Sunday, March 31, 2013

the village people.



they say it takes an entire village to raise a child. boy is that the truth.

this last week we hosted a goodbye and thank you party for our village.

hardest part of the impending move so far.



these are the faces my children have been raised around.

these are the little people who they regularly played with.








i cried as i walked around snapping shots of these precious little faces.

 

i thought of how much they will change. 
how much they already HAVE changed.
i've known them all since their births.



i will miss my village mamas.



the ones i'd meet so frequently with they became like family.
 such a great group of women. 
no words.
no. words.


i've gathered with them for so many years. instant tears come as the realization is finally setting in that i won't see them weekly anymore. 


we won't stop at parks or by each other's houses. 
swapping children and organizing playdates and preschool co-ops.
discussing all sorts of things.
soaking in the host of wisdom they had to offer.


the type of mothers who you could trust your most precious little peeps with.
and also the type who you could easily text and say
"child X is driving me insane and if i don't get her out of my house today there is going to be a serious problem."

they respond with a no judge attitude, a nod of understanding, and a simple: don't bother making lunch. i'll feed her.



and when you show up on their doorstep and your child has no shoes on they say things like

"shoes? overrated."


i stood last week at church, where i was asked to speak, and blubbered like a baby looking at them in the congregation. how do you thank the women who were there from the very beginning of your journey? how do you tell them what it meant? the first dinners they dropped by and the kind words? the invitations and the tips that made motherhood more joyful and bearable? how will they ever know? they won't. they'll  just see me blubber and cry more.

they are mighty.



they are wise. 

so wise.

and real.








oh my these faces. i adore these faces.





these are my people.
and i will miss them so.







Tuesday, March 26, 2013

A frank confession.




So yeah, the internet is all a riot with the latest current events as per usual.

I sometimes log on and find myself pensive for the entire day. Stewing and thinking and going back and forth and being all weirdy. Then I inevitably bark at my children and make a real spectacle of myself and then have to calm down that night and say self, what is really at the core of your angst?

So I'm just going to spill what is on my mind rather than stare at the ceiling trying to fall asleep while having private conversations with myself like I usually do. (Rae Rae be Cray Cray)

Most of the talk and discussion I'm seeing flying around is centered on redefining marriage. Spoiler alert, I'm really not going to get into that. I'm still quite angsty about the whole thing and have so, so many questions still and have yet to form any really big or public opinions.

BUT, heaven forbid Rae not have a bold and potentially offensive opinion about something, right?! I think I did discover what I was feeling very strongly about, and it really didn't have much to do with the whole homosexual versus heterosexual marriage debate but rather stemmed as a tangent from it. Somewhere in the midst of a conversation with someone I managed to talk my way through what was really troubling me. It was like I heard what I said out loud and then went, AAA HAAAA! This is what I'm actually passionate about!

At some point I said something to the effect of,

"Ya know, I guess I'm having a hard time feeling convinced enough that I should take a stand on what one man and one man choose to do inside of  a marriage when instead I care MORE about what the heterosexual man who has fathered two children OUTSIDE of the context of marriage is doing, the man not paying child support. I care MORE about the heterosexual man who uses women without commitment of any kind. I care MORE about the women exploited in the heterosexual porn industry. I wish society spent a little bit more time picketing and shouting about THAT sort of behavior than anything else. For all the debate out there, I find homosexual monogamy incredibly less threatening to the "well being of society" than heterosexual or homosexual promiscuity."

..............................................................................

I believe sex is the strongest, most powerful form of human expression. I believe sexuality is probably the single most influential factor in human relations. It is at the essence of our very being. Or, as once brilliantly expressed by Deepak Chopra, when a fellow critic mocked the idea that a God would even care what we "do in the bedroom", he responded with:

"But Sir, you are referring to
the mechanics of creation."

I believe sex is beautiful and amazing and super fun (with the right person...holla back Tyler! wink). I believe in monogamy. I believe in the healing and transcendent and connective power monogamous sex has.

I love sex and sexuality.

I love and treasure my experiences with Tyler. It is not lost on me: how hard it really can be to find a person so willing to commit their entire life, heart, body, and soul to another. Seriously, I have a guy who--despite all that's out there-- consciously decided to have sex with me and only me for the rest of his life?!!! And even better, he chose to marry someone who would then blog about it publicly: sign this guy up for eternity!

 I plan to make him fer darn sure glad he did. 

