Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Land of the Beautiful People

We just returned from a refreshing 10-day vacation to our "former" home in Orange County.  My heart is full and I'm feeling thoroughly blessed by the generosity of friends.  They sacrificially gave their time, prayers, and invited us into their homes.

We chose to head to the OC, after only four months in our new Midwest location, mainly because our passes to Disneyland expire on the 15th of this month, although many think it was because we're already experiencing a freeze-out here.  Yes, we're freezing in this 30 degree weather, but we hear it's bound to get much colder!  I'm learning to love being inside the house.  Bread is baking in the oven as I type.  Cold weather makes for cozy, comfort food.

Although my heart is full from time with friends and blessed by the magic of Disney, one thing I was reminded of while we were in the OC is: IT IS THE LAND OF THE BEAUTIFUL PEOPLE.  You can't miss it!  They are EVERYWHERE!  A few steps off the plane, I looked around and knew, yes, I'm back in Orange County.  Fabulous Shoes, Coach bags, manicured eyebrows, the whitest most amazing teeth, and gorgeous hair.  Not many bushy brows or ponytails to be seen.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Struggling Through November

November is a hard month.  The signs of winter shrouding the sky with clouds of heaviness, the naked trees lacking fullness and signs of life, and the brevity of daylight remind me that we will soon bring another year to close.  Where did it go? What did I accomplish?  Was it meaningful?

The heaviness of this month is accompanied by our anniversary.  I know it should be a reason to celebrate, but again I question whether or not this year's journey glorified God and made and impact for his kingdom. Quantifying such a measurement can be daunting.  Man's measurement and God's are completely different.

Measuring worth and eternal impact plagues me in the month of November.  I know the Bible warns us not to do this.  In Isaiah 55:8-9 The Lord tells us:
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
    neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the Lord.
“As the heavens are higher than the earth,
    so are my ways higher than your ways
    and my thoughts than your thoughts.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Proud of My Pie Maker

Three weeks ago our boys began attending a local church youth group.  Two weeks ago, our middle son came home from group enthusiastically sharing about an upcoming Pie-off (bake-off).  The event was a parents' open house and pie contest, a meet and greet and have some good eats type of gathering.

Our little brown-eyed boy was so excited!  He began brainstorming the best pies to make.  I promised to set aside a day to help him bake.  AND, perhaps being a chip off the old block, he wanted to make not one, but two pies.  I also think he calculated his odds of winning a category in the pie contest would be increased with more entries.  Smart little dude!

Monday, November 12, 2012

44 Days

Yesterday my daughter came running up to me exclaiming, "44 More Days!  44 More Days!"

She's the countdown queen always counting down to the next big event.  Skipping, singing...44 more days!  As soon as the jubilant words were in earshot, I was overcome with a huge sense of anxiety.  My heart began racing.  Adrenaline was coursing through my extremities.

FORTY-FOUR more days until...

Thursday, October 25, 2012

45 is Too Young

As  mentioned in the previous post, this past week we lost a classmate.  He was only 45 years young.

Tom and I weren't close.  We were Facebook friends who graduated from a very small southern Illinois high school.  At reunions, I could always count on him to have an upbeat attitude and a smile stretching from ear to ear.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Like Wildflowers, We Bloom and Die

Psalm 103:15 Our days on earth are like grass; like wildflowers, we bloom and die.

This week we finished reading Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls.  For a dog lover this book is a heart warming yet heart wrenching read!  Through the pages we fell in love with Old Dan and Little Ann. Their antics, battles, victories and most importantly their relationship with Billy left us desiring the company of man's best friend in our home.  We lost our beloved family member, Sam, about five years ago and there's still a void in our hearts.

I read aloud to the kids nearly everyday and the kids know my emotional sensitivities get the best of me on a regular basis.  While reading, if something touches my heart, the next thing they know I'm fanning myself trying to hold back the tears.  The day before we finished the book I had to call it quits.  I was so choked up I couldn't speak or read. The tears were flowing freely.

