Monday, October 16, 2017

San Francisco

We have break and I always am torn with wanting to get away and staying home and doing stuff here.  I feel like I am cheating the kids if we don't go away on some fun adventure.

We were going to go to San Diego but the fires came to northern and southern california and I decided to stay put.  I wasn't sure what the air quality would be and if the Anaheim fires would get worse.

We had a lot of playdates and played outside a lot which was a lot of fun.  The kids had fun.  Scott said it was a good balance of relaxation and activities so I guess that is nice.  It was so nice that we had days off of sports.  Even though it meant staying inside and getting cabin fever from the smoke outside, it was nice to be home.

We went to San Francisco on Saturday because a meet got cancelled from the fires.  Loaded the bikes, road around Golden Gate Park and followed signs to a lake.  I am realizing there is so much that is close by.  People come from all over the world for a day in San Francisco and it is in our backyard.  We are so lucky! It was this little lake with a boathouse that we couldn't see but apparently rented paddle boats.  Scott wanted to do that.  After the kids got their fix of throwing bread, dirt and pebbles to the ducks, we headed on bike to rent our boat.  We were on the boat for probably an hour.  It was a lot of fun.  Parker and Hanna did great until about the last 15 minutes and then we just wanted to get back.  The kids liked trying to catch the turtles that sunbathed on the logs.  They all enjoyed pedaling. Parker and Tyler took off their shoes and hung their feet off the back of the boat.  It was a really beautiful day.  Nice to be out of the smoke.  Nice to be outdoors.  We headed back and hung out on the grass.  The kids all got sticks to play with and fight with.  We people watched all the people in their late 20's hanging out, having bbq's, playing volleyball.  Everyone seemed to be out.  We laughed about what it was like pre kids in the City.  Wondered who of these people would remain with this life, who wanted a family.  I loved seeing a group of people playing a very casual badmitton tournament.  About 30 people paired up dressed in teams of 2.  So eclectic and inclusive.  That is one thing that I really like about San Francisco's quick glimpse.

A fun day in the City!  So grateful we are so close to so many wonderful places. 

California Wildfires

A couple of weeks ago were massive hurricane Harvey that hit Houston killing almost 40 people and leaving 100000 homes flooded.  Then another hurricane destroying Caribbean islands and Florida killing 130+ people. That was after vast evacuations.  Cops and media for days telling people they needed to get out. A high school classmate showed the devastation of living on Anguilla.  Still no running water and pretty much a desolate island.  Then the mass shooting by a shooter from a hotel into a crowd at a Country concert in Las Vegas which killed almost 60 people and injured nearly 600.  Followed by California Wildfires in Napa, Yuba City and Santa Rosa.  Fires that spread soo quickly people didn't have time to evacuate. So far killing over 40 people that I am sure is going to climb.

One disaster after another.  The scriptures tell us that devastation will sweep the earth in the latter-days.  Is this just a coincidence or will this continue to be the norm?  Is my mind baffled because they hit so close to home?  It is devastation. Entire communities destroyed, lived put on hold, lives lost, countless people whose lives will never be the same.

It is heartbreaking.  It makes me humbled, sad, praying often for all those that are hurting.  Grateful for the plan of salvation and a knowledge of a world far better after this one.  I feel so grateful for this life and reminded to give, be more forgiving, more patient and grateful.  People 40 minutes away had their lives turned upside down. It is amazing to see so many helping and wanting to help in small and simple ways.  Coming together to help people we don't even know but who we love and pray for.

I pray that this stops.  That there is some respite from the storms of life.  I recognize a need to be better.  To help more. To love more. 

Life pretty much shut down the past couple of days because of smoke and we weren't even that close.  You woke up to thick smoke you could smell and taste.  The smell of campfire everywhere.  You realized if it was like that here, what it must be like for firefighters, victims, closer communities.  The sky was red.  You could look directly at the sun because it was covered in smoke.  Going 10 minutes could be drastically worse or better.  We went into San Francisco on Saturday and there was a line of grey with smoke underneath.  You realize that not far away huge fires are still raging.  The City would have people who were directly affected by the fire.  So sad!

All our sports, schools and pretty much everything was cancelled.  Nobody was outside, masks were put on and it was time to reflect, slow down and serve.

I vividly remember the San Francisco earthquake.  Where I was, how I felt, events of the day, watching the news.  I was at home watching TV, eating a snack and getting ready for swim.  I remember my mom running down the stairs and telling us to get under the doorway and the earth shook again.

I remember 9/11.  We were at morning practice and Stan got us all out and we watched a little TV in his office of the aftermath.  It was surreal.  Almost as if you are in a dream.

These events I will remember.  They can't be forgotten.  They remind us to be more grateful, more giving and aware the earth is filled with good people who just want to help.

