Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Bitter Sweet

I've been in PA for almost a week with my grandma who is getting ready to go be with Jesus. It's been SO tough to watch her struggle. It's like she's in limbo. We've had moments of great awareness where she answers our questions appropriately, smiles and almost laughs. We've had moments of silent sleep which is so peaceful and we've also had moments of great distress watching her body wretch with seizures.
It's hard to watch and I feel guilt ridden to wish it over. Because that means I wish her to be gone forever. It's a tough spot to be in. We want so much for her to be comfortable. We wish her to be free of pain and suffering. We wish her to be home forever with our Lord and to walk the streets of gold with Pappy.
Even now, I sit in her hospital room, watching her sleep, listening to the shallow breaths and wondering if the next one I hear could be her last. Mommom, I love you so much. Thank you for teaching Gabby how to shuck corn, thank you for playing trains with the boys and thank you for taking me into your world, loving me and teaching me the country way of doing just about everything. I will miss you terribly.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

A New Chapter

Our family, extended and immediate is entering into a new chapter. In 1987, my family moved from VA to CA. An exciting time for a 14 year old. Leaving the country setting to move to the hustle and bustle of Southern California. I went through 3 years of highschool and 4 years of college, met my husband, got married and had 3 kids. So, here we are in 2009.
Just a few days ago, my Dad accepted a new job at Patrick Henry College in VA. This time, they are moving without me! We've never been more than 45 minutes from each other. It will be so odd to not be able to call Shasha and say, "Mom, I have to come over and let the kids run in your back yard. I'm about to lose my mind."
Yesterday, I decided to break the news to Gabby, knowing that the news would break her heart. She would need time to get used to idea. She broke down in tears and could barely speak. In between sobs I heard her say, "I'm not going to see Shasha and Papa anymore." We hugged and talked about the trip we're tying to plan to visit them in May 2010.

After I put the boys to bed last night, I went into Gabby's room to tuck her in and I found her drawing and writing. She handed me this:

I think it says it all.

Shasha and Papa, we'll miss you SO much but are thrilled for your new opportunity. While you're looking for a new house, we only have one request. Please be sure there are enough bedrooms for all of us! We love you!

Thanksgiving Feast

Today was "Thanksgiving Feast" day at preschool. Zack was thrilled that Mom's, Dad's and siblings were able to come to school today too!

Parents brought in all kinds of snacks for the kids (including slices of turkey!) for them to celebrate Thanksgiving as a class. They even told their teacher what they were thankful for. Here was Zack's. At least he got his priorities straight. Mom first, then treats!

Even Josh got in on the fun. He was saying "hi" to Zippity and Oreo.

We even made a Thanksgiving wreath.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Happy Veteran's Day

Today, the kids had the day off from school and we tried to talk to them about why. We talked about what a Veteran was, what they have done, and how that helps us. Each Wednesday, the kids on our street get together for "Kids Club". All this really is is an organized playdate at someone's house and the hosting house plans an activity for the kids to do.
Today, we made cards for a marine and his platoon. This marine is the Daddy of one of the girls in Gabby's Daisy troop.
We walked over to their house to deliver our cards and a bag of candy. The picture above was taken at a house across the street from the Marine family's house. As we knocked at their door, I got all welled up and could hardly speak. I was so overwhelmed with the kindness of the kids and them yelling "Happy Veteran's Day" as the door opened.
What a pleasure to bless a veteran's family today.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

White Bean Chicken Chili

I've been loving the cooler CA weather (except for today of was 85 degrees!) and when it's cooler, my cooking turns to soups, stews and chili. I found this wonderful recipe for white bean chicken chili. I must admit I borrowed it from this gal's blog who adapted it from Paula Deen's recipe on Food Network.
Now, she used cans of beans and cooked it on the stove, I used dried beans and my crock pot. You can adapt this recipe to fit your family's needs. Any way it's made, I'm sure it's amazing. Here was my recipe.

