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GIVE LIFE -BLOOD DONATION

this past week i’ve had that nagging feeling i needed to donate blood. you are able to donate every 8 weeks and right when i hit my eight week mark i start getting the calls. asking me if i can donate again. then the emails. i had three emails in my inbox in the last week alone all with donation spots close to my home. somehow the days flew by and i hadn’t made it to donate. last night was another chance to donate. i had promised henri a date night and by the time we got home it was 7:40 and i had forgotten all about it. i sat down and checked my email, there it was in my in box. united blood services taking donations at my church building until 8pm. i grabbed ava and said lets go.

ava has never gone with me to donate blood. she knows i do it. she is scared to death of shots and needles. i have to admit i was the same way when i was little and up until i had my first baby i would freak out at the sight of a needle. i didn’t sign up ahead of time so it took a little longer than normal. we had to go through all the questions. they were so kind to her down there. she got to eat as many snacks as she wanted and they talked to her about the importance of donating blood. the phlebotomist explained that every bag we donate saves 3 lives, that they separate the blood into platelets + plasma + blood. each are used for different traumas. she also said they need 700 donations a day to keep up their supply and get nowhere near that. so they are always in a deficit.

ava was so loving. she held my hand and rubbed my arm (the one that wasn’t having blood taken) it was sweet to see her being the brave one. telling me it was ok. usually i’m consoling her at the doctors office. i could tell she was nervous for me and she didn’t want me to feel nervous. i assured her i was fine and i am happy to donate blood. my veins are huge and i fill a bag quick. i don’t have side effects. i’m ready to go the minute i’m done. how can i not donate. there was a young boy donating next to me. maybe 17 or 18. i wanted to hug him. i wanted to tell him how awesome he is. donating blood out of the goodness of his heart on a tuesday night on his summer vacation. he could be out with friends, at a movie. but he chose to be here doing this. his mom must be proud.

jack had two blood transfusions when he was in the hospital. one the night before we found out he had TAPVR. i remember the nurse waking me up in the middle of the night and saying they would have to transfuse him. i was so out of it. it felt like the first time i had sleep in 5 days. i said ok and dozed right back off. she woke me up again and said i need you to sign for the blood transfusion. shocked i said “BLOOD TRANFUSION???” what?! no!! i said i guess i didn’t understand what you were saying. they did so many tests and X-rays. it was all blurring together. i thought it was just another test. she brought the doctor in and he explained jacks body was shutting down. he was no longer making new blood. i was raised jehovahs witness. (i no longer am) we were not allowed to be given another persons blood. i remember every field trip permission slip my mom would write -do not give blood for any reason. all over it, in capital letters and underlined. it was ingrained in me that we don’t take anyones blood. for anything. so being faced with this decision was very difficult. ivan and i talked about it. the doctor explained this was his only option. i cried. he was given his first transfusion. a tiny bag of donors blood. i called my sister the next day. i told her how i was worried about telling my mom. she is no longer jehovahs witness either. we’ve never talked in depth about it but i know she would have done the same thing. when faced with the decision, you do whats best for your baby. he was given his second transfusion during open heart surgery. i am forever grateful to those donors that saved jacks life. i often think about who they are. i look around when i’m donating and think it could have been one of these people. i wonder whose life i’m saving. a baby like mine. someone with cancer, a mother a father.

life is precious. life in unpredictable. you never know if that could be you or one of you family members in need of a transfusion. having that blood available is so important. i hope to encourage anyone who is able to give to do so. it is one of the greatest gifts you can give. if not the greatest. to save a life is invaluable. its quick, virtually painless and usually very convenient. united blood services  set up all over the valley. get on their email list and they will let you know when they are in your area. thank you to all that donate. you are a hero. you have touched my life and saved jacks.

Go here to donate https://www.bloodhero.com

 

