Thursday, July 31, 2008

Baby turned 4 today...

Everyone is born with natural skills, talents, and abilities. Ethan Bennett is no acception to this rule. While Mozart was clearly destined to create beautiful music, and Einstein to create atomic bombs, I think it is safe to say that Ethan Bennett was obviously destined to become a cheerleader. The kid has joy and happiness oozing out of every pore in his body. The words that come out of his mouth have invisible exclamation points at the end of them!!!!!! He doesn't walk through life, he hops, skips, and jumps through life! And he has been in my life since 4 years ago today, when I gave birth to him.
The child who entered our family on July 31, 2004 was all red, bald on the top of his head, with a fringe of brown hair around the sides and back. He looked like a little monk. He looked like a little old man. He took his crying very seriously right away, too. When he was about to cry, he would frown and make the cutest pouty face first, so you knew the cry was coming, you could anticipate it, and then he would let it out full force. I've been in love ever since.
The name "Ethan" means strong. His middle name, "Bennett" means "little blessed one". He is both of those things. He has always been a very cuddly child; he loves to be held, snuggled, cuddled. I held him in my lap today and told him how much I love him, how he's my precious boy, and he says to me, through this goofy grin, "You're my pweshus gul." As much as I love being his "pweshus gul," I don't hold too tightly to that, or get my sense of self esteem from that. I know that these children are mine to raise for now, priceless gifts from God, because He has a plan for their lives. They are not mine to hold onto forever. If I do my job right, Ethan will hopefully become a strong man who is able to be a fantastic husband and father...and his wife will be his "pweshus gul;" that's the way it's supposed to be. (on a side note, I don't understand people who say things like "No one is good enough for my child." because I think that if someone loves my child and wants to commit her life to him, then that is the biggest compliment she can give him. She is obviously seeing the best in him, and I hope that I will be grateful that my child has someone to love, who loves him back, not having an attitude like she can never be good enough for "my baby." What-evuh.)
For now, he's just 4, though, and since his birthday falls on what is normally date night for hubby and me, we took him with us...and he was SOOO EXCITED!!!!! we went out for DINNER at Aqui's!!!! And when I told him we were going to the mall, he said "(gasp) I LOVE the mall!!!" And when we got to the mall, that child hopped, skipped, and jumped all the way through and around that mall, just sort of humming to himself under his breath. At one point, he decided to pretend to be a dog, and got down on all fours and was barking. I had to tell him that "Dogs are not allowed in the mall. Do you see any dogs?" so he stood up and asked "Are kangaroos allowed in the mall?" I said "I think so, if they are on two feet." So that settled that. We had a hopping kangaroo.
So happy birthday, Ethan Bennett. These past 4 years have been the best 4 years of my life. May you never lose your joy and zeal for life. Love, Mommy
P.S. Pictures are coming! Verlana is going to show me in person how to download the pictures from my camera, to the computer, to the blog. Awesome! Now I'm the excited one!!!!!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

My daughter had a conversation today...

And it went something like this...
Kristina: "I like math. So does my dad. He's a carpenter."
Verlana*:" Jesus was a carpenter, too."
Kristina: That's so wierd, like "Hi, I'm Jesus, I'm the Savior. Here's a chair I made."

*Verlana is a sweet friend, mother of 3 boys.
we were at the beach today. The one with the Pacific Ocean connected to it.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

