Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Back to School

Monday August 25th was back-to-school time!!

I was ~mostly~ ready to start school.  :o)  Well, my mind was ready but the planning was not as complete as I would've liked, thanks to that horrifically busy week between camping and school.  (That whole week was supposed to be dedicated to school prep, but it was filled with necessary appointments and commitments, and I didn't have ANY of my last year's school files due to the computer crashing).  Argh.  Oh well.

So I started with just some hand-typed lessons plans for each kid, and away we went.  And you know what?  It was just fine. While there are always some kinks to work out, we are now on our 6th week of school and mostly on track.  Not bad!

Gemma is continuing her reading lessons, and she is also
adding Religion and Art Appreciation (in addition to math).
Her lessons take 30 minutes 3 or 4 times a week.
Bunny has a full course load of 6th/7th grade
work!  Most is independent but I still work with
her for about 1-2 hours 3 days a week.
James is doing awesome!  He is mostly 5th
grade now and almost all independent.  For
the most part I just correct his work; there's
 not much that I personally teach him this year.
I couldn't find a picture of my darling 3rd grader Mariposa, but she too is doing very well.  Her reading comprehension is awesome, as is her math (which is mostly independent).  We like doing science and history together in the afternoons.

late summer happenings

Ok, let's get this wrapped up!  Here are some August happenings to round out the summer:

First, Summer Bell Choir "Camp."  Bunny, James, and I had twice-weekly practices in August to be able to play for 8:30am Mass at the end of the month.  The choir was made up of mostly kids age 8-13 but we also had a few moms, an older mom, and a grandfather!  We have played handbells before so it was "easy" but still a lot of fun.  

Handbell Choir
Garden was going strong and looked beautiful, at least for the first half of August:
Just one harvest pic
 We had our first day of school on August 25th, which was about one week earlier than group school.  But I REALLY want to be done in early May, even with the new baby coming.  The kids didn't mind, since we did this last year also.  I have pics on that (maybe later?).  One of our new traditions is to go to the State Fair in the afternoon/evening on the first day of school:

Physics lesson
Nutrition lesson (or rather, what is NOT nutritious!)
Bunny posted many more pictures of our fun Fair day on this post.

Every school year also brings the St. Matthew/St. Vincent de Paul backpack project.  This year we were joined by some friends and even grammae!  St. Vincent de Paul (our food bank at St. Matt's) takes names of families needing school supplies, and the parishioners donate all the backpacks and materials.  Stuffing the backpacks is a great project for kids, so we make it a priority to do this every year.

Ooooh, one of my favorite things about the end of August--Veteran peaches!!!!!!  They are the best!!!!  We made 5 peach pies in 5 days and it just didn't seem like enough.
I think this is my favorite pie ever.
 By the end of the month I couldn't reach my toes, so my good friend Lisa encouraged me to take some "me" time and get a pedicure:
The first of (hopefully) many pedicures at "my" salon,
Melody Nails and Spa on Main Street.

beach pics from the campout

Some more pictures of fun at the campout:

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Parish Campout 2014--Beverly Beach

In August, right after our computer crashed, we headed out for our annual St. Matthew Parish campout.  That was a funny week--computer troubles/trip to Mac store, deciding to leave for camping a day early, and Marcus getting a promotion on the day we left…whew, it was a flurry of activity.  And as you can imagine, camping (once a year!) is no small feat for our family to begin with.  But we made it to Beverly Beach State Park on the Pacific Ocean by dinnertime, and got set up in our temporary one-night spot:

Our Wednesday night site was right near the playground!!
It was so awesome!
 We didn't set up all the auxiliary tents/structures since we had to move to our "real" weekend site the next morning.  So we just had sandwiches for dinner, which was great. The kids played on the playground or biked the whole time.

