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Category Archives: Memories

Year in Review – 2016

My blogging has been sporadic and sparse this year. Much happening with my family and not a whole lot of time to sit down and type out words, even though I have many bouncing around in my head to share.

So, although, I had planned on this being a ’12 in 12 photos’ post, it has turned into more. A quick recap of the year in photos and a few words.

Here’s to 2016. You were good to us.

January

Carmel beach - Jan 2016

Carmel Mission - Jan 2016

wall of water - Jan 2016

jelly fish - Jan 2016

walk for life - Jan 2016

ferry building SF - Jan 2016

We took our annual trip to Carmel and Monterey to visit the Aquarium for Homeschool Days. End of the month had us traveling down to San Francisco for the Walk for Life and a quick weekend getaway in the city.

 

February

Valentine kisses - Feb 2016

top of the Space Needle - Feb 2016

dsc00593

tea in Victoria - Feb 2016

tiny photographer Victoria - Feb 2016

Princess Evey - Feb 2016

We attended a Valentine’s party at a friend’s house where she had a great photo prop wall set up — Lucie was hamming it up! We went to Seattle {part one and part two} and Victoria, BC as a family, where Steve was quietly taking the Washington State Bar Exam {he passed!}. We loved the Pacific Northwest and hope to travel there again soon. The girls’ cousin, Rosie, celebrated her birthday with a tea party towards the end of the month, and the girls loved dressing up for the occasion.

 

March

exploring water - March 2016

Blessed is She retreat - March 2016

Candy Land - March 2016

Easter - March 2016

petting baby chicks - May 2016

The Fountains - March 2016

Post rain walks were a huge hit this month for watching leaves and sticks float down the runoff. I went to a Blessed is She retreat in Phoenix — my first time away from the girls for a weekend — and had wonderful, much-needed quiet time with the Lord and good friends. Evey learned her first board game, Candyland, on my childhood game board. Easter was a beautiful day with family {and chickens!}. And there was twinning at the Fountains.

 

April

bouquets to art - April 2016

tea at the palm court SF - April 2016

garden helper - April 2016

morning popsicles - April 2016

first time bowling - April 2016

swearing into the Bar - May 2016

I went with a mom and friend to the Bouquets to Art exhibit at the De Young Museum in San Francisco, followed by high tea at the Palace Hotel. My little helpers got us going on our garden. It was hot enough to eat popsicles for morning snack by the end of the month. The girls had a blast during their first bowling trip. And the greatest highlight of the month was watching Steve get sworn into the Washington Bar at my parents’ house by a good friend of my mother.

 

May

 

capital crew - May 2016

pencil behind ear - May 2016

family photo - May 2016

eating strawberries from the patch - May 2016

riding with lettuce - May 2016

Evey's tomato plant - May 2016

dancing for great grandma - May 2016

May snow play - May 2016

I watched my brother, Raphael, in the Southwest Junior Rowing Championships at Lake Natoma. Morning cutie with a pencil in her ear. A gathering at my parents’ house had everyone in attendance. More gardening {lots of strawberries and lettuce!}.  Evelyn enjoyed working with her tomato plant housed in it’s own special red cage. We celebrated Great-Grandma, AM’s “39th” birthday again. It was still cold enough for some snow to be on the ground at the cabin!

 

June

water play - June 2016

holding a ladybug - June 2016

running together - June 2016

hula hooping - June 2016

Golden Gate Bridge SF - June 2016

playing xylophone - June 2016

hiding in a tree SF - June 2016

at the beach in Santa Cruz - June 2016

Santa Cruz beach - June 2016

chillin in the sand chair - June 2016

daddy's day - June 2016

carrots and chard from our garden - June 2016

corn tassels - June 2016

strawberries from the garden - June 2016

birthday girl - June 2016

Water play began this month and we spent a large part of the summer splashing in that little pool. A trip to the cabin involved a little hike where Lucie found her favorite–a ladybug–and Evey enjoyed running with Jed. I took the girls to Children’s Discovery Museum in Sausalito and we had a blast exploring all day. Father’s Day weekend found us in Santa Cruz, spending ample time at the beach and checking out the “little red lighthouse” {a great discovery due to this book}. Wonderful summer produce from our garden! And a little someone celebrated her second birthday at the end of the month.

