Saturday, June 07, 2014

Vaness the mess turns 5!

**Another late post**

Nessa, Ness, Nessi, Vaness, Vanessa. This girl has been waiting all year to turn 5! Sadly, her birthday was on Mother's Day this year.  I jokingly told her that since her birthday was the same day as Mother's Day that she wouldn't get any presents.  She nodded and said, "ok, but I still get birthday cake, right?"  I could have taken it further, but she takes most of what I say as truth so I didn't want to string her along like that.  She has been a tough one this year.  Mostly because she has tapped into her emotions a lot and she can become an emotional train wreck at the slightest thing.  But, she is by far the silliest and most carefree kid.  She loves pretty things, especially when she can wear pretty things, or hold them or smell like them or even be around them.  She will sneak into my bathroom, when I'm getting ready for things that require make-up application, and watch me and pretend to do the same things I'm doing.  I'll indulge her and put mascara on her thick eyelashes and I'm instantly convinced that she has the secret to beauty.  She always wants her nails painted and to wear pretty clothes and shoes and have pretty hair.  Unfortunately, I am a simpleton when it comes to that stuff.  Vanessa is brave and tough.  She doesn't stay down very long if she gets hurt.  I've talked a lot about beauty and pretty things and I don't want to make it seem like that's all Vanessa is about.  It actually goes deeper.  Yes, she does like pretty things like clothes, shoes, make-up, etc., but she does look at most things and sees beauty.  Her little eyes sparkle when I show her a beautiful flower or a beautiful picture.  It is an important thing to be able to find beauty in our surroundings and I love that quality about Vanessa.
Jeff takes her to school in the mornings and he always tells me that she says the funniest things and that he should record his conversations with her.  Vanessa is always the most excited for holidays because she is festive.  I have to force myself to be festive but with my Nessa it comes naturally and it's almost fun for me to watch her get excited to make decorations for birthdays or wrap presents or think of special things to do when I am grouchy pants about doing it.  She keeps my life fun and light and sparkly.  She has the cutest dimple, the biggest tummy, a great smile, and genuine excitement for life.  Vanessaism:  "I bet Pennsylvania got pregnant because of a pencil."  She loves her blankie and her right thumb.  I never have to beg her to do her hair or get ready for the day.  She is my little alarm clock, because I know that on Saturday mornings I will never sleep past 7:30am because she will remind me that she's hungry and wants a snack.  I love my 5 year old Nessa.  It's so fun having her in our family and lightening things up.  It's hard not to look at her and feel her happy.  For her birthday she requested beautiful flowers and beautiful decorations and Hello Kitty cupcakes. I obliged - mostly.

one year older

David celebrated his 7th birthday.  I told him, if he chooses to be baptized next year, that this is his last year to sow his oats.  He didn't quite understand and I was joking.  I don't know if it's because I am getting older but it seems like time is happening faster than I'm willing to keep up with. (Hence this post is several months old)
My beautiful and only boy.  David has been a scholar this year in school although from his penmanship you'd think otherwise.  He has been the recipient of many awards, and his teacher pulled me aside at an awards assembly and told me that he usually doesn't give the same kid more than one award but he said it  just had to be done in David's case. Most teachers tell me how sweet David is and how helpful and respectful he is in class. And I'm usually never surprised by the sweet words people express in regards to David. David has always been thoughtful and he's usually the only one that asks me how my day was or notices when I paint my toe nails or asks me if I'm feeling better if I've been sick/hurt. He is the sweetest and most thoughtful 7 year old in my life. I'm grateful for the softness that David has.  He forces me to explore different approaches to discipline and parenting in general.  He is super sensitive and extremely tender. He loves learning facts - he's mastering the 50 states all on his own. He can probably tell you a lot more than I can about any given state. He loves electronic anything. He can watch me stare at my phone all day if I let him. He is an amazing, sweet, caring and beautiful boy. His sisters are so lucky to have him for a brother and I am lucky to have him as a son.
When he was born it was a struggle. There were a lot of things that unraveled and I think he was the right angel for me. On occasion, he will grab my empty hand and hold it and that melts my heart all over again. I only hope that I can nurture him properly so that his beautiful qualities flourish and he continues to become the awesome that he is.  I am almost positive that I had nothing to do with how awesome David is. Happiest Birthday to my David!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Veronica the 9 year old

