3.06.2015

because coming up with a title annoys me every time... this one is "all the things"

I have the urge to write these days, but very little motivation. I'm not sure if that's an oxy moron but it makes total sense in my head. {also, side note: spell check just suggested I wanted to say "oxy Mormon" -- bahahaha!} 
This year in school we've been doing more reading and writing than we've ever done. I suppose its normal when there's a 4th grader around. Ethan has shocked us with his writing abilities. He reads A LOT so I should've known he'd be a good writer, but I guess because getting the words ON paper takes him f o r e v e r -and-a-day, I just figured he didn't have much to say.
We use the Excellence in Writing program at home and for his Essentials class at Classical Conversations. Its a program I can't recommend enough. I love it. And I love the way Andrew Pudewa teaches parents/teachers how to guide children. Its totally changed the way I view homeschooling, for the better, I hope ;-)
So we ordered the books for Rachel and she and I do them here at home. She's the one I thought would love it and take to it right away. She didn't. She actually groans when I tell her its time to her writing work. Funny how they surprise us like that, huh?
She will sit around and make up random stories {most of them make NO sense at all, but they make total sense to her} and she loves to create characters and tells me all about their abilities and characteristics. Ethan is the opposite. Give him something actually concrete write about and he's good. Tell him to go make up something random and he struggles big time.
For me its such an "a-ha!" moment in my day where God shows me my kids are each very different from one another and forcing them to be the same or as close to the same as possible is a huge mistake.

anyway...

I'm going to be a rebel and say that Spring is here. Who ever waits for a calendar to tell them these things anyway?
Its 65 degrees here today and in other places on the West Coast its in the 80's. And even though people try to act like its something new, it happens every year. I can remember back in the early 90's we were at our friends house, swimming in their NON heated pool on February 22nd when we got that call that our other friend's mom had her baby. And we didn't think it was weird. So, yeah.
Leaves are returning to our trees, daffodils are popping up everywhere {because in Washington, plants like daffodils and blackberry bushes are literally wild flowers and grow everywhere}
I need to figure out how to prune our apple and plum trees, so if anyone reading this has any tips or can send me to a website with good tips, please do! Also, we have 3 maple trees that will need pruning and I'm clueless there as well. Lets just get it said: You know 'green thumb'? Mine is black. The end.

The kids and I are reading through the Bible together. Ethan and I trade off reading each morning and today we landed on Matthew 4. Its a passage I've read what feels like one million times and yet when I read the bible aloud to my kids, I see it in a whole new light. I stop and realize there's so much to explain and talk about. So many sentences we typically just breeze right by and don't think much of them. I think mostly for me its because I was raised in a home where we read the bible. Its so very familiar to me and sometimes with familiarity comes boredom. Not obvious boredom, but just this sort of "yeah, I've read that; I can even tell you what's coming next" attitude.
So we were reading Matthew 4 today and came to the spot where it says Jesus spent 40 days and nights in the desert (with NO food, mind you) and Satan came to tempt him.
Rachel stops me. "Wait! This has always confused me. I thought Jesus was sinless. If Satan tempted him, how can he be sinless?" Perfect opportunity to talk about the fact that being tempted isn't sinning. Because we can use the strength God gives and say no and resist temptation and chose not to sin. Walking IN to temptation = sin. {I refuse to use the word "falling" because I think 99.9% of the time we walk into temptation with our eyes wide open.}
It ended up being a fun conversation to talk about other areas in the bible where people were tempted and sinned and some resisted and God blessed them in amazing ways.

- I have a 6 year old refusing to eat her soup I made for her {she spotted bok choy and has decided its my ploy to kill her} so I need to run.






3.03.2015

words, pictures and March!

Here it is, the 3rd of March and I'm still trying to figure out what happened to February!
This month is full of good stuff so I'm excited its here.
This post is random and is going to be filled with pictures that don't really "go" with it, but are ones we took in February. 
I wanted to spend some alone time with Rachel and she chose a 
day in Seattle. We had an amazing time eating, talking, walking, shopping, 
going to places like the top of the Space Needle, her first visit up! 
Here we are at an all-you-can-eat waffle joint above Pike Place Market.

