Random Thoughts

  • It’s the day before Christmas, (our Christmas Eve celebration, at least), and I feel like I should be stressed out.  December was crazy.  Sickness.  Winds.  Fires.  Birthday parties x 2.  I was later than ever getting out Christmas cards.  Later than ever in buying and wrapping presents.  Yet, here I am blogging.  And, I feel peace.  It is inexplicable, except to say that Jesus is real and His peace passes all understanding.
  • Our gathering is small this year.  Just the grandparents and our family.  We will celebrate tomorrow since Daniel got forced to work Christmas day.  I’m not sad or disappointed.  Again, I feel peace.  The quiet I’ve yearned for the past few months is here.
  • The winds blew in the small branch  above, and I took that picture just as I found it.  It looks like a little unplanned Christmas decor.
  • As always this time of year, my head is swirling.  A new year means new possibilities, new adventures, new starts… What do you have in store, God?  My goal is to ask Him that question more, and to think of my own plans less…
  • I can hardly wait to belt out Christmas praises tomorrow.  Yummy food,  Cozy family time.  Then, I can’t wait to put away Christmas and play games with my kids.

Natalie’s Reindeer Games

My Natalie turned 11!

To celebrate, she requested a “reindeer theme,” which I quickly turned into a “Reindeer Games” party. Thankfully, I was able to find a whole set of free printable online to get me started!

Natalie’s favorite food is potatoes, so our main course was a baked potato bar.  The catch?  Their was a prize for cutest reindeer head potato.

We only had one craft for kids to work on while waiting for everyone to arrive; deer ornaments.

After lunch, we let the games begin!  When each person arrived, they were given a piece of string tied around their wrist, either red or blue, which determined what team they were on.  All of our games were team games with blue (Team Donner) vs. Red (team Blitzen).  We didn’t get pictures of all the games, but here is a sampling:

Game 1:  Rudolph’s Red nose roll… a relay blowing a red pom pom.

Game 2:  Drop the Deer.  First team to successfully hang a candy cane deer on the top wins!  (It took some time!)

Game 3:  Roll a Reindeer  Teams lined up.  One person at a tim would roll, and draw the corresponding reindeer head part.  First team to complete the reindeer head won.

Game 4:  Reindeer Race  Candy cane reindeer on a string  — First team to have all players send the candy cane reindeer back and forth without falling won.

Game 5:   Wrap a Reindeer  Team with coolest reindeer won.

Game 6:  Build a Barn  Most awesome reindeer barn, constructed of toothpicks and marshmallows, won.

Game 7:  Blow a Bubble.  Teams each chose a representative to blow the biggest bubble using Rudolph’s nose as gum.  Largest bubble won!

Other games not pictured… Reindeer Races, where each team had a red pom pom and some vaseline and had to race to put their nose on the reindeer.  Reindeer Mad Libs; self-explanatory.

After leading the games and taking pictures, I sat down for a piece of cake and a cup of coffee only to discover it was time to open presents.  As I searched for my camera, I discovered my oldest had taken it and offered to do the pictures for me.  Uh… yes, PLEASE!  I returned to my friends, coffee, and cake, and the kids took over.

Happy Birthday, Sweet Natalie!!

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!