3 chicken breasts cooked in a pan with olive oil and 1 medium onion diced.
1 bag of "small white beans" rinsed and cooked in a pan filled with water that "just covers" the beans
(I cooked the beans while I was cooking the chicken)

In the crockpot, I put:
4 cans of chicken stock
1 tsp orgagno
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp cumin
salt and pepper to taste
3 mild jalapenos sliced thinly

Once the chicken is browned and the onions are a nice brown color too, I placed them in the crockpot and took some of the chicken broth from the crockpot and placed it back in the hot chicken pan to deglaze it. I poured that back in the crockpot and then poured the beans (broth and all) in the crockpot too. I set the temperature on high and let it cook all afternoon. About 3 hours later, the chicken was done and I took it out and shredded it. Put it back in the crockpot and then took a potato masher to the beans to thicken the chili. Cooked it for about 30 minutes more.

I made rice to go with it because my kids aren't big bean eaters and tonight I didn't want to fight. I served the chicken and broth over the rice for the kids. They lapped it up!

So, if your weather is cool (or if you've got your air conditioning on like I did today) cook this up for a good comforting meal. It makes a ton and will freeze well.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Free Halloween Printable Gift Tags

Gabby and I did some assembly work tonight. We bagged up her "treats" for her classroom party at school. True "treats" aren't allowed due to district policy, so our "treat" bags include halloween pencils and a small halloween activity book. Tomorrow we'll be adding some yellow ribbon to our gift bags along with these super cute gift tags!
I never would have thought that Land O' Lakes would have gift tags on their website, but they do. And they are super cute.
So, if you've got halloween bags for your kids' classroom, take a look at these tags. I'm sure you'll find one that's just perfect for your little gobblin.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Pirate Day

Arrrg! Shiver me timbers!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Crazy Hair Day

Today, was crazy hair day at school. How did Gabby and her buddy do?

Friday, October 16, 2009

First Test

I couldn't be prouder.

My Reader

I knew my girl was moving quickly through books these days. The books that just a few weeks ago were a bit difficult, she's flying through. So, tonight, I asked her to give this one a try.

Within 15 minutes, she'd read the first chapter. Inside, we even found 2 index cards with a book report written on them. The handwriting was mine from some elementary year. We also found a hand drawn pig (I think I traced it!). She's using it as her bookmark.
We've graduated to "chapter" books now.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Moving Day

This weekend has been one of lots of furniture that is.

We've talked for months about moving the boys together so Gabby could have her own room. This weekend we bit the bullet and did it.

The boys love being together with 24/7 access to their Thomas the Tank Engine train table (they were up at 5am this morning playing choo-choo). Josh loves having a big boy bed to play on, sleep in and roll his trains on. I'm just very grateful that he still wants rocked to sleep. I don't think I could bare it if I had to get rid of all the baby stuff, all at the same time. I've rocked from here to China at least 6 times in my rocking chair. Three babies later, I know I'm living on borrowed time. Soon, my last baby will no longer want to be rocked to sleep. I can't dwell on that.

Now, it's off to sewing a lady bug quilt and matching curtains for my girl.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Praying for Daisy

I was blessed this morning by hearing this sermon about Daisy and her family. It is long, but incredibly touching and tells of God's love for us in the middle of horrible circumstances. The video is about 40 minutes long, I'd suggest watching the whole thing, but if you're crunched for time, watch the first few minutes and then the last 20.

When My Heart Is Overwhelmed from Reality on Vimeo.

Praying for Daisy. They also have a blog for updates on her condition.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Josh's Pupcakes

Joshua's second birthday was a fun day filled with family, food and lots of presents. He wanted a puppy party. You can't have a puppy party without pupcakes.

It was fun to watch all the kids play together!

The Day of Firsts

First day of first grade and first day of preschool were big days in our house. Gabby was thrilled to take her backpack and her lunch for a full day of school. Zack was so excited to have a school bag just like Gabby's when she was in preschool. He couldn't WAIT to get there and meet new friends, play with the guinea pigs, play with the trains, and have circle time. Oh, they are surely growing up.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

We're Back

We're back from vacation and are close to finding ourselves back in our regular routine. We've had alot of firsts the last few weeks. Josh turned 2! Gabby started first grade last week. Zack starts preschool this week. It's hard to believe that our little girl spends ALL day at school. Zack got to meet his teacher today. He can't wait to start school, play on the playground, see the bunnies and guinea pigs, ride bikes, do art, meet new friends and have snack! The kids are growing up, right before our eyes.