 

Here she is reading at a table atop the Space Needle. She told me "its the most ideal place to read." :) 

Its our last month of Classical Conversations and while I love that program, I'm anxious to be done and to have one less thing we do weekly. Plus, I'm glad it ends on April 1st this year because it gives the kids and me 2 whole months to go over all the grammar we learned and have some fun with it at home, at our own pace.
I'm planning to do a post with a "review" on Classical Conversations in June, so if you have any questions you've ever been dying to know the answer to, please ask! I will do my best to answer them all in that blog post.

Our good friends Jonathon and Candice live in Tacoma and until they moved 
there, I had never been. But it only took 1 visit for me to fall in love. 
We only live 40 minutes away, so we go visit them and the city quite often. 
On this particular day we went to the Tacoma Nature Center with my childhood friend Rhiannon 
(she lives in WA as well now too!) 

I mean, really. Come on. I don't think I'd have to twist your arm ;-) 

We fell in love with this house. 

at the Nature Center 

Random acts of kindness. 
Big brother gives little brother a piggy back ride. 


My Dad is coming to visit next week and the kids have no idea. I do love to surprise people but I mostly don't tell my kids about family visits because they drive me crazy every hour leading up to the visit. I end up hearing "how long before they get here??" the month leading up to the visit :)
My Dad retired from his job of 26 years last week and it truly feels like the end of an era. I can't believe he's reached that point in his life (and yes, it makes me feel OLD).

at our favorite park in Federal Way last week. 

Last week we finally got to meet baby Isaac David in person! 
He totally stole our hearts. He's a cutie pie and let me hold him for a good hour 
without a single peep! 
(as a side note, I have a picture of Ethan holding Isaac's big brother Gideon 
like this almost 5 years ago when he was born. Swoon.) 


 I had a scatter brained crazy week and ended it with getting Rachel to her basketball game literally as it was ending. Smooth move, right? :( 
I felt so bad. She forgave me right away and said she knew it was an accident. 
I had wanted to grab some coffee (like literal coffee beans) at my favorite place in Seattle. 
Yes, it has come to that. I go into Seattle now to buy coffee on weeks I feel like drinking it. 
Its one of the rare places where I can find truly organic, pesticide free coffee beans. 
Lucky for me, we live close to the City :) 
Anyway, the girls and Miles were with me, so when we realized we missed R's game, we 
went to the city and did our best to make up for it. 

the flowers at Pike Place Market are like none I've ever seen. 
Simply gorgeous. Always. 

on the way back home we stopped at the hospital to see our friends' new 
baby, Molly June! She was born late Friday night and she is absolutely 
beautiful and sweet. We're so thankful God brought her here safely and she's so healthy. 


The kids have all had colds come and go and come again. I'm totally over this snotty nosed, hacking cold. Thankfully Jason and I are healthy and as of today Kara and Miles look very much on the mend. Between essential oils, the wet sock treatment and some eucalyptus rubs, we will beat this thing.
Spring seems to have sprung early this year and so we've been enjoying beautiful blossoms and being out in the sun with colds isn't all bad.

my friend Amy introduced me to this awesome oil cleanse she 
uses on her face. Its only these two oils with whatever scent you like. 
I chose eucalyptus oil for the scent in mine and I love it. 
Put a small amount all over your face and then wash it off with a wash cloth and 
hot water. Follow with whatever lotion you want, but keep it light! 


Oh, I have to share this recipe with you guys. Its SO yummy! I had a slice of this cake at my friend's house shortly after Valentine's Day (her husband made it for her for VDay) and I felt like I could eat the whole thing if no one was looking. So I used my Academy Awards Night party as an excuse to make the cake for my friends who came over. I will say, because its so rich, a little goes a long way and the cake lasts a l o n g time. 

So here's the recipe. You're welcome.

Best Chocolate Cake Recipe Ever 

Ingredients

  • Chocolate Cake
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • ¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1½ teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon espresso powder
  • 1 cup milk
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • Chocolate Buttercream Frosting Recipe

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350ยบ F. Prepare two 9-inch cake pans by spraying with baking spray or buttering and lightly flouring.
2. For the cake:
3. Add flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, salt and espresso powder to a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer. Whisk through to combine or, using your paddle attachment, stir through flour mixture until combined well.
4. Add milk, vegetable oil, eggs, and vanilla to flour mixture and mix together on medium speed until well combined. Reduce speed and carefully add boiling water to the cake batter. Beat on high speed for about 1 minute to add air to the batter.
5. Distribute cake batter evenly between the two prepared cake pans. Bake for 30-35 minutes, until a toothpick or cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean.
6. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for about 10 minutes, remove from the pan and cool completely.

