Thursday, August 17, 2017

Summer Update

Well Hi! It's been my goal all summer to get a new post up on the blog. And here I am, the last week of summer before we start school next Monday. Did you know I procrastinate?
It's been so long since I posted on here I'm not even sure what to write. I'll start with just an update from the things I wrote about in my last post, which was over a year ago. Sad.

Our fruit trees are still going strong. We've eaten some nectarines this year and they were delicious! Small, but delicious. The peach has some fruit that should be ripe in August. Our Golden Delicious apple tree is loaded with beautiful little apples, so hopefully I can get a crisp or a pie out of them. The pear tree was full of tiny little pears, and then dropped them all. That was pretty disappointing. We've also added another plum tree, so someday I'll be able to make lots of jam, something I've come to really enjoy.

In my last post I also wrote about our newly acquired chickens. Well, since then I am sad to say that we have lost one, Daisy. We've seen a fox a couple times on our property and think it got her while they were out roaming the yard. Hannah found a pile of feathers. :( Since then we've now added three new chickens: Nellie, Nugget and Popcorn. They are too young to lay eggs yet, and are still getting acquainted with the two big girls (our older chickens), meaning they are still terrified of them.

Buster is still an avid hunter, although he did have to take a break for a while after getting a puncture wound in his hind leg and tearing a ligament. We were supposed to keep him inside for six weeks and I think we made it three. He also had to wear the Cone of Shame (Cone of Dunshire?) for a while. He was not happy.
When he's not hunting, he's napping

And Tucker is the same. People still think he's a puppy despite the gray on his chin.

The kids have grown quite a bit. Hannah is now nine and starting 4th grade next week (How does this happen???). She completed her first year of 4H and raised a lamb named Gracie which she sold at the Salinas Valley Fair in King City. I am so proud of her and all the hard work she put in. I certainly never did anything like that when I was nine.
Hannah and Gracie

Caleb is five and finished preschool in May. Next week he will be starting kindergarten at the same school as Hannah. It was sad for me saying goodbye to the preschool teachers, as we may be completely done with the preschool phase of kids. On the upside, the kids will be at the same school and on the same schedule, yay! I will get more than three hours to myself a week which I am looking forward to. And Caleb is excited about going to his new class, but not excited about having to do school at home too. Everyone tells me teaching kindergarten for homeschool is easy, but I'm still nervous about it. I just don't know if he's going to sit still long enough to focus. Pray for me.
Caleb's 5th birthday. He decorated his cake.
Caleb and his preschool teacher on a field trip to the beach
Preschool Graduation

Other highlights from the past year:
Camping in Yosemite

Skiing at China Peak (Caleb's first time)

Hannah got baptized on Easter by Chris

Exploring the Carizzo Plains in the spring

Family trip to a Giants game

Our summer was full and as usual flew by. I got to go to Kauai for my sister's wedding (amazing!). I've convinced Chris we need to go back so we are saving up for that. The kids went to two VBS's and took swim lessons. The absolutely love the water. We made trips to visit family, went to the fair, played with cousins, and boogie boarded in Cayucos. I'm sad to see summer go, but also looking forward to some routine.

I hope you've had a great summer as well. Thanks for reading. I'll try to post again within the next year. :)

Wednesday, April 6, 2016


Hello! Welcome back to my blog. I didn't realize I had taken such a long break. Maybe it's because these two goofballs are keeping me busy.

 Just a little update here on our family farm. Well, we aren't really a farm, but some in my family think so. Our property is almost an acre, on a hill studded with oak trees, quite a change from the suburban landscape of my upbringing. Chris has taken advantage of the hill behind the house to plant our own little orchard. We've got a nectarine, two apricot, peach, fuji apple, golden delicious apple and pear tree. Most are blooming and it is beautiful. These pink blossoms are from the nectarine tree a few weeks ago. Currently the apple trees are showcasing white blossoms.

The nectarine tree was covered with small fruit, most of which we had to pull off because the branches aren't strong enough yet to support it. Here's Caleb showing off a baby nectarine.

