Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Morning Affirmation

This morning Tony walked by me and said, "Mom, you count."

I thought about this for a moment and felt warm all over. Doesn't everyone need to hear this from time to time? I matter to someone! I count for something in his book!

As I sat there, feeling loved and appreciated, he came back by and repeated it: "Mom, you count, I'll hide."

Oh. I get it. I needed to hear the rest of it to understand exactly what he was getting at.

Ah, well. Playing hide and seek with your 3 year old is just another form of affirmation, is it not? I'll take what I can get.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Winter Wonderland

Holy snowflakes, Batman! We got some serious snow, a total novelty for this native California family. Some photos of the amazing past 24 hours here at the Di Silvestri house...

It snowed all day, from 6:30am to midnight, without letting up even once. All told, we got somewhere between 6 and 10 inches (it took awhile to stick, so it is hard to say exactly) and at times the dry, fluffly snowflakes were the size of 50 cent pieces, like this:

The view from our 2nd story window at about 4pm yesterday:

What we woke up to this morning:

The scene as I drove Natalie to her first doctor's appointment this morning, along with all the other people in town who have no idea how to drive in the snow:

The kids went sledding this afternoon, as the snow quickly melted and turned to slush around them (that is Lindsey sliding down in the blue coat). They had so much fun, as school was canceled again today!

After sledding, they all thawed out in the hot tub, because what could be more fun than hot tubbing in the snow?! A priviledged life? I think so!

The kids all prayed it would snow this year...thank you, God, for answering this prayer in such a thorough and wonderful way! We have had so much fun.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

A December to Remember

A new baby and snow, all in the same month?! What have we done to deserve this?

School was canceled today (it doesn't take much snow for us Californians to throw in the towel) and, as you can see, the kids have been busy since they woke up. They are pulling the snow off the ground faster than it can accumulate...although at the rate it is currently snowing, they won't be able to beat nature much longer.

They have gone off to sled on Quartz Hill. What novel fun for us all!

Friday, December 12, 2008

That's My Boy

Joey finished his amazing football season last weekend by defeating not one, but two previously undefeated teams in the Jr. Rosebowl Tournament in Orange County. The Hawaii State Champions and the Torrance Panthers both fell to the mighty Rebels in intense competition (followed by much deserved revelry at Knotts Berry Farm). Congratulations, Rebels, what a season!

However, this post is not about Joey. It is about Sam.

Jay took both boys to Orange County for this tournament weekend while I stayed close to home with the little ones, also making sure Lindsey got to sing with her choir at the creche festival (which was lovely, by the way).

On Saturday morning, Joey had to be at the field for weigh in at 6:30 am. The game began at 8am. Jay dropped Joey off and took Sam for breakfast, spending the last of his cash. Jay called me about 7:30 frantic because his ATM card wasn't working for some reason and he needed cash to get into the game. We spent the next hour and a half on the phone with Bank of America trying to get it sorted out and then with American Express trying to get emergency cash so Jay wouldn't miss the game. Jay and Sam went from place to place, with instruction from American Express, to find a Western Union that would open before 10am. It was incredibly frustrating for Jay, as various places told American Express they would be open and then when he arrived they were closed.

Finally, at about 8:30 I remembered that grandma had given Sam $20 for his good report card just before he left. I told Jay to ask him if he had it on him.

Jay said, "Sam, do you have $20?"
"Are you kidding?"
"No. Why?"

All Jay and I could do was laugh, because Sam was totally unaware during all of this that Jay only needed $8 to get in the game and that he had the means to solve the problem in his pants pocket the entire time. Our incredibly bright, straight A student has so little awareness of what is going on around him sometimes that it can be nothing but totally endearing. That's our Sam, and I couldn't love him more.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

No Less Miraculous the 7th Time

Here are some more photos of Natalie. What a joy she is!

I have spent all of my spare time over the last two days staring at her in wonder. Her tiny ears, perfectly formed features, little sighs and grunts are no less amazing to me than Joey's were ten years ago. I could never get tired of looking at this perfect little person, God's creation, who only a few days ago was hidden from sight in my giant belly. I know how fleeting these early days are, so I am trying to be present in every moment.

On another note entirely, take a look at the photo of Lindsey above. Notice the gorgeous, straight teeth? She got her braces off the very day Natalie was born. Congratulations, my dear, you are beautiful!

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

A Name At Last

For those of you wondering...we have finally chosen a name for our daughter.

Natalie Lucia Di Silvestri, welcome to the world!

More photos tomorrow.

Happy Baby!

Baby Girl Di Silvestri arrived safe and sound at 11pm. She weighed 8lbs 7oz and measured 20.5 inches. Mom is doing fine too. Labor was relatively quick once it got started, thank goodness.

Thanks for your prayers, all is well. We will let you know her name as soon as we pick one!

Monday, December 01, 2008

Finally In the Hospital

Well, my water broke early this morning and I have been sitting on a gurney in the hospital triage since about 10am waiting for a room to open up. One just did about a half hour ago and I am now, happily, in a delivery suite waiting to meet our new daughter.

Since I have not, in the 12 hours since my water broke, established any regular contractions on my own, they have just started me on Pitocin. This is definitely to my dismay, but I am actually glad that I had the time to sit and see what could happen rather than them going right away to the assist.

Hopefully, this will not be the marathon that Isabella's delivery was, but whatever comes, at least the time is here. We'll keep you posted. Keep us (and the grandparents who are watching all the kids and probably have a tougher 24 hours ahead of them than I do) in your prayers!

Jay insisted that I include this photo of me blogging at the hospital...for your amusement:

Friday, November 28, 2008

40 Weeks, 3 Days

This baby is now officially as late as Sam was (my only late baby, by the way). She is apparently interested in becoming the new family record holder for late deliveries.

At least I was able to enjoy a beautiful Thanksgiving at home with our family and good friends. I wouldn't have wanted to miss that, so it's not all depressing around here!

In all seriousness, I am feeling fine, my blood sugar is good (even relatively so on Thanksgiving), and the baby seems fine, so I suppose there is no hurry. I am definitely ready to meet my new daughter, but in the meantime am enjoying this long weekend with my family and friends.

After all, it's just a few more days of waking up and saying, "I wonder if I'm going to have a baby today!" And you can't say that every day, now can you?

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Further Evidence I Married the Right Man

He's prepared for anything (as a good Cub Scout leader should be)...

He goes to great lengths to ensure his children have a variety of positive childhood memories...