Friday, October 6, 2017

Swim Meet Fail & Sewing

I entered Kira and Scott in the swim meet next weekend but forgot to pay and the meet closed.  Totally something I would do and total bummer because I go to work anyway and they both wanted to go.  Oh well.  But making lemonade out of lemons.  Scott was bummed because he wanted to do 200 breast and 200 free.  What a difference compared to a month ago when he was too scared to do those events and complained that he needed to do meets.  He said he was excited to do new events.  Progress as a swimmer.  He thinks he is going to do one more year of Dana Hills then switch to year round.  I am excited for him. I think he will have a great time and develop as a swimmer.  He is pretty small and skinny and did great with 50's but it will be fun to see him gain confidence in other events and grow as a swimmer.  Only problem is going so far for swim but  I am putting it in the Lords hands.  It is so nice having danny so close to us, bike the kids to school, come home for lunch, and be 5  minutes from home by bike.  One of our greatest blessings in life for our entire family.  However, now I am finding myself commuting the kids to their activities that are all about 30 minutes away.  Kids activities seem to be a lot more established in Walnut Creek area.  It is so nice having him close to home but becoming a pain to drive the kids to activities.  I don't mind the driving.  It is actually nice to think, listen to the radio, talk to the kids but I know it would be nicer for them to be home for dinner and give them more down time at home.  Especially as homework starts.  Right now they all pretty much do their home work at school. 

I am totally content and feel very blessed right now in life. A lot of that comes from the addition of Hanna.  The other part comes from loving what I do.  I am blessed for my jobs, Danny's work is going great, our kids are doing relatively well.  Life is pretty simple and great!  We love our callings!  Both in callings that we are good at and allows us to be with our family.  So I realize it can't get much better except for commuting to Walnut Creek and Concord but that is pretty minimal in the scheme of things.  Part of me realizes that it can't get much better than that so I am hesitant to change anything about it.  Dana hills is really close to us so it is basically just from Sept-Dec driving to aquabears but come next year it would be all year.  We shall see what ends up happening.  It always all works out and I know it will work out how it should. 

One activity Tyler started was sewing.  After getting over the  fact that he was the only boy in the class, he is really enjoying it.  So far he has made a baby blanket, pillow case and apron.  He said that the hardest part is thinking about how he is going to design his project.  He said he spends all his time thinking about what to do and then only has about 30 minutes to sew.  That is the same way I am.  So not creative.  I worry too much about it turning out just right so grateful he gets to be in something that allows him to think and create since it is hard for him.  He is enjoying learning how to sew. Our sewing machine needs a new pedal that Danny is ordering so it will be fun to see him comfortable on the sewing machine. Always great learning new skills!

Best part of his sewing is that he walks from his class to my work and comes into the pool with a big smile on his face excited to show me his creation.  Glad he is enjoying it so much!

Tylers 10

Tyler turned 10 a month ago and we went to Sacramento for Labor Day. We had his party over break.  He likes his yearly sleepover birthday party.  I don't love sleepovers but the kids always seem to have a great time.  They came over, played in the front yard throwing around a football. We then went to pick up pizza at Mountain bikes and the kids mounted bikes, scooters, spinny cars and whatever they could to walk to the pizza place.  We went to the park and Scott's friends came to play basketball and Tyler's friends threw nerf footballs I got them at the park. Made up game of tag with footballs while they ate pizza.  Scott is leaving the kid/play stage and entering the hang out, meet up with friends, get to places on his own, plan his hang outs via text stage.  Don't know how that happens or how I have a kid that old. Tyler is not far behind.  Came home when it was dark to do a fire and smores, followed by Captain Underpants and a no sleep over as Danny refers to it. It was a great time had by all. Tyler invited about 12 kids but 8 of them were out of town for the first week of break.  It ended up being 4 really great kids that all had a great time celebrating Tyler.  Tyler felt so special and had a great time which equals birthday success!   It was so great to see him so happy and feel so special.  I am so grateful we had such a great time.  I used to plan everything and have these activities and now realize to go with the flow. I had this cute table set for his birthday, but the kids wanted to eat at the park so we opened up the pizza boxes an they ate as they play which was great.  I am grateful I have learned to go with the flow and let the magic happen.  Those really are the best days and memories.  Letting kids be kids.  Happy Birthday Tyler!  We love you! 

Saturday, September 30, 2017

1st Fall Swim Meet

We had our first fall swim meet today.  It was a beautiful high 80's day at Acalanes.  I saw a bunch of otters which was so fun.  It is amazing how much I have grown to love these little swimmers and their families in just 2 seasons.  They do so much for our team and my family to help me coach.  I am full of gratitude and so proud of how hard these swimmers work.