The men checking on the trees

The other reason my family considers us a farm is because of our most recent animal additions: our three chickens, Daisy, Penny, and Lucy.
It took a while, but now all three are laying eggs. The kids love checking the coop for eggs and feeding them treats, until the chickens try to see if their fingers are treats. 

And besides the chickens, we still have Tucker and Buster. Buster has proven to be a serious hunter, catching mice, gophers, lizards, and even an occasional bird. He likes to let us know about his hunting success by leaving "presents" on the porch. Gross. 

Now that the weather has warmed up, Tucker's favorite outdoor activity is chasing lizards. He has even killed a few mice himself. Here is the happy dog leaping through the grass to chase something.

We also just added a vegetable garden, this year I'm trying tomatoes, butternut squash, zucchini, yellow squash, sugar pumpkins, watermelon and cantaloupe. I'm am hopeful this year will go better than last, since the beds are protected with chicken wire to keep the gophers out.

And this is the view from our hillside. Gorgeous. I love where we live and am beyond grateful that this is our home.

Coming soon, some inside pictures of our house. As of the end of March, we've been in our house a year and Chris has done an amazing job of transforming it in to a home.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

A Young Lady

So as of November 8th, I have an eight-year-old. How did this happen??? My little girl is growing in to a young lady. It is so bittersweet to watch your kids grow up. I enjoy Hannah at this age and the things we can do together now, but I still miss my baby too. 

Hannah got an extended birthday celebration this year. It began with a shopping, dinner, and a sleep-over with a good friend. Then on Saturday, the day before her birthday, we had a big family party at our house. One of the perks of where we live is that we're able to see family more often, and that was definitely the case for Hannah's birthday. All six grandparents came, as well as five cousins and aunts and an uncle. 

This is what the three boys did, drive around the yard in the jeep and pull each other in the wagon.

Hannah and her girl cousins on the Vanoli side

Hannah wanted a s'more cake for her birthday. I found the recipe from America's Test Kitchen. It wasn't as hard as I anticipated, except for the part where you put it under the broiler to toast the marshmallows. The first try ended up in flames and charred marshmallows. Thankfully we had more and the second try was a success.

We tried to get a nice family photo, this is as close as we got

On Hannah's actual birthday, we made pizza and had Jammie Family Movie Night in the living room, topped off with more birthday cake. 

Hannah is such a sweet, loving, compassionate, adventurous young lady. I can't wait to see what the Lord has in store for her future. (But I still miss my baby too!)

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Daily Thoughts

I'm diverging from the usual family update post and sharing some personal thoughts. We're eight weeks in to Hannah's school year and have noticed I am enjoying the home school days more than last year. I am thankful for this, and have felt more content lately with being at home. 

At the same time, sometimes my days feel very insignificant or mundane. The other week I was writing an email to someone I haven't seen in a while, and was giving them a brief update on our happenings. The kids are easy to write about: school happenings, activities, cute things they've said, the like. I realized as I was writing, I had nothing significant to write about me. Nobody really wants to hear about your days when they involve wiping dirty faces, cleaning up messes, giving kids (more) snacks, doing laundry, cleaning the bathroom, etc. That realization left me feeling a bit discouraged, is what I'm doing meaningful? 

Right after journaling/praying about this, I opened up to chapter three of my devotional, Treasuring Christ When Your Hands are Full. Chapter three is all about keeping an eternal perspective as we are raising our children. The author writes, "When the mundane looms larger than eternal life, we forget who God is, who we are, and who our children are." It was such a good reminder to not be fixated on the temporary, daily challenges but think of our kids in light of eternity and as little image bearers of God. I'm so thankful when God leads me to a word that I need in that very moment.

And that evening, in the mundane of brushing teeth and getting ready for bed, Caleb paused (mid-brush) and said, "I love Jesus!" And I reminded him that Jesus loves him too, and so do his Mommy and Daddy. It felt like a reminder from God of what I read that morning, that even in the mundane and the teeth brushing, there is room for eternity. So I'm trying to remember, that though on the surface my days may look unimportant or inconsequential, there is more going on than I can see. These kids are a gift, entrusted to my care for a short while, and I want to make the most of these days.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

A Year's Worth of Thoughts

Today is the year mark of moving out of our home in Ventura and following God's calling on our family to Atascadero. So much has happened in a year. There's no way I could have predicted then what our life would look like now. And I have seen God's hand through all of it.

