Thursday, December 31, 2009

2010 Wishes

2009 is drawing to an end with mere hours left. Sitting in my living room and waiting for dinner to burn (it's the inevitable result of my cooking) I'm thinking about 2010.

For the most part, I don't see too much difference. I'll wake up tomorrow, most likely just as grouchy as any other day. I'll make breakfast for the toddlers and wait for my teenagers to wake up. Gobble down masses of caffeine to get going.

But like everyone else I have ambiguous thoughts for 2010 resolutions. I've scanned through the norms of losing weight, eating better, learning how to cook...and that's about where I started to laugh.

I don't like to cook, so why should I spend miserable hours trying to be better at it? I don't want to go to the gerbil machine that's the gym, I'm happy enough with my body. And eating better? Okay, with my love of fast food eating better wouldn't be too bad.

There are more realistic and reasonable wishes for 2010. Ones that make sense in our household, for our family and friends:
  • My children have another year of health and happiness
  • The relationship with hubby remains strong (it's work and not something to take for granted)
  • No major tragedies occur (car accidents, broken bones...hostile alien invasion)
  • That I show enough gratitude and love to family and friends

There, those are my 2010 wishes for the Norris Ranch. I hope all the best for you and yours in the coming year and may all your wishes come true.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Mommy Creed

I’m not a perfect mom. I’m not a horrible mom. I'm just a normal mom.

No one will ever mistaken me for Joan Cleaver. I’m just not that cooking, homemaking, happy-go-lucky, never frazzled mom. Nope. I’m passionate and a little quirky with a tough, no-nonsense core.

Don’t get me wrong, no one would ever mistake me as NOT being a mom. I turn into the natural host and coordinator at events and gatherings. I ensure co-workers do not place their sleeves on dirty tables. I call people sweetie as I would my children.

The cream of the crop? I wipe dirt off my children’s faces with my spit.

Each mom is their own make and model. Uniqueness should be encouraged. But, like all things, society tries to implant a cookie-cutter framework. And as any other mom, I scour the articles for ways to be a better parent and grow better children. I build up guilt and focus on where I’m lacking based on these self-decided experts. Then hubby has to re-enforce my good mommy status by reminding me all the great things I do for my kids.

To help remind myself, I officially am declaring the following:

  • I will not feel bad that I don’t go through the homework with them (hubby's more patient and less demanding than me in this area)

  • I will do more karaoke, dance-offs, and goofy movie nights

  • I will not feel guilty my cooking never triggers watering mouths and eager glances

  • I will encourage them to believe in aliens and time warp

  • I will not feel bad that I allow myself to express aggravation after the 12th time I’ve said no over the same request

  • I will encourage them to imagine dragons and magic

  • I will not fret over the curse word that slipped out when I stubbed my toe on the dinosaur in the hallway

  • And by all means, I WILL NOT feel guilty showing up to work with toast crumbs, butter smears, and/or jelly globs on my clothes from my children’s hugs on the way out in the morning

That is my "Mommy Creed" from this day forward and I will refer to it when I'm feeling bummed in the mom department.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Gratitude

I'm sitting in the front room at 3:32 a.m., not able to sleep, and for the first time in several years...I'm excited about Christmas morning. The lights are all off except for the tree, which twinkles pretty white lights. The strings of garland cast it into a soft glow and the ornaments sparkle.

Underneath the tree there's only a small assortment of gifts; not the crazy mass of wrapped boxes and bags that plagued us in years past. No, Santa and us only brought a handful of gifts for the kids this year. It's what made the difference, buying less and spending our efforts in what really matters.

That was the true showing of gratitude. For, that is one of the main purposes of the holiday. Gratitude. Appreciation for family, friends, and every gifted day of life we've been given in the last 365 days.

I wake up every morning next to my lifelong sweetheart. And though I wake up grumpy 90% of the time - the alarm clock and I have a precarious relationship - I know what a truly unique miracle I've been blessed with. Not many people can look at their spouse after sixteen years (most don't even make that anniversary) and still feel their heart skip a giddy beat.

There are many wonderful and loving people who for some mysterious reason are not given the miracle of children. I've been blessed with four and even though some days are truly trials, I wouldn't give the worst teenage parenting day up. Their laughter, spirit, and journey into adulthood fills our home with color and happiness.

Even with the joys of our immediate family, we wouldn't be able to do it alone. Our life wouldn't be whole without our friends and family. Certain people, we were blessed with through birth and have been weaved into the fabric of our core existence. Some, we have met in our quest to old age and have added meaning through the meeting and continued love and friendship we share with one another.

Today - or rather yesterday - I sat in the Emergency room with my littlest boy. His excitement of the holiday got the best of him and he ran full speed into the corner of the tailgate. As we waited for the of the doctor and the dreaded stitches we hung out.

The moment could have been traumatic and stressful. But instead, he and I giggled, talked, and drew our way through the almost two-hour process. Our little Super Wy laid like a trooper and only cried a little as the doctor sewed his head back up. The emergency room nurse and physician were both very impressed with him, as was I. Super Wy even thanked them and then asked politely if he could go home now.

