Sunday, August 25, 2013

August 18-24

 Finishing up the planning for week one . . . upgrading Jackson to his own clipboard this year.  I have a feeling he will relish crossing things off. ;o)
 Moments that give me pause--five children gathered around a table.  Our first day went smoothly, and while I'd like to pat myself on the back, the truth is I'm still spinning (that merry-go-round and all).  I've learned to COVER (and insulate, buoy, brace up . . .) these days with prayer.  It really is the only way.
 Cool pink-colored moon (camera kind of caught it, but really it was PINK!).
 My Owen.  An artist is he.
 Marissa minutes before sending her off to her first public school class--art.
So, I don't know if you all have caught my shock and awe over the last year, but Marissa is growing up on us.  It was like one day she was a little girl and the next it was like "WOAAAA!!"  We decided to let her do art and choir this year (choir is mon/tues/fri and art wed/thurs).  Arapahoe is being kind and letting Marissa miss Tuesday because she has violin lessons.  It is our way of dabbling in preparation for some day we will send her off all day.  She loved it and I am happy for her to get some new experiences.  
 My boy and his baseball cake.  We all are familiar with my ineptness when it comes to cake decorating, but this one came together okay. ;o)
A sphinx moth (or hummingbird moth--they really look like hummingbirds!).
Maybe you've had a tomato hornworm munching away at your tomato plants and you were like "DEATH TO TOMATO HORNWORMS!"  What you might now have realized is those big juicy hornworms with their voracious appetites become these cute little sphinx moths that trick you into thinking you are being visited by hummingbirds.  And now my nature lesson is over. ;o)

Friday, August 23, 2013

Happy 8th Jackson Macrae!

I've been mulling over this 8th birthday for the last few weeks, because something about "eight" just seems so big and for some reason I like to think of all three of you boys as "little boys."  However, I was forced to conclude that it has been a long, long time since you were slicing screen doors with steak knives, stuffing potatoes down air vents, removing laptop keys, urinating on infant brothers, spending most of your days in the buff, and drawing large murals on your bedroom walls.  THAT was all ages ago.  And we survived!! ;o)
And now you are a big boy, a boy who loves legos and baseball and math, a boy we deemed trustworthy enough to have in his possession a cello.  That in and of itself should tell you something--you are growing up!

You have always had an intensity about you and as you get older I appreciate this trait more and more. 
 I see in you a hard worker, somebody who strives for accuracy.
Sometimes, it makes life hard for you, because you can't stand to fail.
And while in so many ways you are an unending puzzle for me to solve, I get your shyness around other people, that you're an introvert like me.  And you're left-handed so that automatically makes you awesome. ;o)

Vacation this year was your idea--you wanted to see the big trees.
And I can't tell you how happy it made me when you kept asking me to take your picture--the boy who really does not like to have his picture taken!  Your excitement and joy filled up my heart.

My life is so much better with you in it.
It has been a joy to watch you grow and mature these last eight years.
You never fail to surprise me and I can't wait to see what God has up ahead for you to do.
I pray you strive to be a wise man with a heart that thirsts for Him.
I pray you know how much we love you.
Happy birthday Jackson-boy!!

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Back to the Books

So, on Monday we decided we had put off the inevitable long enough and got our school year up and going.  It is crazy to think this is my 7th year of official homeschooling!  I asked them all what they want to be when they grow up.
a published author
a violinist who can play "Flight of the Bumblebee"
an artist 
a singer
an Olympic gymnast
a songwriter
a mommy
a nurse
a farmer's wife
a professional baseball player 
(but if that doesn't work out he plans on opening a soup restaurant using all my soup recipes) ;o)
a hunter
I'm not sure he grasped the question--I think mainly he just wants to be "big"

We have an overall American history theme going on this year--maybe I'll get around to doing my annual "what we're studying post" but maybe not.  As always this first week has my brain feeling like it is on a merry-go-round . . . so many children, so many questions . . . but I'm sure that will settle down at some point (hopefully!). ;o)

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

August 11-17

 I know, there are all kinds of violations happening in this picture.  Truly, I cringe.  But it was kind of our only option and I'm still praising God He got us out of Elko--even if it was a bit unconventional.
 Enjoying our rainy baseball game.
 Admiring all of our vacation treasures:
sugar pine cones, sand dollars, shells, rocks, redwood sticks, and salt (from Utah)
 What do you get when you cross a cucumber with a tomato?
A cucato!! (or a tomacumber??)
At least I'm thinking that is what happened, I've heard tomatoes and cucumbers can cross-pollinate--any expert gardeners have any other explanation?
 Graceful cosmos.
 The butterflies are out in full force--first swallowtail sighting (my favorite!!).
Josh brought back a whole bunch of tomatoes from his mom (mine are a bit behind), and we decided it had been a long time since we had BLTs.  We were uncertain as to how much bacon a family of seven would need and so I spent over an hour cooking four packages of bacon.  Turns out two packages would have probably been sufficient.  Now we know. ;o)  (But we enjoyed a 2nd meal of BLTs thanks to the bacon surplus!)