And, he looks fabulous, even covered in whipped cream!

Thank you, Jay, for being such a wonderful father.

Late Addition from Lindsey: "Make sure you tell them the kids were falling on the ground in laughter and that he got the most pies in the face."
OK, I will!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

2008 Superbowl Champions

Congratulations, West Valley Rebels, on your 18-12 Superbowl victory over the previously undefeated Jets!

This was, hands down, the most exciting football game I have ever seen. I jumped up and down, I stomped my feet, I yelled until I was hoarse. Both teams were truly excellent.

The game was tied 12-12 in the 4th quarter with 56 seconds to go. The Jets got the ball due to an objectively bad referee call (really, we're not biased here) and we thought it was over for us. But then the Jets passed the ball, we intercepted it, and ran it in for the winning touchdown. It couldn't have been closer or more of a nail biter. Now that's football, baby!

I am truly sorry for the Jets who are nothing but stunned right now. Several of the boys were crying after the game. Many of them have played for 3 or 4 years and never, ever lost a game. I don't think it occurred to them that they could possibly lose. Which is exactly why I believe we won. As the Rebel coaches said afterward: You wanted it more. It showed from the minuted you walked on the field. I'd like to think that our boys would have been happy with the way they played even if the game had gone the other way in the final minute, as it very well could have. But I'm also glad we don't have to know for sure.

Well, if all that jumping, screaming and stomping doesn't bring on labor, I fear nothing well. Or--scary thought--perhaps I scared her into staying another week! Ah, well, if I did it was worth it. Almost, anyway.

Friday, November 21, 2008

And Yet Another Pregnancy Update

39 weeks, 3 days. But who's counting?

OK, I'll admit it, I am.

But so far, to no avail. I just returned from the doctor who reported that there are no signs whatsoever that this baby has any intention of leaving my body. Ever. (OK, I added that part). But since she seems to be the right size and perfectly healthy, this is not yet a problem. (For her, at any rate!)

Well, on the positive side, it looks like I'll make it to Joey's Superbowl tomorrow. Go Rebels!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Superbowl Bound!

Here is Joey's football team, who SHUT OUT (look at the score board!) their competition in the divisional playoffs this morning. The Rebels are headed to the Superbowl next Saturday with a 8-1 record to play the only team they lost to all season: The Jets (who come into the game with a record of 9-0).

My favorite part? Not the win (although that was fantastic). Not the shutout (although it did boost the boys' confidence tremendously). It was when the boys were huddled up after the game and the coach was congratulating them. I noticed that rather than giving the coach his undivided attention, Joey crossed himself and moved his lips in a prayer of thanksgiving for the win. It was his first instinct to thank God for answering his numerous prayers for a favorable outcome of this game. Afterwards, he simply and humbly said, "God did this."

What a joy it is to see my son turn to God not only in times of fear or need, but to remember to give thanks in good times as well. Witnessing this was worth more to me than a thousand Superbowl triumphs. But who knows...maybe we'll get one of those next week on top of it all! I'll let you know.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Possibly My Favorite Question of All Time

Submitted by Sam this morning:

Mom, if you feed a chicken TNT and it lays an egg, will that egg be a bomb?

Saturday, November 08, 2008


The baby will be baptized on December 20th (Saturday), not the 22nd as previously reported. Apparently, I was living in a different year but am now clear that it is 2008.

All are welcome!

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Another Pregnancy Update

Nothing to report except that there is nothing to report!

I am 37.5 weeks and all looks fine. Baby doesn't seem to be planning an early exit and, for now, I am OK with this. Normally I am quite impatient by this point in the pregnancy, but for some reason I am in no hurry to get to this hospital with this one. Perhaps once the Fall Luncheon is over on Tuesday I will feel differently...

I will have an ultrasound next week to be sure the baby isn't growing too large. If she isn't, my doctor does not feel compelled to induce me early, and for this I am thankful. Happily, the diabetes has been well controlled this time all the way through so I am not enduring the non-stress tests and certain early induction I had to go through with Isabella.

I'll keep you updated on any developments. In the meantime, here's to another uneventful week!

Saturday, November 01, 2008

It Has Come Down To This

I never thought I'd drive one of these big honkers, but today we welcomed this beast into our family. It is my new ride and I am stylin'.

I didn't have a lot of options, no matter how hard I tried to find them. Fixing up the limo wasn't practical, at this point, for every day use. It needs too much work and, while it will be a really fun project some day, I need a car now that is reliable and safe. Adding a jump seat to the minivan proved to be too crowded. And, I needed something that would fit in the garage for the inevitable sleeping child, so a fun conversion was out. This was the only choice I had, so I have decided to love it.

And you know, so far, loving it isn't hard! We found a fantastic deal on a gently used 2008 with only 15,000 miles on it. It was used as a fleet vehicle so there is no evidence of the wear my family is sure to leave in due time. It drives really nicely, it is fun to be so high up, and best of all, there is enough room for the kids that they can have some space between them. They have been on top of eachother in the minivan and this has been causing misery for us all. Now my pincher can have kid-free space on either side of her!

Although it doesn't show in this photo because they all came forward (except Tony who is in the back corner), when they are all spread out it doesn't feel like we have so many kids. I kept thinking someone was missing!

At any rate, my nervousness at not having a seat for the new baby has been calmed and I am now ready to welcome her...as soon as I get the clothes out and pick a name, that is!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Pregnancy Update

I've reached the point in this pregnancy where I'm sure many of you are wondering what's happening...a few days of silence on the blog could mean I'm at the hospital! So, I will try to keep you posted on what's happening as we enter "baby watch" weeks.

I am at 36.5 weeks and doing pretty well. I am measuring just slightly more rotund than average, my blood sugar levels have been great (no insulin, just diet controlled) and the baby is nice and active. I am tired, slow and feeling huge (this is not really news, now is it?) but other than that am doing just fine. This has been a blessedly uneventful pregnancy.

I have our school's annual fall luncheon on November 11th and, other than Halloween tomorrow, it is the next big thing on my calendar. I figure as soon as it is over this baby is more than welcome to arrive.

We still don't have a name for our little girl (or a seat for her in the car!). We are working on both. I have not yet packed my hospital bag nor have I retrieved the tiniest clothes from their box in the garage. Denial? Not really. Just haven't gotten to it yet. I'll do it this week. Really, I will. At least the crib is ready...probably because I won't use it until she is at least several months old! It's the stuff I will need on day one that I somehow haven't gotten to. Hmmm... Oh, but I HAVE scheduled her baptism, for December 22nd. See, I DO have my priorities straight after all.