I owe so many blog entries which will eventually come. I'll be back tracking a bit because there is so much about vacation I must blog about. Then there's the Puppy Party for our two year old, complete with pupcakes, the first day of first grade photos and of course the first day of preschool photos still to be taken.

I'll catch up, eventually.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Starting Home

I haven't been a good blogger lately. We've been having too much fun while on vacation. But the vacation is quickly ending as we start our 10 day trip back to good old Southern California today. My hubby wanted to leave at 10am today, but here it is almost 9:30am and the trailer is no where near ready to go (should I be surprised???) :)
Our plan is to take the northern route home and visit Mount Rushmore and Yellowstone National Park. We'll see how it goes and if we get there.
The kids are ready to start home too. Last night, Gabby said to me while getting ready for bed, "Mommy, I want to be in my own bed" Doesn't that say it all? Even a six year old knows the difference between her "vacation bed" and her "real" bed.
Yesterday, we visited the Crayola Factory in Easton PA. What fun! We saw how crayons were made...they make about 10 a second! We even got to wrap our own crayons with the papers, found out what kind of glue they use to keep the papers on and why they double wrap them. We also saw how they make markers and got a great tip on how to "revive" markers that sat out overnight without their caps (which happens in our home all the time). I highly recommend visiting this great place for kids! Tickets are $9.50 for ages 3 and up. Under 3 is free. For your $9.50, you get all kinds of freebees-including markers and crayons. Inside the factory, you get to experience all of crayola's magic products such as window markers, crayons, color explosion products, model magic, sand art,'s amazing! Then of course, there is a HUGE crayola store where you can purchase any and all of their products. We dropped a small fortune there, but it was really fun!
I'll post pictures once I get home. I think I have over 250 pictures on my camera and my phone. I'll have my work cut out for me when I get back!

Monday, August 3, 2009

Fun in Fleetwood

We've been having so much fun in Fleetwood! Grandpa has a riding lawn mower and he took the kids on a ride all around the yard on the mower! The kids loved taking a ride with grandpa! We've also been watching all the horse and buggy's go by the house. The kids are fascinated with seeing the Mennonite families riding in the buggies. Zack and Josh got to ride on a really old train and got the see the coaches coupled together. Gabby and I had a girls day out with Auntie Carrie, went to "market" in Lancaster, bought sweet bologna and homemade horseradish...YUM! I think I'll need to stock up on a bunch before we start home.
Yesterday, we spent the afternoon with Auntie Carrie and Uncle Sparky. Auntie Carrie made a great tent/fort in the basement for the kids to play in while the adults talked upstairs. The kids are loving meeting and hanging out with east coast family!
Today, we are leaving for Sprucerow Campground in Ithaca, NY. We'll be there for 6 days and then we'll head off to State College to visit more family.
Our vacation has had alot packed in, but it's going too fast!!!
I'll post pictures soon...have so much to share!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Road Trip Update (Part 2)

So, since I last wrote you, we were in New Mexico somewhere. We've now made it to Missouri! We've had a long couple of days but we're still all in one piece, the kids are doing remarkably well for their ages and we're having a good time. Last night, we pushed through till about 1:30am and ended up in Weatherford, OK. We slept for a few hours and were back on the road by 9am this morning. Today, we made it through OK and into Missouri. The goal was to get to St. Louis, but we didn't make it due to a really heavy thunderstorm. We decided to pull off into Glen Oak RV park and set up camp for the night. We had a good and hot dinner, baths all around and were in bed by 8:30. We hope to get out of here by at least 9am tomorrow, Dave would like to leave by 7am! (I don't think that can happen!) But, I guess we'll see.
Until later....

