Snow Fun!

How has it been so long since I last blogged?  There have been lots of factors, including the fact that I have been lazy about bringing my camera places now that my husband has an i-phone.  Instead of going back, I thought I’d start from our most recent adventures.

This week, we took a couple days off school and headed for the snow to celebrate Valentine’s Day, (and my 44th birthday!)  When we arrived, we were greeted with lots of snow and the kids jumped right in…

Xavy loved “feeding” this squirrel snow.

You have a lovely heart, dear Allison!

Hot chocolate and marshmallows for the win, and then right back out!

These guys played in the yard, while Allison, Daniel, and Malachi went sledding.

Inside, we were cozy as could be.  Hide and seek, games galore, reading, and movies consumed our time.

The next morning, we awoke to rain that had been pouring all night.  Most of the snow was gone.  Yet, we were not sad about it one bit.  More games, more movies, and time to just hang as a family while the wind howled and the rain poured outside.  It was glorious.

The morning started with Daniel’s special Valentines for all the kids and me.  It is a favorite tradition for so many reasons.  Each card is specially picked for each kid, and every chocolate is gourmet.  Daniel, you spoil us!

These 2 brave boys wanted to go out in the storm, so… I let them!  And then, my picture taking ended.  Too much fun spending time with family and enjoying our day of “nothing.”  We attempted to go sledding the next day, but the snow was all iced over.  We’ll save that for another time.  For now, our adventure was family time!

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Cookie Decorating

If you’ve read this blog for any time at all, you may have noticed we love cookie decorating.  I’ve found it’s an especially fun way to get to know new friends, as well as bond with old ones.  Valentine cookies are my favorite for two reasons: cinnamon hearts and strawberry frosting!

After a day of bonding with new friends for the kids, we hosted our small group and bonded with our old friends that evening.  I had just enough leftover frosting for some cupcakes.  If I ever dared to cut out sugar as a New Year’s resolution, it would all be over come Valentine’s Day!

December 2018

I certainly didn’t intend to take more than a month off blogging, but here it is half way through January and I am finally back!  I was beginning to wonder myself whether I could get back in the swing of things.  Sickness was a major part of our month, but as I look back at these pictures, I realize we had a lot of little highlights, as well…

Gingerbread house decorating…

Natalie’s birthday trip to Six Flags with her friend and Daniel…

Natalie’s actual birthday, which was spent in bed other than morning present opening…

December sunsets…

Dog sitting gave this girl lots of cuddle time while she napped on the couch, trying to recover from the sickies…

Christmas Eve presents…  (Can you find Natalie?)

Games and more games…

Danie;’s Christmas breakfast, which he and I enjoyed… (most of the kids were too sick ad opted for smoothies, instead.)

Far too much i pad time…

Christmas Day presents, (and lots of Kleenex!)

A belated birthday cake, where the birthday girl was still not feeling well!

Making miniature food brought by Santa…

FINALLY, Grandma and Grandpa arrive a week later than they had planned.  More presents… More games…

Natalie’s new face painting set got lots of use!

Belated Christmas and Christmas Eve dinners… movies… cuddles…

Decorating “Ugly Sweaters” from Aunt Hilary and Uncle Nate.

Trying to convince Grandma that “Elf” is a good movie.  Not sure we were successful…

Santa bath buddies…

No, December did not look like we had planned. Kleenex, blankets, and a million medicine cups seemed to overtake our Christmas decor.  Attitudes were not the best, despite us trying  to count our blessings.  It’s tough for kids…

But, I can say that we experienced many blessings.  First off, Daniel was home for the longest Christmas break in 15 years!  As he didn’t get sick, he was able to take care of us all as we waddled through the month.  Before the sickness struck, I was able to get all the presents wrapped and ready… whew!  And though our Christmas was just the 7 of us, it was still cozy and fun and RELAXING!

So thankful for a New Year.  For health, family, and a God who extends much grace when we don’t have the best attitudes!

Scenes from a Rainy Day

One of the perks of homeschooling… tea parties on rainy days!  We were so blessed to have no where to go this past Thursday as the rain just poured steadily the entire day.  It also just happened to fall on our Thankful Thursday tea party day, which was a bonus!  My heart was indeed feeling quite thankful!  (How silly we Californians are — one day of rain and it’s like a holiday!)

I just LOVE this rainy day lady Natalie drew… doesn’t she look like Mary Poppins?  I also love listening to her practice “The Grinch” on the piano.  Cozy, cozy, cozy!

It was super dark all day until about 4:30pm when suddenly the sun appeared… as did the most beautiful rainbow!

I was inspired by a phone call from my brother earlier in the morning saying he was making some sourdough.  I couldn’t do sourdough, but I could do our simple bread for dinner; and I did!

And, alas… the view from my office the day after the rain.  Glorious!

Legoland 2018

For Malachi’s 7th birthday, he chose to go to Legoland with his brother and 3 sisters, as well as 3 other sisters… daughters of our dear friends.  For that day, I was “Aunt Cara,” and I can honestly say I loved everything about it.  The park was fairly empty, with no more than a 5 minute wait per ride.  The temperature was just right.  And the kids…

Let me be honest here for a second.  I half-dreaded this day where Daniel and I would be outnumbered 5 – 1.  I worried about dynamics, and who would sit by whom, and tired kids melting down, and arguments over which rides to do next.  But, I took those worries to the Lord at 4:30am that morning with a quick jog and lots of prayer.  I don’t say that for my own glory.  I simply want to say He is SO FAITHFUL and answered every prayer to where I can say there were zero problems.  Seriously.  Not one squabble.  Not one complaint.  Smiles and joy.  I didn’t just “get through” the day — I enjoyed every minute!  (Including the 90 minute drive there and back!)