Thursday, October 04, 2012

Trying to Find the Joy

No lies. This transition has been tougher than I ever imagined.  As my earlier post noted we've been through quite a lot and this week it has continued.  I'm documenting some of these events so one day when we look back we'll be able to see how far God has led us.  He is Faithful. He is Sovereign. He has a Plan.

But, I forget.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

To Want For Nothing

I've sat down to blog my thoughts many times in the last few weeks, but every time the words just don't come and the ones that did echoed my whiny complaints.  Our circumstances within the last year or so don't seem to make sense and I've asked the question, "Why?" too many times to count.

Not to bore you with the details of our life drama, know we've dealt with trials that encompass a cross-country move, loss of friends (due to move), sale of what we thought was our dream house, health issues, financial strain, insurance problems, auto issues, new school, renter issues, hotel living, court dates (to deal with non-paying renter), worries about our kids making friends, and as of Friday I learned my identity was stolen.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Covered By Prayer

In the last 24 hours a lot has happened.  Thankfully there are the faithful prayer warriors out there doing what they do and I'm witnessing the results of their intercession.

Yesterday, I met with the director of the homeschool program our kids were planning on attending.  After our brief meeting, I sensed some misgivings about attending.  First off, driving to the location required a commute on toll road that often has traffic delays.  Second, I sensed an air of conflict with the director. Third, it was a new program lacking years of experience.

The first day of this school was supposed to be today, but I was really hesitating being part of this group.  Stress began to set in.  What to do with little or no time to make changes?

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Never Let Me Go

We've packed up and headed east.  In making this job transfer we've left behind palm trees, beautiful beaches, the hustle and bustle of Orange County and countless friends.  It's hard.  My heart aches to be close to the rushing waves.  I've lived close to the Pacific for the last 25+ years.  I didn't realize how much I'd miss it or how claustrophobic I'd feel without it.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

It's Not About the Money

The Bug.

I was so excited to have two parties interested in the little green bug, but I didn't realize how hard making a decision between the two was going to be.  Many people would suggest to go with the highest offer price, but I soon found that didn't sit well with me.

Both interested parties were teenage girls. Girl #1, was my first caller.  She is 18 years old and in the process of getting her driver's license.  She's heading off to college in the fall and is currently employed as a Disney Princess.  Girl #2 is also about 18.  She lost her previous car to an unexpected engine fire.  In the fire she lost her purse, iPhone and other personal belongings so dear to a teenage girl.  Her family does foster care.  You know how I love that!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

God's Faithfulness in the Small Things of Life

This morning I'm reminded once again of God's amazing faithfulness and the love He has for each one of us.  He knows my inner fears and anxieties and provides in the most amazing of ways.

As we continue to prepare for  this upcoming move, we're trying to downsize our belongings.  I have a little green bug that I have LOVED for the last 10 years.  This little bugger has brought a smile to my face every time I look at her and is a reflection of my youth and fun-loving spirit.  But sadly, it's time for the little bugger, or Sweetpea as my mom calls her, to find a new home.  She needs a vivacious young gal who will love her, care for her and find Bug-owner joy driving her.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Playing, Building, Learning

Some may say my Papa (grandfather) was a junk collector.  If you knew him you know he would NEVER consider throwing away a piece of copper wire, an old two-by-four, a rusty nail, or an unusable toilet.  He embraced the unwanted and reigned as king over his junk castle.  To him, these were ALL treasures and would one day be used to create a kingdom to be admired.

Sunday, July 08, 2012

Wishing for the Back Peddle in Life

It was 1986.  Southern Illinois across the river from St. Louis.  I packed up my royal blue '73 VW Super Beetle and followed my mom in her Dodge Caravan and my dad in his red '64 Volvo 544.

This looks exactly like my dad's car

Here's my bug...and my friends from high school.
Not sure what they're doing. I think they're breakdancing.

We were packed and heading west.

Truth be told, I'm a west coast girlie.  Born in Washington, raised mostly between Washington and California, but I spent three years in small-town mid-America where I graduated from high school and attended my first year of college.

