Homemade Graham Crackers

When I think of summer, I dream of days with absolutely nothing to do.  The truth is, the kids have swim dates, trips to the library or animal shelter, birthday parties, errands to run, etc.  Don’t get me wrong; we’ve had plenty of lazy days, and I do love having friends over.  But, days like today with absolutely nothing going on seem to be few, and therefore I cherish them!  In honor of our “nothing” day, we decided to make homemade graham crackers for s’mores.  We wanted to do homemade marshmallows too, but didn’t have gelatin on hand.  My little baker was my helper.

hg 1 hg 2 hg 3

Homemade graham crackers are yummy… and easy!  I didn’t watch the first batch carefully, and the edges got a little dark.  The kids loved them, but were most excited about s’mores!

hg 4 hg 5

The recipe was one I printed a long time ago, but I am sure there are a ton of recipes out there.  Here is the one we used:

1 stick butter

1/3 cup brown sugar

1 1/2 Tbsp honey

1/2 Tbsp molasses

1/2 Tbsp vanilla

3/4 cup flour

2/3 cup whole wheat flour

1/2 Tbsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp baking soda

pinch of salt

In a large bowl, cream together the butter, brown sugar, honey, molasses, and vanilla.  Add the flours, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt and mix to form a thick dough.  Press the dough into a disc and wrap in plastic wrap.  Chill for one hour, (or 20 minutes in the freezer).  Preheat oven to 350.  Roll out chilled dough between two pieces of parchment.  Cut the dough, and place parchment onto cookie sheet.  Poke each cracker with a fork a few times.  Bake 10 – 14 minutes.  (Mine was closer to 10, though the recipe called for 12 – 14 minutes).  Enjoy!

Dog Sitting

We’ve been dog sitting for some pretty cute little doggies while our dear friends are on a mission trip to Africa.  All is going well, though the white one does not like the cat.  Their names are Rylie and Shayla, but we have come up with a few nicknames of our own.


Sierra’s nicknames are the Neverbeast and the Abominable Snowman.  (These are my favorite!)


I said Pepper and Salt…


Natalie came up with Cinnamon and Sugar…


Sierra had another good one… The Lion, (because Rylie growls), and The Lamb, (for the look!)


Aren’t they adorable?

dog sitting

Finding Our Groove

Today marks our third day home together as a family, and I must say this; it has gone so much smoother than I had anticipated!  I worried about culture shock, jet-lag, fatigue, squabbles, and more.  Overall, I am amazed at the adjustment!  Of course, my husband has been napping, completely exhausted…

fog 1

…which means he has energy to talk my ear off at night!  But, I wouldn’t have it any other way.  I love hearing every detail.

fog 2

The first night, Allison requested our typical Friday night dinner; grilled pizza.  I was AMAZED that she stayed up for it!  (She went to bed right after at 6pm.)  Thankfully, our garden had enough tomatoes for her.

fog 3

The next morning request was pancakes.  Hooray for all 4 kids at the breakfast table!

fog 4

Daniel was sweet enough to get the tire fixed his first morning back.  On his way home, he stopped at Panera and couldn’t resist this treat for Allison.  Apparently, she sleep-walked many nights while in Thailand, and one night lost a flip flop in the mud!  You’ll have to ask her about the other stories.  They are really quite surreal.

fog 6

Malachi is so thrilled to have his Papa home.  Nobody can hold you quite like Papa!

fog 7

They’re Back… and a BIG Surprise!

First things first… my babies are home!  SAFE and SOUND!  Oh, what a precious feeling… words don’t do it justice!

Now, do you want to see what they came home to?  Just a warning now:  lots of pictures to come, and lots of color!

For weeks before Allison left for Thailand, visions of re-doing an under-utilized room for her flooded my head.  I had lots of ideas, and lots of questions.  It sounded like a fun idea, but as the time got closer I felt it would be too overwhelming.  The day they left, I spoke with a friend who gave me the encouragement I needed to go for it.  Not only that, but it was a room without a closet and the day they left Malachi asked me to go to Ikea — seriously!  Where else would I possibly find a decent priced closet?  Ok, it was settled.  I would totally remodel a room in 2 weeks and surprise Daniel and Allison upon their return!

bigs 1

My sweet friend was here many days (and nights) helping out… (and playing ping pong while the kids watched a movie, but that’s another story!)  I’m so grateful for her!

bigs 2

I was also blessed by these two cuties who spent a morning with me.  Amazingly talented!

bigs 3

bigs 4

bigs 5 bigs 6 bigs 7

bigs 8

Even once the triangles were mostly finished, and all the walls went from brown to gray, there was much work to be done… furniture placement, building the closet, building the bed, hanging the curtains, arranging the bookshelves, buying/ re-purposing accessories…  Yet, it was such a blessing to be so busy.  It really helped give me a peace while they were gone.  And, I slept hard at night when I wasn’t dreaming of painting triangles.

bigs 9

bigs 10

bigs 11

I bought the world clock at Ikea for my little world traveller, and painted the “Go into all the world” on the wall.  Allison has also been typing letters to her friends on the typewriter, so I thought her room would be the perfect new home for it!

bigs 12

In this corner… the old butterfly chair was a Goodwill find from way before I was married.  I spray painted the base green, and painted the fruits of the spirit on with blue.  I also had the old wooden wall hook from my mom, and painted each of the knobs a different color of one of the triangles on the wall.  The light is from Urban Outfitters, and the curtains were just $6 for the pair at Ikea in the as-is section.  Score!

bigs 13

bigs 14

The bed… I LOVE the bed!  I ordered it from the Novogratz collection at Walmart.   The pillow shams, mattress, and “I love you” pillow are also from Walmart.  The green sheet is from Ikea, and the pom-pom comforter from Urban Outfitters.

