Friday, September 24, 2010

Sabbath Adventures: SF Mission District

For today's Sabbath Adventure we headed to the Mission District in our very own San Francisco. We've been to the city loads of times, but almost always we visit either the Waterfront or North Beach, where our all-time favorite restaurant (Caffe Sport) resides. I'm a big fan of Maggie's over at Mighty Girl and she put together an awesome guide to the city. On a whim we decided to check out the Mission.

We pulled up about 11 am, grabbed a spot to park on 16th Street and soon a huge, shiny, red firetruck pulled up behind us. The guys were super friendly and talked to the kids, even letting them climb up in the truck. Firefighter Joe in the backseat lives in Fairview, Oregon, which is just a short drive from where I grew up. Small world.

As per Maggie's suggestion, we picked up burritos for lunch at La Pancha Villa and walked a handful of blocks to Dolores Park to sit in the 85 degree sun and enjoy our meal. Maddie is eating the "baby burrito," which is basically the size of her upper arm. Ben went ahead and ordered the Super with spicy salsa, which scorched his mouth. After picking out fifty or so jalapenos he was a happier camper.

I did not partake of the burritos or pina agua fresca (mexican food does NOT agree with colitis. You'll just have to trust me on that), but everyone seemed to enjoy their lunch. Maddie and Sam finished about 1/3 of the "baby."

The views of the city from Dolores Park are gorgeous. It was a clear day and I can't remember the city looking more beautiful. We played for a bit at the park and had a huge scare. There's one of those great, old-school type playgrounds (read: no safety bars; long, hot metal slides) and while I was following Sam around, Maddie fell off the highest platform onto the sand below.

I heard the fwhump and the cry, the gasps of some who witnessed the fall, and as I ran to Maddie's side at least two other passers-by were running up to make sure she was okay. A sweet guy who had been making music on a bench said as he ran over, "That was a long way to fall!! Is she okay?!" I figured that as she was making her way down, she reached for a bar, swung her legs, and missed the second platform, flying facedown until she landed on the sang on her belly. There were lots of tears and sand to brush away, but praise Jesus!, no broken bones. Ben went up to the top with Maddie later and he said he was a little scared just standing up there!

We met up with Auntie Jennie back down on Mission and walked up and down Valencia peeking in the cool thrift shops, boutiques and other interesting storefronts. We happened upon a mural project in a long alley and stopped to take pictures:

Maddie and the Big White Bird (we have egrets behind our house and we're always spotting them on our walks. Ben loves to make up stories about Maddie, Hanalei and the Big White Bird.)

My sweet Sam

After lots of silly faces, the waiting finally paid off when Maddie smiled
(She is NOT into having her picture taken these days!)

Again, following Maggie's advice, we headed to Bi-Rite Creamery, a mecca of homemade ice cream delights. Maddie snagged a mint chip cone, Ben went for a double decker salted caramel and balsamic strawberry, and Jennie chose salted caramel and brown sugar.

I didn't hear any complaints about the ice cream, either. We had some very happy customers:

Just three hours in the city, but we were able to knock off number 35 on the Big Eat SF. We've still got a way to go. :) I was saying to Ben that we could easily have picked up burritos, gone to a park, and grabbed ice cream locally, but why not try something new? Give the Mission District a shot!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

run to Jesus, give him your heart

For months now, we've been having lots of conversations about Jesus. Maddie always wants to discuss the stories from her Bible and has lots of deep, introspective questions (and lots of others that aren't so deep, like, Did Jesus really have a beard?)

She knows that her Daddy tells people about Jesus, yet you don't have to be a pastor to share the good news about God, and that all of us have been given that responsibility. Lately she's taken to instructing Sam in all sorts of things (i.e., feeding the dog, coloring, using the potty), but also in discipling him about the love of Jesus.

A few nights ago she was singing a song from church and school. The lyrics are:

Jump, jump, jump into the light, light, light
Run, run, run away from what's not right
Jump, jump, jump out of the dark, dark, dark
Run to Jesus, Give him your heart

Maddie had all kinds of questions about the lyrics. She thought they said something about running away from Jesus but him still loving us. We sang the song over and over, talking about each of the phrases. I explained how running away from what's not right is really hard, and we need Jesus to help us make the right decisions.

A few days earlier, she had noticed on her charm bracelet (a present from the church pastors and staff) a little girl on her knees in prayer. We talked about how she was kneeling because God is our ruler and king and we bow down in obedience, love and honor.

