Alive to tell the tale...

We got back in good old California on Wednesday night. The thing I am going to miss most is going to sleep and looking out the little window of my tent and seeing the waves crash onto the shore in the moonlight, to hear the water and the breeze and to feel the salty air on my face as I sleep. It was awesome.

Now that is the way to sleep!

My first thought upon entering the campground was how nothing had changed ...the sights, the smells, the people, the food, the sand, the beach, even the restrooms and showers are the exact same color.

The first night we were there, a thick fog hugged the mountains behind us and we began to hear the rolling thunder and lightning. At about 1 am a few of us sat in our chairs to witness God's majesty. There were still people partying around their fire, laughing and playing their music loudly, totally oblivious to what was going on in the skies. After retiring to my tent, the storm shifted right over our campsite. First, it started getting really windy and I wondered if the tiny little stakes would hold up. Then, it started sprinkling. Oh great, I thought, I can't believe its raining! It went from a sprinkle to a serious downpour in a matter of seconds. Then more rolling thunder and lightning.

As I lay there in my tent, many thoughts raced through my mind. I was worried the kids would wake up scared and then I'd have six kids on my inflatable mattress with me. Flooding, tidal wave, tsunami, name a natural disaster, I thought of it! I even contemplated getting all my kids together and making them sleep in their carseats in the van. A mother thinks of these things. It is one thing to experience a thunderstorm from the safety of your home, its quite another to be directly under it with only a thin piece of nylon/canvas protecting you.

I called out to Michael across the tent and he came and laid with me, and that was a wonderful comfort. Of course, he was snoring within seconds so my thoughts led me to pray. As I began to lift up my family, the Spirit prompted me to stop praying for my own family, that He would would keep us safe...and that I should lift up my family that didn't know Him. It was weird but I heard it clear as day. This went on throughout the night. I would drift off to sleep and then be startled awake by the rolling thunder and my soul would instinctively turn to prayer.

I was a pretty devout christian during that storm, let me tell you!

The rest of our vacation was spent sitting at the beach watching the kids swim. The minute they finished breakfast they were off into the water. I just couldn't believe their boundless energy...was I like that as a kid? Yes. I don't remember camping being this much work or worry...it was much more peaceful as a kid. After the first day I turned a blind eye to sand-encrusted feet, teeth that didn't get brushed and dirty faces. They were having too much fun and I decided it wouldn't kill me to let up a little. One of the highlights of my trip was the day we all decided to get in the ocean. When you are a mom, you have to man your battle stations and make sure everyone is intact. I just can't be frolicking in the ocean while my kids are running amok! But good ole gramma-mom and papa were watching everyone, making sure we were all accounted for.

Me, Michael, my sister Jen and her husband Justin were in the water with their boogieboards and the new raft we had bought. I kept calling out to my cousins to come in and have fun with us and they finally did. For too many years to count did I have fun with my best cousin Diana...I think all we ever did when we were together was laugh. She finally came in the water and we did what we do best together...laugh as the waves crashed over us, laugh as we tried to keep our bathing suits up, laugh as we struggled to jump on the raft together and the waves took us all the way to the shore, laugh when we jumped into her dad's inflatable boat and I landed face first inside, swallowing a bunch of salty water. My sides ached from laughing so much!

If you have never been to a beach in Mexico, let me just share with you, its different from California beaches. There are no lifeguards. You can take whatever rafts and boats you want into the water without having a whistle blown at you. Where else can you sit there and enjoy the sun and have vendors come up to you selling their wares? Everyday we had fresh mango, coconut, cucumber, watermelon and pineapple with chile, lemon and salt.

Candy apples.
Dried fruit with chile, lemon and salt.
Roasted corn.
Ice cream.
Snow cones in way out flavors with, of course, chile, lemon and salt.

There were little kids everywhere selling little woven bracelets, gum, hats, jewelry. Little indigenous women doing braids. Yes, thats right, they carried little photo albums of the styles they offered and they would sit wherever you were and do your hair. One afternoon, Diana decided to get her hair done along with her daughter, so my mom engaged the woman in conversation. She was hugely pregnant, walking up and down the beach with her skin baked to a deep, leathery brownness. My first thought was, she is pretty old to still have babies...she must be exhausted! She shared she was eight and a half months pregnant with her fourth child. What she said next blew me away.

