Sunday hike.


This week we went to one of our favorite places to collect and forage.


Our first stop is always the apple trees. They weren't quite ready this time.


Jack was thrilled to find so many ferns. He has been learning a lot with Apologia Botany and has been having fun finding and identifying so many different types of plants.


Taking a break in the campground gazebo. Always a lovely spot to stop and watch for wildlife.


Taking a snack break on our favorite rock. It's fun to look back through the years and see how many pictures I have taken of the kids on this rock.


A short hike down to a little creek. We found lots of moss and the boys collected different samples to bring back for a project they are working on.



We were able to collect some prickly pear fruit for Jack, along with some pine cones and acorns.


After every hike this happens. The pup falls asleep in his arms. Too cute.

Thanks for being patient with me while I get back in the groove.

California trip part three

Sorry it has taken me so long to get this post finished and up on the blog.  Our stay at Humboldt Redwoods state park deserves it's own post because there was so much to see and experience there.


We had to do some tree hugging. The stumps that were throughout the campground were amazing, truly. One campsite had a hollowed out stump big enough for a small tent.



I have decided that there isn't enough moss or lichen in my life.





The park has a really wonderful visitor's center. I highly recommend making time to visit there if you are in the area and have kiddos.


A camp trailer made out of a redwood.


There are quite a few hiking trails in the park that are easy hikes.



There is an easy hike down to the Eel river. We enjoyed exploring it for a few hours.


Up the road from the campground was the drive thru tree. The tree you drive through was okay, but it was fun walking through the rest of the grounds. These tree houses were amazing!





I finished this book on our trip. You really must read it.

The redwoods were my favorite part of the trip. I may have said that I don't have near enough moss or lichen in my life at home. It was just perfect.  I can't wait to go back and spend more time there.  At one point Zac started talking about moving to the Pacific Northwest and asked what I thought. I told him if he ever wanted to move there he didn't need to ask, I was all in.  :)



Our Studio Ghibli themed Halloween

This year we decided to do a theme for decorating and dressing up. The theme we could all agree on was Studio Ghibli. We love all the movies and watch them often.

Here are the decorations:


First up, I took some round black tissue decorations and added some google eyes to make soot sprites. We hung these from the ceiling.


Instead of the traditional scarecrow we made a Turniphead scarecrow.


We made a No Face figure to stand in the corner on our porch.


And then we had the kodama or tree spirits. We made as many as we could in our short period of time and put them all over the front yard.


We even put some on the roof.




A pumpkin carved with a figure of Teto.


A pumpkin with Turniphead.


A pumpkin with Totoro carved.


And the rest of the decorations. The chalkboard above was placed right by the front door.


This chalkboard was on the other side of the door.


The top of the door.


Just inside the front door.



On top of our school shelf.


The dining room. This table was used for food.


And above the kitchen sink.


Right outside the dining room, in the backyard we had a drink station.



The tables for eating.


On the back lawn we set up the movie screen. We also put out some blankets to sit on. The screen was also visible from the eating tables.


Last, but not least our costumes.  Jack dressed as Lord Yupa from Naussica.



I dress as Calcifer from Howl's Moving Castle. :) We had friends near and far join in with us and dress like their favorite Miyazaki character such as: Porco Rosso, San, Totoro,  Naussica, and Arriety. We had a fun time and are thinking of carrying the theme over for next year. Which means we have all year to make more kodama!


California trip part two


The next day was Jack's 10th birthday!  We had to get a few supplies in Reno before we headed out. The boys were a little cold the first night so we bought two extra sleeping bags so they could double up if needed.


You could tell as soon as we hit California. The sagebrush scenery was replaced with trees, lots of them.


We made it to Lassen Volcanic park in time for a late lunch.  It was really neat learning about the different types of volcanoes and geologic features of the park. We did one hike, Bumpass Hell, while we were in the park.




We made it down to the mud pots and vents. It was very stinky!


We decided not to stay at the top of Lassen that night as it was already windy and cold.  We drove down the other side of the park and found a campground. 


We had to have some cupcakes to celebrate the big birthday. I was glad I threw a few candles in my backpack.  We sang happy birthday around the fire and enjoyed our cupcakes.


Jack was amazed how big the cones were.


Before leaving the campground the next day we did some laundry and took showers. Nice perk.


We stopped at Whiskey Creek lake for lunch that day.


And by that night we made it to Humboldt Redwoods state park.


This was our first view of the trees since we arrived after dark.


The boys explored after camp was set up. We also saw a fox run through the edge of our camp, but he was too quick for pictures.


Greeting the redwoods the next morning. I'll cover more of the redwoods in my next post.


California trip part one.

