Greetings neglected readers!

This going a week in between blogs is simply not going to do.. Its not that I don’t want to blog, or that I don’t remember to blog, its just that there are these four little girls…and their handsome daddy…and they seem to require so much attention.

David called and interrupted my blogging as I typed that last line. I kid you not. But like I said, he’s handsome, and he gets away with so much because of it.

Speaking of David, last week he convinced me to start Jillian Michael’s 30 Day Shred. By “convinced” I mean I walked into the living room, found him halfway through his first workout, and every fiber of my competitive being cringed at the thought of him getting a day ahead of me. So the next day I casually jumped in beside him and almost killed myself pretending that I wasn’t about to die on the floor in a puddle of my own sweat. I know I’m not in shape. You may know that I’m not in shape. But in my mind David has no clue that I have been sitting on the couch for the past 10 years nursing and napping while my body forgot that it was ever an athlete. So Jillian and I have been spending every morning this week trying to find the muscles I once had. And then making those muscles wish they were never born.

I have been eating a lot of stuff like this…

Instead of cheesecake and Doritos like my thighs are begging for. I think they are sensing their demise.

All this to say, if you’re looking for a good workout, the 30 Day Shred is where its at. But don’t consult your thighs before you start, because if they’re like mine, they will try to convince you that eating counts as exercise.

We received a delightful surprise on Sunday when my sister and her adorable family came to watch the super bowl with us.

I could eat them with a spoon.

Or maybe that’s my thighs talking again..

This little precious came too.

.

Please pretend the bottom of my fridge is clean and notice instead the love letters he was writing to me on the door. I’m his favorite.

I also bought the girls patchwork quilts off of ebay this week. They decided they needed them after reading that Laura and Mary had them in Little House on the Prairie, and I couldn’t have been happier to oblige.

This one is Bella’s and its my favorite. Although I love all three..

I’m going to leave you with some pictures of Dayly loving on her baby. The lighting is awful, and they may be out of focus, but her love is obvious. And with it being almost Valentine’s Day I thought we could all use a little lovin’.

So track down your loved ones, get them in a headlock, and slobber all over their faces.

I’m not good at titling my blogs.

Its been a few days since my last blog..

I have been outside smiling at the sunshine and taking deep breaths. I almost feel guilty for the gorgeous weather we’ve been having while the rest of the country is knee-deep in snow….but in a few months we will be wilting in our 100 + degree weather while the rest of the country is enjoying much milder temperatures.

So it all balances out…and I go on smiling at the sunshine.

This past weekend I completed my first of hopefully many article submissions for the April release of Blush Food and Living Magazine. The thought of seeing my words in print feels like a dream…the kind of dream you have after eating corndogs too late at night…where you can’t decide if you’re excited or scared out of your mind..

Only I’m fully dressed and fully awake, so I’m guessing this is what it feels like to have your dreams come true. Many thanks to my amazing Mother, David, Jen and Chris for believing in me and convincing me that I can follow my dreams of being a writer.

As the release date gets closer, I’ll tell all you locals how to get your mitts on a copy of this amazing magazine. And for all you far-off friends…I would recommend moving to Redding before April. Kidding. I’ll do my best to hook you up with a copy too if you’d like…but definitely still try to move here.

Other than the article and smiling at the sun, here’s what I’ve been up to..

Ducky and I made a delicious salad from a recipe we found on my friend Rachel’s blog. Every week she posts a menu, shopping list, and recipes for a week’s worth of dinners. Its like an easy button for women. Thank you Rachel. You are a saint and my few struggling brain cells thank you.

I taught the girls how to hang diapers on the clothesline.

Look at my little lamby. Such concentration. I could crawl through my screen and kiss her precious face off. Kallai noticed this week that her and Guinness have the same color eyes and I think it made her week. And the excited little quiver in her voice when she told me made mine.

She came up with this on her own…and I laughed so hard it echoed across the lake.

Dayly update: She’s still adorable.

