Fast Forward!

Life is traveling too fast for me to keep up on these pictures!  I DO realize that my last post was MONTHS ago, but it is just too overwhelming for me to even try to get caught up with a whole summer’s worth of photos!  My plan is simply to fast forward to this back-to-school season and at least throw a little bit of an update out there!

We had a super summer, which included a trip back to the Midwest to spend some time with family.  We then hosted my sister and her family for a few days.  It was so much fun to have the on our turf for a change! From there, summer activities largely slowed down since I took on a teaching position (a bit on the last-minute side) with our homeschool group, Classical Conversations, which meant training and much preparations for both our own school and then my class.  But it was a good summer while it lasted, but we are back in the saddle.  I’ll give a few summary photos from the summer before launching a great update.

IMG_8928We arrived in Michigan on the 4th of July, just in time for the evening festivities at the lake!

IMG_9120As a whole, a LOT of tubing (and boating and swimming and skiing) was done during our week in Michigan, but here is one representative photo!!

IMG_9287We also all went cherry picking!  A first for our kids!

IMG_9387 Another first for some was horseback riding!  We all went out on a trail ride.

DSC03846Then is was off to Chicago, which started with an 80th birthday party for Grandpa Bob!

DSC03878We enjoyed a day trip to the Chicago Botanical Gardens…

Nails…and then a more relaxing girls time!  This was a first for the younger girls in many respects and they LOVED every bit of it! Especially because they got their fingernails done too, which had some fun designs and sparkles on them!  Pampering at its best.

DSC03894 5 sets of beautiful toes!

DSC03915Back in CA!!  We were able to celebrate Zachary’s 7th birthday a couple days early with our special visitors!  A rare treat to have family here for birthday celebrations! DSC03924Love this picture of Bethany and Logan!

DSC03945IMG_4646A fun trip to Magic Mountain with cousins too!

DSC03901 These two cousins had such a GREAT time together!  They are only a week apart in age and it was a blessing to be together for a few days!

IMG_0037 IMG_0101Sisters!! IMG_0142We had such a perfect day at the beach!

IMG_4602Here is the whole gang, de-sanded and dressed before heading home!  Thank goodness for a tent on the beach to get these things accomplished!

DSC03963The day after the Painter’s departure was Zachary’s real birthday…off to a birthday breakfast with daddy!

DSC03969Since we already had birthday cake with the Painters a few days earlier, we made some simple cupcakes for his actual birthday!

DSC03973Can’t believe this guy is already 7 years old!!  Stop the clock!!

IMG_0825   I love a freshly groomed dog!  It just doesn’t seem to last very long!!  The curse of having a non-shedding dog is the grooming!  But he is oh, so cute!!

DSC04038DSC04039 While cleaning out some closet shelves, we came across Paul’s old uniform!  Paul put it on while they were in the shower and surprised them when they came out!  Zachary got a kick out of it!  Amazingly, Paul still fit into his uniform…way to go!!  Handsome!!

And some first day of school photos!DSC04045DSC04058 DSC04063DSC04074  DSC04085DSC04097 DSC04100  Sedy class for 2015!

DSC04121Check out that smile!! Both front teeth came out within a week of each other!  This is my first to have such a big gap in front as the others already had some teeth growing back in before they lost the other front tooth!  So cute!

DSC04132 Lauren was VERY excited to start her first day of CC!  No more childcare for her, she is in a classroom!

DSC04135 All ready for our first day of Classical Conversations!

DSC04151And that same week, Lauren also started Faith Kids!  A pretty busy 4-year-old schedule this year!  After hearing about it for so long, she was very excited to finally have her time with Mommy!

DSC04158Here we go….4th time through the program!

DSC04164DSC04176DSC04178Week 1:  A week activities

DSC04207B Week:  Ballerina and Baseball week!

DSC04201Love this picture of Lauren with her good friend, Luke Wilson, both sporting their appropriate outfits for the day!

DSC04218Doing her best to learn a few ballet moves!

DSC04314A day at the LA County Fair!

