Happy 4th of July

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I started the day with a red, white and blueberry muffin (gluten-free muffins made with blueberries and raspberries) and put on my blue denim skirt, red shirt, and red, white and blue sweater vest and necklace.  I then proceeded to have a wonderful 4th of July, doing things I liked and wanted to do–a perfect holiday.

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We drove up to Portland to have breakfast with some of Lovana and Ja’Ana’s birth siblings/family members.  We went to a restaurant named the Gateway Breakfast House. I had never been there before, but I guess President Obama ate there when he visited Portland.  We waited quite a while, which was fine because it gave the kids a chance to visit.  It was a beautiful, sunny day–perfect for hanging around outside and taking pictures.  When we got in, it was quite small inside, and not fancy at all.  They had both breakfast and lunch items and, because we were with such a large group, I was able to see quite a few menu items.  The omelets and hamburgers were enormous!  We had a great time, both with the company we were with, and the chance to try a new restaurant.  We had the pleasure to sit near the little guy, and boy was he entertaining:)  And super cute:)

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Then, we drove home.  We are listening to an audio book named “Hattie Big Sky” and are enjoying it very much.  We got to hear a lot of it today, since we were in the car so long.  On the way home, we stopped at Home Depot and ordered a new vertical blind for the front window.  It’s been broken for some time now, and won’t shut all the way anymore.  We’ve been putting up with it, but the straw that broke the camel’s back was the other night when a salesman came up to the door when I was in my bathrobe, sitting on the couch, and PEERED into the crack left by the broken blind (about 6 inches) and then rang the doorbell.  I politely, but firmly told him to go away, and told Rob that we were getting a new blind ASAP!  It’s on order, but it will come soon, and Rob plans to install it.

 

When I got home, I indulged myself in some sewing, purely for fun.  I don’t get to sew much anymore, due to my busy schedule, but still love to sew.  So, I finished a sundress I had been working on for a while, for Patsy, and then made this little summer dress for a little friend.  I had worked on Patsy’s dress on our camping trip, but forgot to bring an iron, so had a little to finish up here at home.   I was able to use fabric I had on hand for both dresses, and lots of rick rack from my stash for the little one.   img_4867.jpg

During the evening, I went out and picked a few flowers and messed around in the garden for a little bit.  I will do a garden update soon, since it’s growing so well now.  Rob took Lovana back to her job.  It’s official now, Saturday is her last day.  As is is, the job lasted almost 6 weeks past when she thought it was going to, so she’s great with that.

Then, the neighborhood exploded into a loud and smoky display as we saw many, many fireworks exploding all around us.  I was surprised to see lots of the big, blooming, ariel (illegal) ones exploding in the sky all around us.  Beautiful. I just wasn’t expecting it in the city of Salem.  Clearly, there is no need to drive to any display when we’ve got all that from our back yard:)   Rob and Patsy did their little pile, and then Patsy sat on the deck and enjoyed the show for at least an hour.  Judging from all the bangs and pops still emitting from the neighborhood outside, I doubt I’ll be sleeping any time soon, but I had a great day.  I have another fun day to look forward to tomorrow, starting with a birthday breakfast with my mom, so I think it’s my lucky week:)  (Last night we had a bbq for my niece who is back from Ireland for only 1 week). Although I miss Jake since he’s on vacation with his mom and dad, I’ve welcomed the time to spend time with other family members this week.

 

 

 

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Double Birthday at the Zoo

 

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Today, there were 2 birthday girls celebrating at the Oregon Zoo in Portland,Oregon.  Both Ja’Ana and our little friend, Danait had their birthdays today.  J is 17, and Danait is 3.  We decided to have a celebration together and chose the zoo for the big day.  My sister, Rosalie, Danait’s mother, Harnet, Alissa and myself all went along.

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After several great sunshiny days, the weather man began to predict that today would include heavy rain, up to 45 mile per hour winds gusts, and cool temperatures.  Rosalie and I debated the issue and decided that we needed to go anyway, even if we didn’t stay too long.  When a little 3 year-old is promised animals, she needs to have animals.  The big girls would have done something else without blinking an eye, but cheerfully agreed to give it a try.  Our plan was to dart from covered area to covered area, dodging the raindrops in-between and holding big umbrellas over our heads when needed.  We did decide not to pack a picnic as planned, but instead to buy lunch at the little cafe, where we would be assured of a roof over our heads while we ate.

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We had a blast!  The rain held off until we were eating, praise the Lord!  We chased after a very excited little girl, who was enthusiastic, to put it mildly, to see all of the animals, but especially the monkeys.

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She loved climbing on this toy, as long as Alissa helped her stay on.

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Harnet sure appreciated how much the big girls helped chase little Danait around.  That child is quick.  She reminds me so much of Ja’Ana when she was little.  Harnet is so kind to the girls, always telling them how much she appreciates them playing with Danait, and how she wants Danait to grow up just like them.  What an encourager!

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They enjoyed the African exhibit a lot.  The giraffes reminded Harnet of her home in Africa, as they had them there.  The elephants and lions were also a hit, but little Danait wanted to see the monkeys the most, and watched them for a long time.  They obliged by throwing their food (some kind of leaves and fruit) around after taking a bite or two, and jumping around a bit.  So exciting!

