You have been so good to us summer

Our “summer” started June 14th! Kids last day of school the 13th and off to a Cali vacation the next day, talk about starting it off right!

My 1st major vacation as a single parent, FEAR had set in and I was nervous about the 23 hour drive as the only adult and the fear of being able to keep everything and everyone together while we were there. O’well time to suck it up and begin the journey!  

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Plans to meet our best friends from AZ there that we haven’t seen in a year, so exciting! On our week stay, we hit Disneyland, California Adventure,  Knotts Berry Farm & the beach, Hunnigton.

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Disneyland… My most favorite place on Earth. The feeling of walking thru those gates cannot be matched, although the new Cars ride was beyond amazing and brought tears to my eyes over how WOW  it was.  Being there brings this tingly awesome feeling that I could never get enough of.  We have been there numerous times and I could go every week if I was able too!  A blog on that alone will be in the future!

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California Adventure and Knotts are awesome places too of course! The kids prefer California Adventure over Disneyland for the bigger thrill rides they offer. Knotts is more of the break you take between or after the bigger parks, lots of fun but not as large so easier to get thru in 1 day.

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 A wonderful vacation, amusement parks, beach, shopping and all the neat places we ate, my fav The Boling Crab http://www.theboilingcrab.com/! It was our 1st time there and was AMAZING! A must try if you like seafood and well… chicken tenders. The food was delish, after I got past having to remove the shrimp heads myself! The atmosphere loud crazy and fun, kinda like us as we fit right in there, which is hard to do in restaurants these days when everyone is quiet and reserved haha!

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We spent a week having a blast with some awesome people! The 23 hour drive home was tough since we drove straight thru and didn’t stop to sleep like we did on the way there. Would I do it again!? YES I could never stay away from Disney for too long, but will prefer to fly!

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Big vacation behind us, time to spend some time in our own amazing area…

We have spent many Saturdays this year in Green Bluff http://www.greenbluffgrowers.com/ picking lots of fresh fruits, feeding the animals, eating more cherries than any of us would like to admit, meeting some pretty amazing people, seeing beautiful weddings, getting lost & best of all, enjoying some quality family time!

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Silverwood & Boulder Beach http://www.silverwoodthemepark.com/! A neat amusement park & seasonal water park located in Athol, ID. It is about an hour & half from our house. I want to say that Silverwood is very similar to Knotts Berry farm. Not too big and loads of fun! We have spent several days there this summer! We all love it and with it being so close it is a must visit for a full day of fun in the park itself riding awesome wooden roller coasters & some other big rides and then spending a few hours cooling off in the water park and hitting some huge slides and the 2 wave pools! Can’t miss the magic show in the Theatre of Illusion with Nick Norton while you are there! A must see while enjoying a very affordable large pizza dinner, breadsticks & drinks for the family, all for $25 while having your mind blown with his amazing magic!

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Summer camps! My 5 year old son got to attend his very 1st 3 day pee wee camp at Camp Gifford! (YIKES!) I was SO nervous and he was SO excited. I honestly have NO idea how I actually dropped him off and drove away. I cried the entire ride home and on and off all 3 days & not being able to talk to him drove me NUTS!! I was counting the hours till I could pick him up. Not sure I want him to go again but he had SO much fun it will be so hard to say no.