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CLEANING HOUSE

i am currently looking for a place in seattle. the prices are skyrocketing and the houses are teeny tiny. its kind of funny, living in the suburbs like we do right now and all that goes with it. everyone wants a huge house with a big backyard and a pool. an oversized suv. a bedroom for each kid so they don’t have to share. a playroom. an office. a movie room. it all makes me laugh. the rest of the world doesn’t live like this. the me just over a year ago thought i need the same thing. until i moved into 1819 sq feet with 4 kids a husband 1 dog and 6 chickens. yes i do have an amazing 1+ acre backyard and that makes up for a lot. but really i could never see myself living in a 3500+ sq foot house ever again. my sister sent me a picture of a pillow and i can’t remember exactly what it said but something to the effect of we don’t mind our small house we actually like being in the same room as each other. made me laugh so hard. she also lives in a small space in california and loves it. i think we all dream of having a little more room for that craft space or bigger laundry room. i’ve come to realize i don’t need all that extra “stuff”. you know the stuff that sits around and never gets used. the “nice” stuff and the “everyday” stuff. i caught myself not using the serving dishes i really love and saving them for special occasions that happened twice a year. what a waste! when we moved from our last house we lost almost 600 sq ft but gained a lot more yard which meant a lot less time cleaning and a lot more time playing with the kids outside. a lot more picnics under the eucalyptus trees. i got rid off all the junk we didn’t need, the toys that didn’t get played with. the clothes that didn’t get worn. the ugly dishes. anything i didn’t love or use everyday went. i can’t tell you what a burden that extra stuff puts on your life. it feels amazing for everything to have a spot. no junk drawers. no closets full of clutter. if it doesn’t bring us happiness it doesn’t stay. that also means i don’t just buy to buy. i weigh my decisions. do i need it? if not, it doesn’t come home with me. this will save you a lot of money and even more regret and waste.  here are a few tips that helped me break free of all the clutter.

– evaluate what you have. do you need it? do you love it? start by getting rid of anything broken or that has missing pieces. next if you haven’t used it in a year it goes. if this is hard for you, box it up put it in the garage. if you don’t open that box in a year take it straight to the goodwill. no need to even open it again, you already know you don’t use it.

– i stopped reading websites/blogs that tell me i need to buy. consumerism gets the best of all of us. everywhere i turn i’m being told how great the newest hair, shoes, clothes, cleaning products are. how they will change my life only to be told a month later how great the latest product is and how mine is now junk. they are paid to tell you that. they received that product for free and are paid to promote it. which is fine but im not taking it as their real opinion. i’ve fallen into this in the past and i end up with 10 different kids of hair smoothing serum, non were great. i however do love an honest favorites list. somethings work better than others and i like getting my moneys worth.

– realize whats important to you and work on that first. is it having a playroom? then maybe having two kids share a room is worth the trade off. we don’t need huge homes we need our current home being used in the most functional way possible. our home is three bedrooms + a large playroom. our kids share a bedroom and they love it. it keeps them close and keeps the toys out of their bedroom.

-everything has a spot. if you don’t have a spot for something you either need to get rid of it or get rid of something else to make room. when toys are arranged nicely on a shelf they are more likely to get played with. this makes cleaning up easier. i like to keep crayons/markers + craft supplies in nice jars or containers. i do the same with my pantry. oxo makes great airtight stackable containers. this keeps things neat a tidy.

– keep up on decluttering. this is a weekly/monthly chore. weekly, get rid of extra school papers + mail + trinkets from birthday party’s or mcdolands toys. monthly, go through closets + drawers and anywhere clutter is starting to pile up.

im not a minimalist in the sense of having 20 items of clothes and 1 blanket on my bed. i do keep “things” to a minimum to make room for memories. i spent a lot of my childhood cleaning. i remember most saturdays not getting to go play because we had to clean. it was bizarre as a child, i remember a friends sister saying “yeah right! you always say you have to clean. you guys are not cleaning that much.” we were. my mom has too much stuff. she holds onto stuff instead of memories. she still does and every time i talk to her she tells me how overwhelmed she is. how messy her house is and how she has to spend her weekends cleaning. no amount of cleaning will help with the clutter. get rid of things. enjoy your life and have fun with your family. you don’t want your kids to say all we did my whole childhood was clean!

 

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RUNNING FOR BEGINNERS WITH JAMIE CAMPBELL

i recently started running again.  i ran track in high school, i’ve run two half marathons and a handful of 5 and 10k’s.  i’ve never loved running, i only did it because my friends wanted me to and i was certainly never any good.  i don’t know that i can say i love it yet but i love the way i feel after.  i love the form of therapy it is for me.  i love that i’m a better mom + wife once i’ve cleared my mind.  i’m not fast and i’m ok with that.  i don’t run to compete.  i run to show my kids that its important to take care of yourself, to take time out for the things you enjoy.