7. Frost cake with Chocolate Buttercream Frosting.

Buttercream (espresso) Frosting: 

Ingredients

  • 1½ cups butter (3 sticks), softened
  • 1 cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 5 cups confectioner’s sugar
  • ½ cup milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon espresso powder

Directions

1. Add cocoa to a large bowl or bowl of stand mixer. Whisk through to remove any lumps.
2. Cream together butter and cocoa powder until well-combined.
3. Add sugar and milk to cocoa mixture by adding 1 cup of sugar followed by about a tablespoon of milk. After each addition has been combined, turn mixer onto a high speed for about a minute. Repeat until all sugar and milk have been added.
4. Add vanilla extract and espresso powder and combine well.

5. If frosting appears too dry, add more milk, a tablespoon at a time until it reaches the right consistency. If it appears to wet and does not hold its form, add more confectioner’s sugar, a tablespoon at a time until it reaches the right consistency.

this is what you do when all 4 kids are sick and you have a whole basket of 
new library books! 

That's all, folks! Happy March :) 


2.26.2015

Russell Brand talks PORN (and its good)

Pornography is a topic I wish would get out there more and quit being such a taboo word/concept.
I wish parents with older kids would talk more openly about their struggles with their teens and young adult children in this area. Maybe if some adults would talk more openly about their own problems with it we could begin to help the youth in America. 
Why are we so quiet? Why do we pretend its not out there? We haven't had many open discussions about it with our kids because they're still super young and don't use the Internet, but we've had "dumbed" down versions of the talk with them. We've explained why we don't allow them to be on the Internet and why we are always careful what our eyes see when we're out and about... and what to do when we do see something we ought not give any attention to.

I've had people tell me to be careful because my kids will be so sheltered they'll just stumble into something and not know. I have to laugh every time because its such a lie. Keeping your kids' young minds and eyes away from this filth will not somehow come back to bite you in the bum and actually create a bigger monster in them.
Maybe hiding the fact that it exist will. If you know your child has a propensity toward these things, then be ready. Start talking now. Pray with them. Educate yourself on how you will deal with these issues when they come of age.

I was thankfully never introduced to or stumbled upon any type of porn, outside of Victoria's Secret (and I want to say "lol" here, but sadly that's pretty much what that store has become) and like I said, I've give thanks to God for that because its becoming nearly impossible to never be exposed. And yet I still knew it existed. You have to be a dummy to not know. Every time I heard someone's testimony I felt like that word popped up. With regret, shame, guilt, hatred, sickness, disdain and their story often ended with the addiction tearing a huge hole in their life and changing it in a bad way forever.
That was enough proof for me.

This video was excellent and not from a source I would've imagined would have such great insight :)
Its not something you'd need to hide from your kids (other than him being in a bathrobe lol) and there is NO bad language or explicit talk. He does say the word "porn" though *gasp*


2.14.2015

since I never post, here's a ton of words and pictures


Best part of January was closing the sale of our home! 

Is it really the middle of February? Already?! Time is going faster, right? And not just for me... my kids say they feel it too.
2015 arrived with a flurry of lots of things happening. We had just gotten back from our Christmas trip to California and I hit the floor running. School started back up a week earlier than usual and since I homeschool my kids and tutor for Classical Conversations, there was lots of prep work to be done. I hosted two baby showers within a week of each other and just had the every day (constant) chores, errands, emails, etc... to get to.

I hosted a shower for my good friend Sarah and a few weeks later 
she gave birth to this beautiful baby boy, Isaac David. 
David and Sarah lost their baby girl, Ava Grace at 18 weeks 
and walking through that with them and being able to experience the joy 
of Isaac's birth has been nothing short of awesome. 
So happy for them! 