My first born turned 9. Reading that makes me feel old. Enough about me, because this post is about the 9 year old not me. Veronica doesn't like to be called a child or a kid or young lady. Don't know what else I should call her. A girl with simple and complex needs, a girl full of creativity and imagination. She continues to read a lot, and to destroy reams of paper in an afternoon. Her needs are simple and I'm convinced she has some kind of super immunity to the common cold.  Her determination cannot be broken, which is probably how she managed to stay healthy when we were all staggering with illness this past year. Anyway,this is her last year as a single digit. It's monumental for a kid, I mean human. She has been talking about going into 5th grade and how she will no longer be one of the little elementary students. I'm terrified yet delighted that she does not have my anxiety about it.  I was always a wreck when it came to new things, transitions, changes, or any decision that would impact my immediate future.  But, I don't really see that in Veronica the human 9 year old. She is wreckless.  Not in the bad sense either. She is wreckless, as a human, should be at 9 years old.  She doesn't worry about how awful a mess she will make if she decides to pull out every single toy in the closet just to have playtime with the other kids, or if making a peanut butter sandwich is okay when her littlest sister decides to dig into the jar with her hands. It makes me lose my cool a lot but after I think about it I know she isn't deliberately trying to promote havoc.
This human is creative, questioning, compassionate, thoughtful, loving, inventive, loyal and beautiful. All things that I admire about her. If you don't know this human, you should. I think I'm a good judge of character and this one will keep you having fun, will wear you out and love you immensely.  Happy Birthday, Veronica!

Sorry about the bad quality pics. I grabbed these because I didn't bring my actual camera.

Requested Olive Garden lunch on her birthday.

Birthday outfits! Ha! No, we had a church Halloween party the night of her actual birthday.  

The glowing birthday cake! 9 candles makes for quite the little fire. 
David, Veronica, Layla, Violet and Vanessa. 

Birthday cake with the family. Cousin Layla. 

Violet turns 2?

I apologize for the lack of posts on my part. Does not mean I have nothing to say, just been too lazy.

So, my little Violet turned 2 in July. I know I know. I say this about all of the birthdays but I truly feel like Violet's birthday snuck up on me. But that little girl, who is sweet wisdom on toast, has officially turned 2. Some things about my Violet, she is quite simply everything that completes this family of ours. She has stolen my heart and softens me with her shy smile or her incredibly bad temper. We were camping during my Violet's birthday. Which seems fitting. Why? Mostly because Violet came to us in unexpected desperation and although it took a while for me to say out loud that I was having a fourth baby I loved her immensely. So, what does it have to do with camping? Nothing really. But, the thought of camping with 4 children sure sounds like desperation causing leisure. Yet I look forward to these opportunities to make fun memories with my family. Yeah, it's a stretch. Violet is a girl of few words. I joke around with people that Violet secretly reads the dictionary and has a very extensive vocabulary but she just isn't interested in speaking to everyone. I don't worry too much about her not talking very much because she is very smart and understands more than her quietness lets on. One of the few words, leading up to her birthday, that she would tease us with is "wa." Wa is yes. She uses a lot more words these days but wa is my favorite. For a while, Violet would simply grab someone's hand and point in the direction of what/where she wanted to go and people would do it. So, I can't blame her for taking her time with her words.  Unlike my other kids, Violet has been the most attached to me or Jeff. She is very possessive of us and to be honest I kind of find it sweet.  Violet represents peace and wisdom. Sometimes I wish more adults were like Violet. Anyway, Violet is so much more than what people see. I'm still discovering things about her little personality that are refreshing to a very weathered soul. She is a good fit in this family. She is sweet but can hold her own ground when one of her siblings wants to sway her. She's got quite the temper. She is a powerful and quiet little dictator. She commands the other kids because they want to stay on her good side. Violet sits next to me while I'm trying to read and so delicately moves the hair away from my face so she can see me. She smothers me with kisses everyday and if I don't let her close the van door she will throw a fit. Violet doesn't like to be told what to do. It has to be her idea and everyone has to understand that she is not a performer. Her actions/words/gestures are all with a purpose and I truly believe that. Violet's first two years have been the balance that I have needed. I'm so grateful for how much this quiet, little dictator teaches me and for the kisses that she bestows upon me. 
So, I made a piƱata out of a cereal box and we had a cupcake at the campsite just for her. She got super shy when we sang to her and she was happy with the simplicity of it all. We all love our Violet and for how she challenges us and loves us. Happy birthday to the most beautiful Violet.

Violet with the pinata.  

 The birthday cupcake. It was really windy so we all had to huddle around to keep the candle lit.

Sitting on Tio's lap for some more cupcakes. This time she's clean and the family is all around.

Thanks for the bow, Tia!

Friday, July 19, 2013

11 years, already?

Around 12 years ago, I began dating Jeff.  It was a funny courtship, and at times there was confusion, annoyance, gentleness, newness, and overall happiness.  A very flirty and sweet Jeff turns to me and says, "What would you say if I asked you out on a date?" A very eager but confused Jackie said, "Are you asking me out or do you just want to know what I would say?"  So began our courtship.  Followed by a strange group date, where Jeff and I were both there but with different dates, a note on a car, an awkward face to face, an even more awkward phone conversation and a very surprising invitation to make me lunch! 