 

July

examining flowers - July 2016

all american - July 2016

parade time - July 2016

pretend photos - July 2016

sitting on the dock - July 2016

hammock time with daddy - July 2016

swinging fun - July 2016

Serene Lakes parade - July 2016

first fish! - July 2016

blowing seeds to the wind - July 2016

flower child - July 2016

camping hike - July 2016

Evey photog - July 2016

first ferris wheel ride - July 2016

A busy, wonderful month full of much exploration! We spent a week at the cabin to celebrate the 4th of July — lots of fun with family! Then, we hopped over to the coast to spend the following weekend at Gerstle Cove State Park to camp with our dear friends, Evelyn’s godparents. And finally closed off the month with a trip to the California State Fair where Evelyn got to go on her first ferris wheel ride {worth the hour+ standing in the blazing sun!}.

 

August

blowing bubbles - Aug 2016

fishing together - Aug 2016

our sunflowers - Aug 2016

SLO beach - Aug 2016

catching seeds - Aug 2016

hanging with my girls - Aug 2016

Winding down the summer with one more trip to the cabin for bubble blowing and fishing. We grew some beautiful multi-colored sunflowers in our garden which often graced my kitchen window. I ran away to SLO with my sis-in-laws for a weekend away complete with a requisite trip to the beach. Evelyn loved pulling the seeds from the cornflower seed pods to store away for next year. Hamming it up as we say goodbye to summer!

 

September

playing in the yard - Sept 2016

BIS retreat - Sept 2016

knit hat - Sept 2016

cheers in Sac! - Sept 2016

camping dirt play - Sept 2016

large painting - Sept 2016

play dough play - Sept 2016

writing her name - Sept 2016

going up the slide - Sept 2016

Dwindling summer evenings at the Labor Day BBQ. I went on retreat with my Blessed is She writer team in Minnesota/Wisconsin for a weekend–so wonderful to meet many bright faces I had only interacted with online before. Knit up this lovely hat for myself with Ginny’s yarn and my first pattern from Making Magazine.  Happy Hour during an overnight in Sacramento. Off to our last camping trip of the summer at the Calaveras Big Trees with Gram and Pumpkin where Lucie got as dirty as she possible could. Many great activities from our Homegrown Preschooler curriculum this autumn, including BIG painting, homemade play dough, and writing our name! We took Daddy with us to explore Fairy Tale Town on a rare day off.

 

October

Seattle date - Oct 2016

Multnomah Falls - Oct 2016

rain play - Oct 2016

playing in the rain - Oct 2016

first fair isle - Oct 2016

circus - Oct 2016

pumpkin patch - Oct 2016

explode the code - Oct 2016

Apple Hill - Oct 2016

apple picking - Oct 2016

Halloween - Oct 2016

Steve and I got away for a long weekend to Portland, a place neither of us had been before. {Our first weekend away since having the girls!} Much needed rain for California didn’t stop us from going outside–a different kind of water play from the summer, but so fun! I finished my first Fair Isle hat–a sweet little cap for Evelyn–with my favorite new yarn from Quince & Co. that I picked up in Portland. Evey’s wish came true and we went to the circus after I won tickets to a show! A pumpkin patch, of course! Evelyn completed her first school workbook. Fall just wouldn’t be fall without a trip Apple Hill, enjoying the colors of the season, as well as apple picking {and eating} in our nearby orchard. And rounded out the month with Halloween and a reappearance of Anna and Elsa.

 

November

hiking with uncles - Nov 2016

Veterans day parade - Nov 2016

backyard bonfire - Nov 2016

train museum - Nov 2016

turning 4! - Nov 2016

cousins holding cousins - Nov 2016

crazy faces - Nov 2016

digging out - Nov 2016

building a snowman - Nov 2016

cracking eggs - Nov 2016

building together - Nov 2016

knitting - Nov 2016

thanksgiving tree - Nov 2016

Thanksgiving - Nov 2016

A final trip of the season with uncles to Apple Hill. Joining in the local Veterans’ Day parade. A backyard bonfire to roast hot dogs and marshmallows. A trip to the train museum in Sacramento to celebrate Evelyn turning 4. Lucie enjoyed holding her newest cousin, Zachary. Headed up to the cabin for the first big snowfall of the season. Steve did an excellent job digging us out. And we made a fantastic snowman. Our resident egg cracker. A moment of working together that doesn’t happen too often. Lots of Christmas gift knitting. Our family thanksgiving tree. And Thanksgiving dinner at my parents’ house.

