The Arboretum

For years, I have wanted to do an Advent calendar, but never got around to it.  (I blame Pinterest for this desire!)  What kept me from it?  Mostly, I didn’t want to feel the pressure of having to do big activities every day.  And, I really wanted to focus on the true meaning of Christmas.  Plus, where would I find time to make an Advent calendar?

Well, at the end of the season last year, I found one at Target for super cheap.  And, it fit our decor perfectly.  Each day there is a verse and a piece of candy inside.  Then, once in a while, there is a “special paper” with activities.  (These are usually aded the night before!)  And, some of the “special activities” are quite simple, like “Tell Christmas jokes,” or, “Cut out snowflakes.”  And then there are ones like, “Dress in layers and get ready for a special field trip.”  Basically, I took an activity we would have planned anyway, and stuck it in the advent calendar.  Let me just say, it has been soooo much fun!  And, we were blessed with the perfect day to go to the Arboretum!  I took our 140 photos and narrowed them down to a mere 30 for you…

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I made the kids simple journals out of 3 sheets of paper and a brown paper bag.  I have done this in the past with little success, but it was really fun to watch the older ones take it seriously this time.  Watching them journal is precious!

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Peacocks were everywhere!  The kids were bummed to not find any of their special feathers.

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We probably spent the most time here at the White Karee tree.  It was such a fun jungle gym, and the kids now want one in their back yard.

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Lunch… then more climbing!

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Our last stop before heading home was the waterfall.

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Sierra loved that one “special duck,” so we couldn’t go until I got a picture!  It was such a special day.  The Arboretum has a free entrance day once a month, and the kids are already asking to go back next month to hang out in the Karee.  We also have a lot more ground to explore.  Let me know if you want to come!

Thanksgiving 2015

Another Thanksgiving at the Fire Station, which means… I don’t have to cook or clean, kids have a blast, and we’re together as a family.  The only down side?  Driving home without Daniel.  Other than that, we had such a wonderful day!

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Playing in the fire truck… all day long!

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Riding scooters… a firehouse holiday must.

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We brought Malachi’s electronics set for fun.

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Allison and I had a lot of fun with the volleyball!

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The highlight this year came after the feast.  We went for a little hike behind the fire station.  It was so beautiful!  (I needed to do about 10 more hikes to burn off all the calories I ate!)

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We came back for dessert and a round of “Don’t Eat Tom Turkey” before heading home.

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So thankful.

Apple Store

Homeschooling is such a misnomer.  It feels like there is something going on every day, and days at home are such a luxury!  I do love the flexibility it affords us, and the opportunity for cool field trips like the one we just took to the Apple Store!  Wow, do they do an amazing job there.  They are super organized, and had one worker for every 3 or 4 of our kids.  They told us moms to sit in the back and chat… um, ok!!!  (It didn’t take long for someone to make a Starbuck’s run for us!)

The kids were introduced to making videos and adding music/ editing.  They got to go with their little teams around the mall making a movie, (while we moms chatted and drank coffee.)  Then we got to watch the movies and each kid got a thumb drive bracelet to take home with them.  Incredible.  Thank you, Apple Store!  We were so blessed!

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Beautiful Day

Lately, my heart has been longing for the outdoors.  If we had a camper, there is a good chance we would be up in the mountains doing math rather than in our kitchen.  I daydream about hikes through fall leaves, strolling along the banks of rivers, and being out in the open.  Despite the cooler temps, our windows are open all day long.  Life is busy… but it always will be.  Whenever opportunities arise to relax with friends and to enjoy God’s creation, we have to take them.

Today we took a break from “normal.”  We had a tea party for lunch, did a minimal amount of school work, then spent hours outdoors.  (All with sweet friends.)  It is exactly what my soul needed.  It is exactly what we all needed.  We are refreshed.  I don’t see my desire for the outdoors going away any time soon — but if I can just sneak in a day or two like this each week, that would be wonderful!














Yes, we enjoyed a second cup of coffee.  But, I don’t think that will keep me awake tonight.  Perhaps the “high” that comes from such a beautiful day will consume me as I lay my head down on the pillow, but I am quite certain I will sleep well!

San Diego Surprise

Kid surprises are the best.  It all began last Sunday night while the kids were at AWANA.  I rushed home to pack their bags and the car for a quick overnight in San Diego.  Even so, we had to pack for both beach and zoo.  Mondays are our homeschool co-op, and we finish at 3pm.  While we enjoyed the first half of our co-op day, my husband was driving around town, filling the car with gas, dropping off the dog, and packing all the cuddly bedtime stuff.  We ate lunch with our co-op, then broke the news to the kids… we wouldn’t be staying for the afternoon.

Once the disappointment passed, we shared the reason.  The excitement was priceless!

We checked into the hotel around 2:45pm, then headed 5 minutes out to the beach.  The kids had so much fun playing in the waves, time just flew by.  When we told them it was time to wash up and get some dinner, they couldn’t believe a few hours had passed so quickly.

