Thursday, April 28, 2011

Spring Break: Boardwalk Beach Stop

Who doesn't try to hit the boardwalk during Spring Break?
Well, since we were expecting rain, our group had decided to take the kids to play miniature golf on the Boardwalk in Santa Cruz.
Spending some time on the beach was another thought we semi-prepared for...but it seemed to be a long shot since it was drizzling while we drove there.
So we parked on the wharf and people watched while we waited for our food.

Oh and we were joined by some lazy sea lions lounging beneath our feet.
Then we took a vote....and the kids wanted to hit the sand! 
At what age does it stop being comfortable to roll around in the sand like this?
Ah, who cares?  It was a blast to watch them play.
The rain clouds were long gone, and only a bit of wind lingered.
But the overall temperature wasn't really cold until you sat there wet.

This crew is so easy going!
We stayed here for a couple hours, changed the kids and then most of the group headed off to walk the boardwalk.  
But since the rides had closed, we went out for chinese food instead.
I love having no agenda...and just hanging out with great families.
It makes for great memory-making!

And as we rolled back into our driveway after 11pm in the evening.
We were still full of smiles.
It was a magical day! 

Spring Break: Mystery Spot

I love me some adventure....and I am certainly training up some great mini-me's.
So the day after Easter we jumped on board with our thrill seeking friends and drove off into the mountains to find the Mystery Spot.
What's that you ask?
Yeah, we weren't sure either....
We waited over an hour for our tour to start....
and in the meantime we hiked up a hill across the parking lot.
A hill with a narrow pathway full of mud and gorgeous greenery.
It was refreshing.....

...and spectacularly tiring.
Well, especially if you're wearing platforms ;)
The kids were happy to reach the top, and I was happy once we were back at the bottom.
As for Natalia, she thought she had visited a land of was THAT lush.
So back to the mystery of The Spot.
It's a strange intersection of daring engineering and gravity.
Where things should have hung perpendicular to the floor, 
they tilted off to the side.
Witness the door jamb Ian is holding onto....see how it stands at an angle to the right of his body.
Then there were the walls you could climb without holding on...
Several times the guide would pull out a billard ball and show us how it would 'roll' uphill.
Like it did on this rolled to the left. 
And the optical illusion of this row of women...who once they changed longer looked like they were in order of height.
But instead they appeared to be the same size.
It's tough to explain.  
But I promise, it was a trip in person!
The kids were amazed...which made it all worth it :)
I, on the other hand, experienced SEVERE equilibrium issues for the next three days!
That is some serious visual trickery!
What a great time though....and it was only the beginning.
Next we headed to the boardwalk.....but that will have to wait for another post.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Photoshoot Bloopers

For every shot that I love...I get one that makes me smile....and not necessarily for 'good' reasons.
So today, on Good Friday, I thought I'd share a few 'bloopers.'

May your weekend be filled with reflection and family, and beautiful memories!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Spring Break Photo Shoot

On Monday we took a field trip to Klove radio station in Rocklin, CA.  On our way home I bribed the kids with a trip to Old Town Sacramento.
I really wanted some decent shots of the three of them.
They really just wanted a treat. 
So we fed a meter and off we went:
Anymore, their crazy personalities are tough to contain in ONE frame: 
And don't even ask me what a REAL smile looks like.....they are all so rehearsed nowadays!
Though I'll give this little one credit.
She was also miserable with a runny nose.  So I was just happy her hair wasn't completely bonkers by this time of day :) 
She is Oh so willing to pose. 
She's just too quick for my shutter.
So most of my shots are blurry.
Oh, for the day I get to upgrade.
Courtney (my camera), you've been faithful, but we're outgrowing 
your abilities! 
Merrick is a ball of smiles, so it's a treat to get something a little more pensive: 
This one holds so much truth.  
Shy, outgoing, nervous.  
It's all there. 
Some of my favorite shots were taken against this brick wall.
My three kids and a red wall...
woo hoo!
And this was the most relaxed I saw them ALL day ;) 
It was beautiful really.  The overcast skies, the goofy smiles.
One rubber band gun, a Ring Pop and a Hexbug later, 
I'm thinking it was all worth it.
My favorite shots of the day;
(The love of brothers! )
And one of my favorite shots of our oldest: 
Til next time Sac.....we'll be back.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Friendly Advice

*I wrote this post so long ago....but the timing wasn't right to post it then.
But maybe today it's something you need to hear from God as well:
I've learned so much this week.
Or maybe I was just reminded.
That life is much simpler when you think like a child.
No second guessing.
No assumptions.
Just trust.

