Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Happy Birthday Madeleine ~*5*~

It's Throwback Thursday, and it's time to remember the day we became Mama and Dada to our sweet little lady. First-time mamas…it takes a long time to move an 8 lb baby our your body, but I was not prepared for 36 hours of labor stretching over two days. Madeleine arrived after 4 hours of pushing, which accounts for her terrific cone head. As a third-timer and as one looking forward to helping other women deliver their babies, there is an enormity to motherhood. Sometimes both the awe-inducing wonder and the crushing weight of it combine to obliterate all sense of what I knew about myself. But that same power then speedily retracts all those bits back together and I'm more myself than I ever knew possible. It is amazing. And Madeleine is amazing too. So thankful to have her, and all my babies, those with me, and those yet to come. Madeleine Jael, born at home 7:39pm 7 lbs 15.5 oz 21in.








First birthday at our home where she was born: Bergon Bungalow. We did a huge pool party with ocean-theme. Found a picture of my Gramacita in the mix and am so glad she was close enough to be at every event. I was already 4 months pregnant with Grace.



Year 2 was a Hello Kitty picnic at the park near our Chantilly home.




Year 3: a cat party at Bergon Palms. I was not even 1 month pregnant with Luke.


Year 4: A pool party at Valencia Villa
  


On the day of her 4th birthday at the Berry Farm 2013. It was here that Tim and I went to walk around in hopes of getting labor started. She was born the next day. We return around her birthday year after year just for fun. 
We love you Mads.

Love, Lauren

Monday, May 26, 2014

My Gramacita

This beautiful lady passed away last night, May 25, 2014 in her home with family by her side. We celebrate her and all that the Lord has done in and through her. She will be missed, but we're rejoicing in her joy. She's finally home, seeing the Lord's face and though we don't get to see her, Madeleine put it succinctly: "I'll see her again." That is our hope: the realized expectation of heaven and following our Master who conquered death and demise forever.
Beatrice Marie Tafolla Valencia 
April 16, 1924- May 25, 2014

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Cocos Fire

To all responding heroes, and especially our hero:
Our prayers are for you.
Tim: We love you, the cubs miss you. I am working hard at home to be worthy of the service you are doing. It wasn't in our plan, it's not easy…but it is our life sometimes.
I love you so much; can't wait to see you soon.

                                                                                                                       

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

April 2014

Our family went to Lake Skinner to celebrate Tim's birthday. It was hot the first day, but cooled significantly the next day, even so…we enjoyed a totally empty splash pad, which was actually a little eerie. The clouds settled in the morning and we took a long walk/ride to the lake dock. 

 Tim brought our bikes and he towed the girls around the lovely green campground the first day.

"Cheese princess." That's how G likes to say "cheese" for the camera. 

Just one night out there and yet, SO MUCH STUFF!

The nxt day we took in the Splash Pad which was deserted. 

My oh-so-yummy-sonny and equally yummy-honey:

Luke is getting to be a big boy--too big--he's turning into a "kid" more and more each day and I am sad to say that I really don't want him to grow up any more. I was recently buying a few shirts for him and realized that I was needing to shop in the "toddler" section and my gut-reaction was, "Luke's not a toddler!" but I guess he is, since he's actually toddling everywhere. How can my son, my little baby, be into 18 month clothing already? He's just a little guy! I could just snuggle him all day and I love holding him. He's still nursing--our longest stint so far amongst the three- and he just lights up the room wherever he goes. 
He has also taken to reading with the girls at night, though he might need to re-think his placement if he actually wants to HEAR any of the story. 

Tim turned another year older and wiser this year. He asked for a cherry chip cake with cherry frosting. Admittedly, it was the girliest cake he's ever received, but I had a new Wilton cake decorating tip and had seen a youtube video on making flowers, so what's a wife to do? It was delicious regardless of the overly feminine grandeur. 

These ladies are best friends and are having quite some fun in their pretend play. Imaginations and stories and scenarios run wild in our home and most days they just can't get enough of the other. I'm so blessed and joyful that having close sisters is going far better than I could have hoped. I really adore these two and their love for each other (and their "baby brudder").

We made a trip to the OC for some new contacts for me, and ended up making a day of it which included the beach. Everyone had a wonderful time and the girls loved dancing and splashing.





We ended the night with a little ferry ride across to Balboa Island. I love G's face and point:

Our Madeleine had a strange bout with a virus. She woke up sick and proceeded to stay sick with no eating, no bowl movement and no fever for three days. When Tim came home after his 72 hrs away, we took her to an urgent care where she immediately reveled in all the attention and perked up, playing the pleasing princess and smiling and being sweet to everyone. Due to her lack of fever, it was a difficult virus for us to diagnose, the fact that no one else was sick and her inability to keep anything down (even water) led us to take some aggressive action in regards to an x-ray and her first encounter with a needle! She was not a fan of the blood draw. She rebounded quickly enough to go to Legoland a few days later. 