I have reflected on what athletic success really is.  So often I see parents and kids view success as the end product or a time which I don't totally agree with.  I think success is measured in the journey.  The journey of working hard, balancing life, life lessons and growth along the way that inevitably will lead to the end product.  We put too much emphasis on the end product that it takes away from the things the athlete actually controls.  They might not be able to go the goal, but they can make it to workouts, work hard, improve skills and become better people and athletes along the way. Focusing on the journey inevitably results in an amazing end product.  

I told Scott that a great goal he could have this season was to try new events.  He is an 11-12 which means that he gets to do 200 strokes this year.  Not sure if they are offered as a 9-10 but there is NO way he would have done that last season.  The 200 free gave him great anxiety for about 2 weeks prior to racing it last season.  That is a rec swimmer problem that only this area truly understands.  I saw how hard it was for him last year.  He did amazing the 2 times he swam it but really wanted him toovercome his anxiety about trying new, longer distances.

So I decided I would try to help him overcome some of that fear.  I decided I would give him $5 for every new event he tried.  I told the other coaches today that I have resorted to bribing my child to swim new events.  One coach said I was just motivating him. Well, it motivated him and I don't feel too bad about it.  

So Scott did the 100 breast, 200 IM and 200 back for the first time today.  He was nervous but not as nervous as last year.  I was so proud of him.  He didn't totally know how to swim the events but he did great and did his best!  I was so proud of him for going out of his comfort zone and growing as an athlete. 

His attitude this morning prior to swimming was that he was never going to do those events again.  And the best part of the day was when he was going to bed he said he hoped he had another chance to swim the events this season because he knows he can do better.  That is SUCCESS!  Not the times or how well he swam the race but the attitude and confidence of wanting to swim distances that he was once afraid of. He said he wasn't afraid of them anymore.  YEAH!

So proud of him.  So grateful for Steve and Russel who are positive, great coaches.  We are blessed!

Kira also swam. She did the 50 breast and 100 IM as well as 25 free and back.  She wasn't nervous and I was so proud of her.  I think back to last year when she wouldn't even swim and would definitely not do swim meets.  She has come such a long way.  So proud of her!
It was a fun day.  Hanna came with us and was such a good girl.  I am grateful for a job that my kids to be a part of.  That is why I do it.  I feel like I get to do something that I love and am good at that is a part of my kids lives.

I am grateful for sports and what they are teaching my kids about life.  It is a great journey!

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Typical Day with Parker

It is fun having some time with Parker in the mornings.  Just the two of us and the baby who right now doesn't fight for much attention.  I can hold her and she is happy or fussy.  The day always starts with him wanting to ride his bike.  He goes out in the morning with his siblings as they ride in the court waiting for the last of the crew.  This is fine but it is the time I need to get the house in order, dressed and ready for the day.

We had my 6 week check up at Kaiser.  I got there 10 minutes late because Danny had to go into work to cover for someone for the day so it took me a little longer to get the kids ready.  Usually no big deal but the doctor left to do a C-section.  That is rare at Kaiser because usually they have doctors to see patients and other doctors delivering babies but they must have been busy.  Usually this would irritate me but it didn't so I was grateful.  Maybe I am becoming more patient.  Maybe I just didn't see the point of the appt except that I wanted a referral to a dermatologist.  Instead we turned in paperwork for Hanna which is the best feeling. I hate filling out paperwork and dealing with it so that is always a great feeling.  As I held the Hanna, Parker loved to push the empty stroller.  His favorite thing is to find bumps in the road or along his path.  he seeks them out and will go over and over them.  As we waited for the paperwork appt I fed Hanna and read a book to Parker.  I have realized that when I feed Hanna it is a great time to read to Parker.  It makes it his quality little time.  He LOVES the baby.  To the point that I can't leave the two alone because he will just want to hold her, hug her and probably smoosh her if I wasn't watching.

AFterwards, we needed to get mealworms for Scott and his gecko.  We went into the pet store and it was the BEST date in the entire world.  That kid loves animals, but HE LOVED IT!  I was so sad I forgot my phone.  HE went to every animal using his limited vocabulary and shrieks of excitement.  It was so cute!  He would show anyone who went by him the bird, then the mice then the snake.  We probably stayed in there for over an hour looking at the animals.  It was so fun to watch him.  Finally we had to get blake but I had such a great time with my little man.  He is so sweet, feisty, cute, easy going, independent  and determined all in one somehow.

I realize how fast the time goes so I am really enjoying my time with him.