In those three years, I became a mid-west girl.  I loved it SO MUCH!  I had amazing friends.  I had acclimated to the heat and humidity along with the miserable deathly cold winters.  I planned on growing old in Southern Illinois, sitting around the table with my midwest girlies talking about small town life, and having my kids know about corn fields and lightning bugs, but my plans were abruptly changed.

In the summer of 1986 my dad received orders (military Colonel) to head west.  I was going back to the familiarity of the Pacific Northwest, but my heart wanted to stay in the midwest.

Much to my despair and objection, we packed up and headed west across the U.S.

My heart was being ripped out.  I think it somehow broke.  The grief set in.

I loved the life in the midwest.

Following our departure, sadly, I entered the worst years of my life.  I won't go into how bad they were.  Just know....They sucked!

Then in 1988, life began improving.  I transferred to a great college, met the love of my life, and the rest is history, or so they say.

Fast forward 20+ years.

We're living the BEST LIFE ever!  To be honest, I think we live in paradise.  The last three years have gone by in a blink and they have brought me countless moments of joy.  Life in the O.C. has been completely dreamy.

Never in a million years did I think we'd ever live anywhere but the west coast.  I find comfort knowing the ocean is close.  I love seeing the water.  The sunshine and moderate climate are appealing.  I consider myself a coastal girl.

But wait...


To where???

The Midwest???



I have long since let go of the midwest girl I once was.

I'm trying to wrap my head and heart around this one.

I'm trying to remind myself I have precious friends in the Land of Lincoln.  There are adventures to be had, opportunities to embrace!

But really, it's just my heart that is breaking.

The other night we went to a movie with some friends of my oldest son and one of the dads.

At the end of the movie, the friend's dad, a scruffy teddy-bear-of-a-guy and former undercover police officer hugged me and said, "Come back to California.  Come back to California."

I'd really like to.

Three years ago, when I moved back to California after years away, I got off the plane, took a deep breath, and thought, "I'm back!"  It felt good.  I feel like this is a land I belong in.

I hope there is good in store for us although right now it's tough to think of life somewhere else.

I'd really like to back peddle and somehow find a way to stay in Orange County.

Nothing's coming.

Pray for us as we enter this new chapter in our lives.

Prayer for our kids and my hub would be appreciated.  I grew up doing this...it's tough stuff.  Moving, finding a home, friends, church, school opportunities, sports programs, etc.  It can be overwhelming and we're feeling it now.

T-minus not so many days...

And counting.

Mini Healthy Hash Quiche For Kids

This week the contents of our fridge consisted of leftover frozen pie crust, Trader Joe's bacon ends and pieces,  kale, and A LOT of eggs.  What's a mom to do with these ingredients and lunch soon approaching?  Make mini quiches for the kids and a few paleo-ish quiche cups for a healthy lunch option for mom.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Make Way for The Ducklings!

Finding the extraordinary amidst the ordinary.

Today was an ordinary day.  I dropped the kids off at Junior Guards, then headed to have the oil changed in the car.  Finished up at the auto shop and then headed for home.

On the way home the lane of traffic I was in came to a sudden halt.  I tried switching lanes, and then also promptly stopped.

Crossing the street was a proud momma duck with her precious 9 ducklings.  They looked so small and helpless clustered close behind their momma.  They were headed to the local park.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Grandma Telling Stories of the Past

My Papa used to tell SO MANY stories of growing up in South Dakota, traveling out west, and settling in Seattle. In addition he had oodles of zany escapades recounting our crazy family history.  When he was around I thought I'd NEVER forget these nuggets of history, but now...they're hard to recall unless I'm with family and we jog each other's memories.  Oh how I wish I would have captured them!

Recently I went out to lunch with my Grandma, kids and cousin.  My Grandma began telling a story about settling in the Rainier Valley of Seattle.  I quickly changed the camera mode to record and tried to capture a bit.  I wish I would have gotten more, but it's inspired me to try in the future.

