumerism craziness…
and peace.
Emmanuel ~ God with us.
’twas the night before Christmas and all thru the Bab’s house, no one was stirring ~ not even the mouse who had pooped in their mini van last month…
the stockings were hung by the window with care, in hopes that mom and dad had all the presents wrapped up with care ~ under the most prickly, pointy, painful Christmas tree known to man…

the wee babs were nestled all snug in their beds ~ while visions of mom and dad wrapping what they written down on their Christmas lists danced in their heads…
and i in my stretchy pants and p.a. in his beanie cap ~ had just settled down to watch Trapped In Paradise as we wrapped… 

after the wrapping was finished, there arose such a laughter ~ as we then watched Christmas episodes of The Office and stayed up a lot later…
we sprang from the couch after the clock turned two a.m. ~ the kids will be up extraordinarily early and we will regret staying up late, yet again.

coffee would need to be consumed first, before they opened their gifts ~ our kids should know…
and they patiently waited on us between the hours of 5:45am [when they woke up] and 8:30am [when we woke up] ~ wouldn’t you know…
inhaling coffee, devouring cinnamon rolls and the Bible Christmas story was read ~ before any gifts were opened around here…
and their anticipation grew ~ as the time to find out what they were getting for Christmas drew near…
excitement enveloped the living room ~ and the time to open presents came quick…
each child was handed a gift to open since they couldn’t be near the tree, or they would be pricked ~ by the dagger needles on the psycho tree we picked from the lot on 256…
squeals of joy and thanks followed each unwrapping ~ as we had previously encouraged no one to complain…
and focusing on the birth of Jesus as the reason we celebrate, thinking *whew* ~ we survived Christmas shopping, once again… 

~happy*freakin holiday*truths~
about our psycho tree…
we picked out our tree from a lot on the main drag in our ‘burb.
it’s basically like the wal-mart of Christmas tree shopping.
every year we look forward to the tradition of picking out our tree.
we’ve bought trees from this lot in the past – but this year this one turned psycho on us.
we watered it – but the needles were so sharp – we could’ve drenched it with water and it would not have mattered.
so we threw the decorations on – and enjoyed it – from a distance.
about consumerism…
when the week before Christmas rolls around, we always seem to think up some last minute shopping to do – for crap we don’t need – no matter how much we plan ahead or tell ourselves we will limit our shopping. 
we plan to spend around $50 on each of our kids – but usually we manage to spend closer to $75 per kid – and that seems like a lot of money to spend on what is – essentially – crap.
this year Soleil (8) said, “mommy, i think you are buying me too much stuff.” *ouch*
out of the mouths of babes… this girl has wisdom.
she made Salem a Lego board game – it was one of his favorite gifts.
but we love to give to our kids – so we buy stuff we know they will enjoy – thinking ‘it will bring them happiness’. 
and once again we -walk right into- the trap of consumerism.
and the gifts we have utilized the most since christmas are the *family* gifts we bought – dominoes and table top ping pong – because what our kids enjoy most is spending time with us.
thankfully, they know the gifts they receive are only temporary – they won’t last forever – and they are all made in China.
about our road trip…
this holiday season we did something we’ve never done – we drove to and from Oklahoma (to visit my side of the family) for Thanksgiving and Christmas – that’s a total of 3,700+ miles with three kids 8 and under.
we’ve now declared ourselves legally insane -not really- but we are slightly crazy.
in all seriousness, we had a peace and excitement for the travel. 
there were many moments the Lord reminded me my purpose in going was to just “be”. 
be with family and friends we rarely see – enjoy the brief moments of time we had with them.
enjoy the moments with the kids and Adam – even the moments we felt ‘trapped’ in the car for 17 hours.

about sickness…
we were all sick on and off during the month of December – Soleil and Salem missed several days of school – and Soleil missed out on her holiday party 😦 
our kids always want to make a gingerbread house every Christmas – and i never do because i never feel like making one – so this year i tried, since Soleil missed her party – and it sucked (but the kids didn’t care-they were just happy i tried)
i never stressed too much about Christmas while we were sick – there was so much out of my control – and the whole experience taught me a lot about trust, rest and peace.
in our sickness, we were weak – and in our weakness, we had peace – and in that peace, we had rest. God was there.
Emmanuel ~ God with us.
thru the freakin holidays and always. 
Happy New Year Everyone!