She said she was 26 years old!

I sat there with my mouth open because I really thought she was about 45 or so. I don't know what aged her so...toiling in the hot sun or the lifestyle of poverty and all that comes with it.

Our trip was not without some scares. The second day we were there Cyan was kicking around his red boogie board at the shore, totally engrossed in what he was doing. I was constantly doing headcounts when after a while, I couldn't find him. I walked up to the campsite and he wasn't there, maybe he had been taken to the restroom but he hadn't, checked to see if he was with my cousins and he wasn't. I scanned the water and couldn't find him anywhere. Panic began to set in. Then I looked waaaaaaaay down the shore among all the other beachgoers and I saw this little boy kicking a red boogieboard. I praise God for that little red board because that is what I recognized. He was so far away and so small I couldn't even tell if it was him! But that red boogieboard was what I could make out clearly. Papa took off to get him and when he walked up to him, he said he heard Cyan yelling, "DADDY!! DADDY!" When he saw Papa he said he was lost. So that was the first heart attack. The second was Maya. She was whiney the entire trip, and was going from my arm to arm, just wanting to be cuddled. This is very unlike her so I didn't know if she was sick or she just got too much sun the first day. On the fourth day we were there, we decided to make a trip to the Bufadora.

Its one of those natural wonders of the world where water is caught between some mountains and water shoots out every few minutes. Its an absolutely beautiful place with gorgeous blue water with little islands and cliffs. As we were walking around the place, eating coconut and fresh, hot-off-the-grease churros, we bought the kids a few souvenirs like a purse for Maya and wrestler masks like Nacho Libre for the boys. It happened all of a sudden...Maya's fever had shot up...Michael felt like he was dragging her along and realized she was having a febrile seizure. When I ran up to them, my heart just dropped to see her staring off into space and grinding her teeth. Again, panic set in but this time, it literally stole the breath out of my chest.

I started hyperventilating, something I had never done before. In an instant, I couldn't breathe, I started to panic and cry at the same time. I was a mess. I've never had that happen to me before but the combination of Maya being sick and us being in a foreign country pushed me over the edge. What made me calm down was the fact that my mom was walking toward us, and I didn't want her to panic along with me. Thankfully, Maya came to quickly, she drank some water and some juice and we made our way back to our campsite. But not before she projectile vomited all over me in the van! At that point, I didn't care at all. I was happy to hear her say, "Ew, gross." So there you have it. Our trip was a mixture of so many things, both good and bad, which will make it even more memorable. I'm so glad I got to share my childhood camping experience with Michael and my children.

It was fun.

I miss my mangoes...and my coconut...and my ocean breeze while I sleep.


We're off to the beach...

Yes, my family is off on a very well-earned vacation. Its been nothing but crazy stress and heat around here so I will happy to be in new surroundings, fresh clean salty air, cool breeze, tasty waves and I'm fine!! heehee We are going to baja california for some fun and sun and fish tacos and peace. I am looking forward to it, even though I have practically killed myself today, getting everything and everybody ready. Do you realize I packed bags for eight people???? For a five day trip??? *sigh* How much do you wanna make a bet I will forget something minute...like nail clippers or chapstick and that will be the only thing I hear about the entire trip!

"You mean you packed fifty pairs of shorts and twenty toothbrushes and you forgot THE CHAPSTICK??"

Whatever! LOL It is now 11:30 pm and I am due to leave at 3am. Yep, my mom is very chop-chop and we are all driving together. Gotta love my mom, she's who I have received my sargeant training from! I'm excited because I haven't been to this particular camping spot for about ten years now, although my family goes every year. Finally, not pregnant and no newborns so it was a good time to go. Yay! My kids have been babbling non-stop about boogie-boarding, chilling in the hot springs in the early morning, the fish market, the Bufadora, campfires and their tent. So, keep my family in your prayers...that we would have a great time, everyone would be safe, no car problems and no hassles. Thank you! I'll be thinking about you all as I am lounging on the beach with the cool breeze blowing through my hair. :)


Acquiring street smarts

Just how do we teach that to our children? Just throw them out to the wolves to gain valuable life lessons? My mother's heart just can't do that with the children God blessed me with. I believe He instructs us how we should raise our children...Deuteronomy talks about teaching our children as we walk along the way, as we wake up, when we lay down to sleep, posting these very things on the walls of our home.

