Friday, May 28, 2010

Garden Bounty

We are so fortunate to have inherited such an amazing garden in our backyard.  We have always dreamt of prolific fruit trees and spacious garden boxes and now we have them.  It has been so fun to spend our afternoons outside reaping the harvest of our many homegrown delicacies.  The branches of the cherry tree are touching the ground they are so heavy with plump ripe little delights.  However, they are not so friendly on the stomach in massive quantities so we have been offering them to any and all neighbors and friends.  Bring a bucket and come get your fill. Seriously.

This was a few weeks ago - they were not quite ripe but we ate them anyways.  They are red and juicy now. 

She snuck one when I wasn't looking. Girlfriend would eat the stem and seed if I let her.

Also growing in greater abundance and speed than I can keep up with are our roses.  I finally brought some inside to enjoy.

Last of the spring veggies to harvest.

Afternoon Delight.

Evidence the Baby Has Been Here

And........just in case you need proof...

Is she too young for Ajax 'cuz I could try to make this habit work in my favor....

Really? you had to go all the way in?

She thinks she is so funny!

And when I shut down her fun..........she defiantly opens it right back up again.

Slip!........she gets what she deserved. 

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Tuesday Musings - What Little Boys Are Made Of?

Frogs and snails and puppy dog tails, that's what little boys are made of.

Well, this may be true but one thing I know for certain is that my little boy is made up of more than just slime and appendages..........................he seems to have all the makings of his mama!
My son may look JUST like his daddy (wish I had comparative pics to post to prove it to you but I have none on me here at work.  Instead I offer you this: when Hayden was little and we were still relatively new to Woodland, where Brian was raised, people would come up to me in public places, at least once a month, and say "you MUST be Brian Ganyo's wife and this MUST be his son because I knew Brian when he was that age and it is like I am looking right at him!" I kid you not, everywhere we went this happened. I digress) but Hayden is seriously ME in a little boy's body.  He takes being a Mama's boy to a whole new level.
It is such a strange experience to see yourself in your kids.  Until recently, I have always been slightly entertained by the ways my children have taken after me.  It was funny when at two, Hayd would go around saying "oh, man!" with the same inflections I do.  It is fun to see Halle copy me in her preferences about what to wear superficial though it may be.  But, this is more than just emulations we are dealing with here - it's as if aside from gender, hair color and texture, eye color, facial structure and body type, Hayden inherited all his genes from me. Of course, it is possible that he, in fact, did - but the realization of it is none the less surprising.
When it comes to personality, this child is so much like me.  For some reason it is easiest to notice the negative things about him that I know he received from me and this is often really difficult for me to observe.  I find myself more frustrated, even angry, with him when whatever he is doing wrong is something that I struggle with as well. For example, his seemingly insatiable want for more - be it time, toys, money or attention - is something I resonate with far too much.  Yet I am pretty sure that he could not have learned this from me.  Considering my dislike of this quality in myself, I try my best to keep from disclosing it's presence - especially around my kids.  So when it's staring me right in the face in the form of my son, I am all the more discouraged.  I often feel the heavy weight of being responsible for his character flaws.  And so it is with nearly all the character related issues we deal with with Hayden - his tendency to try and milk something for all it's worth, to test the lines between right and wrong, to question authority, to argue defensively, to want to do things his way or no way, to ever so delicately and subtly push and push until he gets his way, to passively manipulate, to not want to do things because he was asked to do them, his lack of impulse control in times of frustration, his inability to fall asleep right away, his intensely adverse reaction to being told no and the ever so persistent efforts to change a negative verdict, his desire for constant stimulation and entertainment, his compulsive need for structure, order and logic......i could go on but I feel like I am bearing waaaay to much of my own self here.
It may seem that out of this many characteristics to choose from, I am bound to have exhibited at least a few in ways that my children could have picked up on.  Maybe so. But, really, I don't think I could have produced such an analogous personality in a child of mine in only 5 1/2 short years no matter now hard I tried.  Yet, I am left wondering what exactly the nature/nurture ratio is here and the thought that I am guilty of imparting any or all of these difficult traits onto my child by means other than heredity is a hard one to face.
I am well aware of the inevitable fact that my imperfections will somehow negatively affect my children.  However, I tend to view this reality in light of my lack of having or doing what they need as opposed to my having or being something they don't want.  I suppose there is some benefit here in that I one, know how to pray more specifically for this child and two,  may be better equipped to respond in a helpful way knowing what it is like to be on the other side of his struggles. That is if I can get past the sickness in my stomach, discouragement in my heart and madness in my head that seems to come on as these little pieces of the dark side of my soul emerge through the mind, body and mouth of my precious son.

My sweet Hayden is so much more than these things I mentioned here and I am now feeling a bit bad that I did not take the time to shed light on the many wonderful sides of his precious little heart but it is time to sign off.