 

December

Advent candles - Dec 2016

counting gingerbread buttons - Dec 2016

Advent calendar - Dec 2016

Christmas crackers - Dec 2016

mama quiet time - Dec 2016

SF store windows at Christmas - Dec 2016

decorating Christmas cookies - Dec 2016

cutting out gingerbread - Dec 2016

decorating cookies - Dec 2016

fallen Christmas tree - Dec 2016

fancy dinner - Dec 2016

Nutcracker - Dec 2016

first quilt

snuggling with Gram - Dec 2016

sledding with Pumpkin - Dec 2016

Evey skiing - Dec 2016

Christmas chaos - Dec 2016

dad's new hat - Dec 2016

Christmas morning donuts - Dec 2016

Christmas breakfast - Dec 2016

doll house play - Dec 2016

Christmas girls - Dec 2016

Christmas napping - Dec 2016

Lot’s of great things this month! We dove into Advent with gusto, but fell off a bit when I got sick. The girls enjoyed the Advent calendars and a look at celebrations from places around the world, while I got to dive in deeply with BiS’s Advent journal. We took a trip to San Francisco to take a peek at the magical displays in the storefront windows. Many cookies were made and decorated. Our tree fell over {but we repositioned the bottom to stay in the stand better and had no further accidents}. On the eve of Christmas Eve we went out for a fancy dinner at one of our favorite restaurants and to the Nutcracker at the Sacramento Ballet. I completed my first quilt, a gift for my brother, Dominic. We had a Christmas weekend at the cabin, complete with lots of snow fun! And a Christmas celebration at my parents’ that involved deep sea diving in wrapping paper by the young ones. My dad sporting his newly knit hat! Christmas morning was quiet and wonderful. And Lucie snuck in plenty of naps during the holidays!

 

Wishing one and all a Happy New Year 2017!

Thanks for taking this look back with me!

#write31days ~ day 1: sunflowers

sunflowers

Last year, we grew these sunflowers in our garden. It was the first year that, after their planting, they actually decided to show up. Although, I doubt the late arrival to the party was their own fault. Those birds that swoop through the yard many times throughout the day, I’m sure, may have been the influence.

The sunflowers uplifting presence was a bright highlight every day as I walked into the garden to water. Their orientation toward the sun reminded me to soak in its rays after the chilly, grey days of winter had fallen away. Their radiance brought their own source of light to cheer me. My daughters loved to stand near them and gaze up at their grandeur, their large heads providing a small source of shade from the blazing sun.

………………………..

My grandmother had a great affinity for these delightful flowers. Just recently, we began the process of emptying her house as she and my grandfather both have passed onto their eternal reward. As I swept through her kitchen, painted a sweet shade of pastel yellow, I began unhooking the pictures she had hanging there: all ones depicting in a variety of ways her favorite sunshiny flower. I wrapped them up to bring them to my home, thinking very fondly of her and our times spent in the kitchen, hoping soon to hang them on my own walls to bring back those memories from time to time.

………………………..

We planted another round of sunflowers this year. My eldest finds great delight in the color red, so we threw in a few of that shade as well. I’ve hidden them along the fence, away from the sight of the snatching birds. They do so much better in that spot. We, even, had a several volunteers from last year’s fallen seeds that produced stalks nearly resembling sunflower trees, with multiple heads shooting from the main stem.

What a joy they bring! I’m beginning to understand why they were my grandmother’s favorite. They may slowly make their way up my chart of favorites to the top as the years roll by.

Gathering My Thoughts ~ Busy, But Happy

chasing bubbles

Outside my window: Sunshine, yet coolness. We had a wonderful spring rain yesterday and the air is fresh and light.

Listening To: Quiet while the girls rest.

strawberry picking

Clothing Myself In: Half pjs, half active wear — which the only activity I’ve done in it so far today has been dishes and general cleaning. And perhaps a few laps around the backyard with the girls.

Talking With My Children About These Books: We finished our last chapter of A Bear Called Paddington this morning. Breakfast included English muffins slathered in butter and marmalade in his honor. The girls have been inquiring about marmalade as it is Paddington’s food of choice, so we dropped some in our cart during our weekly shopping trip. They are both big fans. I wasn’t much when I was little, but I love it now too.