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It was a great day and both girls had a great birthday.   It was so special that they could spend it with each other.  Little Danait loves Alissa and Ja’Ana and often says “they coming’ mama, they coming’.”  Even when they aren’t.  Then she will pout because they aren’t.  Of course, the big girls think she is adorable, and who doesn’t love to be looked up to and adored right back!  We 3 ladies had a great time visiting, laughing and watching the girls have fun.    Once it started pouring rain and the wind picked up, as the weatherman had promised, we finished our lunch and headed for our respective homes.  Both Ja’Ana and Alissa had driver’s ed drives this afternoon and evening.  Ja’Ana drove all the way there in the rain, on 2 freeways, and home again through rain, a huge traffic jam, and windy conditions.  I was so proud of how she is doing with her driving.

Rosalie went back with Harnet to her house so they could work on making appointments, and other things that needed to be done.  Sometimes Harnet has Rosalie make phone calls for her, to make sure the person on the other end understands exactly what is needed.  Her English just keeps getting better and better–I can really tell a big difference in the few months I have known her, but sometimes, she just wants a little help.   Rosalie is really good at that kind of thing.   We are already making some plans for summer.  Once we get Harnet’s school schedule, we will made another date to do something together.  It will be fun.

I’m glad we had such a fun time, because Rob and I are taking Jake, Michaela (niece and nephew), and Patsy (daughter) on Monday.  We have a zoo pass, so want to use it as much as possible.  We are planning the trips so that everyone we take will get in on the pass, so we have to take a few at a time.  The other 3 were all in school today, so were feeling left out until I explained that we would go Monday and NOT take Ja’Ana and Alissa.  Just them.  The big girls are going to the beach with the youth group on Monday anyway.  So, it’s all good.  Tomorrow is Rob’s last day of school and then he’s out for the summer!  Yea, and double yea!!!  Let summer begin!

Busy Kids=Happy Kids-Christmas Break 2016–part 4

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The fun continues around here!  This week is focused on my immediate family, so on Tuesday, we took the 3 girls to the beach.  The weather was extremely rainy, cold, and raw, so we didn’t go play in the sand, although Lovana had expressed an interest in doing that since it’s been a while since she has done that.  Instead, we took them to the Outlet Mall, and let them shop to their heart’s content.

On Monday, my 2 older girls went to the mall with the older cousins–it was quite a trip with Rachel, Caitlyn, Lovana, Ja’Ana, Alissa and my oldest daughter, Abbie (who is a great sport and actually loved being asked to join with the other cousins–she loves the younger girls and loves shopping…)  It sounds like they had a blast, although no one bought a whole lot but, instead, had fun being together.  Since Caitlyn will be returning to college in a few days, and Rachel will be heading off for a 6-month adventure soon, I was happy they could spend the time together.  Rob and I took Patsy to the YMCA to swim and I cleaned up a little from the Christmas mess.  I’m still not done, but it was a good day.

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The girls had all received some money for Christmas.  One gift promised them a trip to the outlet mall in Lincoln City (on the Pacific Ocean).  I got some, too.  We walked around the small mall, hunting for bargains.  Last year, we found incredible deals, like jeans for Ja’Ana for $1.  There were no deals that good this year, but we did find some things we liked for a price we liked.  I found 2 things I liked, a sweater for spring in a lavender color, and a sweater vest in patriotic colors.  I think they will brighten up some other clothes I already own.  I’m being very careful to not buy just for the sake of getting a good deal, since space is at a premium here.  I will be doing some more shopping later, as many of my clothes are showing the wear and tear that comes with wearing them so often.

The big girls found things they liked, also, in their 2 days of shopping.  Patsy dug out some long-hoarded birthday money and added it to her Christmas money and had a spending spree in her one-day extravaganza.  She enjoyed getting to buy what she wanted at the mall (clothes and jewelry and headbands), and spending a large chunk of her gift card at McDonald’s for fries, soda and a McFlurry.  Hmmmm.  Well, it’s Christmas, right?

We also enjoyed going out to eat at Mo’s, a favorite restaurant of ours that is found up and down the coast here in Oregon.  Throughout the day, the rain poured, with a ferocity that always amazes us, even though it is typical for this season at the beach.  Thankfully, it came in showers, and we were able to dodge the worst of them.  After a drive back home in the pounding rain, we were thankful to tuck ourselves away in front of our fire and enjoy the evening watching tv in our cozy living room, drinking tea and munching snacks we had been given for Christmas.  It was a good family day, and  we all enjoyed it.

Busy Kids=Happy Kids, Christmas Break 2016, Part 2

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Want to keep them busy and interested?  Sign them up for a squid dissection class!  That’s just what we did today.  We spent the day at OMSI (the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry).  My sister, Gail (Alissa’s mom) is the field trip guru.  She put together a day for all of our kids, plus some friends.  Some of the kids are homeschooled and some go to various schools, but they all had the day off because of Christmas break.

