Respect

I came home from running this morning. London immediately greeted me with the fact that Donald Trump had won the election. She wasn’t excited. She knows the things he has said about immigrants, building a wall, and deporting people. We live in a place that is very diverse. Some of her best friends are from the Middle East. She knows refugees. She is genuinely afraid that her friends will be deported. And she has reason to be afraid. I thought a lot last night about what I would say to her when she woke up this morning. 

In times like this, I remember something my mother said to me long ago. She probably doesn’t even remember this, but it has stuck with me. When I was in high school, Bill Clinton was the president. There were a lot of things about him and his presidency that I did not agree with. I was disgusted by things he was doing. One day my mom told me that he was going to be in Sacramento and maybe we could go catch a glimpse. I immediately rejected the idea. I didn’t need to see him, but my mom said, “Kiersten, he is our president. Whether you agree with the things he does or not, we still need to respect him.” I know my mom wasn’t a fan of Bill Clinton. I’m pretty sure she didn’t vote for him and she most definitely did not agree with the way he was acting, but she recognized that we needed to respect him. We needed to respect the office, no matter who it was. And he needed our support. So that is what I told London this morning. It may not be the outcome we wanted, but come January, Donald Trump will be our president. We may not agree with him or even like him, but we have to respect him. And we have to fight. We have to fight for our beliefs and our freedoms and our friends and our neighbors. We have been awakened and we will be involved. And we will pray. We pray for our country and we pray for our president. And with that, she promptly sat down and wrote Mr. Trump a letter, explaining why he shouldn’t build a wall. 

Yesterday after school, all of the neighborhood kids were out riding their bikes together and talking politics. The girls next door told my kids that their parents voted for Donald Trump. Hillary should be in jail. The Iraqi immigrant kids across the street told them that if Donald Trump won, their whole lives would be turned upside down. And the girl down the street told my kids that her mom voted for Clinton and her dad voted for Trump. She couldn’t believe her dad would do that! But in all of this, the kids played together. The kids are friends. They put their differences aside and they play. They respect each other. They care about each other. They want our neighborhood to be a safe place for them. I hope that we can, as a country, do the same thing. I hope that we can play together. I hope that we can respect each other. I hope that we can put our differences aside and move through this for a better us.

Joshua Tree

Over the weekend, we were invited by some friends to join them and some others for a camping trip to Joshua Tree National Park. We’re only a couple of hours from there (without traffic) and the kids an I have never been, so we thought it might be fun. I’m not a camper. I’ve never been one to enjoy a good campout. Growing up, I hated going to girls camp every summer. Every summer I would come home after a week of sleeping under the starts and using an outhouse and wonder why I would ever go back. Taylor knew this when he married me. But he loved camping. He has fond memories of campouts and hiking adventures. For me it’s more about the bathrooms and the dirt. I’m not a fan. One year about 8 summers ago, we were planning a trip to Sacramento. Taylor wasn’t super excited about going, so I asked him what might make him a little less grumpy about it. He thought about it and then threw out the most outrageous thing he could think of. He wanted to take his surf board and camp in Santa Cruz. So me, being the good wife that I am, immediately threw out that idea. He was just being difficult. But then after I let the idea settle, I got online and booked a campsite for 2 nights. He was shocked. I was shocked with myself. But we went and had a great time. Surprisingly, I loved it! For the last few years, we have gone beach camping every summer. It has become part of our summer and I really look forward to it every year. Camping at the beach is different, though. The bathrooms aren’t super clean, but at least the toilets flush. There is running water where I can wash my hands, brush my teeth, and rinse off my feet. There are showers. And most of all, there’s a huge ocean of water that we can jump in any time we get hot. We spend our days lounging on the beach and our nights up at the campfire. I love it. But I still wouldn’t consider myself a camper. I thought, though, since I do love beach camping, maybe Joshua Tree would be alright. The pit toilet made me nervous and having to bring all of our water in didn’t make me so excited either. But I was feeling adventurous. Kind of. I went out and bought a new air mattress, you know, one that would hold air. The problem was, it didn’t hold air. We forgot to pack the heavier blankets, so the first night, we were FREEZING and our air mattress was losing air. I though that maybe if I just let all of the air out, we would be less cold. That may have been the case, but then I was uncomfortable on the hard ground. Eventually Ashton ended up in our bed and we were able to use his sleeping bag to cover all of us. The next day some other friends showed up and brought us an extra blanket. That was really helpful and appreciated. We filled up the air mattress again, hoping that the first night was just a leaky valve or something. The second night wasn’t any better. In fact, it may have been worse. But I didn’t let the air out and I wasn’t freezing, so that was a plus. When Ashton woke up (in our bed again), he was pretty much enveloped in the mattress and he whacked his nose on something. He said it was the bed. Anyway, he ended up with a bloody nose. Blood was all over the sheets and the mattress (and him). So we packed it up and went home. It was definitely an adventure.

