Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Fitting In

left out
standing in a crowded room alone
none relate
start a path
that leads to nowhere
offer help
where yours isn't needed
an after thought leaves you like a new idea

choose a direction
that doesn't stop at a dead end

you won't know until you get there
that it's too late to turn around.

ending under isn't the same as starting over.

make your own space
a way your own
own the path your on
run your own race
jump off the track
slow down
ditch the finish line
you don't need to rush at all

Let the journey, the path, the trail, become over grown
don't pick the grass
step on it
trample it
it's hardy
it'll grow back
unless you stop watering it

fitting in isn't the same as a good fit

Friday, July 24, 2015

Friday Hike Day: Bridge to Nowhere {revisited}

Examples of the trail...dry, dusty, full sun, river crossing, sand, gravel and rocks.
Right before we finally reached the bridge, I think we were all feeling discouraged. My six year old had started whining and nearly crying. I was feeling frustrated and voiced my concerns maturely, "Freakin A! Where's the effin bridge!?!"

We first visited this trail last March and did not reach the bridge. We wanted to return ever since but knowing it's a very long hike, we didn't have the time until now. It still took some figuring but we did find the part of the trail that we missed last time, leading to the bridge. As I shared the first time, the hike is NOT stroller friendly in any way. One hiking site reviewer called this hike easy. No way. 

It's about 10 miles round trip from the parking lot. If you are in shape, hiking with other adults in shape, you may arrive sooner but it took us about 6.5 hours round trip and that does not include the time we took to eat lunch and swim. 

We made it this time!
Bridge to Nowhere.

We saw the private property sign welcoming us to the Bridge to Nowhere and felt excited--we had made it. Except it's still a ways and out of sight. It's really just the sign indicating you are entering private property and are welcome but not for camping, mining or digging etc.

Finally the bridge was there and we felt accomplished. The view is rather spectacular.

Hiking to the river, from crossing the bridge and down the side of the canyon.
I am so proud of our kids though. I mean come on--10 miles!?! My 6yo hiked 10 miles! While other adults were leery of joining us, my 6 year old was crossing the river and traversing cliff sides...for 5 miles each way!!!

Stopping for lunch at the river under the bridge was refreshing. The teens found a small but deep spot they could jump into. The water looked like a river of chocolate milk. It was muddy but cool. It was a very hot day. The trail is often in full sun unless you try to stay close to the river. The end to the bridge though, you can't stay near the river if you want to get to the top of the bridge.

We had a lot of water but I believe we still needed more. After the hike, at the base of the mountain, we each got a liter of cold bottled water and drank it down like nothing!

I strongly recommend hydrating the day before and bringing MORE water than you think you need..and more after that. For my family, we each brought a liter and we still felt thirsty. Remember, you drink it as you go so your pack only gets lighter as you hike.

A small waterfall and swimming hole below the bridge.
Also sunblock. I missed some spots and now have funky tan/sunburn lines on my arms, calves AND my scalp. My hair was split into two braids so my scalp is sunburned along my part.

This hike is not simply a long walk. The trail consists of ups and downs. There is some climbing up and over rocks. There are a few spots of stone stair like ascents and descents as well as large wooden plank stairs.

I know the hike could be more enjoyable if you start earlier, like very early in the morning. We've got two larger vehicles full of kids (and usually more!) so we just couldn't get out there before 11am. Peak sunshine and heat. I think it would be fun to return and not hike but just hang out at the river and swim. There is a trail leading from the gravel parking lot, in the opposite direction, to the river that looks like it would be relaxing.

Again we passed gold prospectors. We say hello, ask them how they're doing and keep moving. Most are friendly back, with a smile and one sentence chit-chat. We always use caution when hiking and that includes passing people on the trails.

When we encounter a potentially treacherous spot along a trail, we are shameless. We lay down our pride just as quickly as our butts when necessary. We are not ashamed to sit and slide down a steep descent, hold on to cliff walls and each other. We do not consider our hikes solitary endeavors...but that is a post for another day.

I feel proud of our kids. They are and were awesome. I wish my Bird had been with us though. She was out of town with her cousins. The river makes this hike fun, the trees beautiful, the climbing and endurance required adventurous.

We saw larger lizards and the most dangerous situation we came across was a very large black widow in a rock crevice we would have placed our hands as we climbed. Always stay aware of your surroundings.

Until next week...Be Adventurous! 

