AWANA Grand Prix Night

There are a few things in the back of my brain that just scream “parenthood” to me.  One of them is watching my husband build a pinewood derby car with my son.  Of course, I always thought of this in the context of Boy Scouts… little did I know that AWANA has a pinewood derby of their own!  That means my girls get to join in on the fun, as well!

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 I’m so disappointed that I didn’t take more pictures.  (I was sure I had — I think turning 40 has affected my brain, already!) Anyway, the final cars were all a lot of fun.  Allison did a pizza.  Natalie did a pencil.  Malachi did red and black with Lightning McQueen stickers, (using random “Build and Grow” parts since he is not in AWANA yet).  Sierra did her own thing; purple, blue, pink, and glitter.  They all were very unique and fun.  The big girls’ cars made it to the finals and both came in second on their leg… too exciting!  Allison declared it was the best AWANA yet!  I can’t wait to see what they come up with next year…

One on One

It is rare that we have much one on one time with the kids.  Oh, we try… it just doesn’t happen as often as we’d like.  Yesterday was library day, and we spontaneously bought tickets for today’s play at our local theater; “The Prince and the Pauper.”  As we were buying them, Sierra decided she didn’t want to go; she wanted a date with me, instead.  So we bought tickets for the 3 others to go with their papa, and Sierra and I planned our date.  Wouldn’t you know, she wanted to walk to the horse stables… read a library book along the way at the secret rock river… come back and have a tea party… then sew her tooth fairy pillow so it is ready for her first loose tooth.  And, we actually got to it all, (though the pillow is not finished!)

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We also found roly poly bugs and made graham cracker, gummy bear, frosting, nerd treats to go with our tea.

One on one time is so good for all of us.  I treasure these times.  However, I have to laugh… with each of our kids, no matter how much fun we are having on our date, by the end of the date they can’t wait to be reunited with their siblings.

Thanks for the fun, Sierra!

Love Like you Mean it Cruise, Day 1

At last I get to day 1 of our cruise… boarding our ship.  That morning we had driven from Orlando to Miami in our rental car.  (Thanks to Chick-Fil-A and free coffee in February, we made a few stops!)  It’s amazing how relaxing a drive can be with just your spouse…

We arrived about noon, and decided on stopping for frozen yogurt for “lunch.” After all, boarding went from 11am until 3:30pm so we had plenty of time.  As we boarded, we noticed there were not really any other people around.  Hmmm… were we late or early?  Daniel guessed we were early.  Apparently, we were very late!

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Walking onto the ship was surreal.  Walking into our room was surreal.  We decided to get some real food and explore the ship…  (Apparently my husband caught me freshening up a bit!)

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I am embarrassed to admit just how star-struck I was.  I know these are all “normal” people and I didn’t want to bother them.  At the same time, the movies put out by the Kendrick brothers are some of our favorites, and we just had to tell them.  (And bug them for a picture!)

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They have a new movie coming out in August called “The War Room.”  It is all about prayer.  I first heard about it through an e-mail I got the morning we left to come on this trip.  I was hoping and hoping we would get to see a sneak preview… and we did!  UH-mazing!  It is their best, yet!  So my next “star-struck moment” came when I saw the star of the new movie, T.C. Stallings and his beautiful wife.  It turns out they’re Cali residents, too!  They were so kind and genuine and graciously took the time to talk with us a bit.

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The first night speakers were Kirk and Chelsea Cameron.  (Kirk Cameron was sporting a new look for a new movie).  This picture is not with a zoom lens; we were really right there!

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Now, let me back-up for just a second.  We had an amazing dinner and the chance to meet lots of fun people from all over the country.  Then we all met for this “general session,” which began with worship.  The worship time was so powerful.  I clearly felt God impress upon my heart this:  “You came to see so many ‘stars.’  But, did you expect to meet with Me?”  I was convicted and humbled.  The answer was truly “no.”  I really did come excited to see so many of my favorite Christian artists, to enjoy not cooking, and to have special time with my husband… but I hadn’t really expected to meet God so powerfully at worship!  My heart was changed and my attitude was changed.  That’s what it was all about.  We can only truly be transformed by a touch from God; it doesn’t matter how good the speakers are!