I put the two conversations together and basically shared again how we can pray anytime to give Jesus our whole heart, to let him know how much we love him, and to ask him to be ruler and king over our lives. Maddie thought for a moment, and then closed her eyes, folded her hands and prayed:

"Dear God, I want to give you my whole heart. I want you to be my ruler and my king. I love you so much. Thank you for loving me. Thank you for giving me everything I need. Take care of the homeless people and give them food and homes. Amen."

My heart sighed. My eyes filled with tears. So heartfelt and so sweet, and the culmination of a million different conversations over many, many nights. This morning when she climbed into bed, snuggled up into my arms, and laid down, she said, "My heart is just so joyful today."

A neighbor of ours (coincidentally, Jewish) gave us a large portrait of Jesus yesterday. This morning I overheard Maddie say to Sam, "That's Jesus, Bud. He's our ruler and our king. You can give him your whole heart, Bud. You can! We're going to live in heaven with him forever!" Spoken with such tenderness and also such authority, our very own three year-old is sharing the good news of the gospel with her brother. It's amazing.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

I missed these two

It's kind of funny, actually. As a stay at home Mama, there are many, many days where I am tired, exasperated, frustrated, and I think, "If only I could get a break."

But then, in two short weeks, I was unable to take care of my kiddos five or six days. By the time I recovered from my colonoscopy, I came down with a horrible flu bug. Spent four days in bed, horrible. Someone else (thank you Daddy, Jennie and Tutu) filled in.

And I really missed my kids. Really!

Take this little guy:

Oh my goodness, I'm totally babycrushing my own son right now. He is incredible. He laughs all the time, at everything. He never cries. He gives me big snuggles all day long. He loves to make Maddie laugh. He loves to play with any kind of ball. He eats everything I put in front of him; last night he ate two heaping bowls of cod in a curry broth with steamed spinach and rice.

All in all, he's just a perfect little pumpkin pie and I could eat him up.

And this one:

This week at the park and various other locations about town I did the 5-minute, 3-minute and 1-minute warnings about heading home (Can I get a what-what from you moms? I know you know what I mean by the warnings.) Each time I announced it was time to go, she ran right to me, replying "Okay, Mama!" ...
...that is the sound of my jaw dropping open.

This week she decided to recruit Sam as her helper in carrying out her household chore of feeding the dog. "Sam, you want to help me out? Do you? Come on, bud. Let's do it." She takes his hand, leads him across the floor, as he looks to Ben and I, waving, saying "Bye," (though it sounds like "iii"), smiling ear to ear. She helps him scoop food into the dish, all the while offering encouraging statements: "Perfect, Bud!" "Great job, Sam." "You're doing it!" The two of them are a precious little pair.

A few nights ago we were discussing values before bed, after reading a story about the Pharisees. I told her how status was really important to some people. Money, to others. She asked what was important to me, and I told her it was really important to me to follow God and be the best Mama I can be. I gave a few other examples and then asked her the same question. She thought about it for a minute, looked at me, and said: "Brushing my teeth. Brushing my teeth is very important to me." I died.

Nothing like a break to help you appreciate what you have right in front of you. Two sweet babes who just need "a little Mama time."

Monday, September 13, 2010

Maddie: 44 Months

Dear Sweet Maddie,

Welcome to 44 months, my dear. Four is just around the corner! This month has been a big one, full of exciting changes and some hard times, too. Through it all you have continued to be your observant, talkative, questioning, joyful, and (mostly) stable self. You are incredibly resilient and mature.

So you started school. That's a big change, and a welcome one. We always joke that you came out of the womb ready for school. You are an active and engaged learner. You soak up information like a sponge. You are full of interesting facts (think Jerry Maguire kid) and never fail to impress me with new knowledge. Like today, when you informed me at the park, "These are rose hips. You can eat them; they are FULL of vitamins." Another horticultural fact garnered from your times with Boppa. You absolutely LOVE telling me things I don't know. Yeah. Hmm.

You are full of life and full of energy. Most mornings you wake up, run into our room (often throwing back our door with such zest that it flies into the adjoining wall, rousting us from slumber), and start talking. You have so much to say that you must start as soon as there is daylight, and you continue all the way up until you lay your head down at night. You still get frustrated with us when we don't have the answers. You want these answers and you want them now.

You are also so independent, buttoning jammies and putting on socks and shoes, getting yourself an apple from the fridge or water from the sink. You help with chores and actually do a decent job folding clothes. You master tasks with quickness and ease, to the extent that when you don't get something right away, it is very frustrating. All of the sudden you are saying things like, "I'm the worst chick draw-er ever!", throwing your arms up in disgust, and dramatically stomping away. We do our best to foster an environment where expression is valued over precision, but you are definitely showing Type A tendencies.