Here's the little tidbit I caught.  It's only about two minutes, but so rich in memory-making.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Radiator Springs Racers Video

We had the opportunity to experience Cars Land at California Adventure this week. Disney offered Annual Passholders one hour special event early entrance before the park opened to the general public. It was GREAT!  Having this hour before the masses allowed us to take in the new land, photograph it and go on a couple rides.

If you're going to California Adventure this summer, and you would like to go on Radiator Springs Racers, I would highly recommend getting there at opening, rushing to the Fast Pass line or go on as a Single Rider.  Otherwise, you're looking at a 3-4 hour wait.  Who wants to spend a good portion of the day in line?

When we got in line with our Fast Passes the wait time was 210 minutes for Stand-by.  By the time we got off the ride, Stand-by wait time was 240 minutes!!  We don't even know how bad it got as the day went on.  With our Fast Passes, our wait time was about 5-10 minutes.  We rode alongside two gals who did the Single Rider line.  They waited 45 minutes.  Not too bad.

Here's the ride from our vantage point:

I will post more photos from our day.  What a special day it was!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Perfect Words, Perfect Timing

This week was All-Star selection in our local little league.  It's met with enthusiasm and anticipation as boys from ages 9-13ish await to find out if they've "made the cut."  It's also a stressful time of anticipation for parents too.  Do we prepare our kids for the excitement or the big letdown?

Sports, politics and the politics of kids' sports stir up a mixed bag of emotions.  On one hand, I know in every league, if people are involved there will be amazing dedicated volunteers, kids striving for the best they can be and parents hoping their child will shine in America's Best-Loved sport.  On the other hand, with people involved and human flaws, life happens and the outcomes are not always fair...but that's life.  It's not fair.  And that's okay.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Kale Salad with Yam Noodles

I've heard so many people tell me they don't like kale.  Sadly, I hear it most often in our own house.  I don't get it.  Taste wise, kale is GREAT!  It's crunchy, lends great color to a salad, but the best thing about kale is its nutritional value!  I've heard it's the most nutritionally dense vegetable!  According to Livestrong.com
Dark green leafy vegetables are rich in iron, dietary fiber, calcium, vitamins B, E and K, protein, carotenoids and other antioxidants.
You really can't go wrong eating kale.

More Than a Sandwich...Treat Dad to a MANWICH

My mom sent me a forwarded email this morning titled MANWICH.  The name alone peaked interest so I checked it out.  What followed were photos of a SERIOUS sandwich that the likes of Guy Fieri would drool over.  I decided I would give it a try as we're trying to show added appreciation this week for my sweetheart and Dad to our kiddos.  How could we go wrong with sourdough bread, steak, bacon, Swiss cheese, mushrooms, onion and BBQ sauce?

My Brother Visits

The saying that time flies when you're having fun is so true.  I can't believe we've lived in southern California for almost three years!  In these three years we've had some friends and family visit, but in May we had some extra special visitors.  I think we had my mother-in-law, my Grandma and most recently my brother, sister-in-law and niece came for a one week visit.  As expected, the seven days FLEW by!

Monday, May 28, 2012

A Happy Day to Remember

Today is my birthday.  It's my half-way mark to 90 and my half-way mark to 50.  It's also Memorial Day.

As a kid I hated that my birthday always fell on or around Memorial Day.  Friends left on weekend get-aways, camping trips or picnics making birthday parties difficult to plan.  I grew up thinking it was a pretty sad and lonely time to have a birthday.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Where Are They Now? Another Teaching Year Comes to a Close

Teaching.  Last week two of my teaching commitments came to a close.  As I was packing up my class supplies I began to reflect upon the year. I get so sentimental, so easily.  I realized this year how much I love teaching, not just teaching my kids, but others.  I really do love it!  Perhaps this is why I'm so passionate about homeschooling.  I love learning and presenting material in a way that hopefully appeals to students.