The Original Playstation

I love fall.
Fall time is outstanding in central Ohio. The weather is perfect. The colors are vibrant. The pumpkin spice latte is baaaack at all the coffee shops.  
Yes. Fall is lovely. 
My favorite part about fall *besides all things pumpkin* is the time we spend outdoors… 
The original playstation.
Nothing beats the great outdoors. No “konkey kong”, Mario video game or anything on T.V. or the Wii can even. come. close.    
As summer comes to an end and fall is just around the corner, I can’t wait for all of the fun we are going to have in the great outdoors of Ohio.  
I’m also feeling nostalgic for the wonderful times we had this summer. Especially all the fun we had exploring the original playstation ~ the great outdoors of Oregon. 
*Here are some more snapshots*
Silver Falls State Park 

looking out from the top of the falls

silly & serious faces

Me & my sister in law Amber

our family with cousin Micah

Sisters, OR

I love that Oregon has a little town called “Sisters” & the capital of Oregon is “Salem”
Salem & his sisters playing at a park in Sisters, OR

The High Desert Museum ~ Bend, OR
Exploring the pioneer ranch

Smith Rock ~ Terrebonne, OR
During this hike we used the rapid shooting feature on Adam’s camera phone. It was fun to capture lots of facial expressions and background beauty of Smith Rock.

the slippery rocky trail

Aunt Amber!
Selah with cousin Noelle

the hike back up and out of the canyon

We ended the outdoor festivities with a campfire. Right next to a pile of wood chips.

So this fall we will be exploring the outdoors of central Ohio.
Wherever you live across the globe ~ get outdoors and enjoy 
the Original Playstation!

Top 10 Travel Tips

For the past 30 some years, Adam and I have both had the opportunity to travel many places, all over the world. 
We are almost travel pros.   
For some, traveling can be extremely stressful… especially with kids.  The thought of traveling with small children is close to having a root canal. 
BUT. You should GO!
Kids shouldn’t hold you back from traveling…Even as we were backpacking in Europe before we had our wee babs, we spent much of our time dreaming about one day traveling with our children.

Now, it is time to share our “Top 10 Travel Tips” for successful travel with children and adults, taken from our trip to Oregon last month.

1. Be prepared to wear a diaper.  
Ladies – sometimes you won’t know when “aunt flow” is gonna visit… if it happens at 10:30pm in a small Oregonian town with every store closed and no 24-hour Walmart handy, you’re gonna need an alternative… thankfully, I had a diaper handy when ‘flow’ visited me…and a wonderful husband who went out the next morning to buy me some necessities. Until then, the diaper worked brilliantly. and… they were pretty much the same size as the pads my hubby came home with. 
2. Be prepared for temper tantrums. from your children. and from yourselves. be prepared to handle them creatively.

Travel isn’t always easy.  Sometimes children and adults can get irritable.  Selah was throwing a fit on our way to Portland and nothing was settling her down…until she discovered mommy’s vaseline tube. she squirted it all over herself. I let her go with it. my brilliant idea worked.

3. Be prepared to take a nap. whenever. wherever. 
Sometimes tantrums break out as a result of being tired.  and when your child finally falls asleep, don’t move them.  even if they look uncomfortable.  it will be better for everyone involved, especially the old lady squished up next to you like a sardine on the airplane… trust me. let them sleep in whatever position they fall asleep in. and *bonus* if you get a nap in too. 