The first day we were there, London decided to touch a cactus and ended up with a bunch of prickles in her thumb. She said "I thought it was a friendly cactus, but it was not!" You think? But all of these crazy things aside, we did have a good time.

The not so friendly cactus

The not so friendly cactus

It was great to be in the desert with friends. Ashton was funny when I told him we were camping in the desert. He said, “The DESERT??? But there’s no water! Where are we going to swim?” Lucky kid. He doesn’t know what real camping is. Joshua tree was beautiful in it’s own way. We had a nice big camp site, right next to some huge boulders where the kids could climb all over the place. When we were in Yosemite a couple of months ago, all they wanted to do was climb on the rocks, so this was the perfect place for them, as long as I wasn’t too close behind and watching them, because I may have freaked out a little by the crazy things they were doing on those rocks. We even hiked to an oasis. There was a lot of grumbling (mostly from the kids) on that hike, but I’m glad we did it. Saturday night, a friend and I went driving around to take some pictures as the sun was setting. More friends showed up on Saturday. Sunday morning, we went on another photo adventure. We got up with the sun and went out for some early morning shots. They are both professionals. I was just along for the ride. It was as soon as we got back, that I heard Ashton yelling from the tent with a bloody nose. When London asked how we were going to sleep in our bed with blood all over the sheets, I told her we weren’t, that we were going home. She started crying and said, “But our friends just got here!” I kind of felt bad and we had originally planned on staying an extra day, but we were done. I was glad we came home when we did because we were all exhausted. The kids had music lessons on Monday and London didn’t feel so well. She fell asleep on the way home (just after 6) and didn’t wake up until 8:30 the next morning! 

As it turns out, I’m still no camper. I’m glad we went. We had a good time and we saw some beautiful and unique things, but I was happy to come home to my bed.

Check out the pictures here.

Seven

Ashton is seven years old today. It’s hard to believe that he’s been around that long, but it’s also hard to imagine life without him because I feel like he has been part of our family forever. Our lives would be so much less fun without him. He is so entertaining. Ashton is very smart. He’s witty and funny. And he’s fast on his feet. He always has a quick comeback or response. A couple of weeks ago I asked him what he wanted to be when he grows up and without batting an eye he said, “a Cheez-it”. I don’t know where he comes up with this stuff. 

Ashton loves to snuggle. When he gets upset, all he needs is a big hug to help him feel better. Every night he asks for someone to snuggle with him. Most mornings I find that he has wiggled his way into our bed, right between Taylor and me. I try to get him to stop, but part of me wants to just keep letting him squeeze in because I know it won’t last forever. Sometimes I feel like it will, though. That’s the sleep deprivation talking. 

Ashton loves to play games. He would be the happiest boy on the planet if we spent every waking minute playing board games or the Wii. He also loves to be outside riding his bike or scooter or skateboard. I think he’s also enjoying cello. Sometimes he complains about it, but he practices well and he’s doing a good job. 

A day with the boy

Today was a fun day. I spent it with Ashton; just the two of us. London had a full schedule today and Taylor took her to her various activities while I was on Ashton duty. First stop, cello class. Since my Saturday morning classes haven’t begun yet, I get to take Ashton to his. Since we knew London and Taylor would be busy, Ashton told me he wanted to go to Sea World. I don’t often spend time with just him. He always seems to be clamoring for attention, but the way he goes about it mostly just annoys me (and moreso London). Usually he just wants someone to play with him. So today when he had my full attention, we had a great time! He got to do whatever he wanted and see which ever attractions he wanted to see. There was no fighting about who wanted to do what. We had a great time. The Sea World app has a fun little scavenger hunt. You have to collect 20 badges around the park. Once you are done, you get a free ice cream bar! I tried to convince Ashton that he wanted to ride Manta, the rollercoaster. He has never been tall enough, but I was sure that he had grown just enough. I was right, but he didn’t want to ride. After a few hours of doing other things, he changed his mind and told me he would ride it with me. He was pretty nervous, but he went and loved it! Me too! We were also lucky enough to be close by during the dolphin interaction. The trainers get into the pool with the dolphins and bring them close to the wall where we were standing. I got to touch the dolphin (Ashton didn’t want to) and Ashton made the dolphin wave to him. He thought it was pretty cool. It was. We had a great time. I think I need to spend more one-on-one time with my children. I love it and they love it. 

Ten

It seems like the days slip away and I never get a chance to sit down and write anymore. Here it is October already! A couple of weeks ago London turned TEN! Ten seems old. Ten seems big. I can hardly believe she has been part of our family for ten whole years. The night before her birthday, she wanted me to sit down with her and tell her all about the day she was born. It’s amazing how much I have changed as a mother in the past ten years and I can only imagine how much I will change in the next ten.

It’s so interesting to me to think back on how London was when she was small, compared to how she is now. So much has changed, but I can see those parts of her personality that never have changed, and I’m sure never will. It’s those parts that make her who she is. London is spunky. She is precocious. She is curious. She is emotional. She is busy. She is entertaining. She is talented. She is in tune to the way others feel. She is spiritual. She is sweet. She is compassionate. Because of London, I am a better me. She has taught me so much about so many things. Sometimes the things she teaches me are not lessons I want to learn, but I have grown because of her. 