This little man spends a little too much time in the high chair. It kinda happens that way when you're the third child and you're prone to getting into things when Mama is distracted with others or has a task to do (like make your breakfast, lunch or dinner). Sometimes he gets a little bored:

And finally, everyone strike your best pose! Ha ha, my girls are good at the chin tuck. 
And that was most of our April, save Legoland which I'll post on it's own another day.
Love, Lauren

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Happy Mama's Day!

A poem that I recited for my mom at Kindergarten graduation:

“Only One Mother”

Hundreds of stars in the pretty sky;
Hundred of shells on the shore together;
Hundred of birds that go singing by;
Hundreds of bees in the sunny weather.

Hundreds of dewdrops to greet the dawn;
Hundreds of lambs in the purple clover;
Hundreds of butterflies on the lawn;
But only one mother the wide world over.


-George Cooper

And this lovely sentiment that was in our church bulletin:

To all mothers:  You are loved. 
Now go have a rockin' day!

Love, Lauren

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Temecula Creek Hills

Tim often takes the littles out 4x4ing. Or, as Gracie likes to call it: 4byrunning. So cute. I think because we use to own a 4Runner…

Sometimes I go with.

Lukey-bah-dukey and his Dada:

Our sweet little ladies on the "top of the world":

My man and my man child, Luke is quite the imp, cracking himself up with playful interactions:

Our family on "the new top of the world":

Love, Lauren 

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Why I Hope My Children Never Watch Frozen (or most Disney Princess movies)


Have you ever had the experience of inundation? Where it seems like every circle in your life coincides on some similar theme? Maybe you saw a commercial for a new car, then had your husband surreptitiously point it out on the road and then the same make and model is brought up as a talking point at book club. Or maybe you started eating some new, hip vegetable. Not kale, kale is so last year. Oh, I don't know, let's say escarole or purple carrot or fennel. Whatever. So you're chomping raw fennel when someone pins twenty fennel recipes and then Dr. Oz (is he even still on?) highlights fennel and then you see a grocery ad that features fennel on sale! Okay, so you get the idea of inundation. At least that is what I am calling it. So it was for Tim and me regarding Disney's newest Princess feature: Frozen. We were being inundated with the have you seen its? In fact, just this morning at Pre-school story time at the Temecula Library, a little girl was prompted to tell Ms. Ginger what themed birthday party she would be having. Can you guess? Frozen.

So, after Tim heard some co-worker fathers singing the Frozen songs, and I got through about three seconds of a hideously nails-on-a-chalkboard attempt to watch a viral video, and we heard from family members on both sides that it was "cute" and "fun and good", Tim rented the video from Redbox intending to screen it for our girls. 

So, what is wrong with Frozen? Well, there are lots of simple little points. On a base level, it is very dramatic. From the swelling music to the mean prince who betrays Anna, oh and the scary ice monster that chases Anna and Kristoff and the non-sequitorial reaction of Elsa to completely lock Anna out (I get it, she's "frozen") FOR YEARS. That's probably enough already to keep me from letting my 4 and 3 year old watch it. But what's really wrong with it? Here's my issues:


1. Parents are unnecessary and even dangerous. 

This is not a new idea coming from Disney. In fact, where is there even two good parents? It's almost not a Disney movie unless the parents are dead. And if you parents aren't dead, they are stupid (Belle's father), controlling (Triton, Chief Powhatan, Jasmin's father, Mulan's father), abusive (Cinderella's step-mother and Snow White's step-mother) or just gone (Rapunzel's parents, Sleeping Beauty's parents, Cinderella's parents). I cannot speak for The Princess and the Frog or Brave since I have not seen them, but I am sure they follow a similar plot line. For Frozen, in particular, the father is so controlling and fearful that he essentially steals away the relationship between the two daughters and mentally steels his eldest in a cold, dark, frozen world where she can never do anything to hurt anyone again. And the mother is so passive and weak that she is willing to go along with the destruction of the family for the sake of safety? I'm just not even sure what the mom is thinking.

2. The independent-self is glorified.


It is only once the victim is able to break free from her chains, see herself for who she truly is and negate the need for others or community can she become her actualized self. It was particularly succinct for Tim and I when we heard Elsa sing these lyrics "Don't let them in, don't let them see/ Be the good girl you always have to be/ Conceal, don't feel, don't let them know.../Turn away and slam the door./I don't care what they're going to say…./Let it go, let it go/ You'll never see me cry/I'm never going back; the past is in the past." First comment: that's rude. If my girls ever slammed the door in each others' faces or had the attitude that they don't have to live in community nor even care about that community, I would hope we could dialogue about that. Second: What kind of attitude in face and demeanor accompanies a heart filled with such selfishness? It's easy as mothers to see our children's hears come to the surface: it's in their faces, in their actions and it's evident in these scenes wherein Elsa changes into the ice-queen. She slicks back her hair, struts seductively through her castle and gets to reign supreme with none to bother her. 