And because I know my Mom reads my blog and is madly in love with all my girls, here’s a little Bella-Love for you Mom…you’re welcome.

I’m off to kiss my babies and wash a dish or two. Happy Groundhog Day!

Germs vs. Rays

Whew.

This morning I feel like I’m peeking out of my storm cellar after a flu-tornado, wondering if it’s safe to hike up my apron and venture back out onto the farm.
…maybe I should lay off the Little House on the Prairie books for a while..

The germs came to visit on Saturday night. Fevers, vomiting, congestion. Blek!
If Lysol carried a disinfectant bubble bath, I would be soaking in it right now, sipping a Lysol cocktail.

This week I found the things I didn’t do more important than the things I did do.
I didn’t push schoolwork.
We watched Liberty’s Kids, Beakman’s World and Mythbusters. Which took care of History, Science, and…myth…busting.
I didn’t push chores, and yet the house stayed surprisingly tidy. Probably because everyone inside was bundled in blankets on the couch, and the healthy energetic ones were outside in their bathing suits digging up and naming worm-babies.
Nurturing comes in all shapes and sizes in a house of all girls.

Rest in peace Fi-Fi Earthworm.

I love having the option to drop everything and focus on the girls feeling better again. With no pressure to accomplish anything other than rest. And laundry.
Oh the laundry.
I’m considering implementing a family-uniform. Something simple…like bathing suits.
I know I’ll get the worm-whisperers vote..

I’m so blessed to have my saint-of-a-husband who slips me vitamin C love notes before leaving to take care of all the errands. Allowing me to be here, where my heart is, to be coughed, sneezed, and napped on.

Other bodily functions also took place on and around me this week, which I will give you a moment to ponder now…
Ok, that’s probably enough pondering. I’ve learned that when it comes to pondering children’s bodily functions, less is more.

I’m happy to report that everyone slept through the night, and there’s not a fever in the house this morning.

We survived!

Let’s not forget the ones who didn’t survive this week.
Fi-Fi and the germs.
(sounds like a band)

Not for the faint of heart

Warning: this blog contains graphic, real-life mommy situations. If you are pregnant, have a weak stomach, or are a man, please use caution in continuing.

What a week.
I’m talking about last week, because I’m still trying to recover from it.

On Tuesday I discovered that Bella had tightened her earring back too tight and her earlobe had begun to grow around it. As I assessed the swollen ear, I found myself thinking, “A good mother would be constantly aware of the condition of her daughter’s earlobes..”
And I may have gone on not knowing about the problem, but God literally told me, “Carli, look at Bella’s ears.”
And so I did.
After a small tug-of-war, and the help of the Electric Company and the purchase of a new iTunes app to distract her, I got that earring back where it was supposed to be.

I may need a sozo to get that experience out of my mind…blek.

And to keep the good times rolling…
Dayly was on day five of having not pooped.
Let me just say, that when your child doesn’t poop as regularly as they should, it does something weird to you as a mom…it’s comparable to holding ones breath…for five days
Due to her surgery at birth, followed by two weeks of antibiotics and TPN’s (IV nourishment), her sweet little baby flora is all out of whack. She eats incredibly well, but digesting all that food and getting rid of it is posing a problem for her.
So on Wednesday we took her to see her wonderful chiropractor. He taught me to massage her tummy and told me to get some probiotics (which my lovely friend Marcelle Benedict had already suggested) and explained why Dayly’s little body was having such a hard time digesting. We headed straight to Orchard, and gave her a dose of probiotics that same evening. Followed by a second dose the next morning.
Then she and I read some books and chatted about the weather and Dora while she perched on a Blue’s Clues potty seat on the big toilet.


Many thanks to a posterior homebirth delivery of Bella for the toilet inspiration, it worked.

Exhale…

She proceeded to go a few more times that day, which was fantastic! What wasn’t fantastic was that, because she had been so constipated, she was now bleeding with every diaper.

And…holding my breath again.

The pediatrician said that a small amount of bleeding was ok, but for me to keep an eye on the amount. It gradually became less and less, and was completely gone by Friday night.