Hanna's Blessing

Hanna was blessed this weekend in church.  September 24th by her dad. It was a simple and beautiful blessing.  The kids were all excited for the blessing which is refreshing because lately they are not excited for the others things much.  Tyler and Blake both sweetly said before church they couldn't wait for the blessing.  We are always running to church but before church was actually relaxing.  I am usually getting things together for my lesson, but spent a day during the week prepping for class so i didn't have to do it on Sunday.  Danny leaves early to get ready for primary and get us a seat which is awesome.  It means we get to sit in the front in the pews.  The kids still have a long way to go with reverence but definitely better in the front then back of the church.

Parker fell asleep on the way to church which was so nice, Blake sat with the needhams which is amazing.  I am going to see if he can sit with them every week.  Game changer! He is so good if he is removed from his siblings.  Scott, Tyler and Kira were within normal limits.  We had a relatively relaxing sacrament. I fed the baby before church and she even slept for the beginning and her blessing.

Danny's parents came into town.  Danny, Glen, Devin Blodgett, Mike Nielsen, Jeremy Roos and Matt Needham were in the circle.  We thought our bishop would stand in but apparently we forgot to formally invite him.  I noticed it and wanted to point to him to go up, Danny didn't even know who came up but oh well.

Danny gave a beautiful, sweet blessing.  It talked about how Hanna would have a strong faith in our Savior, his atonement, be an example and bring many to the waters of baptism.  Know how much her parents loved her and be able to come to them with any questions or concerns.  It talked about how she would be strong spiritually with a deep faith of our Savior. It was beautiful and I was touched.

I had the opportunity to bear my testimony and was so touched about what a miracle she was and going to go up and talk about the miracle and love of our Savior to give us another sweet girl.  The love I have for the priesthood and my family.  However, I got up and it turned into sharing my love for my ward family.  How grateful I was for the peace, help and devotion they have been to our family over the years.  I was touched by so many tender mercies and the love of our Savior.  Baby blessings are beautiful.  The spirit was so strong.  I am grateful for fasting.  It really does strengthen you spiritually.

I know life will not always be easy for Hanna but with a love and reminder of the Savior, it will always work out.  What a blessing to have her in our life!  I am just so grateful for her.

She is doing well.  She always looks like she is in distress with her furrowed brow and concerned face.  It is scrunchy and serious and concerned.  It makes me smile.  I call her my grumpy old man.

I couldn't find my christening dress.  I am certain it is somewhere.  After going to 5 stores with the kids on Friday night, I gave up and decided she could just wear a white little sundress we had.  I ended up asking Kim and she let us borrow her blessing dress which was beautiful.  It made me grateful for great examples in my life and in my children's life.  It really made an impact on me of how important your ward family is and the circle of friends you have to help raise your children.  I really wanted a dress of her and Hanna but by the time I got out of church it was too late.

Danny took pictures after church which I am so grateful for.  I LOVE them!  I can't wait to put them up in our kitchen wall.  The most important thing I got from my parents home were 6 picture frames that hung above there bed.  I put it in our kitchen with pics from our kids an it means so much to me. 

The boys had the Sunday hypers running around like crazy boys.  Blake was angry, Parker just like running on the grass.  Kira was drama but we sat on the grass on a beautiful day and eventually people listened and we got great pictures thanks to Danny.  He got a new lens that he loves and I now love because I get these great pictures of my kids.  The photo session and photos bring me great memories. The Northgate ward would always stay on the grass afterwards and congregate for 30 minutes or more. Our ward doesn't do that.  Everyone is busy to get home.  It is nice to not be needed anywhere and just be able to sit or take all the time you need for a photo.  There was a moment I thought we needed to get the photo done before all meltdowns occurred and Hanna got hungry, then I realized to just chill and play with Blake on the grass collecting pokey balls which was the little seeds from the tree. He calmed down and we had fun collecting leaves and pokey balls we were going to go home and do marble painting and make paint prints with.  He was excited and sadly we put them down the photo, forgot them and had to do marble painting with gumballs instead.  He loved it because they did it in school.  Next week we will collect again.

It was nice having Glen and Janine in for the weekend.  The kids only see them 2-3 times a year so it is always special for them.  They come out for baptisms and baby blessings so next time they come will probably be for Kira's baptism next year.  We go to Utah for Thanksgiving and summer reunion.  Sometimes I go during one of our kids breaks.  Maybe I will do that again.  On Saturday, Scott had Scouts and Tyler had a party at Water World so Blake and Kira got quality time with Grammy and Grampy and I could tell LOVED it!  We played on bikes, they jumped on the trampoline and played board games.  No big production but exactly what my kids needed.  On Sunday, they enjoyed playing hide and seek. I used to feel like we needed to go and do something but now I realize when we have 2 days to hang out, the kids just want to spend time with them.  Very grateful for there sacrifice to come out and be with the Danny and the kids.  Here are some pics....