Monday, March 29, 2010

Day 5: Day in Cali

We spent Sunday with my friend from Michigan – but now lives in California.  It was so fun to catch up after about 5 and a half years!  Our kids have grown, we have aged, but we picked up right where we left off!!

   Here is our combined gang of kids!

kids on bench

We headed out after grabbing some lunch to a nearby park – with a great bridge!


Sun Dial at Turtle Bay

Instant friends!

J and E on bridge Here are some cute kids!  Enjoying the sun and the time out of the car!

J by tree closer  AG playing with flowers

Here is AnnE and me on the sun dial bridge!

me and AnnE at Turtle Bay Me and my mom on the bridge!

me and mom on bridge It sure was pretty with the water and the mountain view!

shasta bali mountain

We had so much fun playing, running and chatting.  A great stop along the way!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Day 4 : Driving, Sight Seeing, and more Driving

What a day we had yesterday!  We woke up early (5am) hit the road by 6:20 am and then made our way through LA to finally get to the coast.  We saw some amazing views of the California coast!  It was so pretty!

We went back and forth from Rt 1 which is the coastal route and 101 which is a bit more inland.  Both were good – 101 was faster but not as pretty.  Then we headed to Rt 1 to find some lunch and maybe see the Hearst Castle.  After learning the cost of the Hearst Castle we chose to wave as we drive by!  But we were able to stop twice to see lots and lots of Sea Lions – so cool!!


Then we stopped at a wonderful little place called the Sea Shanty for lunch – Red Snapper tacos, Fish & Chips, and even some shrimp!  The lunch was great, but dessert was Heavenly!  We had some kind of berry pie/cobbler – and then we had 1 piece of Ice Cream Pie - (rice krispie treat crust, rocky road ice cream, and a delightful peanut butter/chocolate sauce) they both disappeared rather quickly!!

Then we were off to Monterey via RT 1 again – this time my mom drove – and it was a long and steep drive for about 2 hours – it was pretty but I could not look at much and my mom could not either.  Either way, I have done the Route 1 thing, and not sure I will do that again.  It was a little precarious at time!

In Monterey we visited a park I went to as a kid – The Dennis the Mennis Park – it was tons of fun!  The kids loved it!

So they got a little exercise, my mom and I stretched our legs – and fun was had by all!

Back into the car and we headed to Sacramento – trying to get to Redding that day, but we surrendered early and stopped just outside Sacramento.  We found another great hotel – and crashed for the night.  Today we are headed to breakfast and then back in the car about 2 and a half hours to my friend Ann E’s – house – we plan to spend a fun day playing and catching up (it has been years!!) – so we are excited to see friends and not drive for a while.  Tomorrow is our final leg of the trip : Destination OREGON!!  Woo Hoo!  Uncle Louie is anxiously waiting for our arrival and we are anxious to arrive!!

My favorite pic of the day yesterday:

jumping for joy on the beach


We stopped for a bathroom break, got a bit turned around and ended up here for a few pictures, a sand sample and smiles!!  A beautiful beach!!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Phase 3: Day 2 … More Driving

Crossing into AZ this morning

welcome to AZ

AZ mountains in distance 

cliffa in az

more mountians 

more mnts Tuscon

Nana driving 

AG silly face

AG while driving 

kids at phoenix park 

checking out the cactus

Another State Line Crossed

Welcome to California

Seeing Palm Trees in CA – the kids were so excited!

Palm Tree

We are exhausted, but about to sleep and more driving tomorrow – but the fun kind…with lots of stops!  may even see a castle tomorrow – and some beaches too!!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Phase 2: Depart & Day 1

Destination : New Mexico

Status : Arrived :)

new mexicoWe are on our way.  We took off about 4:40 this morning, a bit later than I expected, but I woke up about 3:45 before Robert got home – and so we did not get off as early as hoped.  But, it worked out great.  We checked into our hotel about 3pm with plenty of time to hit the pool!