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We had no idea that our little friend would enjoy dissecting, but she had a blast and held her own!

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The boys had a great time, too (I promise–he just looks a little sober in this picture)

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After the kids finished their class, we had some time to wander around OMSI and eat our lunches.  I was so glad to have a knowledgable person in charge of the dissection, and that that is checked off the Biology list!  Then, we watched 2 movies, D-Day and Jerusalem, on the OMNI Max Screen.  After that, we wandered around the museum for a while, enjoying exhibits, then headed home.  It was a great day, and the movies fitted in so well with what we’ve been studying in history.  We are just finishing World War II, and the movie brought it to life.

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Happy kids = happy moms!  I was so glad to see some of my friends that I hadn’t seen for a while, spend time with family, and give the kids such a great learning experience.  It was a great day.

Busy Kids = Happy Kids: Christmas Break 2016, Part 1

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I am going to be spending a lot of time with the cousins this week.  I am planning on some super fun activities.

Yesterday, Michaela was telling us how much she wanted to decorate sugar cookies for Christmas.  So, last night, I made 2 batches of gluten-free dough.  I wanted to chill them all night.  Because I am so sensitive to wheat, I don’t even keep regular all-purpose flour in my house, so everyone will enjoy gluten-free cookies this year.

Lovana came to the rescue and went with me, bringing her expertise and creativity.  We made royal icing and buttercream.  She tinted the frosting several colors and we pulled sprinkles out of our cupboard and my sister’s cupboard.  We had tons!  She decided to bake the cookies first, then ice and decorate.  We often decorate first, then bake, but Michaela wanted to do it this way this time, so we did.

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They made lots of pretty cookies.  We froze some for Sunday.

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Here’s the recipe.  I got it from a little magazine I bought years ago at the check-out counter called “Gluten-Free Recipes.”  I tweaked it a bit.

3/4 cup sugar

1/2 cup softened butter

1 egg

2 cups Bob’s Red Mill One-to-One gluten-free flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon xanthum gum

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

2 teaspoons vanilla

2 Tablespoons milk, more if necessary

Cream butter and sugar.  Beat in egg.  Add salt, baking powder, xanthum gun, cinnamon, vanilla and flour.  Add milk, 1 tablespoon at a time, until desired consistancy is reached.  Add more if dough is too dry.  Chill for at least 15 minutes.  Roll, cut out, and bake at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes or until brown.  Makes about 2 dozen cookies, depending on size.

I was a bit baffled by the instructions about the milk.  I made 2 batches.  The first time, I put in the 2 tablespoons.  It was really stiff.  I put in a little extra the 2nd time.  It was almost too much.  Lovana rolled and cut out the cookies and she had trouble working with the 2nd batch.  On the other hand, the cookies themselves were much more tender with the softer consistency.  The first batch was super crisp, then second was softer.  Both had excellent flavor.  Everyone loved them, whether or not they needed to eat gluten-free.

The rest of the day was filled with kids playing with toys, lunch, tons of dishes and cleaning from the cookies and playing (I also had Jake do his regular chores such as “pick up 8 things”) and then we had a huge game of Apples to Apples with Lovana, Alissa, her friend Kim, Michaela and myself. Earlier,  Jake and I had played a version of Life which sort of resembled what the directions said, so he played other things during this game.  Ja’Ana and Patsy were off to the doctor and errands with Rob, who is off work for 2 weeks now. (He works at a school.)

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We took a few home for Patsy to do, since she didn’t want to be left out of the fun!  It was a great day, and we have a great one planned for tomorrow.

 

 

 

Snow Day

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Last Thursday, a few lazy flakes began to fall.

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They turned into a few more.

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I was so proud of Michaela–she conquered her fears and went outside!  Snow is hard for her, but she went out twice and had a great time swinging on her swing set in the snow.

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Patsy and Alissa sledded down the driveway as the snow continued to fall and accumulated almost an inch!

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Jake is the cutest snowflake on the block!  He would have liked to take his entire fleet of vehicles out, but we limited him to just a few toys.

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Really early in the morning, we all realized that, although not one flake had fallen, school was cancelled due to the expected storm, and my sister and her husband both still had to work.  Thankfully, my aunt was able to take the earliest shift and headed over to the house.  I joined her a little after 8.  Let’s just say–it took both of us.

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4 of the kids played outside for a few hours.  1 kid sat on the couch for a few hours, not wanting to get cold and wet.  Projects were made, including a batch of fudge, Perler beads, those little kits where you melt the plastic crystals into metal frames, a sewing project cut out, lunch, and some tv.  By mid-afternoon, it was melting, the kids’ Dad was back home (he’s a professor and finals had to be given, but did not last all day), and my aunt and I headed to our respective homes, leaving a huge pile of wet and soggy clothing and coats.   It was a great day with the perfect amount of snow–enough to have fun in, but not enough to be dangerous.  I was glad to get home safely, as it cooked off again and froze to the branches and made icicles on the wires.  Where we live, freezing rain is a very dangerous weather event.  All evening activities were cancelled, so we enjoyed a rare evening at home.  I think everyone had a great snow day!