Monday, July 25, 2016

Epic Summer Birthday

Well, hello there. I have been off having adventures...some of them very good, and some not at all pleasant. But you take the good with the bad. And I'm back to get all the dreamy and dreadful onto the blog.

Let's start with a birthday. Daisy is our summer birthday girl. Summer birthdays are very unpredictable around here. I never know where we will be when Daisy's birthday rolls around. One year, we were on trek. Another year, we were at the cat pee house. Sometimes we are on vacation, sometimes we are home. Last year, June was at Girls' Camp. You get the picture. It is all up in the air. But there is never a doubt that we are thrilled to celebrate our Daisy Cakes.

Birthday Bear was there as usual when she woke up.

And we measured her right away. (Even if you try to grow some more today, we already used SHARPIE. Haha.)

Sometimes we do breakfast in bed. (Usually for Ivory) I can even be persuaded to get up early and make breakfast if someone requests it, but a summer birthday has its perks. No one has to be at school, so we went to get Kolaches. (Koh-lah'-cheez) Tyler discovered the Kolaches recently, and we are all glad he did. They are like a cross between donuts and pastries. A pillowy dough with a dollop of fruit and cream inside. They make savory ones as well. 100% tasty. It was so fun to go as a family.

Everyone picked out their flavor.

Dig in kids. Delicious!

On the way home, we stopped to get balloons. everyone picked out a balloon for Daisy. She picked the huge 8. Guess you can't guess how old she is? I love this picture.

With breakfast in her belly, new balloons, and Dad still with us (before he went to work) Daisy decided a few presents were in order. She is still very easy to please and she loved all her presents. Monster High dolls have been in and out for her. But this time around, they were definitely 'IN'.

Yes, that is a two headed mermaid from the new movie. The two heads are named Peri and Pearl. I like these dolls. With their strange tails, they can stand on their own.

Daisy's birthday happened to fall on a field trip day. So we packed everyone up and went to pick raspberries. We found this super cute place called Perry's Berries. It was close, convenient, and fun. The instructions seem pretty simple.

We sent those pickers right out. Tricia came along and brought her two girls, so you may spy Annalise and Camille in the pictures.

It was very sunny and almost a little hot to be picking. We should have gone earlier, but Kolaches were totally worth it. As it was, we were reminded that we were picking sun ripened raspberries.

The view was lovely. Have I mentioned that I love living near the mountains?

Robyn knows how to beat the heat. Smart to bring a sun hat.

She gets those brains from her mother apparently. Sun hat selfie!!

There were lots of berries, although I think there might have been better picking just a few weeks later. They recommend you call ahead so they can tell you whether the berries are ready. There was no shortage for just had to look for the good ones.

Birthday girl was a good picker. She doesn't look like she has much, but she kept dumping her treasures into my bowl.

June is picking the Australian way...through the bush.

All my berries went into my bowl. Half of June's went into her belly. That is to be expected. Don't worry, we left some extra cash on our way out.

There was a little wildlife about. There were the sweet little white butterflies everywhere, and I saw a snake at one point. And check out this dude posing for a picture.

Many hands make light work. We weren't there even an hour, but came away with a good haul.

Here is the official sign if you want to make your own visit.

Many berries went from bush to belly, but Daisy requested jam, and you have to humor the birthday girl. (Especially when it is a fantastic idea.) The girls were great helpers. They even made designs while adding sugar. (Maybe there were inspired by the Kolache.)

The end result was pure heaven in a jar. (Although that is almost guaranteed when you add 5 cups of sugar to fruit.)

It was a dreamy day for our new eight year old. In the evening we watched her new Monster High movie. Spoiler: Pearl is the meaner of the two mermaid heads. It's a shame. She has a lovely name.)

We still don't do cake around here very much. Daisy requested mint ice cream sandwiches. And that is what she got.

Candle out. With one flame, I think she'll get her wish.