 We're a busy family, but we're not THAT busy. I find my jaw dropping when I hear some of the schedules some families keep. It amazes me. Mostly because I feel like I'm drowning with my schedule and its not that bad. 
Right now our oldest 2 are on basketball teams so they have practice once a week with Saturday games. For me, that's enough sports filling our lives to last us a while. 
My general rule of thumb is to avoid the whole "kids in sports" until my kids are literally begging me. Then we discuss it. I want it to be something they really want and desire and not me throwing them at 5 million different activities. 

Miles gave up his pacifier addiction back in January. Well, it was taken away from him. He had a rough 24 hours and then seemed to move on as if it never existed. Funny how they all react differently.
We also took the guard rail down on his bottom bunk which he feels really special about. He lets everyone know he's no longer a baby and is a BIG boy.

his 2nd night without the paci. Went to sleep like a pro 

Ethan and I had our birthdays and turned 35 and 10. I told him I remember so well the day he was born; holding him and thinking "wow, when I'm 35 he'll be 10 years old" and feeling like that was SO far off. My, how quickly the time has gone.



Jason's Dad and sister spent a week with us and were here to celebrate our big day, which was so fun. We spent the day in Seattle at the Pacific Science Center, Columbia Tower and Pike Place Market.
Jason and his Dad took a few days to do some work under the house, installing a heater vent in the master bathroom and some new wiring for our projector. Its so fun to be able to get totally settled and know we're going to stay here for a long time. Much harder to unpack and set up, wondering if you're going to be asked to move in 12 months.

it was such a beautiful birthday sunset 

Oh, the Seahawks went to their 2nd Superbowl in a row!! ... and... I won't tell you how it ended. Lets just leave it at, they went to their 2nd Superbowl in a row and we are really, really proud of them.
We watched the Superbowl at our friends house and enjoyed ending the season with a bang.
Ethan and I counted and there are about 28 weeks until football season starts up again, so we're pretty much in mourning until then ;-)



this is how we feel about our Seahawks  
Seattle is truly the best place to live if you love football. 
Everyone here is insanely devoted and bandwagon fans are easy to spot ;-) 

We've been so blessed at our new (to us) church. I signed up to serve in Sunday School and was placed with 1st and 2nd graders which are my favorite <insert heart eyes here>
We've enjoyed getting to know new families and making new friends, being challenged by the Word and finding a Bible Study group that's going to press up and encourage us in literally all the areas I asked God back in December to help me grow in. Thanks, God <3
Last year (well, the last 2 years) as I was struggling more and more with the church we were at and feeling like it wasn't where God wanted us, I kept making short lists of what church means to me; what I'd like to get out of it and put into it. It amazed me how much my opinion has changed over the years. The top few things on my list were:
1.) solid, unapologetic preaching from God's word. 
2.) genuine people who love and serve God. Not to post it on social media or get praise or attention, but because they know God's love for them runs so deep, they are compelled to love and serve. 
3.) a church that is truly, deeply rooted in the community. Simply to get the gospel out and to love people well. Not looking to serve only those who can profit them in some way. 
4.) A church dedicated to helping us train and raise up the next generation, understanding that our kid's generation is the proof for our efforts and Worship to God. 
5.) a church IN our community. Close to home, where we can be involved and serve without a long trek. 
So those were my top 5 things. I told myself that when God moved us to try new places, I would throw away the silly ideas I so often get caught up with and simply focus on things I knew God wanted us to be focusing on.
Its hard to do. Because I'm self centered. So its hard to actually say "Lord, show me where you want us to be; to serve, to be used for your Kingdom." and not get wrapped up in the lame, music, clothing, people, popularity, entertainment aspect that seems to be everywhere these days.
Anyway, we're feeling settled and blessed there.

Kara's wonderland in our front yard 

our Christmas gift to the kids was a huge trampoline

Spring is fast approaching and I guess I'm happy about it. The draught on the west coast (mostly just in CA) has me a bit worried. I noticed our winter seemed to be different this year and I can't help but wonder if it means the draught issues will creep up here. We have flowers blooming way too early this year, but I'm doing my best to trust God and enjoy it.
The kids are SO anxious to use the new pool, so they're all thrilled at signs of summer coming quickly :)
He woke up, ate some breakfast and went out to play with his 
water toy and dreamt about swimming... 

Oh! I'm no longer on Facebook, so for those of you reading who think I deleted you, I didn't. Jason and I deleted our accounts back in August and it was for us and had nothing to do with any of you, so no worries there :)
Went to a new donut spot with amazingly huge donuts... 
followed by a park visit to run off the sugar :) 


Happy Valentine's Day! 



