Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Camping at San Simeon State Beach

A few of us took a break from the remodeling chaos to go play at the coast last weekend. Scott decided to stay home and get s'more work done instead.

Our campsite had a lovely view of the ocean through perfect pines for climbing.


The boys made friends with our neighbors, as they always do, and discovered that they were also homeschoolers, and from our same city!

Our new friends shared our excitement when several gopher snakes came out of the brush to sun themselves in the grass around our campsite...

Of course, we had to visit the beach, too. My dad took the boys down to chase the waves on Saturday. On Sunday, the boys and I explored the tidepools...

We spent lots of time just hanging around the campfire, reading, making s'mores, roasting hot dogs, and cuddling up together from the chilly breeze.

We were glad for an easy, yummy hot soup to eat when the wind picked up. Here's my recipe:

Easy Black Bean Soup

4 cans of black beans
1 can of corn
2 cups tomato salsa (I used one carton of spicy salsa, and one of pico de gallo)
2 boxes of organic chicken stock
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. garlic powder
salt and pepper to taste
Put your soup pot on your camp stove or grill. Drain and rinse the canned beans and corn. Dump everything into the pot, and stir. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 20 minutes. Serve with cornbread. (I made ours at home, and brought it with us, but you could try baking on the campfire!)

Friday, June 24, 2011

{this moment}

{this moment} - A Friday ritual.
A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week.
A simple, special, extraordinary moment.
A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Littlest turns 5.

Oh, my sweet Littlest boy. The one whom I wanted so badly, and who turned our lives upside down (and right-side-up again!) just as your Papa said you would. "Three is twice as many as two!" he warned.

You charm us with your puppy poses, dino roars and silly smiles. You give out more hugs and "I love yous" than anyone else in the world. Your expectations are high, and you keep us on our toes, but you go from grumpy to glad in 0.2 seconds. It doesn't take much -- just finally reading your mind correctly.

You have grown so much this year. Not just in height and shoe size, but right out of babyhood into boyhood. You are still my cuddlebug, and you would probably still nurse if you could. But that time has passed, and you have accepted the big kid joys of getting yourself dressed each morning, playdates without Mommy, and riding your new bicycle.

For your birthday this year, you wanted a party at the park. With hamburgers, not hot dogs. You don't like hot dogs. You do like marshmallows, so we added some to the cupcakes -- which you helped make.

You spent a good bit of the time being fawned over by older women girls, who can't resist your baby blues any more than your Mama can.

Happy 5th birthday, my precious boy. We love you to heaven and back again!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The Kitchen: Date with a chimney

There's nothing like a good game of catch-the-brick to test the quality and strength of Trust in your marriage.

This afternoon, the boys went off to see Soul Surfer with friends, and then UberDad and I got intimate with an old chimney to work.

I held the flashlight while he chinked out a rough curve in the bottom of the chimney, which ends just above the space in those studs in the picture, about 7 feet above the floor. We suspect the hole originally led to a fireplace, furnace, or wood stove in the dining room, where the rubber trash bin is in the photo.

Once the bottom was cleared, I held the extension ladder, and Scott braved the 130-degree attic. Then I donned my respirator, took my place at the bottom of the chimney hole, and waited for the bricks to fall.

We were hoping they'd land in the trash bin, and many of them did -- except when they flew too far, bounced backward, or got stuck in the curve. Then I had to use a mallet to nudge out the brick before he could drop another. We got into a nice routine of mating calls... "Clear!" "Incoming!" "Hold on, it's stuck! ...Clear!" "Incoming!"

We were both sweaty and breathing hard through our respirators by the time we carried the last bricks out to the dumpster. Not your typical date. But certainly a trust-building one. Lucky us, we get to do it again tomorrow.

Monday, June 13, 2011

The Kitchen: A week's worth of demo

Last week was... somethin'. Crazy busy, exhausting, amazing.

Vacation Bible School wore me out every single day, and I fought a bad attitude for much of the week (and eventually realized I was PMSing). But I knew it would be worth it in the end, and it was. I got to be a blessing to some sweet, rowdy, special little kids, and they blessed me right back. I was so glad to see most of them at church again on Sunday!