For the love of nature

I have a dear friend named Francesca. She is just as lovely as a name like "Francesca" implies. (That has nothing to do with this post, just think of it as an added bonus nugget of information to store away in your knowledge bank. )Last summer, Francesca's daughter wanted to go to Rancho San Antonio. I can think of few things more enjoyable than spending the afternoon with Francesca and her family, so I said "hey, we'll come, too!" Just the name "Rancho San Antonio" sounds like fun, right? It sounds like a rodeo and burritos and a petting zoo of cute little baby donkeys, and a gift shop where you can buy a sombrero and a lasso. It is none of those things. Rancho San Antonio is basically a nature park with a lot of hiking trails. Lots of hills. Beautiful scenery. That's it. On one trail, you hike for about a mile and then there is a small (very small) farm with farm animals that you can look at. I have no idea where the name came from, since this park is just south of San Francisco, nowhere near Texas. Now, I absolutely love the fact that I live in one of the most luscious, beautiful places in the world. I love that nature is everywhere around me. I just don't want to get too deeply involved personally in that glorious nature, in general. I do live in a city, after all. (Refer to my post, "I like running") But for the love of my friend, I put all of my inhibitions on hold for the day. Well. Let's just say it was a hot day. This would have been okay, except for the whining of one of my children, who will remain nameless since she has been known to read this blog and leave comments. (Did I say "she?" it could have been a "he." it's really a 50/50 chance.) This still would have been okay, but as we were starting in on our walk, a man walked by and said "keep the kids close to you, there are mountain lions out today." That would normally be enough to have me sprinting back to my car, but no, we toughed it out and did all of the things we set out to do that day. Which were: walk to the farm. Have a picnic in the little barn with picnic tables. (Oh, and there are flies in the barn. And maybe an occasional wasp, just to kick your nature experience up a notch. There is also a lot of hay, and with hay come hay fever and itchy, teary eyes. (we have the pictures to proove it.) ) Walk the mile back to the car. Manage to avoid the rumored moutain lions...that is until we were loading back up into the car and... there were moutain lions lounging in the shade of the trees near the parking lot. I was so glad to be OUT OF THERE! I told Francesca, "I was so glad to spend time with you guys, I just...don't think I want to go to Rancho San Antonio next time you go." I think she laughed. She is a better sport about those things than I am.
However....the best part of nature around here? The Pacific Ocean. That's right, folks. We live only a 20 or 30 minute drive from the largest body of water in the world. We can drive to the beach any day we want. I know there are beaches all over the country, at lakes and things, but I'm sorry, it's not the same thing. Going to the beach is just about the best thing to do in the summertime, and my favorite place to take the kids. They are never more free and alive than when we are at the beach. Sand, waves, water? Check. That is the part of nature that I LOVE to get involved in. We go to church in Santa Cruz (a coastal town) and then stay all day at the beach. We just stay there for HOURS...and at the end of the day, everyone is sandy, rosy cheeked, hungry, tired, but in a good, fullfilled way. Then you bathe the kids and put them to bed and they sleep like rocks. And I do lots and lots of laundry. And then I restock the beach bag and clean out the cooler for the next time we go. Does summertime get any better than that?
I want to point out here that we also went to the beach a couple times last summer with Francesca and her family. Those days more than made up for the Rancho thing.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Editing and spell check

I would like you all to know that I do believe in the benefits of editing and spell checking posts before publishing them. I just have not done it yet. I am aware that there are at least 3 spelling errors on this blog so far. If you find them, then you get a prize.** If you can find even more than three, then you get 10 gold stars.***
Love, Michelle
** the prize is the sense of accomplishment you will feel.
***the gold stars are imaginary.

Reasons why Rachel is smart

In my last post, I casually mentioned that my friend Rachel is super smart. I wanted to expand on that in this post. This is by no means an exhaustive list. It is merely a few of my own personal observations after spending countless hours with her.
Rachel is the only person I know who owns a loom. She actually knows how to use it, too. Rachel weaves. As in, she can make fabric from scratch. No, you did not read that wrong; it was her major in college. Her blog name, textiler? That's because she actually makes textiles. I know.
When I told Rachel that we had planned on naming our 3rd child Ethan, she said something like "I really like that name, too, but John (her husband) wanted a name for our boys that had a more cacaphonous sound." Um, what?
The name she DID choose for her second son was Nicholas. When she told her grandparents this, her grandfather was concerned, because the name Nicholas was the name of a villian in a very classic, old novel. And Rachel new exactly what book her grandfather was talking about.
When Rachel's oldest child, Peter, was a baby just starting to say words, she didn't think he was talking very much. But then one day, she picked him up from the nursery at her church and the ladies there told her that Peter was talking in Chinese. (They attend a chinese church, since John is Chinese, but neither Rachel nor John actually speak Chinese. ) My point is that intelligence is obviously passed down, genetically. So Peter was just a product of brilliant gene placement.
There are many more reasons why Rachel is very intelligent, and I am sure one could write a whole book about it. But I will close with another Rachel-ism that is precious to my heart. Once when Rachel's mother was visiting her, (her mother lives on the East Coast, where Rachel is from; I'm convinced that this is one of the reasons she knows so much.) she told me that when Rachel was little, she would talk to everyone she saw. She would pass people on the street or in the store and say "Hello, Mrs. Lady! Hello, Mr. Man!" I love that story.