1.02.2015

Christmas, on the road

We decided a bit last minute to go spend Christmas with our families. Its such a hard decision every year because staying home is easy, comfortable and fun... but we know how much our parents appreciate seeing our kids on the holiday and we do always have fun there :) 
When we realized it would be decent weather over the pass, we decided to go for it. 
Jason bought travel DVD players and ear phones for the kids - both ended up being perfect for our trip! I stocked up on new travel (mostly trivia) games and we set off for the long drive. 
We decided to break it up into a 2 day trip and to stay over in Oregon, so we didn't have to do 16+ hours in one day. 

here we go! 

our stop over at a hotel in Oregon. 
Ends up its perfect to drive about 7 hours the first day and 5 1/2 the second day. 

arrived at my parents house just in time to watch the Seahawks beat the Rams (!!!) 
and the next morning my Dad made us killer omelets. 
He has a real gift and has no idea how much money he'd make if he opened his own place. 

#dailyclouds from my parents front yard. 

all the kids that had winter vests on, with my Mom. 

Christmas morning 

all the grands on Christmas Day. 
Its so weird to see my nieces and nephews that were once toddlers, all grown up into 
full blown teenagers. My mind still places them all around Miles and Kara's ages and then when 
I see them in person, they're all taller than me... voices are becoming deep, getting ready to drive 
their own cars and going on dates. I feel like my head spins for a while :) 

Christmas Eve breakfast at my in-laws! 

my heart melts when I find these two cuddled up sleeping. 
It tells me that Miles woke up scared or fussy and Ethan took over as big brother and comforted him, 

Rachel with her Uncle Jeff. 

the Great Grandmas. 
These two ladies have had one rough year. 
Especially Grandma Elsie (on the left). 
We thought we had lost her in May. Jason flew out to say goodbye and support his parents, 
and by the time he flew back home, Grandma was much improved, amazing even the Doctors! 
We've seen God heal her and restore her back to her old self and even though she struggles with her memory, she is doing really, really well. 

seeing my kids show affection and care for their Great Grandmas makes my heart so happy. 

painting nails with Auntie Jenny :) 

making homemade ice cream! 

headed back home! 

Shasta, from the mirror 

we stopped off at Costco and bought bathing suits so the kids could 
enjoy the pool at the hotel we stayed at. It was the highlight of the night. 

Washington showed off for us upon our return ;-) 
12.30.2014

December in a post

December has gone by in a whirlwind. I had grand dreams of it going by slowly and enjoying every single moment. Going to all our favorite holiday places and really relishing the month. 
Then we decided to drive to California to spend Christmas week with our families. 
And some dear friends of ours decided to move to Georgia (we hate Georgia now, just FYI) 
and we hosted their going away party... and I hosted my annual ladies only cookie decorating party. 
And then we finished up school, celebrated a small Christmas here, went to a couple parties, packed and left town. 
my friend Katie had me over with her sister and Mom for a cookies and cocktails 
party, which was super fun. We baked cookies together, drank cocktails and laughed a lot. 

evidence of said annual cookie decorating party. 

I bought these leaves at a market in Tacoma and have loved the color 
they've brought to our house! And as a bonus... they're still alive! 
Feels like Fall hung around months longer than it should've :)

enjoying our last play date with our friends :( 

I love these two girls so much! 
Not having them here anymore makes me so sad. 


Had a nice farewell to say goodbye to the Deans. 

best friends since 2010 


I took a bus with my friend Sharon's church and spent a Saturday 
in an amazing little town called Leavenworth. 
We had such a nice time and hit fabulous weather! 


some gorgeous views out the bus window. 



in Leavenworth 

so pretty at night when the lights come on

the next day our kids sang in our church's kids choir. 
Miles was a total ham and made us laugh so hard. 

before heading to California we celebrated Christmas here, just the 6 of us. 
It was so fun to watch Miles this year - I feel like it was the first year he fully
understood what we were doing and why we were doing it. 
He gasped and screamed as he opened gifts and loved watching everyone else 
open theirs. I can't wait to see how much more fun it gets next year. 

Rachel was beyond thrilled to get a Frozen blanket :) 

 

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