We officially went on our first date on July 5, 2001. We got married on July 19, 2002.  In modern terms that may seem hasty.  I was barely 21 when we went over to get our marriage license.  We were babies.  But, in my very core I knew that the decision that both Jeff and I made to marry each other at that time was what was right for us.  There was no denying it.  So, most might think this was quick and not thought out but we both decided that this marriage was going to be for keeps - forever.  I didn't realize how magnificently hard it would prove to be.  I didn't realize that marriage requires work and love and sacrifice and compromise - from both of us.  I would harbor a lot of resentment because I thought that I was doing all the right things yet I didn't feel like marriage should be so much work and communication for it to work.  If it's right it should just work, right?  Wrong.  At least for me.  I needed to communicate.  I had a hard time doing that.  I'm sure Jeff had his share of frustrations with me over that.  I feel like I've gotten better, but I still struggle.  I feel like the love I have for Jeff has grown, changed, evolved, transcended, intensified.  I have grown to depend on Jeff for a lot of my basic needs for happiness.  He provides comfort when I am unraveling, he stands unmovable when I need to hold on, he is annoyingly silly when I am annoyingly serious, he figures out all the percentages for me when we are shopping, he encourages me to think of myself when I forget.  Jeff is not perfect, nor am I anywhere near perfect, but he is perfect for me.  We are a good team and I love when we can do something together because we each bring the right strengths to the situation.  I could not get along as well as I am without Jeff as my companion.  When we are doing things, together with the Lord, we are solid and strong and together.  That is deepest love and I'm grateful to have it.  Some days are really hard but I know that our commitment to each other and the Lord is what keeps us united. 

So, my Jeff.  Thank you for taking a chance on me.  I know I have my issues, but I am grateful that you are so willing to help me have happiness.  You provide a lot of what makes me happy.  You are truly my best friend and I love you so much.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Bagels and cream cheese

Vanessa loves bagels with cream cheese. She loves her pink blankie, so much that she weeps if her siblings jokingly take it from her. She loves her best friend, Jada. She loves to twirl. she loves cupcakes. She loves the color pink. She loves her baby dolls. Vanessa loves that she turned 4! 
Vanessa has been so fun to welcome into our family. She was the game changer for our family dynamic. Something about going from 2 kids to 3 kids is a big deal for me. We had to get a bigger car and we had to get a bigger place to house all these children! She was also really hard to name. Jeff and I disagreed on our names, we settled on Olivia (my choice), Natalia (Jeff's choice) and Vanessa. Vanessa has always been a name that I liked and it is so pretty sounding coming out of the mouth. Yes, I think about these things. The dilemma soon came...why not name the girls all V names, right? We didn't agree to name her Vanessa until she was actually born and she was simply Vanessa - there was never a doubt. 
Fortunately, we were so immensely blessed to get a car, for free, that had the most amazing air conditioning! Also, we were able to actually buy a house, something that we thought would not be remotely possible, given the investment predicament we were in. We searched for a house we could afford and had little luck, until we finally decided to put it on hold until later...after all, we were having a baby soon and wanted to focus on that. It wasn't until the day before Vanessa was born that our realtor called us and said that an offer we made months ago was accepted! We got the house! What a way to induce labor! So, on Vanessa's actual birth day, Jeff was on the phone with the realtor and the bank and anyone else trying to put everything in order so that we could finalize the house. Who knew such a little person could create such a chain of events? 
I have had the amazing pleasure of watching Vanessa grow and to listen to her speak and say the funniest things. She makes me laugh a lot and I think we really needed that sweet and silliness that she brings to our family - at least I know I needed it! 
My Vanessa has a tiny little body, stinky feet, a gorgeous smile and beautiful eyes. But more than that, she is soft but tough, attentive, tender, silly, content, loving and just perfect! I love this newly 4 year old. I see her learning new things and being such a sweet big sister and little sister. She fits so magnificently in this crazy bunch, I am so grateful to be this little chispita's mom. 
My little Vanessa Marcely, happiest of birthdays to you! I love you and your silliness.  