Daisy sure is a delight in our family. I'm glad we have an excuse to celebrate her during the summer.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Texture B&W

I'm behind enough on my photo challenge that I'm starting to get a bit confused which theme I'm supposed to be on. So, I think I will start labeling them by week, which is how they are done on the site. You can check out it out here at

They are currently doing week 28, and I believe I am back on week 25. That is just fine by me. My goal was to pick up my camera more and I have had great success this year. I still take plenty of pictures with my phone and that is great too. Win/win.

The theme for week 25 was B&W - Texture. I love textures to begin with. I have a post here and here. I actually had a specific texture in mind, but when I was in CA, I saw the planks on the dock and it drew my attention. They make such an interesting texture and pattern. So that is what you get.

I was going to take a picture of this weird woven rug that we finally pulled out of the sunroom. It is hanging out in my garage, so there is still a chance I will get a picture of it. But not much.

Next up: Week 26 - OUTDOOR WATER (Long Exposure)

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Graduating and Leaving School in Style!

School has been out for weeks now. In fact, we are over halfway done with the summer. (Say it ain't so. I am NOT ready to give back any kids yet. Luckily, I still have a month.) But I still have a few posts to wrap up from school. That is how we roll around here. Get to the posts when you can. And at least I got CA on here right away.

A while back I put a lot of school posts all together. At the very end, I mentioned that Pearl had a kindergarten program, but I didn't have any pictures. I sure thought that was weird. As a mom, it is your designated roll to take videos/photos of your child at school. I know this because have you ever seen the gym lined with parents and their phones, recording away. Who is even going to look at those pictures again? But they dutifully take them. Me too. (Well, I put mine on the blog so I feel they are seen again, and I'm sure many make it to FB, but there are a ton that just sink into the archives of forgotten photos.) So, I found it strange that an event like a program would go by without any pictures.

The Kindergarten program is one of the most well-attended events. It is CRAZY TOWN in there. The teachers know this and they specifically ask you to leave other children at home. We dutifully left our brood back at our place and took Pearl in all her Kindergarten glory. I planned on meeting Tyler at the school, and I knew he would have his phone, so I left MINE with the kids. It wasn't until later that I realized that all the pictures from that night were on Tyler's phone. (He actually has lots of fun photos that aren't on the blog because I forget about them. Look forward to a post on dumping Raging Stallion's phone.) In the meantime, I was psyched to find that I am not a complete failure as a mother. I mean, I was glad we got some pictures.

However, you probably won't be very impressed. See, we were sitting farther back and it is hard to take pictures between people. This was the best we got of Pearl. (She is still super cute.)

Then we resorted to taking weird selfies to entertain ourselves. (We never claimed to be very mature.)

Jonny was kind enough to save us some seats in the madness. We rewarded him by taking pictures of him without his knowing. (We are such great friends.)

So, you weren't missing much. The program was fun, but I was glad to get outside at the end. Many kids had their Kindergarten graduations the same evening, but not Pearl. Her teacher wanted everyone to come in again the next day. (As if it is super easy for dads to take off work whenever they want.) I did get a picture of Pearl in her cute patriotic colors.

The next day, we were back. I was there anyway, since it happened to be the day Robyn graduated. I went right from a rowdy group of sixth graders to an exuberant group of littles. They are so cute in their caps and gowns.

They practiced for a minute or two and then it was go time. They all left and then came walking back into the room. (This is an important process so you can see that they all learned to walk in a line during the year.) I caught a picture of Pearl as she was coming in.

They sang songs which was a little weird since they had done all of this the night before. But you just go with it and smile. At the end, they each received their diploma and they stood for pictures. Congrats Pearl. As your reward you now have to go to school the whole day for 12 more years.

There was a cute slideshow at the end and we each received a copy to take home. (I was going to put some pictures on here, but I have no idea where I put it. Typical.) It was fun to share Pearl's big day.

And then school ended. Kindergartners got out a day earlier than the rest. Last year I took pictures of the kids with their teachers (and blogged about it promptly) and I really liked that, so I tried again this year. This year was the weirdest for teachers, so I did the best I could. Let's start with the oldest.