3. Elsa never apologizes. She shouldn't have to…


This is an ideological crux in the movie: Elsa is justified in her actions because of her past history. In the same above mentioned song, Elsa also thunders: "No right/no wrong/ no rules for me." And because she has found her true self, no one can question her decisions. She has only herself to answer to. This premise leads her to abandon her queenly duties, including approving her sister's marriage. Although the supposed marriage was better off not recognized, it's a minor note about what Elsa truly does. Much like Kate Chopin's Edna of The Awakening, Elsa's character is powered by her own selfish interest with not much thought to the wake of destruction she leaves behind. But, isn't this what the roaring feminist wants? To never apologize for being "bossy" (popularized by Lifetime). To never need answer to anyone else but her own heart. When you only answer to yourself, you don't have to apologize for hurting others. Now I don't know about you, but I am constantly shepherding and discipling my children in the art of forgiveness and apologizing--the act of admitting you were wrong and in need of restoration--is something we are constantly working on. I apologize all the time to my children. Why? Because, I'm wrong. I sin. I give in to the temptation of frustration and agitation. I make mistakes and because I value the relationships I have with my family, I ask them to acknowledge with me the transgressions my actions have caused and restore the progression toward godly peace and unity. That flies in the face of society opposed to judgement. Judging is a tool, like a pencil. It is a lens we use to determine moral from immoral and identify. One can pick up a pencil and send words of healing or gratitude or record history or create new worlds and yet, another ail pick up the same pencil and gouge their freaking eye out with it. The pencil isn't destructive in itself. But to judge, one must be willing to make an assessment of actions and deem them either appropriate and acceptable or not. This necessitates an objective to which the action is evaluated. You don't get a high mark on an essay and not know why. At least not in my class. Why? Because I have a rubric of assessment that is measurable and more objective than a simple "feeling" I get while grading a paper. I make judgements every day--in very simplistic ways and in much more critical life-altering junctions too-- and I do judge other Christians. I leave the judgement of unbelievers to the Lord Jesus Christ. Regardless, what Disney and society purports at large is that judgement should have no place in life. Elsa must be forgiven and tolerated and accepted because she is free under her own right. She has rescued herself from a prison and is not bound to anyone's evaluation but her own. 


Ultimately, the movie is far too frightful and the morality far too convoluted for children. Personally, as a Christian, I would not want my daughters to see this movie. Not because I believe Elsa is a lesbian coming out, as many articles suggest. Not because there are no diversity of people groups in this snow-bound movie (everything is white. everything.). Not because they would be frightened by scary parts and very sad to see the two sisters fighting and Elsa fatally wound Anna. I wouldn't want any girl from a Christian family to see it because Elsa epitomizes a humanistic anarchist who is in need of rescue. Of course, I can see the argument for Anna's Christ-like archetype, but we don't need to glorify Elsa's depravity with sparkles and magic and slutty shimmering dresses. And that is the problem. Elsa is beautiful, she is a princess. She is magical and little girls want to emulate that. 



I wasn't going to write this blog, but it was actually an article from the Atlantic Monthly about a father's struggle to keep all things princess out of the house that pushed me over the edge regarding the Princess/Frozen/Disney conundrum I was skirting of the last month. He details how he didn't want any Disney-licensed characters around, he tries--in vain-- to escape what he calls the "Princess Industrial Complex". But in the end, it's his desire for a career-minded daughter that swells under his fervor to eschew all things sparkly-princess. I couldn't help but laugh at the similarities between his quest and our own as parents. We have tried for years to keep the girls away for Disney princesses. We didn't tell them their names, we gave away the books we received as gifts, we have avoided Disneyland and obviously, they have never seen a Disney princess movie. All these attempts crumbled away as the girls started to read, and as their interest in all things Disney Princess grew. Princess books showed up time and again in the nightly bedtime reading and I couldn't pass up the costumes at Costco for Halloween. Then Gracen wanted a Disney princess party...even though she's never even seen a movie. We caved. But the reasons for our desire to avoid princess and the author of the article to avoid princess couldn't be more different. He argues that he wants his daughters to focus on careers and cast off the princess "trope [that] represented passivity, entitlement, materialism, and submissiveness". Instead they should focus on what Abby Cadabby learned in a conversation with Sonia Sotomayor in a Sesame Street episode: "a princess is not a career. "A career," Sotomayor explains, "is a job that you train and prepare for, and that you plan to do for a long time."


And here comes the divergence from Disney and Hinds article: Almost every little girl loves princess stuff and innately wants to be a princess. I do want my daughters to be princesses. I am a princess; because I am daughter to the King of kings. I am His beloved in whom He is well pleased and should my daughters eyes and hearts be open, they will submit their lives to Christ and become princesses too. And I want my princesses to be trained and prepared to rule in a way that is godly, merciful and just and to do it for a long time. So, in a sense, I do want them to be career princesses. Regardless of whether they are in school, at home or on a job, my girls should conduct themselves as daughters of the king. Unlike Elsa, who shirks her familial obligations in search of herself, I hope my daughters can see the error of this path. They must be so aware, so found in the identity of their self in Christ that they realize that servanthood, not selfishness makes a true princess. That living in community, not isolation makes a true princess. That love, not fear makes a true princess. 

I hope all who read this and claim Christ will re-evaluate whether Frozen will be seen more than once (if at all) by their own princesses. 

Love, Lauren