Wednesday, May 08, 2013


I've been trying to avoid thinking about one of my dearest and most best of friends moving away. Her husband got the opportunity to relocate, for work, to Hawaii. Who would pass up a job relocation to Hawaii? I don't think I could. And so, I had to say goodbye to this amazing family, an extension of my own family really, a few days ago. I wasn't looking forward to it and it proved to be kind of a bitter-sweet moment.
Close to six years ago, Jeff came home from work and said that he invited the new guy at work to come over for dinner with his family. Jeff said that it would be nice of us to welcome them to California, they just moved from D.C. and didn't know anyone here and they had a little girl and it would just be nice if we had them over. Okay. No big deal. Then, Jeff mentioned that they were Hawaiian and "wouldn't it be cool if we made a bunch of cool Hawaiian food for them?" Not cool, Jeff. It became annoying. So, we did. Jeff helped a lot. I'm kind of a social misfit so I worried that there would be awkward silence and what on earth would we talk about? But, we had a common thread - we are members of the same church. That always makes things slightly easier, because for some reason it's nice knowing that we have a similar belief system so I at least have something to talk about...because sometimes I can't find things to talk about. I didn't think much about making friends because I figured I wouldn't see them very much afterwards - why would we? So, they walked into our home, took their shoes off and stayed.
The Tanigawa's have been like family ever since. I love that family and have loved watching it go from 3 to 4 to 5! We've been so fortunate to have them around for intense game nights, last minute babysitting, Halloween crashing, 2009 pregnancies, IKEA, Thanksgiving cheese balls, beach Saturdays, 2010 Census, many many tears over a toy, etc. As our families came together I instantly loved Sheena. She is cool, gorgeous, patient, generous, kind, outgoing, laid back, funny, and just really easy to be friends with. My life was kind of frazzled when they came to our home for the first time and I didn't realize how much she was an answer to my prayers. I needed her to be in my life and even though it kind of stinks that they aren't a short drive away, I am grateful that we had these awesome 6 years. When my oldest, Veronica, asked me why I was sad about Sheena moving away I simply replied, "Because it's hard for grown-up moms to meet people and make friends." Kids have a way of making friends with simpleness, it's just declared - we're going to be friends and it is so. I didn't declare it then, but I am declaring it now, we are going to be friends forever! It's been a blessing for my family to have this cool family to play with and share big life events with and I'm hoping, though there is distance, that we can always remember our awesome friends. My heart is heavy but happy. Aloha and Mahalo to our amazing Tanigawa Ohana!

The next two pictures are of the first Halloween we spent together and the very last Halloween we spent together.  Violet isn't in the last picture because she was busy spilling water or chili or both and Sheena was still pregnant with little Eva - but not for much longer!  Halloween 2007 - 3 kids.  Halloween 2012 - 6 kids and one in the tummy, so 7!

Sunday, April 07, 2013


Am I seeing double? 
I thought Violet was the closest looking to David as a baby but now I think she looks a lot like Veronica.  Maybe it's the hair? 

Thursday, April 04, 2013

We could be sisters...

Sometime last year there was talk about the Geertsen's moving into the ward.  I, like many things that I hear, brushed it off.  Oh wait, that's not entirely true.  When I heard they had a little girl that was Vanessa's age I thought it might be nice to have an extra playmate in nursery.  The reason for my attitude was simply that people move into the ward and then they move on/out - except for us, of course!  I remember a lady in the ward, the very lady who's house these Geertsen's would be living in, came up to me and said that she had a feeling we - which I believe in this case was me and the Geertsen lady - would hit it off.  Well, thank you Sue Davis.  She was right.  And not only that, their little one and my little Vanessa became instant best friends.  Vanessa does not go a single day without mention of her dearest friend.  It's actually pretty awesome to see how quickly they loved each other and how much they stick up for each other and how sometimes they make each other cry, but they still want to spend most of their days together. 

If you know me, I'm not really the type that seeks new friendships.  It's just hard for me to approach people.  I want to, but I sometimes just can't.  So, many things afforded me the opportunities to talk to Geertsen lady, many funny/weird/strange similarities.  The reason for the title of this post is these funny similarities are what could make us sisters.  I remember after talking to Geertsen lady for the first time I came home and told Jeff that she is a lot like me but really, really nice.  Actually, she's a lot friendlier, more giving, sweeter, smarter, more gentle than I could ever be.  Maybe that's why I like her so much.  I feel good being in her presence.  Even when we talk now, there are new things that we find out about each other and we just laugh and laugh and I think to myself, "Only Linda."  Chinese cakes with almonds, now that is weird! 

It brings me to this amazing night I had a month ago.  Jeff says I'm obsessed with Alicia Keys.  I think he may be right.  When we're in the car together I ask him what he wants to listen to and his reply is simply, "Anything but..."  And then I smile because that is what's on my now playing list already.  Anyway, Alicia Keys came to LA for her Girl on Fire tour, which is so good, and I had to go.  Jeff said he would go but would rather I go with someone who could enjoy it more than he.  First person I thought of was Linda.  Of course she loves Alicia Keys!  Good friend + Good Food + Good Music = Awesome night.


 Good Friend


 Good Food

 Good Music