Eat Me!

She wanted to bake cinnamon rolls, but we were missing three ingredients.  After some more searching, she decided on pinwheel cookies.  She wanted to make them completely by herself — which was great, because I didn’t have time to help her!  I peaked in at one point and saw the 2 perfect balls of dough — one white, and one pink.  She asked if I could help her with the rolling part.  “Nope.”  I came back a few minutes later to find marbleized “Eat Me” cookies!  So clever… Not pinwheels, but we all enjoyed eating them.  I only wished I hadn’t finished my second cup of coffee before they were done!!

Feelings…

I was sitting in my office working on my to-do list when the thunder boomed.  I looked out the open window to see some dark clouds rolling in.  From the kitchen, I overheard the kids eating their grilled cheese and telling Xavi it’s ok — the thunder is cool and won’t hurt him!

I grabbed my phone and went to the back porch where I snapped these three pictures.  While the pictures are beautiful, it occurred to me that they don’t really tell the full story.  Seeing the beauty is one thing, but hearing all the different birds harmonize through the thunder… feeling the slightly warm  summer breeze blow over me, and breathing in the fresh summer air all worked together to stir my soul.

I walked back in, where the kids’ conversation continued.  “Is there ever a day that’s not amazing here?”  (Obviously, they already forgot the toils of Monday!)   I had to agree with them, though…. Despite being surrounded by boxes and having spent 2 full weeks here without really getting out, we really do feel like we are living in paradise!

Allison’s 15th Birthday Celebration

There were no decorations.  No theme.  No “fancy food.”  I didn’t vacuum.  I didn’t bake a single thing, nor plan a single activity.  And yet…

… they came.  They swam.  They ate.  They didn’t care that I didn’t even vacuum.  Surrounded by boxes and sitting in a room that echoed, we had a blast!

As I sat talking with my friends inside, Allison came running in with a big smile on her face.  “These are my kind of people!” she exclaimed.  “What do you mean?” I asked.  “They want to dissect a fish!”  Allison had taken home a frog, a pig, a fish, and some other creatures from her biology teacher since they weren’t able to dissect them together this spring.  So the crazy kid decided to do a dissection at her party!

Watched these two grow-up.  I still remember holding sweet Nia in the nursery at church and thinking she was such a beautiful baby.  Now they are both beautiful young women!

Speaking of growing-up, how did this girl go from kid to young woman before my eyes? You are beautiful, Allison Hannah!  Happy birthday!

Jackson and Xavi.  Best buddies.

Malachi and his buddies:  Noah and Christian!

So thankful for 15 years of friendship, birthday parties, swim dates, Chick-fil-A, coffee, walks, talks, and lots of prayer with this mighty woman of God!!

And, TWINS!!

Though it was unlike any other party at this house, yet it was the same.  Nothing else really matters but the people that bless our lives.  I am so thankful that Allison asked God to give her one last birthday in this house.  And, I am so thankful for a God who is faithful and cares about the “little things” and blessed not just Allison, but all of us with a final party!!

Check, Check!

A couple days ago, as I began feeling time slip by quicker than I wanted, I called the kids together for a little impromptu meeting.  It went something like this:

“Everybody, write down some of your goals for the next 2 weeks.  Who do you want to see?  What do you want to eat?  What days are you going to pack what?  Write EVERYTHING down then show it to me.”

We’ve had our last Round Table Pizza Gourmet Veggie for a while… (you HAVE to try it!)  In ‘n Out burgers, boba, and dim sum — check, check, check!  We also got to see Daniel’s side of the family.  The cousins got to swim, and I enjoyed the company of my sister-in-law, who blessed me with a 3 month supply of milk tea.  Woohoo!!

One person on my list I didn’t have the number for and hadn’t seen in a year.  She was a favorite babysitter of the the kids, and sometimes just shows up at our door.  Daniel and I joked that she might show up once we left and wonder what happened, so I prayed she would show up.  Guess who called out of the blue last night?  Another answered prayer on this journey…

And now, for real, I need to get packing before the crazy record heat arrives today!