It was a hard year. I am not a big fan of change, so leaving the comforts of a home that we poured so much of ourselves into and leaving friends and family and our church was against my nature. Not to mention watching my daughter experience loss as well. I think part of our human nature is to look and strive for comfort, and this last year was the opposite.

When we first moved, this is where the dog spent most of his time, under the kitchen table.

But it seems that it's always in those hard places where we learn the most about God. I wanted the comfort of familiarity, but God was teaching me that He is to be my place of comfort no matter where I am or what my circumstances are. A year ago I could not see what our life would look like now. We had only just found out where we were going to be living a few days before moving! But God knew, and I can say with confidence that His words to Joshua, "I will never leave you nor forsake you," (Joshua 1:5) have been true for us.

That's not to say that I am always at peace and never have moments of doubt or worry. It's a lesson I have to be reminded of. Just as our time of waiting for Caleb was a lesson in learning to trust God and surrender my plans to Him, it's been the same for this season but in a bigger way. But the result of being obedient to whatever it is God is calling you to is far better than anything you can imagine. And while it can be easy to write those words, it's challenging to live out, even when I've seen the fruit from the past of  God's faithfulness in those trusting moments. My default is comfort, and we are not always called to a life of comfort, but to rest in the Comforter.

So, time for a family update. Hannah started second grade at the end of August. We're excited to have a full year at Trivium. She loves going to class, but also says she enjoys her home school days as well. And I have to admit I am enjoying them more too. I read a very helpful book over the summer called The Well-Trained Mind and feel like I have a better grasp on this whole classical/home school thing.

Caleb started preschool this month two days a week and he is loving it. He has great teachers and comes home exhausted. He doesn't even want to eat lunch, he usually takes his nap first. 

Chris is keeping busy at Shoreline, and also getting ready for a hunting trip with his dad in Nevada. I'm keeping busy at home, keeping the children and animals alive. Somehow the days fly by. 

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Lessons From a Messy Stove

I love a clean home. I love organization. The Container Store, Ikea, stores I look forward to browsing. I love having "a place for everything, and everything in it's place." But, life doesn't often work out that way. That is even more evident after having children.

I walked in to my kitchen the other day and the first thing I noticed was my messy stove. I really don't like a messy kitchen. To be honest, I don't really like messy anything. But as I looked at my messy stove and started to complain in my head, God reminded me of the benefits of the messy stove. Having a messy stove means I've been cooking. The remains of mac and cheese in the pot mean my children have been fed (it's summer, we eat mac and cheese often, don't judge). Remembering that my children have been fed means that God has provided food for us. 

I also love to cook and bake, and that usually requires making a mess before enjoying the finished product. So when I see a mess of flour and measuring cups on my counter, it's a reminder that I've had a chance to do something I enjoy. And I can be thankful for that. Those scones in the bottom left corner of the picture above, very messy to make, but oh so good to eat. 

Apricot jam is another messy endeavor. Well, maybe not for some, but it is for me! But it's worth the effort, because when it's done my family can enjoy it. And not only that, but I can also share it with others. Sometimes it takes messy work to invest in relationships, but it's so worth it.

Everyday life is messy. There are spills and crumbs and tiny scraps of paper left everywhere. Something God has been working on with me for almost the past eight years is the ability to let go of perfectionism. Not that my house has ever been perfectly, magazine picture clean and tidy. But realizing that relationships are more important than a clean house. Yes, I do still clean my house, but sometimes there are more important things. It may mean putting off cleaning up the kitchen in order to play a game with the kids or read them a book. I want my home to be a peaceful place, and if I am always stressed out about having a clean home and not making a mess, that will spill over on to my family.

So I'm learning to embrace the mess. To allow it to happen and offer grace. Because we can all use more of that.