Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Everyday Miracles

I have so much to be thankful for.  Someone I admire said that our Instagram collection is like a cellar that we keep stockpiled full of beautiful moments and memories, that we can take heart from when life isn’t so glorious.  I have to admit that while life is certainly not without its “off” moments (I had a “off” two hours after school today), things are pretty sweet right now, and I have to stock up my cellar while I can.  And with that, here are some of our everyday miracles.

The most amazing trip to Disneyland that we have ever had.  And that’s saying a lot.

A day out in the middle of a gorgeous lake with just my husband and our good friends, Sheena and Scott.  I went tubing with Jake, and I screamed the entire time.  I wasn’t scared, but I was so full of adrenaline that I needed a release.  A release that came in the form of blowing out Jake’s eardrums.

Sweet Tooth Fairy for dessert on my birthday.  One of my best friends of 11 years, Amber, just happens to own this enchanted establishment, and she gave us every sweet that we so much as glanced at.  Sweet Tooth Fairy takes the cake for best cupcake in Phoenix. 

Speaking of fairies, Bella got her first visit from the tooth fairy.  While admiring the hole in her mouth in front of the mirror, she said "This looks so cool. I look like a second grader. Now, I think I need glasses. That would look cute with this."  Worth noting that she said to me earlier that same day, Bella: “Mom, can you take off your glasses?… You know why?”  Me: “Why?”  Bella: “Because you look like Fancy Nancy’s mom”. 

Impromptu trip to Sedona, because we decided we needed this view at lunch.

Our family.  Gorgeous weather.  New Mexican green chile pork stew and a Cuban sandwich that was to die for.

This view out the rolled down car window.

The way the sun looked glistening through the trees and reflecting off Oak Creek. 

That day Liam learned how to sate his own bubble craving, and I found him in the garage doing this.

My family birthday celebration with my sisters and their boyfriends.  They ordered me beautiful charcuterie and bruschetta take-out from Postinos, and we spent quality time late into the night.  Quality time is my favorite.

I feel like this picture of Bella is a metaphor for how she approaches life… with awe and innocence and confidence and skillfulness.

Bella made a new friend at her Special Blessings summer party.  Like Bella, her friend has no need for two hands either.

My view from my bathtub at night.  There will always be a moon picture.

Liam is now a ham. He likes to pretend that he is on a commercial for cereal and applesauce and pretty much anything I ask him to advertise.  He takes a bite and smiles and holds his spoon up on cue. 

The kids built this “fort” without my help.  Without even wanting my help.  New frontiers.

And just when I thought it couldn’t get any better, I walked in to see Gabe reading to his sisters in the fort.  PicMonkey Collage8-18-14

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Our Beloved Babysitters

There are a few things in this world that I can credit with helping me to maintain my sanity.  One of them is staying up late… till 1 or 2 am every night, so I can have the space and time to think, research, edit photos, read blogs, and online shop till my heart’s content.  Another of these things is caffeine at 3 pm.  I never drink caffeine in the mornings, because then what do you do when you’re hitting the floor at 4 pm… drink more?  Not me; I have it down to a science.  A third thing is being able to rely on at least two people, outside of Jake and myself, to be able to care for my children in every way and even run my household for a few hours in my absence.  And being able to count on at least one of them at a time to say “yes” to this task when I need it most.

These two beautiful people are our babysitters, Brittany and Brooke.

We have known Brittany since before little Liam was born.  We saw her most days of the week at first, but when she got a job as a first-grade teacher, she still came back to us every day during Ari’s Conductive Education program each summer for the past two years.  Ari’s Conductive Ed program does Ari more benefit than probably any other single therapy.  The progress that she makes in those four weeks is unbelievable.  And while it kills me to leave my other three kids every single day for four weeks of their summer, I couldn’t feel better about who they’re with.  I know that, not only are they being cared for and nurtured, but that they are learning and having all kinds of fun and new experiences.  And when I got home every day, they were always excited to tell me about what awesome activities they got to do with Brittany.

Brooke worked with us after school for much of last year, and even after she had to stop working with us regularly for college, she still babysat for us on date nights.  Date nights are our salvation.  Like everything else we do, we try to make our date nights as memorable as possible, if we can help it.  No chain restaurants.  Jake and I try to make those valuable hours count, and while we’re living it up and remembering what we find so enchanting about each other, I know that my kids are in great hands with Brooke at home.  And finally, I am able to truly relax.

For the first time ever, this summer, I felt comfortable and secure enough to leave our kids overnight… in a different state… for three days.  This made history.  Gabe and Ari are 7, and we have yet to do this until this summer.  What coaxed me to embrace the freedom?  These girls.  They were willing to both stay so Jake and I could finally leave without a worry.

These kids are so lucky to have these amazing young women in their lives who love them like family and feel so invested in them.  We love them like our family, and for me, that’s saying a lot.

The following photos were mostly taken by Brittany, and all the others were taken by Brooke from this summer.                                                                       IMG_6034 IMG_6023 IMG_6035 IMG_6309IMG_6300 IMG_6313unnamed (2) IMG_6979 unnamed (3) IMG_6984IMG_6225 IMG_6223 IMG_6226 IMG_6224IMG_6306 IMG_6027 IMG_6024 IMG_6026IMG_6332 IMG_6593  IMG_6312 IMG_6319 IMG_6330 IMG_6320unnamed (6) unnamed (7)IMG_6322 IMG_6398 IMG_6426 IMG_6392IMG_6431 IMG_6434IMG_6420 IMG_6424 IMG_6422 IMG_6495IMG_6478 IMG_6484 IMG_6482 IMG_6485IMG_6488 IMG_6491 IMG_6490 IMG_6493IMG_6499 IMG_6500 IMG_6574 IMG_6591IMG_6507 IMG_6781 IMG_6785 IMG_6836IMG_6837 IMG_6889IMG_6888 IMG_6872 IMG_6859 IMG_6873IMG_6875 IMG_6876 IMG_6877 IMG_6878IMG_6847 IMG_6846IMG_6882 IMG_6883 IMG_6899 unnamed (1)IMG_6906 IMG_6907