Monday, July 20, 2015

Belated Thoughts on Father's Day: Leave it to the Fathers

Helping the ktbunch create a gift for the Mr.
It came and went. I spent the day alone (aka: extrovert torture btw) while all the ktbunch went with their dad for the first time in I don't know how long. Well, let me not exaggerate, it wasn't a full day alone, only a few afternoon hours.

It's common to wish the opposite gender parent Happy Whatever day, when they are parenting alone. No offense intended, but statistics tell us, single parents are mostly women, mothers who are covering the majority, if not all, the child-rearing bases. We (yah, that includes me) are often told we are both mother and father.

It feels flattering at first. Except I'm not a father and I never will be. I no longer want to feel guilty for my kids not having the type of father they either used to, wish they had and deserve, not having a father who is around full-time, living in their home, honoring his wife, their mother. Then feeling guilty, over-indulging to try to make-up for what they are lacking.

The finished product.
No. I'm not going to play make-up-daddy anymore. I prefer to be the damn good mother I am and let my children's father answer for himself, or not. I refuse to try to be anything more than I am...

There it is. Maybe it's time for us to STOP being what we are not. Stop trying to fill in the gaps. There are always gaps. In the best of homes. Life is meant to have gaps. We can't shield our children from pain and suffering, ever. We can teach them how to handle it though. How to react to lack in their lives. Teach them the best way to respond to disappointments.

The only way I know how to do that is to point them to Christ. Recognize and acknowledge their pain instead of trying to discount or hide it. I want them to remember it, so they won't repeat it. We all know we often repeat the mistakes of our parents UNLESS we live an intentional life. I will teach them to live intentionally and take responsibility for their own choices.

I will remind my sons that they get a second chance at childhood when they have their own children. While their dad is not in their home, raising them, they CAN choose to be the dad that IS. I will remind my daughter...that there are no guarantees but she can live fearlessly when her hope is in Christ alone and love whole-heartedly.

I will relieve myself of that burden once and for all. I will not take credit for something I am not. I will take credit for all that I am doing well. If there is no one to give credit TO, then so be it.

I am a mother. I intend to continue to be a good one. I don't need the extra credit or thanks. I am doing what I am supposed to do.

So let the fathers have their day, good or bad. We all know who's who and what's what. I don't need to be what is lacking in my children's lives. I am going to play my role and quit picking up the slack for anyone else.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Church Lady: Wrap Skirt to Dress

This is actually one of those layered wrap skirts that I am obssessed with adore! Each skirt comes with a booklet tag that shows all the different ways you can wear the skirt as a dress, shawl, blouse etc.

After all these years of building my collection of skirts, I've barely started to try to wear them as a dress.

I did not follow the booklet this morning but winged it--it worked! I actually found this wrap skirt at the thrift store last year.

I think it really worked because each layer was the same fabric. They are usually two different fabrics.

I pulled the top layer up and tied it at the shoulders, then wrapped the bottom layer around my waist and tied. Voila'! It's been humid, but breezy and the temps are ranging from very high to a comfortable low. Last night it was pouring rain off and on and I thought I was going to have to wear pants due to it being too cold. Well, when I awoke, it was bright, sunny and very warm. Perfect!

I paired this 'dress' with another vintage hand-bag, a very neutral light beige. I wore earrings gifted from oldest, from the Philippines. My strappy heeled sandals (that I have literally had almost 10 years!). Finally, I added a very simple and delicate beaded bracelet.

There was no way I was wearing my hair down in this humidity...it wouldn't cooperate anyway. A bun works to keep it off my neck. I added a small metal and beaded flower barrett.

I'm usually more of a fan of knee-length skirts and dresses, or maxis but this midi worked for today. I encourage you to try something new. You never know when an outfit or piece that didn't work before, might work again in a different way.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Friday Hike Day: Monrovia Canyon Falls

Here are examples of the environment and the trail.

This hike was more challenging than expected. It was a hot day, though the trail has some shade, it is all uphill. I would not call this stroller friendly. Carry your child on your back in a back pack type carrier. Some parts of the trail are narrow and slippery. 

30 ft waterfall

Over all the trail is dry and dusty. There is a bit of water along the way, but the trail is not always close to it and the stream is very small...I suspect as a direct result of the drought.

The waterfall is pretty, but empties into a shallow puddle that flows to the stream you would have seen all along the trail. Parking is $5 for Monrovia Canyon Park. You can, and we did, park about .5 mile down the road in a residential area for free (read signs, watch for street sweeping days). There is also one restroom at the base of the park, first parking lot. (There may be more at the nature center.) There is also a drinking fountain with a pet fountain next to the ranger station, at the same parking lot. The water comes out hot and takes a while to cool off but it does eventually. 