Reaching the end of yet another year has given me cause to reflect on my brief experience in the public school arena.  The first kids I taught are now in their 30's!!  How can that be!  I wonder what became of them?  What happened to those little 4th graders?  Also, when I look at the precious gifts given to me by dear Ukranian students and their families, I wonder if they made it in their new found country, America.  What happened to Yuri, Alexei, Nazar, Ludmila, and so many more?  Did they embrace the freedom they were seeking?  Did the kids who struggled in 4th grade, make it through and find a love for learning?  I often wonder where they are now.  Teachers spend a year with kids, pour into them, and then the kids have to move on.  Next grade, next teacher, next year.

Little Nazar, Travis, Olga, Travis, Antonio...1992

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Paleo Banana Pancakes...YUM!

I've been trying to perfect the paleo pancake for a bit now.  I totally miss eating pancakes!  They're my FAVORITE breakfast item.  This may scare some people, but when I was in high school I would eat a stack of 6 large buttermilk pancakes along with 4 eggs many mornings.  And even with all that food, I'd be hungry by 10:00 am and struggle to make it to lunch.  I was the one with the growling stomach in class. SAD!  I used to be so embarrassed and am so glad my kids don't have to experience this.

Monday, May 07, 2012

Little League Day & Albert Pujols Hits His First Angels' Homer

Yesterday we celebrated Little League Day at Angels' Stadium and kicked off a fun-filled-action-packed family day.  We met with our fellow Orange County Little Leaguers in the Angel Stadium parking lot on the morning of May 6th.  There were thousands of anxious kids with coaches and team parents awaiting their turn to enter through the tunnels and step out onto Angel Field.

Downtown Disney Lego Store Now Open!

We have a Lego boy in our home who's been obsessed with the Danish interlocking building blocks since he was a wee little lad.  I love watching the wheels spin as he spends countless hours building and creating.  He doesn't seem to tire of it and hearing the Lego employees refer to the "Master Builders" I can sense he'd love to be a "Master Builder."

Living fairly close to a Lego Store, is a highlight in his life.  We frequent it when we head to Downtown Disney so he can purchase mini-figures or look at the latest Lego releases.  He has informed me his one Birthday wish is to be able to go into the Lego store, make his purchase and walk out with a BIG bag!  I think to a Lego boy, that is a sign he has "arrived."

Sunday, May 06, 2012

Crazy for Hot Milk Cake & Caramel Frosting

Our family has discovered Hot Milk Cake and boy oh boy, has it become a cake of choice around here!  Apparently, it has a LONG history of being an old-fashioned favorite.  So glad we've discovered this classic!

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Book Study: The Courage of Sarah Noble

Grades 1-4 Class

This year I've been blessed to teach a couple book study classes at a local homeschool organization.  One class is geared toward grades 1-4, the other grades 4-8.

In the younger class we've read:

Ox Cart Man
The Drinking Gourd
A New Coat for Anna
The Rag Coat
Miss Rumphius
The Bears on Hemlock Mountain
The Courage of Sarah Noble

Monday, April 30, 2012

Simplicity...Continuing to Let Go

"Simplicity in your lifestyle will ensure you a happy life."

That was the fortune I found in a cookie last week.  I'm not really one to believe in fortunes stashed inside the fortune cookie, unless they're verses I place inside homemade fortune cookies, but this one did spark interest as we continue to try to simplify by shedding the extra "stuff" accumulated.

Almond Cake

If you're looking for a buttery, rich, dense, great with a cup of coffee kind of cake...look no further!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Field Tripping with Grandma: The Mission at San Juan Capistrano

"When the swallows come back to Capistrano," Grandma began singing when I told her we'd be heading to San Juan Capistrano to field trip at the mission. Interestingly enough, this song was written and released in 1939 when my Grandma was 13 years old.  This is the same age as our oldest son.  It's fun to think of my little grandma as a 13 year old girl singing this song.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Grandma Gets Her First Mani & Pedi

We are blessed to have Grandma visiting once again.  She arrived late last night and we're already filling our days with good times.