A couple of weeks ago all the boys and I headed out on a camping trip to California. This was my first camping trip in 11 years. Yikes. I was a bit nervous about going. My boys are all tough and like to primitive camp. 


The first day we left Utah and started through Nevada.  One of our first stops was also one of our favorite swimming holes.


We ate lunch and the boys jumped in for a swim break. IMG_6187

The boys also went on a bullfrog hunt.


And finally caught a small one.




We drove the extra-terrestrial highway.







We made it most of the way through Nevada and stopped at some hot springs the first night.


It was nice to soak before bed and to warm up in the morning before leaving.


Our next stop was Virginia City, Nevada.  It was a cute little town.


Our main reason for stopping was to visit the mine that my great-great grandpa owned and sold to Comstock.  Jack learned about it last year and loved  seeing the actual mine in person.



We didn't make it as far as we had hoped the second day and ended up staying in Reno that night. Our oldest son had a friend there that he really wanted to spend time with so we decided to get a hotel.



Scenes from the weekend 5/25


Our quail eggs have arrived. Here's  hoping we can hatch them.  We made an incubator out of a 10 gallon aquarium. We are having a hard time with temperature regulation. SIGH.


I have started working on some fall projects. I am hoping to get a jump on holiday projects this year and actually have some homemade gifts to share with those we love.


The hummingbird chicks have flown away. We put up a feeder in hopes of seeing them around.  I love this pic of them together after the first one had climbed out of the nest. It's almost as if he is reassuring his sibling.


This morning we woke to the sad news that the raccoon had killed the pea hen. We are heartbroken. Our neighbors, who owned the pea hen and were wonderful with letting her stay her after making her nest, have taken the babies to their house.  So we lost them all.  Like I said earlier, I really hope we can get those eggs to hatch.


We had my son and his girlfriend over for dinner and a movie tonight. Dinner was great. Jack made cupcakes for dessert, which he promises are the best ever. We watched Pompeii. Two hours of my life I will never get back. It was made bearable since we all have the same sense of humor and started narrating it.

It seems like it was a LONG weekend. We had fun though. The hubby and I were able to get out.  Alex and I started to shop and plan for a big party we are throwing in a few weeks. And the weather was wonderful.  We truly are blessed.

a wedding

This weekend our son's best friend was married and our son was the best man. 


So weird to have kids old enough to be married.


My son pinning the grooms boutonniere on and one of my favorite pics of the night.


They have known each other for about 10 years and given their parents a fair share of gray hair.  They are good kids though. Very thoughtful and kind.


We were so happy to be there for their special day.


Steve then had to give the best man toast. He did well, especially since he has never given a toast and none of them really have the life experience for a toast.


It also gave the rest of us an opportunity to dress up.






pea chicks


For the past month, these two birds have had a little project going.



Or should I say five little projects.  The pea hen made a next on top of our compost pile. 


Today was 30 days to the day that she laid the eggs. Tonight when we checked on them, this is what we saw:


There was one more dark chick that we saw for  just a moment before she turned and hid them all away.


I did take out some of the wild game bird food that I bought for when our quail eggs hatch and threw some to them, the chicks went right after it.

We are so excited about our five new friends!

Happy mother's day.


A mother is the truest friend we have, when trials heavy and sudden fall upon us; when adversity takes the place of prosperity; when friends desert us; when trouble thickens around us, still will she cling to us, and endeavor by her kind precepts and counsels to dissipate the clouds of darkness, and cause peace to return to our hearts.” ―Washington Irving

Happy Mother's day!

Da Vinci

This past week we went on a field trip to a nearby city with our homeschool group to see the Da Vinci exhibit.




It was a very fun, hands-on exhibit.


The kids were in awe of everything that DaVinci had done.



The kids were all inspired and ready to go home to make things.


We have done this field trip once before, about nine years ago. It has always been one of my favorites.

the car

My husband recently bought and started a new project car.


It is a 1928 Pontiac. 








There is so much character in these old cars.  I've seen a restored car like this, but it just isn't the same.   Right now the plan is to steampunk the car.  All the kids and the neighbors are excited about this and ready to jump in to help.  We'll see how it comes along.

After one week it looks like this:


Of course our neighbor who is a expert at these things says all the hard work is done and now comes the fun part.  I hope he's right!


Alexandra turned 17 this past week! 


She spent the day with friends, except for a bit of time hanging out at the pool with Jack and I.


Her interest in forensic anthropology should be well fed for a bit.


We are pretty sure she liked her gifts. She dug right in reading the textbook and putting her skeleton together.



We will celebrate our girl more this weekend, when the family is able to get together. 


I hope you all had a lovely Easter.  Ours was good.


We spent the day relaxing and  enjoying ourselves.


Well except for Talisa, she had an art final to work on.