I’ll leave you with Malachi’s words from the other day.  “Mom.  Can I do exactly the same thing for my birthday next year as this year with the same people and everything?”

That’d be awesome, buddy!

Malachi Turns 7!

He walked into our room before 6am, carrying his “under the bed present.”  It was small and light — he wanted big and heavy!  He didn’t look too disappointed, thankfully. He opened the box to find a note.  I told him it read, “You have the biggest and heaviest present of all — Mama and Papa’s love for you!”  I thought he’d know it was a joke, but tears began to gather and a lip began to tremble, so I quickly told him I was kidding and proceeded to read the note; a treasure hunt!  When he came to the bike, he was THRILLED!  Couldn’t even wait until after breakfast to test it out…

Breakfast was his favorite; mini German pancakes, and of course presents!  Two sets of Legos.  He was the happiest boy on the planet!

The day was relaxing… a little school, out to eat at The Habit, a Dairy Queen ice cream cake for dessert, and then family movie night: “Wreck it Ralph.”

Happy birthday, to the sweetest 7 year old I know!!!

Home for the Holidays

As I mentioned earlier, the day after Thanksgiving we headed to Forest Home for a weekend at camp titled, “Home for the Holidays.”  After digging through our “snow stuff,” I was relieved to find jackets, hats, and scarves for all the kiddos!  We packed up the van and hit the road with joy!

This was the scene just seconds out of the car.  It also happens to be the view from our cabin door.  Spectacular!

First activity: Ornament decorating

Discovering the “gym.”

Exploring the beauty down by the Santa Ana River, and loving the frosty chill that is a treat for us in Southern California!

The next morning…

Gingerbread cookie decorating!!

Free time spent in the craft cabin…

And then off to Canyon Park for high ropes, a zip line, a giant swing, and more beauty by the river…

Just the beauty of being away in God’s creation is enough to refresh the soul.  But, we were also blessed with wonderful worship and speakers who encouraged us and brought us right into the presence of God.  His presence renewed and strengthened my soul, and has me all kinds of excited about welcoming in this Christmas season!

Thanksgiving 2018

Thanksgiving was a smaller, quieter affair this year with just the 7 of us plus Daniel’s cousin.  It fit our theme of “rest” we have experienced this school year, which has been so wonderful.  (Thankfully, with 7 of us nothing is ever that quiet!) We kept with our “turkey and bacon pancakes,” for breakfast, and this year I added a special present to each of us; matching(ish) Christmas jammies.

Because it was so relaxed, I was able to sip an extra cup of coffee with my teenager while she sipped some apple cider.  I love having big kids!!

A simple lunch, and then dinner prep… For the second year in a row, we made all the goodies!  I even decided to make mini pies.  They looked a little dark, but tasted wonderful.  (phew!)

We ate.  We played Tom Turkey and other games.  We watched a movie in our Christmas pajamas.  We went to sleep with renewed gratitude for the gift of family and a family who knows Jesus!

Thanksgiving Break!

Aaaaanddd…. BREAK!

It is now time for…

Playing outside…

Family movies…

Building forts…

Tattoo shops…

Lazy mornings… cozy blankets… brotherly love…

And GIVING THANKS!

We are super excited to celebrate Thanksgiving tomorrow.  And, we are super excited that the next day we head up to Forest Home Family Camp to decorate gingerbread cookies, make ornaments, sing Christmas carols, see a live nativity, watch the Tree Lighting Ceremony, and do a whole host of other activities while bonding as a family and getting into Christmas mode.

It’s the most wonderful time of the year!

Mission San Juan Capistrano

It was one of those early morning adventures… we had to be out of the house by 6:30am.  It sounds funny, but I absolutely LOVE early morning adventures… showering in the dark, baking fresh muffins for the road, loading some sleepyheads in the car with my hot cup of coffee-to-go, and turning up the praise music as we hit the road!  Of course, we hit traffic, but had left early enough to make it to the Anaheim train station with enough time to purchase a second cup of coffee!

The kids were thrilled to take the train, and had some fun bonding time with new friends from our new homeschool group!

Of course, there are definite drawbacks to early morning field trips.  Just getting them to look at me for this picture was no small task!  Once inside the mission, we split off into 3 groups, and had the most awesome tour.  This place is stunning!  And oh, the history…

(above) My group was the “boys group.”  These brothers were learning to make adobe bricks by placing their hands on each other’s shoulders and stomping in a circle! (below) The chapel is the oldest functioning chapel in the U.S.  It is often closed for services, so we were blessed to get to see it.

The “Sacred Garden.”  Our docent told us this is the thorn bush used to make Jesus’ crown of thorns.  If she is correct, I can’t even imagine…

The coy pond was spectacular!!  A definite favorite of the kids…  And, can you spot the lizard below?  Malachi posted it out to me, and I kept asking, “Where?”

After the tour, the kids got to sit in for more history and then an adobe brick making session as a final activity.

At the end we were blessed to have Papa finish workably and meet us at the tour.  The kids then got to show off what they learned and gave him a tour.  WE enjoyed some froyo and play at the park before taking the train back.  It was a long, but wonderful day!

If you get the chance to go, be sure to check out Song of the Swallows, and Jesse Benton Fremont before going.  I am sure there are several other California history mission books, but those are the 2 we had for this year!