I'll do my best to keep you posted on any developments. Thanks for checking in!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

It's What's For Dinner

I have been cooking a lot lately. More than I ever have. We're talking 5 or 6 nights a week of homecooked food where, normally, I only pull off 1 or 2 and fill in the rest with fluff. Now that most of the kids are in school I have learned to use my mornings effectively in preparing dinner so all I have to do is heat or serve at the witching hour. I am feeling quite accomplished!

This week I was doing my now-usual Monday morning meal and grocery planning and asked the kids if they had any requests for dinner. Their response was unanimous and emphatic: nothing home cooked!

Please, they begged pathetically, couldn't we just have some of the things we used to eat, like frozen lasagna from Costco or boxed Macaroni and Cheese? No homemade chili or soup, no kind of saucy chicken dish over rice or pasta and most certainly no more beef stew or pot roast!

These poor, deprived kids. All this time I thought I was doing right by my family by serving them nutritious, home cooked meals. Little did I know I was actually torturing them.

OK, family (Jay excluded, of course). I hear you. This week I will take the week off and you will have your Macaroni and Cheese. You will have your frozen lasagna. And I will enjoy my break. But be warned...I'll be back!

(Perhaps this time, however, I will phase in the home cooking gradually so as not to cause the culture shock I have clearly invoked.)

Monday, October 20, 2008

Thanks...I Guess!

Last Monday was the first day of a new Girl Scout year. Lindsey's Brownie troop had its first meeting of the new school year, and Julia was officially inducted as a Daisy at the same time.

I went to Julia's induction ceremony and got so wrapped up in it that I completely forgot that Lindsey was just down the hall in another classroom having her Brownie meeting. When Julia's meeting ended I began walking to the car, already thinking about the next place I had to be (gymnastics, 30 minutes).

Lindsey's leader saw me heading out of the school grounds and called to me that Lindsey still needed to be checked out. I looked at my watch and realized with a start that I was 20 minutes late to pick her up. Not only was I late, but it was obvious from the direction in which my stroller caravan was heading that I was not, even then, making a mad dash to get her.


Now, as you all know from previous "I forgot one of my kids" posts, I always count my kids and account for everyone's whereabouts before I leave any location. I would have caught this error. I just hadn't caught it YET.

Nevertheless, I was sufficiently humbled, especially since Lindsey's wonderful leaders (friends of mine, thank goodness) were inconvenienced by my error. There was no smooth cover up possible--I was clearly caught in a totally clueless moment.

Naturally, I engaged in world-class groveling, both to Lindsey and to her leaders, but I soon realized that it was not necessary. Lindsey had already paved that road for me. As it turns out, Lindsey was kind enough to explain to her leaders that I was pregnant, and that they should really give me a break because I, historically, forget all kinds of things when I am pregnant. She even went so far as to list a number of specific events where I had total brain fade in recent months, and to assure them that I would be back to normal soon. But in the meantime, everyone needed to cut me some slack. (Yes, they were totally amused by this).

At first, all I could think about this was that, even pregnant, I get an awful lot right. Trying to account for 6 children and their various school events and sporting activities (snack schedules, picture days, forms due, etc., etc.) is no small task. Most days everyone is where they are supposed to be on time with all the right equipment. But this is expected, is it not? It is only the relatively few times I mess up that get catalogued. I experienced a defensive moment in the face of this failure but then I quickly recovered.

Before long, I realized how nice it was that no one, especially my abandoned daughter, was irritated with my lapse and that, truly, I should hold on to this "pregnant" excuse as long as I can. Because heaven knows, it is a real one!

So, thank you, my amazingly empathetic daughter, and thank you, my friends, her leaders, for understanding that I am not firing on all cylinders currently. Somehow you managed to leave me feeling grateful and supported rather than completely mortified. That's a nice place to be.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Contrary to Popular Belief...

...this blog has not been abandoned.

It's owner is simply very pregnant. Which means that regular daily tasks are taking longer to complete, leaving less free time for blogging.

So bear with me. I'll be back. Hopefully sooner rather than later!

Monday, September 29, 2008

Completely Self Inflicted

Let's just start with a well-known fact about me: I am not a camper.

I do not like dirt. I do not like sleeping on the ground. I do not like cooking outside, or cold showers, or hauling tons of equipment and supplies. There is little about the entire process that sounds or actually is fun for me.

That being said, months ago (before I found out I was pregnant) I got a crazy notion that we should take a family camping trip to the beach town where I grew up. I had this foggy notion of the kids running and playing in the tide pools where I played at their ages, and had happy visions of the whole family gathered around the campfire making smores. So I booked it, to the surprise of everyone who knows me.

Even more surprising to everyone (including myself) I decided to go through with this adventure. So, last weekend, at 31 weeks pregnant, I found myself sleeping on the ground at Carpinteria State Beach with six children and a giant beast of a dog in a sea of uncontrollable dirt and sand.

I wish you could have seen the looks on the faces of the nice older (childless) couple in the campsite right next to ours as our trailer-toting minivan pulled up and we all piled out. Although they were nothing but nice, I can only imagine what must have been going through their heads. No matter how you paint it, they must have known their peace was over. And it was.

We had a lovely campsite right on the beach where the kids could run back and forth to the waves with no obstruction, and we were right by the bathrooms, too, which is nice when you have a 3 year old.

All in all, it wasn't terrible. There were terrible moments, make no mistake. But overall, it could have been much, much worse. The kids slept through the night (except for a brief moment when the train went by, woke up the dog, and sent him into a whole-tent tour that caused him to step on nearly every child amid great protest, but happily this was short-lived). The weather was great. The kids had tons of fun at the beach and climbing the trees in our campsite. Our dear friends Lori (frequent commenter on this blog) and Michael came by at campfire time to witness the scene. No one threw up.

Nevertheless, I still don't "get" camping. It was SO MUCH WORK to haul everything and set everything up. I am still washing dirt and sand from our things, a full week later. The wonderful moments could have just as easily been had, in my opinion, from a beachside hotel with a nice shower and restaurant (and perhaps a spa?). And the next time I even think about taking an 18 month old camping, please have my head examined. Sleeping in the same tent with the dog was a treat compared with supervising her around a campsite.

At any rate, I'm afraid we will be going back next year, like it or not. The kids loved it and were oblivious to my personal hell (OK, so that's an overstatement, but not by much). Here are some pictures of the kids at the tidepools, by far my favorite time of the trip...

