Sierra Turns 9

My horse-loving, doll-loving, dance-loving, creative girl turned 9!   Apparently, she was so excited to open her under-the-bed present that she asked her current roommate, Grandma, if t was morning yet all night long! She was delighted to discover her Wellie-wisher “Ashlyn” as her under-the-bed present.  (She even got a beautiful hand-drawn Ashlyn card from Natalie!)

After her favorite breakfast, eggs-in-the-nest, she got to go on a special horse trail ride and out to lunch with her sisters and her Papa.

We finished the day off with a sushi diner and cupcakes.  I’d say that’s a pretty wonderful birthday!

Happy birthday to my last little girl; the one who keeps me smiling with her humor and creativity, and on my knees  when she gets that look in her eyes!  I love you, Seesers!


Candy Science

Squish.  Melt.  Disintegrate.  Microwave.  Laugh.  Learn.

It had been years since we last did “candy science” after Halloween… we were due for some candy science fun!  Not to mention, we have WAY too much candy in this house!

This year, the girls were old enough to look up experiments themselves.  Also, I had them do a little writing to turn into our ES for school.  And to make them think.  Our years at Classical Conversations drilled into us the scientific method, and so long ago I made up a generic science sheet with the scientific method on it.  It’s simple and fun and helps them to organize their thoughts and think a little deeper.

And, of course, Sierra wants me to tell you that it was just plain FUN!

Halloween 2018

It may have been Halloween, but we still had some school to get done!  Thankfully, Grandma was here to listen to Halloween books!

Lunch:  Orange “pumpkin” pinwheels.  (I love how Sierra loves taking pictures of her food creations!)

And, our traditional sloppy joes dinner with pumpkin jello and “special drinks.”

The kids always love coming up with their own special costumes, but I especially love their choices this year.  First up — Allison, aka “Tar Woman,” (from a book… of course!)

Malachi:  aka U.S. Army Tank Driver

Xavy: aka Baby Shark for the second year in a row!  (Still just as cute!)

Sierra: aka “Pumpkin Girl”  I love how she came up with the entire costume idea herself.  That hair is the best!

Oh, Natalie!  You are so incredibly talented.  She decided to be a raccoon, designed her own shirt, and came up with pom pom ears and her own face paint.  Love it, girl!!

Who needs a costume, when your eyes automatically make you look scary?  (I don’t know what’s up with my eyes, but at least the look “works” for Halloween!)  Besides… nobody is looking at us, but at that gorgeous sky God painted for us!!

And our favorite.. candy sorting and taste testing!  Looking forward to the candy experimenting tomorrow!

Happy Halloween!


Did Halloween sneak up on anybody else?  Wow… It felt like one minute we were swimming and bemoaning the start of school, and the next I was being asked to help with Halloween costumes!  It was a fun way to ease into our Monday, though… I helped one kid with a doll lunch box, another with some homemade pom poms for her costume, and this guy with his army tank.  (Xavy, I’m glad you still want to wear last year’s shark costume!)  Can’t wait to show you the final product… it turned out pretty cool; (especially for being “thrown together” the day before our co-op costume day!)

One thing I want to remember about this day is the heart of my little man.  Throughout the day, he kept saying, “Mom… I know I’ve already said this, but I just have to say thanks again for spending this time with me and helping me.”  ***sigh*** With that heart, I think I would buy you a real tank, dude!

Broccoli Cheddar Soup

For the most part, living in Southern California means I just get to pretend that it’s fall.  Of course, we still eat candy corn, adorn the house with pumpkins, and make fresh bread and soup — only we do it in tank tops and flip flops rather than cardigans and flannels.  (At least it cools off enough to open the windows at night!)

So far, I have made corn and potato chowder, chicken and wild rice soup, (my favorite), chili, and broccoli cheddar soup, (the kids’ favorite).  This time around, I actually found a wonderful broccoli cheddar recipe, so I wanted to document it here for days when it actually is cold and we actually need soup.  (The kids even commented, “This soup is really good this time!”)

