February “hello’s” and “goodbye’s…” <3

“The story of life is quicker than the blink of an eye, the story of love is hello, goodbye.” ~Jimi Hendrix

I’m such a quote nut, it’s kind of silly but it really helps out in the inspiration department for me. The quote above in particular hit me at the right time. About this time of the year, I get to thinking a lot about how quickly LIFE does go by. February is often a month that yields reminders for my family and I about the lives that we’ve loved and lost. For a period of time, this month seemed surrounded by a steady mixture of emotions… a lot of “hello’s” and “goodbye’s” so to say.

It began with the sudden passing of my dad’s father on February 19, 2001 and was too soon followed by my mom’s mother losing her battle with cancer on February 16, 2003. Both of them lived what we remember as long and full lives, however it still seemed too soon at the time as they were just in their early 70’s. Ironically, the day that my grandmother passed away was also my youngest sister Brianna’s birthday. As unexpected and coincidental that it was, the passing of two of my grandparents within two years, all the while surrounding my sister’s birthday was something almost surreal when I look back on it. It was an intense time of emotions, that I just can’t put into words.  We had to make it even more of a point not to let the deaths in the family overshadow the life that was still living and growing, especially with something like a birthday . The grieving process is incredibly hard and unique to everyone and it has the opportunity to consume us for a time. I can imagine that the time period for me was nothing compared to what my parent’s must have gone through, or my sister for that matter.

As time truly does heal, that missing piece of our hearts that felt as though it would never be filled again, did somehow become whole once more. Life went on and the memory of our grandparents continues to live on strong thanks to the memories and stories that they have left behind. I still wish some times for a moment again to tell them that I love them. To have a chance again and really listen with all my heart to the amazing stories that my Tata (dad’s dad) loved to share about his life. Or to cherish again the laughter of my grandma’s. It was so contagious and so a part of her essence. Though bringing back that time in this life is not possible, the love for them continues to live in my heart.

My Tata and I camping when I was younger

My Grandma and one of my aunts playing with me as a baby

Love can live on through many ways; through the memories, through pictures, and especially through the LIVING. My sister Brianna just celebrated her 24th birthday. Brianna is very much a living part of this month. She is a vibrant and talented soul (an incredibly gifted pianist). She is a very strong young woman and recently has been through some enormous test’s to her character and strength. It is all part of her journey of life and that is what’s important. As an older sister I feel so proud to continue to witness growth in her. Although we aren’t the little kids that we once were, it doesn’t mean I stop watching out for her. I always want the best for both of my sister’s. We’ve all had our fair share of growing and learning to do and continue to. Whether the experiences are difficult or not, it’s what makes us and our stories. The three of us all have taken our own unique paths, but are still here for each other through it all. Thankfully our parents set us up with a very solid foundation of support too I might add. I wanted to share and acknowledge the special person Brianna is, especially for her birthday that just passed but also just to let her know again how happy I am for the huge steps she has taken, and the courage she’s shown. I admire her for it more than she probably realizes! These are the things I never want to regret that I didn’t say. I love her so much!

Brianna and I

Life definitely goes quicker than a blink it seems and often we wait until it’s too late to express our feelings to those we care about. Opportunities are here now while we are here to live it, while we have the arms to hug, the eyes to admire, the ears to listen and the words to speak of how important our loved one’s are to us now in this very moment. I hope to always try my hardest to show love and appreciation for the people who mean so much to me before it is too late. To take up the moments while I have them. Loving and celebrating life of the living seems as important as celebrating the memory of life once it leaves us. I guess it’s about sharing more “hello’s” before it is “goodbye.”

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A week of milestones: “Farewell” teeth and “so long” diapers!…Tear.

This week brought with it a couple of milestones that I knew would come soon enough, but was still not fully ready for. I realize how fast little ones grow up, especially between the three mine! It’s like one milestone after another! It surely doesn’t happen without mommy getting a bit sad about the reality of how fast it all goes by.

It seems like yesterday I was adoring on this little face of Ella’s as she was beginning to grow in her baby teeth. At the time it seemed like she couldn’t get those teeth in fast enough. Teething is such a nightmare!

Baby Ella just getting teeth

After winning a fight with the teething monster, Ella finally had her beautifully complete little set of baby teeth which we still adored on…

This little smile...

I couldn’t believe when Ella lost her first two baby teeth on the bottom row already last year. It seemed like even that started so soon! Now as of Monday night, she lost her first tooth on the top and proudly sports a toothless grin yet again!