So we made it through Texas today – and into New Mexico – went great!  We saw some great sites – lots of cacti – and many mountains!!  

kids at mountain view

THis is just before we got to El Paso.  It was fun to drive through El Paso – I lived there for 2 years and even went to college there.  So it was fun to see how much it has changed and grown!  I took the kids up on Scenic Drive which looks over into Mexico and the border – it has a great view and they loved it!!  My little girl was scared going up – but was fine once we had a good view!

Then we drove past UTEP – not a big deal, but still fun!

Once into NM we made a quick stop at W-Mart to get some motion sickness medicine for my eldest – so he can hopefully read tomorrow. 


Then we got in, swam, showered and headed off to our free supper!!  Can’t beat free supper & swimming!!  The kids do not want to leave!!  But we are off tomorrow to pick up my mom in Phoenix and then off to CA.  So far so good!  We listened to Robin Hood (unabridged) and we are really enjoying it (part of literature for school that we saved for this trip) and we watched a new movie (thanks to Redbox).  I think we visited the friendliest W-Mart greeter in Sweet water – the kids even commented how friendly he was!!

So now we are off to bed, to make it up early for our free Belgian waffles and biscuits and gravy – before heading out!!  Thanks to all who are praying – it is working : the kids are behaving, my back is doing fine, and we are making good time!  So thank you and keep it up!!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

PHASE 1 :Packing up

We are in the midst of packing suitcases, travel bags, swimming stuff, and well, the car.  I started Sunday when I decided I would do our laundry and pack as I folded instead of trying to find clean stuff to pack later.  This was brilliant!!  (I must admit) I have never packed from the dryer – but think about it, I do not have to hunt for what I want, they can cope with the left-overs and everyone (OK – MOM) is happy!

Meanwhile I am packing our school books & activity stuff for the car – as I go.  Finding some little treats to surprise the kids with as we trek along to keep interested peaked.  And finding some nooks & crannies to stash some fun reading books for me and the kids – gotta have those!

I am excited, I have our route mostly planned, I have a fun pit-stop planned with a friend in Redding, CA.  We have a great hotel for our first night with an indoor pool and free supper!  You cannot go wrong.  

Not sure much of the in between but I am expecting lots of fun moments in the car with my brood, lots of great views, and hopefully some picture opportunities as well.  I mean, there has to be something worth photographing in 3000 miles. 

Robert has taken care of my chariot this week : new tires, new oil, new filters, and I think a few other things.  The kids (really my eldest J)  vacuumed her out – and she looks lovely, like she is just waiting for the (first) trip of 2010.  Woo hoo!!

So we head out at O’Dark 30 tomorrow (Thursday) am – when Robert gets home we will wake up some kids and head off.  I like to get on the road early!!  The kids are still tired and will rest during the dark, I miss all the DFW traffic, and it gets our day going and allows us to get into our hotel to swim and play before bed.

Well, I must run and continue to pack, pack, pack – hope I do not forget a kid! :)

Destination : Oregon

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

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Sunday, March 21, 2010

Pre-occupied by Owls

If you have not checked out our new favorite hobby at the Owl Box you are missing out!!


molly the owl

I have not done much else but watch Molly take care of her precious eggs.  This is a box owl that is nesting in an Owl Box in California by a man named Carlos who has been waiting for 2 years!  Finally these two owls settled in his box – their names are Molly and McGee.  McGee has been a great dad by feeding Molly and “bonding” – and Molly has been an amazing mom to watch today. 

They think this is her first time to have eggs – as she had not clue what to do the first time the egg came out – but today she showed that she has figured it out when the first egg hatched and Max was welcomed into the world by about 17,000 watchers – well honestly – 17,000 computers – in our house 6 people were watching.

It has been so much fun to watch Molly and learn all about owls – for me and for the kids.  But nothing else is going on.  No sewing, no creating, just watching.  Today the feed went down for a couple hours and so I was able to actually start packing my brood up for our big cross-country trip!  We leave Thursday and we are nearly packed!  Woo Hoo!!

   So that is what is going on here.  We will blog from Oregon next week with some great pics, I expect.  I cannot wait.  We pick up my mom on Friday at the Phoenix airport and then we embark on our journey West.  Well, we continue really.