{And I remind him he better make me feel the same. yes sirree.}

I marvel in wide eyed amazement that our enjoyment of each other could lead to the literal creation of other little human beings. Miraculous little human beings!? This is nuts I tell you!

............................................................................

I also believe sex can be damaging.
Just as I believe that sex is the single most influential factor in human relations, I believe its influence can extend into creating the destruction and misery and poverty we see around us regularly. I believe an incomprehensible amount of human suffering is the result of people misusing and abusing this glorious power.

 As a mother you are constantly on guard to protect your children from harm. And for me, I am ready and willing to do battle with anything that would inflict violence on my children. I find the overly gluttonous and hyper-sexualized culture of our completely excessive society to be spiritually violent. I know that statement sounds dramatic. But truth be told, I really think it is just that. I have come across things in my lifetime that felt just that way. And we're not talking the normal heeby jeebies or  squeamies you get when you talk about penises and vaginas and orgasms and all the jazz that made for a super fun sex ed convo with your parents (ew double ewww).

 Rather, it was particulars I encountered in the world outside that exposed me to certain twisted realities that turned my insides and made me feel enormously shocked and saddened and demeaned. Images or ideas that aren't easy to shake and leave you feeling forever less innocent, and not for the better.  I call it mind-rape.

Just as it is undeniable that we are an obviously obese and out of control society in our eating habits, I believe the same can be said of our sexual appetites. And we just keep feeding and wanting more and more and more of the most bizarre, unnatural, nasty substances ever.

I worry about the sort of men my girls will date and marry. I worry about what expectations they will feel they must fulfill. I worry that their experiences will be tainted by boys and men who feed off of  unnatural and excessive amounts of porn, self centered gratification, unchecked behavior, and childish notions of accountability. I worry that they will date men who think women are objects to find arousal and temporary amusement in. Sets of breasts and vaginas and buttocks. Something to gaze upon and lust after or throw a dollar towards. A warm body to satisfy themselves without commitment.

I worry that my girls will end up fearing sex. Or hating sex. Or worse, using sex as a means to get power or find validation. Which would be such a shame because it is one of  the best God given gifts we've been equipped with.

Yes, I worry. I worry a lot.

...........................................................................................

So I am ready to do battle for them. I don't care how unpopular it is, or how unfashionable. I highly doubt, as their mother, that popular or fashionable would ever be the adjectives they'd use for me anyways. Might as well get used to it. I will tell them it is bullcrap and a half they are being fed out there. That for all the images and the media and the messages and the supposedly casual nature of sex bombarding their psyches,
 it is still sacred. 
 It deserves respect.
 It deserves limits.
 It deserves thought.
 It deserves attention. 
It deserves effort.
 It deserves conversation. 
It deserves marriage.




........................................................................................

Post edit

Check these stats out:
Isn't it time we started focusing more on this issue?




Monday, March 25, 2013

Meal Planning Mondays: Humble Pie.


Last week I made a Costco trip.
Sometimes, dependent on my mood and the varying states of my children's behaviour, it can get a little ugly. Normally, we can peruse the aisles and I manage a gracious smile to all the commentators along the way who always seem to take notice of the four girls sprouting from the cart. But on this day I was feeling particularly snippy and sassy. In no mood for the looks and stares and OH MY GOSH ARE THOSE YOUR FOUR KIDS? IS THAT BABY A GIRL TOO? FOUR GIRLS? OH MY GOSH HAROLD LOOK SHE HAS FOUR GIRLS. OH MY YOU MUST BE TIRED BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH. 

I felt the stare of one elderly gentlemen, who I assumed to casting his big ol' mean judgespell on my crew as we passed by. I know I know I know, I thought. Keep staring. Yes, four girls. Yes, toddler is shouting. Yes, five year-old is pouting. Yes, all are eating churros. Yes, we are a complete disaster. Take a picture why you're at it, ya jerk.

We rounded the corner and passed him once more, only this time he spoke up:

"Hello, can I just say thank you?

You see, I had seven of my own. Five girls and two boys.
 Watching you just brought back some of my best memories."


SHUT. ME. DOWN.

Dear Humble Pie, 

meet Rae.

Just when you think the world out there is full of mean nasties and utter stupidity, it is always humbling and beautiful to be reminded that maybe I was mistaken and simply having a rather snippy day. Maybe I just had my mean nasty utterly stupid goggles on.

So thank you, nice random Costco man.

...................................................................................................................