The experience was impactful to me, driving home, and I think the start of the realization that led up to this early morning entry. Ash and I have built a wonderful life together from very humble beginnings. With support and love from the tribe of family and friends, our children have lived in a warm and loving environment. They've thrived, growing into wonderful and normal children.

What more could your ask for? Nothing.

What is there to be grateful for? Everything.

So, love and best wishes from The Norris Ranch! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Sometimes Close Isn't Close Enough

"I want to sleep with you," Super Wy insists from the end of the bed.

"Okay, come on," I say with a smile. He climbs in with Holy Terror right behind him.

My two little red heads and me. I continue writing on my laptop as they lay side-by-side next to me.

"I want to lay with you," Super Wy says from my side.

"You are laying with me, honey," I respond absently as I edit.

"No, with you. Closer," he whines.

"You are close," I reply, scooting him in tight next to me.

"Noooo. There, closer!" He nudges the laptop and lays his head on my lap.

I chuckle. "That better?"

"Yes."

Monday, December 21, 2009

Sopapilla Memories

Drama Queen and I, as any mother and teenage daughter, are either arguing or laughing...no in between. Lately, we'd been arguing more than laughing. I felt frustrated, like a wall slowly being built up between us, one neither could seem to break down.

So, I decided that the cure was sopapillas.

I do not like to cook by nature and skill (or really, lack of skill). However, there are a few things I love to make, especially with my kids. My daughter has a passion for it beyond even her father's joy of cooking.

Her and I's favorite thing to make together is cakes....and sopapillas. Sopapilla's are a family tradition in my household, started by my Grandpa and Grandma Murrillo. Some of my fondest memories are hanging out at their house while the smells of floured dough frying in the oil filled the house. Then the whiff of cinnamon sugar as they were promptly dripped off and dropped into the sugary goodness to be sweetened.

The pastries, memories, and time together worked.

My daughter has the funniest humor and sees life in such a dramatic and creative way. She's emotionally viewed, instead of logical. This is probably where we clash most of the time. But with sopapilla making, we both work in tandem.

I know that I can be hard on my kids and expect more from them than I should. I grew up quick and there wasn't a long time to be a kid. I sometimes forget that Hubby and I worked hard so that she and her siblings could take their time growing up and having a childhood.

Spending this kind of time with her helps me remember that not only do I need to let Drama Queen be herself, I need to let myself enjoy Drama Queen being herself.

She's okay. I'm okay. Her and I will be okay...and, of course, the sopapillas were yummy.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Teenage Mom Moment

Someone knocked on the door. I set aside the laptop and went to answer it. At the door was a cute, shy teenage girl looking about two seconds away from whithering.

"Yes?" I asked.

"Um, is Billy here?" She asked. Her face darkened two more shades of red.

I tried to keep a neutral face, though I badly wanted to laugh. "No, he's hanging downtown with his friends today."

Her face clearly showed the let down. "Oh, do you know when he gets back?"

"A little after 4. Was he expecting you?"

She shook her head "no", gave a weak smile, and hurried away. I closed the door, sidestepping to the front window. From across the street, hiding behind the neighbor's bush, popped out a blonde teenage girl. They talked on the sidewalk a few moments, then headed off down the street a little dejected.

I would've felt bad for them more...but I was too busy trying to figure out why she was behind the bush.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Falling Asleep

Laid out on the couch, Super Wy watches above him. Round, and round, and round the fan blades go. The light breeze floats down, rippling his beautiful curly red hair. His eyes slowly lose focus.

Round, and round, and round...

His eyelids droop, flutter, droop. They close for just a moment before opening back up. His eyes look again at the fan blades.

Round, and round, and round...

With a purse of his cute little lips he gives a sly smile and lets his eyelids finally close all the way.

Night, night Super Wy....sweet dreams.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Patience is a Virtue Holy Terror Does Not Contain

Sunday Morning. Just awake, Parkour Boy stumbles into the kitchen in search of food. Holy Terror has been in watch for him for almost two hours, and pounces.

“Billy, let’s play Star Wars Lego game!” He hops from foot to foot, looking up at him with big, round blue eyes.

Parkour Boy grabs the cereal and heads to get the bowl. “I gotta eat first, Buddy.”

“Let’s play now! Come on, Billy,” Holy Terror begs, doing a light tapping stomp.

“No, I gotta eat first.” Parkour Boy grumbles, sitting down at the breakfast table.

Holy Terror runs over to me, very upset. “Billy said we couldn’t play video games!”

“Give him a moment to wake up and eat.”

“But he said no!”

“I didn’t say no. I gotta eat first,” Billy clarifies through a mouth full of Fruit Loops.

“Moooommmmm!” Brenny wails.

“You’ll play when he’s done eating.” I look down at his cute, yet distressed, little face. “Be patient.”

Holy Terror shakes his whole body in a convulsing motion. “I can’t be patient!”