I couldn't resist. Neither could my partner in crime...backbend/wheel pose on a log.
It definitely required me to let go of fear.

The park boasts a nature center. I believe it is farther up the road but we started the hike at the first marker and never found the nature center. Though I suspect we almost found it on the way back, when we took a wrong turn. 

The trail from the first parking lot is about 1.5 miles. ALL uphill remember. There are a few wooden beams...I though these were supposed to work as steps but I realize on the way down, that I think they are to help you keep from slipping.

We saw a deer and her fawn over the fence along the Sawpit Dam Trail, on the way up to the park. We also saw lizards but mountain lions and bears are a real concern...there are warning signs.

The narrow trails and stream crossings lend to a bit of adventurous feel and the steep climb scores points on the adventure scale. Over all, this was a beautiful hike and great work out. 

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Church Lady-Casual Red Dress

I love when my daughter doesn't tell me my bangs are out of sorts. 
This is one of those dresses that you can just throw on. Literally. It feels like you walked out the door in sweats except it's a dress. Haha. I believe this is a jersey knit fabric--someone gave me the fabric years ago, then I made a dress out of it. It has a nice and easy drape to it. The deep red color can not be beat.

I paired it with an old favorite bag that features Mickey Mouse on one side. You know, my favorite open toed black heels and black skinny belt. Vintage black necklace you've seen before and beaded black drop earrings that are hidden by my hair. 

Excuse the black slip. It doesn't show when I am wearing the dress.
Now that I am intentionally paying attention...I've noticed I gravitate toward the same jewelry. HHmmm...I might have to go through my stash and toss all those pieces that I obviously never wear! 

Friday, July 10, 2015

Friday Hike Day: Thurman Flats Picnic Area {revisited}, Mentone

Yes, it was THAT gorgeous!
This week we returned to Thurman Flats, the same place we went last week. This time I did NOT lock my keys in the car. Haha. We had more time to explore. Instead of following the stream downward, we went upward this time. The kids came upon this sort of man-made pool. The stream had shallow swimming holes every so often, but this one had a plastic tarp like piece of plastic over the small rock wall, creating a dam, thus producing the pool.

The water was so beautiful, nice and clear. We could not believe it. It was mostly shallow all along the edge, except for the very middle, which went to about our waists.
It didn't stop us from jumping in and of course it didn't stop all our Adventure Kids.
No one wanted to leave when it was time. The kids swam the entire afternoon. 

After posting the first pic on Instagram, many people asked where we were at and what the hike was like. This wasn't much of a hike, honestly. The picture above gives an idea of the terrain. Rocky but flat. No big hills or boulders to climb over. There are a few creek crossings. 

Adventure Moms
Of course we jumped in too. We have a video on Facebook, of course. The water was a bit shockingly cold. But none the less fun. It was quite a relaxing afternoon.

More terrain pictures. The water was shallow and if we didn't mind getting our feet wet, we could have just walked in it to get across. 
Above is another example of the terrain...a stream crossing. Reminder: parking requires a one day $5 Adventure Pass. There is a picnic area to the side of the parking lot with lots of tables and benches and also vault toilets. They are maintained but...just don't look down inside.  

I am so glad we went back. The kids swam the entire time and no one wanted to leave. I don't know how long that man made pool will remain...take advantage while you can. 

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Fear, Anger and Fireworks

MY freedom...my Liberty!
One of those moments you aren't prepared for. Everything inside, you were trying to repress all day suddenly goes hay wire and escapes with out your permission.

His sparkler shot out at me, right into my arm. The searing pain signaled my brain it was ok to release everything that had been held in. I screamed as I did a strange dance, believing I was catching on fire or about to.

I felt shaky--the fight or flight adrenaline rush in full affect. My knee-jerk reaction was to scream and punch him in the shoulder.

He had a great time swimming.
I don't know exactly why I felt so tense, to begin with, but as the fireworks started it only got worse. Maybe it was the lack of control...illegal fireworks shooting around me-who knows where they might land or which one would be the one that required an ambulance to come speeding down the street for the night's reckless tragedy, or what other unpredictable predicament the neighborhood may find itself in.

I kept taking deep breathes, reminding myself there was nothing to fear. Kids were lighting small smoke bombs with blow torches. No one else seemed to mind. In the end, I found myself apologizing for being upset that I was hurt and reacted with an uncontrollable emotional response.