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Road Trip Update (Part 1)

So, we left our home in CA on Saturday and as of Sunday night, we're in Grants, New Mexico at an RV campsite called Lavaland (from where I'm blogging right now!) Our trip started out a bit bumpy to say the least. As we started into Thousand Palms, we noticed one of the trailer wheels was smoking. So we pulled over at Agua Caliente Resort and Casino and low and behold, the trailer brake that we'd had replaced just 3 days before was the one that was smoking! So after about 5 calls to brake places in the area, we found one that was just closing, but would wait for us to arrive. After 45 minutes of trying all they could do, Dave decided to have them just disconnect that brake and we'd continue on to Cave Creek, AZ on 3 trailer brakes instead of 4.
We pulled into my college girlfriends house at about 12:45am on Sunday morning to find that there wasn't enough amps in the plug on the side of their house to power up the air conditioner in the trailer. No big deal, right? We'll it was 115 out! No way we could stay in the trailer as planned. So, luckily she'd left the side door to the house open and we tip-toed in, with kids, blankets, friends and whatever else we'd need for the night and crashed on their floor.
We woke this morning, after only 4 hours of sleep to giggling kids. Memory makers, right?
Our trip today has been pretty uneventful, with the exception of the huge thunder and lightening storm that hit just as we pulled into Lavaland. We ended up sitting in the car for almost 30 minutes while it poured, flashed and banged all around us. Needless to say, Zack and Josh were not impressed. When it finally slowed enough for us to jump from the car to the trailer, Zack said, "Mommy, I'm never going outside ever again". Somehow I don't believe that for a second.
Pictures are coming. I'm so exhausted, I didn't have it in me to download the pictures. But if you're watching Facebook, you'll get the play by play, including pictures.
The goal for tomorrow is to make it all the way through New Mexico! We'll see how we do.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Road Trip

Today, the road trip begins. You can see the map of our travels here. I'll be blogging my way across the USA so check back to see our many adventures.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Garden Update

A few months ago, the kids and I planted a garden. The kids have been completely obsessed with tending it. Watering it, pulling weeds, and daily looking for any signs of vegetables. Over the past months, they've begun to see the fruits of our labor. They love seeing vegetables hanging from the plants.

Win a Stroller

I found out about this contest from my sister Car and Caboodle has teamed up with Let's Go Strolling to find the best theme park stroller. They are giving away a Maxi Cosa Loola
It retails for almost $400!!!
Want to enter to win? Click here and enter by Friday!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

We saw this in our backyard

Picture was found here.
You can read all about this wasp with the worst sting in North America here.
The kids don't want to go outside ever again.

Update: We've just had a whole school lesson on these wasps! These wasps don't normally sting humans. They are looking for a tarantula to lay an egg in. The wasp stings the tarantula and paralyzes it and then lays her egg. Once the egg hatches, the newly born Tarantula Hawk eats the tarantula who has been it's host for lunch! YUCK!

For a video, click here

Enough insect science for today. I think i'd rather color.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Summer Fun

Nothing better than eating ice cream cones outside after playing in the fountain.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Art Lessons

Gabby had her first taste of real art class over the last 2 days. She was extra happy that her cousin BZ was in the class with her! And I think they both are hooked.

Thank you Cindy for a great 2 days! See you in 2 weeks for Butterfly day!

Friday, June 26, 2009

Sweet! (and free)

I'm a big fan of chocolate. I'm even a bigger fan of chocolate if it's free! My MIL sent me this link (thanks Mom!) Registering takes 2 minutes and every Friday, the MARS company sends out 250,000 coupons for FREE CHOCOLATE. You do have to be patient because the coupon comes via snail mail, but won't it be sweet when you open up your mailbox to find a coupon for chocolate among the bills and junk mail?
Oh Yeah.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

The Hot Air Balloon

Today my neighbor and I took our kids to the hot air balloon (as they like to call it). Now, yes it's a hot air balloon, but it's tethered down. This balloon is on the now closed El Toro Marine Base. Since the closing of the base, the community has been back and forth about what to put there. For a while, they wanted to build an airport there. Now they've decided to build "The Great Park"
The place is supposed to be pretty amazing once it's done. But for now, the balloon is really cool and it's free!

After the balloon ride, we wanted to go out for free burritos. Yes, I said free. See picture below:

But the line was wrapped around the building. I bet there were 100 people in line for free burritos. Oh well, we might try to go there for dinner instead.

Father's Day

We spent Father's Day on our boat in Lake Elsinore. It was a beautiful day. Here are some fun pictures.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Quote to Remember

Daddy: Did you eat all your hotdog, Zack?
Zack: Yes.
Daddy: Did you eat all your bread?
Zack: No, I put some of it in the garbage.
Daddy: That's ok
Zack: My belly so full, it's goin' up and up and up and my neck is gonna come off my head.

