Malachi Turns 6!

When planning a party in Southern California, one can never be sure of the weather in December.  Turns out our outdoor army party was just right for an 80 degree day in December!  What a gift and blessing for my little soldier who turned 6!

We began with lunch… our local Chinese restaurant seems to be a favorite for our kids’ birthdays!

After lunch, boot camp began.  First up was the tug-of-war!

Next, the water grenade toss!  (I’m still not sure how my husband managed to fill all 100 up this morning, but I am so grateful for his miraculous ways!)

Finally, the guns were passed out along with the ammo — marshmallows.  Daniel made each kid his own marshmallow shooter.  I definitely married the right guy!

The kids knocked down targets, then just had fun shooting wherever.  (Marshmallows everywhere!)

The kids played in the bounce house obstacle course any free minute they got.  Originally, I had wanted to make up my own obstacle course, but in the end I am so glad we went with this.  All kids love bounce houses!

Cake and present time:

Happy birthday, my sweet 6 year old!



Our 2nd grader reading Pete the Cat to Angel the cat.

I’ve said it before, and it still rings true… I love to blog about our “special times.”  I can’t wait to document our last trip, Thanksgiving, and the upcoming birthday parties.  (Let’s hope I find time!)  But, my most favorite blog posts are the simple ones.  Life as it is everyday.  My girl reading to our cat.

We’ve had a rough couple nights.  Last night, a kid burst into our room and no sooner told us she didn’t feel well before her dinner was everywhere.  (Seriously; everywhere!) The night before, we were abruptly shocked awake when our whole smoke alarm system went off at 3am.  (Malfunction — praise God!)

We’ve also had some sweet times.  My husband is home for 5 days!  We went to see The Star, decorated for Christmas, and have enjoyed beautiful weather and each other’s company.

The good.  The bad.  The tough.  The sweet.  I’ll take it all with this sweet bunch I get to call family!  Praising God for the simple; for the every day!

Thanksgiving 2017

Five days after returning home from our cruise, it was Thanksgiving.  We were unsure if Daniel would be forced to work, and therefore unable to make solid plans.  But, the day before we decided that he would indeed be able to come home, and therefore invited his family and our neighbors.  We began the day with our “turkey pancakes” as we waited for Papa to get home!

As soon as he got home, Daniel prepped the turkey and threw it on the grill.  We spent the rest of the day in the kitchen together.  It was a beautiful day, 93 degrees outside!  It was our first time ever doing the entire Thanksgiving meal.  I had always been nervous to take on such a feat before, but it turned out to be surprisingly fun.  In fact, I am super excited to do it again!  We did the turkey, stuffing, ham, fresh orange rolls, cranberry sauce, green beans, and mashed potatoes, from scratch.  For dessert, we bought a Costco pie.

Naturally, we ended the night with the kids’ favorite; “Don’t Eat Tom Turkey.”

We have SO much to be thankful for!


In case you were wondering where we’ve been the past few weeks, here’s a sneak peak!  We were blessed to travel to Texas to visit friends, then on to Florida for a special Disney Cruise chartered by “Focus on the Family,” which took us to the Bahamas.  Here we are having a blast with the dolphins.  I highly recommend this excursion!  Daniel and I did a dolphin excursion a few years back, but we didn’t have nearly the freedom we did here to really play and interact with the dolphins.  It was one of many special moments.  I will attempt to document the rest of the trip amid getting back to school work and planning for holidays and birthdays!

Sierra Turns 8!

The “Party:”  There was no theme, no big party, no guests except for one.  She wanted it simple.  Her best friend was soon moving away, (sniff, sniff), so she requested a day out with her.  We went out to sushi for lunch, took her to get her ears pierced, rode the trolley car, went out to froyo for dessert, and then the two of them played.  Sierra was thrilled.  It was a beautiful day.  And, it was two weeks before her actual birthday.

On her actual birthday, she awoke to her “under the bed present.”  Downstairs we enjoyed breakfast.  Next came a trip to the park, shoe shopping, lunch at Panera, play time with just her sisters, a movie with her brothers, and finally her Papa’s homemade chicken caesar salad per her request.