DSC04316DSC04318DSC04325DSC04330Our one-room schoolhouse, literally in a one-room schoolhouse!

DSC04333DSC04338They worked hard to each write 6 book reports in order to each earn 6 free rides!  The girls chose the sky lift over the fair as one of theirs!

DSC04340DSC04346DSC04352The 3 oldest are up there someplace!

DSC04353Beautiful Clydesdale horses from the parade.

DSC04357DSC04361Brianna getting some juggling lessons at the fair!

 DSC04366This girl was incredibly flexible!!  Doing handstands on these stilts and then contorting her body!!

DSC04377DSC04386DSC04391DSC04394The dress-up area has always been a favorite thing to do at the fair!  This year, they moved it inside so we were fine with letting them play there since it was about a 100-degree day!

DSC04395Zachary with Flat Stanley!!

I’ll stop there for now!  A sampling of photos from many months!  When it has been this long, fast forwarding is about all I can do!

One More Batch of Forgotten Photos

Paul surprised Zachary one Saturday morning in May and took him to an air show in the desert.  Zachary has continually shown interest in flying, airplanes, rockets and the like so we thought this would be a fun outing for him.  He was thrilled at the opportunity!  It was about an hour from us and very small, but that just meant it was more up close and personal! 

2015-05-23_08-46-23Arriving at Brian Ranch Airport for what is called the “World’s Smallest Air Show!” 2015-05-23_08-58-37 2015-05-23_09-28-19Some guys parachuted from planes down to the air show field.  Here is one of them showing this gear to Zachary!2015-05-23_09-28-26 2015-05-23_09-33-28Zachary went for a ride in the very light airplane called a EuroFox.  He was thrilled!2015-05-23_09-39-27 2015-05-23_09-40-27 2015-05-23_09-41-02 2015-05-23_09-42-26There he goes!

2015-05-23_10-04-48_1Here Zachary is sitting in an Ultralight aircraft…2015-05-23_10-24-52They were doing their best to recruit Zachary as the next generation of Ultralight flyers!


The poor little guy was actually not feeling 100% that day, though you never would have known at the airfield!  But it wiped him out and he fell asleep on the way home!

Loving Summer!!

We have had a full month of June, but it has been full of fun as well!  It has hard to comprehend that we are already in July as I write this!  How can one month of summer already be behind us?  Here are some pictures that show what we were up to last month!

IMG_0553We actually ended May with a trip to LAX to welcome our friend, Kim Guess, home on furlough from Romania.  She has been serving over there for the past 4 years and it was a blessing to see her again and give some big hugs.  For Lauren, she was a newborn when Miss Kim left, so she was pretty much meeting her for the first time!

IMG_0579We went on a Saturday morning hike to a new-to-us trail not far from our house.  About halfway through our journey, we found this awesome rope swing, so all needed to have a turn!IMG_0581 IMG_0586 IMG_0590The only reason I’m showing these photos is because this is the EXACT area that was burned about 2 weeks later!  The kids were so sad to learn that their newly discovered rope swing is now probably a little toasty from the brush fire!  (More photos from this later!)

IMG_0600All packed and ready for our 1st ever family camping trip!  After receiving some camping gear for Christmas this past year, we were eager to give it a try.  We headed about 3 hours north to the Sequoia National Forest.DSC03607First camp dinner…hobo dinners in the fire! DSC03608 DSC03610 DSC03611 DSC03614Ziggy turned a grayish-blackish color within hours of our arrival, a visual representation of just how dirty all of us really were!

DSC03616 DSC03619 DSC03620We had a beautifully huge campsite, that backed up to this wilderness area.  The kids loved exploring it, climbing the giant rock, etc.   DSC03621 DSC03622An attempt at cleaning…for at least a few minutes!

DSC03625Bethany with Ziggy in tow!   DSC03628We drove to a nearby hiking path called the Trail of the Hundred Giants, which brought us through these massive sequoia trees!  They really are spectacular!!

DSC03630Standing inside a portion of the trunk!