I’m thinking of Mr. Popper’s Penguins for our next read-aloud. What are some of your favorites to do with young children?

paddington marmalade

In My Own Reading: Provence, 1970 — I purchased this on a whim as I needed an extra book to fill my cart on a buy two, get one free sale through B&N. It is written by the grand-nephew of M.F.K. Fisher who seems to have inherited his grand-aunt’s talent for writing, detailing the winter of 1970 and how it shifted the American way of cooking and eating due to this group of food writers that includes M.F.K., Julia Childs, James Beard, etc. Probably more of interest to the foodie set and those interested in the evolution of the food scene in America, otherwise, you might find yourself bored with so many details of the relations between these writers.

Thinking and Thinking: About making a Summer Bucket List with the girls. We have plenty of things planned {which I will add}, but it is fun to have a few spontaneous options so when we find ourselves with downtime on a Tuesday morning, we have ideas of fun to be had! What should we add?

painting each other

Pondering: “The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.” ~Sylvia Plath   {Thanks to Verily.}

Carefully Cultivating Rhythm: Although we don’t have a strict schedule, and I don’t believe in one with very young children, we do have a happy rhythm to most our days which I really love. One of the most essential parts of our day is nap/quiet time. They need it, I need it.

painting in the sun

Creating By Hand: I have some teeny, tiny socks I’m working on {The needles are so tiny!!}–my first pair of socks ever–for my littlest nephew born this past Monday evening. At some point this week, I also hope to stitch up his blanket. Warmer weather has me switching into stitching project-mode rather than knitting. I just don’t feel like it much when it is so warm.

Learning Lessons In: Being easy on myself. I’ve had a heavy dose of ‘guilt’ in just about every facet of life lately, most of it completely unwarranted. It makes me less than my best when I’m thinking about all my errors {or what I perceive to be such}. And it truly has not been helpful in regards my attitude/outlook on life. Trying to turn that around. My husband helps me immensely.

sock knitting

Encouraging Learning In: We have a new Chick Fil A being built in our town. I pointed this out to Evelyn the other day. She’s ecstatic…but was a tad confused why we couldn’t go there yet. Currently, it is only framed. When I began to explain that it still needed to be built, a light bulb went off in her head. “Buildings are BUILT BY PEOPLE! They’re not just there.” So now every other question is: Who built this? When was it built? It cracks me up. 🙂

Crafting in the Kitchen: Inspired by Britt‘s Instagram post last week, we pulled out the Joy of Cooking to make our own oatmeal cookies, sans raisins, this morning. They are a definite hit.

tea time

To Be Fit and Happy: I have a rowing machine sitting in my garage that is just begging me for a good workout. We finally got a bunch of things cleared out this weekend that mean I can actually access it. Now, I just need to build up my motivation….. I’ve been inactive for too long.

Loving the Moments: Lucie’s spontaneous hugs and kisses with an ‘I wuv you’ tucked into my ear. The point at which they begin to offer affection and endearments without promptings just makes you melt into a puddle…and offer whatever treats their little hearts desire!

Living the Liturgy: The feast of the Sacred Heart is coming up this next Friday. It is one of my favorites. I’m thinking of what to do to commemorate the feast with the family.

organized simplicity lists

Planning for the Week Ahead: We have a long weekend on the horizon. We’re planning on house projects that have been put off too long. I’ve been working, piece-by-piece, on decluttering our storage office room that has become out of control. Major progress was made yesterday, so painting, new bookcases, furniture rearrangement, etc. will be possible on Saturday.

Springtime Snow at Serene Lakes

Serene Lakes - May 2016

Serene Lakes - May 2016

Serene Lakes - May 2016

Serene Lakes - May 2016

Serene Lakes - May 2016

Serene Lakes - May 2016

Serene Lakes - May 2016

Serene Lakes - May 2016

Serene Lakes - May 2016

Serene Lakes - May 2016

Serene Lakes - May 2016

Serene Lakes - May 2016

Serene Lakes - May 2016

Serene Lakes - May 2016

Serene Lakes - May 2016

Serene Lakes - May 2016

Serene Lakes - May 2016

We’ve been going, going, going around here lately, so when we found ourselves with an empty weekend, we seized the opportunity and ran up to the cabin for a quiet weekend on the lake. This time of year is more of an off-season so it was quite ‘serene’ save a few year-round locals.

We took a long walk around the lake with the girls who impressed us with their endurance, making it at least three-quarters of the way {about 2 miles} around before asking for assistance.

The snow was still abundant so Evelyn was happy to begin her notorious snowball fights with us. Lucie especially enjoyed finding streams of snow melt to throw rocks and pinecones into. There was ample opportunity so lots of stop-and-go as we went along.