 

i’m not a seasoned runner.  i don’t know why everything hurts after i run or why sometimes i get an awful stomach ache halfway through.  but i am lucky enough to have an amazing best friend jamie campbell, who happens to be the race director for the BMO Harris Bank Phoenix Marathon and coached cross country at mountain view high school for 7 years.  not only can she put together an awesome race, she’s run boston the past two years (the last being 10 weeks after having a baby!).  she’s fast, really fast.  she’s my go to for all things running and i was lucky enough to have her share some tips for beginning runners.

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  1. Invest in a pair of running shoes. One of the great things about running is that you don’t need a bunch of equipment to do it. That being said, you do need a good pair of shoes. Don’t pull an old, ratty pair of shoes out of your closet from your high school track days and expect to have good results. The rule of thumb is to replace shoes every 300-500 miles. If the shoes are old, have lost their cushion or if you’ve been wearing them to the gym for more than six months, its time for a new pair. If you’re unsure about what shoe you should be running in, visit your local running store and get fitted. If you don’t live near a store that can fit you, stick with a neutral shoe, like this one http://www.saucony.com/en/ride-7/13593W.html?dwvar_13593W_color=S10241-1#cgid=womens-running-neutral&start=1 Finally, lace you shoes up, snugly. If you are able to slip your shoes on, they’re not tight enough. Loose shoes will result in a lack of support and lead to injury.
  2. Stay Hydrated. Drinking lots of water will reduce muscle cramping, and help fuel your metabolism. At a minimum, drink 1/3 of your body weight in ounces. For example, if you weight 150 pounds, try to drink 50 oz. of water per day, more if you live in a particularly dry climate.
  3. Fuel- you’ll be burning extra calories when you run. Make sure you’re eating healthy carbs, and include extra protein in your diet to build muscle. Avoid eating too much before a run, and stay away from things like dairy prior to running.
  4. Get a running partner or join a running group. This will help you stay motivated and hold you accountable. Plus, it’s more fun to run with a friend!
  5. Have a goal, or sign up for a race. What are you running for? Speed? Weight loss? Overall health? Decide why you are running and the results you want. Running for weight loss is different than training for a marathon.
  6. Start with 20-25 minutes of running. Run out 10-12 minutes, turn and come back. Try to get a little farther each time, and don’t worry if you have to walk in the beginning. If you’re serious about running, invest in a GPS watch like the Garmin Forerunner 15 https://buy.garmin.com/en-US/US/into-sports/running/forerunner-15/prod145621.html or Forerunner 220 https://buy.garmin.com/en-US/US/into-sports/running/forerunner-220/prod129397.html. If you don’t want to spend a lot of money, stick with a simple stopwatch or use your smartphone. One of my favorite apps is Strava. Check it out here: https://www.strava.com/running-app
  7. Gradually build your mileage. Just because you can go run eight miles doesn’t mean you should. The majority of injuries are a result of weak muscles (quadriceps). Your quads are crucial in walking and running and providing stability to your knee and hip joints. Give you muscles some time to build up and you’ll be less likely to strain other parts of your body.
  8. Listen to your body. If you are experiencing pain, you may need an anti-inflammatory and ice. Consider taking a break or cross training. If the pain persists, see your doctor.
  9. Your body needs time to rebuild your muscles, Consider a running schedule in the beginning like:
    1. Monday – run
    2. Tuesday – run
    3. Wednesday – rest or cross train
    4. Thursday – run
    5. Friday – run
    6. Saturday – rest or cross train
    7. Sunday – rest
  1. Invest in some running clothes. Technical clothes will reduce chaffing and wick moisture. Reward yourself for committing to a new healthy routine. And as my Cross County runners always say, “Look good, feel good, run good!”

 

these tips have helped me find a starting point.  i’ve been able to gain mileage fairly quickly and safely.  jamie put together a running schedule for me a month before the BMO Harris Bank Phoenix Marathon and i was able to run the 10k faster than i thought i’d ever be able to and finish without walking once.  it feels like a great accomplishment to complete a race and have your family cheering you on as you cross that finish line.

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MOTHERS DAY WEEKEND

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we’ve been doing a lot of ring around the rosy or as jack calls it “raisin” “raisin, mama. raisin”

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ivan took me out for a sushi date so naturally we had to bring the kids a few rolls home.  i’m so happy when they are adventurous with food.

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henri lost another tooth.  ava did too but somehow i missed taking a picture.  the tooth fairy was busy at our house all weekend.

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we went up to pine for mothers day.  this is my dad pushing my nephew and niece on the swings.  this picture makes me so happy.