Broccoli Cheddar Soup


  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1/2 cup melted butter
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 cup half and half
  • 2 quarts chicken stock
  • 3 cups coarsely chopped broccoli florets
  • 2 cup matchstick-cut carrots
  • 4 – 5 cups shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
  • salt and ground black pepper to taste


  1. Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a skillet over medium-high heat. Saute onion in hot butter until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add broccoli, carrots, and chicken stock; simmer until vegetables are tender, about 20 minutes.
  2. Whisk 1/2 cup melted butter and flour together in a large saucepan over medium-low heat; cook until flour loses it’s granular texture, adding 1 to 2 tablespoons of milk if necessary to keep the flour from burning, 3 to 4 minutes.
  3. Gradually pour milk into flour mixture while whisking constantly. Stir chicken stock into milk mixture. Bring to a simmer; cook until flour taste is gone and mixture is thickened, about 20 minutes.
  4. Stir Cheddar cheese into vegetable mixture until cheese melts. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

OCFA Firefighter Picnic 2018

Xavy could have spent the entire day on the fish ride.  He rode it so much that I began to get dizzy for him!  The worker loved him, too, and continually asked him if he wanted to stay on.  Of course, he always said yes.

Free food.  Free games.  Ice cream. Soda. Candy.  Junk Food.  Rides. Fishing.  Boat Rides.  Prizes.  No lines.  No crowds. Safe.  Family and Friends. Face Painting.  Mini Golf.   Bounce Houses.  Balloons.  Clowns.  Petting Zoo.  Pumpkin Decorating. Live music.  What’s not to love?  Yet another wonderful time at the annual Firefighter’s Picnic.

My Artistic Bird Girl

This year, the girls and I added an online watercolor course to our curriculum.  Though most of the techniques were already familiar to the older girls due to their classical art class they have taken the past 4 years, it’s still been a fun bonding time for us.  Last Thursday, while I cleaned out the garden and picked our last bouquet of zinnias before the winds were predicted to return, Natalie joined me outside to practice her watercolors. Natalie has been my bird girl AND my artist since she was little.  It is so amazing to see her completely surpass me in art.   To be totally honest, I think all the girls are better than me at this medium.  I just love seeing what they do and hopefully with a few more of our lessons I will be able to do what they do!

Hike Day

Sometimes I don’t write in this little space for a week or two because life just happens and I don’t have a lot to write.  Then there are other times when I feel like I have so much to write, but I don’t know where to begin or how to compile my scatter-brained thoughts.  I think the latter is what has been happening these past few weeks…

I’ve been thinking a lot about our homeschooling journey, lately.  As with all journeys, there are different places that offer different views; some spectacular, some kind of boring, and others beautiful in their own way.

As I was pondering our homeschooling, it occurred to me that we have unintentionally broken our schooling into 4-5 year seasons.  My first season homeschooling was spent learning the basics, doing lots of arts and crafts, music, baking, and surviving with babies and toddlers.  I can still remember doing reading time on a bedroom floor while simultaneously building blocks with a toddler, or doing math under a play structure at the park while the other kids played in the sand.  These years were so precious, and offered a lot of freedom, but I started to feel as though we needed more structure.

The next 4 years we were part of a community that I loved, which offered wonderful content as well as great friends and a sense of purpose and structure that we had been lacking.  As with all things, it came with a few negatives such as losing some of the freedom I had so loved in the earlier days.  Honestly, I look back at both seasons with a lot of fondness.  One wasn’t necessarily “better” than the other — they both offered different things we needed at different times.

We are now entering yet another new season in homeschooling.  This year we joined a new community that is actually local to us, which offers me a lot more freedom and a few hours of free time.  Daniel’s job has also changed, allowing him to be home every night for our family dinners.  We have intentionally cut-back on some of the academics and extracurriculars to allow more freedom for hikes, field trips, reading together, and spontaneous activities.  (See pictures above of our first hike with our new community today!)

Again, this new season is not necessarily better than the last 2 seasons.  But, it is providing exactly what we need at this time in our journey — more rest, more freedom, and more freedom to rest!  I feel my joy and excitement for this journey being renewed and refreshed once again.

All that to say, change can be hard.  There is an adjustment period in everything.  But, it can also be so good.  There is not one “ideal” community or system out there, which is the beauty of homeschooling, really.  We are given the freedom to try, to experiment, to start over… sometimes daily!  And, that’s ok.  It is not the end-product we are after, but rather the process, the journey, and the relationships we are blessed to be a part of.  Each day is a gift, and as my children are getting older and I am seeing the days slipping away, I am more grateful for this gift, and want to be more intentional with our time together.

If you’re still reading this, thanks for listening to my ramblings!

P.S.  Who are those big kids in the pictures????