Oak Glen 2019

Every year it’s awesome… but when God gives us a cooler-than-usual-for-Southern-California fall day… I just can’t stop smiling!!  We have our tradition down pat.  First stop: the park for apples and play time!

The kids were having so much fun, they were hardly ready to move on.  But, after the park comes our apple and jelly/ spread sampling, lunch, and then our hike!

They’re a little hard to see, but Natalie stole my camera to capture a few bird pictures.  This park is loaded with blue birds, blue jays, and woodpeckers!

(Above) Sampling cider, apples, and jellies.

(Below) Our traditional hot dog lunch.

Let the hike begin!

This year, we found a pile of rocks with words on them.  We had fun making sentences… (Especially if they included the words “bear” and “poop.”)

My arteeest!

SO many beautiful flowers, bugs, bees, and butterflies!!

This day was especially special for Xavi.  It marked the one year anniversary of his adoption.  We’re so blessed to have you in our family, dude!

Can you spy the baby duck???


We found this crazy tree and decided we would give the fruit a try.  I figured if the bears could eat it, (as evidenced by the many piles of bear skat), then we could try it, too.  The consensus was that it tasted like a mix of cherries and peaches.  chereaches???

I came upon this scene and yelled, “Don’t move!  I need a picture,”  After all, I don’t often get a chance to document the fact that they do like each other after all… 🙂

It was a lovely day.  We went home with a huge basket of apples, sun-kissed faces, dirty feet, and content hearts.


Great Wolf Lodge


Over the last 5 years, we have tried to find a time in the fall to pick up our kids from their co-op and surprise them with a mini vacation.  I don’t know who loves the surprise more.. the kids or us!

The last few times we did this, we went to San Diego.  This time we took the kids to their favorite hotel; Great Wolf Lodge.  Since the boys didn’t have an afternoon class, Daniel took them down early.  That meant the girls and I had our own special date before heading down, so we stopped for boba and snacks for the drive.

Water slides, restaurants, more water slides, ice cream, tv in the hotel, (a treat since we haven’t had tv in years!), water slides, and a stop at our special coffee spot, Roasting Waters, on the way home…. it was fabulous!

It is absolutely amazing that a one-night trip can feel so good.  Not-to-mention, we got our exercise in climbing all those steps for the water slides.  I drove home feeling beat… and blessed!

LA County Fair 2019

We did it!  We survived another scorching day at the fair… To be honest, it was actually a wonderful day!  I was not too excited to go because of the heat and missing a day of school on our first full week, but I’m so glad we did.  Despite the heat, it was one of the least crowded days I’ve ever experienced, which made it so much more enjoyable.  Not to mention, we met up with our dear friends that make everything more fun!!

This may sound a little crazy, but I fell in love with this little brown calf.  She was so sweet and now I want a cow.  Ha!

The annual chocolate milk picture… I should really do a post with all the pictures over the years!

Finding the queen bee and eating our honey sticks!

They had a new section this year: panning for gold and homesteading.  Once again, the lack of crowds made it so fun!  There was only one other family in this section.

Seeing the gardens always inspires me.  Artichoke flowers are so beautiful.  Perhaps we should grow artichokes!

Baby animals…. awww….

Sierra and Malachi each did 6 book reports, so we had a total of 12 free rides.  Generously, they shared with Allison, Natalie, and Xavi!  (Otherwise, rides are close to $9 each; INSANE!)  Other than Xavi’s little train ride, our friends introduced us to the “Big ride” section this year.  When did my kids get so big??

Allison and Natalie went in to feed the Lorikeets.  I sent them with the camera, and I think they did pretty good!  We finished our day stopping at the McDonalds for slushes and ran into some friends we met at camp.  Small world!

Lesson to myself: You will always be tired.  You will always be busy.  You will always have school work and house work, BUT… it’s always worth it!

Starting their Homeschool Academy

They couldn’t sleep last night.  They woke-up bouncing off the walls.  When I told them they seemed more excited to go to school than to Disneyland, they confirmed it was true.  (Disneyland has long lines anyway, I was told!)