I relaxed with a project I've been wanting to do.


Our sweet neighbor brought us a cake.


I may have gone a little overboard on my promise of an excellent egg hunt.  This is only half of the eggs I stuffed.


We made our older kids hunt for eggs, despite their protests that they were too old.



We ended the evening by watching The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.  Two out of four kids have declared it their new favorite movie.  It's a  good one.

In memory


My dear, sweet grandma passed away this week.  It's all I can do to wrap my head around it.  Ironic that it was right before Easter. I spent every Easter at her house while I was growing up.  She always had a big egg hunt for all the grandchildren.  They had a huge backyard, lots of flowers and big trees.  Our yard now reminds me of that, less flowers unfortunately. All of the families would get together for dinner and an egg hunt.  The last time I spent Easter there ended in a big water fight. My cousin and I were soaked and we ended up wearing my grandpa's shirts home.

I told my husband that in her memory we were going to do a big egg hunt for the kids tomorrow, just like hers.  And we will plant some flowers.

Day two of our trip

This day was our actual anniversary!  We left the hotel in search of coffee and breakfast. We found both at Toast Eatery. Yummy. Would highly recommend. After that we worked our way over to Golden Gate Park. The plan was to go to the DeYoung museum to see the Georgia O'Keefe exhibit. When we got there however, it was packed. Really packed. Instead we went over to the California Academy of Sciences .  It was awesome!


First we checked out the rainforest exhibit.


The butterflies were amazing, but we are kind of partial.


I loved seeing all the different geckos and taking pictures to show my gecko boy.



Next we hit the aquarium. 

My favorite was the huge coral reef tank. There was one fish swimming in a huge circle upside down. He looked like he was having fun.


We grabbed some lunch in the cafe there and then took a minute at the earthquake exhibit. We didn't go in the simulator. An earthquake is something I really don't even want to pretend to experience.  I live on fault lines, we've  had some minor ones. I'm good.


Next we went on a behind the scenes tour. I have a policy- if you have the money do the tours, you will learn so much more.   Our first stop was on the living roof. We were able to walk our a bit and see things up close.


Including these whale bones that were drying out.


Next we talked about this killer whale skeleton and what makes him so special.


Next we visited one of the ichthyology collection rooms. So cool. I am a sucker for collections.


Next was the gem and mineral vault. Would have loved to have Jack along for this one since we have been knee deep in gems and minerals lately.

Next we met an entomologist and were able to watch him work for a bit. Very fascinating. I have pics, but don't want to share without permission. :)


My most favorite part though was the naturalist room. Oh my. A Homeschooler's heaven. I want to move there. I loved this room. I immediately started thinking of ways to bring this room and the components into our home.  The cabinets full of specimens that you can look at, the books, the collections. Sigh. If we lived nearby I would bring the kids here every day. Seriously.



These learning trays were wonderful! I need to recreate these.



I took lots of pictures because I was interested in how they stored and displayed their collections.


This was by far one of the best thing we did while in San Francisco. I highly recommend it.    we walked through some of the rest of the park in our search for a bus stop. After that we went back to Fisherman's wharf and went to Bistro Boudin for dinner. It was delicious.



20 years


Last week this guy and I celebrated our 20 year anniversary.  We were able to swing a trip to San Francisco... by ourselves. This was our first trip sans kids ever. That's right we never had a honeymoon thanks to me starting a new job two days after our wedding.  This trip was huge for us and we had so much fun.  I will be sharing our trip over the next few posts.  What we liked, what we didn't and things I would recommend.


We flew out early Tuesday morning and were there before noon. It was too early to check into our hotel so we checked our abgs and set off to find some food, get our city passes and explore.  I was planning on getting our city passes before we left, but totally spaced it. We decided to go with them because they had the transportation and  a few museums we were interested in. 


We found a close place to eat and then set out to Fisherman's wharf where we could buy our passes.  We walked up and down Lombard street on our way.


We were able to buy our passes. Do some souvenir shopping and also visit the Aquarium of the Bay.   It was on the pass and we were there so we went. If I had to pay for it separately, I wouldn't have gone. I don't think it would have been worth it.  The aquarium at the California Science Academy was much better.

After a few hours, we went back to our hotel, freshend up a bit and went out to eat.  We stayed at Hotel Kabuki in Japantown. It was a wonderful hotel. I didn't take any pictures of it though.  It was close to Filmore Street which has a variety of restuarants. We went to eat at Inferno Pizza. Ugh. Overpriced and not so great. 

To be honest, the first day was hard for me. I was tired and missed my kids. 

In the next post, I will tell about our trip to Golden Gate park and The California Science Academy.



This moment

Joining with Amanda


{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. If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see.