I like running

I like running because I am not currently running right now. While I am actually running, I hate it. Running is one of the hardest things a person can do, and when you're going for speed, and distance, and increasing inclines...running is hard. But I do it because I love it when I'm not actually doing it. Because I can sit down at the computer, like, now, and I can tell you all about it.
Before I had children, (that is the great "BEFORE" in life, isn't it? But that's another blog for another day...or just go read some other mom's blog, they all capture it, pretty much.) I used to run long distances outside, in the hills of Los Gatos. This is a beautiful place. Espescially if you are into nature and hiking and all of that. While I appreciate a beautiful location in nature, I am decidedly NOT a nature lover, per say. Camping? no. Hiking? Okay, but really I just do it for the exercise and conversation with whoever I'm with, because who goes hiking alone? I'm sure many people do, and they love it, and they have a terrific, super experience out there in the wilds of nature, just breathing in the fresh air and thinking deep thoughts. I'm just saying, that's not me. However, I used to run in the beautiful Los Gatos hills mostly alone. It is hard to convince most people to join you on a 7 mile very hilly run. So I would take my little key chain pepper spray, tuck my car key inside my shoe, (very classy) and off I went. I don't know what I thought about. I'm sure I had fantastic revelations and thoughts, but they were mostly usurped by the desire to just be done with this dumb run I was on, because I knew that I wouldn't be satisfied until I made it to the top of the hill, and then back down again, to my car, where I could say to myself "See that crazy hill? I just ran to the top of it. And back. Yea, I did that. No big deal, I'll do it again in a day or two..." Ultimately, I felt tough, just thinking that I was just out there, getting muddy.
Now that I am both older and a mother, I WOULD NEVER DO THAT ALONE!!!!!! What was I thinking? There are crazy things up there, like huge bugs and rattlesnakes and racoons and skunks, not to mention MOUNTAIN LIONS!!! And I would absolutely freak out if I ever had seen a tarantula...I know, nothing to be afraid of, really, except that they are big and hairy, but I used to have nightmares about tarantulas as a child, so that has forever biased me against them. I once told a man who runs marathons all over the world about my fear of moutains lions, and he said that I didn't need to fear them, because they don't attack runners. He said that if you are runnning, then you are standing up, and that intimidates the lions. The people who get attacked are the bikers who are hunched over adjusting a chain. (I don't know if that's true or not; it makes sense, but I would still freak out just as much if I encountered a mountain lion in the wild.)
I have discovered that what I REALLY like is running on the treadmill in the gym. With my own personal TV screen in front of me. And earphones for the tv or radio. And a book holder. Where I can read books or magazines. And I do not get rained on. And there are no wild animals. I can just get on my own treadmill and go. And if I'm tired and have to stop, I'm not miles away from my car in the middle of nowhere; I'm exactly where I started.
The problem with treadmills is that you can cheat. You can hold on to the sides and top the whole time. Yes, I have done this before. I know, what a disappointment, right? But I really try not to hold on, and if I must (because I have increased my speed so stinking much that my legs can't keep up) I try to only hold on with one hand...not too tight. There is a girl who goes to my gym who also likes to run on the treadmills, but she has her own unique style. She holds onto the side rails so tight, it is like she is holding her whole body weight up off of the treadmill and her feet are barely touching the ground. I always wonder "what does she think she's doing?" I say this in love, because she is a what -not -to -do lesson to me, and I keep her in mind when on the treadmill. The good thing about treadmills is that you can control how fast and at what incline you wish to run; it's not dependant on the terrain.
There are two other people I keep in mind when on the treadmill. The first is Kelly Ripa, as her show, "Live with Regis and Kelly" is the one I watch while running. She says that she runs 5 miles a day, so I think to myself, "Kelly runs 5 miles a day. I can run at least 5 miles today." The other person I think about is my friend Rachel. She has never been a runner in her life, except for a few months last year when she was training for a half marathon. I saw her one day, pounding it out on the treadmill, and the look she gave me said "I am in pain. What am I doing? Get me off of this thing." (On a side note, Rachel is so super smart that even her look of pain and distress looked intelligent. I'm not kidding.) She said to me "I'm supposed to go 8.5 miles today, but i don't know if I can make it!" (She did) so I think to myself "Rachel made it to 8.5 miles; I can do that, too. " And then I do. But I must say, my run this morning was HARD! Some days it's just harder than others. I had to stop and walk a lap after about 5 miles. But I finished, and I got that machine to say 10 miles before I got off. Because I like running. As I sit here, on the computer, finishing my lunch, I can tell you, I really, really like running.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

I love this.

Psalm 126:5-6 (NIV)
"Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy. He who goes out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying his sheaves with him."

Saturday, July 26, 2008

A blog of my own...

When I was 11 or 12, I wrote a list of names that I hoped to give to my future children. Since I figured that the most children I would ever have would be 4, I came up with 4 boy and 4 girl first and middle names. I was prepared. I kept that list for many years, enjoying the sounds of the name combinations I had created. I am now a happy wife and mother of 4 children. I have exactly 2 boys and 2 girls, but hubs and I never once concidered my preteen list when deciding what we would call them. So as I was trying to come up with some sort of witty, poignant, or touching blog title, and having little success, it occured to me...I already had a perfectly good, unused name list that had been lying dormant and dusty for many years. It was time to put it to good use. The name at the top of the list was Vanessa Christine. Welcome to my blog, folks.