We found many groupings of daffodils just beginning to bloom, which was rather funny to us as they bloomed in our area about mid-February. But, there, they are just now having the opportunity to peek through the ground as the snow melts away.

Large sections of the lake have melted, which Evey was rather disappointed about as she wanted to ‘skate’ across again. I’m rather looking forward to the summer season, to taking boats and paddle boards out, splashing on the shore with the girls. It’ll be here soon enough.

Southwest Junior Rowing Championships 2016

It was the oddest of junior rowing champs. This weekend is notorious for being 100 degrees with a blazing sun beating down. This year, rather, we were toting umbrellas and adding extra layers for warmth.

southwest junior rowing championships 2016 men's jv 8

Our main focus was my brother, Raphael’s, race. He was with Capital Crew’s JV Men’s 8, in the first wave.

southwest junior rowing championships 2016 men's jv 8

They were speeding down the course in 3rd most of the way. You can see how close everyone is here.

southwest junior rowing championships 2016 men's jv 8

southwest junior rowing championships 2016 men's jv 8

southwest junior rowing championships 2016 men's jv 8

southwest junior rowing championships 2016 men's jv 8

southwest junior rowing championships 2016 men's jv 8

southwest junior rowing championships 2016 men's jv 8

The intensity of that drive!

southwest junior rowing championships 2016 men's jv 8

southwest junior rowing championships 2016 men's jv 8

Hardly a moment for recovery.

southwest junior rowing championships 2016 men's jv 8

southwest junior rowing championships 2016 men's jv 8

southwest junior rowing championships 2016 men's jv 8

southwest junior rowing championships 2016 men's jv 8

Those last 250 meters or so another boat made the final push past. They were nearly seat to seat crossing the finish line. It was a hardly a second between them that meant a 4th place finish for Captial’s boat. Top 3 went to finals. Gah! So close.

southwest junior rowing championships 2016 men's jv 8

southwest junior rowing championships 2016 men's jv 8

southwest junior rowing championships 2016 men's jv 8

southwest junior rowing championships 2016 men's jv 8

southwest junior rowing championships 2016 men's jv 8

cheering in the rain

Raphael’s cheering squad braving the rain. 🙂

Moments ~ {Vol. 13}

Where do I begin?!?

popscicle face

How could you say ‘no’ to popsicles at 10 in the morning to this cute, little face?

yum, popscicle

pencil tucked behind ear

Very intrigued by her ear’s ability to be a pencil holder.

morning tea toddler

Another tea lover in the family.

lovin' daddy

Snuggles with Daddy. My heart. <3

egg cracking

Her new favorite activity: making a special breakfast {aka scrambling eggs}.

making eggs

cooking eggs

She’s a pro.

bowling in neon lights

It may not have gotten there fast, but it knocked all the pins down!

bowling in neon lights

Not clear whether the ramp is for the balls to go down the lane or a jungle gym for climbing.

bowling in neon lights

bowling in neon lights

Push!

Sunday best

Another dress from my childhood {made by my mama} that she adores.

singing with Elsa bear

A rare moment to hold sister’s Elsa Bear.

dancing sisters

Dancing in the living room in their favorite, softest! pants {by Whole Parenting Goods}.

princess shoes fashion

The princess must wear her slippers.

waiting for their turn on the train

Friends waiting on the platform {made by Evey} for the train

riding the train

Taking turns on the train

riding the train

Love this girl’s creativity!

chasing chickens

Chasing chickens!
petting chickens

Hanging out with Gram on Mother’s Day, meeting Uncle Eric and Aunt Lindy’s newest residents.

Caleb in a tree

I guess I can’t take credit for this one (I think it was my sis-in-law) but I suppose I have to admit I’m related. 😉

family photo gone bad

Again, related.

strange siblings

The baby of the family no longer…?

DSC_0560

My brothers and I. {How did I become the shortest of the bunch?!}

family photo with parents

With our parents.family photo -- Everybody!And everybody!

Together for the occasion of my brother, Jonathan’s, shipping out with the Navy at the end of the month and his engagement to his fiancée, Krista {they are 4th and 5th from the right}. So much to celebrate!

Victoria Highlights

Victoria, BC parliament building spring

Finally, the last of our Northwest trip!