Our campsite:

Just kidding! This must have been where Martha Stewart was camping, just down the row from us. Ours was the sloppy tent next to the cooler with muddy racoon prints all over it in the morning. I should have taken a picture, but I guess I didn't want to recall it later. (Can you believe some people have the time to set up camp like this? I couldn't believe it!)

Well, here's to the great outdoors. As observed from the indoors, that is!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Tony's First Day of School

Of course he's 3 weeks into school by now, but I still thought I'd go back and post his first day of school picture.

Tony is at Father Serra's Mission Bell Preschool Tuesday and Thursday mornings and so far he loves it. This is the same school Julia attended last year and I am very pleased with its mellow, loving atmosphere.

Here's to a great year of messy art projects, story time puppets and lots of new friends!

Friday, September 19, 2008

Sperm Bank Users Just Ain't What They Used to Be

I was listening to the news this morning when I heard it casually mentioned that a large Los Angeles sperm bank had experienced a complete change in its primary clientele over the last few years.

It seems that, while the bank once catered primarily to infertile couples seeking artificial insemination, it now overwhelmingly served single women and lesbian couples who believed that a man was not necessary in their goal of having a baby (the newstalk folks said this in so many words, not me). Further, they had become very specialized in the donor traits requested by their clients. The customers are apparently quite determined to create designer children, according to their specifications.

As I listened to the "go girls" attitude of the newscasters, I got very sad. Sad for these women, sad for the men that could have been great dads to children they won't know, and sad most of all for the babies that will likely grow up adopting this warped view of the world.

At one time I would have cheered for this ideal. Every woman should have the right to bear her own child, right? And why wouldn't she, given the choice, put together the most optimal set of genes she can find? If she is approaching 40 with no eligible partner in sight, why wait?

However, since becoming a mother I have realized some very important things. First, having and raising a baby is much like a wedding is to marriage. The wedding is one day, but the marriage is the important thing. So it is with children. It is nice to be pregnant and bear your own child, but it is the actual mothering once the child is born that is the real deal. There are so many children who need loving homes, so faced with the very understandable desire of having a baby with no husband to provide one, I hope these women are moved to instead choose adoption.

Second, dads are not disposable. They are not biological means to an end. They are vitally important to the working of a healthy family. I believe that women in our society have become so used to being in control of everything that they are finding it increasingly more difficult to make the compromises necessary for happy marriages. Marriage is all about relinquishing sole control, something I know from experience can be very difficult (I'm a control freak myself)! But the fruits, especially where child rearing is concerned, are bountiful.

Finally, there is no such thing as a designer child. Children are people, organic creatures with flukes, faults and quirks just like us all. Isn't a mother setting herself up to be disappointed when her meant-to-be-perfect child turns out to have a learning disability or a physical flaw? How this thinking contributes to the overall view of our society that people are disposable! This fits right in with the idea that it is fine to abort a child that isn't perfect. Some of the greatest gifts God gives us are children with difficulties, for it is in learning to help, love and accept others as they are that makes us all better people.

Now, I am certain to have offended some people with this rant and I do apologize for that. I will openly acknowledge that it is easy to speak emphatically about this from where I sit. I have clearly never experienced infertility and I am blessed with the happiest marriage I can imagine. I cannot understand firsthand the motivations those not in my situation. However, it is precisely because I understand how amazingly wonderful the road to traditional parenthood can be that I wish it for everyone. But in order for more people to experience it, we as a society have to change some basic attitudes about entitlement.

Monday, September 15, 2008

The Animals Are Running The Zoo

The moment I knew this for sure came this morning while I was trying to unload and reload the dishwasher.

18 month old Isabella climbed into the drawer I had just filled with clean plastic kid cups, stripped off her diaper and decisively peed, deftly splashing every single cup and covering the entire bottom of the drawer. Then she looked at me and smiled wickedly.

Yes, I have lost all control. (And the dishes still aren't done.)

Friday, September 12, 2008

The Worst Thing He Can Imagine

There is a wonderful Mexican grocery store near us called Vallarta. We love to shop there and eat at the taqueria inside. A few months ago Vallarta moved to a brand new store and they had a huge grand opening celebration. We all went after church for Mexican pastry and admired the new store, ate some free samples and especially enjoyed the roaming Mariachi band. The kids talked about this grand opening for weeks and always wanted to stop by after church to see if the Mariachis were still there.

A few days ago while driving home from school we were passed by 14 (we counted) racing police cars, all in a row with their lights flashing. Clearly they were on their way to a major crime scene. A few blocks later we saw them all, congregated in the new Vallarta parking lot.

Sam shouted, "Oh no! They killed the Mariachi Band!"

I am still laughing.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008


I was filling my car up today when a man approached me with a gas can and asked if I could help him out with a few gallons of gas.

Usually, I am flustered by people asking me for handouts. I am always torn when I see a hungry-looking person asking for money. However, one look at this well-fed, well-enough groomed man with his nice enough car parked nearby was all I needed to deny him guilt-free.

I explained that our family, too, was having a hard time meeting our budget with the increased gas prices and that we are all in the same boat here, so sorry I couldn't help him. He not-so-cleverly countered with the fact that all sorts of nice people have been willing to help out those who couldn't afford gas. I sweetly replied that it was wonderful that others could find a way to help but that he would not be getting any help from me.

Hours later, I am still mulling over his nerve. If he can afford a car, he can afford gas! A car is a luxury, not a necessity like food or shelter. Ever heard of a bus? Seriously! Yes, gas prices are obscene, yes it is difficult to continue driving without making adjustments in other areas of life. I get that. Why? Because I am living it and dealing with it myself! I am doing without things I'd rather have to make room for the increased gas bills. So why can't he?!

Good thing I'm pregnant and cranky and saw this for what it was right away, because another day, another time, I might have been fool enough to participate in this craziness out of politeness. And then I would have been kicking myself for weeks. See? These hormones are good for something besides growing babies!

Saturday, September 06, 2008

The Saturday Sport Report

Well, we made it through the first of many Saturdays to come with two soccer games and a football game to navigate. And here are the results (drum roll please...):

Game #1: Sam and the Blue Dragons meet their first challengers, winning 2-1. Sam starts as goalie and nothing gets past him. Hooray!