JUNE: She was in Jr. High, so she had a lot of teachers. I told her to choose her favorite and get a picture with him. Hands down it was Mr. Hansen, her math teacher. He was a fantastic, dedicated teacher. I heard about him all year. June made him a birthday gift, and every time I ran into him, he only had glowing reports about June. (Well duh...she is amazing. I know.) I even saw him at all the track meets. He really cares for all those kids. (And his beard is exceptional.)

ROBYN: Sorry, I just don't have a picture of Robyn with her teacher. Mrs. Spadafora was great, but she was missing for the last month. The sub was a nice guy, but the last four weeks of school were a total joke. (I may have mentioned this before.) It was all I could do to get the guy to sign her graduation paper. We'll leave it at that. (I still want the lipsync video, but I fear I will never get that.)

IVORY: Ivory's teacher was also gone by the end of the year. She left for health reasons. You can see a picture of Mrs. Boyer at the crack off. (Ooh, actually, you can see Mrs. Spadafora too.) Miss Nelson was their sub. I have nothing against Mrs. Boyer. She has a very fun, eclectic style of teaching, but I feel like Miss Nelson was just the right touch for the end of the year. She was very organized and I think the kids thrived under her short tutelage.

DAISY: Miss Thomas who was actually Mrs. Bingham by the end of the year. She was great. She was well organized and super fun. I couldn't help putting in this silly picture of her with Daisy.

PEARL: Kindergarten is such a chaotic, crazy year. I have to take off my hat to any teacher or aid who takes on the challenge of teaching these young spirits. (It is not for the faint of heart.) Mrs. Brown has been teaching for so many years. She is excellent at what she does. She was always trying to keep the parents happy and informed. I think she did a phenomenal job with Pearl.

It was a strange year to be honest, and next year will be different too as we all transition to a new school. Always an adventure.

The last day of school, I went to collect the kids. Pearl was already with me in the car so we took bets at who would be out first. First out the door was Daisy. I think this kid is ready for summer.

Next out was Ivory. This is a totally fake smile she has on. I don't think she was very happy to leave. She is really going to miss her old school and the friends she made there.

Finally, Robyn was out. She brought Saphira and they went home and played for the afternoon with Abby. She has no regrets as she leaves Elementary Behind.

I of course, was ecstatic to have the kids home from summer. We obviously have been playing hard and having lots of fun. Summer has not been what I expected. Some things have worked well, others have been failures. (Ask me about stations some time. Complete bust this year.) But it is always great to be together as a family.

I know that it will be nice when everyone is back in school. I will have more time than I have ever had before (supposedly) but at the moment, I am just happy to be with my kids. They are my life.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

CA EX - S'more of These Kinds of Vacation

Sadly, our time in CA was rapidly drawing to a close. Tuesday was another kick back day of games and family time.

Tyler had been eyeing this classic car in the neighborhood, so he finally got a picture of that.

Tim took Pearl back to the fish store, where they were able to buy four fish. Two similar looking fish that could someday have babies. (Pearl named the girl Lily, and I named the boy Luke.) Also two little glowy fish. They were yellow and orange. (Robyn named the yellow one Butter and Tim named the orange one Dakota.) Here is Tim by the fish tank.

Sidenote: When we got home from CA, Tim sent me a text to tell Pearl that the fish were doing fine. She asked me if he sent a picture. I said, " picture." Pearl said, "Tim said he would send me a picture of the babies when the fish had babies, so if he didn't send a picture, I guess they didn't have babies yet." Haha. I'm not sure what the gestation time is for a fish, but I think one day is a bit fast. And who knows if those fish even like each other.

We went swimming again, for the last time. We made good use of the pool at our hotel. Many fun jail games and although it took three of us to push Ethan into the water, it was worth it. Erin came, and although she never got in, we gave her high fives from the pool.

We played many of the usual games, but we tried out some new ones as well. We played some BS, and that sparked my memory of SCUM. We played a lot of SCUM, and we had many respectable rulers like Mr. Rockefeller the Third Esquire, and Madame President. The scum...well, they were just scum. (Just kidding, we love you too scum.) We also played some Liar's Dice. (Jeannie is a pretty good liar.)

