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


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?"


Monday, December 21, 2009

Sopapilla Memories

Drama Queen and I, as any mother and teenage daughter, are either arguing or 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 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 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 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.

" 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.