Cakies and Ice Cream

Following the blog of a stranger is rather interesting.  If you follow long enough, you kind of feel like you “know” them.  Of course, you wouldn’t continue to read unless you felt a certain connection.  All that to say, last week I read on one of my favorite blogs that the blogger was going to be at a city nearby me doing a little craft to promote her sewing book.  I was excited not only about doing a free craft, but meeting the sweet lady behind the blog Cakies.

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She is the real deal.  Very sweet, and a lot of fun to talk to!  It was pretty crazy seeing her adorable little ones that I’ve watched “grow-up” on the blog.

She also happened to recommend an ice cream shop around the corner, and it truly was incredible.  I highly recommend A La Minute!  The orange honey and the salted caramel were both incredible.

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We decided to take this opportunity to visit with some dear friends who  also happen to be “pen pals” with my girls.  (2 of our 3 girls even share the same birthday!)  They met us for ice cream and then the kids had a blast just playing and window shopping through the fun historic district.

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Fun craft.  Meeting a blogging “friend.”  Yummy ice cream.  Seeing good friends.  It was a blessed day!

Hail in August!

Yesterday was one of the craziest weather days ever.  The day before it was super hot.  Then yesterday it was much cooler, but totally sunny.  We spent the morning cleaning up the backyard.  That afternoon; sudden thunderstorms including hail!  (And we were just about to go swimming!)  Instead of grabbing swimsuits, we grabbed umbrellas.

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Back to School 2014

It’s no wonder the kids get excited about back-to-school.  New supplies, new incentives, and on the first day… new treats!  In previous years, we’ve done rolo pencils (2013), homemade donuts (2012), apple oreo pops (2011), and pretzel crayons (2010).  This year I decided to do rice krispy apple treats, as well as the pretzel crayons.  Last time I made them, Natalie was 3 1/2.  She is now 7 1/2.  The day before school, we went to Trader Joe’s and I subtly grabbed a bag of pretzels.  Immediately, Natalie exclaimed, “Are you making crayons?!?!?”  Obviously, they made an impression!

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I had one child who had a tough time going to sleep, so preparations didn’t begin until 9pm the night before.  I almost skipped the pretzel crayons, but poor Natalie would have been so disappointed!

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My kids are big on making origami “fortune tellers.”  So, I was super excited to find these.

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They look like “normal” pancakes… but these were a new adventure for us.  They are Russian Oladi with apples.  (You can get the recipe here.)  They were really tasty; kind of reminded me o sourdough pancakes with apples.  We won’t make them often, because they take an hour to rise and of course my kids woke up at 5:40am they were so excited about school.  Crazy children.

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Last year the kids each chose a style of washi tape, and then made their markers their own.  This year we did the same thing because it worked great all year.  If there was ever a marker on the floor, I knew exactly whose it was.

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Oh, how I would love to be a perfectly planned mama.  But, even on the first day I found myself coming up with things as we went.  This year, I am having the kids go through a morning checklist before school starts.  One thing it includes is either reading a devotion and writing one thought in their devotion journals, or reading a chapter in Proverbs and writing one of the verses in their journals… all before breakfast  Of course, this being the first day I hadn’t told them about this yet.  And, since they were up at the crack of dawn and the Oladi needed to rise for an hour, I had to think of something for them to do while waiting for breakfast.  I had them each read a chapter in Proverbs and pick a verse to write on the board for our first day.  God is good!

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On their own they decided a parade was in order to commemorate this day.  (Notice one child is missing… ’nuff said about that!)

And, that was our first day of school!  As always, I hope to share lots more in the school year to come!

School Pictures 2014

We did it… we made it through the first day back to school!  Honestly, it went really well.  My kids are a blessing, and I am so thankful to be their teacher!  I am beat, though.  When is Labor Day?  🙂  Ok, ok, here are their school pictures with signs designed by them:

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Oh, Sweet Seesers.  I promise the tongue was her idea and she has never seen Miley Cirrus.  This is going to be quite a year!  More pics and stories to come…

It’s THAT time

Sierra woke-up this morning with a sad face.  What could possibly be wrong after a good night’s sleep?  She told her sister, “Mom said yesterday was the last day of fun.”  Awww….