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Family Camp at Riverview Bible Camp located in Cusik, WA! http://www.riverviewbiblecamp.com/   Wow what a neat experience that was! We will be making that a yearly trip no doubt! We went with our church, Suncrest Family Worship and spent a Fri, Sat & Sun there. The camp had SO many things to do for the whole family! Riverfront swimming with inflatable water toys which included and were SO much FUN: The Blob (fun & scary!), Trampoline (loads of fun!), Saturn (ya good luck getting onto that!), Iceberg (now that is a climb), Log ( sure if you feel like falling into the water repeatedly), Slide (more for the kiddos), Canoes (Um about that… Our family & canoes= will end up swimming 3 minutes after getting into it), Heated pool (didn’t get to try that, not enough hours in a day),  Swings (yes even for us big kids!), 40′ Amusement park slide (I would like to change the name of this slide to Burn Slide instead of amusement slide since every person that flies down it on a waxed burlap bag WILL obtain a burn on some area of skin LOL but it is impossible to stay off of since it is SO fun), Hiking trails (LOTS!), a beautiful creek with a bridge ( a must see), Water Balloon War Zone (um SO fun!), Gymnasium with three basketball courts, Ping Pong, Tether Ball (a fav of our family!), a game room,  24 hour coffee/tea/hot chocolate with SO much scenery to sit on the deck or at the lake and watch, priceless really. The cabins were awesome! Our cabin slept 10 with full bathroom & shower, so our whole family got to stay together. We had guest speakers who are missionaries that told some pretty amazing stories that had our attention, morning and evening services, 3 delish full course meals, tons of play & family time. If you have not visited a family camp as a family this is a must do!

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Cat Tales, an amazing non-profit animal rescue! To make a donation or to see what it is all about visit their website http://www.cattales.org/ Spent the day with the fam bam there seeing the big kitties, tigers (lots of them, white 1s too!), bobcats, lions, panthers, cheetah, and even a bear! You can take a guided tour, watch a show, just browse the cages and best of all; you can choose to feed a bear or tiger! To feed a bear you must be 6 years old, he LOVEs watermelon! To feed a tiger you must be 8 years old and they eat raw bloody steak, yum! The workers there are awesome, full of energy, very friendly and helpful and willing to talk to you & answer any questions you have (I had lots!) It was a neat experience for all of us! They also offer Zoo school, I was told it is a 1 year fulltime program that you take and you can get hired there or go somewhere else and apply. If you are interested in zoo keeper, animal medicine or just want to work around the big cats (ME!) you can take this 1 year hands on course and get certified! How cool is that!?

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Here is more info from their website:  “Are you interested in a career in zoology? Train to become one of the best. Cat Tales ZTC is the ONLY school of it’s kind where students learn every aspect of zoo operations and professional animal care.  Take a peek at a Zookeeper’s Day to get a taste of what is involved, and see if zookeeping may be for you. While we do not guarantee job placement for graduates of the program, we receive requests on a regular basis for information on upcoming graduates as possibilities for positions at various facilities. Top names in the Zoological community hire people who have successfully completed our program, because of their well rounded training. Applicants must be 18 to apply.

From movies, to eating out, to theme parks, to long long drives, to getting lost, to picnics & events, to camps and so on this summer has been nothing short of amazing, but today it is time for summer to end and school to start! As I said bye to my kids today as they went off to their 1st day of the new school year I was filled with so much emotion, mostly happiness that this new year brings new adventures, new memories & experiences but some sadness creeped in as well, sad that the summer fun & late nights are over & that my house will be very quiet during school hours, also sad that they are 1 step /year closer to growing up and leaving the nest.

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Well, gotta use this quiet time wisely & get some work done, they will be back home before I know it!

P.S. Please share your summer stories and any new or neat places you visited & that you would or wouldn’t recommend! We would LOVE to hear about it! Afterall, it is never too early to start planning next summer!

Mama Bear Plus 6

 

Back to school time already!?

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Ahhh back to school time is near! I do love this time of year and it is not because I want the kids out of the house and in school, in fact it gets a little lonely around here when they are gone all day, when I say this, it is for them more than for me!

I miss them I miss the noise and the chaos I miss the talks, yells, cries, and the fun we have when they are all home all summer. You kind of get used to your days being so full for 3 months straight that when school is back in and they are all safely on the bus and you walk back in the house the silence is somewhat eerie. They need to go to school; they need the interaction with other children, other adults. They need the structure, because let’s face it, this running around all day, playing all day, eating dinner at 9pm and staying up till 12-1 and then sleeping in till 9am every morning can’t last forever. There are things to learn, things to absorb, friends to make, memories to create and numbers to jumble!