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Each night we returned to our room not only with an adorable animal towel, but with an agenda for the next day to look through.  We also had special little gifts on our doors to encourage us to go deeper with our marriage.  Day 1 came to an end, and I went to sleep with a BIG smile!

Beauty, Buds, and Blossoms

“The heavens declare the glory of God.  The skies proclaim the work of His hands.”  Psalm 19:1

After weeks of biology, anatomy, and chemistry, this happened to be our science memory work for the week: a Bible verse!  And, how appropriate it is.  I couldn’t stop it from running through my head during my entire run this morning.  Why?  Let’s start with yesterday’s rain and last night’s sunset:

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It was so sweet…. my 5 year old spotted it first, and exclaimed, “Mom, come quickly and grab your camera!”  I think she has my love for the sky.  She did it again this morning, only I had to run upstairs to look out the window to see.  I protested at first in my morning grogginess, not knowing why I had to come upstairs with the camera.  When I saw this, I knew why:

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We also have lots going on with our fruit trees.  Hopefully we’ll have lots of fruit this year!


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Apricots:  (My son was caught picking blossoms and scolded by his sisters.  He came inside to tell me, “Mom, I picked flowers and I won’t do it again!”  Good boy!)

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Valentine’s Day 2015

Valentine”s Day was extra special this year; not only was it our first day back from our trip, but it was also my 40th birthday!  It didn’t matter that we were super tired and got in very early that morning from our trip; the moment I heard my girls’ foot steps in the family room, I flew out of bed!  It was almost surreal to be back home.  The kids were so happy, and so well-loved on by Grandma and Grandpa.  We were welcomed back with cards, flowers, and chocolates.  The kids also had a few souvenirs from our trip and cards from us, as well.  We had a waffle breakfast, and spent the morning talking and cuddling.

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Soon it was time for ice skating lessons.  The kids have come a long way since their first week!

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We skipped lunch to go to an early sushi dinner.  (We didn’t want to fight the Valentine’s Day crowds.)  It was a fun day, but over far too soon.

Just for fun, I thought I’d list 40 random things about myself for my 40th.