And of course, we played more Scotch Bridge. But that is serious business. No time for pictures. June won Scotch Bridge at one point. Jeannie won the last night. (And truthfully, we aren't all that serious. I have images of us chanting 'Jeannie doesn't want one' with crazy grins on our faces. We are a strange group.)

It was getting late, but we made time for s'mores. Luckily, Ethan had a dozen hoodies that we could borrow. It was a tad chilly, but we dressed warm and stayed close to the fire.

We sang happy birthday to Erin, who had a birthday recently, and then Daisy and Tim, who have birthdays coming up. (It's never too early or too late to sing happy birthday.)

And then it was time to go. We were leaving very early the next morning, so we said most of our goodbyes in the evening. One last group photo. (This picture was really tricky to take.)

(Picture to be inserted when I get it.)

Early and not so bright, it was go time. Tyler woke up the sleeping beauties at the hotel. I got the ones at the Kelly's ready to go.

A few more hugs and goodbyes. Then we were in the car and on the road around 5. Tyler was the only one awake when the sun came up.

If we are headed home, I usually want to drive straight through with no stops, but Tyler insisted we make our usual interesting detour. So, we stopped in Nevada at the California Trail Interpretive Center. It was pretty cool, and the perfect stop to stretch legs and explore.

There is a wagon just as you walk in with different period toys and items inside and everything is touch friendly.

There were plenty of places to dress up and feel more authentic.

I think Pearl was more interested in checking out herself than the exhibits.

There is a phrase called 'Seeing the Elephant'. It is one thing to have an elephant described to you, but a whole nother thing to see one in person. That is how it was for those on the trail. No one could quite describe how it was to travel along the trails and see the tragedy along the way. One had to go 'see the elephant' for himself.

The girls almost left on a ferry. I told them to catch the next one.

Ivory packed her wagon well. I don't think there was any room for people. That doesn't matter as long as you have food.

One exhibit showed the trail of death and carnage across the desert. Bones were littered along with wagon pieces and discarded items. It was moving. There was even a box that you could open to smell what the pioneers smelled. (I do NOT recommend opening the box. The scene should be sufficient.)

We listened to a vignette about the Donner/Reed party. There were so many unfortunate events that ended up in a tragic winter for that group. We have been to see the monument before. There were stories about that group all around the Interpretive Center.

Okay Robyn...hurry up and finish your log cabin. I hear the salt flats calling and home is not far away.

We finished up our audio book on the last leg of our trip. Thanks Harvey, for your gambling tendencies. They kept us well entertained. I would recommend Help! I'm a Classroom Gambler by Pete Johnson. Paul Chequer was the narrator and we thought he was brilliant with his British accent. Tyler decided he needs to use the word 'Daft' more often.

And then we were home again! Granted, the house was trashed because we left in the middle of summer room changes, but that is okay. We just picked up where we left off. But a trip to see the Kelly's in CA was just what the doctor ordered. We can't thank you enough Tim and Jeannie. You kept us well fed (no small feat) and we adore your family. All the activities were great. The fireworks were amazing. The beach was peachy. Let's get together again soon!

p.s. I thought of two things I wanted to add in here. One was that Pearl was always calling Jeannie, Jami by mistake. I'm sure it is because of her aunt Jami, but we spent a lot of time repeating "JEANNIE" to Pearl.

Also, you know how you always seem to forget something when you leave? Well, like champs, we didn't forget one thing...we forgot seven. Seven swimsuits to be specific. They were still damp from the last day swimming, so I put them all in a plastic bag. Tyler put them by the door, so they could air out a bit, but somehow they got pushed behind the door, and subsequently left. Boo. The Kelly's were kind enough to mail them out to us. Luckily, Robyn, who uses a suit daily had an extra at home. We others have just done without, although Ivory improvised one day and used a leotard when she was invited to a friend's house.