…Don’t I know it…that was like asking a whale to walk.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Let the Magic Begin


Last evening was a magical one for Hubby and I. My cousin Jay invited us to his company Christmas dinner party. Off we went to Martinez and to the California Magic Dinner Theatre, owned by Gerry Griffin.

With a painted red carpet and discreet sign above it California Magic, as any good place, was located in a "secret" off-street of their main downtown. Entering the club we were greeted by the wonderful owner, Gerry Griffin, who really did carry a twinkling eye and great smile...just like the information stated.

The inside was fabulous and fun. Adorning the walls (completely covering them) were photos of celebrity magicians. In front was a magic stage all prepared for the holidays with a Christmas Tree.

The drinks were quick to arrive, the wait staff were friendly and funny, and the company of my cousin and hubby were fabulous. As we waited for, and during, our meal the California Magic's resident magicians, Joel Paschall, Hank Morfin, David Hirata, and of course Gerry circulated the tables with magic tricks.


Let me tell you, they were awesome. We were entertained with amazing and unique card tricks, unbelievable sponge ball tricks, and undefinable mental tricks (best description I can give since the guy made an image on his business card change right in front of our eyes).

This magic crew was completely astounding and had me feeling like I was a wondrous child again. I think at one point I even giggled like a 12 year old girl - heck even Jay and Hubby started to smile like little boys.

After our great dinner, Gerry kicked off the feature show with witty jokes, wonderful energy, and great audience engagement. Then he welcomed Alex Ramon, the featured act, to the stage.

Alex was fabulous! Gerry really pulled in some talent with this guy. He's the current Ringmaster and head magician for the Greatest Show on Earth...you got it, the Ringling Brothers. Not only that, previously he was in the Disney's big touring magic show.

He pulled doves out of hankies, made rings defy the laws of physics, and pulled things out of thin air. This guy was a complete professional and amazing act, and totally approachable and engaging to the audience. I, who has a big fear of clowns and the circus, vowed to go to the next Ringling show if Alex was still the Ringmaster. That's how good he was.

If you live in the Bay Area and want to spend a great evening with truly magical people then you need to drop by California Magic Dinner Theatre in Martinez, California. You will not be disappointed.

Thank you so much, Jay, for inviting us. It is a memory we'll cherish forever.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Hide 'n Seek

Daddy finishes tucking Holy Terror in for bed. Now for Super Wy, but where is he? He's not in the bedroom. He's not in the hallway.

Daddy searches all the rooms in the back of the house. "Super Wy!"

No Super Wy.

Daddy searches the front room and the kitchen. "Super Wy! Little buddy!"

No Super Wy.

Back in the front room, Daddy stops to figure out where his little Wy can be. "Hey, Super Wy! Where are you guy?!"

In the center, by the Christmas tree, the blue upturned wicker basket giggles.

Hmmm...Daddy thinks with a smile on his lips.

"Super Wy!" he hollers, quietly walking over.

The blue basket giggles again, jiggling just a little bit. Daddy leans over the basket....and shakes it. "You in there?!"

The blue basket squeals as it's lifted. Why is wasn't the basket giggling at all...it was Super Wy all along!

Who would've thought?

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Christmas Chaos


I read this great article from the blog site Fans of Being a Mom covering the different ways moms handle the holidays. The poll they included ranged from Passionate Participant down to Party Pooper. I landed just below the top at Reluctant Reveler, which surprised me as I thought I'd rank lower.

My family and friends understand that Christmas is not my favorite holiday. It's been a gradual decline in my happiness and joy of the holiday. This mainly due to society's ever greedy take on it. It probably ranks right at the bottom only above...maybe...Groundhog Day.

I don't like being a humbug and I don't remember feeling this way forever. I try not to show my disinterest in front of the kids and I think I'm successful as they are VERY excited about Santa's coming visit.

A couple years ago Hubby and I sat down together and really talked about the effects of the Christmas season and what the holiday was truly supposed to represent for us and our family. After this discussion we really scaled back and got off the advertisers imposed idea of a "good" Christmas.

Because it's not those things that make the Christmas spirit lift. In all my memories as a child, I don't remember any exact gift I was given or how expensive it was. No, nowhere in those memories was the material things.


What I remember is the energy and excitement I felt walking home from school and seeing another house in the neighborhood lit up and decorations on the lawn. I remember the uncontrollable urge to wiggle and dance when "It's Starting to Look a Lot Like Christmas" was playing in the stores.

I always remembered the laugh and playfulness of my mom and stepdad as they we decorated the tree. There was the giddiness and chaos of arriving family and the awesome sleeping party all the cousins had during the stay.

I loved to watch my Aunt Diane and mom joke and cook in the kitchen while recalling the many great memories they shared as sisters. And I always fondling remember my Grandma falling asleep at the table as she watched her daughters reminscence.

True Christmas is about family, friends, joy, gratitude, and appreciation. The happiness of being with the ones you love and hanging around the ones you like. So that's what we'll continue to focus on this year and hopefully squash my inner humbug completely.