  • I found out in my early 20’s that my name means “joy” in Greek. Immediately I smiled, knowing the gift of joy has been such a blessing in my life!
  • I married my first boyfriend… another huge blessing!
  • I was once a high school math teacher and I love numbers, but I have never thought of myself as very good at math.
  • I was almost a history major and love languages, as well.
  • I spent 6 months studying abroad in Germany when I was in college.
  • I have hitch-hiked through Italy.
  • I spent 2 summers as a camp counselor in Montana, and I think it is the most beautiful place on earth.
  • I have gone river rafting about twenty times.
  • I have seen 2 bald eagles in my life; one in Montana on a river rafting trip, and one in Florida while driving to Cape Canaveral with my grandpa.
  • The most physically difficult feat I have done in my life was hiking all the way down and up the Grand Canyon in one day.
  • I was a star badminton player in high school and went on to coach high school badminton in my twenties.
  • The farthest I have run is the 12k “Bay to Breakers” in San Francisco. Oh, how I want to be able to do that, again.
  • I have never been to a gym, nor ever done an exercise class. I love outdoor sports and jogging.
  • I spent a lot of time alone growing-up, but am so thankful for that time. It was precious growing time in the Lord.
  • I am very low-maintenance; it takes me all of 3 minutes to put my make-up on in the morning, my nails are never painted, and I rarely wear jewelry other than a necklace.
  • I have always wanted to swim with dolphins… I was blessed to do just that on our cruise!
  • I met my husband on e-harmony, though I didn’t even have internet access at home.
  • I have always wanted to homeschool my kids.
  • I know the names of most construction vehicles thanks to my son and his library books.
  • I always have Trader Joe’s dark chocolate peanut butter cups in my refrigerator.
  • I first started drinking coffee black. It wasn’t until my son was born that I began adding cream. (I don’t like coffee creamers; just half and half!)
  • I love the smell of flavored coffees, but don’t like the taste.
  • My favorite class in high school was woodshop. I used to dream of owning a ban saw.
  • The one skill I wish I had was sewing. I am determined to get better at it.
  • I bake almost every day. Mostly, because I love breakfast.
  • I do not like purple at all, but I may have to paint a room purple for my daughters when they get older, as it is one of their favorites.
  • I once prayed that my kids would get my husband’s dark skin and my big eyes. (Silly, I know) God answered my prayer.
  • I have always wanted to adopt, and continue to ask God what this means for our family.
  • I have always been an early to bed, early to rise person. So has my husband. I don’t think I could sleep in if I wanted to!!
  • Although I’ve always been a good sleeper, I would sometimes lay in bed at night with sermons going through my head in high school. I kept a notebook by my bed to write them down. I wish I had that notebook still… what did I write?
  • Being a parent is a dream come true. Kids are the best!
  • If I didn’t have 4 c-sections, who knows how many kids we would have!?
  • I am an extrovert. My husband is an introvert.
  • Someday I hope to study Chinese.
  • The single most influential experience of my life was Summit Ministries in Colorado Springs, CO the summer before my senior year of high school. Before getting married, I made sure my future husband agreed our future kids would go there, as well.
  • I have always wanted to live on a farm.
  • Painting walls and decorating is therapy for me.
  • I don’t like clothes shopping, and could live in jeans.
  • In retirement, my husband and I would love to do mission work.
  • My husband and I have almost identical handwriting.
  • Almost every day at some point, the Jana Alayra song comes into my head, “It’s not about me, me, me, it’s all about You, You, You.” I wish I didn’t need reminding so often!


The second part of our getaway took us to Orlando, Florida.  This was our third time to Orlando as a married couple, but this time the main attraction was to visit my grandparents who are now in a home.  Before visiting them, however, we went to visit R.C. Sproul’s church, St. Andrews.  We felt so blessed that he was actually preaching that day, as his health doesn’t permit him to preach too often anymore.  What a blessing to hear such a mighty man of God!

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After service, we went to lunch with my Mom’s friend and then headed out to see my grandparents.  Thankfully, my Grandpa had just gotten out of the hospital and was doing much better.

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Something tells me my mom has been here:

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It’s kind of hard to put into words what this day meant.  First of all, I feel incredibly blessed to still have both my grandparents on my mom’s side.  I realize that this is unusual, and such a gift.  My Grandpa still has more of his mind than my Grandma, however, both of them knew who I was and were happy to see me.  What a gift that was!  (And, both of them said some things that told me their minds were not fully there.)  We stayed about 4 hours, which seemed both long and short at the same time. I could see that they were both getting tired, and so with a heavy yet joyful heart I prayed for each of them and then we said goodbye.


The temperature yesterday was 78 degrees.  I have decided that 78 is pretty much the perfect temperature, and that it is a sin to be inside when it is 78 outside.  Even though we were at the park in the morning and I kicked the kids outside for lunch, it was still not enough time to satisfy my desire for being outdoors… and so we walked to our favorite place, (for the 3rd time since coming home less than a week ago!)  The horse stables.  And, I even brought my camera this time because… well… I learned my lesson from our trip; when in doubt, always bring the DSLR.

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So many butterflies… the camera caught one below:

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hos 5 Yes, it was a good thing I had my camera; “Take a picture of me with this horse.  Take a picture of ME with that horse!”  The kids have been so excited about the two new miniature horses; Penn and Tucker.

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 There is rain in the forecast for this weekend.  Until then, I think the horses need visitors again, tomorrow!