You are creating all kinds of art these days, asking almost daily to work on a "project." This summer has been full of markers and scissors, paper and pens, paints, playdough, crayons and crepe paper. You have a desire to create and come up with all kinds of things to adorn our walls (and those of your grandparents). The other day you set to work on a "masterpiece," (Thanks Fancy Nancy) drawing Daddy, then Mama, Sam and then Hanalei. Twenty minutes later and you were still adding people to your family picture: Uncle Joe, my cousins, Grace, Lizzie and Lijah, and here's Kelly and Nicole ("She's my bestest friend in the whole world, you know.") It still sits on our kitchen counter and I wouldn't want it any place where I can't just marvel and smile each time I walk by.

All our visits to the pool this summer have turned you into a fish. You are crazy in that pool. It all started a couple weeks ago when you started holding your breath in the bathtub. Next thing we knew, you were diving in the pool, asking Daddy to take you under on his back, staying under for several seconds, and then repeating everything until we finally pulled you out, wrinkled fingers, soggy drawers, and all. You are obsessed and ask to go each day. If only I had as much drive and determination!

The month has also been hard. You've asserted yourself. Many times. You've thrown tantrums at a mere mention of the word "No." You've pleaded and please-please-please'd your way through many a conversation. Then there was the time you threw yourself down in a sobbing, screaming heap. Outside Lunardi's. In the middle of the day. Hmm. That was interesting. All this to say, you are a girl who knows what she wants. You are strong and secure and need the world to know that.

But through it all, you're still my Maddie girl. You still love to run into my arms, yelling "Mama!" You still love to snuggle in our bed in the morning, wiggling your way between Daddy and I and giving us sweet, warm kisses. You treat your brother with such tender kindness that it moves me to tears. You still approach quietly and broken at times, asking for "Mama time." In so many ways you are grown up, yet in so many ways still a very little girl. And you're my little girl.



Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Back to School 2010

I can't believe it's that time already! Back to School!

Do you remember this time last year?

Maddie 2009 & 2010: a lot has changed

And, in keeping with tradition, we feted Maddie with a Back to School Feast last night. This year's theme was "Love to Learn."

The decor, clockwise from top left: hanging hearts, placemat, rear view hanging hearts, school girl crown

The menu: sliced heirloom tomato salad, homemade jello hearts, artichoke hearts, grilled shrimp, sparkly (of course!) and pink rice krispy treats for dessert.

Are you ready for school?
Sam just hopped right in, next to Maddie, without even being asked!
There's hope for both of them in photos!

Sweet little leg kicked up to the side

me and the kiddos on our way to school

Best buds Kate, Maddie & Nicole
(How will it work out with all 3 in the same class? Only time will tell!)

Mama, Maddie, Sam and Dada waiting in line

And they're off! The girlies headed straight for the easels

Artists galore!

We love you, sweet little Yellow Room Preschooler. We are praying that God continues to fill you up with a love of learning, to provide good friends and teachers at school, and to sculpt you each and every day into the girl he would have you be. Happy 1st day of school, Maddie!

Samuel: A Year and A Half

Dear Sambino the Great,

What joy you bring us each day, my sweet boy. You are full of life and energy and fun. Everything we do is so much more enjoyable with you around. You are running, climbing, laughing, talking, signing and making all kinds of noises. You are at the age where you bounce from one activity to the next, navigating the room as you play with each item for approximately 1.8 seconds. You are, in short, a whirlwind.

You continue to be interested in all things boy: balls are your new favorite friends. You love to throw and kick balls all over the house and practice shooting hoops in the back yard (in your mini hoop). You push tractors while making tractor sounds. You point out trucks, cement mixers and tractors as we drive down the road. You love to ride on anything with wheels and are especially curious about scooters. You can spot a motorcycle blocks away and will take off running in order to see it up close.

Everyone who meets you comments on what a chill little guy you are. You love to just walk around, doing your own thing, not really bothered by what's going on around you, but content just being you. You love to drum on our drum at home and especially on Tyler's big set. You dance and "sing" to music and are always impressing us with your unique moves.

(picture by Maddie)

When Dada has a special project he's working on, you love to be right by his side, taking everything in, figuring out how things work and where they go. You're a great little helper! You also love to help out in the kitchen. You and your big sister will push up a couple of side tables and help me make dinner (or play in the dish soap bubbles in the sink).

You have a definite sweet tooth, enjoying fruit more than just about anything. You can eat massive amounts of watermelon, grapes, strawberries, apple, banana, melon, blueberries, just sitting in your chair, munching away as life goes on around you. You are also a sneaky little dessert stealer, known to swipe my ice cream right out from under me! But you enjoy it so much and are so adorable, it's quite hard to say no.