The teens can keep themselves busy during the long summer months but the littles need more than an occasional play date. They are bored and mama can only teach & entertain for so long before they are tired of hearing me and wanting social interactions with others.

I wish I could home school, I wish I was disciplined enough to do so but I have to face the facts and those are that I am only so much me and can only be stretched so thin and in all honestly it would not be fair to them for me to pretend like I could provide them all the education they need. So yes, this is me and I rely on the school system to assist me in teaching my kids what they need to know, although I am that picky parent when it comes to schools and teachers. I will not bow my head in shame on the homeschooling subject; instead I will pat myself on the back for facing the reality that I am human and a single mom with no business trying to be a teacher for 4 grades.

The kids all say how much they love back to school shopping… Of course they do! What kid doesn’t! And please tell me what parent does!? I would love to hear from both sides, those of you that just love fight the crowds or deal with that 1 group that loves to stand right in front of what you need and talk about the weather at Wal-Mart’s back to school sections (which really does have some of the best prices/deals!)! Those of you that love to get the 2 page list of stuff they will need for the WHOLE year and your kids need it all today, yes all 50 #2 pencils and 10 spiral notebooks each, those of you that love it when it takes 4 hours for the kids to go over everything on their list and add things to the cart and fish thru it all to take it back out when they find something better, those of you that love when you teens argue over the other 1 picking the same color notebook or backpack even though they are not going to the same school. Geez it is just a color! 

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Then there are those of us that dread this whole process and desire a strong adult beverage about ¼ of the way thru the store as I slowly add up the total in my heads, thinking “I should’ve applied for a small loan prior to entering the stores”, while I am trying to listen to the nonstop chatter, yells for “Mom come see this” from the dressing room, the arguing & the giggles. And then there is the best part, how happy they are getting new stuff, how excited it makes them about the 1st day of school. I do love coming home and watching them unload the stuff into their new backpacks, sharpening pencils, yes all 255 of them and them trying on all their new outfits deciding what they will wear for the 1st day/week of school. This process makes me think back over the summer and all the fun we had and also think forward that a new school year is almost here and all the new experiences & memories they will create & have and all the new friends they will make! And that makes it all worth it & me 1 happy mama bear (as long as I don’t think of the credit card statement that will arrive in a week or 2!) 

P.S. Hey, 4 stores, 5 hours of shopping for 4 kiddos and over $500, I earned this! hehe

IMG_20130826_182717_359Mama Bear Plus 6

In Just 1 Year…

It has taken me a year to even attempt to share a small portion of this story with anyone outside my small circle of close friends & family & even now I will be very selective on details, not sure there will ever be enough time between then and the present that will make me want to dig up and share those deep ugly memories. It is not something that I thought I would ever want to talk about or share with anyone or relive, but it is amazing of what just 1 year can do in terms of healing, strength, grace and faith. So today, 1 year to the month when darkness fell, I celebrate victory! Victory for my children that have grown and have become even more amazing stronger individuals and victory for myself to have picked up the scattered & shattered pieces of our lives in my weakest moments and have slowly but diligently sorted thru what pieces we needed and what pieces we didn’t, gathered almost all new pieces and have created brand new life for us!

Let me start by briefly taking this back to days, weeks, months and years before April  2012.

Met a guy (I met this guy as a single mother of 4 daughters) became friends, fell in love, got married, had 2 children, started 2 businesses, bought a house… happens to many many people. Isn’t that the way it is suppose to be!? Living the dream, or so I thought!