First Stop

Yesterday I mentioned we were back… and chances are, you didn’t even know we were gone!?  But, I didn’t mention exactly where we were.  You see, for my 40th birthday this year, my parents decided to surprise us with a Family Life Love Like You Mean It Marriage Cruise.  Add to that they offered to do the babysitting while we were away, AND my husband made it an extra long trip by booking us flights to both Dallas, Texas to see my dear friend and Orlando, Florida to see my grandparents.  You can see where this is going…

  • First vacation without the kids
  • First time on a cruise
  • First time seeing my friend since she moved from California
  • Turning 40
  • First time swimming with dolphins
  • First time seeing my grandparents in an “elderly” state
  • Incredible Christian speakers and artists
  • Mingling with some of my favorite Christian artists
  • Meeting incredible like-minded people from all over the U.S.
  • Being alone with my husband

You get the point!  This trip was incredibly special and incredibly emotional.  (If this were an English paper, I would probably fail for my lack of using any adjective other than “incredible,” but truly that’s what it was!)

So, with no further ado let me take you on our first stop; Dallas.  And, let me explain why the picture quality is so bad; we decided to borrow a little camera and leave our big DSLR for convenience sake.  Next time I am going with the big and bulky; just sayin’.

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 When she lived in California, this lady was one of my nearest and dearest friends.   Saying goodbye was hard in so many ways.  The irony is that for our entire 9 years together, we never once made it on a double date with just us and our husbands.  It took them moving to Texas for that to happen!

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Dinner was incredible.  (I told you that was my word for the day!)  In fact, I shouldn’t be writing this post right now since dinner was 5 hours ago and my stomach is growling.  Anyway, this was our appetizer dish that was followed by some yummy Mediterranean entrees.  Then we headed a few doors down for cake (and coffee!) for dessert.
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We probably stayed up far too late talking, but we had just 24 hours together and wanted to make the most of it.  The next morning came quickly, (especially after losing 2 hours), but it was so much fun to watch their girls play basketball at their church.

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Did I mention our friends now live on a 14 acre goat farm?

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Good thing we were going on a cruise next so Daniel couldn’t take this little guy home.

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Almost exactly 24 hours after saying hello it was time to say goodbye.  We enjoyed some Tex Mex for dinner, then headed back to the airport.  Short but sweet, and oh such a blessing!  At the airport, we saw this bar and grill, and had to take a picture for all our CRU, (formerly Campus Crusade for Christ), friends.

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The end of one leg, but just the start of our journey…


Back to crafting…

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back to taking care of animals…

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back to making dinners…

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 back to… blogging!

It’s always a bit difficult to get started again after taking a blog break. Mostly, once I get behind it’s hard to figure out where to start, again. In the case of this past week, where we were on the most amazing vacation of my life, it is especially difficult to know where to begin; so many emotions, so many pictures to sort through, and so much that happened!

Tonight I had a choice: finish the laundry, which is getting quite desperate, or get back to blogging. (Anybody want to come over and help me fold?)

It’s probably going to come together in little posts here and there. If I try to do one big “This was our trip!” post, it would be too overwhelming. Oh, but I can’t wait to share… so much to share!!!

Pictured above:  (top)   Sierra has been begging to do school and crafts since we got back.  Today we did corn syrup paints; always easy, and so beautiful!

(middle)  The cat looked so much bigger when we got home!  He is still the cutest ever.

(bottom)  For Valentine’s Day, my parents gave Daniel a Weber grilling book.  He didn’t waist any time spoiling us with this amazing flank steak recipe!

Can’t wait to share about our trip; be patient with me!  🙂

Popsicle Weather

Popsicle weather in February?

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Yes, please!  We actually got these when the kids were sick.  It was kind of fun to popsicle shop!  I decided on the totally unhealthy Jelly Belly popsicles with “unique centers.”  Daniel and I never could figure out what the unique center was… but the kids loved them!  🙂