  Make sure you check out Molly – it is amazing to watch her in her natural habitat with this great feed!  Carlos and Donna (the owners) have blessed so many with their generosity!!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Too much fun

So, Robert thinks I am crazy, and does not really understand.  But I love to create – not original creations, usually copies, but whatever.  It is why I love to sew, stamp, just do crafty things in general.

Today I finally made it to Staples to start on  my latest project for our HUGE road trip coming up, in days really!

I have a large collection of Critical Thinking products that range in levels; and I am allowed to copy their pages for my family – or classroom!  WooHoo!!

So I am making workbooks for the kids.  I usually do this, but usually it is just maps, coloring pages, dot to dots and so on.  Fun stuff.  This time their books are going to rock!!  First, my disclaimer is that my kids will not even know they are learning or reinforcing things they have learned – because most of this stuff is so fun they LOVE IT!!  So I have math detective pages, reading detective sections, and many other critical thinking puzzle pages.  I have thrown in some fluff:  Star Wars & Transformer Coloring pages found HERE.  I found some Dora for my little girl too (same place)– and she can hardly stand it!!  For my youngest son I have handwriting pages mixed in, the only issue with that is that he does know what is going on and does not love it.  Oh well.  Can’t win them all!  I am including word searches, since he is still a young reader, he can certainly look up words in a word search. 

I also went HERE to see what she has listed for free and found some great quiet time pages and some Bible stuff I think the kids will enjoy.  I hope to use these to work on some handwriting, which always needs a little work!

I need to head over HERE to see what they have – they usually have something good….

Anyway I think I may have gotten too much for the big boys but I can always split it and use the other half this summer when we head up to Maine. 

One of the best parts though – is that Staples has been selling these plastic folders that are super cute – portfolio style – they  are 50 cents!!

Cute folders


  I have a few already that I have stashed for a future project, but today I realized I can cut them down the seam and use them as the cover for the kids workbooks.  I have a binding machine, so with the cool folder, my copies and the binder, I will have some super fun activity books for the kids in no time!!

I am sure I did not save us any money making these, but they will be doing car-school for a week, it will be fun and it will make the drive not so bad with busy, quiet kids!  So it is worth it in my book!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

started slow, finished slower

That about sums up our day.  It started slow since we are still all adjusting to waking up later thanks to the sun waking up later.  My youngest son did not make it out of his room until about 9:45 this am!  He was a little slow moving, but with some OJ and homemade bread he was on his way to a normal day.

School started slow and ended later than usual, but really it works.  Some days we start at 7am – others, well, later.  So we finished, I prepared lunch for our family before heading back out to the neurosurgeon for a follow-up from my MRI.  I have been praying for clear news.  I wanted something, other than, well let’s watch it.  I have been watching (via pain censors in my body) for about 7 years now, I am ready to get on the road to recovery!!

Well, it was pretty clear coming from my Dr.  He did not demand to operate but he suggested it and left it open for me.  He showed me this picture (among others) to show me what was going on.


disk MRI image

It may be hard to see/understand – but that black.grey spot the arrow is pointing to is my bulging disk.  It is pretty bad – and this was coming from a guy who sees these all the time!

So we are working through what we want to do, and figuring out how it may work into our life.  So, we will see.

This evening was an evening I have been so excited to get to.  I recently joined a homeschool group here in Irving – and the first meeting I could attend was tonight.  The best part (aside from meeting other HS moms in my area) was the FREE childcare – man!!  So when my little late riser had his head on the school table this afternoon while watching a brother color, I was slowly figuring out I was going to have to miss.  I hate it!!  I even asked Kristen if I could take him and keep him with me, that is until I read his temp of 102.7 degrees.  No, he needed to sleep.  So he went to bed about 5pm.  Hoping that does not come back to bite me later tonight.  Oh well, he needs that sleep!!

So, this is a slow night, a sleeping little boy and some disappointed kids to miss out on childcare this evening.  Oh well.  Lost is on, that is some consolation!

Meanwhile, here are some pics of our life these past few quiet days.

Let me tell you : Spring is Spring-ing here!!