Exhale..

Which was good because she came down with cough and fever on Saturday.

*GASP*

Here’s to an AMAZING week this week, with lots of happiness to blog about that will make up for this blog :)

Adventures with ooblick

So I introduced the girls to ooblick (corn starch and water) today.
Fortunately the kitchen already needed to be cleaned…so I didn’t feel like it made a whole lot of extra work for me.
It did, however, bring me loads of enjoyment watching them…and photographing them.

Kallai's first reaction
Bella's first reaction
....and Ducky's first reaction...she was born to act
Sometimes I forget to feed them and they're forced to eat their craft projects..
Ballerinas can be so dramatic.
Wha...? How'd this picture get in this blog..? Oh yeah...I'm in love with her and she missed the ooblick-fest while napping.
Sheer disgust.
At this point we lost our minds and thought it would be fun to dump it out on the table..
They come, they make a mess, they leave.
All is right in the world again. Cue Hallelujah Chorus.

Another thing I can mark off my list of childhood favorites to share with the girls :)

comfy clothes and creamed spinach

Our van has been broken for a week now. Which means I
haven’t left the house since New Years Eve. Which means if I were a
9 year old I would be telling everyone within earshot that I
haven’t left my house since LAST YEAR! Not leaving my house for a
week has posed a few problems of varying intensity. My attire has
become a problem…I have worn jammie pants for a week straight.
Yesterday when I decided to go for a walk wearing jeans instead of
my M.C. Hammer inspired pajama pants, my body completely rebelled.
I think I got more exercise playing tug of war with my waistband
than I did power walking the lake trail. Another problem my lack of
mobility has caused is that I haven’t been able to run to the store
for fresh fruit and vegetables. We have apples…but this girl
needs a little variety. A few days ago, in what may have been
either a moment of weakness or a stroke of genius, I did something
that I am only mildly proud of. I surveyed Dayly’s ample supply of baby food, chose my favorite fruit, and pounded that jar
like a shot glass. In the midst of all the boring apples I had been
choking down, it was like manna from heaven. I have
exercised self control and limited myself to only one jar a
day…one precious jar of organic-goodness a day. Which I consume
in spite of my children’s moaning and gagging. These girls
apparently don’t understand the importance of a balanced diet.. The
good news is the van will be fixed tomorrow. Which means I will
have no excuse for wearing pajamas and eating baby food. I suppose
I should be excited… Maybe I’ll celebrate with a shot of sweet
potatoes..

reminiscing

I just realized, that in my haste to document all the lessons I’ve been learning, I have withheld from my blog the beauty that was and is my childhood.
So buckle up…or maybe I should say saddle up…you’re about to take a trip back to a small farm in the 80’s.

Now where to begin…

Up until the age of 8 or so, clothing was optional in my opinion. So as you read these accounts of my childhood, you can pretty much assume my attire consisted of 1. Panties -and sometimes- 2. Shoes of some sort (black patent leather dress shoes or my mom’s rubber boots were my favorites)
Our mini-farm had different livestock during different parts of my childhood. Goats when I was an infant. Cows when I was a toddler. My sister’s pony “Teddy Bear” and my pony “Winnie” when we were around 5 and 7 years old. Followed by sheep, and several more horses as I grew up.
Most of my memories with the ponies take place in the summertime. Probably due to the winter weather keeping us indoors most of the time. I do remember brushing Winnie down in the winter though. Breaking apart dirt clods that were matting her winter coat and sharing sugar cubes with her while I braided her mane. These moments were only teasers though for the fun we had together in the spring and summer months.
It only seemed normal then, but as I look back on it now I realize just how magical our neighborhood was. We lived just a half mile or so from one of the best riding areas in our town. Other riders would trailer their horses down our street to get to this place, while we would simply throw on a bridle and be there in minutes. We referred to this wilderness area as “the park” because if you went far enough on the trails you would end up at the local park.
I remember laying flat on my horse’s bare back while it grazed on grass and weeds. The smell of freshly chewed grass, horse hair with a hint of fly spray, and leather mixed together to create the fragrance of summer. There was word that there were a pair of bobcats and possibly a mountain lion that lived near the river at the park, which gave our rides an added element of excitement that only fear can bring. We would lay in the sun for what felt like hours, our heads on the horse’s rump, our feet nestled in their mane. At a moments notice we could be upright and racing along at full gallop, but the hot summer sun usually kept us in this position. Staring up at the clouds, picking the wild grasses and chewing on their crisp, sweet stalks.
The thought never crossed my mind that life would lead me away from those summer afternoons spent adventuring…
Now I find myself hoping that life will return me to those days.
I have an entourage of little ladies needing to experience the freedom of the country.