The few days we spent in Victoria, BC were absolutely glorious. Despite it being mid-February, it already looked and felt like springtime.

spring blossoms in Victoria, BC

One afternoon, we slipped into the Parliament buildings for a self-guided tour while Lucie took her nap. Pristine hallways and beautiful architecture abounded.

Victoria, BC parliament building

Victoria, BC parliament building

Victoria, BC parliament building

Victoria, BC parliament building

Our budding photographer was clicking away too!

photographer in parliament Victoria, BC

Victoria, BC parliament building

Victoria, BC parliament building

Loved this classic lock that sealed the chambers when not in session!

Victoria, BC parliament building

Victoria, BC parliament building

The building was beautifully lit at night which made for a gorgeous backdrop as we walked along the waterway.

Victoria at night

DSC00691

Victoria at night

Victoria at night

Victoria at night

Double decker buses are being decommissioned in London, so Victoria snatched one up for sightseeing tours.

double decker bus

Our usual requisite bookstore browsing happened at Munro’s Books. There was at least one daily stop.

Munro's bookstore, Victoria, BC

The girls enjoyed peeking out the window at the harbor from our hotel window. We stayed at the Inn at Laurel Point.

girls playing in hotel

resting with my girls

Our final day in town, we had a few hours to kill before our ferry returned to Seattle. The girls enjoyed a romp on the lawn behind the hotel.

Victoria, BC play

Victoria, BC play

Victoria, BC play

Victoria, BC play

Victoria, BC play

Victoria, BC play

The ferry from Seattle to Victoria, and vice versa, were an excellent way to travel back and forth between Canada and the United States. By land and sea, all that is required is a Passport Card, so the girls travelled with those. It takes about 3 hours each way. Meals and snacks are served onboard, and the motion inside the cabin is very minimum, even with heavy wake. Nobody had a problem with seasickness!

 

riding on the ferry to Victoria

panorama from the ferry

ferry ride to Victoria

We were sad to leave Victoria but are planning on a return visit someday!

ferry back to Seattle from Victoria

plane landing on water

Victoria, BC ~ Great Eats!

Canadian flag flying

The second half of our trip to the Northeast found us in Victoria, British Columbia. Despite it being the middle of February, we had much sun and gorgeous weather for walking around town.

This post will cover our food stops {for there were many!} and in another post I’ll talk about other highlights of the trip.

Red Fish, Blue Fish menu

Friends of ours who had spent their honeymoon in town told us about this little hidden gem called Red Fish, Blue Fish…that was well enough hidden that we missed it our first time walking past! It is located on a dock below street level with a bank of seats that look out over the harbor. Maybe THE best fish and chips I’ve ever had — definitely top of the list!

fish and chips / Red Fish, Blue Fish

eating at Red Fish, Blue Fish

Victoria, BC harbor

Many little water taxis going to-and-fro!

water taxi, Victoria, BC

Murchie’s was another glorious find. We stopped by at least once a day for a sip of tea and treat. Evey and I also chose pretty cups in their gift shop to bring home as souvenirs.

eating at Murchie's

Breakfast was a hit with Stephen.

breakfast at Murchie's

And it’s never too early for tiramisu!

breakfast at Murchie's

Trying to take photos with her toy car…like mother, like daughter.

tea at Murchie's

Stephen saw an advertisement for this when we were waiting for the ferry in Seattle and insisted we search out Bartholomew’s where these bad boys are served.

drink at Bartholomew's

We were due for tea in the afternoon so we enjoyed the ploughman’s platter to stock up on extra protein before the carb overload.

ploughman's lunch at Bartholomew's

eating at Bartholomew's

Tea time at the Empress Hotel. It was such a delightful treat. Despite the hotel being under construction and the usual dining place unavailable, we enjoyed our time sitting in the rotunda sipping their legacy blend and savoring our tea time treats.

tea at the Empress

A refreshing start.

tea at the Empress

TEA rex joined us for the occasion.

tea at the Empress

The Princess Tea for the girls.

tea at the Empress

tea at the Empress

The full afternoon tea complete with a bit of bubbly.

tea at the Empress

And a special order of cheeses, bread, and honey from the chef’s garden.

tea at the Empress

tea at the Empress

tea at the Empress

tea at the Empress

Be sure to blow on your tea before you take a sip to cool it off!

tea at the Empress

The chocolate everything was her favorite. 🙂

tea at the Empress

Our final morning in the city found us at Jam Cafe. A local hotspot–not in the touristy part of town–this place was packed before it opened. {Notice the line around the block still there as we were leaving.}

Jam Cafe, Victoria, BC

It was worth the hour wait for these pulled pork pancakes.

pulled pork pancakes at Jam Cafe, Victoria, BC

Hoping to go back some day for a re-run of all these fantastic places, as well as stopping by some we had to pass up this trip!