Signs of life” : if you look close in the middle you will see a wee bit of green – future Swiss Chard!!

crafty pics 027

Plants from Sunday School – finally sprouting – these will be sun flowers we will transplant.

crafty pics 024

Little Girl’s Zinnia seeds are sprouting too!  The kids are so excited to see these coming up!!

crafty pics 028

A trash bag for our trip – made from Oil Cloth – so apple cores and banana peels will not mess it up!  Can wipe it clean – and it will hang from a head rest!!

crafty pics 011

Another trash bag (gotta have one for every row –otherwise stuff will get stashed!! Yuck!)

crafty pics 015

Finally my latest quilt squares:

crafty pics 019crafty pics 018

An overview of the 8 of ‘em!  I am so thrilled to be on my way – I think we have 8 more to go!!  Some look better than others but I am so excited to be making a real life quilt!!

 crafty pics 023


Off to watch my favorite show …. and check on a little sleeping boy!!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

stumbling for silence

We all do it.  We never seem to expect it when it happens.  It happens slowly, we kind of slip into it.  The stumble that is.  Really we were just going along on the path of life, but then it happens.  Something jumps up and causes us to stumble. 

I stumbled yesterday, and it hurt.  It has been a while since I really let myself feel that much hurt, and maybe some of it was because I was so tired, physically worn out.  But it hurt no matter what the reason.

But today, with the sun shining it does not seem like such a bad stumble.  Funny how that works: in the darkness it always seems worse than in the light.  That is how “he”[satan] rolls – he uses the darkness and compounds our hurts, our fears, our worries.  And “he” did that last night.  But He is in the light and He takes away our hurts, our fears, and our worries.  He conquers the darkness – but sometimes in the dark nights, alone, it is hard to remember that.

This morning I was listening to a preacher (not sure who) on the radio and he was explaining why we need to be in the word each day – have quiet time (or silence).  He said that God will fill us with what we need, because more than us, he knows what we will need to face the day.  Wow.  I needed to hear that.  A gentle reminder of why I need to dwell in His word each day. 

I have stumbled there too – off the track of my daily reading.  Not too far off, just a few days off my schedule.  In my defense it is hard these days with our schedules all topsy-turvy, staying up too late, a husband working late hours, rowdy kids, and life.  Where do you find 20 minutes of silence in that?  But you know what, He has been whispering in my ear for a couple days now that I need to find silence in my day.  Even if I have to train my children to find it in their day too.

But amazingly, even while I was licking my wounds and acknowledging the pain of my stumbles, God was there.  In a phone call from my friend(s), in a voice mail from my mom, in the quiet alone with my tears.  Sometimes I think he allows us to face these tough things because he loves us so much, and he wants all of us.  All of us leaning and depending fully on HIM.  Not on the words of my friend or my mom or even the voices in my head.  He wants me to look to him to pick me up, to hug me, and to set me back on my path.  And last night, I felt that. 

So, today I resolved to find the silence, even if I have to make it.  I want time to reflect, think, listen, hear, and dwell.  I want to stop the noise of life and hear the voice, the whispering one, that means Life to Me!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Spring is in the Air

I love spring in Texas.  It can snow one week and be 70 the next.  While we did not have snow last week, it was pretty chilly, and yet today and tomorrow in the 70’s!  Love it!

We have made it to the park a lot lately – we are trying to enjoy this spring sun as much as we can!

When I am not out playing in the sun or working on our yard, I have been sewing!  Here are the quilt blocks I have completed so far for my Quilt Along – please do not look close – there are lots of strings, not to mention lots of mistakes, but I figure once it is all done it will not be as obvious and it will be on my bed so who else will see it?  I will not see the mistakes, just the joy of a completed quilt!! 


I am also tired of my purse so I needed a new one.  I scoured the blogs to find a simple one I liked and found a hobo style bag, but before finishing Robert and I thought it was too long, so I chopped it and this is what I ended up with – don’t love it, but it is springy and I will enjoy a “new” purse until I make another one! :)

new purse

So here is what we have been up to aside from playing outside, while I create, they do too…


little girl creating  My girl creates with chalk and a board and wipes it away and creates again.

boys creating My boys, they use legos to allow their imagination come to life as they create, then they destroy, and build again.