On the other hand, I slept great.  I also woke-up early and couldn’t have been more excited myself.  For the first time in 14 years, I was going to drop ALL my kids off for 3 glorious hours.  I may have wasted the first hour running some necessary errands, but once I walked into my quiet house, the espresso machine was the first thing that broke the silence. I may have enjoyed a breakfast cookie and iced coffee… in peace!!

A community my kids adore..

Teachers other than myself…

Time alone in the house…

“healthy” cookies and iced coffee…

Feeling so grateful…

Family Camp 2019 (The Last Hurrah!)

I smile looking at this picture.  It was taken in the parking lot just before we got in our cars to drive home.  If you were to zoom in closely, you might notice sleepy eyes, but full hearts.  Family Camp is such a treasure.  We spent the majority of the trip with this lovely family, and learned a lot of new games!  We lingered over a second cup of coffee, and breathed deep the mountain air.  Though “Family Camp” is somewhat of a misnomer, as the kids were often off in the gaga ball pit or exploring with friends, they always found their way back for snuggles, games, and s’mores.

Xavi and I shot lots of bb’s.  I’m not sure if he had more fun shooting or collecting the bb’s that had fallen to the ground!

The “Animal Guy” is always a big hit, as is the malt shop!

He begged and begged for the ropes course.  After our third time through, I sent him to his Papa for more… I was beat!

Natalie and I did the “difficult” hike, (which was really  quite easy…)  She especially enjoyed hearing the tall tales of the trees, and I loved chatting with a new friend!

The rock wall/ zip line is always our absolute favorite.  Natalie and Malachi went up and down several times on all levels of difficulty.  I did my usual easy route to conquer my fear of heights, and then zipped down, which is the best part.

We came home to a sink full of dirty dishes, a bunny who had escaped his pen and was thankfully alive, and my bedding in the dryer from the day we left.  Oh, the morning we left… it was a doozy!

To begin, the boys had come into our room, and Xavi had an accident… hence, the bedding being in the dryer when we got home.  Things didn’t get much better from there.  I discovered my husband had used the last of my half and half, so I headed to the grocery store sweaty and gross from my run to pick some more up.  I left just as school traffic was at its peak, therefore taking me 3 times as long to get out of here!

I finally arrived home and was sipping my coffee, when Xavi said he hurt himself.  He was as calm as could be, so imagine my shock when I turned to see blood all over.  Still sweaty and gross, we headed to urgent care, where we waited an eternity before he finally got his chin glued back together.

By the time I got home, Daniel arrived back from work, but instead of packing the car I still had to pack their bags and get showered myself.  It was a rough start, but God’s peace prevailed.  Really, all you could do is smile and think what a comical movie it would make.

Our week up the mountain was fabulous, and though our bodies are physically tired, our souls found rest,  Thankful today is Friday and we have a holiday weekend to recover before diving back into school!

Summer Fun (aka Summer Photo Dump)

Somehow I blinked and in a week it will be September!  I was looking at a lot of my pictures, and I have a slough of random photos I thought I’d plop into one post.  Consider this August Memories:

We attended our first ever wedding of a sweet girl we watched grow up, and whose parents are our very dearest friends!!  Now I feel old!!

Malachi did a week of STEM Robotics camp and had a BLAST!  He is now enrolled in the robotics classes for the year!  Daniel took a day off work to bike with Malachi from robotics class to downtown Claremont where they enjoyed lunch then took the train home.  What a fun dad!!

My Natalie and her watercolors… I am always amazed!  It is so fun to see her unique creations.  (Can I have some of that talent, girl??)

Wearing all his hats…

Allison and Natalie attended their second year of Horsemanship camp at Ironwood, and loved it even more than the first year!  They graduated from level 2, and hope to attend multiple camps in the future… we shall see!!

My only kid who randomly takes naps on his own.  Adorable!

While Allison and Natalie went to horse camp, Daniel took Sierra and her friends on a trail ride.  They had a blast!

She had been BEGGING for kebabs… how could I say no?

Seriously the sweetest puppy ever!

Not only my favorite watercolor artist, but my favorite drawing artist as well!

Zinnias from the garden always make me happy.  I think I will always and forever plant them.