DSC03640 In 2011, this giant sequoia fell at 11:30am!  Amazingly, no one was hurt, but it was a sight to see it on the ground!  The kids are standing by the roots!

DSC03642And here is the fallen tree, which disappears from the camera lens!

DSC03648 DSC03654After that hike, we went to the top of Dome Rock for a lovely mountain view!

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DSC03695Our lovely campsite!  We felt like we were really roughing it too.  We knew there were only vault toilets going into it, but upon arrival we learned they didn’t have running water as of about two weeks ago!  We missed that memo!  While we had drinking water, we were counting on the running water for cooking and cleaning.  It turns out that the spring-fed water supply was turned on for a short amount of time on Saturday morning, so we were able to use some residual water in the system to quickly fill whatever pails or bins we had and just used it carefully all weekend.

DSC03697 Look at this pitiful sight!!  That is one dirty dog!!  Just looking at him made me want to RUN to a shower! 

DSC03698Dirt and more dirt!! 

DSC03699 DSC03700This was the tent that Kristin’s parents got us for Christmas!  It worked wonderfully!

IMG_0601Not a great iPhone shot, but we got home on Sunday afternoon, which was Father’s Day.  After eagerly taking showers, we picked up some In-N-Out to celebrate a wonderful Daddy!

DSC03705The very next day started VBS at a local church.  Though not our church, the kids knew a good number of friends there and also met some new ones.  The theme was camping/safari, so on Day 2 they had to dress up like they were going on a safari.  Not bad for pulling together what we had on hand!

IMG_0620IMG_0618Lauren was too young to join in the VBS fun, but it worked out wonderfully for her to have a private swim lesson from a friend during that time.  It meant a lot of running around, but it all timed out so perfectly and we were thankful.  Lauren loved going, though it was hard to tell if she liked the swim lesson or the one-on-one time every day!  Each day as we left VBS drop-off, she was grab my hand and say, “You and me!”  So sweet!  AND, she made great progress with her swimming.  So thankful!

IMG_0608 IMG_0609Remember that trail we hiked a few pictures ago, this is what happened to it!  After hearing several helicopters overhead, we went outside to see this from our backyard!  While it LOOKS very close, it was actually a good distance from us in terms of immediate danger.  We watched a life news feed most of the afternoon, as well as watching the helicopters and airplanes fly over our house every few minutes all afternoon.  We were SO thankful for the hard work of the firefighters who got a handle on this fire that threatened many homes. 

DSC03707Thursday was crazy hair day!!  Oh boy!!

DSC03708   Zachary looked like such a punk…I couldn’t handle it!!  Glad that blue hair spray actually came out!

Spring Wrap-Up

May is such a lovely month in my opinion!  School is most definitely winding down, especially once our Classical Conversation group ends in early May.  The weather is lovely, the workload lightens and frees us up for doing some other things in our schedule.  And after an unusual semester of many visitors and much travel for both Paul and I, it was a wonderful month to all be home together as a family for a change!  Here are some photos covering a wide range of things!

This first set of photos is from our final day/program for Classical Conversations.  Brianna and Bethany both worked extremely hard to achieve Memory Master, which means they recited all of the memory work from the entire year perfectly.  We were proud of their hard work and pray it will greatly help them as they continue to learn and grow in their education and knowledge.

DSC03560 DSC03561 DSC03567 DSC03568 DSC03569 DSC03575The whole community did several songs up front for the program, followed by each class doing a song on their own.  DSC03577 DSC03580 DSC03589 DSC03593 Memory Master recognition

2015-04-19_17-18-40 2015-04-19_19-59-14Paul had the opportunity to spend a quick day with his brother John and their kids.  Unfortunately, Ana’s mother fell ill in Serbia and had to leave quickly to go over there.  Paul went down to lend a hand and spend a day doing what he could to help.

2015-05-01_00-51-37Then daddy had to leave for Las Vegas for an IT conference.  While we don’t enjoy him being gone for a week, the kids love waking up to all the swag that Daddy faithfully brings home for them!