We are a creative bunch, when we want to be!

Here are the latest blogs of inspiration that I have stumbled upon:

You Go Girl

Just Something I made

Nikki’s Nifty Knacks

Hope you find something inspiring!!

Sunday, March 7, 2010


This is a warning to you.

Beware what you ask God to do.  Because, guess what? 


…he does it!!



I have asked God to make my heart tender.  I have asked so many times in the past months to show me where he wants me, to bring a certain opportunity, person, whatever into my life so that I can serve him.  And wow!

Today at church I was in tears as our pastor started his sermon “The Lord will provide ______” and told us not to fill in the blank.  And my heart filled it in with “the WAY”.  I just thought about all the things in my heart today, compassion children, foster children, family who has cancer, a brother awaiting parole, new friends, young couples, lost children, the list

honestly goes on and on.  And I think about each of those things and what is standing in my way between me and serving each of them, and I realized that God will provide the way. 

We have to stop striving.  We need to rest.

I am reading a precious book by Watchman Nee (a man from China, which we are currently praying daily for – kind of coincidental huh? – yeah right!!) titled Sit, Stand Walk.  It starts out talking about resting in God’s presence.  That there is nothing we can do or need to do to earn our place in Heaven or our salvation.  We can do nothing, instead we need to rest in who He is, really let it seep into our being.  So to me, it said to stop striving, fretting when the timing is not my timing.  Stop trying so hard to make it all work my way.  Rest in the peace of Jesus.  Trust him to open the door, time it right. 

Obedience is all I am called to.  Obey him by placing one foot in front of the other.  I do not have to do it all now, be patient and let my heart grasp what he is calling me to.

And yet, as I have asked for a tender heart, asked him to break my heart for those in Kenya as the Compassion Bloggers continue to tell the story of these children and this ministry – he is.   I think today he completed the breaking process, because I was almost sobbing as I read Reverb’s blog post HEREJennifer and Kristen have been so transparent and as women I so connect with their stories, but wow – today I was knocked over by Ryan.

So, I am just warning you, when you ask God to do something, especially something that may move mountains, he will often do it.

Here is a great video to give you a small glimpse of what Compassion is doing.


And if you have a free minute, jump over to We are that Family and experience what I have been reading this past week!!

Friday, March 5, 2010

it started so simple

At least it seems like it did.  Praying.  But sometimes, ok, most of the time, it becomes so much bigger.

About a week ago we attended Sunday night church at our church – First Baptist Irving.  It was a Silent Service, shhhh.

The theme was the persecuted church.  We had a number of college students from many countries speak either the testimony of a family member or another person from that country and their story of persecution.  It was a time of awe.  Really.  When we arrived we watched slides speak statistics of persecutions in many countries.

We saw pictures, so rather disturbing.  But really, should it not be disturbing?  I mean, people are being murdered, violently tortured, and here I sit in my warm living room, on a soft couch, typing on my wireless laptop, I mean really.

Did I mention that we did not have air or heat on?  Oh, and no chairs.  I am spoiled.  Horribly so.  I used to be young, I am not any longer.  Sitting indian style (or crisscross apple sauce style) for 45 minutes was not fun at all.  Not even really tolerable for me.  The heat thing, that was no problem, there were lots of people in this small area.  But the lack of fresh air – well that was uncomfortable too.

As I fidgeted to get comfortable I thought about Robert’s grandmother sitting there with us, and how if I was that uncomfortable how would she feel?  And yet, in many, MANY, countries that is what church looks like for all ages.  And you know the saddest part?  They are thrilled to be there, delighted to fellowship, and joyful at the opportunity to praise our God.


It was humbling for me.  It was exciting for my young children.  My eldest has said he wants to be a missionary for some time now.  I keep expecting him to change his mind, but not yet.  Even after seeing videos, hearing testimonies, tonight he prayed that he could not wait to get to China to preach the gospel to the people.  He knows people are killed there for that.  And the emotion in his voice was, again, humbling.