Simple.  Yes.  Wonderful.  Yes.  My only regret… not enough pictures!

Happy birthday, my sweet 8 year old!

Fall Piano Recital 2017

This was our first Fall Piano Recital, and it was so much fun… our teacher has the students dress-up in costumes, decorates for Halloween, and gives more “fun” musical pieces rather than formal ones.  It was the perfect first recital for Malachi.  Now we have a little break before preparing for the spring recital!

Halloween 2017

A few days ago I was kicking myself for getting a shark costume for V-man.  It’ll be way too hot!  Then Halloween came… a gloriously gloomy day!  Oh, how adorable was he with his little tail wagging…

We were blessed to have friends and Grandma join us in our festivities!

Pumpkin carving: Nothing like waiting until the last minute!  (I had to buy mini baking pumpkins because that’s all they had left!  At least I saved some money!)

Traditional Halloween dinner:  Sloppy Joe’s, orange jello, veggies, rootbeer

Trick-or-Treat time!  X-man LOVED the treat part!

L-R:  Ghost buster, shark, butterfly, cat, ghost

Sorting candy is always a favorite.  There’s always more than I know what to do with!!!

Another fun Halloween…

Puberty Getaway

Just typing that title makes me laugh… my kids cringe whenever I use the word “puberty!”  But just like I took Allison up the mountain when she was in 6th grade last year, this year it was Natalie’s turn.  Despite the somewhat ‘heavy’ content, it is such a sweet bonding time… and lots of fun!

Our view:  not bad, eh?

Just like with Allison, we ate all of our meals al fresco.  Leaving behind 100 degree weather for temps in the 70’s was about as ideal as possible!

There is so much content in the program we use: Passport 2 Purity.  I was so thankful I had done it before, so I knew to work a bit ahead of what’s recommended the first night.  We got the “disturbing” part over with the first night so that we could sleep it off.

Hotel breakfast!

Morning fall walk: glorious!

For our afternoon activity, I bought Natalie a new Manga drawing book and clandestinely brought her markers and Microns to have a drawing date.  Unfortunately, the Microns were out of ink, so we made a little adventure out of it and found an art shop in the next town over.  I had such fun learning to draw with my girl!

Our dinner tradition: “virgin margaritas.”

Dollar Tree face masks — not what we expected, but we sure laughed!  (Surprisingly, we still had soft faces!)

2 down, 1 to go for me…

I sure loved our getaway, Naties!

If It Has to be Summer…

…at least there are butterflies and bees and basil and bell peppers and zinnias and tomato plants!  Honestly, the hot weather has me a bit grumpy.  I mean, 102 degrees at the end of October!!!  Thankfully, after I tore out every single zinnia, every single one you see in these pictures spontaneously came up themselves!  And, our dead bell pepper plant returned to life for a third time.  (How many lives does a pepper plant have, anyway?)   And, of course, we are still loving our Friday night basil pizza.  Summer, you’re not all bad… But, Fall… we are ready for you any time now!!

Cookie Tragedy

One-on-one time is something I cherish with my littles, but not something I get to have very often.  For weeks, my son had been asking to make Halloween sugar cookies to decorate — just he and I.  Today I decided to surprise him.  First we made the dough.  Then we put it in the fridge to harden and went for a long bike ride/ run while we waited.  (He biked, I ran!)  Finally, we got out the rollers and the flour and the cookie cutters and got to work.  We made four trays.   They smelled glorious.  We went out to dinner with the family while they cooled, and then…

We returned home to discover our dog had jumped on the counter and ate 21 cookies, (and partially ate/ licked the rest!)  Grrrrr!!!!!  I swept the crumbs off the floor, and the kids gratefully ate one of Allison’s lemon cookies she had made just a few days before.  I’m trying to tell myself it’s not about the cookies, but about the mother/son bonding.  (But let’s be honest… I really wanted to decorate the cookies, too!)  We’ll see if I can find the time/ energy to whip up another batch.  To be continued…