Today after schooling, a trip to the Goodwill, and swimming I asked Grandma if she'd like to go for a manicure and pedicure.  At first, she looked at me with surprised eyes and then shook her head, "No."  I asked why not and then asked if she took good care of her nails and toes.  She proceeded to take off her white tennis shoes and socks, which are on from sun-up until she climbs in bed, to show me her little feeties.  One glance and I said, "We're going in."

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Lakers v. Clippers Date Night VIPs

I love it when a blessing comes our way and we are able to escape on a much needed date night.

My hub called me a couple weeks ago to let me know he was given a couple tickets, and a parking pass, to the Clippers v. Lakers game.  I was so excited as I love a date night and a night in Los Angeles makes the event even more exciting.

After getting the kids squared away we headed to LA.  I drove because everyone (mainly me) will be in a much better mood if I drive.  Traffic was good.  Great conversation catching up.  With all the great conversation I forgot to even ask where we'd be sitting.  Once before we went to a game and had great seats, I think 100 level; I thought this time they'd be the same.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Zucchini Salad

A girlfriend gave me Jamie Oliver's Meals in Minutes recently.  I must say I'm very impressed with the layout.  Jamie provides a menu for dinner, then gives step by step preparation guidelines to successfully have a tasty, unique dinner on the table, in minutes.  While perusing the pages, I couldn't decide where to begin, so I started with page one.

Heart Changes

I think I could be in the process of a heart change, maybe a growth spurt, or maybe like The Grinch, my heart is growing more love and compassion.

After reading Francis Chan's book Crazy Love last year, I was impressed to do something in service to the homeless.  In that previous blog entry I shared my feeling about the homeless and about specific homeless folk in our area.

We've been faithful handing out baggies and backpacks (We have an abundance of drawstring backpacks we've been using too.  They work great!) filled with goodies when we come in contact with the homeless.  The kids really love it.  They're always disappointed if we see a homeless person and don't have a baggie.  I hear, "Mom, we need to get another baggie in the car."

Yes we do.

This year Francis Chan spoke twice at our church.  One service was a pre-Easter worship service and the other was on Easter morning.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Another Chocolate Chip Cookie Miette Style

I never tire of trying Chocolate Chip Cookie recipes.  There are some better than others, but for the most part, these all-time favorites are always a best-loved treat for the family and neighborhood kids.

This recipe comes from a cookbook called Miette.  I have to say, if I was a cookbook, I wouldn't mind looking like Miette.  The photos are beautiful.  The size is perfect, but the best aesthetic exterior feature is the adorable scalloped edge. The scalloped edge was the first thing that attracted me to this book.  What budding baker could resist cracking open a book that has such beautiful feminine detail?  Love it!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Creativity is Alive!

I love this video of Caine's Arcade!  Imagination at work!

Click here to view.

Sunday, April 08, 2012

Easter Birds Nests

We tried another bird's nest idea this Easter.  This one is with Chow Mein noodles and Whoppers Robin Eggs.  It's a very simple combination of ingredients, yet they are OH SO tasty!

My Girlie made them along with her BFF.  I love their friendship!  Lots of giggles, and lots of fun!

How cute are they?!?!

Saturday, April 07, 2012

Easter Rice Krispies Nests

Despite the many cookie recipes I try, a favorite among the kids, and Hub especially, are Rice Krispies  treats.  I remember the early days in college when I first met my sweetheart and wanted to impress him with some good home cooking. Sadly, in my tiny dorm room I only had a microwave and a pot for boiling water. Sometimes you have to make due and in this mini-dorm room microwave I would whip up Rice Krispies treats for him and they stole his heart!

Friday, April 06, 2012

Spring Training Highlights Seattle Mariners (con't)

Okay, forgive me for making this a two-part post, but I was having photo posting issues.  So this is a bit like Take 2: Mariners Spring Training vs. The Kansas City Royals March 14, 2012.

The cutie fans

This was an awesome almost save by Ichiro

Hi Ichi!

This is Danielle.  She is Ichiro's biggest fan!  Her mom (on left) said her room is covered with Ichiro posters.  I took a number of photos of him to email to them.


My cuties!

Thanks guys!  Great game!

What a beautiful night in Peoria!