12 {x2} in 2015

Joining in with the annual “12 in 2015” link-up {thanks, Bobbi, for hosting!} where we share a look back at the year with 12 photos. Although, I could never limit myself to just one picture per month as hard I try. So I’ll try to stick to two but this may take on a life of its own. 😉

January 2015

We took our second annual trip to Monterey to see the Aquarium for the homeschool days that included a trip to the Dennis the Menace Park.
Aquarium waterwall - January 2015

swinging high - January 2015

February 2015

Lots of heart painting for Valentine’s Day and a Mothers’ Group Valentine Tea.

painting hearts - February 2015

mothers' group valentine tea - Feb 2015

March 2015

Egg carton painting session and a puppy party to meet little Jed {who is not so little anymore!…and neither is Lucie!}.

egg carton painting - March 2015

Lucie with puppy Jed - March 2015April 2015

An Easter egg hunt in the living room on Easter morning and fabulous trip to New York City that included a wedding reception on the rooftop of the Copacabana Club. 
Easter baskets - Apr 2015

wedding dancing - Apr 2015

May 2015

Steve’s long-anticipated graduation from USC with his Masters in Public Administration and Mothers’ Day at the beach in San Luis Obispo.

victory

Mother's Day - May 2015

June 2015

Another graduation, this time Steve’s brother, Eric, graduated from UOP’s dental school, and was hooded by his father, also a dentist. Later in the month, we celebrated Lucie’s first birthday with a pretty pink cake.

uop-dugoni-school-graduation

birthday-cake-pink

July 2015

4th of July at the newly-renovated cabin and a trip to the California State Fair, which included a fire safety demo.

DSC_0137

Evey fire truck

August 2015

Lots of trips to the splash pad and painting outdoors with a cleaning in the kiddie pool to follow because it was just. too. hot.

post-water-snack

evey-finger-painting

September 2015

Although not much grew well this year, the sunflowers did splendidly. And there was a victory daddy-daughter dance in the rain when we received much-needed water from the sky.

sunflowers - Sept 2015

dancing-in-the-rain

October 2015

This was a busy month, and one where I worked on my photography, so lots to share! An absolute favorite every month: Artful Tot at the Crocker Art Museum. Evey got her first set of pigtails. Lucie loved the ‘punkins’! We jumped for joy when we heard of our newest niece’s arrival: Genevieve Marie. Evey can’t get enough snuggle time with her. I knitted my first set of leg warmers which my favorite ballerina loves to wear. We celebrated Halloween Frozen-style this year.

artful-tot-october

pigtails

my-little-pumpkin

jump-shot

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Frozen Halloween - Oct 2015

November 2015

Evey celebrated her 3rd birthday with DONUTS! An early snowfall meant ‘snow fun’ the second week of November.

Evey's donut birthday - November 2015

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December 2015

Who needs gifts when you can enjoy the boxes they came in? More ‘snow fun’ at the cabin to celebrate Christmas with family. And enjoying some tent reading while home sick.

toddler sofa - Dec 2015

Lucie sledding - Dec 2015

reading in tent - Dec 2015

Finding Delight in the Lord — In Every Moment Given

Blessed is She hosted Advent retreat gatherings all over the world this past Saturday (and a few more take place this upcoming weekend). I offered my home as a location to host, but only a friend of mine expressed interest in coming. As it is easier for the two of us to get together during the week, we postponed until a few days later.

It was this fortuitous event that actually brought the lesson of “delighting in the Lord” home to me this Advent.

Munsill thanksgiving

My grandfather has been in hospice care for a little over a year now, but the past few weeks saw a rapid decline after an illness he caught swiftly made him worse. Over this period, I was able to visit a few times and sit vigil with him as he completed his days on this earth.

Those times spent with him, I spoke a few words with him when he was able to hold a little conversation or shared memories with other family members who were visiting. But mostly, I prayed for him. I prayed with him and over him. It felt very much like time spent in adoration before the Blessed Sacrament–that veil between heaven and earth is so thin in His presence, and I could sense the same as I sat with my grandfather keeping vigil in his final agony.