You are a big-time snuggler. I can always count on you for sweet kisses and hugs. You often lay your head down on my shoulder, snuggle in and stay for a while. It is awesome. You spontaneously give kisses and loves, melting our hearts with your affection. I will never, ever tire of picking you up and having you cradle my neck with your arm and face, tucking your arms in, laying your head down on my shoulder. It's the best.

And, to finish, I will post the body of an email I sent out earlier this month to your grandparents. It perfectly describes who you are these days:

PSA: Dangerous Sambino on the Loose

Bambino Sambino
aliases: Sam the man; Sam, Sam the Mama's Man; The Great Samboni; Sammy; Samalicious

Warning: Bambino Sambino is dangerous. In just the past week, he has stolen precious items from drawers, closets and bins. He has scaled walls, climbed out of barred enclosures, and thrown sharp objects.

Repeat: Sambino is treacherous. He carries weapons of mass destruction in his pants. He creates havoc wherever he goes.

Important: Do not attempt to approach Sambino between the hours of 4-6 p.m., as this is his most dangerous and unpredictable time. Again: do not approach Sambino. He is known to act impulsively and without concern for others. He may harm himself and others.

Attached are two pictures of the culprit. If you see him, do not approach, as he may be armed. Instead, call the Mad Mama Hotline immediately.

Thank you for your attention to this important matter.

Sambino, you are such a tornado and such a delight. You are this Mama's dream come true. Thanks for making our life so full of fun and adventure, and for keeping me on my toes.



Friday, September 03, 2010

It's a Wrap!

Birthday on Saturday but there's no wrapping paper in the house! What to do, what to do?

Craft supplies to the rescue!

Grab a couple of these:

Add a strip of easel paper and a couple artists:

Let them do their work:

Find a pretty red bow, make a card to match, and voila:

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Colonoscopy: Uncensored

Before you click away from the screen, hear me out. There are hardly any first-hand accounts of colonoscopy experiences. There is a dearth of information about why they are important, how to prepare, etc., but very little is available on what exactly to expect with such a procedure. Some of you might have to go through this one day. Some of you need to schedule one. Ahem. Now you know what you're getting yourself into. Here goes my experience, in timeline form:

Sunday, 8/29, Two Days until Colonoscopy
11:00 am Clean and vacuum house & start laundry: This is an important step, considering the preparation, procedure and recovery for/from a colonoscopy (heretofore known as the big C) will take you out for two to three days

3:00 Shop for groceries: You'll need some fast, easy options for Dad and kids plus lots of delicious (ahem), nutritious, clear liquids for the patient (see below)

Monday, 8/30, Colonoscopy Eve
7:00 start clear liquid diet: juice, water, iced tea, gatorade, chicken broth, jello, popsicles (though not any foods with red food coloring)

9:00 finish laundry

12:00pm take 2 dulcolax tablets, hence beginning the expulsion process

5:30pm take 1 zofran in preparation for drinking prep solution, until you resemble a full, rolling water balloon. This medicine is intended to keep the delicious salty beverage from coming back up, instead working its way south and accomplishing its purposes

6:00pm start drinking 1 GALLON of C prep. It tastes like someone took an old lemon-lime gatorade bottle and filled it with sea water. You get a taste of lemon lime but it is not nearly enough to mask the salty, filthy flavor

Side note: did I mention you will be drinking 1 cup of this solution every 10 minutes? That is ONE GALLON of lemon-lime flavored SALT WATER in 2 hours and forty minutes. TWO DAYS' worth of water in 160 MINUTES. Be prepared for some bloating. I've thoughtfully included a picture for your viewing purposes. The picture on the left is of my pregnant belly at 18 weeks. the photo on the right is after consuming approximately 2/3 of the C prep.

7:40-10:45: go to bathroom. Frequently. Spend some time in bath, trying to relax. Get out. Go to bathroom. Get out, calm crying child. Get back in. Warm the water up. Get out, child is crying again. Get back in. Get out. Go to bathroom. Get out. Get in bed. Get out. Go to bathroom.

Another side note: See "Possible Side Effects"? I didn't vomit but the rest are a check, check, check, check, and checkity-check-check. Irritation is the worst. Baby wipes and bootie paste aren't just for babies, people. They are your friends.

Tuesday, 8/31, The Big Day
12:00 a.m. go to bathroom again

3:00 a.m. see previous line

5:00 a.m. see previous line

6:50 a.m. wake up suddenly, glance at clock, and inform husband it is time to MOVE, MOVE, MOVE! Get children dressed, fed, prepared for park play date with friend (extra clothes, sunscreen, diapers, etc). Pack yourself a lunch bag with jello and gatorade for when you come out, famished. Oh, and do this all with an excruciating headache, like someone was pounding on your head with a mallet while you slept.