I hope you all enjoy the true meaning of Christmas and pass those traditions down to the next generation. Many holiday cheers to you and yours from the Norris Family.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Snow Day in the Valley


It snowed on the peaks of Napa Valley! This only happens a couple times a year and usually in January or February. But here we are in December and a pretty half-inch of snow shimmered in the distant valley range.

And before me stared two hopeful little red heads (and one tall handsome red head).

"Come on, Mommy! Come with us!" they urged.

So I took off the work for the morning. Now don't worry, I told my boss where I was going so this won't turn into a "surprise your fired" moment.

We drove past my work and I felt the excitement of the adventure come over me. The boys were talking and giggling in the background. Hubby was smiling and joking in the drivers seat.

We were off!

It's hard to describe the beauty of Napa to those who don't live here. There's no words for the depth of richness and the vibrancy of color to do it justice. Let me tell you, this morning she was in her finest form.

Starting out, she gave us the rich golds, greens, and reds of the normal season. As we worked our way up Atlas Peak Road she slowly sprinkled in the shimmery pure white of newly laid snow. Like a woman putting on perfume, Napa just dusted herself with a bit...so as not to nauseate the senses or take away from her true assets.

By the time we reached the top there was a solid half-inch of snow to scrape a teeny snowball. True to form, Super Wy acting like his mother and stayed about 30 seconds before wanting back in the sanity and warmth of the car. Holy Terror, I could tell, was freezing his bum off but he stuck it out with Hubby. Now Hubby, he could've probably hung out all day...

So after a quarter of an hour we got back in the suburban and meandered back into the valley. It just goes to show that the major fun of going somewhere is what you see on the way there and back.

Hubby uploaded his favorite photos on Facebook and I've uploaded the full collection onto Picasa (lower right side on the blog). Please take a look when you have a moment or two.

Hope you enjoy the trip as much as we did.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Talk with the Big Man

The little boys had been preparing for almost two days for the meeting. Excitement and nerves were electrifying at The Norris Ranch. Last years encounter didn't go so well.

Only 2008 Evidence:
I don't even have a photo of Holy Terror. He walked nervously up with the elf then stumbled backwards as Santa reached down from his perch to pick him up, followed by a half crazed run back into my arms and the refusal to let go of my leg.

So this year was important. The stakes were high for both of them. There was no messing around about it.

Gifts were on the line...

I met the family in front of my work where the annual tree lighting and Santa visit was held. Santa always arrives to light up the hospitals beautiful tree.
After selecting some yummies, getting in the line, we visited with friends and coworkers and waited.

The crowd started to murmur then rumble as they spotted Santa arriving in the back of his slick classic truck.
The boys were on the edge. Bouncing around, flipping all over the place. Their energy levels were on the verge of exploding.
After a considerable wait in line it was time. Super Wy grew rather quiet and took my hand voluntarily as he watched the kids ahead of us finish up with the big guy in red. I took them together, they are brothers in arms after all.

And they did it!
After the discussion of Christmas gift needs, Super Wy is about done at this point and saying so. Nevertheless, Holy Terror decides to chat it up with the Big Man.
"Are you and Frosty friends?" he asks.

"Why yes, we are," replied Santa.

"Do you love each other?" Holy Terror continues.
Santa flickers a glance my way then looks back at him. "Y-yes, of course."

With big innocent eyes, Holy Terror comes to the home run question, "Do you kiss?"

I hear the wonderful, full laugh of my husband in the background and a few nervous ones from the Christmas faeries.

"U-uh...no. We don't kiss." Santa lets Super Wy slide off his knee and pats Holy Terror's lap. Nudging him towards my outstretched hand, Santa remembers his closing line. "Okay, you have a Merry Christmas."
...and exit stage right...quick.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Best Story Opening

Upon coming home my hubby began telling me about an incident that happened. I knew the story was going to have a bad ending when he started it with...

"Well, we were playing and I was chasing them with the mop..."

There was then a mention of dentist and brushing teeth but truthfully I was really just laughing too hard to pay attention.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Boys, Boys, Boys...

By the end of the weekend I was ready for work. For those of you who know me, this is unusual. I enjoy my time with my family and especially my kids. It is no small feat to exhaust me of my "home time"

Well, they did it!

I walked into work this morning, sat in my office chair, and sighed with relief. The thoughts of two little boys sugared up on stolen cake from the frig and two gripey teenagers who'd had little sleep over the holidays danced in my head, threatening to re energize my headache.

The boys - all three - were the worst. Well, not worst, just most active in the exhaustion assault. Why do they have to be so hyper, aggressive, and...and...crazy?! I asked myself. They wouldn't sit still, they wrestled constantly, they jumped off coffee tables, tried to dance on the table (little boys, not the teenager), and mostly were just loud and wild.

As I sat and got started with my work a coworker (and friend) called. She grew up with only a sister and her mother in the house. Her phone call consisted of wondering the same thoughts I was thinking that morning but regarding her own son. She couldn't understand why he wanted to try and wrestle with his sister or get loud and crazy while playing video games.

I laughed and said, "Oh that's just boys for you. That's how they are. I grew up with all male cousins and as a tomboy roughed around with my brother and them."