Here’s to a happy NEW year

So I’m a total truth vs. lies junky. I just love finding
lies and dumping a heap of truth on them. The latest lie I’ve been
giving heck to is this: women that spend their lives thinking
they’re only good for cooking, cleaning, and tending to their
children…and men who believe they’re only good for bringing home a
paycheck. Ladies: Dream…Love…Create…Nurture. Men:
Dream…Create…Fight…Conquer. Don’t believe the lie that you
belong in a box. The house will get clean, the kids will be fed,
the bills will be paid more successfully if you are working from a
place of passion. You were created for more than place-holding. You
were created for more than the mundane. Clean your house. Feed your
kids. Deposit your paycheck. Dream. Hope. Live! Happy New
Year!

Slowing Down

My pastor said something a few months ago that has changed my life. He said “being overly busy is a symptom of an orphan spirit”.
My initial response to this statement was “Boy, I know a few people who could stand to hear that…” which I’m learning is my response to most things that perfectly describe me.
So fast toward to the moment when I realize this lesson was for me too. It’s actually rather comical the way it was brought to my realization…so I’ll share it. My sister and parents moved away when Ducky was less than a year old. This popped my tight-knit-family-security-bubble, and my orphan spirit was born. I have been extremely blessed to have many, many amazing friends, as well as very wonderful in-laws to help fill that void, but there’s just something about having family of your very own. Recently, an amazing couple, who I’ve known for 15 years + asked if they could spend time with our family and love on our girls grandma and grandpa-style. My heart leaped! Yes!!! They can come hang out with us and I can finally stop needing my parents back! I thought. So a good time for them to come for dinner was being discussed…well go figure, I had my life so jam-packed with being busy, that I could barely fit them in for dinner! That’s when God gently reminded me of what my pastor had said.
“Being overly busy is a symptom of an orphan spirit.”
Ah. It wasn’t just a good word for others anymore…it was for me.
So I have been slowing down…ish. I’m realizing that being busy isn’t just a physical thing. I can be sitting perfectly still and still have a busy mind/spirit. Constantly trying to distract me from my feelings. Constantly trying to prove that I’m good enough. That’s another thing that family gives you – identity. So while a friend of mine might have a pile of unfolded laundry and be contently watching a movie. I would have a pile of unfolded laundry and be watching a movie in shame…that I was not a good housekeeper. The unrest that comes with an orphan spirit goes beyond the physical aspect. In a healthy family atmosphere there is grace. There is love. And those things become a part of your identity. Grace and love become your motivation. An orphan spirit tells you that the person you are is not good enough…so you have to compensate with your actions. Without a healthy identity there to tell you who you are…you believe the lies of the orphan spirit.
So here it is Christmas. The perfect mash-up of a busy season, and a stronger-than-usual-desire for family. It’s an orphan spirit feeding ground!
I’ve found myself a few times chasing after the false identity that comes with being busy. It’s so accepted this time of year…almost encouraged! I suppose it makes sense in a world so full of orphans..
Well I am proud to say that as I sit here and blog this, I have a pile of laundry beside me and a sink full of dishes in the kitchen! I’m getting there! Giving that busy orphan spirit the boot every chance I get.
So this Christmas I encourage you friends…slow down. Feel life again. There is love to be felt. There are lives to be touched. Your life deserves to be touched…so slow down so it can be.
Merry Christmas :)