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Allison and Natalie really jumped in the waves for the first time.  They were begging to go back the next day after the zoo, (and we did.)  Malachi and Sierra just found joy digging, splashing, and playing.  I snapped a few pictures, put my camera away, and enjoyed the next few hours with them.  The sun would disappear, then reappear every few minutes.  The water was amazingly warm.  There was a jr. international surf competition, and 36 different countries represented; that was fun to watch, too.

Back at the hotel, we enjoyed chicken soft tacos.  We always stay at the Residence Inn so we have multiple rooms, and a free dinner. 🙂  Once we washed up, we went out for gelati.  When we got back, the kids went right to sleep, and Daniel and I got to see Unbroken.  It was the perfect day.

Oak Glen 2015

How is it October, already?  I had a little technical difficulties this week with blogging, but hopefully all is well now… I have some catching-up to do!

Our annual trip to Oak Glen was as fun as ever, despite the fact that we didn’t pick apples this year.  We called ahead to see if the crop was plentiful this year, and were told it was not. Darn drought!  That means only apple-picking on the weekends.  We decided to go anyway, and enjoyed a beautiful day with much cooler temps than we would have had at home!  A picnic, a hike, fresh apple cider, time on the playground, and a peak into the old schoolhouse all made it a great day.

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Twins without even planning it.  Sweet!

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Still best buddies…

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The kids are asking to go back again to pick apples.  This might just have to be the year we do Oak Glen twice!

LA County Fair 2015

I’m a little late getting the pictures out… yesterday we went to the fair for the second time.  We always try to go once for the animals and once for the exhibits.


We took the traditional milk shot, which didn’t turn out great.  We brought along our little camera so the picture quality wasn’t as good, plus we were all HOT.  Overall, it was a fun time, though!

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Lunch break:  Hooray for A/C in the exhibit hall!

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Our camera battery was dead, so www got no pictures of our second trip to the fair.  It was also hot, but fun.  I’m ready for fall!

Allison Turns 10

It’s true…. my first born has hit double-digits!  It feels like not so long ago we were riding our scooters over to the tea house for her 5th birthday.  While our special tradition for the 5th birthday is a special mommy tea party, the special tradition for the tenth birthday is a mission trip with mom or dad.  I can hardly believe in less than a month, my baby will be on a plane to Thailand with her daddy for two weeks.  Anyway, since the mission trip replaces the birthday party, it was very strange for me not to plan a party this year.  Here is all the fun we had, despite not having an official party:

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This year’s under-the-bed-present was both wrapped and purchased by her sister.  Special times!

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Waffle breakfast per Allison’s request.  Note the grumpy naked girl… she had a serious case of the birthday jealousies.

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After breakfast was church, and then a special trip to the cupcakery for birthday cupcakes.  The girls’ favorite show right now is Cupcake Wars, so we just had to visit our local cupcake place, which is a two-time Cupcake War winning place.  (We even met the ladies who won the show a few years back… check it out here.)

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Then, of course, we had to watch the episode that won the cupcakes we were eating… naturally!

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For dinner Allison requested barbecued ribs, mashed potatoes with bacon, sour cream and chives, and steamed broccoli with butter.  For dessert, Grandma made us a special boysenberry pie with fresh boysenberries from her house.  What a treat!

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Her last request of the day:  ping pong.  We recently moved our table from our garage, (where it was hardly used, to the side yard, (where it is used all the time, but is more prone to weather damage.)  I think it was a great move.  We are having a blast with it.  Allison is tons of fun to play with, and often comes down with the giggles!

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The day after Allison’s birthday, we had our annual beach trip.  Allison brought her 2 best friends, and they played and played in the water.  I almost cried when I realized I had forgotten my camera!  That night we started another new tradition, which is going out to dinner with just mom and dad for your 10th birthday.  Since Allison is our steak lover, we went to Flemings.

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Allison even shared her box of truffles which she received from Flemings as a birthday gift.  Ooh, they were yummy!

Happy birthday, sweet girl!  I am so blessed to be your mama!

Cal Poly Pomona Horse Show

My kids love horses.  Love, love, love.  My husband loves Groupon.  So, when he found a Groupon for a horse show it was the perfect match.  The show is put on by college students at Cal Poly Pomona, and it’s a fun little show.  It lasts just about an hour, and then you get to walk around and see the horses.  We attended the last one of the year, but if you like horses at all I’d recommend going to a show next year.  They are the first Sunday of the month, and admission is very reasonable.












Hiking the Waterfall

Yet another “While I was away” post… (I bet the kids are ready for me to go, again!)  The kids hiked all the way to the waterfall without the backpack.  This is a first.. and my hubby brought the camera, which is also a first!








The forecast calls for some cooler temps this week… I hope I can talk them into going again, with me!