We celebrated London’s birthday with dinner at her favorite restaurant, Corvette Diner, followed by watching “Hairspray”. Taylor was in the band and it was a fun show to watch. London loved it. Ashton just kept asking when it was going to be over. Of course. We didn’t have cake until a couple of days later. London requested chocolate chip peanut butter cookie dough cake and boy was it yummy! It was very rich, but very good. And since cookie dough is London’s favorite food, it was definitely a hit with her. I’m glad we’re past the point of me having to make cakes that look like they came out of a toy store and instead just have yummy cake. I’m not much of a cake decorator, but I can make one that tastes good!

Santa Cruz

I wrote this journal entry 3 weeks ago while we were on our vacation, driving down the coast.

“Polish eloquence [except I'm pretty sure he said 'elegance' not 'eloquence'] is not an oxymoron,” the seemingly homeless man told me as I was leaving the Taco Bell in Santa Cruz. “You have no idea how many deals I just made in the time you guys have been here,” he said. I'm sure I don't want to know. He told us all about how he raised twin boys. Then his story changed to triplets later. And he also had a younger son who now is on a swimming scholarship at Yale and is almost as fast as Michael Phelps. It was quite an interesting conversation. I may have been more than a bit neurotic when I took my kids to the bathroom there and didn't let them touch anything. This particular Taco Bell had its fair share of homeless tweakers (and at least one woman looking for a boyfriend). It was an interesting lunch, to say the least and now I know where not to eat the next time we’re in Santa Cruz. 

We went on a cruise to Mexico last week (more on that later). The kids flew up to Sacramento for a week with my family while we were gone. We drove to Sacramento as soon as we docked. We spent a few days there and then went to San Francisco where we stayed with some good friends in Walnut Creek. We left this morning to drive down the coast. Our first stop was Mission San Jose. London was very excited to be there since that is the mission she had to research for her 4th grade mission project. After we finished at the mission, we headed to Santa Cruz. Since we're going all the way to Morro Bay along the coast today, we didn't stay there long, but we were sure to stop at Steamer Lane and watch the crazy surfers for a few minutes. Usually surfing isn't so exciting to watch. Today it was. The waves were really big and the surfers were tearing it up. It was quite the spectacle. Today will consist of deriving though Big Sur, something we have been wanting to do for a long time. 

P.S. I just saw a pig crossing sign in Monterey.

*To see photos of our trip, check out the "images" tab up top.

A Battle of Wills

I have this constant battle raging inside of me. Almost a year ago, I weighed almost 10 pounds less than I do today. That’s not a lot and I’m not necessarily worried so much about my weight, as much as I am about the way my clothes fit. Right now I’m not really liking the way my clothes are fitting. Anyway, the battle is between the part of me that wants to lose 10 pounds, and the part of me that wants to eat ice cream every day. The problem is, I’m quite active. I exercise 5 days a week. I eat fairly healthy. I do have my share of junk food, but for the most part, I do well. It becomes frustrating that instead of the number on the scale slowly getting lower, it keeps creeping up, much like my age. I know there are things I could do better and I keep telling myself that I will, but on Saturday I made cookies. And they were really good cookies. I didn’t make a lot, so there aren’t any left, which is probably good. But a couple of cookies a couple of times a week shouldn’t be a big deal. That’s where the battle lies. Sometimes I wonder if I really care enough to make the changes I need to make to put myself back to my ideal size. Then the other part of me tells me that it doesn’t matter. My size doesn’t matter, as long as I’m healthy. And I am. I see people posting on social media all the time about whatever challenges or supplements or things they are using to achieve their ideal body. Some days I want to jump in, make the change. Other days I think it’s too much of a commitment. And every time I have joined a challenge, I’ve gotten frustrated half way through that nothing is changing. All that happens is I deny myself of foods that I love. Besides all of my feelings of insecurity and need to feel good in my skin, I have a daughter. I don’t want to follow extreme diets or fads just to look good. I want to teach her how to choose a healthy lifestyle. Last week I saw her tighten the belt of her jacket. She told me that sometimes she makes it tight so she looks skinnier. She’s nine. And tiny. That comment scared me. I’ve always been conscientious of what I say around her about the way I feel about my body. I want her to be confident and happy with what God has given her. I want to feel that way about myself. 

I came across this article last week. I think it’s fantastic. But I still want to fit into my jeans comfortably.

Sleeping in

It's 10:00 on a Saturday morning. Taylor is sleeping and I'm still in bed too. I know he got up earlier with the kids. I can hear them downstairs playing the wii and I don't plan on getting up yet. I have no clue how long they've been up. Is it bad that I don't care? Last night I fainted while I was saying my prayers. It was really weird. That was a first. And I felt like I was going to throw up. I slept well. And long. But part of me is a little worried to get up. But maybe I just need to eat.