Do you have a child that is frightfully similar to you in ways you are not fond of?
If so, what consolation do you have?

Until next time.......

Sunday, May 23, 2010

These Boots are Made for Walking (sort of)

Already in love with the Fryes, a girl after my own heart.

Spring Break '10

So this post is a little overdue but what else is new....

Some people have wild times in Mexico, others head to the beach for some R&R.
I, on the other hand, had a different kind of fun during Spring break.
I took the kids on a super special excursion.  We rode BART into San Francisco which was an experience in itself with the baby on my back, a stroller over my shoulder and one kid on each hand, but we made it in one piece (with the exception of Elena's beloved blanket which sadly, was left on the train and never recovered).  After emerging from the train, we hopped on the bus and rode it for nearly an hour to the very end of its route viewing all sorts of fun stuff along the way.  At the beginning of our route we were accompanied by a mere 10 or so others.  A few stops later and there had to be 100 people on bus.  We were crammed like sardines and I held on to my kids for dear life.  We were greeted by no less than a few riders who were very amused by us and generously offered to hold someone on their lap to which I graciously declined.  Shortly after Chinatown, the population returned once more to a dismal few until eventually we were alone.  We had seen the bus crowd come full circle.  It was fun.
Next, off to our main destination which was the Exploratorium.  We are granted free entrance here for being members of our local science center and I had wanted for months to take advantage of such a perk.  However, it would be my luck that the day we decided to come was free admission day.  To say it was crowded would be a vast understatement.  You could hardly move in the place and keeping track of your own kids was nearly impossible.  Luckily, none of mine stayed lost for very long.  We enjoyed the exhibits as best we could and ate delicious treats at the cafeteria.  We were herded out like cattle at closing time, made smashed penny souvenirs and headed to the grass to enjoy the sun and feed the birds.
I spent my remaining small bills on the pennies but luckily the person behind me in the bus line spotted me some cash (not the first time that has happened).  We detoured the bus for a while to eat at Johnny Rockets and to window shop for a bit (there had to be something in this for ME).  Afraid of loosing daylight and having to schlep my kids through the city in the dark, we hustled back to the train and headed home.  Total hours - 13. not bad considering all we did.  It sort of a felt like we went to another world just for the day.  It was a real escape from the normal hum drum at home and a real treat for us all.  I am excited to do it again sometime.  A few pics of the fun at the Exploratorium:

Cool magnetic sand

Elena loved these doors with crazy stuff on them

Making massive bubbles

                                                                     physics 101

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Tuesday Musings - Church, Culture, Fashion, Mockery

I got wind of this video a few days ago and found it quite funny.  While the humor is obviously derived from mockery, I didn't find it offensive.  Upon hearing of a respected friend who was slightly offended by this and some thoughtful words about it, I started forming some thoughts of my own and figured I would share. Watch and read on.

"Sunday's Coming" Movie Trailer from North Point Media on Vimeo.