That is the country they chose when we broke into smaller groups for a time of prayer.  They all wanted China.  I was thinking North Korea, but God obviously was drawing these young hearts to pray for China.  S0 we sat.  We prayed.  Then there were cards, offering cards to offer, to commit to pray.  You could pray monthly, weekly or daily.  Both my boys (the older 2) grabbed a card and quickly filled in their names and without asking for guidance checked daily.


daily, committing

Not when you think about it.  Not when it works for you.

They signed their cards.  They were thrilled.  They want to be prayer warriors for persecuted China.

So, we have colored maps of China.  They hang by their beds. 

They handed out bracelets, those plastic ones with a message typed in.  These are 2 bracelets linked together, light and dark grey.  They say bound with them.  They asked us not to take one unless we are really going to pray.  The kids think they look like handcuffs, and they thought that was funny.  I think they do too.  But not so funny.  I think about the many preaching the gospel who have worn handcuffs just because. 

They marked our bracelets too, inside, with a color, to show how we were being persecuted.  A symbol.  Some died.  Some tortured.  The kids being kids joked with each other afterwards asking each other what their color was.

But they are kids, they can only understand this on a certain level.  But you know what, they understand far more than I did before Sunday night.

It became real.  It became intimate.  It became my family, my brothers and sisters, dying for my Savoir.

So it started simple.  But every day our prayers get deeper, they get more and more real, they get more and more complex. 

As we pray, I only imagine the intervention going on in Heaven, how the pleas of my young children are going to the throne of Heaven on behalf of people they may never meet.  I can only imagine the spiritual battle my children are participating in for these precious brothers and sisters in China.  And humbly, I am proud of the hearts of my young brood, as we stand in the gap for so many persecuted people.

Remember those in prison as if you were their fellow prisoners, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering.

Hebrews 13:3

Thursday, March 4, 2010

heart breaking

That is what they are experiencing right now.


The Compassion Bloggers - MckMama and We are that Family.

They are in Kenya with Compassion this week.  Their hearts are breaking as they touch lives, as they hold children, as they see homes.  And my heart is breaking too.

We live so abundantly.  We live so lavishly, even those of us who are struggling to make ends meet and get rid of debt.  I mean really.  These people spend 4-6 dollars a month for their house.  And I complain about my "lower rent" in our home.  Crazy! 

So as the tears fall as I read, I welcome those tears.  I mean, I want to be humbled.  I want to feel for those who have less than me.  But do I really mean that?  I mean it is scary to think about it.  Scary.  But they are living it, they cannot think about not being there.  Those moms with those children.  Those precious ladies who were not blessed to be born in a free nation, a wealthy nation (to say the least), a nation where most of us have lots of choices.  And I was.  My sons were.  My daughter was. 

So thank you Lord, that we were blessed.  But please break my heart, help me to feel for those families so far away.  Help me to teach my children to love you, serve you, and also love others more than themselves.  Help me to really plant that in their hearts!

So I hope you will join me as I live vicariously through these amazing blogging women and lets let our hearts break for these amazing people who Jesus loves!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Seeing the Sun

It is all about the weather these days!  If the sun is out, the kids are out and sometimes we are too!  If the sun is in, we are in and needing to be out!!  Here are some pics from a quick trip to the park Sunday after church with Robert’s folks – the kids were thrilled to be out and excited to have Grammie and Papa with us!

daddy and AG

E on the tree  march 2010 036 JB getting too big

So here are the grandparents and our children! 

Grammie and Papa with gang


Today we saw the sun too –we were so excited to go on a field trip to the Water Treatment plant in Dallas – such fun!  A little smelly –but very interesting & educational!!

another filter good algea

They do not use any chemicals!  Just algae and other organisms that eat all the bad stuff out of the water before they pump it into the Trinity River!  The kids loved it – stink and all!!


We even got to spend some time with new friends – one is from J’s basketball team with Upwards – we had no idea they Homeschool  - I think that was one of the best parts of the day!!

P & Jacob more boys

It was a good day – we got grain from Aledo (a hike of a drive) a field trip, and veggie pick up!  A busy day, but a prosperous one!  We need to find some time to stay home some!!


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