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i love jacks imagination.  we stopped at one of ivan’s jobs saturday morning on our way to breakfast.  jack and i played in the grass out front.  he loves this truck he got for his birthday.  he had to drive it through the big grass.

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jack loves the new baby chicks.  they’re so cute and he’s so cute with them.  “here baby chicks. you hungry”  they all follow him and he gives them food.

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i love mothers day cards from the kids.  i love hearing how old they think i am + what my favorite things are.  it really is the best part of mothers day.

 

i hope all you mama’s out there had a great mothers day.  i know mine was just perfect.  i seem to only have pictures of jack.  i really need to work on that.  typically its the last child that doesn’t have baby pictures or at least that was the case for me growing up.  i don’t know what i looked like until kindergarten.  not over here, jacks hogging up the camera.  really he’s always by my side while the others are off playing.  i can’t wait for school to end and to have all my babes with me.  less than a week and a half, i’m ready and so are they.

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UNCLE MARK

lately i’ve been in a mood.  i’ve got a lot going on in my head.  too much going on in my head.  i feel out of sorts.  i hate feeling this way.  i hate feeling like things are beyond my control.  i’m a pretty fly by the seat of my pants kind of girl which makes me most happy, but its because i’m making the decision to not have a plan.  waiting around for things beyond my control torture me.  i have a lot going on with commitments and family and life in general, like we all do.  but lately it feels like too much.  i’m ready for school to be over.  i’m ready to have no commitments.  sometimes its nice to just wake up and decide what you want to do that day, not already have 10 places you have to be.  today my only activity is tonight when i have to speak at a rs activity about journaling.  i thought why not sit and journal about how i’m feeling at this very moment.  though this isn’t a personal journal this is my life. the good and the bad.  its the season i’m in and i have to remind myself its a good one.  the booger noses and spilled drinks.  they’re all good.  theres nothing id rather be doing.  not one single thing.  so i’m trying to slow it all down.  stop fighting it, stop rushing through it.  because who cares if i’m still in my pajamas or my car is a mess.  not me.  but i do care that my kids know i love them.  that my husband knows i’m here for him and i’m happy.  i love this life.  i took the kids to visit my uncle mark at the cemetery today.  its been 19 years to the day since he passed away.  how’d that fly by so fast?  his kids are grown.  they were babies when he passed.  i was 12.  i remember so many details of his last bit of life.  he was the first person i was really really close with to pass away.  mark is my dads baby brother.  he looked like my dad.  he was kind and funny he would play card games with me every weekend.  he was passed away from brain cancer.  i remember the surgeries and scars.  i remember hospital visits and eventually hospice.  i can’t imagine knowing you’re going to die.  knowing you’re leaving your babies here.  knowing you won’t see them graduate or get married.  wondering how much of you they will remember.  he was only 35 when he passed away.  as i get older i realize just how young he was.  how short his life was.  today i took my babies to put flowers on his grave, i wish they could’ve met him.  i wish they could play cards with him.  death is hard.  his death was really hard.  i remember speaking at his funeral about how much he meant to me.  how much he touched my life, tears streaming down my face trying to get through the talk i wrote.  some people impact you so much even after they are gone.  that was my uncle mark for me.

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WASHINGTON D.C.

for christmas my sister and i got a trip to d.c. from our husbands.  i was so excited, i’ve wanted to go for a while now and ivan was never very interested so this was a perfect girls trip.  we both hadn’t been so of course i got to work on researching everything from where to stay + what to do and where to eat.  i had heard the food is really good and i have to say it was everything i imagined and more.  the city itself is charming and old.  the architecture is beautiful.  i love an old city.  i love the history of an old city.  i also love a walking city.  which d.c. definitely is.  we only took the metro one time and that was to get to eastern market, which ended up being the farthest place we went to and we ended up walking back.  we stayed in dupont circle.  it seemed pretty centrally located but i think if i went back i’d stay in georgetown.  georgetown has a lot of restaurants + shopping and is such a cute area.

 

we left friday morning and the flight took around 3 1/2 hours.  not too bad except the time difference puts d.c. 3 hours ahead of us so we lost a lot of our day.  we checked into our hotel and ended up grabbing sweetgreen for dinner.  i really liked sweetgreen.  the salad was really good and the portions were big.  the cherry blossoms were in full bloom and absolutely stunning!  they dont last long so i feel very lucky we got to see them in all their glory.