Game #2: Julia and her Pink Panthers face the formidable Crazy Carrots. They take a severe beating but, luckily, at her age level, no one is counting! Julia did a great job of stealing the ball and moving it down the field, but has a little work to do on actually getting it into the goal. Can you say shank in soccer?! Seriously, she did very well and had a lot of fun, so it was wonderful to watch her.

Game #3: Joey and his Rebels take on the dreaded Jets. They fought a good fight but finally succumbed 13-7. Boy, was that a good game, though. I was on my feet, screaming so much that I thought I would go hoarse. Football is so much fun to watch! The Jets lived up to their reputation and were unbelievably fast, but they also hit better than we expected. The quote of the day came from Joey who, after the game, said, "I don't know what our coach was talking about. They hit pretty hard."

The Jets must have been surprised by our team, particularly our defense who held them to a lot less points than they thought they should have. Last Saturday they routed their opponents 56-0, so our boys should be very proud of their efforts. The Rebels truly played brilliantly, with great play fakes, interceptions and solid passes (the running game did NOT get by the Jets--they were like a stone wall). Even our hard-as-nails coach, who wanted to beat the Jets more than anything, let the boys know that he was so proud of how they played that he couldn't find the words to express it, so there were absolutely no hanging heads or frowns walking off the field today. All in all, it was a great experience for the players and the crowd.

I have no doubt that we will face the Jets again in the championships and, hopefully, we will have a different result then.

I will certainly need the next six days to recover from today. What a marathon! Only 11 more weeks of this and then I will relax by having a baby. She is due the day after the last game is to be played. For once, I hope I'm not early!

Friday, September 05, 2008

Facing the Giants... I Mean, The Jets

Tomorrow, Joey's football team (the Rebels) plays the toughest team in the league: the Jets. In honor of this match up, we watched Facing the Giants for tonight's family movie.

If you have not seen this movie, watch it!

This is a fantastic story of an underdog football team that goes all the way to the State Championship once the players and coach place their trust in God. It is truly inspirational and fun to watch too. A few moments of cheesy acting aside, it is a true must-see.

After last Saturday's opening scrimmage when the Rebels positively creamed the Roadrunners, I hope the boys are not cocky going into tomorrow's game. From what I can tell, the Jets are faster overall than our boys, but they don't hit as hard. So, if the Rebels defense can knock 'em down before they start running, we stand a chance to beat last year's champs in our first match up.

Keep your fingers crossed, and GO REBELS!

Friday, August 29, 2008

Back to School, Part 2

The Sacred Heart students have returned to school...and of course I had to post this photo of Julia on her very first day of Kindergarten!

And here they all are together...Lindsey's first day as a 3rd grader, Sam's as a 2nd grader and Joey already 2 weeks into his 5th grade year at Valley View. Yes, the other kids definitely envy Joey his daily free dress and hot lunch. Ah, well.

Tony starts Mission Bell preschool on Tuesday, so watch, naturally, for the next post in the series. Five in school (well, two mornings a week, anyway)...I just might be cooking something good for dinner!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Geography Lesson

This morning, 3 year old Tony asked, "Where's Daddy?"
"In Texas," I replied.
"Oh, Texas," he said. "I know that place."
"You do?" I asked, pleased that he already had some awareness of our United States.
"That's where Sandy is from."
"Sandy..." I responded, thinking of who that might be. Then I realized who he was talking about.
"You mean Sandy the Squirrel? From SpongeBob?"
"YEAH! I just didn't know her last name."

Wasn't it me who said SpongeBob wasn't educational? Clearly, I stand corrected.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Back to School Has A Whole New Meaning

Joey has gone back to school. For most kids, this means a return to the classroom after a few months of vacation, but for Joey it means something far more significant: he has not been to a physical school in two years.

His return to the classroom was a mutual decision, but one that we both have fretted over nonetheless. He worries that the work will be too hard and that he will fail in front of the other kids (though he doesn't admit this forthright). I worry that his teachers won't be able to see him and his potential the way I do or that his values will be tested by the kids he meets. There is plenty, all told, to worry about.

Joey joins his fifth grade class in a public school with an IEP (Individual Education Program) in place. What this means is that he is entitled to assistance, as needed, with his schoolwork due to his learning disabilities. We are only in the second week of school so it is really too early for me to comment on how this is working, but so far I am pleased with what I am seeing in all areas.

I suspected that a teacher might get Joey to work harder at things he dislikes than I did, as I often got discouraged by his resistance and eased off. So far this is proving to be true, as he has brought home more writing work already than I know he would have done in the first month of school with me, and he is not complaining about it. His work is better, too, with neater printing and a greater effort in spelling. I hope this lasts!

I am very proud of him for the way he has gotten up early each morning, showered and dressed for school without any complaints. I know he must be nervous, I know he hates the actual schoolwork, but he is facing it like a young man and doing what he must. My child who likes to sleep until 10am is up at 6:30 with a good attitude--he is an inspiration.

He has made some friends, immediately identified the prettiest girl in his class, and is liking the hot lunch program (but not as much as me--I love not making lunch and wish Sacred Heart would build a cafeteria!). He likes his teacher--a man for the first time--and is already feeling comfortable with the routine of the day. Overall it is going even better than I had hoped it would.

This attitude of his, combined with his continued diligent work on the football field in recent weeks, is changing the way I am looking at him. My child is slowly but surely being replaced by a man, in front of my very eyes. Granted, this is at times clearer than others (for example, he still tortures his siblings like the 10 year old he is), but for the first time I am seeing glimpses of the adult he will become and I like what I see.

I hope and pray I will have such positive things to say a few months down the road. Of course, I will keep you posted.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Fruits of My Labor

Months of planning, planting, tending, pruning and watering are beginning to pay dividends. As you can see, my humble garden is thriving! Take a look at what I harvested from my garden yesterday...
I gathered basil for pesto, yellow squash (which made a yummy casserole), tomatoes, and my "test" picks of bell pepper and white corn. As it turns out, these two crops are perfect right now, so I am planning to pick the rest tomorrow for a meal of fresh corn and peppers for all.

This is my first time gardening and and I am pleased and proud of the results I have achieved. I have had as many failures as I have successes (peas, beans and carrots, for example, did not fare so well) so I am learning lots along the way from the mistakes I am making. I have done well with the above shown fruits and vegetables along with pumpkin, butternut squash, strawberries, onions and melons. Actually, the jury is still out on the melons, because although the vines have thrived I have no evidence of actual fruit and it may be getting too late in the season for any to appear...but we shall see, as our growing season goes well into October.