2015-05-01_18-43-19Lauren on an after-dinner walk with Daddy!  This girl loves to keep all her “treasures” (i.e. junk!) in her satchel and carry it with her despite how heavy it is!!

2015-05-02_10-01-39Home Depot Saturday!

IMG_0495Bethany and Ziggy

2015-05-03_18-31-51Ziggy got thirsty on our walk too!

DSC03594A highlight of our month was a field trip to headquarters of Joni & Friends. While they said we probably wouldn’t get to meet Joni due to some board meetings going on that day, she was wheeling down the hallway just as we were beginning our tour!!  She stopped to greet us and take a picture with the group, which was such a treat!  She is an amazing woman who has done amazing things with her life through her disability.DSC03596 Here the girls are standing in her art studio, with her special easel behind them.  It was a neat tour!

2015-05-08_18-28-06Daddy and Bethany went to The Master’s College graduation ceremony on a particularly chilly evening.

2015-05-08_20-11-41 2015-05-08_20-13-04These three graduates worked in Paul’s department at the college all of their college career and have become good friends!

2015-05-09_10-11-30 2015-05-09_11-54-51Check out this fort that was created in the kids room!

2015-05-10_08-49-50Mother’s Day!

DSC03599These rose bushes were my mother’s day gift last year…what a joy to enjoy the beauty of them this mother’s day, and all year long! DSC03603A couple to decorate my kitchen sink as well!

2015-05-15_19-48-35 A date night!!  Our last date was in early February due to all our travels, so it was a treat to get out for an evening!

2015-05-16_10-42-44  Hike time!

DSC03605 Ziggy will be an educated dog by the time we’re done with him!  Bethany’s school work companion!

IMG_0512 IMG_0514 IMG_0519  We had another field trip to learn about the canine unit with the Los Angeles police department.  We learned a lot and had a great time!


We had a fun afternoon at Magic Mountain in hopes of enjoying some rides before everyone let out of school, and we did! We got to ride a brand new ride that just opened this month!



We got to welcome home a dear friend, Miss Kim, after 4 years as a missionary in Romania. She arrived home on furlough this week so we went to the airport to welcome her back!

April Round-up

  It has been another exciting month as Kristin had the opportunity to spend about 5 days in Chicago with her sister and their family, which included meeting their newest addition!  Little Logan is absolutely adorable and I was so thankful for plenty of snuggle time while I was there.  The chance to visit Marc, Kendra and their kids without the pressing demands of my own family made for an extra special time to enjoy them, play with the kids, and give them my full attention.  The demands of home hit full force upon returning, but it was a great opportunity to get away, which was made possible by Paul holding down the fort at home, as well as several families that helped with the kids at various times.  We then got to celebrate Lauren’s 4th birthday a few days after returning.  It is definitely hard to believe that our baby is already four years old.  We celebrated with a special breakfast, a day at Magic Mountain and a highly requested Nemo cake! 

DSC03438IMG_0464Bethany and Ziggy continue to be best buddies!  They really are pretty cute together!


Ziggy is truly a California dog…he does NOT like the rain!  He especially hates going in wet grass, so fortunately for him, he is in a good state to be a dog!  When we did have a recent rainy day, Bethany rigged up a stroller and gave him a ride in his chariot!  Crazy!!

IMG_0406I was off to Chicago in early April.  I did a terrible job of taking pictures while I was there, but here are a few from my phone! IMG_0407IMG_0420IMG_0428Although short, it was a joy to be able to have lunch with Paul’s mom while in Chicagoland.  Thanks for making the drive, mom!! 

DSC03444The kids love the opportunity to go to the “Caf” (dining area at the Master’s College) with Daddy for breakfast, which has become somewhat expected on birthdays.  Since her birthday was on a Saturday, she got to go on Friday instead!

DSC03454IMG_0461 On her actual birthday, she then got to have chocolate chip pancakes, thanks to Daddy!

   DSC03459One of Lauren’s birthday gifts was a new bike!  Her old one literally bit the dust 2 days earlier, so she was thrilled to not have to wait too long for another! DSC03471 DSC03472 DSC03474A family outing to Magic Mountain!