4. Be prepared to eat the same thing almost every day.
it’s easier. it’s cheaper. it takes up less brain space not thinking about what you’re going to eat. if you have a refrigerator handy, buy your food at the local market and pack it. 
we packed lunches nearly every day. sandwiches. fruit. veggies. chips. water.
it’s better for your body and for your kids if you have homemade food handy that everyone enjoys.  some restaurants can be nasty.
and don’t spend your whole travel experience at restaurants. be adventurous. 
discover an unexpected picnic spot.
Silver Falls State Park
Sitting outside of Whole Foods

5. Be prepared to find restaurants with toys.
When you do need to eat out, be prepared to find restaurants with toys. or places that are family friendly.  we prefer non-fast-food places which takes a little extra work on our part. with the help of the app Yelp it usually works out just fine.

We had a nice time when Grandma took the girls out to lunch at a tea shop, complete with gummy worms for the kids.
We also went to The Laughing Planet cafe. complete with dinosaurs on every table to enjoy.
lots of laughter at the Laughing Planet Cafe
After we finished eating, we used Yelp to help us find a nearby park
6. Be Prepared to embrace both the similarities and differences of each traveller. 
Our family enjoys most of the same things. playing. being outdoors. being silly. being together. eating the same things…
our kids are not picky about what they eat. they are pretty good at sharing too – a chicken salad with chips & salsa.
We are also very unique personalities. we need a break from one another. all of us need space at some point during travel. space while traveling with others can be hard to find – sometimes that “alone” time is available during a car ride… 
Salem asleep. Soleil “talking” to her friend on a toy cell phone.  Selah getting over a tantrum. 
7. Be prepared to embrace other cultures. and their ice cream. 
We went to Woodburn, Oregon and ate at a well known family owned Mexican restaurant one evening.  Woodburn has a large Hispanic population and is a very family friendly area.  We enjoyed and embraced every moment at the restaurant and the ice cream shop.

We also enjoyed the smiles we got from the window shopping we did.  In all my life and travels and shopping, I have never seen boots such as these… these boots were definitely made for walkin’.
8. Be prepared to wear the same thing during your travels and live out of your suitcase.
I don’t have any specific pictures to capture this point.  But if you look back at the pictures from the last few [Oregon travel] blog posts, you will see we pretty much wore the same outfits on our trip.
it’s easier to pack. it’s very freeing. just bring your 5 fav outfits. and a scarf! just do laundry.
it’s totally worth the less crap you have to cart around. especially when you also are carting 3 small children around.
9. Be prepared for all things random.
Life is too short to not. have. fun. Sometimes the random things you end up doing while traveling, end up making some of the most precious memories. 
You let your kids play on Grandpa’s treadmill with their cousins.

You take lots of pictures…of random things you find hilarious.
we told the kids these were “marsh-mellow farms”

You give your kids the extra leg room… they deserve it.
10. Be prepared to be thankful… in all circumstances. 
even in an hour of traffic because of the beauty around you.

even in the difficult moments flying home… remain thankful. 
home sweet home. with a monkey in the background.
Don’t expect perfection. just be prepared to be Thankful
Take your kids [or just yourselves] and Go.

We have taken our kids pretty much everywhere we go.  Here we are on our mission trip to India in 2007.  Since having the wee babs, we have been on the road, in airplanes, biking, boating, running, and walking everywhere with Soleil, Salem & Selah.  Soleil (8) has been flying since she was 6 weeks old.  She has flown several times and been on countless road trips in her short life.
This picture is from their first nap in India-Soleil (3) & Salem 9 mos).

Live out of your suitcase. 
Eat the same thing everyday. 
Let yourself have a tantrum. and a nap. and be prepared…

Be prepared to Embrace. Experience. and Enjoy. every. crazy. pointless. ridiculous. random. silly. moment.

God’s Sandbox

Ahhh…the Beach!
God’s sandbox.
Get there if you can. Really.