Yes I was married before to my high school sweetheart. We were very young when we got together, 15, married at 18 and over the years began to grow apart. By the time we were 21 our marriage was on its way to over and by the time I was 22 I was divorced, even sadder, we have no contact and haven’t for 10 years, not even with his children. Most dream of falling in love with that 1 person and staying with them for life as I did but life as we know it hardly ever goes as planned. But enough about going WAY back; I will leave that for another day.

Happily married to my best friend, life was great, it was as I thought it should be (little did I know…). We hardly fought, we vacationed, we partied (although he drank WAY more often than I did, which I didn’t really care for), we laughed, we worked hard, we cried, we were connected to an awesome church, we lived our lives surrounded by many amazing friends (friends who I will be forever grateful for that were there for me & the kids when the darkness fell) People were envious of our love & happiness. I counseled friends on love and relationships, I even played dating service and hooked up everyone I knew that was single because I felt like everyone should have the love in their life that I had. I spent many moments lost in thought of how this was it and I was set with my lifelong partner and all life could do was get even better and for years that seemed to be the case. We were planning on moving to WA State and opening a business. We were set to leave in May, to pack up life as we knew it and move. We had a house set up, he had a job lined up that would sustain us until the business that I would put all my time and energy into, got off the ground. Crazy when they say Man plans God laughs because it is so true…

There was nothing in my mind, heart or soul that led me to believe things were about change, drastically, nothing… How did I not know? How did I not see this happening? Why is it that my gut instinct didn’t kick in? How did things get so twisted in our lives that made him think that it was okay to betray us, to destroy us, to throw all we had worked for away after 8 years of our lives together…WTF!? And I was too blind to see it. Blinded by the wonderful marriage I thought we had, blinded by a love I thought was true from both ends… Love is blind they say, guess “they” are right.

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Anyone have an “unlucky” month in their life!? I do, it is April. I lost my 37 year old mother on April 25th, 1993. I lost my white cat Sugar in April of 1995 as she suffered a horrible death by coyotes in our yard. I also lost a friend to accidental suicide in April 1995. I have been in 3 car accidents, 2 in April. Oh God I get it, just not my month and that’s okay, I didn’t dwell or focus on all that as April approached over the years, okay well maybe I did lay awake some nights in every April thinking about the negative but I didn’t let it control my mind or life. In April 2012 just as the month was almost over with another good streak of good Aprils, BAM! The day this all came out and knocked me to my knees is unimportant, days & times etc are all a blur anyways. The tremendous amount of pain that hits a person when they hear devastating news that their husband, best friend had betrayed his family, more than once & I didn’t see it coming is unreal. Was it the drinking!? Would this all have happened if it wasn’t for the alcohol!? Why couldn’t our marriage be rocky 1st? Why didn’t we argue more? Why did I let my heart get SO involved and let my wall all the way down when I swore I wouldn’t years back when we got together? Why couldn’t we have been falling apart so my heart would have thickened and prepared for the end? Why was there NO notice? Sudden SUCKS! I feel like this would have been easy for me to walk away had I been preparing myself and I never got that chance. And then more questions that will never have answers came… What did I do wrong? Why wasn’t I good a good enough wife and why didn’t he talk to me before it went too far? Why was this family that loved him endlessly not enough to keep him from hurting us!? What was he thinking!? And the list goes on… Talk about feeling worthless and like the biggest failure ever. Not only was I divorced once, now twice, wow nice… NOT what I wanted to my children to have to go thru or witness. There are so many things I wish I could have protected them from seeing, feeling and hearing but the things we go thru in life either make us or break us and it is up to us to choose which path we will take, I have to say these children are fighters and have turned all the negative in their life into strength and power and dreams. They are what got me thru this, thru everything that has crossed my path in life. In the days & weeks to follow: no sleep, no showers, no eating, I couldn’t even think straight. Friends were stopping by to check on us and it was as if I wanted to run with my kids to a cave somewhere far away where none of us could be hurt by anyone and no one would talk to us.  Although I can say now that I am thankful for everyone support & love even when I tried to push them away. Everyone had SO many questions and I had no answers for them. And worst thing ever, nobody believed it. I had and still have friends and family that feel me ending the marriage was & is wrong, that I should “work it out” that I should give it time that I should be more forgiving that I should give him another chance that I should “think about the kids needing their father” and so on. I have never been good at doing what other people think I should do, they do NOT walk in my shoes, this is my life, my children’s lives I WILL do what is best for us and that is to remove us from heartache and pain. God gave me these children to protect, nourish and raise with morals and respect and that is what I will do. I have been asked over and over “What about your kids being raised in a broken home?” Excuse me!? What about our happy, fun & love filled, crazy most of the time, never a dull moment, loud, laughter filled house is broken!? If you can find something please let me know! Broken would be to stay in the negative ugliness of betrayal and heartache raising them to ignore hurt and pain and no trust! We don’t live there anymore! We are free!