On Saturday afternoon, when the BIS retreat was to take place, I ended up going over to my parents’ house with the family. While Steve stayed with the girls at their house, I drove over to keep company with my dad and grandfather. When I arrived, my dad was playing Big Band music for my grandpa, joking that he had asked my dad to play the music for him. It was his favorite, so I’m certain he would have asked for it had he been able.

My dad and I chatted. We checked in with the medical tech to make sure my grandfather was receiving his pain medications regularly. We helped him take his breathing treatment and replaced his oxygen when he was finished. We relished the moments with him as we didn’t know when would be his last.

It is not always easy to sit with a dying person. It’s hard to know whether to converse with them. It’s difficult to watch their struggles as they suffer mostly interiorly. It’s painful when others who love the person are present, to know what to say to each other as you mourn the loss of this person who is so dear to you.

But what I certainly did as I sat there with my grandfather was “delighted in the moments” — giving thanks for each breath that still held him here, giving thanks for all the memories of good times past, giving thanks for the family legacy he was leaving to us, giving thanks for his life that had touched mine so profoundly. His presence was still very deeply felt even as he was slipping away and I wanted to be with him every minute I could that was left.

As we went about our Sunday morning the next day, I didn’t know that he had passed on to eternal life in the wee hours of the morning. We took the girls to an early Mass at the cathedral as we were planning to go to the German Christkindlmarkt later that morning. When we arrived at the cathedral, Bishop Soto was greeting a few people after the earlier service. I rarely see the bishop casually waiting in the vestibule, so we quickly made our way over to say ‘hello’. Stephen asked the bishop for his blessing on our family, and he spontaneously prayed for our “strength and health”. I see this as a great act of providence, one of the many moments God was showing His delight in me as I struggled with saying goodbye to my grandfather.

Once in the church, I was thinking of my grandfather and I leaned over toward Evelyn and said we should pray for him as he was having a hard time. She paused for a few moments to do so, then turned back to me and said, “Great-Grandpa has left us.” At the time, she actually said Great-Grandma, and I thought she was speaking of Steve’s grandmother who had died that same day, four years prior. But I realized later, when I asked her about it, she actually meant Great-Grandpa. I got the message when I turned my phone back on after church that my grandpa had, indeed, entered into his eternal rest early that morning.

There had been some difficulty having someone with him around the clock to care for him as the staff were stretched thin with many souls needing care that week. It was weighing heavily on me that he might not have someone with him when he passed. I wanted to stay with him, but my little ones needed me during the overnight hours. My parents were able to bring in the lady who had cared for him at home while he was living there a short time after my grandmother passed away. She was to stay with him through the night. A short time after she arrived, he died. I am so grateful for her presence, that he was able to have someone with him as he passed. Another instance of God’s loving care, delight in His precious servant.

christmas cards grandpa and grandma

“Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” Psalm 37:4

As I reflected during the retreat I was finally able to do with my friend yesterday, I could see this message of the Lord’s delight written all over the past few weeks. I was able to see in those moments that I spent with my grandfather as he lay dying, in the circumstances in which he died, God’s love for me, God’s love for him. Each moment given was an act of His love poured out. I witnessed Christ’s love in that small room, carefully transfixed on him whom He was to carry home soon and on each one of us grieving his loss. Christ helped me to find joy in the midst of sorrow, in the midst of saying goodbye.

The waiting–the advent–of my grandfather’s journey to his eternal home was a great witness and true living out of this Advent season. I miss my grandpa dearly, but I rejoice that he will delight in the joy of heaven this Christmas alongside my grandma.

grandma and grandpa at christmas

I see the countless Christmas trees,
Around the world below.
With tiny lights, like heaven’s stars,
Reflecting on the snow.

The sight is so spectacular,
Please wipe away that tear.
For I’m spending Christmas,
With Jesus Christ this year.

I hear the many Christmas songs,
That people hold so dear.
But the sounds of music can’t compare,
With the Christmas choir up here.

For I have no words to tell you,
The joy their voices bring.
For it is beyond description,
To hear the angels sing.

I can’t tell you of the splendor,
Or the peace here in this place.
Can you just imagine Christmas,
With our Savior, face to face?

I’ll ask Him to light your spirit,
As I tell Him of your love.
So then pray one for another,
As I lift you eyes above.

Please let your hearts be joyful,
And let your spirit sing.
For I’m Spending Christmas in Heaven,
And I’m walking with the King.

~Wanda Benke~

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