Asking myself later if my emotional outburst was even warranted. I don't know. How do people normally react when they are unexpectedly struck with something that is burning/on fire/spitting embers left and right?

Maybe they are much more emotionally controlled and calm enough to assess the immediate moment with out second guessing. Maybe they have no fears and nothing to be angry about. Or maybe my reaction was a perfectly normal one to have when you think you might be on fire? I feel concerned that I don't know.

This incident reminds me of one reason why I never purchase fireworks and we always go to professional firework shows.

Before all that, we spent the afternoon with friends...typical barBq, pool and sun. The kids have really gotten closer since we've been hiking together every week.

I have a *thing* for photo booths...
There were other potential plans, that had become somewhat of a tradition, but to be honest, I wasn't up for it. Too much pressure to pretend our family is something we're not...and pressure to pretend we are friends with people we really aren't. I decided to go where it would feel emotionally and relationally 'safe' for all of us, with friends that we could relax with.

We had a great time over all. I really wanted to go to Knott's afterward to watch the firework show there but I ended up feeling so exhausted. Maybe from the adrenaline rushing...

Church Lady-Maxi Skirt

I went to the local fabric shop to find something to make for myself to wear on Independence Day--there was nothing. Somehow I left with this reversible polka dot-striped knit.

I thought a maxi skirt would be perfect enough for it. I prefer the polka dot side but switched it up for the waist band, which is folded down.

I wore a hot pink T. There's that white vintage hand-bag again. Flip-flops sounded good for 4th of July weekend, didn't they?

Beaded white necklace gifted from oldest, black/silver dangle earrings favorite white bracelet that you can't even see!

The extra great thing was the fabric was on sale plus I had a mobile coupon. Considering the fabric is reversible, I basically got two skirts for about $8. I sewed it together right before church...as usual.

Later, I treated the ktbunch to an afternoon at the movies to see Inside Out. Excellent film by the way.  (and I am not a fan of kids movies)

This might be my new absolute most favorite item of clothing! It is super comfortable. Great for church if I feel like dancing in worship. It's almost like wearing sweats I think except not wearing sweats. haha.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

I Think My Angel Has Tattoos?

I was already 2 hours behind schedule, I thought I had gotten lost twice, I passed the visitor station so my sister-in-love had to go back down a ways to get an Adventure Pass (parking)...to top it off...before she returned and before we even began our Friday Hike Day--I LOCKED MY KEYS IN MY CAR!!!

I could not believe it. Well, isn't that everyone's response when that happens? There they sat, taunting me from the front passenger seat. Ugh. No cell service, nearly two hours from home...Every door locked and window shut.

I lay my forehead against the dirty window and prayed. With all faith, knowing there was no other solution--I KNEW God would make a way. I KNEW He would help me. Somehow, someway...because there was NO other way.

A few rangers pulled into the parking lot and parked, but none approached us. We were obviously distressed. Other cars rolled in, stared but no offers of help or check ins to see if we were ok.

My sister-in-love took apart her car sun shade and pulled out the springy wire. Middle son pulled a strip of twine out from being caught in the door and a bobbi pin. We were ready to MacGyver this!

We got the wire in the window but it was too springy to grasp the lock. I kept praying, knowing the solution would come.

Another car pulled in and a woman got out and hollered over at us, "Need some help?"
"Yah, do you have a Slim Jim?" I asked.
A guy pops his head out from the back seat, "No, but we have better tools than you."
He was right.
He spent the next hour twisting and bending a dip stick he had in his car, to make it possible to grasp the car door lock and pull it up to unlock.

Each time that wire touched the lock, I said another prayer, knowing it would grasp it. When it finally did, a huge, "THANK YOU!" escaped my lips.

I gave this shady looking guy, with the dollar sign tattoo on his hand, who I am sure I never would have spoken to in real life, the biggest hug!
"YOU were the answer to the my prayers today!" I told him.
He was so nice and not once did he even display any impatience at the situation. He was only there because his friend had forgotten his sunglasses the day before...they returned to see if they could find them.

You bet it was a divine appointment!

I was most amazed at the faith and peace I felt within me the entire time. No fear, just peace, in knowing for sure God was going to rescue me and work this situation out.
I have to ask myself WHY I don't have such faith in other areas of my life?
Especially the situations, like this one, that have NO foreseeable solution.
I don't know the answer to that myself.
I feel challenged.
Lord, increase my faith.