The Northwest Pacific Ocean…
It’s sandy, rocky, windy, sometimes cold, sometimes sunny and always beautiful.
The waves crashing against the shore is the most somber sound.
The openness of the ocean is overwhelming.
The vastness of the view is incredible.
The sands by the seashore are innumerable.
Here are some pictures from our trip to Oregon… 
where we had some really great times playing in God’s sandbox.

we thought the flying nun was chasing us, but it was just Grandma 🙂

Soleil & cousin Noelle

Selah and Noelle

Adam and the three wee Babs with cousin Micah
Salem wore daddy’s sweatshirt when it started turning chilly
Soleil kept warm with her sand blanket

Grandma had to take drastic measures to stay warm

Then the sun came out again on our way home

It didn’t matter that we were caught in traffic for an hour; I was driving and couldn’t stop smiling, after a beautiful beach day in God’s sandbox!
The Pacific northwest coast is more often a sweatshirt beach, than a swimsuit beach.
And there is always the option of wearing a wet suit.
If you’re okay with this, and you prepare by bringing different layers of clothing, you will LOVE it!
On our last trip to the beach, the last day of our trip, we had the chance to go boogie boarding.
Adam jumped at the opportunity and ran to rent his wet suit and board as soon as we got there. 
But I was more hesitant.
I debated for about 30 minutes, worrying about the kids…would they get bored, tired or cranky sitting on the sand with Grandma & Grandpa?  Worrying about myself…would I have enough energy to withstand the ocean waves tossing me around?  I’m not a good swimmer, what if I drowned?  Worrying about the money…was it worth the $35 cost of renting the wet suit and board for 24 hours, knowing I might only use it for 30 minutes if I hated it???
Then, God slapped me upside the head and said, 
“You’ll regret it if you don’t.”
So, I ran over to the surf shop to rent my wet suit.
Have you ever worn a wet suit? 
They are extremely difficult to put on… and get out of.
But it was worth it. Every penny of the $35. Every ounce of energy it took for me to get in. and out. of that wet suit. so worth it!
We boogie boarded for about 3.5 hours and still weren’t ready to go.
The breakdown of the cost ended up at $10/hour… so worth it.
I could spend $35 on so many other things, but nothing can replace that experience.
And of course, the kids were never bored hanging out with Grandma and Grandpa, playing in God’s sandbox.

Any chance you get, get to a beach, any beach!
For your kids, for yourselves, for your friends, get there!

Who wants store bought sand shoved into a plastic turtle which ends up being used for cat litter box when the lid is left off accidentally??
We need the Beach…
We need to spend time in God’s Sandbox.

Model ~ Size 8

I’m not a model…
But that doesn’t matter…
My hubby thinks I am the most beautiful woman in the world.

Most of the time, I wear a size 8. 

Sometimes, I can wear a size 6.
I’m only 5’3″, so I’ll never be a model.
You’ll never see my face on the cover of People, Cover Girl or Vogue magazine.
Oh, and add the fact that I’ll most likely never wear a size 2 again either.

Usually, Models are super skinny… super tall…and for some reason they always look super sulky, serious or sad.
These things I am not.
However, I am perfectly comfortable in my size 8 jeans.
And… my hubby thinks I am the most beautiful woman in the world.

When we went on our 15th Anniversary trip to the coast a few weeks ago, we were goofing around with Adam’s camera on his new phone which does rapid shooting.
I absolutely LOVE laughing, making silly faces and having fun.
This is our photo shoot 🙂

Adam and I have known each other for 17 years…
In that time, we haven’t changed that much. 
We have a few more wrinkles and silver lining in our hair.
There are times when we feel strong and times we feel more like jello.
We’ve had times when we both put on weight and lost it.
There are times when we feel comfortable in our own skin and times when we don’t.
Now we make it a priority to work out, eat healthy and take care of ourselves…
For ourselves, for each other and for our family.
I think Adam is the most handsome and amazing man in the world.
Here is a little photo shoot I took with his camera when we went to Smith Rock in Oregon.
He wasn’t a fan of my taking his picture with his rapid shoot camera phone, but I did it anyway 🙂

Take time to take pictures.
Take time to take care of yourself.
Thankfully, we are all unique.
I know that God sees me as His beautiful child.
I know that God loves me more than Adam does!
Take time to Know God’s love for you.
Take time to Know how God sees you.
He sees you as beautiful!