What I said was it was her last school day with total freedom to do what she wanted before we started school on Monday.  Perhaps I didn’t phrase it the best… I definitely want to make school as “fun” as possible.  Not through entertaining, but by my demeanor and excitement for learning.  Of course, I have some fun planned to kick-off the first day, as well.

To be honest, I am (finally) excited myself.  Just a week ago I was afraid I would never be ready for school this year.  But now I think I am finally ready for a bit of a routine, and all things fall-ish to begin.  Back-to-school supplies are ready, the classroom is as clean and organized as it will be until next August, and I think my preparations for our new journey are ready.  What is our new journey?  We will be joining a Classical Conversations community this year.  I am excited/ nervous for so many reasons.   I felt like last year I finally had a good system down for school.  Why change a good thing?  Then I heard about Classical Conversations and knew God was tugging at my heart.  I know it will be great for us… this year was going to be different anyway, as my youngest girl will be joining us for school.  But it is the unknown, and I am ready to get started!

One preparation that was suggested to me by my incredible friends who have already been on this Classical journey was to use dividers in my teacher book… specifically 25.  I went to Target and found nothing.  (Well, nothing I needed, but everything I didn’t need.  Darn Target!)  Then it hit me… I could make my own!

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I have a 3-ring punch.  I have card stock, washi tape, and Sharpies… and that’s all it took!

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On a side-note, we finished up our last week of vacation with a family bike ride.  This weekend I plan to tackle the laundry and meal-planning, and then we’re set!  Hooray for a new school year!

Ramen Burgers and Future Husbands

Dear Girls,

Tonight at dinner I told you I thought marrying a man who makes ramen burgers and grilled peaches is very important.  You laughed.  (Sort of)  Of course I was kidding!  (Sort of)  You promptly responded with how you were going to marry a Christian and how that was most important.  I smiled on the inside; (and out!)  You are correct.  SO correct, my darlings!  Having a Christian Worldview and knowing Jesus personally are THE MOST important characteristics in your future husband.

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That being said, let me tell you what else you should look for.  Just look at your Dad.  Today he paid for a housekeeper to help keep this place clean and to give your mom a break.  While the housekeeper was working away, he took you bowling… and to Costco… and to lunch… AND to Chuck E. Cheese.  He got brought you home just in time to make dinner.  All the while, he allowed for me to have an entire day to organize and plan for school.  What can you gather from his actions?

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He is a HARD worker.  He loves his wife very much.  He loves his children very much.  He is fun.  He is an excellent cook.  He is not selfish.  He is generous and kind.  He is extremely patient.  He is cool-tempered and not easily angered.  Children, your Dad possess a lot of incredible traits that I pray you will look for in your future husband… even if you don’t care about ramen burgers!  (Though I know a ramen burger-making husband is high on Natalie’s list!)

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And ladies… I know you will make wonderful wives and moms some day if that is God’s plan for your life!   Keep seeking Jesus and trust Him with all of your hearts, and He will give you the desires of your hearts. (Ps. 37:4)

What!?!??

If this were my first child,

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I may have cried upon encountering this scene.  Now?  I run for my camera.  It’s these moments… the precious, silly, messy, 2-year-old moments that disappear so quickly.

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This boy loves all things building/ messy/ science-y.  Toys?  Planes?  Trains?  Not so much.  His favorite pastime is to find household items and “fix” them.  He wants to b just like his daddy.  He is just like his daddy.  It’s hard to get mad at this little face:

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Sea World 2014

This week was suppose to be our first ever family camp in our local mountains.  We were beyond excited until we got the call this past Thursday; it seems our crazy day of rain in August, (something that never happens here), caused mudslides up at camp.  I waited a day to tell the kids because I was so disappointed and didn’t want to pass that on to them.  Plus, that gave Daniel and me time to come up with plan B… and we did!  On a side note, my kids handled it so well!  My oldest even brought up Romans 8:28; her favorite verse.  Sometimes disappointments offer important life lessons, and in this case they also provided a wonderful back-up plan… Sea World!

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 The Flamingo Parade was a fun surprise.  It’s a bit strange to suddenly notice a flamingo walking by you!