At any rate, I simply had to share what I have accomplished here, because it has been so much fun for me to undertake. Next year, when I know better what I am doing, I will let the kids help and, perhaps, each take some responsibility for one of the five boxes. Watching vegetables grow from a single seed has given me renewed respect for God's creation and I can't help but think it will do the same for my kids if they have a front row seat to the action.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Happy Birthday, Sam!

As usual, I am late posting birthday wishes...but the sentiments remain unchanged, even 5 days after the fact!

Sam, how can you be seven years old already? Your growing up is somehow sneaking up on me! Perhaps it is because you are such a content child. You go through your days happy, undemanding, independent, resourceful, and generally compliant. You are such a pleasure to parent, indeed, to simply be around!

My favorite thing about you is your stories. Your enthusiasm for whatever you are going to tell me simply bubbles out of you. I can never guess what the subject will be. An observation. A "remember when". Sometimes it's the plot line or a funny snippet from the program you just watched on TV. The little things you share about your life keep me uniquely connected to you. Don't ever stop talking to me about "whatever"!

You have an exceptionally clever mind, and the way you look at things often changes my perspective. I can't wait to see what you will become, all the ways in which you will undoubtedly succeed. I love you with all my heart and am truly honored to be your mother.

Happy, happy birthday!

Friday, August 08, 2008


Yesterday I testified as a witness in a criminal trial. Although I have twice served on a jury, I have never testified before, and have never even entered the courthouse here in the Antelope Valley where the crime scene is clearly more nefarious than in Disney-like Marin County.

This trial is about a contractor who made off with our deposit on a gate (and that of other people in our neighborhood) and is being prosecuted for fraud, so it was relatively low-pressure testimony in that it only involved theft and not violent crime.

The entire experience was fascinating. From the moment I walked into the courthouse (it is an amazingly beautiful building for our rinky dink little valley) to the time I walked out, I was enthralled by a world completely different from the one I am accustomed to. I will share some of my observations.

First of all, WHO ARE ALL THESE PEOPLE?! No one I know gets in trouble with the law. No one I know screams on their cell phones in echoing hallways about the pros and cons of accepting plea bargains or whose fault it really is that their kid is on trial. Yet, there were literally hundreds of people in this building who seemed to be totally comfortable with this scene. I am so very sheltered from a larger world that exists outside the church, school and neighborhood where my life takes place. It really made me think.

Second, how did the D.A. have time to make it through college and law school when he is, apparently, only 12 years old? When did I get so old that I reached the point where people around me look too young to be doing what they are doing?

Finally, if the courthouse cafeteria can serve a really delicious tuna melt and soup for $3.25, why do the places across the street charge $7 for a lesser product? If I learned anything yesterday, it was that I'm taking the family to the courthouse cafeteria the next time I want a good meal out.

At any rate, the experience was a nice change from my daily grind and made me truly appreciate the life I am living. I hope and pray my life NEVER revolves around a criminal trial that I am directly involved in. I certainly have a new compassion for those who are in this situation with family members, friends, or as victims.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Hell Week

Joey has just made it through the hardest thing he has done in his young life...the first week of practice for tackle football, otherwise known as "hell week".

I found this name to be perfectly descriptive of the 10 hours of conditioning Joey had to endure in 100 degree heat. Two hours each day, three breaks per practice for water, less than a minute per break. The boys ran. And ran. And ran. And did push ups. And ran some more. Until I actually thought some of them might keel over for good. But no one did, no one quit, and despite some very low moments, they graduated today to a future of a new kind of hell: hitting eachother with full pads. Can't wait.

As difficult as it is to watch Joey go through all of this, I know this is a wonderful thing for him. In front of my eyes, I have seen him grow up this week. I have seen him control his emotions and his discomfort better than he ever has. I have seen him push himself farther than he thought he could. Tonight I saw his new confidence, the bounce in his step that was fueled by the knowledge that he had made it through the hardest part and was now really and truly a football player. This is the first time I have seen him really go after something he wanted without changing his mind when it got harder than he thought it would be. I couldn't be prouder.

Joey is excited and ready for what is coming. He is not afraid of tackling and hitting--after all, he has had enough practice with his siblings! It will likely be too difficult for me to watch (the coach has already warned us to not freak out over the abundance of bruises coming our way), but I am so happy to see Joey in this state of enthusiasm that I am sure I will find my way through it.

I will keep you posted on the next phase. In the meantime, Go Rebels! Go Joey!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

More Visitors!

How blessed we have been this summer with visitors. We LOVE it!

Here is Jen (frequent commenter on this blog) and her two kids Hannah and Jeffrey who visited us from San Antonio last week. Jennifer and I grew up together (we have been the closest of friends since second grade) so it is extra special to see our children enjoying each other as well.

I can't believe how Hannah has grown up so fast. After all, I was there the day she was born! She is smart as a whip, funny and quick, kind and generous and, obviously, strikingly lovely! Now if only she would believe it herself...

Jeffrey is amazing. He is good at pretty much everything he tries to do, super fun to hang out with and so good natured. Quite handsome to boot. Unlike Hannah, he doesn't have any trouble believing this!

And what can I say about my dear friend of nearly 30 years (yikes!)? I only see her about once a year but every time we get together it is like putting on a pair of comfy slippers. She knows me inside and out, my quirks, my moods, my strengths and my weaknesses too. And she still likes me--go figure!

Thanks for the visit. We can't wait until the next one. (Oh, and next time bring Jason--we missed him!)

First of Many, I Think

Congratulations, Julia, on a fantastic job in your very first gymnastics meet!

Given your level of enthusiasm (as evidenced by the constant cartwheeling and handstanding and backbending going on in all corners of the house), I am virtually certain that this is the first of many meets in our family's future.

I couldn't be prouder of you. You are willing to work hard, practice as much as it takes to be good, and listen and learn from your coaches. With this attitude, you are sure to be amazing.

I can't wait to watch from the front row!

Friday, July 25, 2008

At Least I Can Admit It When I Am Wrong

I am writing this from the beautiful Loews Hotel in Coronado. From where I sit, I am looking over the bay, the carriers at the naval base, and have a perfect view of downtown San Diego. If I had a window on the other side, I would see the harbor and the ocean. If I had a window behind me, I would see the hills of Tijuana, Mexico.

Shamefully, I did not want to come along with Jay on his two night, most-expenses paid business jaunt and was dragged here kicking and screaming. It was my position that, when you have six kids, you no longer have the luxury of spontaneous travel and that the stress of making arrangements for them and packing and preparing the house was simply not worth the transient pleasure of a small getaway.

