'Muff'in Dome

#write31days ~ day 6: camping with young children

calaveras big trees camping

I’m no pro at this camping game, but I can say, without a doubt, taking the girls outdoors overnight several times this summer has been an excellent decision. The family/friend camaraderie is bar none when one is able to wile away the hours in the wild.

calaveras big trees camping
{photo by Jan}

We eased in with our first trip in July, staying just one night with some close friends at a state park we had been to before. I am glad that we only committed to one night this first time because it was relaxing to know that if things didn’t work out, we’d only be missing out on one night’s sleep.

calaveras big trees camping

calaveras big trees camping

calaveras big trees camping
{photo by Jan}

Shortly after our camping trip to the coast, we began looking at other possibilities for a second trip this summer. We chose a spot none of us had been to, and invited Steve’s parents to come along for the fun. Our spot was the Calaveras Big Trees, not too far from Yosemite. This state park was a little closer to home than the last, allowing for more play and less driving.

calaveras big trees camping

calaveras big trees camping

A few days before we left, we decided to extend our stay an extra night. We were only inconvenienced by having to move sites the second night {and the first was our favorite, boo}.

camping

calaveras big trees camping

calaveras big trees camping

Evelyn continued her tradition of searching for “mysterious creatures” in the woods with her little headlamp. She also brought along her camera again this time and was capturing snapshots of all the things of interest–moss, bark on trees, a camp chair, the dirt on her sister….

calaveras big trees camping

calaveras big trees camping

calaveras big trees camping
{photo by Jan}

calaveras big trees camping

Lucie got dirtier than anyone I’ve ever seen, announcing at the end of every meal, “I’m done. I go play in the dirt!” It’s a little hard to keep her out when it is¬†everywhere. She took advantage of mama allowing this unbridled freedom by spending every possible minute in it.

calaveras big trees camping

calaveras big trees camping

calaveras big trees camping {photo by Jan}
calaveras big trees camping {photo by Jan}

The BIG trees were truly spectacular. They soared to the sky–there was certainly some neck craning to catch a glimpse of the top. In one spot, we were able to stand on top of the stump of one that had been cut down. It was big enough to host a party on!

calaveras big trees camping

calaveras big trees camping

calaveras big trees camping {photo by Jan}

We went on a little hike through the woods, and had planned on coming back the next day to the series of trails for another, but never made it. There are many trails to explore at this park, for various levels of experience.

calaveras big trees camping

calaveras big trees camping

calaveras big trees camping
{photo by Jan}

There was so much for the girls to be involved in, including food prep, dish washing, journaling, tree identification, and, of course, plain, ol’ playing in the dirt, which I demonstrated as Lucie’s greatest strength when it comes to camping. ūüôā

We actually got the girls to sleep for a nap {despite the neighbors practicing a hip-hop dance to some loud beats–who does that in forest?}. They needed that rest to make it through the evening with s’mores on the horizon.

calaveras big trees camping

calaveras big trees camping
{photo by Stephen}

My favorite part of the trip was witnessing the girls with their hot chocolate and mugs of oatmeal first thing in the morning. It seemed quintessential camping and they looked so cozy bundled up in their warm gear. That and s’mores roasting. They took to the camping traditions like fish to water.

If you’re on the fence about taking the leap with your family, I’d say, Go for it! At least one night. It’s an excellent adventure that’s great to have in the family memory bank.

#write31days ~ day 5: planning ahead for Advent

Advent-light

It’s on the horizon, folks.

It seems like Advent is always upon us so much sooner than I had anticipated, so I’m making an extra effort this year, at least, to have a general plan about what we will be doing so I can prepare things in advance.