Moving is FUN…

…,when you’re 5 and 8 and you discover your empty toy box makes a fun train car for you to push your brother down the neighbor’s driveway in!

(And HOW is Xavi going to survive winter when I can’t get him to wear anything but shorts??)

Memory Lane; What I Will Miss

Twenty-five things I will miss about our life here in California:

Our lemon tree!  Growing up, our neighbors had a lemon tree, and I wondered why anyone would want one.  Now that  I have one, I don’t know how I am going to live without one!

Our annual trip to Oak Glen to pick apples.  There is nothing like traditions… and good friends… and mountain air… and fall apples!

The “Rock Garden” and walking the “Wilson Trail.”  Both terms are common in our house, yet terms only our family knows relaying to our neighborhood.  Special.

Our annual trip to the LA County Fair.  I am sure I will miss this, though whenever I think about the Fair, all I can think of is HEAT and DIRT.

Our chartreuse door.  Though, I have new ideas for our new Montana door!

Storm.  Never thought I would like a rabbit, but this guy was pretty sweet and oh so soft!  So happy he is loving his new life with our friends and made friends with their chickens!

The Coffee Klatch!  When I first moved here 23 years ago, my friends and I would spend hours at the Klatch grading papers, playing cards, and drinking Patios.  Fast forward 20 some years, and I have introduced the Patio to my coffee-loving daughter.  It is still hands-down the best coffee drink ever!  Nevermind it has several scoops of ice cream in it, plus their “secret ingredient.”  Do you think they’ll tell me what the secret ingredient is if I let them know I am moving to Montana?

Club 56.  For the last 5 years, I have been part of the 5th/6th grade ministry at our church.  I love the leaders as well as the kids, and will miss it greatly! (This is my cabin of girls from Winter Camp back at the end of February!)

Handel’s Homemade Ice Cream.  How many Thursdays did we take a drive to Handel’s for their $1 scoop Thursdays?  (Which increased to $1.25 and then $1,50, all while getting smaller!)  I remember stopping there after art class…and stopping there after soccer practice… and driving past a plethora of Thursdays and going in. Grandma even began planning her weekend visits for Thursday instead of Friday so we could hit Handels!  We have consumed A LOT of Handels!

My succulents.  They’re the only plants that have thrived in my yard, and they were all started form free clippings!

626 Night Market and the abundance of Asian Food places we have visited.  I doubt we will find authentic, quality Asian food in Montana, but at least Daniel can cook!

Day Creek Park.   Countless walks, games of hide and seek, Holy Yoga with the neighbors, kite flying, watching bats at dusk, throwing the dog the ball, tennis lessons, etc.  So many memories!

Beach trips.  Love the beach.  Love the mountains more.

Trips to the Firehouse.  My absolute favorite was on Thanksgiving… having firefighters do all the cooking and cleaning while the kids run around and play and I kick back in an easy chair.  Yes.  Firehouse, you will be missed!

This view from my office.  Glad we are going where there are mountains or I don’t think I would feel nearly as excited!

Our pastor.  How many ties have we left church, looked at each other, and declared, “We are so blessed!  We have the best church!”

Our prolific peach tree.  Peach juice dripping down sticky chins after an afternoon swim.  Peach jam spread on sourdough toast.  Peaches in pancakes, on waffles, and the star of peach galette!

This kitchen table.  It’s already been given to a loving home.  So many meals shared, parties celebrated, and science projects demonstrated on it!

Our homeschool group.  Here Xavi is modeling his “crazy hair” for crazy hair day online during this pandemic.

This pool!  For obvious reasons…

Our new(wish) bathroom.  The wallpaper may have o make another appearance at our new home!

Lizards.  They are everywhere.  We love finding them on our walks.  We don’t love finding them at the bottom of our pool.

Our Magnolia Tree!  This was just taken this week as friends came by to swim and help pack.  They all had to climb the tree “one last time” before leaving.  I’ll never forget the lovely smell of magnolia flowers in the summer, and how the kids would play with the red magnolia seeds in the fall.

These are just a few of the things I will miss once we move.  It goes without saying, the thing I will miss most about leaving is the relationships I have formed in my 23 years here.  The friendships go so deep, I dare say they are more like extended family than friends.  That being said, we will hopefully have “family” visiting us often!

