No Place Like Home!

The title of this post has a double-meaning, really.  It’s so great to be back home.  And, I do LOVE my home.  But, it was also great to be back in my first home — the place I was raised my entire life.

There’s something so relaxing about vacationing in your former home.  We had grand visions of visiting San Francisco, heading to the beach, and so on… Instead, we decided to lay low and enjoy times like reading books with Grandma on her bed…

…Or drinking Grandma’s famous chocolate malts…

…Or playing piano with our siblings…

…Or eating Cheerios off the floor.  These are the fun moments to remember!  Personally, I was also able to take long walks through the hills where my parents live, take some naps, and do some school planning… all while the girls did VBS at my parent’s church or played with Grandma!  I am so blessed!  Oh — and one more little blessing on my trip.  I got to meet-up with one of my favorite bloggers.  How fun is that?  Darcy from Just a Night Owl met me for a fun dinner and for just one night I got to be a night owl, too!  🙂 Darcy, you are awesome and I wish we lived closer!


Leaving on a Jet Plane!

I can’t believe I’m blogging… just one hour to go and I head to a friend’s 40th birthday, and then straight to the airport to head north for my brother’s 40th birthday.  Oh — and I’m flying by myself with all 4 kiddos.  Yikes!  (Pray for me!)

  • movies – check
  • snack – check
  • goody bags – check

Not sure if I’ll get a chance to blog up north; if not, I promise I’ll have some fun stuff when I get back!

Perrier Painting

Just by looking at these pictures, one would probably think, “Wow — what a fun morning!”  And, indeed, this was the highlight of our morning.  Sometimes you just need a craft!  To be honest, I hadn’t even planned it, but I noticed our empty water bottles left out from the night before and remembered seeing something similar on Pinterest… it just turned out to be a blessing in an otherwise difficult morning.

What you don’t see in these pictures is what you can’t hear; the whining.  Oh, this morning was hard.  Hard, hard, hard.  See this sweet girl below?

She truly is as sweet as they come.  She also happens to be as stubborn as she is sweet.  And, when it comes to doing something she doesn’t want to do, (especially when food is involved), she has issues!

Last night she refused to try her dinner.  It has happened before — and she has gone to bed hungry.  Most nights, I end up helping her finish her plate, which is also difficult when I have a 2 year old to cut food for and a baby to feed.  She is 5 1/2… it’s time she finish her plate, without complaining, by herself.  Well, last night she wouldn’t even try a bite.  Not a bite!  I gave her a time limit as I often do, only her consequence is usually no dessert — this time, rather, it was nothing else to eat until she finished her chicken and half her broccoli.

Twenty-five minutes passed as I sat with her, and then I excused her.  We had a fun night outside and she went to bed hungry.  This morning, while the rest of us were enjoying some oatmeal blueberry pancakes, I presented her with her dinner.  I told her I would warm it up just once when she was ready.  I warmed it up — she refused to eat.  Hours upon hours of whining, crying, fussing — it is by God’s grace I did not cave.  A constant “Why, why, why???” echoed in my ear. She hadn’t eaten since our 11:30 lunch the day before!

By 1:30 she caved — 26 hours!  Tonight she actually apologized and was so sweet, once again. My sweet, sweet, stubborn, stubborn girl.  God has big plans for her! 🙂  In the meantime, try the craft; it was a lot of fun!


Ok, my “Sound of Music” fans… sing with me… “How do you solve a problem like Sierra?  How do you catch a cloud and pin it down?”

Oh, my sweet girl.  If you’re not throwing your strawberry stems in your sister’s water or spinning your brother in his exersaucer until he looks pale, we may find you ripping pages in books or putting on mascara or pulling the cat’s tail.

You’re two.  That’s all.  You’re learning.  You are teachable.  I’m so thankful you respond to punishment.  I’m thankful for your tender heart.  As naughty as you can be, I think you cry harder when your sisters are punished than yourself!  Oh, and you’re funny.  Truly a natural comedian in addition to your two-year-old funnyisms.  (I made up that word!)  There’s no denying you are cute.  God made you that way.  You love to sing!!!  I could listen to your precious songs all day.  Right now your favorites are “All I know is I’m not Home yet,” and “Mighty to Save.”

I can say in all honesty, I am not ready for you to grow-up.  If you could sleep better, that would be helpful.  But, I am not ready for you to stop calling yourself “Siwerwa,” or for you to stop calling videos “Biddywehwos,” (long story on how that one came to be!)  You  are precious.  And, you are one smart two-year-old!  I love your cuddles.  You are by far my biggest cuddlebug!  In all your craziness… in all your naughtiness…in all your two-ness, I couldn’t love you more!