Week's recipe: Power Breakfast on the Go




1 cup acai juice (found at Costco!)
half banana
1/2 cup frozen berries
1 cup greens (kale or spinach)* optional
1/8 cup chia seeds**


Blend and serve. 
Add additional ice to suit your preference. I like mine extra cold.
*More greens the better! But your smoothie might look a little brown and nasty. But didn't the above story teach you anything? Just because it might look a little nasty certainly doesn't' mean that it is.;)
** Chia seeds are great at balancing blood sugar and maintaining energy levels. They are completely tasteless so no worries there. I buy mine in the bulk section at Winco, but you can order online or find at other health stores.



........................................................................................

Week's links:

Good as a complete meal too.



Friday, March 22, 2013

Lilyisms.



So I forgot to mention the absolute highlight of our trip to San Francisco last month.

Lily got her ears pierced!
(Or as Lily kept saying, "I got my ears peered!" Super cute but darn it, for her own good I had to teach her the correct pronunciation before she returned to school the next week.)

We were walking around, shopping and taking in the sights when we passed a shop and thought, WHY NOT!?!!
I understand that typically ear piercings are like a huge rite of passage for a lot of folks but honestly, it felt nice to just decide on a whim and not make such a big deal over the whole thing.

But it was a big deal. Choosing the right ear-rings, discussing options, watching Lily's face beam with excitement. Luckily two really nice gay dads gave us a few good tips as they were leaving the store with their daughters who just had their ears pierced.
Go for the gold, gold. only., they said.
 It was like the perfect quintessential San Francisco ear piercing experience i tell you!:)

Notice the suspense (aka, London):



This is the part when every parent starts thinking, 
was this a good idea was this a good idea was this a good idea oh my gosh oh my gosh oh my gosh?
while nodding reassuringly to their child
(father glances back at mother with a don't even give me that look this is totally your department i have no idea what is going on here and wife in turn just squints eyes tighter and keeps nodding):

 She did it!



After watching Lily, London decided to opt out and instead 
star 
in the
 supporting role
with clip-on earrings.



Never have I seen a child so enthralled. 
Later I discovered like 350 photos Lily had taken of her ears on my iphone.


Just before tucking into bed that night, as we discussed returning to school the next day,

 Lily whispered

"Everything changes tomorrow."


LOL.











Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Links n' Thinks n' No More Skinny Jeans.



1. It is Tuesday morning and I'm officially over a life of ZERO structure. It was fun while it lasted, but no more. 

Exhibit A: 
ellie's morning escape to the rooftop

And while my children will miss the unfettered freedom of life on Hansen Ranch, I on the other hand look forward to rediscovering my affinity for obsessive compulsive vacuuming, regular nap-times, and life in a suburb. (awww....sad, but sorta true).




2. I am sitting by ellie jane right now, as she watches Yo Gabba Gabba. They are currently singing

We don't! We don't! We don't bite our friends!
We don't! We don't! We don't bite our friends!

are children just the funniest or what?

exhibit B: emerson discovers nose (in about 25 photos from St. Patty's Day shoot)


3. Dental appointments for the three oldest yesterday, lasted THREE HOURS. I HATE dental appointments. I always feel my parental integrity is compromised, as I know I will give my usual speech about how I plan on being a better flossing taskmaster to the girls, but in reality I know it isn't true. I will do a terrible job and forget and more often than not choose earlier bedtimes over proper dental hygiene and repeat this same fake re-commitment in six months when asked again by the dentist if they floss daily. A thick fog of guilt sets in for the rest of the day until I am able to properly medicate it away with peanut butter m&ms.

4. Speaking of medicating with peanut butter m&ms, no more skinny jeans accompanied by flats for me. I declared it boldly last week. Tight jeans that taper at the ankle? No thank. you. Not anymore. After a full day of feeling like a short, squished schlumpadinka I realized I had once again allowed myself to relive the nasty theme of my high school and early college years: Refusal to Take into Account that which is Right for Thy Own Figure.
And you want to know what is worse? The neon versions that are out. Cuz nothing says Hello! Denial! like me prancing down the street with every ounce of my mom butt flashing by in an unholy spectacle of hot pink. 
If I'm going to stuff myself into a pair of (dark wash only) skinnies, I need to lengthen that shiz out with a good pair of heels. But seeing that I'm an actual human being who moves and regularly needs to chase a crazy toddler, let's just scrap that whole business and apply yoga pants more liberally.

5. I love reading with my children. I only wish my children loved me reading with my children more. Television and computers/Ipads make it more of a struggle, but I will fight to the death. This is the part where us moving into our house will help stack the deck in my favor as well. Gramma and Pop's might be loaded with the latest gadgets, but the TV of our homefront is a proud clunker and I have no other decent electronics (insert evil laugh here).