While there is so much to miss, (and I was surprised by the emotion that hit while compiling the pictures for this post), there is also much to look forward to!  Though our California chapter is coming to a close, the next chapter promises much.  I am looking forward to it with hope, joy, and expectancy.  What new lives will be added to our extended family?  What will the cold teach us about slowing down, about the beauty of seasons, about our God?  What new traditions will we add?  What “big thing” will God call us to next?

And so we say goodbye to this chapter with sadness that much will be missed, but excitement knowing God is faithful and will continue to provide in new and wonderful ways!

(P.S.  I WON’T miss the Santa Ana Winds, the oppressive fall heat, the smog colored skies, or the California politics)

Garlic Parmesan Fries

We have a new favorite side around here…  I’ve made them twice this month, already!  They are from Creme de la Crumb.  My kids LOVE these!!

Ingredients

  • 34 large russet potatoes, sliced into wedges
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese
  • optional: fresh parsley (or cilantro), ranch or blue cheese dressing for dipping

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 375.
  • Place potato wedges in a large bowl. Drizzle with olive oil and toss to coat. In a small bowl whisk together salt, garlic powder, and Italian seasoning. Sprinkle potato wedges with the shredded cheese, tossing to coat, then sprinkle with the seasoning mixture.
  • Place potato wedges on prepared baking sheet in a single layer with skin-sides-down. Bake for 25-35 minutes until potatoes are fork-tender and golden. Sprinkle with freshly chopped parsley and dressing for dipping.

You’re welcome!!!

Mother’s Day 2020

Before going to bed, I promised Sierra that if I ran Boba in the morning, I would crawl back in bed when I got home.  I did indeed run Boba… and you can bet I crawled back in bed!!  She and Daniel made blueberry waffles from her American Girl magazine, and she made the eggs and smoothie herself for me.  Lying in bed smelling all the yummy smells was fun, but what made my heart leap and made it the best day was when I heard her ask her brother, “Malachi, do you want to help Papa and I?”  She didn’t have to do that.  I wasn’t even in there to hear her request.  But, I couldn’t stop smiling… my girl is maturing so beautifully!

Homemade cards are my fave!  For an afternoon treat, we had homemade slushes made from real strawberries, (yet another American Girl inspiration!)  Oh, they were so fun — and delicious!

I LOVE this last picture; my 5 blessings surrounded by a mess!  This was a different Mother’s Day, to say the least.  First, we were unable to go to church, but cozied up on the couch with an extra cup of coffee to watch online.  We were also unable to get food from many restaurants we attempted to order from due to coronavirus.  We ended up with KFC for dinner, but happily enjoyed every bite!  We were surrounded by messes due to packing. but it didn’t;t even bother me — we counted our blessings, and dreamed of our future in Montana.  Everything about it was sweet.  I think this was my favorite Mother’s Day ever!  I am one blessed mama!

She Bakes…

She got the American Girl cookbook “Breakfast and Brunch” for finishing her entire math book early.

S:  “Mom… Can I bake breakfast from my new cookbook?”

Me:   “Of course!!!”

S:  “Really?!  Wow, thanks!  I thought you’d say no for sure.  You’re the best!”

Me:  Wow.  She thinks I’m the best and I think she’s the best because I don’t have to think of what to make for breakfast!  Win, win!!

Ever Since he was Able to Gawk….

Oh, this boy… my boy!  (I’m so glad he’s mine!)  He has LOVED construction vehicles since… forever!  When our neighbor who shares about 5 feet of fence with us told him they were having construction vehicles come, Malachi was up early and on the wall waiting the next morning… for hours…  This entire week, if I can’t find Malachi, I go look on the wall!  The neighbor said he was the exact same way when he was a kid, and he loves seeing Malachi on the wall.

To this day, I can’t pass a construction site without yelling, “Malachi, look!!!”  (And then half the time I realize he’s not even in the car!)  I am certain that he will be out of the house, living on his own, and I will still smile every time I pass a construction site.  Oh, my sweet boy…