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the next morning we went to founding farmers.  it was one of my favorite breakfasts.  they told us the wait would be an hour but it only ended up being 20 minutes or so.  this is when we realized everywhere in d.c. takes reservations.  very different for home where no one takes reservations.  my sister and i split the pancakes and farmer breakfast.  the eggs + bacon + hash brows were some of the best.  i highly recommend this place.  we walked down to the white house and the national mall.  we saw the washington monument and abraham lincoln.  we walked over to arlington.  the size of arlington national cemetery is massive.  its quiet and peaceful.  very beautiful and heartbreaking all at the same time.  the weather was beautiful and the cherry blossom are stunning.  we walked to georgetown, which i absolutely fell in love with.  we went to baked and wired, a cupcake place with rave reviews, but the line was so long we left.  then we came back and the line was still long but we waited and i’m so glad we did.  the best cupcake far better than georgetown cupcakes.  for dinner we had the best falafel at amsterdam falafel.  they have tons of toppings and the shop is really fun.

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sunday morning we took the metro down to eastern market.  an outdoor market known for their blueberry buck pancakes.  we waited in another line for breakfast.  i think this was by far the longest line, we waited probably an 1+.  the blue bucks were worth it.  we walked around the smithsonian.  the museums were a lot of fun. we ended up eating indian food for dinner and having an early night.  all that walking is exhausting.

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monday morning we went to old ebbitt grill near the treasury.  we didn’t make it in time for breakfast so we ended up having lunch and getting the kids gifts.  a giant penny no less.  we walked by the white house again, which was blocked off by security this time and they made us keep our distance from the gates.  we walked back over to georgetown grabbed another cupcake and did a little shopping.

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i had so much fun.  its always nice to get away.  even though i was hesitant to go.  i hate leaving my family.  the night before i left i told ivan don’t ever do this to me again.  ha!  i was only joking babe.  send me on another trip just give me a year and i think ill be ready to leave again.  d.c. is great and i think everyone needs to visit once in their lifetime.  i’d love to bring my kids when they are a little older and can appreciate all d.c. has to offer.

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LIFE ACCORDING TO MY IPHONE

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got these new illesteva sunglasses.  i absolutely love them.

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initially the chickens made her really nervous.  now i see her out there holding them, petting them.  its really sweet.

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our neighbor gave us goose eggs to paint for easter.  if you haven’t seen one in person they’re huge and heavy.  the kids had a lot of fun drawing on them.  they ate them too and said they were good.  i’ll take their word for it.

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jack loves watching kinder egg videos on youtube.  its becoming and obsession.

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cheering ava on at tennis.  he just yells hi ava the whole time.  its really cute.

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it was all fun and games letting jack crash into them with the baby doll stroller until henri got it good.  that’ll teach ya!

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ironically we didn’t have church on easter we watched it on tv.  so this was our week before easter church picture.  minus new easter outfits.

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he’s finally starting to pretend play.  i love watching his imagination grow.

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i love this swing in the yard.  so does jack.

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elle’s date night at zin burger.

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catching up on missed homework from being in mexico.  neither one of us was very thrilled.

 

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we had cousins in town for easter.  jack and amelie on the piano.

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elle doing ami’s makeup.

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ava, always the animal lover.

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date night with ava, i love that she still loves little girl things.  i know these days are numbered so ill take as many as i can get.

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would you believe me if i told you we are finally celebrating henri’s birthday.  only 4 months later.  christmas day is just a hard day to have a birthday.  anyone else with a christmas birthday out there have any advice for me?  im struggling.

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30

I met 30 with tears.  I laid in bed watching the clock tick closer and tears started flowing.  Mostly happy tears but some sad.  Another decade gone.  My twenties were good to me.  I got married, had my four babies.  I don’t know why I feel sadness.  I don’t want to be 20 again, Ive grown so much.  I know so much more.  I’m happy with the person Ive become.  I’m calmer, patient, content, more satisfied in life.  I don’t live with the “what does the future hold?”  I’m happy in this moment right here, right now.  But there’s a sadness with that too,  I’m not daydreaming about what the future holds.  I’m weighing every decision thinking about the kids and what the changes I make mean for them.  I used to dream about living in California, just my little family laying on the beach, not a care in the world.  Now its but will the kids make friends?  Will they get into trouble?  Will they really love it?  Maybe my naivety is gone.  Maybe that’s a good thing.  For now I’m going to stop crying, enjoy the day with my family and be thankful for another healthy, happy year.  I told Ivan all I want for my birthday is for him to take the day off and spend it with me and I think I might just get that.  Its gonna be a good year, I can feel it.

 

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