DSC03476 DSC03483 DSC03484Fielding a couple of birthday phone calls while out and about!!

DSC03488DSC03449 I don’t even know if Lauren has seen the Nemo movie all the way through, but she has a thing for the clown fish!  This was her most requested birthday item when asked what she wanted for her birthday!  DSC03492 DSC03495 DSC03496DSC03509Bubbling-over excitement of a 4-year-old on her birthday!! 

DSC03525The following week, Lauren had her date with Mommy to go get 4-year-old pictures taken, followed by some ice cream, of course!  DSC03529 

IMG_0471 Caught wind of free Jamba Juice smoothies last week, so I “convinced” the kids to take a break from their morning school work to take advantage of it!!  What’s not to love about “free…yummy…school break”?

Many March Memories

There has been no lack of activity going on around here these past few weeks.  Some of the activities represented are the arrival of Spring, which brought our Spring Celebration.  We also had a 10-year-old birthday to celebrate this month, our first research paper was completed and Easter was celebrated.  Here is a smattering of photos from life these past few weeks!

DSC03185 Spring Celebration!  It has been a tradition to celebrate the first day of spring with some bunny shaped cinnamon rolls, dying eggs and an egg hunt.  Our goal is to keep the focus of Easter on the resurrection of Jesus, while still allowing the kids some of the fun festivities that the season offers. 

DSC03188 DSC03189 DSC03191 DSC03198 DSC03201While we were hiding the eggs, this is how the kids entertained themselves!  

DSC03203 DSC03205 DSC03207 DSC03214 DSC03219

 DSC03229Our oldest reached double digits!  We are really starting to feel old now!  Mommy and Daddy with the birthday girl! DSC03233 DSC03239She had no request for a shaped cake, so this is what I came up with!   DSC03246 DSC03257 DSC03260 DSC03261 DSC03263 DSC03277DSC03280This is Brianna’s reaction to the main gift we gave Brianna for her birthday.  As we were beginning the parenting journey, we quickly realized that we did not want to do birthday parties every year.  We decided that we would do them only on the 5th and 10th birthdays.   However, as her 10th birthday approached, it didn’t take long for me to regret that set-up from so long ago!  I am not much of a party planner and didn’t have a lot of resources to put toward it so we quickly decided to come up with an alternative plan.  The letter she is reading laid out the plan we had, which was a mother-daughter overnight at a local hotel, getting her ears pierced, dinner out and then picking up her best friend in Ventura to go get pedicures before coming back for an overnight.  It was a memorable and meaningful plan that was very well received!!

DSC03289Getting ready to go!

DSC03297 First dinner at Red Robin to take advantage of unlimited french fries…a favorite of Brianna’s!

DSC03301Then off to get her ears pierced!   DSC03311She was a little nervous…

DSC03312…but did great and is still smiling!!

DSC03314 DSC03319We then checked into our hotel, got comfy, enjoyed some snacks and put on a movie of her choice.  

DSC03325Saturday morning photo before checking out!

DSC03334We picked up Elizabeth and then headed to a park overlooking the ocean for a picnic.  The grassy spot was being used for a wedding, so we found some nice rocks instead! These two are about 2 months apart and have been friends since birth!  Though we now live about an hour apart, their friendship has remained. It was so fun to hear all their giggles during their time together.

DSC03339 DSC03346 DSC03347  DSC03351Then it was off to our pedicure.  This was not exactly what I had in mind when I booked it.  I was expecting a normal line-up of chairs that had massages on them, and was rather surprised by the set-up here, especially since there were such fabulous reviews for this place.  However, the service was excellent and the job got done…and since this was the girls first pedicure, their expectations will only go up since this is all they know!    DSC03357 DSC03359 DSC03362The women offered the girls polka dots on their nails, which was a fun treat for them!

DSC03365 DSC03374  DSC03384The girls decided they wanted to try to match for church the following morning, so they raided Bethany’s closet for the only matching dress that my girls have and made it work.  