 Exhibit C: true dat.





6. London just came around spraying each of us with a bottle of something she said schmells beautiful. She just squirted me on my neck and I grabbed it from her. It's lens cleaner. Super.


7. Meal links! Sorry, didn't get it out yesterday...

Simple, easy meals this week:



and HEAVENS TO BETSY serve the above Thai with Naan Bread!

(vegetarian!)








Friday, March 15, 2013

Toast!





I was invited to guest post at 


A fantastic site celebrating WOMEN of Northern NV. Hooray!

Check out my Saint Patty's Day post





Happy Saint Patty's Day weekend!











Wednesday, March 13, 2013

road trippin'.



If one desires a thorough illustration of the term lunacy,
I would point them directly to my vehicle, filled with all four children.

Really, I can't even imagine what we must look like from the outside. I don't even want to know, actually. The only feedback I've ever received was from a random phone call from my mother one day, who passed us on the street and called me in a complete panic.

Is everything okay?!!!!!! I just drove past you and you were waving your hands and it looked like you were shouting at the kids.....

hUH? oHHHHHhhh, yes! We were just dancing. Miley Cyrus up in here, you know.

But that got me thinking about all the other times, the times when I am waving my arms and shouting at my kids. The times my Mom hasn't caught me...
There is no complete way to describe the competing interests, the melt-downs, the "she-touched-me" and the"she-pulled-my-seat-belt" and the "i'm-hungry!" and the "i-hate-red-lights-why-do-we-keep-stopping-mom?-quit-stopping!" and the "ellie-just-threw-her-toy-out-the-window!" and the "when-are-we-gonna-be-there?!" and "mom!-mom!-mom!-mom!-MOMMMMM!" that ensues on a simple trip from the house to the nearest grocery store. It is humanly impossible to satisfy the demands on my attention, and consequently I've been known to crank the radio high enough or simply roll down every window in the 7 degree weather to blast them all into submission.

and with that confession I'm going to caution you,
judge not lest YE BE JUDGED.
I am no longer in the habit of accepting condemnation from people who have not met the same criteria for the above scenario and mastered it fully intact and sane. I submit to you, no such person exists.

So you can understand why I would view the impending eight hour drive we had to endure last week as the ultimate

suicide mission.

And yes, I was going solo. Four demanding children, lots of baggage, a packed to the ceiling Honda Pilot, and a semi-competent overly caffeinated mother? We all like a good dare, right?
 Besides, we have to get used to this drive anyways since we will be back visiting frequently, so I pulled up my big-girl pants and said Rachel You Can Do This Stop Being a Wienie.

I developed an experimental plan:



Four goody bags. Each bag good for 2 hours each. 
An  attempt to break up the monotony and give the girls something new to look forward to along the way. All in all, it was a pretty successful plan. Our trip went much smoother. Sure, it would have probably been better to give them something new ever half-hour, but let's not be ridiculous. Boredom has its benefits. 

Below are the ideas I came up with, 


*Bag #1
*Love a good redbox. Simple to return anywhere, plus we reloaded on our trip back.
*We have a DVD player built in our car, but there are plenty of portable ones for sale now too. Life savers, these contraptions.


*Bag #2
*Who knew that discmans were still in production?!!! I ordered them off of Amazon after a kind sales associate/archaeologist carved them out of the sedimentary rock they had fossilized in (oh, you so funny rae.). You can get them at any second-hand thrift store too, and for really cheap. I was short on time and just decided to order instead.
*I checked out a load of books on CD and zoo magazines at the library
*Also grabbed a few $1 flash card sets

Spoiler alert: Least favorite bag. Cuz what kid really wants a lame granola bar on a road trip? Note to self: have educational texts accompanied by Skittles next time. Win some, lose some.



Bag #3

*My girls already had Leapstar Explorers from Christmas, I splurged and bought two new games that they could play and swap.
*I checked out toddler-appropriate music and DVD's for Ellie Jane


*Bag #4

* One new art supply for each girl. 
*$1 Easter coloring books. 
*Lizzie McQuire soundtrack. 


.....................................................................................................................

The best part was the "mystery" element. It worked as a good incentive for them to behave while  waiting to "earn" and discover what was in the next bag. Plus it made the trip much more exciting for them. Rewards all along the way for being patient on a long drive.

All in all, it successfully warded off suicide soooo....

Mission accomplished!!!!!!