Daniel had to work Rams camp once again this year, and took the boys along twice to enjoy the fun.  Though they are not huge on football, it was some fun bonding time with daddy at work!

One day, Daniel took the girls ice skating while I took the boys to a trampoline park.  I took no pictures, and he took one.  He wins.

Last, but not least… one of our favorite go-to meals this summer: spicy shrimp tacos!  The ENTIRE family loves them… ‘Nuff said.  Here’s the recipe: (from GimmeDelicious)


  • 20 medium shrimp peeled and deveined
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon onion or garlic powder optional
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper optional
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

Cilantro Lime Slaw

  • 2 cups cabbage shredded
  • 1/4 cup red onion thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup cilantro minced
  • 1/2 jalapeno, seeded optional
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • salt and pepper to taste

Creamy Sriracha sauce

  • 1/4 cup ranch dressing or sour-cream or greek Yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon Sriracha
  • 6 small corn or flour tortillas


To cook the Shrimp:

  1. Combine shrimp, oil, and spices in a medium bowl or ziplock bag. Use right away OR cover and refrigerate for at least 10 minutes or up to 48 hours. Heat a large heavy-duty or cast iron skillet on high heat for 2 minutes. Add a teaspoon of oil to the pan and shrimp. Cook shrimp until pink and cooked through, about 4-5 minutes.

To make the Slaw

  1. Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl until mixed through. Use right away or cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge for up to 24 hours.

To make creamy Sriracha Sauce

  1. Whisk sriracha and ranch or sour-cream or mayo in a small bowl. Taste and add more sriracha if desired.

To assemble:

  1. Grill tortillas on the stovetop over the flame until lightly charred (this step is optional). Top each tortilla with 4-5 pieces of shrimp and some slaw. Drizzle with sriracha sauce. Serve with lime wedges on the side. Enjoy!!

First Day of School 2019

And, just like that another summer is in the books and a new school year is upon us! Ready. Or. Not.  (Not!!)  Thankfully, it was a great first day and we are loving our new read aloud.  The main reason I feel NOT ready its the simple fact that I have a preschooler who can’t yet read, a high schooler who now needs to meet some requirements, and everything in between.  While the thought can be overwhelming, I know God is always faithful to give us just what we need when we need it.  And so we school  on.  

This year’s back-to-school treat has got to be one of my favorites.  I am a sucker for homemade sugar cookies and homemade icing.  (Especially with a little almond flavoring; yumminess!)  The kids also had gummy worms, chocolate milk, pancakes, and bacon.   I’m surprised they were able to sit through our reading after all that junk!!

Sierra had the idea to have each of the kids create their own grade sign on their i-pads for pictures.  I loved the idea, and so here they are!

How is it my kids are so big?  Gosh, I love these sweet faces!!

Locker Redo

I wish getting ready for school was this fun for me!  When my girl gets an idea in her head, she goes all out.  A couple weeks ago, we had our mother-daughter date, and she chose to go get boba (duh!), and then we hit the Dollar Tree and Hobby Lobby for a fun locker makeover.

Just like the girl on youtube, Sierra bought and painted pots, then filled them with rocks and succulents.  She wallpapered her locker using wrapping paper from the Dollar Tree.  She took her eraser collection and added magnets on the backs of them… and finally, she put everything back in.

Tomorrow we start school, and I don’t feel one bit ready.  In my book, it’s still summer!  Thankfully, we will ease our way back in, going to family camp next week, and then really get started after Labor Day.  Thankful for slow starts!!

Huckleberry Thumbprint Cookies

While in Montana, we may have bought a bunch of extra huckleberry jelly!  We hit the library this week, and Sierra found the cutest Williams Sonoma American Girl cookbook.  When she called me from home while I was with the boys at the dentist, she told me she was bored and asked what she could do.  Naturally, I told her to bake some cookies with Allison.  These thumbprint huckleberry cookies were so buttery and delicious… They were ready just as I walked in the door.  (Good timing, Mom!!!)  That was yesterday.  Today they are gone.  Seriously delicious.  Glad I wasn’t home to see how much butter and sugar they have.  Thankful for big kids who like to bake, libraries that provide awesome books, boredom that initiates creativity, and Montana for providing huckleberry jam!