OK, I was wrong. I officially apologize. And I profusely thank the grandmothers and friends that have taken four of my children for the last two nights with such graciousness that I could not help but relax and enjoy myself only a few hours after our arrival.

Where are the other two children? Right here with me, and I am really enjoying having time with them both. Sam is here because I have not spent nearly enough one-on-one time with him (as I have particularly with Joey, Lindsey and Julia of late) and so I jumped at the chance to bring him along. Isabella is here because, quite honestly, she is too much trouble at 18 months to leave with anyone guilt-free! However, I must say that I have been delighting in her toddler-antics in this environment and haven't regretted for one second that she is here.

I have to take a minute and plug the Loews Hotel for being, without a doubt, the most kid-friendly hotel I have ever stayed in. They say right on their web site that they love kids and pets, but ever-skeptical me was not convinced. Anyone can say that! And since when do classy, resort-style hotels really, truly love kids and pets? However, I am now a believer! They have thought of everything.

Right when we arrived, we were given a resort schedule of events. We went right away to the first one, a sunset ceremony honoring sailors and bells at sea. We were met by a "pirate" who told us a story (granted, not a great one, but Sam liked it) and let both kids ring the bell and walk the plank. The served punch and took our family's photo (and gave it to us, rather than sold it to us!).

Then we were off to dinner, a nice one for Jay and I and a kid-height dream buffet for Sam and Isabella. Kids under 6 can help themselves to all the food for free, 6 and up are $8. It featured really good macaroni and cheese, chicken strips, fries, fruit, carrots and celery, rice crispie treats and cookies...the kids were in heaven and could help themselves since it was low to the ground.

After dinner Jay brought Isabella back to the room to put her to bed and do some work. He found waiting for him a real crib (not a port-a-crib) decked out in girly linens (they asked when we checked in) including a fluffy bumper and--get this--a CD of bedtime lullabies.

Sam and I went to try our hand at "family bingo" where the prizes were Chuck E Cheese type gliders, cards, paddle balls, noise putty, cars and action figures that had every kid straining for a win. Sam won the first game and the last game we played. The last was blackout, so he got two prizes for that one. The had complimentary chips, salsa, guacamole and drinks all laid out for the players (like we needed it after our huge dinner!). We had so much fun!

The next morning Jay left early to speak at his conference and I took the kids down to breakfast. We had another great experience involving a pancake buffet complete with chocolate chips and powdered sugar...need I say more?

After breakfast we caught the shuttle to the beach. I did not really want to go to the beach because it involved crossing a busy street (we are on the bay side but the beach is really close) and, more pertinent for me, hauling all of our beach stuff. The concierge assured me that everything we needed would be at the beach waiting for us and all I needed to bring was myself. I did not really believe him but boarded the shuttle with just the kids and my purse.

Turns out, Loews wins again! They shuttle dropped us off right at the sand where there was a Loews employee sitting at a fully stocked beach stand. He handed me a chair, a beach umbrella and a towel, gave Sam a boogie board and told us to have fun. All complimentary. When we were done, we walked the six feet back to the stand, turned everything in and got back on the shuttle empty-handed. It was perfect.

I brought Isabella back to the hotel for her nap and Jay met us at the room. He stayed with her and worked while she slept and Sam and I went poolside to play "giant chess" with pieces nearly as big as Sam but light enough to move without too much trouble. I did not know Sam could play chess but he most certainly can. He has watched Joey play enough to have learned all the pieces and how they can move. Only the most basic instruction was needed and he beat me solidly (I was really trying!).

While I was playing I noted that my shoulders were getting burned and that I did not have any sunscreen. Not a problem, as the pool concierge brought over a barrel filled with a variety for me to choose from. Complimentary, of course. I love this place.

After lunch it was back to the beach, then back to the hotel for a game of tennis (if you can call what we played "tennis" but Sam had a blast anyway). Then it was "Dive In Movie Night" where you could watch a movie and swim at the same time, but since we had already seen "The Game Plan" we decided to order room service and watch Speed Racer. Not a bad movie, I might add!

Although we did not make use of it, there is a Kids Club here too where you can check in your kids for an hour to a day at a time (for a fee of course) and they get to do all sorts of fun things. This hotel really did think of everything for kids. I am a fan.

This morning we are off to do who-knows-what while Jay goes to a meeting. When he is done we will begin our drive home where we will gather the kids and immediately leave for a drive to Northern California. But I will stress about that later. Right now I am having too much fun!

Monday, July 21, 2008

Reflux A Deaux

In the last six months, Julia has had two urinary tract infections that reached her kidneys and caused very high fevers. After the first one, her pediatrician (who let me know right away that a kidney infection in a then-four-year-old was definitely not normal) sent her for a renal ultrasound, which showed no abnormalities. After the second one, he referred her to a pediatric urologist down at Cedars-Sinai.

A few days ago I took Julia for a most unpleasant procedure called a VCUG involving a catheter and a CAT Scan. Basically, they sent a photographic dye into her bladder to see why bacteria was getting into her kidneys.

As it turns out, Julia has a condition known as Vesicoureteral Reflux on both sides. This means that when her bladder is full, urine creeps back up the ureters into her kidneys, causing infections when any bacteria is present. Happily for her, she has a relatively mild case with a Grade 1 on the left side and a Grade 2 on the right (on a scale of 1-5). Her doctor is hopeful that she will outgrow it in the next year without any surgical intervention at this point.

For anyone interested in learning more about this condition, I found a fantastic summary here.

At any rate, Julia has been placed on a daily low-dose antibiotic for the next year to keep her from sustaining any kidney damage while we are "waiting it out". When this course is finished we will repeat the VCUG to see if the condition has corrected itself or if we will need to intervene one way or another.

I, for one, am very grateful for proactive pediatricians and relatively low-grades of reflux...goodness knows it could be far worse. Prayers for the self-correction of this problem are much appreciated!

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Happy Birthday, Tony

Three years ago you arrived in the wee hours of the morning, so quickly that the doctor did not make it in time.

We brought you home to sea of packing boxes and chaos and, at just two weeks old, you moved with us to the desert. As strange as it seems to me, you won't remember anything but what our life is now. To you, Marin is just an entry on your birth certificate. You won't ever know what your first home looked like. Yet, it is where I first got to know you, where I kissed your sweet head for the first of millions of times.