Last year, I purchased Ann Voskamp’s Unwrapping the Greatest Gift.¬†We are already set to do it this year {minus a “tree” to hang our ornaments on} as I printed out her wonderful ornament accompaniments for the children to color while we read the passage for the day. It seems an excellent way to introduce children to the Jesse Tree, as well as involve them in the spirit of¬†anticipating Christmas. There are several questions at the end of each day easily tailored for different ages.

nativity-advent-calendar

My girls love the hands-on aspect of working with an Advent calendar. We our on our third year of using one similar to this. We may have a chocolate one for each of the girls too. {I waited too long last year to pick ours up at Trader Joes so I will be running to the display this year.} I imagine we’ll also do a paper chain. These girls love their countdown helpers.¬†We greatly anticipate the unwrapping of our Advent/Christmas books that Elizabeth introduced us to last year. It’s definitely worth the extra effort. It’s one of the reasons why I get started early — so I can find those books to add to our collection from used shops! And we love, love, love this child-friendly Nativity that gets played with throughout Advent into the Christmas season too.
blessed is she advent 2016

Coincidentally, Blessed is She just released their Advent products for this year, today. The artwork of the journal by Erica is strikingly beautiful; I know the words by Elizabeth Foss will equally be. I’m adding mine to my cart pronto¬†because these typically sell out very quickly. I purchased the Jesse Tree cards last year and they are a great addition to our devotions for the adults in the family. Not sure I can pass up the print this year either.

 

Links are affiliate. Please support the blog by clicking through when you order — thank you!! <3¬†

#write31days ~ day 4: circus

circus vargas roseville ca

About a month or so ago, Evelyn remarked that she would like to attend the circus. I believe the idea came from learning about the circus in The Story of Babar. She’s repeated this request several times since then.

enjoying the circus

I had no idea when the circus would be in town or whether we would be able to go. But some fortuitous events coincided recently that meant not only would it be in town imminently, but also that we would certainly be able to go.

circus vargas

I was scrolling through Instagram one evening when I noticed that one of the local events accounts mentioned that Circus Vargas was coming to town. On that photo, they were having a contest for locals to win a family four pack of tickets. I commented saying that my three-year old was anxious to go and we would love to take her.

Lo and behold, within the week, I found out I was the lucky winner of those tickets!

circus vargas

We attended this past weekend and it truly exceeded even my expectations. The high-flying trapeze, the circular cage traversed by two daredevil motorcyclists, the limber acrobatics {which Evelyn claimed were ballerinas}, the kamikaze trampoline bounces by a troupe of male gymnasts. It was truly an amazing spectacle.

img_0449

#write31days ~ day 3: BIG painting

big painting

With two little people who are super inquisitive, I decided to glean a little extra help with a structured, yet very loose, curriculum from The Homegrown Preschooler this school year. It’s called A Year of Playing Skillfully. I am very much into play-based learning, hands-on experiences, etc. and this curriculum fits that to a ‘T’.

big painting

big painting

Last year, I read The Homegrown Preschooler, written by the same authors of the curriculum, Kathy H. Lee and Lesli Richards. I appreciated their educational philosophy and incorporated some of the activities offered into our day. Between this and Twenty-Six Letters to Heaven {which we LOVED and are supplementing with again}, we had a great thing going last year.

big painting

big painting

But I could tell this year that Evelyn needed a little something extra. I was faced with the decision of, essentially, putting together my own curriculum or seeking a bit of help. I chose to do the latter because I was feeling a tad overwhelmed at the prospect this time around.

We’re a month in, and although we didn’t get to¬†half the prescribed activities in September, we had a great time with the ones we did. It’s a great program because Lucie can easily get involved too, even though she is only a fresh two years old. {She’s much more interested in kinesthetic learning, so she truly has no problem diving into many of the activities!}

big painting

big painting

One of last month’s activities was BIG painting. We took out a large roll of paper, cut about 15 feet off, and got to work on it with paints, sponges, paintbrushes, and a few other natural items we found in the yard {Lucie really liked stamping with a large rock}. Evelyn surprised me by instigating the body painting, which she is usually hesitant to try.

big painting

big painting

They had the best time working together…and individually when they each needed a bit of space. It easily allowed for that.

big painting

big painting

Since we used washable paints, clean-up was relatively easy. Even mama got some on her shirt and it washed out. ūüôā

painted

painted

Looking forward to sharing more of our projects with you as the year progresses!