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 The dolphin show was a favorite for all of us!

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We bought fish to feed the sea lions, but I think only 2 of the 5 made it to the poor sea lions.  The crazy birds swiped the rest!  Just check out the picture below:

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The kids actually got to touch the dolphin… I was a bit jealous!  🙂

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 We actually made 4 shows, plus the dolphin encounter, flamingo parade, and most of the exhibits.  It was a packed day!  The kids went down to the front to get wet from Shamu.  They weren’t disappointed!

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We arrived in San Diego the day before and spent the afternoon swimming in the hotel pool, then went to sushi for dinner and froyo for dessert.  The hotel stay made it extra fun for the kids, and gave us an early start so we could conquer the park from opening until near closing.  Despite short naps from both the littles, all the kids slept on the way home and were transferred straight to bed.  We actually only had to pay for one kid ticket since they had a free firefighter promo… thank you Sea World for helping redeem our vacation week!  Next it’s off to The Cove water park for more free fun thanks to the library summer reading program.  (We won’t bring a camera, but we’ll make some fun memories!)

Horn worms (and sin!?)

Aw, the horn worm.  I can hardly complain about their presence this year since we probably picked at least 30 pints of incredible cherry tomatoes before their arrival.  But, there are a few things I must say about this despicable creature.

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For one, I have always been completely disgusted by them.  When I first started noticing eaten branches , (see below), I knew exactly what the problem was.  However, despite their enormous size they are so incredibly  camouflaged that I had a lot of trouble finding them.  In fact, I couldn’t find a single one!  I was so bothered at the thought that I might accidentally touch one, that I hardly went near the plant without a thorough inspection.

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Finally, I took to the computer to learn a little bit more.  It turns out these creatures don’t appear by “magic.”  (I always thought their arrival was so strange!)  The hawk moth purposefully lays its eggs on tomato plants.  Well, duh!  I also learned they like to come out at dusk and dawn.  When I spotted my first one, I was both appalled and thrilled.  Appalled because it was bigger than my largest finger.  Thrilled because I knew it had to exist and I wanted to get rid of it.  (Lucky chickens have developed a taste for horn worms!)

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I’m no longer quite as disgusted as I once was.  I’ve now found several of these gnarly creatures and I no longer even scream.  (Does that mean I am becoming a gardener?)  You see this dying grass area… It is the future home of more planter boxes, more bumper crops of tomatoes and other yummy goodies (hopefully), and quite possibly more worms.

On a side note, I was thinking quite a bit about these worms as I stood searching for them every day.  A few things stood out to me that I now think about every time I pass the tomatoes.  For one thing, the horn worms are huge and yet very difficult to find.  God put on my heart that they are a lot like sin in our lives.  Sometimes it is difficult to see because it blends in so well.  We don’t even want to look for it, because we are a bit disgusted at the thought of what we’ll find.  But, we know we have to and fast, or the entire plant, (i.e. our bodies), will be eaten away!  We see the devastation and the skat and know they have to be around, but sometimes we don’t feel like looking for them because the thought of pulling them off the plant is a bit too much.  They are ugly.  Sin is ugly.  They devastate.  Sin devastates.  They are camouflaged.  Sin likes to be camouflaged.  I’m not sure why God put it on my heart so strongly, but I do love how His Creation speaks of who He is; and He is an amazing God!

Hiking in August

Since moving to this area almost 18 years ago, I have never experienced such mild August weather.  And, you won’t hear any complaints from this Northern California native.  I absolutely love the chilly mornings and evenings we’ve been having.  To celebrate, we decided to go for a morning hike, yesterday.  We’ve had a few disappointments lately, and a family hike was just what we needed!

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The kids did better than ever.  Daniel and I both commented on how “easy” it seemed compared with the previous hikes.  The cool weather was definitely helpful.  Malachi rode in the backpack the entire ride up.  Thanks for the extra workout, buddy!  When we got to the top, he immediately got out, took off his shoes, and walked in the stream.  So did Allison.  The dog simply laid down in the stream.  I always think I am going to bring my camera, but then I don’t want to carry it up the mountain.  But, next time I will.  The waterfall is just too gorgeous.  Happy August!