Happenings, Updates, and Milestones… oh my!

My oh my does time seem to be flying by.  Mid-July?  Really?  Here’s a quick update on the kiddos as of this summer…Allison, (or number 1 as we sometimes refer to her), has finally learned to ride a bike without training wheels.  Woohoo!  Truly, it was our fault that it took so long.  She wasn’t all that interested in trying, and we simply didn’t take her.  For some reason, I was starting to feel a little stressed about this; silly me!  She is also becoming an excellent swimmer.  She definitely gets practice everyday!  Her newest “trick” is her backfloat.  Way to go, Allison!  And, she is a big help with all our living creatures, whether it be catching bugs or lizards, petting the cat, letting the chickens out, or watching her sister or brother!

Malachi… sweet, sweet boy!  He is a very strong sitter now; (doesn’t even need the boppy).  Because of his new-found skill f sitting-up, he is very content by himself with a pile of toys while I cook.  This is a huge help and relief to my back!  He also cut his first tooth, and it looks like more will follow very soon.  As with most of my kids at 7 months, he has fallen into a schedule that is somewhat predictable which makes life a little easier for me.  And,, his “big trick” is clapping on command.  Oh, it is so precious.  He is in 12 month clothes and very tall for his age!

Seeser Beeser Boo… I believe I can say she is officially potty-trained.  (PHEW!!)  She has been by far my most difficult in this category.  There’s just so much to say… I believe she will get a post of her own, soon!  In this picture, I told her I was going to check on… and in my brief hesitation, she said in her silliest voice, “Muhlockey???”  Yes, she has a sense of humor!

Recognize this girl?  This is the second time she came oh so close to having her hair long enough to donate to”Locks of Love,” when she decided she couldn’t wait any longer and had to cut it.  As a parent, I was torn as to whether or not I should allow her to, or make her wait.  In the end, (obviously), I decided to let her make the decision.  She loves er new style, and is feeling quite adorable these days.  She has also become an amazing swimmer for a girl who was afraid to put her face in the water just a month ago.  Leaps and bounds, I tell ya!  And, she cannot wait to start school.  Every day she begs me to let her start her math.  Again, I am feeling like a silly mother, but I told her she has to wait… because, quite frankly, I am not ready; Ha!

So, there you have it!


I walk up the stairs carrying Sierra in one arm and a basket of laundry in the other.  I realize she is far too heavy to carry these days, but it just seemed like arguing with her would take more energy out of me than simply carrying her.  As we make the climb, she asks, “Mommy, what will we do upstairs?”

Me:  “We will help Natalie clean her room while Allison practices piano.”

Sierra:  “We listen to music, mommy?”

You see, Sierra knows of this little pet peave of mine.  I tend to get overly frustrated when cleaning with my girls.  Mostly it’s due to the fact that they are chronic mess makers; probably not unlike most kids.  Anyway, I ALWAYS turn on our praise and worship music while cleaning to keep me calm and make it fun.  It doesn’t always work perfectly, but it definitely always helps!

This particular day, I can feel my blood start to boil as I pick up one thing after another that Allison so easily could have put away.  I am about to yell at her to stop practicing piano and come help us when I notice it.  This LONG paper is hanging from her bed.  I go in for a closer look.

It begins like this: “Who I’m going to pray for”  Say wha — Where did this come from?  My heart immediately jumps.  I want to study it further, but I know it’s better to take pictures first while she is still practicing piano!

So, I snap away and smile, smile, smile.  SO precious!  And, what a reminder to me — is it really important that she keep her room perfectly clean, or that her heart is kept tender towards those she loves and prays for?  Of course, she needs to help keep it clean.  I find that to be an important trait, as well.  But, it doesn’t have to stress me out so much.  What is the big deal, really?  All on her own, she is doing something of far greater importance!

She included good friends, as well as friends and relatives we hardly see.  And the people of Greenland and Iceland?  Can’t say I’ve prayed for them, recently.  🙂

And, funniest of all was finding my own name.  “Mom” is indeed not forgotten, however I fear I may have been an addendum.  You can find me at the very bottom in very small letters.

Well, at least I made it!  Thank you, Lord, for these reminders of what’s important brought to us by our precious children!

Bunt Thit Nuong

As adventurous as I like to think I am when it comes to eating, I do find that certain restaurants just beg me to order the same thing every time I go.  For years, every time we go to my favorite pho (pronounced “fu”) restaurant, I have ordered the shrimp and pork soup with egg noodles.  Daniel even taught me the proper way to eat it, with a spoon in one hand and chopsticks in the other so as to eat both together.  While this was all nice and dandy before kids, I can no longer use both hands to eat as I am usually nursing a baby or feeding a toddler with the other hand.  So, it was time to change things up a bit.  That’s when I discovered Bunt Thit Nuong.  Because it is a cold noodle dish, (perfect for summer), I can take my time and not worry about my food getting cold, and it only requires the use of one hand!