On one hand, I agree that this could be seen as offensive, especially to those whose church happens to look just like the service depicted.  But knowing that it was made by a church that does look exactly like that makes it seem far from malicious.  Something inside of me really pushes back against the idea that this is totally inappropriate.  I really appreciated the humor of it and found it somewhat consoling.  'Why is that?', I had to ask myself.  Is it because I am secretly envious that I don't go to such a 'cool' church?  Maybe.  Would I be offended by this mockery if I did?  If so, would my offense be rooted in a tendency to find identity and security in my membership there? This has been some interesting food for thought.
I do not see this video as an attempt pave the way for a new trend in contemporary American Evangelical culture.  Unless I am a bit behind (it would be no surprise if I were), this depiction seems to be as cutting edge as it gets and there doesn't seem to be any evidence, as far as I'm concerned, that the fashion of church culture is nearing the brink of change.  So if the purpose of this is not to bit farewell to the old and usher in the new, what is? Is there any?
I believe that being able to make fun of ourselves is a very healthy characteristic of a culture at large.  We seem to find great entertainment in doing so.  SNL has been at it for decades and while at times it can be (highly) offensive, it remains one of the most popular shows on television.  The ability to find the humor in our cultural norms represents a certain amount of detachment from them. While the very thing we mock might be dearly important to us, doing so shows we are aware that our value is not contingent upon it.  As followers of Christ we know that no church experience of any particular kind is necessary in order to be who we are before God or walk with Him.  Our walks with God will expand multiple generations of church culture and will see considerable change within but ultimately, in terms of our identity and standing, we will be the same.  We know that the little nuances of church service, be them trendy or not, matter very little in the end.  That is not to say that they are all together unimportant or unproductive because indeed they do influence our experiences with God.  But we do need to be able to step back and know that we are more than just our experiences.  This level of separateness enables us to look light heartedly at a video like this, not take it personally and appreciate the fact that while this is now what we may perceive as cool -and in fact WISH we had (me personally), it will one day pass and new ways of being will emerge in a continually shifting pattern that makes up church culture.  Yet God will remain the same.  Let us not mock those lasting precious things God.  The rest is fair game. :)
This video helped me remember that while I remain here in my geographic location's fashionably inept church culture, often remorseful at not having a Sunday morning experience more similar to that one, I am really no worse off and no different than I would be otherwise. And with regard to those that have recently begun attending church and were drawn in by the emotionally poignant ways made light of here, the sooner one realizes there is so much more to God than just the feelings that are evoked by such raw, passionate, authentic and fashionable church services, the better.
I have often needed reminders like this in my life and in fact, have occasionally even sought them out.  As a young, pensive and slightly angsty Christian circa early high school, I was plagued by the enduring thought that my faith was merely a product of my experiences in Youth group/church culture (which was very trendy, I must add).  I continued to function on the presumption that what I had decided to build my entire life around was indeed real because all the intellectual evidence I could handle at that age seemed to prove it to be so -  but I was eager to experiment with myself and see how I would respond to being outside the encompassing scene that seemed to define my religion. I needed to know that the courtship and eventual captivation of my heart by God was driven by more than just super cool songs and being friends with the Supertones.   So shortly after graduating I nestled myself aside a little hill top in the Swiss Alps for a few weeks to instantly and surprisingly find that the quiet, simplified and unrefined version of my faith was incredibly REAL.  That was satisfactory for a while but after spending the next several years in the incubatory slice of paradise that is SLO, steeped in highly intense, richly invigorating and incredibly nourishing, (not to mention very fashionable) Christian culture, I was again in desperate need of a reality check.  Nearing the point of talking marriage with Brian and signing on to continue forever in my current state of Christian 'reality', I was a little freaked.  So I broke up with B and took off to Mexico (okay, so it wasn't that dramatic, I was signed up to study abroad there for the summer anyway) where I would again test the integrity of deeply ingrained ways of functioning with God to see if they would remain the same outside of the bubble.  While I floundered a bit, the persisting enduring Truth of God rang out loud and clear.  God revealed to me so clearly that I need not be so afraid of living within the confines of Christian culture but rather that I should appreciate it for all the ways He had used it to shape and grow me - that all the realities of my life as a believer in Christ exist exclusive from the world around me but that I do have a place there within that world.
And here I am now - stuck (happily) in a place that is pretty void of all that fashionable Christianity (or at least is stuck in the fashion of a passed generation) that I was surrounded by for so many years and it comes as no surprise to me that I am perfectly fine - maybe even better off for my ability to remain content here despite the void and to have to figure out how to connect regularly with intimacy and passion to God without the help of the quality, cutting edge music or strategically poignant preaching, fabulously beneficial though they are.
So I can laugh in good conscience at that video even though I would greatly enjoy a service that that one, in the same way that I laugh at skinny jeans, sweats with elastic at the bottom, leggings with stirrups,  and florescent nail polish even though you may see me wearing all of them (not all at once and minus the stirrups).  Just as my taste in fashion does not define me, neither does my church (in its liturgical elements, of course, its doctrine sort of does....) and thus I feel pretty free to laugh.
(So long as it is not a direct impersonation of any one particular person but rather of the mere trend and so long as the mockery remains limited to liturgical elements and NOT God or His Word - to be clear.....)
Feel free to disagree with me or tell me how you laughed so hard you almost peed.
Until next time.....

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Tuesday Musings - Tales of a Picky Eater

(side note: I am a TOTAL Gleek and dearly miss my show choir days.  Just thought you needed to know)

In college I learned that if you expose a child to new foods over and over by about the fifteenth they will at least try it.  I also learned that parents are supposed decide what, when and where a child eats and they are to decide how much.
I continue to follow these rules and guess what?
Halle still, after hundreds of exposures to hundreds of foods, refuses to eat anything but the 10 or so foods that do not violate her rules of aesthetic appeal - and when I feed her anything else, she goes hungry and then gets fussy and we are all miserable.   So much for my degree. :)
We have tried pretty much everything to get Hal to try new foods and eat a considerable amount of anything remotely healthy.  
As a baby and toddler I fed Halle all sorts of power packed foods mashed into disgusting concoctions that no mature taste bud would ever dare go near.  She gobbled them up with sheer delight.  It worked with my first kid to help create an adventurous eater and I was pretty sure it would work again.  But as we are approaching 5 years old and things in this arena have only gone down hill, I am beginning to finally concede to the fact that this is just who Halle is.  There was nothing I could have done to prevent it and only little I can do now to try and change it.  I am best off to just accept it and move on - find ways to help her consume enough food to keep her happy and nutrition to keep her healthy.
My recent attempts to stealthily supply her with some good stuff have included starting the day with our famous green eggs and ham (eggs with fresh spinach blended in them  - the 'ham' was usually uncured low fat turkey bacon until recently when both big kids developed acute enough taste to notice the considerable difference between regular bacon and the healthier versions) AND whole grain sweet potato pancakes with flax meal and dry bean powder - we eat these for any and every meal of the day and in between.  
While these two foods pack quite a nutritional punch, they are not enough to constitute a diet for an entire childhood.  I need some new ideas.
Do you have a picky eater at home?  Even if your kid isn't terribly picky, do you have any secret ways of sneaking healthy stuff in their food?  Any fabulous ideas for helping to encourage adventurousness at the table? I would love to hear from you.