We sat and I gave her advice on handling and living through the wild life of raising a boy. Things she never realized that happened with a boy in the house. We hung up and I felt good being able to help a friend...

....then I smacked my forehead and laughed. I probably should've given myself the same pep talk last night or this morning.

I guess even moms who were raised around boys and have three boys can forget what patience it takes to live with them.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Motherhood

Motherhood is the most importat thing I'll ever do. I made a vow four times over and the commitment is for life. Each time I made the promise to the growing human inside of me, I was a different person.

The very first time I wasn't even a woman. In every essence I was still a girl, just coming into womanhood. That first time becoming a guardian of a soul I was frightened beyond belief. The fear of not only motherhood, but also of adulthood. In many ways I grew up with my first. During his "belly time" I took classes upon classes, read books, and interrogated my physician. I studied for the biggest test of my life.

Then when he came along, in his own sweet time, we went through the wild ride as partners. We took each new step together. Me with false brovado, protecting him from the monsters of the world.

By the time my fourth promise was made, I was an experienced warrior mama. I was no less frightened. The difference? I knew my foes and my fears were in knowing them. My sword of motherhood was well worn but no less sharp.

My older children complain a lot that I raise the younger two different. In many ways they are right. This is due to knowing my battlefield. The older two were hardly out of my sight, and I jumped at every potential danger. Holy Terror was born 10 years after my first two. They are allowed more mistakes and breathing room, because I know where the actual danger line is laid.

I just hope the older two realize that even though my tactics are different, my love is not. My bond with them is connected in a way that the younger two will never know. Just as my experience towards the younger is something the older two will never quite know.

There is no right answer to mothering. The stakes are so high and each soul is so different. A mother just has to make the vow and leap in with her weapons ready. Those weapons are knowledge, committment, hope, and most importantly love. Everything else can and should be forgiven when the child becomes the parent.

But what do I know...ask me in a couple generations and I'll let you know how they turned out.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Birthday Fun Facts

Word is leaking out...today is my birthday. As many of you know, I'm kinda neutral about "the day" (30th year set aside and best forgotten). So, instead of blathering about my age, the dang effects of gravity on my body, and the looming expiration date...I wanted to have fun with it.

I found a site that listed some really great fun birthday facts. Here are my top ten favorites from the list:

  • More people celebrate their birthdays in August than in any other month (about 9% of all people). The two other months that rate high for birthdays are July and September.
  • A recent survey suggests that more people are born on October 5 in the United States than any other day. October 5 holds a not-so-surprising significance, as conception would have fallen on New Year's Eve.
  • The least common birth date in the U.S. is May 22nd.
  • Since your last birthday 31,536,000 seconds have passed.
  • In the past year your hair will most likely have grown 12 cm and your nail about 4 cm.
  • Your heart beats at a rate of around of 72 to 80 beats per minute - since your last birthday it will have beat about 42,075,900 times.
  • You breath at a rate of about 30 breaths per minute so, since your last birthday you have taken approximately 15,768,000 breaths.
  • The volume of blood in your body is approximately 5 litres. The heart pumps about 280 litres of blood around your body every hour - that’s 2,688,000 litres per year!
  • The average garden snail (not one that has entered the Olympics 100 meters race) moves at around 0.03 mph. If one set out on your last birthday, and walked non-stop it would have traveled 263 miles. If you walked this distance non-stop you would complete it in around three days.
  • World population has grown by around 76,570,430 since your last birthday. In the time it takes you to read this another five babies will have been born.

To see the full list visit the Tokenz site. I have been so blessed with a great life, great family, and great friends. I hope you all have a great day, I know I will with my new book the hubby and kids got me.

Thank you guys!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Thanksgiving

The heat of summer starts to cool. Blooms birthed in spring begin to die. Days shorten. There's a sharpness to the air that tells of Mother Earth closing shop to sleep for the winter.

Families migrate their activities in doors. The BBQ is packed away and the oven becomes the star once again with homey recipes of stews and casseroles.

Everything about autumn identifies with heart, home, and love. This is the perfect time to give thanks for everything you've been blessed with in life. Whether it's being able to provide for your family in the hard times of today. Or the family and friends that make up your circle of life. It's also a great time to miss and remember those who are no longer physically here.

Fall is the perfect setting for Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving asks nothing from you other than to be with the ones who care and love you. They may not understand you, but they'll accept you as you.

You go. You bring a dish. That's it, that's the minimum requirement. How hard is that? How demanding? And what do you get in return? A day with your family and friends, laughing and hugging, eating and drinking, sometimes a few sentimental tears...and remembering.

Remembering there's more to life than work, pay, and success. Remembering that 90% of your stresses are umimportant in the big picture.

It always goes too fast for me. There is so much that I get only glimpses of moments to retain. children's giggles, laughing snorts, traditional "incident" stories, mash potato smiles, messy pie faces, the many times of "I love you". There's also the hug and a cry over Grandpa Norris. A sadness of my brother and his kids who are too far away. Regret that kids are just a little big bigger and there's no stopping or slowing the process.

