The Elf Implementation 2014

Our Elf on the Shelf has been busy in years past…

IMG_6396.JPG

IMG_6397.JPG

This year our friend Ellie came in like a wrecking ball!

IMG_6395.JPG

Before I go on, our elf only poses like this long enough for me to take a photo. She goes right back to the G-rated fun for which she was created. In fact she doesn’t get herself in cutesy predicaments because she’s so exhausted and sometimes forgets to move at all! That’s when our 13 year old son gives us a hand.

And now, more adventures of this little elf gone wild…

Cover your eyes! Ellie made a sex tape!

IMG_6398.JPG

My coffee has been tasting rather shitty lately.

IMG_6399.JPG

Do these pancakes taste funny?

IMG_6400.JPG

Um…

IMG_6401.JPG

Anyone hungry for dachshund adobo?

IMG_6420.JPG

Those are NOT snowflakes!

IMG_6425.JPG

Someone’s been dipping!

IMG_6435.JPG

What the hell?! Not our wedding picture! Not the baby pictures!

IMG_6449.JPG

IMG_6450.JPG

Is Santa Real?

The other day my middle daughter A asked me if Santa was real. She’s nine years old and in fourth grade. I thought for sure she knew the truth when she was in second grade for that’s when we broke the news to her older brother. He knew all along but he wanted to spare my feelings.

I asked A, “What makes you ask that?”

“When I was at catechism, there were kids who were saying that Santa wasn’t real. Can you believe that?”

My husband R and I had agreed the week before that we needed to come clean with A after the holidays. We both thought she knew.

We were wrong.

I gave her a hug and sighed. “What do you think?” I asked, careful not to arouse suspicion from the youngest in the next room. L is only in second grade and seven years old. Too soon to know.

R interrupted the moment and asked for her help to finish making the blueberry pie. Saved by the art of pastry making.

When A joined my husband in the kitchen, our son, who at 13 is the oldest, whispered to me two words that made me teary-eyed: “Don’t tell.”

Our two oldest have a real love-hate relationship. Most of the time they get along and gang up against me to find the most annoying sounds to repeat at a crescendo until it’s too much for me to bear and finally I blow up and tell them to be quiet. Okay, so I’m exaggerating the latter but it feels true.

When they don’t get along, it’s gets pretty bad. Dukes get raised. Nerf darts are shot. Dirty looks all around.

So when the oldest asked me not to tell the truth, the spirit of Santa had never felt more alive.

The Gratitude Effect

It’s been quite a year for us.

The oldest started junior high. R has had two major surgeries with so many doctor’s appointments in between; he also started college! I went back to teaching part-time. We’ve had the wonderful opportunity to go to several professional sports games for free! I finished my third half marathon (barely).

As overwhelming as all of that and more may be, I wouldn’t change a thing. (Maybe I would update my blog more though.)

Northern California is being hit with the biggest storm in years. While our area has not been affected too much, other areas are faced with flooding and rising river levels that haven’t been that high in a while. There are some people who are complaining about how the supplies they purchased will go to waste but I beg to differ. Keep it just in case! You never know what could happen.

How very fortunate we are to be able to anticipate a natural disaster and yet there will always be people to complain.

Earlier this week I heard a weird noise coming from my car on my way home from work. I pulled off the freeway to discover that I blew out my tire!

And while the situation sucked big time, I counted my blessings. How thankful I was that I was able to get off the freeway in time. How thankful I was that I have a working cell phone with internet so I could look up a local tow truck who fixed my tire within the hour. How thankful I was that I could pay for a tire change.

How thankful I was because some people don’t have any of that.

How thankful I was because it could have ended much worse.

In fact, there was an auto collision about 200 hundred yards that must have just occured. An ambulance arrived soon after I parked.

R had surgery about a month ago to fix a complex hernia. Unfortunately there were a couple of times we had to rush to the ER for infection. R announced he is tired of going to the damn hospital and I don’t blame him. He has been in and out of hospitals all over the country.

Of course me being the optimist I was thankful (in my head because I didn’t want to minimize R’s experiences) that his treatment is covered! I can’t imagine having to pay each time he’s needed to see a doctor! But that’s how most people live.

And for that I am thankful for everything that has happened.

Because Lord knows that it could have ended much worse.

Happy holidays from NWC!

IMG_7321.JPG

IMG_7320.JPG

Please Don’t Thank Me For My Service

After all, I did not make a commitment to our country to fight in the military. I only married someone who did.

Over the years my husband R has been stopped many times by people who wanted to thank him for his service. Like many men and women in the military, R is pretty humble about it and gets embarrassed easily. Don’t get me wrong, he does acknowledge their compliment but in Garth-like fashion, he slowly slinks away.

And on occasion, I get a thank you as well.

Those thank-you’s come from a sincere, kind place but there was no service done on my behalf.

I knew what I was getting myself into when I married into the military. I knew there would be months at a time when I would worry myself sick. I knew there would be a time where I would be by myself for long periods of time and if we started a family, I would be raising our children on my own.

I knew that.

Sure, it got tough when he went on a deployment four months after our first child was born and I was timezones away from either our families. It got tough when he was on a submarine and I didn’t hear from him for months at a time. It was extremely difficult whenever I watched the news about the death toll of American soldiers in the Middle East.