Her new beautiful toothless smile!

Pretty much from the minute Daddy pulled that top tooth out, I regressed and wished I was looking at that little baby face again… in my mind I still pictured it and wanted it back. But I couldn’t let that stop me from moving on with the moment and sharing the happiness with her as she couldn’t wait to get that wiggly tooth out. It was really bothering her at this point and was getting painful to eat with. It was definitely time to come out! Plus she told us, “I can’t wait till I can talk like thith!” Haha! I love that childhood excitement, and had to remind myself to hide the mommy tears so as not to give her any notion of how I really feel about her growing up sometimes. It just has to happen doesn’t it? I still feel like I’m soaking it in, that this little girl of mine just can’t stay little forever.

Mommy Mantra

..ENJOY EACH MOMENT..YOU NEVER HAVE THEM BACK..

My oldest baby is almost seven and losing her baby teeth, and my youngest is out of diapers!! I definitely needed a good mommy cry this week.

So that other milestone this week was that Grant pretty much will not give me any option with starting up potty training. He was ready to move on from the diaper life for good! Monday morning after breakfast, he came out from his room with a pair of his big boy underwear in hand, asking to put them on. Over the past month or two, he was interested in the potty mostly I’m sure because of big brother and sisters influence. He wore underwear a couple of times and has gone on the potty about twice. It was all random and not further pursued. I just haven’t felt ready to take on the challenge again of potty training. Especially that he is my last baby, and is still barely 2 years old.

Once again though, mommy can’t dictate everything and my little determined toddler has decided for me anyway. Time for the potty!! I won’t post any embarrassing photos, but here is Grant determined to ride a scooter like his older siblings already…

The determined two-year old!

I guess he gets most of his determined nature from his momma. My mom has stories about me wanting to potty train before the age of two! Yikes! Anyway, from the get go I vowed to make Grant my little “Go Green” baby which included going to cloth diapers, exclusively nursing him longer than my other two, and making all of his baby food (which I thoroughly enjoyed!) This was all in part to keep with my promise to make my third baby the most cost friendly and earth friendly baby for our family’s growing needs. I became determined as ever to go as ‘natural’ as possible with him. I don’t know why it never hit me before with the other two. Some where along the way though, I realized how much money I was dumping into diapers and mass-produced, not to mention preservative filled baby foods, as well as the cost of formula towards the end of not nursing Ella and Gavin. I was younger when I had the other two and just didn’t think about things like that so much. I also had two in diapers which I am not sure I would have done cloth for both of them anyway. I also probably wouldn’t have taken it on since I decided not to use a diaper service, and cloth diapering on your own is certainly a messy business!

Here is baby Grant all pinned up around 3 months old..

I pinned my baby lol

After trying out various cloth methods for about the first six months, I decided to stick with the G diaper. I’ll admit the “G” on the diaper may have swayed my decision since it is his initial and all, but mostly it’s just a very cool diaper. It’s a little different from other cloth methods in that it has the plastic insert that you can snap inside. This makes removing and replacing diapers SO easy! It also has a nice flushable/biodegradable insert that I liked using on the go. Especially as he got older! It’s no fun traveling with a dirty cloth diaper let me tell you, so having a flushable option helped!

I seriously LOVED cloth diapering him and really wished I would have done it for Ella and Gav after all. It is a little more work but it’s just so nice knowing their little tush is comfy and protected in a natural way. It gave more time to enjoy me him, relishing the moment of baby while folding and pinning him up. Sounds so cheesy, but I realized that I payed more attention to diapering him than the others. There was something so sweet about it that you can’t find in the experience of a disposable. As you are reading this you might be thinking I’m crazy for carrying on a post this long about a diaper, but it’s that unique of an experience, I’m not kidding!! The real awesome benefit to it though is the help that it does for our planet. The disposable diaper, while the most convenient option, is still a growing issue on landfills. Researchers estimate that it may take 200-500 years for one diaper to decompose. Since diapers haven’t been around for that long, we can’t know for sure but the average child goes through about 5,000 diapers before potty training! That’s a crazy big number of diapers!! I’m not a huge advocate or anything by any means. I’ve certainly done my part in contributing to the problem, but choosing a diaper this time that has a lower environmental impact made me feel like I at least made somewhat of a difference!

The cloth tush

one year!