No, Thanksgiving asks for nothing more than to remember. Remember who you are, where you came from, and with who you're traveling through life.

So happy Thanksgiving to all our family and friends. Please remember you are loved and needed and we look forward to the lifetime journey together.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Just Gotta Dance

(Replay of My Yesterday)

I walk the last block and reach my house. Opening the door I enter not the Norris Ranch, but the Norris Rave Club. The music is bumping from the computer speakers, the little boys are dancing in the front room, and the older kids are clapping and urging them on.

Oh yeah...this is what I'm talking about!

I drop my pack, kick off my shoes, and get down. I have Parkour Boy turn up the music a little more (it can never be too loud). The little boys and I alternate who decides the dance moves. Then we get to some freestyle. As the crescendo, we do a little spotlighting.

Holy Terror starts it off with a little arm wave action, moving into some righteous robot frames, and ends with a body wiggling belly dive. Oh yeah, he rocks!

Super Wy starts with a body wiggle, leading into a half jumping twist, a couple ninja kicks, ending with something akin to the splits but not as...painful looking. Whoot Super Wy!

Okay, it's on like Donkey Kong. I can't be out shined by these little squirts. Time to bring the smack down. I start with a little sprinkler, transitioning into a link arm wave combined with a hula hoop motion, ending with a nose plug wiggle drop.
It was so close...we decided to call it a draw.

Monday, November 16, 2009

A Quiet House


A quiet house...

There are days when I dream of a quiet house. On those days where the two teenagers bicker over nothing, complain about chores, or slam the door. Or those days the little boys have dumped a pitcher of dirt into the dogs water bowl, then threw a blanket over the fence to the farm behind our house, then headed off and threw eggs on the backyard cement.

Usually, these are the same days where work was bad, the drive/walk home slow, or the hubby and I grouchy.

But then the house is quiet, like tonight. I've tucked the little boys in their not so clean room (I relinquished the battle to win the war). I've signed all the last minute school papers the teenagers forgot to give me after school. The dogs are fed and laid in their doggy beds.

The house is quiet.

And I am sad. I realize that soon, the house won't only be quiet just after bedtime. The house will become quiet all the time. I will arrive home, not to the little boys trying to ride the dogs like horse. Not to the older kids telling me about a fart in class, or a silly shirt the teacher wore.

No, one day...not very far away. I will come home and the house will already be quiet. Empty of the energy and life children bring. Void of the laughter and chaos they wreak.

For today, at this moment, I will not wish for a quiet house. Instead, I will wish for more time. It's a scientific impossibility. I know. But maybe, just maybe...if I pause what I'm doing and watch more, listen more, interact more. Then maybe it'll almost be like I slowed down time.

I think I might give it a try...no harm in that.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Things Parents Say During a Week...

I thought I'd dedicate today's post on the things parents say during an average week. These are the ones hubby and I compiled from this last week.

  1. Stop jumping off the coffee table
  2. Quit pushing your brother with the tiger
  3. Shut the back door
  4. Stop throwing your stuffed animals into the ceiling fan
  5. The toilet is not a swimming pool for your action figures
  6. You are making me crazy
  7. Flush the toilet
  8. Shut the back door!
  9. Those are your brother's marbles and he doesn't want them lost
  10. It is not going to kill you
  11. Quit that
  12. Stop it
  13. SHUT THE BACK DOOR!
  14. Because I said so
  15. Are you listening?
  16. This is the third time....
  17. I swear, if you do that one more time
  18. You call this clean?
  19. SHUT....THE....BACK...DOOR!!!

and the thing we said the most this week?


Thursday, November 12, 2009

The Apple Tree

It's late in the evening and Hubby and I are catching up on each others day. Hubby relays a Holy Terror story for me.

Little man came running in excited. "Daddy, daddy, daddy! Come see!"

Daddy followed him out to the back part of the yard where Holy Terror proudly pointed to some muddy dirt.

"Look Daddy, I put my apple seed in the ground and now we'll have a great big apple tree in the back yard."

A couple hours later, Hubby's friend is over and Holy Terror showcased his first gardening endeavor.

"Cool buddy. Are you going to swing on it when it gets bigger?" he asked.

"No. When it grows up I'll have all kinds of fresh apples to eat," Holy Terror said, thrilled.

As Hubby is relaying this story to me, there's an expression of overflowing pride. He gestures with his hand. "You don't understand, honey. He's one step away from growing his own food. If keeps up with taking care of the seed, it means he can survive and provide for himself."

I chuckle and kissed him. "Okay, proud papa."

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Losing Your Marbles

I could hear Holy Terror arguing with Billy in the frontroom...it was getting heated. Finally, he comes stomping into our room where we're still laying.

"Billy won't let me play with those little balls!" he cried.

"They're marbles, honey, and are Billy's," I replied.

"But I want to play with them!"

"His marbles are very important to him and he doesn't want them lost," I said.

...Really, does anyone want to lose their marbles?!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Our Soundtrack

I was reading an article today about the healing powers of music and (of course) it got me thinking about what role music plays here at the Norris Ranch. For me, music has been a big part of life. Ash has also always been a big fan of music.