A special thank you to my dear friend Alicia for encouraging me to slow down and write this blog…it was necessary :)

2010 a year to remember

I decided to blog our Christmas letter this year instead of
printing one out to send with our Christmas cards. So here goes!
2010 began with me sick and pregnant and David laid off of work.
This easily could have meant extra stress, but God is good, and He
gave us an extra portion of grace when we needed it most. David
took over half of the girls schooling as well as driving them to
their Wednesday classes. He’s my hero. In February, David and I
celebrated 9 years of marriage. They say time flies when you’re
having fun, and our marriage is no exception. David is my knight in
shining armor, my best friend, the most handsome man on earth, and
he tells me he’s rather fond of me as well! In March our sweet
Kallai turned 6. She is growing into such an amazing young lady.
She completed first grade last year, a year early, and so far this
year her charter school teacher told us she’s never seen a child
quite as gifted as Kallai. She is flying through 2nd grade now, and
reading at a 5th-6th grade reading level. Her other interests are
gymnastics, soccer and dance. She has been given such a sweet,
tender heart, and shares it with everyone she comes in contact
with. Dayly Hope was born three weeks early on March 31. For a more
detailed account of her birth and recovery from a diaphragmatic
hernia, please see my blog entitled “Dayly’s birth and first 2
weeks” Dayly is such a joy. We are all incredibly in love with her
and celebrate every milestone as if she’s the most talented baby on
earth. She gets to visit her amazing surgeon every 6 months, giving
us reason to praise the Lord all over again when she receives a
good report. April and May flew by as we recovered from our stay at
UC Davis. Again God’s grace was poured out on our lives as we
healed from the emotionally draining events following Dayly’s
birth. Many thanks to our friends and family for all the prayers
during that time. We literally felt as if the entire city of
Redding was carrying us on their prayers. In June I turned
30…which oddly enough feels exactly like being 17 except for the
4 children that call me mommy. Bella also has a birthday in June,
and she turned four. Bella is our princess. She is girl through and
through and we absolutely love her for it. She is known to wear her
pearl necklace to bed on occasion, and high heel dress-up shoes
work with all her outfits. Bella loves to cook, and I often find
myself having to sneak into the kitchen to make meals by myself,
for surely if she hears a pot being pulled out she can have her
hands washed and apron tied at a speed comparable to a firefighter
responding to a fire. Bella has plans to dance in the Nutcracker
someday, and I have no doubt her dream will come true. In July
David turned 28. He went back to work at Kingsway Sales and
Marketing after we got home from the hospital with Dayly and
continues making websites on the side. He enjoyed the opportunity
this past summer to design a fire suppression system for the
helipad on an oil drilling platform off the gulf coast of Mexico.
God has blessed him with wonderful work opportunities this year,
both fun and challenging as well as financially blessing us. Yet
another example of God’s goodness during otherwise trying times.
Ducky turned 9 in September and started 4th grade. She is growing
into such a beautiful girl both inside and out. She helps with her
sisters more than I could ever ask her for. David and I constantly
thank God for giving us such an amazing oldest. She sets such a
high standard for her sisters to look up to. Ducky loves the
theatre. She was given a part in the first ever Bethel School of
Ministry production “Wynter’s Kiss” in February. Followed by her
second role in Christian Youth Theatre’s production of “Robin Hood”
this November where she expanded her stage experience by singing
both a solo and a duet. As this memorable year comes to a close, I
find myself feeling only blessed by everything we were given this
past year. Four healthy daughters. A family (both blood related and
spiritually related) who covered us and carried us when we needed
it most. A marriage that came out on this end of the year even
stronger than before. Finally, and most importantly, a Father in
heaven who isn’t happy staying at arms length from us. My prayer is
that God will increase his presence in all of our lives in 2011.
Much love from the Ray Family! Merry Christmas!