Let's hope not.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Artist in the Making

This drawing was done by Gabby a few days ago, just from her looking at the DVD case from the movie Tale of Despereaux. There was no tracing involved. I couldn't ever come close to drawing this. I think she's showing us her talent at the young age of 6. Anyone have any ideas about how to cultivate this artist in the making?

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Last Day of Kindergarten

I can't believe that a whole school year has come and gone. It seems just like yesterday that I posted about the First Day of Kindergarten!
Today seemed like any other Thursday morning but it's the last time we'll rush to school at 8am, it's the last time I'll pack just a snack, it's the last time she'll go to school without a backpack, and it's the last time she'll be home before lunchtime.

Kindergarten has come and gone. Off to First Grade!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Homemade Applesauce

One of our friends has an apple tree that decided to produce fruit early this year. We were blessed with a HUGE bag of apples from them this morning! So, this afternoon, I made applesauce and added a few plums to it because after purchasing a big box of them from Costco, I found out the kids didn't like them!
Josh loved the plum applesauce. Can you tell?

Poppop would be Proud

When I was Gabby's age, I was able to spend a week with each set of grandparents. One of the things I remember doing at Nana and Poppop's house was playing hours and hours of solitare with my cousins and Poppop. Just yesterday, I had the privilege of teaching my 6 year old the "art" of solitare.
Poppop would be so proud.

Break Dancers?

Being a child of the 80's, I find it quite appropriate that my kids like to break dance...and this is without even trying.

Saturday, June 13, 2009


I confess. I did it. I took my kid's bag of cookies and while she was sleeping and I ate the whole bag. Yes, I said it...the whole bag. Why? Probably because I'm home alone and don't have anyone here keeping me accountable. Forget that it's not healthy to eat a whole bag of cookies. Forget that they are loaded with sugar and fat. Forget that I should have shared it.
What the heck was I thinking?

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Rice Pudding

If you like Rice Pudding, this recipe is a KEEPER!!! So yummy and creamy, you'll want to fill your bowl twice and lick it when you're done. Oh yeah.

6 cups milk
3/4 cup uncooked long grain rice (not instant-type rice)
1 cup whipping cream (I often just use Half & Half 10% cream, as I always
have it on hand)
3/4 cup sugar
3 egg yolks, beaten
2 tsp. vanilla
1/4 tsp. salt
(optional) 1 tsp. cinnamon (to sprinkle on top)

Rinse a large saucepan with cold water and pat dry. (This is a MUST to keep the milk from burning in the bottom of your pan. I didn't believe it, but it's really true)

Pour in milk and bring to a boil over medium heat. *Watch carefully. When it hits the boil it can very quickly boil up and over and make an awful mess! Stir in rice and return to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally, about 55 minutes or until the rice is tender (taste test the rice to be sure and cook longer if needed).

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine the rest of the ingredients (sugar, cream or half and half, egg yolks, vanilla and salt). When the rice is cooked, remove from heat. Whisk a small amount of the pudding into the egg yolks mixture, stir, then add the yolk mixture into the pudding. Cook only long enough to just bring back to a boil. Remove from heat, cool slightly and put into a covered casserole dish or bowl. Sprinkle with cinnamon, if
desired. Refrigerate. Enjoy!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

There is finally a difference

Two nights ago, the three kids were in the bathtub at the same time.

Gabby: Why do Zack and Josh have the same bottoms?
Mommy: Because they are boys.
Gabby: Why is mine different?
Mommy: Because you're a girl.
Gabby: Is it like that so we can tell the difference?
Mommy: Yes, that's the reason. You're one smart little girl.
Gabby: (grin)

Guess it's time for separate baths.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Quote of the Day

While looking at Facebook status updates Gabby says:

Gabby: What is LOL?
Mommy: It means Laugh Out Loud
Gabby: Huh? That's a short word for a long sentence.

She'll get them all soon enough I'm sure.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Oops, Forgot the Diaper Bag

As we ran out the door this morning to get to our playdate, I debated whether to bring the diaper bag. I figured it wasn't necessary because Josh had already done his morning duty (if you know what I mean). So, as the play continued, I realized Josh was uncomfortable. Can you tell?