#write31days ~ day 2: rain

resting in an easy chair

Today was our first day of rain in California in I don’t know how long. Even a touch of snow up in the mountains. {I know! Already?!} The crisp smell of rain hit my nostrils the second I stepped outside. Just the scent was relieving since¬†this terrible drought we’ve been in. It meant somewhere it was coming down and, likely, soon would be hitting the earth immediately below our feet.

………………………..

It has been terrible watching one lawn after another die off. One tree after another turn brown and wilt. One bush after another languish with thirst and crisp. One reservoir after another become like a desert land, cracked and dry.

When we drove up into the mountains near Yosemite last weekend for our camping trip, I couldn’t believe the number of fir trees I was witnessing brown from tip to bottom. It takes a lot for these towering, majestic firs to flag. And here they were dead. So many of them.

There was a windstorm amongst the tops of the trees in our final night in the forest. It was rather disconcerting to have those BIG trees standing above, swaying so mightily in the wind. Even more so, with their desiccated limbs flailing. Every so often, you could hear one crashing to the ground at a short distance. I prayed more than once to our guardian angels that night to keep our tents and bodies safe from harm.

………………………..

Rain is most welcome here. To fill our rivers. To quench our trees. To enliven our flowers. To satisfy our living animals. To heal our dry land.

#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.

#write31days ~ 2016

 

I’ve said nothing on here for sometime. Truth is, I’ve fallen out of the habit. And, for me, once I’ve fallen off, it’s hard to get back on. {This goes for me and physical exercise right now too.}

Last year, I participated in the Write 31 Days that occurs every October. I posted with a focus on my photography. It was a good exercise. It got me picking up my camera more often, thinking about some of the skills I wanted to work on further, and resulted in a great collection of photos at the end of the month. Part of me wants to do the same again, but I’m itching to exercise my writing fingers. I’ve missed the process¬†of writing. I’ve missed engaging with my readers on this space. I’ve missed sharing the words that yearn to pour forth. I’ve felt stuck, not knowing where to begin, so just begin I must.

I’ve tossed around the idea of writing with a theme. I had settled on one yesterday, but I’m hesitant to saddle myself with one topic. I have dancing¬†fingers; there’s much to say. Instead, I’m going with my original idea of writing freely for at least 10 minutes every day.

You might get something informative, funny, or just plain mundane. It’ll be a surprise…for both of us.

What I Learned This Summer

I’ve enjoyed linking up with Emily for her monthly “What I’ve Learned” posts throughout the year. I’ve had this one sitting in my drafts for a while, adding a little as time went along because I haven’t seen a post up all summer. Well, turns out she decided to do an end-of-summer round up. Good thinking, lady. Here’s my summer’s worth:

  • My girls enjoying things that I once enjoyed as a young girl brings me even greater joy than the joy it brought me in my youth.

Evelyn and carrots

Toys, clothes, little tchotckes that brought me much joy — slowly, I pull these out for my children and witness a similar love. Evelyn, especially, has a sentimental heart just like here mama and takes great pleasure in knowing that something she is wearing or playing with once belonged to her mama when she was little.

  • A little water can make a big difference for growing a garden.

We’ve been in a terrible drought here the past couple of years. Last year, everyone was asked to kill their lawn for the summer, to reconfigure their landscaping to a more “drought-tolerant” scape. So it shouldn’t have come as any surprise to me that it would be difficult to grow a single thing in that parched soil.

I was close to throwing in the towel when it came to gardening because of this. As much as I suspected the lack of water was a huge culprit in the piddly garden I was producing, I still was feeling like it was my lack of green thumb.

But about a month into our plantings, and we had so many sprouts this year. I was a bit giddy with excitement.

We’ve had several rainfalls throughout the months of April and May and they greatly contributed to the health of the garden. I could tell as I was ripping out weeds, witnessing all the earthworms ranging around, that the soil was a million times healthier. And I was hopeful.

It seems I had reason to be.