Wow, so this post has ended up being a lot about this whole diaper thing but that’s probably just me trying to savor the moments that no longer exist since even that couldn’t last forever. Yet another thing I wish I had back. After having to pack up our house, the days of cloth diapering had to come to an end for us. I no longer had the convenient option of washing my own diapers at any given moment of the day. See my post on how I am washing things these days right here.

So the disposable diaper was back!!!…..but not for too long…. As I was saying Grant decided he is too big for diapers and truly came the closest thing to potty (pobby as he calls it) training himself this past week. I of course was right on his tail with ensuring that we were visiting the pobby quite often. He really took to it way easier than I thought! I can’t say I used any particular method this time around. With Ella and Gavin there was definitely a reward system going on. I think there just must be some magic in being the highly influenced and determined little brother, that he just went for it. We had our fair share of accident’s no doubt. Overall in terms of potty training, I have found you just have to go for it and not look back! That has been the one thing I realized and you can’t be half way about it. It’s all or nothing, besides night-time training sometimes of course.

Grant really did such a great job of mastering this milestone this past week, that I am so very proud of him 🙂

See me, I'm a big boy now!!

I can’t even believe I am writing this post because it seems so official now that I no longer have babies on my hands. It’s been many bitter-sweet moments this past week that are just par for the course of mothering I believe. I must continue to accept these little lives growing up and welcome the happiness for them because it is through each of these steps and progressions that they are forming their own proud moments and learning how to welcome change for themselves as well!

The perfect day for the train!

Something I’ve wanted to do for a while now with the kids is to take them for a ride on the Metrolink. It’s something I’ve never even experienced, and we live now within an easy walking distance from the station in downtown Upland. The kids always enjoy watching the train pass by, whether we’ve seen it in the car or out for a bike ride. There is something so exciting about that train whistle, that it doesn’t seem to get old to them! They have often asked when we will get the chance to ride it and today was the day some little wishes came true.

I discovered that the train happens to run through Claremont during the time we need to be in Claremont on Thursday morning’s as well. One of Ella’s favorite classes that she has been fortunate enough to take is a cooking class at The Young Chef’s Academy  in Downtown Claremont. After realizing a trip on the train would be in order today, I told the kids we would go. They were beyond excited about this trip, it was adorable! We went ahead and walked to the station this morning, making sure to have enough time to buy our tickets and get situated. It’s great that kids 5 and under ride free! Here we are waiting for our train.

At the station

Here are Ella and Gavin eager as they are about to get on our train!

The trip probably only shaved off about 5 minutes of actual drive time by us taking the train. Actually much to my surprise it didn’t save me much on gas either. It was definitely worth the experience though and I have to say was just easier overall. I wasn’t loading and unloading the car, which I definitely have to account time for. I also wasn’t dealing with annoying drivers and parking. It was quite convenient to walk to the train station, hop right on with the stroller and easily off, without a fuss. I would probably prefer it if it was an option . But that’s not the case, so I will just enjoy it while I can!

Ella’s class is a few minute’s walk from the station which is also partly why this trip worked out perfect. She did a couple of these cooking class sessions toward the end of her kindergarten year and really enjoyed it. She recently started up again and was super excited! Not only has Ella started to develop a good foundation and appreciation for basic cooking/baking fundamentals. It’s a chance for her to be in a “class-like” setting in which all the students practice patience and apply math concepts as they work together at preparing the recipes during each class. Each week her teacher, Chef Leslie has a new recipe planned and they get to enjoy the hard work at the end of class of course!

On the menu today:

Crab cakes with Remoulade Sauce and Buttermilk Beignets!

Chef Leslie explains how the yeast is 'alive!!'

Here is Ella as she was given the task of measuring the yeast.

It’s nice because it gives her a taste of things we wouldn’t normally make at home obviously. Mommy also learns a thing or two on occasion, which is a plus!

Family gets to observe the class

Gavin, Grant and I usually will watch the class for a bit as it starts. Then we busy ourselves on a walk or window shopping/observing. I say observing because there is so much to see in downtown Claremont. Cute antique shops, art galleries, historical spots, architecture and shopping! Here is a beautiful building at the station…

The boys had fun playing near a very child friendly water feature today for a while.

Perfect entertainment!

There were plenty of leaves and flowers to turn into floating devices.

Leaves afloat

Flower boats

After some fun in the beautiful sun, it’s time to head back to get Ella. We arrive as the class finishes up and is about to eat their delicious food. Looks like another successful cooking lesson!