I firmly believe in shielding my children from unnecessary evil, but also teaching them what to do when they are confronted by it. Notice I said when and not if, because you know they will one day be in certain situations and mommy and daddy aren't going to be around to show them what they should do. And unfortunately, in this day and age, they are being confronted at a very early age. There is a verse that I have taught my children, "Flee from evil and do good." I explained to them that fleeing means to run away because it may be harmful not only to their heart and mind but their eternal soul.

Just the other day Noah asked me what a stripper was. I didn't even ask where he had heard it from, undoubtedly from our conversations Michael and I have had about ministries within our church. I looked him in the eye and said, "They are people who dance for other people without any clothes on and they get paid for it." He said, "You mean, naked?" "Yup." "Why would they want to do that?" I went on to explain about respecting our bodies as the temples of the Holy Spirit, how men shouldn't look at women with lust (which is another conversation all in itself), etc. etc. He seemed satisfied with the answer I gave him.

We've discussed pornography, sexual abuse, drugs, having babies and not being married. I am not raising my kids in some christian bubble. The message I try to give my kids is always this: they are people that are hurting and they need Jesus. I see my children as incredibly innocent, having not gone through many of the things children do these days. Their eyes are so bright and trusting. So it really kills me when I see my kids in situations where they are dealing with other children who have "been around the block" a few times. Kids who don't have their mama's head up their butt 24/7.

Tonight my stepdad and Michael were in the driveway working on our van so they boys were out riding their bikes in front of the house. I guess some neighborhood kids passed by and asked my boys if they could borrow their bikes so they could ride over to their friends house. My kids, being the way they are, answered, "Sure!" And let them take them. Thankfully, they returned the bikes, but Michael had to explain to them how they shouldn't lend their bikes to complete strangers because they could have stole them. Solomon was puzzled and said,"But I asked them if they were Christians and they said yes!" God bless him! After the lecture on trusting strangers, I wrestled with the thought of my kids building street smarts.

Yes, I trust the Lord and I know He is watching over them, but it gives me heart pains knowing there are life lessons that they are just going to have to learn the hard way.


Back from camp and alive and well

Yep, my boy got back on saturday. I was so excited to see that bus rolling into the parking lot. When he ran off the bus and hugged me, we just stood there and hugged for the longest time. I cried a bit and he told me, "Mom, you're making me all teary-eyed!" I was just so happy to see him. He told me everything--the giant swing, the lake, the pool, the games, his friends, the food, the music, some dude named Moccasin, the thunderstorm, he only said two bad words (but other boys said ALOT more bad words than him, of course!) and they made better brownies than me. Cool! He was so excited to share his new cd with us...he knew all the words, he danced around, he told me he accepted Jesus into his heart (for the second time) at camp. He just radiated from the inside out all day long. I was so happy for him and happy to have him back. His only complaint? They made him eat too fast...and he "had to throw away lots of good food!" heehee He is already looking forward to camp again next year!


The musings of a fat girl

After taking my kids a bath last night, my almost 6 yo son said I was "soft and squishy". Oh, and "wiggly", too. He has always been my most affectionate child and he routinely lays on me, touches my skin, hugs me...to the point of annoyance, I might add. So these comments make sense coming from him since he is always getting a free feel. He got me thinking about my squishiness.

I don't know but I've always been soft and squishy--ever since I was a baby.
I was a chunky baby. I was a chunky toddler. I was chunky all through my elementary school years. In the second pic here where I am enjoying a sprinkler with my baby brother Eric, I already have a little belly hanging over my bikini (by the way, THANKS MOM, for making me wear a bikini in the first place!)

Ok, so basically you get the idea...I've been chunky all my life.

I developed really early (about age 10) and was about a whole head taller than everyone in school, had boobs before everyone else, always had a big booty, big hips,always dwarfed the itty bitty girls in sports and thanks to my dad's side of the family, big legs. If you can believe it, I am only 11 years old in this third pic! My early development got me alot of unwanted attention from men much older than me and that made my mother that much more protective of me.