I was now, overnight, a single mother of 6, 5 daughters and 1 son. They needed me, they needed me to be their strength and they were mine. They needed me to show them we would be okay. They needed & still need to know they have me and I will NEVER leave their side or betray them, ever… We needed to get thru this together and we did and we are. In the months that followed all this nastiness I had some tough choices to make, our house was being sold on short sale and I knew I needed to move out of it somehow someway with 5 kids still at home. Talk about raw knees from spending most hours of the days & nights on them praying endlessly for some guidance some light some hope, a glimpse is all I needed and God showed me so much more than that. I had emailed the wonderful couple that we had planned to rent their house in WA the week after this all happened and told them that my marriage had ended and that I would not be making the move, after all how in the world would a single mother pack up her 5 kids (and 2 dogs), pack up all our stuff, leave her oldest daughter behind, and move over 1600 miles away to a city with no job promised!? Ya ,sounds about crazy doesn’t it!? The home owners were sad and so was I. This house was meant for us, I felt it from the day I spoke to them on the phone and read their very 1st email to me offering their house to our family to lease for a year and to possibly purchase. I pictured our family there, living on the lake, enjoying our new surroundings, making the best of our lives in a beautiful place and starting a new chapter in our lives. My vision came to an end that nasty day in April. No way would I make it alone on the road and in a new place.  The home owners wished me their best and went about their lives as I tried to as well. What was I going to do? Where would we live? I started looking at houses in Tucson and it felt wrong in so many ways… Why am I going to allow this 1 person who has taken so much from us already take my dreams of moving to this place with my kids away!? I wasn’t!

Now it is the 1st week of June, I had cried and wallowed enough! It was time to take back my life and make things happen. I woke up at 2am and sat up and said out loud, we are moving; we are leaving this place and starting over. I WILL follow my dreams I WILL make a new life for my kids. Hitting my knees again praying for a sign this was what I was supposed to do I asked God to please show me something, speak to me thru someone anyone! I emailed the home owners figuring the house was long gone by then. Then I waited, I wanted to start looking for another house but I waited… 2 days and the home owner emailed me back. She stated that her father had passed away in May and they had been SO busy with handling their pain and his affairs that they had not rented the house yet and it was mine if I still wanted it. Thank you God! Here was my sign! I wanted to leave that day! But in order to do this the right way I needed to plan it out to the T so there were little surprises.  And I did, reserved the truck, bought and sold a bunch of cars to rack up my savings and planned a move date, July 17th. As the date grew closer I grew more scared. I have lived here all my life, all I know is right here and I am going to drive away from it all into the very unknown, YIKES! Preparing myself to leave behind my 19 year old child was HARD! Knowing she would be right behind me right after she was done with school and knowing all my friends would look after her and be there for her is what gave me the strength to go and not worry too much. My kids had SO many mixed feelings about leaving, of course leaving their friends was making them very sad but the desire to see a new place and be near the water kept them excited. Regardless of what they thought at that moment we were moving. I as their mother had to do what was best for them and me and staying in Tucson just wasn’t it. The movers came and we loaded our stuff on the 16th and emptied our house aside from what we packed in suitcases, the moving truck left the 18th. We stayed at my daughters for 3 days and nights spending every moment I could with her… The wee hours of the 19th we loaded up our suburban kissed & hugged and bawled like a baby as we were walking out the door and left AZ. There were countless moments where I almost backed out, even after the truck left with everything I own in it I wanted to back out but I knew I couldn’t and wouldn’t. We made it to WA on the 20th. I will never forget the feeling of driving to our new house thru the neighborhood and how speechless I was about the priceless beauty all around us.  And then pulling into the driveway and crying, not tears of sadness but tears of joy, tears of accomplishment, tears of gratitude… We are home, we are free, we will all be okay! When people ask how we did it, how we made that move, my answer “On faith & gasoline & the wings of prayer”!