Of course, I had to come home and look up the recipe online.  To my delight, I discovered it is actually rather simple to make!  Granted, mine doesn’t taste quite the same — but it is good, none-the-less!  Here is the recipe I found:

Bunt Thit Nuong

serves 4, prep 30, cook 15 min, adapted from Une-deux senses

  • 2 lbs boneless pork shoulder, thinly sliced (you can have your butcher do this for you)
  • 5 tbsp fish sauce
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 8 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp cracked black pepper
  • 1 package rice stick vermicelli noodles
  • carrots, julienned
  • cucumber, julienned
  • basil leaves
  • mint leaves
  • cilantro
  • romaine or butter lettuce
  • bean sprouts
  • roasted, salted peanuts, crushed
  • Nuoc Cham (see recipe below)
  1. In a large plastic bag or bowl, combine thinly sliced pork, fish sauce, sugar, garlic and black pepper.  Allow meat to marinate at least 30 minutes.
  2. Bring a large pot of water to boil and cook rice noodles about 4 minutes or until soft. Drain and rinse with cold water.
  3. Grill pork over a flame until cooked through and charred at the edges.  Allow meat to rest while assembling salads.
  4. Assemble salad with lettuce, herbs, vegetables, and noodles.  Thinly slice pork and add it to the salad.  Top with crushed peanuts.
  5. Serve with Nuoc Cham.

This classic Vietnamese dipping sauce serves as your salad dressing and is also great alongside summer rolls.

Nuoc Cham

makes 2 cups, prep 5 min

  • 1/3 cup fish sauce
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 tbsp lime juice (about 1 juicy lime)
  • 1 tsp sambal oelek
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 carrot, julienned
  1. Combine all ingredients in a jar or bowl and shake or stir to mix well.  Store in the refrigerator.

As you may have noticed from the picture, I left a few ingredients out.  In fact, not until I posted this did I realize I forgot the peanuts — doh!  I even bought some just for this recipe.  **sigh**


It’s All in the Little Things

As much as I love bento boxes and muffin tin lunches, I am usually in a hurry just to feed my kids as fast as possible so I can get the littlest ones down for a nap. I was making lunch the other day, when an idea occurred to me… to help my wraps stay tight, I could use a toothpick!  And, not just any toothpick; my fun summer toothpicks I found on clearance for 30 cents.  Such a small touch… nothing fancy at all!  But, what an impression it made on the kids!  It reminded me of when I was a kid and we would get one of those fun umbrellas in a drink at some restaurant.  It just felt so special.  It’s just the little touches, you know?  Lunch was enjoyed and gobbled-up without complaint.  And, it was special without taking any extra thought or time.  Hooray for simple ideas!

Scenes from the 4th of July

Oh, I just love the 4th of July… after all, what’s not to love?  Blueberries, strawberries, watermelon, friends, swimming, fireworks, bbq…

Our friends weren’t coming over until the afternoon, so I had to try to divert the question, “How much longer until they are coming?” all morning.  We made pancakes, took pictures, did a little decorating, and then went for a walk to our two favorite places: the “Rock garden,” and the horse stables.

The horse stables we discovered a few months back tucked away in a little neighborhood about a half mile from our house.  The kids go crazy running from stable to stable to see all the horses.  Their favorite is a miniature horse named “Star.”

On another note, we never put up the gel cling window decorations until the day of the holiday to avoid them being ripped=up by a certain little curly top.  Even so, our poor gel clings didn’t make it past mid-day!

Finally, our friends arrived…

Swim once, swim twice, swim three times… Finally, the kids were exhausted!

The dog and cat had fun watching.

And, Uncle Brock provided much entertainment with his flips, dives, and other crazy antics!

Love my friends, my family, my house, my country, and my God who paid for my ultimate freedom!

Missed having my husband home… but he did save a life at work!  That was pretty exciting.  Perhaps next year he can join us, and the kids will be able to stay up for street fireworks, and not just those far away shows they can spy out the window!

July 4th Flashback


I don’t do many flashbacks, but since I take pictures of my kiddos decked out in their red, white, and blue each year I thought this would be kind of fun.  Here are my kiddos over the last five years:

July 4, 2008

July 4, 2009

July 4, 2010

July 4, 2011

July 4, 2012