Happy young chef 🙂

We ended up having some time to kill before we could catch the next train back. What better on an 80 degree day in February, than to enjoy a yummy smoothie while we wait! And give Ella a chance to admire the water art…

Love them!

Time to catch our train again!! But not before a little ‘hip-hop’ pose as these silly’s like to do…

They crack me up most of the time 🙂

Don’t forget us over here Mr. Conductor!!

It was a quick ride back. With just enough time for some silly faces 🙂

And also happy faces…

Gavin enjoyed the ride!

and of course little miss Ella, reading up on the Metrolink…

Some reading material..

The train ride was a great thing for us to embark on today. A fun way to add adventure into our everyday. I especially love that it’s giving my kids the experience of being part of our community. It’s one thing for us to study up on maps and of course learn about the different aspects of a community, but I just love the we can live it too!

Look at that world out there!

Organizing makes my world go ’round!!!!

Okay, two things I am guilty of which completely contradict one another…

A. Coupon/ Craft supply hoarding

B. Going on organizing binges

How can I possibly have one with the other or is it without the other… I don’t know what it is, I’m confusing myself just thinking about how serious this problem could be. I guess they do feed into each other in some strange way. The hoarder in me…not so great. The organizer in me…. I kind of like her. Read about my moment of organizing a bit of nature here.

Since our big move though, I have been on what seems like an endless cycle of binge organizing. I call it a binge because I literally will tackle something at random, when I have a vision about it functioning in a better way than it is. It’s usually a small window of time that I have to work with to complete the organizing like before bed or when I have a spare moment in the day. So it’s like this surge of “have to get it done” kind of energy. It’s funny how something like a move can either send you into a crazy mess of dumping things into boxes without any rhyme or reason or it may strike up a relationship with that thing we don’t always like to mess with…organizing!! Whether it was getting rid of stuff, trashing the junk, saving things of importance, or saving the unnecessary… organizing was just a must while deciding what to take and what to put into storage during the move in our case. I just had a dandy  time managing the packing of an entire home while adding in 3 kids to the mix. Actually I was quite insane some days and I didn’t want to look at another box again in my life but thankfully I got through it! Not however without cutting a few corners. One being that I did put off some smaller projects, which included organizing my “I might need that someday” stash of ribbon and my ugly ‘growing by the minute,’ not to mention expiring folder of coupons lol.  I hope someone out there can identify with me and that tiny hoarder within, that just comes out long enough to do some damage, but stays safely away from anything close to what is on those crazy shows about hoarding these days. I can definitely admit I had a growing problem and my organizing always is a work in progress.

I’m happy to report though on the battle with that little hoarding monster of mine …

Ribbon…meet closepin.

Coupons…meet paper clips and simple tray ($1 section at Target!!)

 Before this turns into a lengthy post let me keep it simple…

I turned this:

Into this:

I’m telling you that it just makes my world such a brighter place when I complete one of my “organizing binges.” I’m happier and more content because I’m in control of my surroundings (the control freak in me thrives on it). I know where to go when I need something and don’t feel overwhelmed when searching for it. I trashed too many coupons to count during this organizing mission, which I am officially cutting (no punt intended) back on my coupon collecting now and I also let go of a lot of ribbon which I’m positive I won’t miss!

I have seen this simple organizing tip of using the clothespins (also $1 for an entire pack) to organize ribbon a lot around the web. It does work really great I have to say!

I also used the ol’ wooden dowel and ribbon spool trick on one of the shelves of my desk.

I’m sure there is a better way out there for coupon organizing, in fact I’m positive I’ve seen very cool ways of filing them and stuff but for now this is good. The coupons are within sight, so that I don’t forget to use them. They are also sorted and clipped together by category. Works for me!! 🙂

Anyway, tackling that hoarding monster was never on top of my list of things to do, but when I handled it, that “Ahhhh” moment was so worth it.

Little hoarder is not welcome in my world… now let it stay that way please!!!

Baby Love.

” We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures. ” ~ Thornton Wilder

There are 365 days each year that I undoubtedly show my love to the little lives that Greg and I brought into this world. There is only one day that says I should actually be proclaiming it…lol.

Well here is to a day of acknowledging and proclaiming the purest form of love that I know about.

These adorable little bundles of joy. (I miss them so much as chubby babies like this)

My heart always treasures these three.

No gift could can prove or words can express the love that I have for them.

They have given my life so much purpose!

With lots of love to my little Valentine’s

XOXOXOX