7:30 leave house, drop kids off at playdate (thanks, Suz!), grumble at your spouse at least twice on the way to surgery center (you're hungry, tired, sore, and still fighting off a raging headache)

8:00 arrive at surgery center where procedure will take place

8:30 head back, get changed into ultra-fashionable surgery gown with bootie-baring opening. Be thankful you're not the only one wearing said garb. Receive IV (no vasovagal response! No fainting, anxiety, drop in BP, thank goodness!). Settle self down in lazy boy with magazines.

8:45-9:30 read two gossip magazines and consider yourself fully caught up on all celebrity goings-on. Look up occasionally to see doctors walking back and forth, MAs wheeling half-awake patients back and forth. Notice your warming blanket has grown cold. Consider asking for a new blanket but realize no one is coming to check on you.

9:35-10:35 walk into surgery room. Lie down. Make small talk with Ray, nurse and friend from last procedure. Mention you remember his kindness and TLC from two years ago. Smile as he straps you down and adheres various monitors, gives you oxygen (which tickles and kind of itches the skin under your nose). Engage in small talk with staff as they busy themselves around the room, getting you all prepped. Joke about going under as RN Ray administers the sleepy meds and wishes you a pleasant nap. Start counting to see how long it takes, lose track.
At some point during C, wake up, feel gas and pressure in nether region. See the live video feed of your colon on the screen above. Hear remarks from doctor. Realize this is not good news.
Flash-forward. Hear more remarks. Dr. is comparing last C results from two years ago with current ones. He is instructing staff as to how you can see multiple ulcerations, polyps that weren't there before. Hear disappointment.

Wake up barely, stand and turn around to sit in wheelchair. Get up again when you are delivered to lazy boy. Sit down, pass out. Wake up when a sweet old man joins you in the recovery room. You heard him talking earlier with the nurse and he has a gentle, warm smile. Wonder to yourself who is passing more gas, you or old man. Smile and go back to sleep.
Wake up. Nurse Ray says, "Look who's up! Ready to get dressed?" Nod. Start getting self dressed. Hear another nurse say, "Try not to stand up, ok?" Wonder if you got yourself dressed all previous times.

See hubby. Hear him talking with nurse. Think you hear nurse say "looks like 80 polyps." Wonder if that is even possible. Get in wheelchair. Wheel up the ramp to car. Get in. Talk for a few minutes. Realize that with polypectomy you will be on liquid diet at least two more days. Go to sleep.

11:30 Get home. Go upstairs. Get in bed. Eat two cups of jello. Drink a glass of gatorade. Go to sleep.

3:30 Wake up. FOUR hours later. Remember hearing your son go down for a nap, hearing his sweet "Nigh, nigh" as they climbed the stairs. Remember hearing hubby take shower and head to work. Think to yourself that mother and sister-in-law are at your house, but ask just to make sure you aren't home alone with two kids.

3:45 Go downstairs. Kiss son, check in with daughter. Drink a big glass of water. Realize you are starving but don't know what to eat. Open fridge and stare at delicious options available: gatorade, water, jello, chicken broth, popsicles. Make yourself a delicious treat of chicken broth mixed with vegetable broth. Sip slowly. Son climbs in lap, snuggles, stays for 15 minutes and helps you finish broth. Be amazed that he even likes the stuff. Relish those 15 minutes.

4:15 Hear mother-in-law announce they're taking the kids overnight. See packed bags sitting on counter. Kiss kids goodbye. Lay down on couch.

4:30-9:30 Lay on couch, tired, watching t.v., getting up occasionally for another glass of beverage. Go pee at least once an hour. Weird.

9:30 Go to sleep

Wednesday, 9/1, Day After
7:45 wake up 10 1/4 hours later. Wonder how it is Wednesday already
8:00 miss kiddos. Wonder why you still feel so tired and worn down. Look at recovery instructions from doctor and realize you're not supposed to drive a car for a full 24 hours after procedure. Realize you still have sleepytime meds coursing through body and resign self to sitting down, checking up on email, etc. Start colonoscopy blog.
9:00-11:00 chill
11:00 pick up some groceries
12:00 make your own chicken broth because the boxed stuff tastes like metal
1:00 nap
2:00 wake up, watch t.v., wait for kiddos to come home
4:00 kiddos home! Loves all around
5:00 feed family dinner. You're up! You're moving! You can even cook again!
7:30 get back to blog

There you have it! Three full days.