A few months ago I helped organize a parent's nutrition night at Hayden's school along with some nutrition students from UCD.  Local Organic farms donated fresh produce for families to sample and take home.  Here's my little picky eater sampling her apples with the help of some high fructose corn syrup disguised as carmel.  sigh.  

Until next time......

Saturday, May 08, 2010

Summer Lovin' - Pt. 2

I am still stuck on this idea of how to make this summer different.
I have noticed, as I continue to think more and more about it, that this is really an extension of some of the other issues I have written about lately, particularly embracing the emptiness in my life and experiencing true rest.
I know that my inclination to fill up our summer days with all kinds of 'fun' things is partly due to my FOMO - which relates not just to me but to my kids as well.  (If you don't know what that stands for scroll down and read my previous post.)  I want so badly for them to have the opportunity to try out all different kinds of activities and see fun and exciting places.  But this can come at the expense of true quality time together.  As is so often the case in my life, I want to do it all and struggle to reach a healthy balance of doing what I (we) love and also having time and space to breathe.....and to really connect.
I came across this article this morning as I was reading through my favorite blog:
I was very inspired.  This was exactly what I needed to hear (read) to solidify my desire to make this summer more meaningful. I am going to attempt to do at least one of these ideas this summer.  I know it may seem like that will only achieve the opposite of what I originally said I was attempting to do this year, minimize, but after axing pretty much everything out I think I can afford to spend sometime branching out and connecting in a meaningful way with the people around me.
I hope you are inspired too and would love it if you would share with me your thoughts and/or any fun things you have on your calendar for this summer.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

A Smidgen of Hayden

Upon entering the car after school:
"ugh. I am heck-a hot!" (mom tries hard to conceal her disgust and politely asks him to refrain from using that phrase)
While playing with a toy that was clearing giving him trouble:
" Dude! Are you kidding me? What the heck is going on here?!"
(maybe the adults in the house should keep comments like that to ourselves.)
After dinner he watched a 56 min episode online of the PBS program 'Secrets of the Dead' about the Japanese and US race to create navel history with a "super-sub" during World War II.  He was glued the entire time.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Tuesday Musings - Summer Lovin'??

Well, when I started logging on here it was Tuesday, does that count?
I'll continue anyway.  I can not believe that another summer is upon us already.  I know many of you may be wondering what I am talking about seeing as it has really only just begun to feel like Spring but in our home, our summer starts getting planned out in about February and is pretty much fully booked by May for sure.   In past years I have felt like a chicken running around with my head cut off for the entire 3 months long with vacations back to back and activities all week long, endless packing/unpacking, laundry and no regard for anyones bedtime.  I must admit, I do love the liberty to fully abandon my heaping mound of responsibilities that summer seems to herald in.  I take full advantage.  As a result, I often feel like I am drowning in chaos.  I do dread that feeling and I am afraid that after several years of this I am beginning to associate it with summer in general.  Add that to the disgusting heat that this SoCal girl will NEVER ever grow to love and what used to be my favorite season by far is now my least.  I am sad about that and am hoping that this year might be different.
While we don't have many weekends in our summer that are not already booked up, I have yet to schedule much in the in between and I am debating forgoing doing so altogether.  This year I think we are going to pass on multiple sessions of swim school, maybe pass on it all together, pass on gymnastics camp or any other parks and rec program, we'll pass on summer baseball (wait! I LOVEd standing in the outfield with Hayden on a Saturday afternoon in 105 degree weather, right?) and we are even waiting until the fall to make the trek to OC.  Will my kids survive? Or will they kill each other from spending too much unstructured time at home? Or will they be happier because there mom is slightly more sane?
Only time will tell.
After a few weeks of not hearing from too many of you, I would really love to hear about your summers.
Do you prefer a jam packed fun filled agenda for your summer months or would you rather just lay low? (is that phrase grammatically correct? shouldn't it be 'LIE low'? oh, what do I know...)
What things are you sure to always plan for your family's (or just your) summer?
Please share some of your favorite memories for your childhood summers.
Thank you and until next time.........