DSC03385 Lots of laughter came from these girls…such a fun friendship they share!

DSC03386As part of Classical Conversations, Brianna is in her first year of the afternoon writing program called Essentials.  It is a great class that is teaching them how to write well, and this past week they completed their big research paper.  Each student got to choose a famous historical American figure and then walk through the process of a research paper.  The day it was due, they were to dress up to represent their person and then read their paper to the class.  They all worked very hard and did a great job.  It was a fun day and a fun way to finish the project.

DSC03394Brianna did Clara Barton, who served as a nurse in the Civil War and then founded the American Red Cross.  

DSC03401Check out this shaggy, dirty dog!  He put his head through a gate with grease on it, so it turned the hair on his head gray as we tried to get it out!  We were thankful he was slated for a haircut just two days later!

DSC03403Speaking of haircuts…Zachary was long overdue and after talking to a friend, she convinced me to try shaving his head rather than using scissors.  Nervously, I decided it was a good time to try with the warmer weather here and no critical pictures coming in case it was a fail!! 

DSC03404This is the new and improved Zachary!  I sure loved the ease of a razor and it looks nice on him! I may try to do a couple things different the next time, but a good start!

DSC03405Ziggy getting spoiled by Bethany!  He was quite content to be carted around the yard in the stroller!!

DSC03416Easter morning pictures!

DSC03429It’s a good picture when even the dog cooperates!!  The “Z’s” of the family are both freshly shaven!!  (We know a groomer through our church who graciously came over on Saturday to show us how to groom Ziggy.  She really did it for us this time, but we are hoping we can manage in the future!) 

DSC03432 A rare photo of the two of us before heading to church.

3rd Month, 3rd Round of Visitors!!

We have been blessed by many visits, though it has also meant a lot of good-byes too!  Each time we have some visitors, my kids watch the car roll away from our driveway and the tears start almost immediately!  We have had so many awesome “hellos” and so many hard “goodbyes,” but we are thankful!  This time it was with Kristin’s brother and wife (Ryan and Alyssum) from Iowa.  They did an ambitious road trip for their spring break and we were their end destination before turning around.  It was a short 2.5 day visit, but we tried to make the most of it and gave them a taste of spring!!  Most of these photos are from their visit the first week of March. 


DSC03038Doing some magic tricks for Aunt Alyssum

DSC03041 DSC03042Scooter time with Uncle Ryan!

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We spent most of a day hiking at Vasquez Rocks, and these are some photos from that day…DSC03052We had some very ambitious hikers!

DSC03057 DSC03058 DSC03059 DSC03062 DSC03067 DSC03069 DSC03075 DSC03077 DSC03080 DSC03081 

The next day we headed to the beachDSC03090Uncle Ryan showing some muscle at Muscle Beach!!

DSC03092 DSC03094 DSC03095DSC03100Kite flying at Santa Monica Beach…

DSC03101 DSC03103 DSC03109 DSC03116 DSC03123The newlyweds!!   We had such a great time with you guys!!  Thanks for all the fun memories and for loving on the kids while you were here!! 

DSC03126 Unfortunately, Daddy had to work, but here is at least one shot of all the rest of us!

DSC03132 DSC03136We threw together a cookie pie in honor of Aunt Alyssum’s birthday one night.  They were leaving before her actual birthday, so we were two days early but we don’t need much excuse for a yummy dessert and party hats!!

DSC03139The following Monday we had our family presentation at Classical Conversations.  Since we are studying US History and Geography this year, each family is assigned a week to talk about a place in the United States that they visited.  We chose South Dakota from our trip this past summer. 

DSC03149A cute random photo that Bethany took of Ziggy! 

DSC03158We had a bowling activity with our homeschool group this past week so here are a few photos of that outing… DSC03160 DSC03161 DSC03172 DSC03173 DSC03175Lauren would give the ball a good push and then turn around and run to me to watch it.  Every time!  So cute! DSC03180I got a delicious pizza delivery at my door!!  Nothing like a fresh coating of dirt on a piece of wood! 


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