I grew up in a household where Saturday mornings was disco or early rock housecleaning. I'd go to sleep with the radio on. As a child I'd listen to music in my room and write more than I'd watch television. Even now, I have the music on low as I go to sleep. Music is comforting to me personally.

Looking at our household, it plays a large part there as well. My husband and I have music on as we relax, clean the house, or work on projects. My older son and daughter listen to music in their rooms as they fall asleep or when they're drawing. writing, or reading. My little boys love jumping on the coffee table and rock out to all genres of music, as their older brother and sister did when they were little.

It's a connector for us. Whether Ash and I instilled this in them or they were born with a musical muse...it is as much a part of them as us. But it doesn't only connect us; it also individualizes us.

Each older child has identified with a main genre that helps them understand and better define who they are as a person. I've seen them evolve through the types of music they listen too. My younger boys still use mommy and daddy's music to understand and perceive the world around them. Eventually they, like their older siblings, will start veering off into their own music style.

So, I guess music is the background soundtrack at our household. I'm sure it's the same in many, if not most homes. Take a break and listen to the music of you and your children...see what it tells you.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Lucas Turns 11!

I'm a lucky Auntie for the most part. In a time where more extended families are living farther apart from each other, I get to live near half of my nieces and nephews. Yes, we're large enough that I can use the term half without it seeming ridiculous: I have 4 nieces and 4 nephews.

Wednesday was my oldest nephew's 11th birthday. He's the second human who made me an Aunt and the first child of my sisters. He's the first to nickname me something other than Aunt Amber, and the nickname I only allow him to use (sometimes to the jealousy of my other minions)

I don't tell his mom, because it's a mother's constant battle to fret over their kid, but I love Lucas' wild child side. He's a one and only and couldn't ever be mistaken for anyone else.

I love that he can be moody, tempermental, and mouthy. I was moody, tempermental, and mouthy. Heck, his mother was too. (See a family trait immerging?)

He's those things because he's energetic, passionate, and full of life. He's a special soul that doesn't want to conform to societies whims. Part of me, that inner anarchist, roots him on. "Fight the system, my little man!"

I can't wait to see what kind of man he grows into, what kind of mark he leaves on this world...because I'll tell you what, no one else will leave quite the same mark.

Below is a slideshow to a very fitting song. Hope you enjoy this glimpse of my first nephew.

video

Luc-e-Bear...happy birthday, sweetie. Love you honey!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Sonoma State Field Trip

The decision of college is starting to loom in the Norris Ranch household. As proof, Scarlet's 8th Grade class took a trip to Sonoma State college. Her storytelling of the trip had me flashing back to every first day of school she's every had.

My son I have to pry out information and threaten death. My daughter...well, she spews it out like a waterfall. Today's blog entry is dedicated to sharing this experience with you all. Take a breath and get ready.

"How was the trip to Sonoma State?" I asked.

"So, okay. We started out on the bus listening to ICP on the iPod, singing along, and eating candy. Then we saw cows and started making fun them. Oh, and we were yelling at stupid kids throwing food in bus."

"That's nice, but how did the college tour go?" I asked.

"Well, we got there and I saw this motorcycle. So, I took a picture. Then we all walked around, looked at the dorms. They were sooo small. It would really suck to live there. I mean, it was smaller than my room here at home and you have to share with someone."
"That's cool. But how was the tour of the actual college. Like courses and stuff?" I asked, trying again.
"Oh, and Megan and I planned out our whole college future together. I told her that I couldn't wait to see the hot guys we'd be going to college with. She said that the guys in our class would be the ones we went to college with. So, I said that if that were the case I'd yack.”
At this point I'd pretty much given up getting real information about the school.

She leaned on the desk and continued. "Then we had lunch n
ear a lake with ducks and fed them breadcrumbs. Emily had to go to the bathroom and we got lost trying to find it. I don't know why. Mr. Lape said it was just down the walkway, two rights and a left. But we did. We had to ask these random people, who saved us. Emily never made it to bathroom."
"Huh." I managed to comment while she took a breath.

"After lunch Emily had to go back to her group. Megan and I continued the tour in our group. We passed these people doing yoga and teased and laughed at them."

"Scarlet, don't make fun of people." I scolded.

Scarlet half shrugged. "Well, they were doing these crazy poses; it was soooo hilarious. So, then the odd kid in class, the one that NEVER talks, asked a question. Everyone was like....whoa!"

"What question did he ask?" I interjected.

"Oh, I don't know...something about scholarships. We were busy eyeing the golf carts and thinking about taking them for a joy ride. But Ms. Anderson was too close, so we didn't."

She jumped up from the desk and waved her hands around. "Oh, and Ms. Anderson caught me checking out this really cute guy and teased me. It was so embarrasing. Everyone thought she was a student."

"Because she caught you looking at guys?" I asked in confusion. How could the two be connected? I wondered to myself.

"What? No." She looked at me like I was unhip and possibly senile.