I've come to the understanding that I will never be petite and skinny, as the pictures clearly show. And I'm okay with that. I never had a problem finding boyfriends and/or cute clothes. I met my husband while I was thick and he loved me. I like to think that I broadened his horizons (literally) because his ex had the body of a 13 year old boy. For the past ten years he has lived the exciting life of curves, dips, hills, valleys and "squishiness". And he ain't complainin'!

It is kind of a relief that I'm not one of those ladies who was always skinny and had kids and then got fat. Its tougher on them because they remember what it felt like when their thighs didn't rub together. I don't! LOL I was big, got bigger while pregnant, then went back to my former bigness. Women like that are always bemoaning the fact that they will never have their pre-baby body back and they struggle with how they look now. Whereas, a woman thats been big all her life has no skinny frame of reference so she just lives with her curvy and chunky body and works it. Although that theory is not without its own flaws. I see pics of myself from about ten years ago and I think, "Wow! I was hot! And skinny! And firm!!"

But hey, whether you are big or small, having babies does things to your body. I am about twenty pounds more than when I got married nine years ago (of course, I was pregnant when I got married so I guess that doesn't count) and still wear the same size clothes but dangit if things haven't shifted a bit. Thats what I struggle with!! I guess having six kids will do that to you.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying I fully embrace any rolls/dimples/chunk that I have. Lord knows I've spent many years just wishing I looked like everyone else. I am grateful that God sent me a man that loves me regardless. Michael has done wonders for my self-esteem! He thinks I'm cute when I think I look like a beast, he tells me my curves are in all the right places, and doesn't mind that I occasionally slam our kids on the wall with my hips when we are walking down the hall.

I can't ask for more than that.


"You are such a mom!"

This is what Michael said to me tonight after what must be about the fiftieth time I checked on Noah's camp website. The coolest thing ever, you can look at photos they post of all the kids having a blast. They have over 250 pictures right now and they still have three and a half more days there. The first pic I saw of Noah almost made me cry hysterically.

Gawd, its awful how much I am missing this kid!

And how much do you wanna make a bet he will annoy me in the five minute car ride home when we pick him up saturday morning! heehee I found a few pics of him on the website...here are just a few of my thoughts while looking at them:

Is he lonely?
Where are his glasses?
Was he cold last night?
He looks kinda skinny...good thing he has an apple in his hand in that pic!
Where are his glasses?
Ew, his shoes look filthy!
Is he scared (as I search his face carefully)?
Why is he sitting all alone?
Geez he looks small!
Where are his glasses?
Oh good, his shirt and his shorts match!
I should have mailed him a letter.
Is he having fun?
Where are his glasses?????!!!???!!?!?!

Yeh, call me a crazy mom...but these are the thoughts that are running through my mind. All I can say is, just you wait until you have kids and/or you send them off to camp for the first time! And I'm off...to check if they posted more pics, of course!!


Off to summer camp!

My firstborn is growing up and is off to camp tomorrow. Eeek!

I think sending Mikey last year softened the blow for me with Noah. Mikey survived and had a blast so that made the decision to send Noah just a little bit easier.

All week we've been going over the fact that he is expected to eat whatever is prepared for him....that he is never to stray from the group...that he is to keep his privates private...that he is not supposed to torture his counselor to death with a million questions and comments...that he has to brush is teeth, wash his booty and please don't forget to put on deodorant everyday.  

Whew! That's a lot to ask of a soon-to-be 9 year old.

He told me, "Don't worry, mom. I'm not a baby anymore!" I can't believe how quickly time has passed...I can remember the first few nights after he was born and we both sat there crying in the rocking chair because we were having a hard time nursing....his first steps with chubby little knees...the first time he pooped in the toilet and we both danced around as we flushed it down...learning to read and write...crying with joy when he asked Jesus into his heart.

Grandma-mom was worried that he was too immature for camp...but I told her to have faith, that this little bit of independence away from all his siblings would do him good. I went to camp when I was in the third grade and it was snowing up in the mountains of Lake Arrowhead. My biggest fear was that there would be no one to comb my hair for me. Years of my mom making braids and pigtails so tight I could barely see straight made me very concerned that I would have scraggly hair for the entire week. But I made it, hiked at night, sang camp songs AND I learned how to make my own crooked pigtails.

I just hope he remembers a few of his social skills. I don't want the counselors to think he was raised by wolves.
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