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We have been here for 9 months. It has been an adventure to say the least, a wonderful one that will never be forgotten. SO elated that I am able to say that my oldest daughter and her boyfriend really were right behind us, they sold everything, packed their car and moved up here end of September! All my babies home where they belong, where we can grow together until their futures take them to new places and on their own exciting journeys! We are all new people in so many ways. It has taken me months to be able to go out in the community and make any connections here. I was happy to stay home, work from home and never go out (anyone who knows me knows that is SO NOT me!) unless I was shopping quickly. I was healing, growing, focusing, creating a new me from the inside out, etc. Little by little things are changing, I am now able to get out and have a life here. I actually have made friends in my community & Spokane and enjoy being away from home when I can be and doing my best to truly enjoying all this place has to offer.

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I have learned that nothing I did or didn’t do caused the end to our marriage and our life together. I refuse to own his mistakes & doings. This has been a huge thing for me to come to terms with and there are days that I still ask myself why but those days of sorrow come less and less and most of my days are filled with happiness and joy with my head held high knowing life goes on no matter how broken my heart is. When your life falls apart you can blame, make horrible choices, give up, etc or you can fight like hell for your happiness, peace and hope and turn what was once a tragedy into a blessing and see it as God’s push into something more than I could have ever planned for myself. He guided me here to this beautiful place in an amazing community, I have no clue as to why yet, but as with most things in time I will be able to look back and see how the plan was all laid out by Him. Our future is bright! The kids have SO many plans and dreams and I am so wrapped up in witnessing their beauty and lives, thank you God for another chance at life! I myself am working towards my dreams, I am creating a passion filled career where I can fuel and move others! I have always had “save the world” syndrome and now I will be able to utilize that thru my work, may not save the world but helping people is right up my alley!

People have brought up the fact that I was SO broken just 1 year ago and expecting me to say I will never date again and never love again, even heard that I may turn gay, LOL! I am only bent now, not broken. I do like knowing my heart is safe from being broken, I do like knowing I can’t be hurt or let down if I don’t trust again. I am in my safe zone, I am content to just be me and being single for as long as time & the man above allows, which could be the rest of my life. I need to allow God to guide that part of my life for me and right now He is saying be a mama to those babies and do your best and if and when the time is right He will guide me to someone special and if it never happens I am okay knowing that I will be surrounded by endless love thru my family, friends, children and their children and so on. I am okay with having 1 rocking chair on my front porch with my lap full of grand babies when I am old and gray if that is the plan He has for me.

I want to express my deepest gratitude to God for guiding me out of the darkness and into the light of life, to my kids for being the most amazing, inspiring, strongest people I will ever know, to Tammy for being the most awesome true spiritual friend to me and for always being there day or night to walk me thru the very dark moments & for always helping me see things differently, and last but not least to countless friends and some family who showed support to my family past & present & talked me thru many times of desperation and fear. I would not be who I am today without all these people in my life, I may not even be here if it wasn’t for them, everyone of them helps make life worth living.

Mama Bear Plus 6