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

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Park Play

We're enjoying some local parks lately:

 And, our children are gorgeous. 
How is it that we have these 3 little cubs? 
Ah, yes. Love.

Love, Lauren 

Friday, February 21, 2014

Luke is One !!!

Yes! I used three exclamation points to emphasize just how astounding it is that our baby is ONE!

This little sweet, handsome boy enjoyed a simple "cars" themed birthday. Tim was extremely excited to bring down all his die-cast cars and set them up all over the house. We had Hot Wheels everywhere and I think it was particularly fun for him to have a "boy" birthday party.

Luke samples the Hot Wheels confetti:

We choose to dedicate our children on their 1st birthday in front of family and friends who might actually be in our life for a long enough time to call us out and encourage us in the parenting department. Tim reads Luke's dedication and we had the two grandpas pray over him and us.
It's not easy turning ONE. Everyone wants you to smile and laugh. As with most of life so far, Luke was kickback, relaxed and having fun.

A special bond: the only son of an only son of an only son. Happy Tim has a little man to balance out the estrogen in the house. 

Cake by Lauren. Micro Machines by Tim.

 With Nani: a year earlier, she was much surprised to hear the words "He's out!" from around the corner of our bathroom wall. So happy she's been able to attend all 3 of our children's births.

 Yum, homemade chocolate devil's food. I let my kids eat real cake on their birthday.
It's their birthday for crying out loud!

This is how he kisses: sloppy and sweet. I am in love with my little sonshine.
Happy Birthday Bukey.

Love, Lauren 

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Meet Ellie

Tim has always loved cars. He has many cars in his imaginary garage. One of those cars has always been a 4x4 vehicle. After months of casually--but consistently--looking he had his eye on a few Land Cruisers. We had gone from Broncos, to Jeeps, to CR-V (my idea…some pumped up off-road CR-Vs are awesome!) to FJs in all years, price ranges and conditions. He finally settled on the Land Cruiser because of the ability to have 3 carseats in the middle row and the available third row. He was in talks with a guy in San Diego for a charcoal grey one, but I was sick preventing him from meeting up with the guy; his next scheduled meet-up was postponed because his Dad needed some help chopping wood. To me, it seemed frustrating but to my trusting husband it was just fine that it didn't work out. The Lord prevented that purchase and instead sent us on a trip to LA to visit my friend Christina, who had just delivered her first baby girl. On the way home from that trip, we were able to stop in Whittier where we met “Ellie”, a forest green 1995 Land Cruiser that was pretty much ready to go. We weren’t going to need to lift it, do a bunch of repairs, change out tires or much of anything. Because we don’t have a bunch of time for projects around here; our kids are the work of our hearts-it’s hard to squeeze in too much more. “Ellie” was so dubbed by the owner previous to the guy we bought her from. The guy who sold us the Cruiser was really cool, about our age and told us that the man he bought her from had cried when he sold her. He was totally attached the the vehicle but had to sell her for some reason. He had named her “Ellie” and it was just girly enough for our girls to latch onto. Plus, the chance to tease Tim by calling his manly truck “Ellie” was just too good to pass up. So, we’ve been out and about enjoying our blessing. The sale of our Chevy covered the entire cost of this purchase, including registration, taxes and insurance and we’re very excited to have a third vehicle. Tim was tired of me heading out for groceries in his 1989 Toyota truck. If he took the girls somewhere in the Honda and left me at home with Luke, I had no option but to take him in the truck somewhere. It wasn’t the most preferred situation and we are so thankful that now we have a safer option for off-road and the occasional separate driving issues.

The hills behind Temecula Creek Inn:

Our girls love being out bumping around:

All 5 of us went out on a really cold and windy day. I love Luke's face in these next two (well all kids' faces but especially my sweet baby's expressions!)

It was a very cold day (poor baby Lukey):

On another trip, we went up Nate Harrison grade to Palomar Mountain. The pic is blurry, but Madeleine had the best look of anticipation on her face. She rolled her window all the way down and braved the cold to enjoy her ride. 

At Palomar State Park we checked out Doane Pond. I was frozen, but the girls loved splashing in the puddles. The clouds were like phantoms through the trees and they were moving very quickly.

My poor baby: I forgot to pack him gloves, but he didn't seem too bothered. He just cooed and talked and looked all around, he seemed to enjoy this trip too. His little personality with preferences in coming out more and more as he approaches one year old and I'm still surprised he's so OLD already. When he starts walking, I think it will really start to hit me.

Doane pond with my cubs:

Speaking of cubs, Tim told us that for the first time in over a decade, they have had a bear sighting on Palomar. Madeleine latched onto the idea and used it to excite herself and her sister by pretending to be followed by bears, or hope to see a bear and even had a bear hopping on our roof. Although we didn't see any bears, we enjoyed watching some deer. Our dogs went almost out of their minds (see Roscoe in the mirror) but the deer didn't spook and we were able to watch them graze. They are so beautiful and graceful. I love their large soft ears. 

At the Palomar Observatory, we watched a video on SOFIA, a 747 NASA uses to take pictures of star formation and interstellar medium. We saw the 18" telescope and the 200" telescope which Corning/Pyrex made. Well, the glass was made by Corning/Pyrex and it took over a year just to cool once it was cast! 

This boy is THE cutest. I adore him. He is my sonshine….just lights up my life.

 Our ride home through Pala:

Thanking God for Tim's patience and persistence to find us a wonderful vehicle within our budget parameters and with all the details he felt were important. I'm learning to value his patience more and more when it comes to buying vehicles. Every one of his decisions has brought good to our family, and I am sure that "Ellie" will continue the pattern.

Love, Lauren 

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Mr & Mrs Valencia

January 4th, my brother was married to a beautiful lady that I now call my "sister"! We were all in the wedding, except Luke. My mother-in-love and sister-in-love (Lori, not Leigh) took care of him all day so we could be part of the festivities. Going off Facebook at the start of the year has made it difficult to obtain photos! It's a little crazy how easy Facebook made connecting with people in a convenient, albeit creeper-ish way, so I do admit that I actually had to sneak onto my husband's account and snag some of the photos. Ha! So, enjoy!

Photo: Robin Ruckel Curby

This is so cute! My husband is so beautiful, look at the way he is welcoming Leigh into the family with a nice arm around the back. He is the ideal man. Oh, and the baby and the bride are nice too! =)

The girls changed into a little more playful clothes to dance and twirl on the floor.

Photo booth!

Tim was like, "Was that a bug?" Yes, Tim, the race is on to make a bug. HA HA!

Off to married life!

 Congratulations! You both look amazing, but of course, what happened is more amazing: two lives joined as one for the purpose of God's glory. Enjoy all the pleasures that marriage brings.

Love, Lauren