We also celebrate several birthdays this week, including that our of very own Littlest boy, who turned five on Friday. My baby turned FIVE years old! He deserves his own post, don't you think?

The kitchen... well, let's just say that if demolition is supposed to be the fast and easy part of a remodel, this is going to be a really loooong project.

It took us most of the week just to get the cabinets out, between waiting for the plumber to come back twice, and having parties to plan and attend.

But on Saturday we could finally start knocking out some walls. The big boys were very excited to show off their kung fu strength.

And then... well, we found a little surprise...

A chimney, hidden in the wall above the old broom closet, and hanging a foot below the ceiling right above where I want to put the new bar. So very inconvenient.

It reaches through two ceilings (the newer 10-foot and the original 12-foot) through the attic just under the roof. That's a lot of bricks.

Removing it, brick by brick, is going to add a few more days to the project (and we're already behind), but we're keeping our spirits up! The electrician made some good progress today, so we'll just keep at it.

And when I say "we," I mostly mean Scott. I'm pretty good at sweeping up, carrying out trash, and staying on top of meals and laundry. But the physical labor is all his. Thanks, Love!

Sunday, June 05, 2011

Kitchen Demo, day one.

On your mark, get set... Let the demolition begin!

This is the moment I've been anticipating for two years!

Plans are drawn and permitted.

Dumpster is ordered.

Cabinets are emptied.

Habitat for Humanity is scheduled to pick up the old cabinets and stove.

Electricians are coming Tuesday.

We've got less than two days to get everything OUT.


This is what the entrance to the kitchen looked like about a week ago (before I'd emptied those shelves):

This corner of the kitchen is coming out completely, including the walls behind:

This is my vision of the NEW entrance:

Here we go!!!!!!!!!


First two sets of upper cabinets are out... checking the soffits...

There goes the first section of countertop!

Tomorrow... after VBS (me and the boys) and summer school (Scott)... the plumber has to come unhook the gas for the oven and stove, and then we can take out the rest of the bottom cabinets, appliances and countertop.

Saturday, June 04, 2011

Simple gifts

It's time for the biannual Mom's Brag-a-thon! Music recitals come only twice a year, so you'll have to bear with me. (And feel free to share your braggable moments with me, too!)

These two boys have worked SO hard the last two months. Their music teacher wanted them to learn a piece they could play together for the recital. Eldest has only studied cello for nine months; Middlest has studied violin six months longer.

We found a version of the classic Amish tune "Simple Gifts" which would let them take turns with the melody and harmony. It is not an easy piece, but learning to play their very different parts simultaneously, and stay in tune, and stay in tempo, and adjust to each other's mistakes, was extra challenging.

And then they had to put up with their overanxious, perfectionistic mother, who knows just enough about music to be opinionated and pushy about it, when she's trying to be helpful. (Somehow they forgave me, and insisted I sit through all their practices anyway.)

They practiced faithfully, even when they were grouchy with each other, and they played it well at their lesson on Friday. But you never know how nerves will be on the big day.

They wanted their friends to be there, so I sent some last-minute invitations, and warned their teacher we were bringing a crowd! And then I sat in the front row and tried not to let it show how nervous I was for them.

And. My boys. Did. Beautifully. When it was over, I could breathe again. The smiles of pride as they stepped offstage were worth every tear shed up to that point.

Afterwards, we went out to our favorite local, gourmet diner to celebrate with burgers and ice cream. They earned it!

Friday, June 03, 2011

Twelve things I learned this year in homeschool.

No matter how well you plan, something out of your control will always mess it up.

It's good to plan anyway.

Seize precious opportunities when they arise.

But weigh your options and know when enough is enough.

Environment, environment, environment.

Environment is both your attitude and your surroundings.

Even a homeschool mom can wonder, "Where the heck did they learn that?" But it's often a good surprise.

No matter how many great philosophies you read, it always comes back to trusting yourself with your own kids.

No matter how perfect your approach, you're still going to have bad days.

Sometimes it's best to set aside the books and go ride bikes.

Sometimes it's best to commit to something you want to learn, and actually do what it takes.

My kids still teach me more than I teach them.
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