I thought nothing wouldn’t compare to teaching first grade while pregnant and raising a toddler and a preschooler. All the while, R was on a seven month deployment.

But then the phone call came on April 23, 2010 and surely nothing compared to that.

In spite of all that, those events were nothing compared to what
R went through. He doesn’t talk much about it and I don’t blame him. Over the past fourteen years, deployments have taken its toll on him. I didn’t know anything about PTSD until I saw him shaking uncontrollably when a car in our neighborhood drove too fast over a speed bump and made a huge booming sound that echoed through our house. Years later, he can’t go to Giants game with free tickets that were donated by a military charity without panicking. Years later, we plan all of our outings for first thing in the morning to avoid crowds and noise. Years later, our last trip to Disneyland had to be planned down to the minute so he could escape and retreat back to our hotel room whenever he needed to… and without the kids noticing.

Years later, I have found I know more about PTSD and yet I know very little.

I was able to raise our children, work a few years here and there, and enjoy our duty stations; he was doing the exact opposite.

So while I do appreciate the kind words, please don’t thank me for my service; thank my husband instead.

Happy Veteran’s Day to all those who served. May the lines at the VA be in proportionate to the loved ones around you– short lines and lots of love!

THANK YOU FOR YOUR SERVICE!

IMG_3765.JPG

IMG_3766.JPG

The Baker Beach Connection

In all of my years living in the Bay Area, I cannot believe I’ve never been to Baker Beach.

IMG_5643.JPG

IMG_5636.JPG

IMG_5637.JPG

IMG_5638.JPG
Well, scratch that. I rarely went to the beach and my friends and I were always out at the clubs so okay, I can believe it.

The girls and I had a great time when we saw the Giants play in September and we had time to go to the beach before the game.

What is it about the ocean? I grew up minutes from the ocean and was fortunate that our last duty station was right on the Chesapeake Bay. There’s just something about the Pacific air that activates a calming sensation in my brain. Fortunately, the ocean has the same affect on the girls.

IMG_5642.JPG

IMG_5641.JPGa diem

IMG_5640.JPG

IMG_5639.JPG

The girls didn’t want to leave for the game and I didn’t blame them.

IMG_5651.JPG

IMG_5649.JPG

IMG_5645.JPG

IMG_5655.JPG

Wasn’t the World Series exciting? I’m glad we got a chance to see the Giants play several times this season, thanks to the generosity of Operation Care and Comfort. I just have so many memories of watching baseball on the tube with my dad that I wanted that tradition passed on to our kids.

It’s safe to say I’m raising Giants fans!

IMG_5661.JPG

IMG_5667.JPG

IMG_5665.JPG

IMG_5666.JPG

IMG_5670.JPG

IMG_5674.JPG

IMG_5675.JPG

IMG_5673.JPG

Naturally once we were there, A didn’t wasn’t to leave!

IMG_5679.JPG

IMG_5678.JPG

IMG_5677.JPG

IMG_5680.JPG

Love the fog rolling in…

IMG_5680-0.JPG

IMG_5683.JPG

IMG_5682.JPG

IMG_5688.JPG

We couldn’t stay for the whole game. Little L just isn’t used to the cold weather despite a hat and sweater on. She also isn’t used to staying up past 7:30 pm! Nevertheless, I still think we had a fab time!

IMG_5689.JPG

The Raiders Rotation

I’ve never been a real football fan. Don’t get me wrong, I love Super Bowl parties but actually watching football for fun?

Nah.

But when Operation Care and Comfort had free tickets– and really good tickets at that– I had to go for it.

IMG_5541.JPG

IMG_5543.JPG

IMG_5556.JPG

IMG_5552.JPG

OMG! Look at the ball park food! So delicious!

IMG_6315.JPG

IMG_6323.JPG

IMG_6316.JPG

IMG_6320.JPG

I know that Raiders fans have a reputation for being a bit rambunctious and yes, I did have to tell the kids on more than one occasion, “Yeah, don’t listen to the drunk man who is yelling without his shirt on.” For the most part, we were surrounded by families and couples all trying to enjoy the game. We bonded in shaking our heads when crazy fans went crazy.

We are, after all, RAIDERS FANS.

IMG_5563.JPG

IMG_5558.JPG

IMG_5553.JPG

The Big Four-Oh Perfection

So I turned forty

IMG_6924.JPG

IMG_6923.JPG
And my mom bought me that delicious bundt cake. Since R was still in pain, we kept it low key and went to a teriyaki joint in town. You may see a store sign but the boy and I saw an opportunity…

IMG_6910.JPG

IMG_6911.JPG

Oh and my little bro had a bday too.

IMG_6002.JPG

IMG_6003.JPG

IMG_6004.JPG

Last night my friends had a Pampered Chef party. That, my friends, is a lot of moscato! The chocolate dip is heaven! It’s a chocolate-cream cheese-peanut butter perfection!

IMG_6176.JPG

IMG_6173.JPG

IMG_6175.JPG

IMG_6178.JPG

This is me, slowing down to enjoy the little things in life. This is me, making sure these little things happen more often.

Oh, and this picture again just because.

IMG_5970.JPG