Several situations were given to me where I was biting my lip, waiting for the drama to unfold.
Times where I was praying for the strength before a confrontation. 
Instances where I thought, this is it....I'm going to have to have one of 'those' talks with someone and need to defend my actions.  The times I could NOT relax at a concert, on a road trip, at a function, because I thought I was being judged, or not living up to an expectation. 

And after I fretted, and avoided the impending conversations or interactions, God blessed me with reassurance.  Gentle pats on the back to say, "See, things are NOT always what they seem."
That phone call I avoided ended up with joyous news, NOT drama and guilt.  The meeting I thought for SURE would end with one or both of us tearing up over misunderstandings....well, it didn't happen.  Because it wasn't needed.  That person never even worried about the situation I had second-guessed.

  But the point is NOT the whos and the wheres of each situation.
It could be ANY situation. 
God took this week and hugged me tightly.
Through a friend He even Commanded me, NOT to dwell on the guilt anymore.
It is not for me to carry the assumptions of others even one step further.

When I do, I miss out on the joy. 
That reassurance that I get from loving and being loved by a miraculous God! 

He has confirmed in my heart that I am loved and meant to love.  That I am now surrounded by SO many genuine relationships that ooze honesty and forthrightness.  Not assumptions and hidden anger.  Just concern for each other, and the ability to build each other up even in the most difficult of circumstance.

And in that way, I was reminded today, of the simplicity of loving like a child. 
For when my daughter saw this little girl without a friend......she held out her hand. 
I don't think she worried about her best friend who was now walking 10 steps ahead of her.  OR for the slide she would not be able to go down with this little girl.  She was content in loving this little person who just happed to need somebody.  No questions asked.  Just loving her!

At that moment I was proud of her and her willingness to reach out.
There would be NO guilt for her to wrestle with...or misunderstandings for her to maneuver.
So this week;
I'm choosing hope and LOVE.  And to let it go.
The shadow of the past will no longer cast itself over my healthy relationships.
I will NOT second guess EVERY. SINGLE. ACTION I make.

Monday, April 4, 2011

A Day in the Life...

....of a Tea Lady.
Every Friday our co-op enjoys tea together.
It's a feat to present a beautiful table and treats for 50-60 people.
As small as they may be.
High tea may normally be set with the finest bone china.
But I'd challenge you to find a more beautiful moment than three helpful toddlers loading up a cart of odds and end china.  
These pieces have been lovingly collected for our group and
 are crazily stored in one little cabinet on site. 
Amazingly enough, it's usually the adults who end up breaking the random cup each week. 
Not that anything could stop this production!  One week I had volunteered to launder the tablecloths and napkins.  Heading out the door the next week I realized they were still dirty and in their original bag.  
Somehow we managed with available plastic table cloths, 
paper napkins and a lot of grace! 
The point of this tea time is instruction, not perfection!

Now onto our menu, which is the fluid side of this production.
Our food choices follow the guide of a savory, sweet, and fresh course.
Half the fun is watching what the three assigned families bring to share.  Homemade scones, breakfast muffins, crudite, hummus, you name it, we've served it!
And when one forgets, (as all of us are prone to do atleast once!)'s a gift to see how we pull together and provide for the meal.
From a quick run down to Safeway, or a trip to the car for a full bag of pretzels.
There is always plenty of food for the kiddos to enjoy!
The Tea Lady arrives before any other teacher to ensure the tables and chairs are set up.
Then the tablecloths are smoothed out and the places set with a cup/saucer, a small plate, cloth napkin and a teaspoon. Colored photos are placed along each table for discussion during tea time.  Each term we focus on one artist and we rotate through chosen pieces each week. The kids are taught to discuss the colors and content of each piece, as well as the mood/intentions of the artist.  
Sometimes they even discuss how they might have changed a piece if they were its creator.
Sugar cubes are replenished, milk is poured into creamers, and colorful placecards are distributed.
Once the tables are set and the food is plated, a classical composition is piped into the room to complete the atmosphere.  Then, before we serve the tea, and pray, we also have the children review etiquette.

If you would have asked me a year ago how my boys would do sitting down for tea, 
I would have been speechless.
Now I know that they not only enjoy this time, 
but they appreciate the effort that it takes to set the tea on their behalf.
Our Tea Lady is quite fantastic at what she does.... 
For after the quick teatime, there are tables to be cleared and a counter full of dishes to be hand washed.
It all amounts to a busy morning with dozens of caring mommas involved.
While the students return to their classes, a small troupe works to undo all that was set up only two hours before.  But we all know that doing dishes ANYWHERE other than home, especially with friends is infinitely MORE enjoyable!  
Soon the little cupboard will be full again and ready for the next week's hospitality.  

And THAT my friend, is a day/or morning in the life of a 'Tea Lady.'
*This post dedicated to the one who makes it all happen.  Stop blushing! You are loved <3