Monday, August 19, 2013

Vacation~Days 5-8~Going Home

 The beginning of the end. ;o)
We had to take highway 299 across California, while not as curvy and as adventurous as the way to we took to get out to the coast Josh didn't want to take anymore chances with smoking brakes.  We took it easy and he put the van in a lower gear when the incline got steep.  In retrospect we wonder if that is what caused our transmission to go.  None-the-less the drive was gorgeous--sun rising over the mountains, fog lifting off the ocean.  The "misty mountains" those hobbits were singing about . . . absolutely lovely. ;o)
 And then our little situation in Nevada.   (end of day 5)
Day 6--was spent figuring out how to get out of Nevada and then driving our micro mini-machine to Salt Lake City.
 Day 7 we repacked everything into our rental van, a 2013 Town & Country.  We admired the automatic doors, the double DVD player, and enjoyed listening to the 80's station on the Sirius radio.
And then we drove to Denver.
 We were an inning or two late, but we got the boys to the game, and then last minute scored some super cheap tickets for the girls and I.  The original plan was for us girls to hang out at the hotel, however, if Josh had dropped us off they would have missed most of the game.  We determined we could "take one for the team." ;o)
 And actually it wasn't so bad.  We sat a little bit high for my liking, but you know as long as I didn't move or look down, I was okay . . . ;o)  And surprisingly, baseball has grown on me a bit.  It did rain and we did get wet, but all in all I had a good time.  We left after the 7th inning stretch though--Jackson had gotten a really bad head ache, and if that boy is begging to leave a baseball game you know he doesn't feel good.
The hubby and I with Denver behind us.
And then, Day 8, we drove home, spent half an hour doing a van emptying, and then sent Josh on his way to Lincoln so he could return the rental by 6:00 p.m. and drive back the blue van that we had left at his parents. He made it!  We desperately didn't want to pay for one more day of rental!!
So, in the end, one asks oneself, was it worth it?
The van rental sent us way {way} over our vacation budget.  And to be honest both Josh and I are still a bit sad to have lost our black van.  It had our best tires on it, Josh had just recently replaced the motors for the windows in the doors . . . It was a good little van.  But it's hard to feel regretful when we think about the places we got to see and the memories we made with our kids.  Yeah, I wish we could have not dealt with the whole lose the transmission thing.  But I have a special memory of when I was a kid and a similar thing happened to my parents.  They lost their transmission in Colorado, and my quick thinking Dad rented a U-Haul with a trailer and my parents, 3 siblings, and I  crammed in the cab and we pulled that station wagon home.  I'm quite certain my five kids will never forget being shoved into the back seat of that Yares together. ;o)  All's well that ends well.
I think this little quote sums it up nicely:
An adventure is only an inconvenience rightly considered. An inconvenience is only an adventure wrongly considered. - G. K. Chesterton
What an adventurous life I  have led!! ;o)

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Vacation~Day 4~Lady Bird Johnson Grove/Trinidad

 Our final stop at Redwood National Park was in the Lady Bird Johnson Grove, an easy hiking trail filled with big trees.  The highlight was finding our first banana slug--we had been looking for one everywhere and this little fellow was actually hanging out by the trashcan near the parking lot.  The kids took him into the forest with us to find a spot to let him go. ;o)

 (after two days of keeping up with the big kids Owen's legs are finally "tired")
 After our busy hiking day we headed to a little restaurant in Trinidad called "Seascapes" located right on the coast.  One of the things we always try to do on vacation is create a "food memory" to associate with the trip.  You can eat McDonald's anywhere, but if you're on the ocean wouldn't you rather have some good fish?? ;o)  This restaurant was just a quaint little place, HUGE $4 kids meals of fish and chips (all except Emmett who insisted upon a corn dog . . .).  And I had an awesome bowl of clam chowder.  They have binoculars at the table so you can spot sea life--supposedly sea lions are often visible here, but we didn't see any.  Even Josh who isn't a huge fish fan declared it delicious (mainly because it didn't taste at all "fishy").

 (a jellyfish!)

 Josh wondering if this starfish is dead so he could take it home with him.

 Marissa informing her father that no, the starfish is still alive, you must leave it here.
And hydrangeas as big as your house!
Seriously, I was shocked to see the size of the hydrangeas on the coast.  I'm assuming because the temps range from 40-80 degrees they just keep growing and growing . . .
Hydrangea envy. ;o)

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Vacation~Day 4~Fern Canyon

 After Moonstone Beach we headed north to Redwood National Park--home of the biggest elk, the Roosevelt Elk.  Our first experience was to hike Fern Canyon, where scenes from Jurassic Park II were filmed.
 Really, we didn't know what to expect, but in the end Josh claims this was his favorite place we explored.
 Pictures don't really do it justice, but basically you walked through the bottom of a canyon, 50 foot walls on either side of you, COVERED in ferns.  It really felt like entering a whole different world, like stepping back in time.  It was easy to imagine dinosaurs roaming around. ;o)

 Oh my climbing children--they were in utter heaven!
 A little stream trickled through the whole bottom area.  I've seen pictures of when the whole area was filled with flowing water, but that was not the case for us.  The stream was winding through and some places you could step over easier, others you might use a little log, or strategically placed board to get over the water.  A highlight for the kids (and well, Josh too . . .) was bouncing over every board they came to. ;o)
 Phew!  Dodged a bullet there! ;o)
 After making our way through the canyon we came to stairs taking us up to the forest floor.  
 Owen and his ninja moves.
 Trees so big they had caves at the bottom.
We loved to pause every so often and be quiet and just listen. It was so still, except for trickling water sounds and distant ocean.
 Descending upon a stranger for a family picture. ;o)
And winding our way back through.