In just three years you have grown from a beautiful baby into a charming preschooler. You are so articulate that you constantly surprise me. You can explain yourself completely, leaving no doubt as to your generous, decisive, thoughtful, creative nature. What a joy it is to hear your thoughts, know your wishes (usually) and experience your imagination.

How I love to see you race around the pool on your wiggle car, giggle with delight as you aim your squirt gun, sleep peacefully at night when your energy finally runs out, arm tucked cozily under your cheek.

Tony, you are a wonderful person, a delightful companion, a funny playmate and a generous brother. Although I can't imagine leaving behind the child you are now, I can't wait to see the gracious young man you are destined to be. How blessed I am to be your mother!

Saturday, July 12, 2008


Today my kids met their second cousins for the first time. Since our kids don't have any first cousins, having and knowing second cousins is a big deal for them, and we had a great time visiting with my cousin Mike's three fabulous kids today.

Here are the 9 of them after a busy day of swimming, burgers, arts and crafts and Guitar Hero.

It's hard to tell who had a better time...the kids or the grandpa brothers who don't see each other nearly often enough by the looks of it.

Grandpa Marty and Great Uncle Mike:

Grandpa Marty was having such a good time that he even took the wiggle car for a spin around the track, to the delight of us all (yes, I got video!).

Thank you for visiting--we had such a wonderful time seeing you all. Come again soon!

Friday, July 11, 2008

Too Hot

It has been hot. REALLY hot. So hot that I can't even go outside and get in the pool. That hot.

I have noticed a correlation between the heat and my mood this year. I have been inexplicably crabby for the past three days when the heat topped 110 degrees. If it were just dry heat it probably would have been OK, but it was oddly humid too. This is very rare for us desert dwellers and we don't take to it well!

Today the temperature dropped into the high 80s and brought a strong breeze. My mood miraculously and instantly improved!

Well, at least I am in the "happy trimester". I really feel for those 3rd trimester ladies I see in the OB office, sweltering and swelling. There is little worse than being pregnant and hot.

Here's to the hope of fall-like weather joined with our current summer schedule--my dream combination.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Lovingly Mortifying

Most people are horrified at the idea of mortifying themselves willingly. (I historically include myself among them!) I have always viewed the idea of doing things such as placing a stone in your shoe or tying an itchy band around your leg as a little on the crazy side. And, without any context to them, these acts indeed appear to be. After all, isn't life by itself mortifying enough?

Last night, however, I read something beautiful on mortification that I thought I would share:

Mortifications are the result of love and, in their turn they nourish love.

What does the author, Francis Fernandez, mean by this? After I read his meditation on the topic, I understood it perfectly and only hope I can convey it appropriately in paraphrase.

Think of your husband or wife (or good friend or parent or whoever is important in your life). I, of course, am thinking of Jay. He can say he loves me all day long (and he does!). I am always happy to hear it. But what makes me happiest of all? When he does something self-sacrificial for my benefit just to prove it to me! The harder it is for him to do, the more loved I feel. One example in our marriage is dancing. Jay HATES to dance. Banned it from our wedding, in fact. So when he dances with me I know how much he loves me. Another example is eating at a chain restaurant that I enjoy but he can't stand. When he takes me there and is loving and cheerful about it, I know with absolute certainty how much I am loved. It means so much more than just hearing the words that take so little to say, no matter how true they are.

If I feel this way in my marriage, doesn't it make sense to conclude that God feels this way too? We can say we love him (and actually do) but if we don't do anything to show it, what does it mean? Each of us has many, many opportunities in our day to prove our love to God through some small act of self-sacrifice done out of love for him. How pleasing it must be for him when, although all I want to do is sit down and read a magazine, I think of him and instead get up and cheerfully unload the dishwasher. In my life, mortification takes the shape of simply doing what I am supposed to do in a timely manner with a good attitude. I don't have to inflict external discomfort on myself, all I have to do is persevere when I feel I can't.

It isn't enough simply to sacrifice. For it to be pleasing to God it has to be done cheerfully and with love. As he says, "I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice." The Pharisees who followed the law accurately but without love were not pleasing to God, and neither are we when we do all our work of the day but with a sour disposition. It is better to just slightly more than we want to but do that last little bit with love than it is to do three times as much with anger.

If I accept these things with a loving heart, I am mortified each time a child cries in the night, each time I change a diaper, each time I prepare a meal. What a waste these everyday activities are if not offered with love to God.

So, no, you will not find me placing a stone in my shoe or wearing a hair shirt...because I do believe these things are only for those who are so practiced in everyday mortifications that they feel they need something extra. Honestly, I don't see that happening to me anytime soon! But at least I now understand that these things are not crazy--rather, they are greatly misunderstood acts of love.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Disney, Divided

For the last few days, every member of the Di Silvestri family has been at Disney. The only funny thing about this is that five of us were at Disneyland and the other three were at Disney World. What a trip!

Joey, Lindsey and Sam are in Orlando with their grandparents who were crazy enough--I mean nice enough--to take them for nine whole days. They come back tomorrow and I will be so very happy to see them.

Naturally, the little ones left behind who were old enough to know what they were missing raised a meritorious protest...so explains the mini-trip the remaining five of us took to Anaheim.

It was a hoot to talk to the older kids yesterday park-to-park and trade stories about how long their line for Pirates of the Caribbean was as compared to ours and how many times they went through the Haunted House versus how many times we did. Strange, but very fun!

Anyway, here follow some obligatory photos of what was, for Tony and Isabella, their very first trip to Disney of any kind.

At the aquarium of the Rainforest Cafe...

Isabella's first time on a carousel...as you can see, she loved it! In fact, she threw quite a temper tantrum when removed from the horse at the end of the ride.

Julia and Tony on the Jungle Cruise--the corny jokes were lost on them, but Jay and I enjoyed them, as always.

Day 2 proved to be too much for the toddler set who sacked out for several hours in the middle of the day. Julia, however, was clearly unaffected.

We all loved the playground at California Adventure. The kids could swing on tires, splash in "rivers" and climb on lots of rocks. Just what tired parents need at the end of a long, hot day.

What better way to finish off a good meal at Downtown Disney than with ice cream and balloon hats!

What a nice getaway with my family. And with only 3 children, it really seemed like we were traveling light.
* * *

On another note entirely...Happy Anniversary, Jay! 13 years later I would still pick you all over again. You are my perfectly wonderful gift from God and I am grateful every day for you and for our marriage. Here's to the next 50!