On Thursday we settled in to our weekend site in the loop that the church had reserved.  It was a nice spot but we no longer had the play structure in our back yard.  :o(

Here's Marcus setting up his sleeping tent.  We could all fit
in the borrowed camper, but it was much easier to have the
menfolk sleep in a tent (they are early risers).
In addition to the mens' sleeping tent we also had a tent that served as our walk-in closet.  This was absolutely FABULOUS as it kept all the clothes chaos out of the camper. Each child had a plastic bin of clothes, and we used paper bags as laundry hampers.  By Sunday, I put all the clean unused clothes in one bin, and stuffed the other bins full of dirty clothes.  This made laundry sorting SO much easier.

And of course we had a kitchen tent.  Full table, large cooler, food bin, supplies bin, and 2-burner stove.   Astroturf for the ground (we don't camp light).  Worked out great!

Friday was a holy day and even though it was a church campout, we didn't have a priest in attendance until Sunday (for Mass).  So we drove in to Lincoln City for Mass, then went out to lunch at Mo's, yum!!

This isn't exactly "roughing it"….
The kids, including Seddy, were on their bikes
for the WHOLE weekend!
 We normally get sites right next to the other 2 families (Brian's and Meghan's) but this year we had a camper, and the camper sites were not next to the tent sites.  :o(  So the two other families set up their mini-city and we went to go visit.  I wish we could've been right next to each other, but it WAS nice to have a camper and electricity…. (The Keurig and potty room was a nice addition to our normal camping experience…)
The other families' sites--one site had their
sleeping tents, and the other had their kitchen
and "living room."
The Saturday talent show is always fun.  A lot of the kids think of what they will do that very morning, leading to some very silly acts.  Some acts were really amazing, like our friends Thomas and William doing bike tricks! and other friends teaming up for a sisters dance act (so sweet to see a young teen work out a routine with her preschool sister).
talent show at the campground's theater
Bunny ended the show with "Let It Go" and she invited all
the little kids (most of whom did not have their own acts)
to sing with her.  :o)
Saturday was also Potluck day--this year my friend Shirley
(in charge of the campout) hosted a brunch potluck.  It was
such a good idea, so yummy and easy!
With the brunch done by noon, we had the rest of the day
to play on the beach.

Every campout, each year, is different.  I would say that this was one of the better years, mostly because we had the camper :o) but also because the campground was great with a lot of activity and amenities for a group campout.  It also helped that the kids are getting older and not ALL of them have to be watched 24/7!  The 3 older ones, and even Gemma for the most part, just took off and played with cousins all day.  Seddy was a handful but it was so heart-warming to see him have a BLAST biking around (under our watchful eye) and thinking he was a big kid, too.  Seeing their joy makes all the hard work worth it.  I have a feeling it will only get better each year!

The entire 2014 St. Matthew Parish campout group.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Marcus' actual birthday

While we celebrated Marcus' birthday with family on the weekend, when it came to his actual birthday it was just us seven.

He was so gracious to give me a free pass to just take the family out to dinner, instead of me cooking for him.  :o)  He knew "happy wife, happy life" (and therefore happy birthday).  That was a hard week for me--throwing him a party on the weekend, tending to the week's activities, and making desserts for 50 the following weekend…so it was a really good call just to go out.
Five Guys was the dining establishment of choice.

yummy goodness
Back at home we had cake (crockpot chocolate pudding cake) and opened presents:

Bunny is holding Sedric back from blowing out the candles.
The kids each chose a gift for their dad.  Guess
who chose this shirt for him???

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Quick trip to SanFran

Back in July, Marcus had a 3-day trip to San Francisco to meet with his team.  He had been asking me to go for weeks (months?) beforehand, but I thought it was too much of a hassle getting child care so I kept denying him.  Finally, a few days before his trip, he asked one last time if I would go for one day with him.  I said yes, if the childcare came easily and it was not a trouble for someone to stay with the kids.  He called his mom and voila! I was booked on a 24-hour trip to SanFran….