Rapunzel tomato plant

munching strawberries

  • Tomatillos cannot cross-pollinate with other tomatoes. They need some of their own kind. {Same goes for squash varieties.}

On that same garden vein, we planted one tomatillo plant and waited. And waited. And waited. Watching tons of flowers pop out, but no tomatillos husks appear. I asked about this at our local nursery and, sure enough, was informed that we needed at least two to produce the little buggers.

It was a little late in the planting season when I realized this, so I had trouble locating others. I eventually found a few tiny seedlings that will likely be too late to help my first, but maybe we’ll get something from them later.

Surprisingly, the other day, a couple husks showed up on my plant! Maybe one of the neighbors has some too. Thank you, kind neighbor, for the good deed you have done unknowingly.

  • Short, but sweet, podcasts are my jam.¬†

Perhaps it’s because my occasion to listen is always in short spurts, but I’m really a fan of quick podcasts — ones that are 10 minutes or less. This one to inspire writers is one of my favorites right now.

  • Even a three-year old is capable of finding enjoyment in needlecraft.

Evey stitching

Evelyn has been begging me for months to teach her how to knit. I really want to but I’m afraid 1) she’ll find it too difficult and just get frustrated & 2)¬†I feel completely incapable of such a feat. Someone suggested to me trying out finger knitting, which I will have to read up on. But, in the meantime, we found a little embroidery kit at the craft store that she is absolutely enjoying. I mean, she’s not doing the stitches the way that is shown on the box, but I figure, at this point, what is important is getting the hang of threading the needle in and out of the correct side each time. {Easier said than done, even for a seasoned crafter!} I’m so impressed by her desire and drive in working it out.

And last, but not least…

  • I am so happy we chose to live a quieter summer this year.

skipping rocks

All extra-curriculars were cancelled, spontaneous trips to the cabin occurred, many, many books were borrowed, purchased, read, countless hours were spent splashing in the water outside, and we spent a lot more time just being. {Plus, there were about a hundred hiccups/disappoints that needed dealing with and it always helps to have a tad more freedom to give those things the attention their due.}

 

What did you learn this summer??

Gathering My Thoughts ~ Height of the Summer

homegrown sunflowers

Outside my window:¬†Heat. For one more day temperatures hovering around 100, and then we’re dropping down into the 80s for a little while. Looking forward to the reprieve.

relaxing with daddy in hammock

Listening To: The hum of the air conditioner and the squeaking ceiling fan above my head.

Clothing Myself In:¬†Still in pjs at 2 in the afternoon. When we aren’t going out, I’m terrible about getting myself dressed.

relaxing at the cabin

Talking With My Children About These Books: A few favorites this week from the library:
How Big Could Your Pumpkin Grow by Wendell Minor — It may seem early for this, but the pumpkins in our garden are ripe so it’s a topic of conversation right now. I hope none of our pumpkins are as big as the ones suggested in this book, though! ūüėČ

Bear in the Air by Susan Meyers — A super sweet story about a cute little bear that gets bumped out of his owner’s stroller and goes on quite the adventure. My children are especially taken with the illustrations.

My Garden by Kevin Henkes — Great for the imagination. If only our garden would grow

In My Own Reading:¬†Honey for a Child’s Heart by Gladys Hunt and Real Learning by Elizabeth Foss. Can you tell my mind is gravitating towards school days? I’m gaining great inspiration from these about a little “curriculum” to follow with Evelyn this year. Both are wonderful resources for reading to your children, too, even if you aren’t doing home education.

Also, anxiously awaiting The Awakening of Miss Prim by Natalia Sanmartin Fenollera recommended highly by Christy. The Fountains of Carrots Facebook group will be discussing soon on their page so jump on in if this is up your alley!

socks and flip flops

ladybug backpack

Thinking and Thinking: About the Fall. Gardening, schooling, birthdays, cooler weather. It is just around the bend.