Just let it go, I encouraged myself. "Oh."

"Anyways, we finished the tours. I had trouble finding my bus and Emily. Once we got settled in we fought over candy. I tried to sleep but my legs were too long."

With the last of my patience, I emphasized the question, "So....why did you like the college and plan your college future there?"

"Because they have a Seven Eleven and coffee shops ON campus. Also, a really cool library that has a robotic arm. You don't have to walk around looking for your books."

...any wonder why some parents go gray early?

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Saying Sorry

I receive a newsletter that focuses on inspiration, spirituality, and faith. It’s not uber religious, just really helps align your life priorities. This morning’s came up and the big article was on saying your sorry. As I read through, it really hit a larger cord on family infrastructure for me.

In a family, the two most important things you can, and have to, say is “I love you” and “I’m sorry”. Unlike the screenwriters’ opinion that “Love means never having to say you’re sorry”, in my opinion love means having to say it more.

Your family is closely connected to who you are and why you are; so much so, they become an extension of your being. And as a human, sometimes you tend to be as hard on them as you are on yourself.

People expose their emotions, their weakness, and their dreams to family that they don’t to the “outside world”. In stressful and/or weak moments, this information can become ammo in an internalized situation.

Just a few weeks ago my sister and I got in an argument. Her and I hardly ever argue and we both found ourselves saying hurtful things. But, they weren’t really meant at the other person. They were just misguided communication tactics to try and express the internal hurt and fear we were feeling.

The important thing we did after we both calmed down was talk it through and take that step in understanding the other person’s emotions and fears. Our friendship, our love, and our respect for each other overcame the negative and hurtful things we said.

Like I always say, “Family is forever and God wouldn’t have put you together in life if you couldn’t handle it.”

Here's the article from Beliefnet GLOW. It's very interestingand takes a unique perspective on apologies. How to Say 'Sorry'

Monday, November 2, 2009

Bulletin: Candy Thief Busted

Daddy heads into the culprits room...it's 2 hours after bedtime and Holy Terror and Super Wy are still awake. Holy Terror feigns innocence, but Super Wy is too late in reaction.

Leaning up against the huge stuffed tiger, his face is covered with chocolate. His hand stills hold the half full wrapper...all around him are wrinkled candy wrappings and quickly drying chocolate smears.

Daddy, holding a stern expression in the face of Super Wy's powerful angelic smile, orders him into bed and starts to pick up the mess.

But what is this? Super Wy is moving in an odd, purposeful way. A slight roll and slide movement while dragging the blanket oh so carefully. Daddy's astute instincts are alerted as he lifts the blanket.

More wrappers!

And above Super Wy's head...two more yummy prizes he was trying to salvage for later.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Ghouls, Goblins, and Super Hero's...Oh My!

Instead of a LONG blog post about our 2009 Halloween I created a storybook instead. I hope you all enjoy it.

video

Friday, October 30, 2009

Halloween Memories

Tomorrow is Halloween and as probably in your home, things have been hectic at the Norris Ranch in preparation of the festivities. Even during the hectic time, I find my nostalgia kicking into high gear. Many moments where I find myself remembering little things about Halloween past in our household.

The older kids have started picking more “mature” outfits with high scare, creepy, or gross out factors. But there was a time where they, like the little boys now, picked their hero or icon.

For about 6 years Sea Scout Boy was nothing but Batman…every year. At the time, it drove me nuts. I’d get aggravated and try to talk him into ANYTHING else. But he was devoted and when he slipped on the bat suit, you could see in his eyes the transformation into superhero…getting ready to fight crime in Gotham City (well, by way of Napa). Thinking back and loving the memory, I don’t quite remember why I spent so many frustrated hours trying to make him be something he didn’t want to be.

Drama Queen was my creative one. She had to be something different every year, and none of them linked to the previous year. Witch, cheerleader, Robin, Spider Queen…every year was a new surprise. I also argued with her, but because I wanted her to choose the costumes I remembered having as a kid. Her and I have always been polar in this area. And, of course, now I wonder why I spent so much time trying to conform her into my image.

This year is the first where Holy Terror is preparing his trick-or-treat strategy (practicing his firm “Trick or Treat” and “Thank You”). This is the first year where Super-Wy realizes what is going on and just might make it beyond a half block before his meltdown.

My memories are bittersweet as I look back on the first time we walked them around, the first time they went to the doors by themselves, the first time they walked without us.

As for this year?

I look forward to handing out the candy and waiting for the little boys to come home and tell me all about their Halloween adventure with dad.

I hope to look back fondly at the older kids milestones of trick or treating by themselves in a different neighborhood and attending their first Halloween party. I also hope they’ll come home and tell me all about their adventures too.

Ash and I are happy they are growing up, but sad they are growing up…why does parenting have to be so contradictory?

Now, I have to remember that by tomorrow I’ll be all in the events with my game face on and happy they're enjoying themselves. I’ll bring you more news and pictures on Sunday.

Happy Halloween to all our family and friends! Enjoy the memories you’re making, because you can’t make them over again!