Allison turns 14!

Allison’s birthday just so happens to fall on National Donut Day… Unfortunately, she is not a huge donut fan, but she is a huge pastry fan!  She was the first one up on her birthday, so I got to have special time with just my girl, opening her “under-the-bed-present” before she sent me off for pastries!

Her party was on her actual birthday this year, so after breakfast we got right to work cleaning up and preparing for the party.  The theme was “science” with 2 activities:  First  was “Guess the Concoction.”  The girls were able to raid our refrigerator and pantry and make up a 3-ingredient concoction while one girl was out of the room.  When that guest returned, she had to see if she could guess the ingredients.

Some concoctions were pretty bad, while others were super sweet.  They really got into this, which made it super fun to see!

After the game, we rushed through dinner, cake, and presents before sending the girls off to their second activity: an Escape Room.  It was called “Sector 13” and took place in a chemistry lab where they had to find an antidote to save one of the workers…

The girls came home so excited about their Escape Room adventure.  They were able to escape with 1:55 to go!  I was so impressed, as none of them had ever done an escape room before and this was an intermediate challenge.  The girls wandered outside with the animals, picking strawberries and peaches, and sharing all the cool things that took place on their adventure.  I see another escape room adventure in our near future!!

Allison declared it one of her best birthdays…. hooray!  Happy birthday, to my very favorite 14 year old!!!


Piano Recital 2019

We have four kids who take piano, but only three who participated in the recital.   The fourth is a lot like I was; terrified of recitals.  I go back and forth as a parent as to whether I should force the situation, but ultimately decided to let her have this year off.

This recital was my favorite to date.  Our piano teacher this year is so incredibly gifted at finding what makes each kid tick, and then encouraging them in their strengths.  We call her Mary Poppins.  Never have my kids been so enthusiastic about piano.  (Even our sweet S who didn’t play in the recital really enjoyed learning piano this year!)

They each have some music for the summer, and have already started practicing, even though we take a break from lessons.  By fall, I am usually longing to hear them practice away, but this year I may actually grow tired of so much piano; and I am ok with that!!


When Malachi and I finished reading the Narnia books, I wasn’t sure what we’d read next.  Then Natalie suggested the Sugar Creek Gang series.  While I can’t say I love the books, I will say they are great for a boy Malachi’s age.  We recently finished book 3, in which the gang needed to make a fire, but had no matches.  They used an elderly gentleman’s eyeglasses, which brought back memories of me killing ants and burning newspapers with a magnifying glass when I was a kid…

The next day I introduced Malachi to the joys of using a magnifying glass to start fire, and he’s been hooked for a couple weeks.  They’ve done origami paper, Magnolia leaves with their friends names burnt into them, and of course marshmallows!  At least once a day you can find my kids outside playing with fire!


For weeks I’ve neglected the garden… (and the house, and everything else!)  With sickness, rain, and finishing up school, May was really just a blur.  But, this past week the sun came out again.  The sickness is (mostly) gone, so we’ve enjoyed open windows and welcomed the warm spring air.  Once again, I was able to get out of bed before the kids and enjoy my morning run with the dog and quiet time with God.  The garden is pretty non-existent due to the chickens and rats, but at least our flowers and peaches are thriving.  I was even able to cut a few wonky bouquets to freshen up the kitchen.  Once again, I am feeling ALIVE!

On the to-do list this week: peach jam!!  (And preparing for Allison’s 14th birthday!!)  The kids have caught the organization bug, which has me all kinds of happy!!  In between playing and reading, they will hopefully continue organizing their lives while I organize mine!  My organization list is a mile long, and I am already praying I get it all done before school creeps up on us, again.

If you’re in the neighborhood, come on by for some peaches!!

p.s.  Did you see those red flowers on our cactus??

Mother’s Day 2019


No mother- kid pictures this year.  No dates with the kids.  Just a few pics to remember the effort made to make it a fabulous Mother’s Day, despite the nasty sickness afflicting us…

It’s been a long 11 days!  My poor husband and kids had planned such a special Mother’s day.  Quiche for breakfast – church – poke bowls for lunch – send me off to a massage while making ribs for dinner… Instead it was quiche – church for a few, while the sickies and I napped – Costco for extra boxes of Kleenex – poke bowl for me, which I couldn’t finish – massage where I couldn’t stop coughing and blowing my nose – no dinner and off to bed early.

It sounds sad, but really my heart was brimming with joy despite feeling like my body was run over by a truck.  From bed, I look at a picture of my kids 7 years ago… oh, how much harder it was to be sick back then!  Instead, I was home in a cozy bed — the kids let me sleep — Daniel took care of everything; what more could I ask for?  Oh, and did you see that beautiful cake he and Sierra designed for me?  Precious!  (And delicious!)

I am now finally 90% better, as noted by the fact that I had my first cup of coffee in 11 days this morning.  But, Daniel and some of the kiddos are still worse off.  This bug decided to hit the entire household.  The forecast says rain all week, so I think we are going to just stay cozy and recover and hopefully open ALL the windows and do some cleaning this weekend!

The Visitors… (Mario and Luigi?)

This morning as the girls and I were at the table doing school, these two handsome gentlemen came walking down the stairs.  We had already been interrupted a few times, so I was tempted to move on… but we couldn’t stop laughing, and ended up taking pictures and creating fun little old fashioned movies.  Homeschooling is a pretty cool gig… you never know who might show up!

Gracelaced Day

I’ve long been a fan of Ruth Chou Simons — artist, homeschooling mom of 6 boys, classical education. woman after God’s own heart.  She is full of wisdom, and always points to Christ.  When I first learned she would be in California, I immediately checked my calendar and signed up!  It was such a blessing to hear and meet her in person!  The day was lovely… the message of walking in our Christ-centered identity, the endless coffee and goodies, the beautiful flowers, the surrounding hills, and a day with my dear friend!  These days of refreshing are so wonderful and so necessary!

Ruth, you are a blessing to so many.  Keep pointing us to Christ in your beautiful, humble, sincere way!

Gold Rush!

It was the perfect way to finish up our year of studies on California history… a trip to one of our favorite places, Riley’s Farm, for their Gold Rush Tour.   (Do you see that beautiful bird we saw?)

From learning about the miners to the people who made the dynamite to the bankers and merchant and everything in-between, it was not only a good lesson in history, but lots of fun!  Once we finished visiting each station, the kids were sent off to earn as much money as they could.

There was even the job of keeping the Inn clean for the miners!

Carrying nitro glycerin to the mining cave turned out to be the most profitable venture.   The kids found gold, dealt with bank notes, were able to purchase tools, and had a blast.  At the end, they were served a miner’s ration of cheese, jerky, and corn bread and then they were able to use their profits to bid on little goodies using what they earned.

If you ever have the chance, I highly recommend the Gold Rush Tour!

Easter 2019

Aaaaannnd, for the millionth time, here is the simple and delicious edible mint play dough recipe:

2/3 c light corn syrup

1 stick butter

2 tsp peppermint extract

1 tsp salt

1 bag (2 lbs.) powdered sugar

food coloring

Mix in a Kitchen Aid.  Separate into desired number of balls, and add food coloring.  Mix using latex gloves to save your hands.  Enjoy!

What a week, what a week!!  It went something like this — Sunday; Xavi’s party. Monday; prepare our garden for garden judging, Tuesday; Xavi’s actual birthday, and a trip to the bounce house, Wednesday; Grandma and Grandpa arrive, Thursday; Garden judging and I fly out to Utah to meet Daniel for a fun getaway; Saturday; we fly back home, Sunday; Easter!  Whew — we made it!

How wonderful to end such a busy week with the celebration of Easter and the resurrection of our Savior!  We enjoyed church, Easter baskets, egg salad (of course!), egg hunt, watching Peter Rabbit, games, mint play dough, and a wonderful dinner cooked by Daniel, which I failed to snap a picture of.  In fact, Daniel and Grandpa somehow missed all the pictures, but let me reassure you they were there!

He is risen!