Pondering: These words of Pope Francis during World Youth Day last week, applicable to any age:

God expects something from you. God wants something from you. God hopes in you. God comes to break down all our fences. He comes to open the doors of our lives, our dreams, our ways of seeing things. God comes to break open everything that keeps you closed in. He is encouraging you to dream. He wants to make you see that, with you, the world can be different. For the fact is, unless you offer the best of yourselves, the world will never be different.

Carefully Cultivating Rhythm:¬†We’ve been rather lax with a schedule of any kind this summer, but I’m kind of looking forward to falling into a bit of one as we move into the autumn months. I need a bit more regularity to my days and I think they girls would benefit with a tad more routine. It’s been good, though, to relax some, though.

riding cars at state fair

sierra wildflowers

Creating By Hand:¬†I finished a scarf and hat set for my brother who is headed off to Michigan in a few weeks for law school. Can’t have him freezing to death! This is my second Barley Hat and loved the formation of the¬†Purl Ridge Scarf. Perfect for a double wrap and fittingly masculine. {But modeled here by Evelyn.} Oh, and can I tell you how in love I am with Malabrigo yarns?? <3

purl ridge scarf

barley hat and purl ridge scarf model

barley hat

barley hat and purl ridge scarf model

Learning Lessons In: Home education. Nervous, but excited, about the prospect. Reading all the books I can, praying about the direction the Lord wants us to take with this, and trying not to be the perfectionist I have a tendency towards.

Encouraging Learning In: All. The. Things. Evelyn has hit the “why?” stage and I’m trying to be patient with the onslaught. The latest: What is electricity? Why do we need those black lines to carry it? Why does it zap us? etc. I wish my brother, who is an electrical engineer, was a little closer right now. ūüėČ

walking in tandem at the beach

Crafting in the¬†Kitchen:¬†With tomatoes coming out of our ears and frequent trips to the farmers’ market for all sorts of seasonal finds, ratatouille was an easy choice last night. {Although it barely touched the plethora of tomatoes covering almost all the surface of my counter.} My recipe was from the Laurel’s Kitchen Cookbook {what? you didn’t know I wrote a cookbook?? ;)} I substituted a red onion for a regular as that is what I had on hand, as well as tossing in fresh basil in lieu of the dry. I used white eggplant from my mother-in-law’s garden which I might just prefer to the traditional purple. Surprisingly, it turned browned when cooked, too!

To Be Fit and Happy:¬†I’m not, and something’s gotta change. I did a 20 minute Pilates video with my girls this morning which was a good kickstart. I will be attempting to follow the exercises in Core Performance Essentials as soon as it makes its way to my house via the mail. I’ve got some serious work to do on my core which has¬†never been this out of tune. It’s been difficult for me to know where to begin on this whole endeavor of reconstructing it, so I’m feeling sort of thrown for a loop, discouraged. Just need to commit and make it happen.

Lucie Little Tikes car

Evey running

Loving the Moments: My girls playing together. Watching their joy in interacting together makes all the difficulties of two toddlers just melt away…almost. ūüôā

sisters in Hanna Andersson

sisters in the pool

sisters "scrubbing"

Living the Liturgy:¬†Looking ahead to feast days this month….. We’ve got Lucie’s baptismal day on August 6th (Feast of the Transfiguration), St. Lawrence on August 10th (my patron), Assumption on August 15th (Holy Day of obligation), St. Rose of Lima on August 23rd (patron to both myself and Evelyn), and a few others in between. I’d like to get back into living a bit more liturgically and I think this month will be the one to ease back in.

Planning for the Week Ahead:¬†Halfway through this one, so looking toward the weekend full of home projects and a pool/birthday party. Definitely can’t wait.

 

Linking up with this week’s Yarn Along over at Ginny’s.¬†

Starting Somewhere {7QT}

When you’ve been away for a while, it is difficult to know where to start, so I’ll just jump right into the middle since it’s Friday, a.k.a. 7QT’s Day!

summer popsicles

1) I’m following along and living vicariously through friends that are in Poland for the annual World Youth Day with Pope Francis this week. I was blessed to be able to attend in Rome in 2000 and Toronto in 2002. I shared a bit about how Pope St. John Paul the Great has influenced my life through his great sermons given at these two events over at my friend Patty’s space, A Modern Grace.