We flew out early on a Sunday morning and enjoyed the day immensely, packing in as much as we could in that short time:

When we arrived (Marcus was in first class and I was in the back of the plane, ha ha ha) we met up with one of Marcus' coworkers and shared a taxi to the hotel.  The taxi driver was great and took us on a wonderful scenic route because of the San Francisco marathon that morning.  We learned a lot about the area from him.  As soon as we arrived at the hotel (our room was not ready) we took a short walk down to the waterfront.

my first taste of an In-N-Out burger (it was great!!!)
(this was for "breakfast" btw)

It was fun seeing all the fish vendors.
We continued our walk up to Chinatown.  It was so interesting to us how you can cross a street and go from Italy to China!  The definition really was that abrupt, and it was awesome.
lots of fresh meat/food vendors
We saw so many great sights, like city parks and beautiful churches, little shops and lots of hills.  We stopped for a gelato snack in Little Italy and kept walking. 

Look at how the cars are parked.  I couldn't believe that they
didn't just topple over!  This was one of the steepest hills I saw
(but there were others as well).
Note our elevation vs. sea level…yes I walked all that way!
I wanted to see famous Lombard Street.
We finally made our way back down to the
piers to have a sourdough bowl of clam
chowder (soooooo good!).
Then to Ghiradelli Square to go to the
chocolate shop and get goodies for the kids.
 By that time it was well after lunch and finally our room was ready.  We got ready for dinner and met up with some coworkers in the bar area, and then we were on our way out again.  First we went to this really old, fancy hotel to have drinks and appetizers on the top floor (forgot the name??) and then we made our way to a famous hole-in-the-wall Chinese restaurant, the House of Nanking.  OMG it was fantastic!!  We (as a group) just had the owner bring us whatever he wanted to serve us, so we go to try dishes that we maybe wouldn't've ordered ourselves.  

It was a great ending to a perfect day.  The next morning Marcus sent me away in a cab and I was on my way back home (first class this time!).  Many many thanks to grammae for watching the kids at her house, and for Auntie Meghan for helping.  It was great to have one last get-away before this baby will be born….

Monday, September 15, 2014

Garden Tour--best pics of 2014

Here is a garden tour from the very beginning of August this year.  These are probably the best pictures of the year, since these were taken before the totally chaotic month continued and the garden watering stopped.  :o(  Ah, that happens some years, and it's OK.  We've still enjoyed the garden immensely even as it declined in the end of August and into September.  These pictures will remind me how nice it once was…  :o)

View from our kitchen deck
Gemma always likes being in the garden
with me
a little of the harvest (she helped me plant these eggplants)
At this point, the tomatoes were growing well but still
no ripe ones (of the large varieties at least).
This volunteer sunflower has been amazing
us all summer!
I really like flowers.
Zinnias are among my favorites.
Looking back, I wouldn't change a thing!  (Except to water more.)  We had a lot of fun planning and planting, and I love seeing the flowers change every week.  Keeping up with the deadheading was a chore but it was nice to putz around in the garden doing that.  I think we will invest in some sprinklers next year, at the advice of my dad.  :o)  And I'll probably plant even more flowers and less vegetables.  It's hard to keep up with the harvesting, but easy to take a stroll outside and clip some colorful beauties for the table and windowsills.

Marcus' birthday party

Earlier in August, my handsome husband turned 39!!  The weekend before his birthday I threw him a party to celebrate.  It was so nice to have the patio done so we could enjoy the good weather outside:

Yes, Marcus had to grill for his own party.  :o)  I don't know how
to use the grill.  It's one of those things that makes him feel
important and needed.  ;o)
 He asked for chile-pork burgers, cole slaw, and roasted carrots for his dinner, and  pistachio cake with vanilla-honey buttercream for dessert:

Then, more patio enjoyment as the birthday boy opened his presents.  One big present for him: "Quantum Leap" episodes on DVD!  The kids have been enjoying that for a month now.  He also ~finally~ got his perennial birthday request of "gravel."  (He's very practical with his wish lists.)
Happy Birthday Marcus!