bigs 15

bigs 16

The couch is a pull-out sofa and I was originally thinking of getting rid of it.  I am so glad it stayed, though… it gives the room a fun, dorm-style feel and is a great home to more colorful pillows.

bigs 17

I painted a simple chalkboard circle on the closet, andI think it adds a lot.

bigs 18

bigs 19

We could hardly wait for the reveal.  It was as fun as we imagined!  Both Daniel and Allison were shocked and love it!  Allison has been asleep in that cozy bed since 6pm.  I am surprised she lasted that long.. that is 8am Thailand time!  Can’t wait to give her another hug in the morning.

bigs 20 bigs 21

bigs 22

bigs 23

Once the surprise was over, Malachi took Papa to his room for a little football!

bigs 24

Finally, we headed downstairs to be rewarded with some fun souvenirs  We love our Karen purses, Allison!  And, the fun necklaces!  Malachi thinks his train puzzle is pretty awesome, too.

bigs 25 bigs 26

There you have it!  I was able to have a long cuddle and talk with Allison before she drifted off into dream land.  When did my little girl grow-up?  I’m looking forward to lots more talks and cuddles and pictures and videos tomorrow.  What a blessing to have my family back home!  Hope you enjoyed the room tour… I think I am as exhausted as the travelers.  🙂

Magic Show

These are my favorite kinds of posts… except for the fact that I can’t download videos for you.  (I really need to figure that out!)  Posts about silly stuff the kids do on a typical day.  Today the kids put on a magic show for me.  It was precious.  My favorite was when the girls went into the closet and came out as Japanese girls; now that’s magic!  🙂

ms 1

ms 2 ms 3 ms 4

P.S.  Isn’t Natalie’s new haircut adorable?

Flat Tire

It was meant to be a discouragement; I’m sure of that.  But God blessed us in the midst, and it was more of an adventure!

You see, last Sunday after church we drove to Costco.  We weren’t going to get lunch, but the kids were a bit hungry, so they all had hot dogs and smoothies; that was the first blessing!  As we drove home, I seriously asked myself, “What if we get a flat tire?”  And sure enough, just a mile later there was a chug, chug, chug.  My tire had an ENORMOUS nail in it!  I won’t go into the entire long story, but it took almost 2 hours for us to get home.  (Remember the hot dogs?  The kids weren’t even hungry; perfect!)  While we waited for AAA, however, we walked to Daniel’s aunts house, which was just down the block.  The kids played and laughed and had a great time. Plus, they were in the cool a/c of the house, and our groceries went into the fridge/ freezer.  Perfect, huh?   Then, we were unable to get the tire off so we had to be towed.  For my son, that was like winning the lottery… he got to ride in the cab of a flatbed tow truck!




I definitely don’t always have the best attitude with these kinds of things, but this time around I did.  I mean, it is humorous… We run out of gas a few days before the mission trip, and we have a flat tire a few days before they come home!  Another blessing?  We got home at the exact time we told our friends to come over, so the timing was perfect.

Just thought I’d share  our little blessed adventure!

Almost Home!


And, the countdown is on… just two more full days without Allison and Daniel.  They are two full, busy days around here, so I am hoping that means they will fly by.  I am sure they will.  We are so longing to have our family back!  But, we are so grateful for this experience!  I will have to let my daughter or husband do a little blogging to document this trip.  Until then, we wait…

Garden Surprises

I mentioned yesterday how I haven’t been able to sleep past 5:30am since half of my family is missing.  What I didn’t mention was how much I love early mornings; it has actually been a gift!  This is the view as I walk out to let the chickens out:


A real gardener will definitely laugh at this next picture, but I was so excited to actually find a few edibles in my garden the other morning.  I mean, I truly had given up on the garden producing anything this year!


Surprise!  We have about a dozen red bell peppers starting.  Again, I thought the pepper plant was dead.


And, my favorite surprise of all… we actually have a few watermelons growing!!!  Will they keep growing?  Will they be edible?  We shall see!


The next surprise wasn’t exactly in the garden, but in the chicken coop: one of our “babies” laid its first egg!  Can you guess which one?

The final surprise was really quite disturbing.  I was out picking the little green cabbage loopers off the peppers when I noticed enormous little pellets.  Surely, a horn worm had been there.  Then I saw it!  The first hornworm of the season.  Yuck, yuck, yuck:


I then showed the kids and offered them a quarter to find another.  They found two more!


I’m hoping for no more of the last surprise, but I am doubtful!

Rain and Fairies

Apparently, the most rain Southern California has ever experienced in July was 0.28 inches… a record set back in 1886.  The last two days, that record was shattered, and I was thrilled!  Not only is rain a welcome relief from the drought, but I have had the windows open and the house smells amazing.  It is refreshing in so many ways.  I went to bed last night, (windows still open), hearing pitter patter until I fell asleep… it just never stopped!  Before that, I did dishes with a candle glowing and the rain pouring.  Everything about it was wonderful.  I moved all my plants from the porch out to get a good soaking.  I even turned off the sprinkler system!  Glorious.

Since Daniel and Allison have been gone, I’ve been waking up consistently at 5:30am.  I can not sleep later!  I think it’s because I fall into bed exhausted each night.  This was my view out my office window this morning:

fr 1

Refreshing, isn’t it?  Just a few minutes later, my girls ran downstairs to let me know they each got a letter from a fairy.  They told me all about it.  The night before, they had written letters to their fairies that they had made homes for in the rain, and the fairies actually wrote back!  So, first thing this morning they were outside making improvements to their fairy homes.  Precious.

fr 2

fr 3

fr 4

fr 5

I LOVE rain… (and fairies, and sweet little girls!)