WYD 2000 Tor Vergata Mass

WYD 2000 Pope John Paul II

WYD 2002 rainy morning Mass

2) I read through Pope Francis’ sermons¬†{source: here and here}¬†from the past two days and walked away with these gems that I’ll be pondering for a while:

“[God] is in our midst and he takes care of us, without making decisions in our place and without troubling himself with issues of power. He prefers to let himself be contained in little things, unlike ourselves, who always want to possess something greater. To be attracted by power, by grandeur, by appearances, is tragically human. It is a great temptation that tries to insinuate itself everywhere. But to give oneself to others, eliminating distances, dwelling in littleness and living the reality of one‚Äôs everyday life: this is exquisitely divine.”

“[God] does not want to remain on his throne in heaven or in history books, but loves to come down to our everyday affairs, to walk with us.”

“The eternal is communicated by spending time with people and in concrete situations.”

“Let us ask for the grace to imitate [Mary’s] sensitivity and her creativity in serving those in need, and to know how beautiful it is to spend our lives in the service of others, without favorites or distinctions.”

“To say that Jesus is alive means to rekindle our enthusiasm in following him, to renew our passionate desire to be his disciples. What better opportunity to renew our friendship with Jesus than by building friendships among yourselves! What better way to build our friendship with Jesus than by sharing him with others! What better way to experience the contagious joy of the Gospel than by striving to bring the Good News to all kinds of painful and difficult situations!”

Pope Francis WYD 2016 Poland

{source}

3) On the garden front, we’ve been fighting the good fight against an army of harlequin cabbage beetles {a.k.a. firebugs} that are ravaging our garden. They’ve gone from one plant to the next, taking them out. I finally found them in my tomatoes this morning, after grasping a ripe one and having a billion little babies crawl out of the middle. {Definitely woke up the neighbors with that squeal.} I promptly ran to Home Depot and we sprayed insecticidal soap all over the plant. I’ve tried regular bug spray {when I couldn’t use the soap on the nasturtiums} and pulling them off individually to throw them in a bowl of soapy water. It seems to kill a squad but not the entire army. Once I rip out the remainder of the bed where the nasturtiums are, I’m going to throw down the black tarp of death and hopefully extinguish them while the heat is still high so I can still plant a Fall garden come September.

harlequin/firebugs on chard

red nasturtiums

corn on the stalk

corn stalks

4) Lots of knitting this past month with many beautiful, hand-dyed yarns by this lovely lady, as well as some fun, blue color-way socks for my latest nephew. {First set of socks so please don’t judge.} Also, a warming set for my brother who is headed off for law school in Michigan next month and will get the chill of his life come winter.

blue baby socks

knitting tools

5) The heat burn has been phenomenal this week. Day time temps soaring past 100 and evening not dropping much below 80. Makes me ready for autumn…tomorrow. I’m just grateful we don’t live where the humidity is high or I might melt like a popsicle. The water table, kiddie pool and squirt guns have been our best friends. And I don’t just mean for the children.

watering the pool

throwing water

6) We had a TON of fun with our good friends and Evey’s godparents a couple weeks ago camping near the coast. It was the first time for the girls sleeping in a tent. Other than the scare Lucie experienced when she rolled into the side of the tent in the middle of the night, they were both troopers and slept like logs {albeit rolling logs}. We promptly came home and marked another one on the calendar in¬†September.

munching s'mores

our campsite

searching for mysterious creatures

photo lessons with Matt

7) We’ve been dealing with many house issues this month too, which are slowly getting resolved one by one. The broken dryer for several weeks certainly slowed life down, as I was canvassing every spot in the house that might be “hanging rack” worthy. Maybe we’ll just forget the dryer from now on and install a clothesline. They are much more trustworthy, turns out.

hiking up the hill

Click over to Kelly’s space to read more of this week’s 7QT!

 

%d bloggers like this: