Friday, July 29, 2011


My house is so rarely still these days.  What with two boys running around in it!

A question floating around lately has been, What do you miss most from before you had kids?  It took me awhile, but then I realized, sometimes I miss the quiet.

Don't get me wrong, I love to listen to music and be around people, but I do my best thinking in the shower. With only the white noise and no other distractions.

I'm a night owl and I love the quiet stillness of the night. The calm silence that descends over the house.  I love to be outside at night, no lights, watching the stars.

I need the still and the quiet to focus.  To be centered.

Perhaps this is why I like photography so much, especially that of nature.  It's a focus that doesn't require noise.  It's a narrowing down of your senses to just what you will see through your lens.  It's the still capture of an image. (I also don't particularly care about video)

Night time is my time.  Time to be still and refocused.

This is a post prompt from The Gypsy Mama. Join in?

Thursday, July 28, 2011

I'm a Boy Mom

Mothers of Boys

I'm a boy mom and I write about my two boys a lot here.  Chronicling their lives and the crazy things we do as a family.  Sometimes I love it, other times they drive me crazy!  But there is never a dull moment.  Ever.


I love that these boys really love each other.  They want to be together often (and drive each other crazy at times) and I'm so glad that they have each other.

(not taken near our house)

If you're new here, Cory is 4 and Noah is 1.  We live out in the country in a very small community.  We walk around the corner to the post office every day and chat with the post lady. 

I take way too many pictures to ever hope to edit them all properly.  I love photography and the scrapbooking that goes with it.

My husband, Brian, and I are teachers although I'm only teaching my boys at home right now.  Cory is just beginning to sound out words and we'll be starting informal preschool here in the fall.

The new big step in my life is that I've been asked to lead the Mom's Bible Study that meets at our church.  I'm excited and scared at the same time.  I'm a Type-A person and a planner to the core so the organizational side of things will be more work, but easy.  It's the spiritual side of it that makes me wonder...

I have all the academic credits (Bible school, Christian college, etc), but to be honest I'm not very good at talking about it.  Something about the personal application part that makes me clam up tight.  So if you have a minute would you pray that this year helps me grow, but isn't too stressful in that area?

I'm glad to meet new friends and I hope you'll stick around!  I'll be hopping around soon!

PS. I know I was supposed to include my boys favorite books, but I'm not sure that's possible... we have so many it would take a post all on it's own!

101 Offline Activities: Review

We're such a wired society these days that it's hard to go anywhere without seeing someone chatting on the phone, texting, or now with an iPad looking up stuff.  It's great that we can know and connect with anything and anyone instantly.  Talking to my penpal in Australia is so fun on IM when I used to wait weeks for a letter.

But what is the cost to the people who are actually around us.  Have you ever spent a day (or even a couple hours) with no gadgets on, just being with people?  When we go camping or driving out of cell coverage it's almost refreshing to know that you just can't do anything about it.  (alternately, this is one of the reasons I didn't have a cell phone for a long time)

The only problem with this is that we're so used to being entertained that sometimes we don't know how to entertain ourselves.  I know I'm not very creative when it comes to hanging out with my kids, pre-schoolers are not my forte!  So I'm quite happy to have a new trick up my sleeve...

101 Offline Activities You Can Do With Your Child is a new spin on the Bennett's other book (365 TV-Free Activities).  It's full of simple interactive games you can do with your kids, and at least half of them don't require much more than your imagination and perhaps a couch pillow or two.

Some of the activities in this book remind me of junior high ice breaker games, but they work just as well with the younger set.  Anyone remember "lava" where you have to get across the room (or the playground) with only stepping on a few pieces of paper?

The book has one activity per page and as you flip through there are symbols in the lower corners that say whether this is an "at home" game, an "on the road" game, or an "anywhere" game, among other categories.  This is the easiest way to find ideas.

If you are out of ideas when it comes to playing with your kids or you just don't want to play "cars" again, give this book a try.  And perhaps it will help you get creative on your own!

I was provided a review copy of this book for the Family Review Network, but the opinions expressed are my own.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: Bucket Baby

While I was painting last week Noah did a pretty good job of entertaining himself... complete with finding all the things in the house he could fit into... like the clothes washing tub out of the bathroom!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Book: Canary Island Song

Canary Island Song

Summary: When Carolyn’s grown daughter tells her she needs to “get a life,” Carolyn decides it’s time to step out of her familiar routine as a single woman in San Francisco and escape to her mother’s home in the Canary Islands. Since Carolyn’s mother is celebrating her seventieth birthday, the timing of Carolyn’s visit makes for a perfect surprise.

The surprise, however, is on Carolyn when she sees Bryan Spencer, her high school summer love. It’s been seven years since Carolyn lost her husband, but ever since that tragic day, her life has grown smaller and closed in. The time has come for Carolyn to get her heart back. It takes the gentle affection of her mother and aunts, as well as the ministering beauty and song of the islands to draw Carolyn into the fullness of life. She is nudged along by a Flamenco dance lesson, a defining camel ride, and the steady gaze of Bryan’s intense blue-gray eyes.

My Review: I forgot how much I love books by Robin Jones Gunn.  She writes a good balance of narrative and description, enough to place you in the beautiful setting, but not so much that you're bored (like another one I read last week).  The plot moves along nicely and it seems there's always a little twist thrown in somewhere too.

In Canary Island Song I really appreciated that we got to know Carolyn and empathized with her longings and her fears.  There was also just the right amount of self-discovery and growth to make it believable.  At least for me!

I really appreciated this book for some reason.  I think it might be added to my permanent collection.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Canary Island Song, go HERE.

Robin Jones Gunn was born in Wisconsin and lived on a dairy farm until her family moved to southern California when she was five years old. She grew up in Orange County and spent her summers at Newport Beach with friends from her church youth group. After attending Biola University and Capernwray Bible School in Austria, Robin and Ross were married and spent the next two decades working together in youth ministry.

It was the young teens at Robin’s church who challenged her to write stories for them. She hadn’t thought much about being a writer, but took their request to heart and set her alarm for 3am, three days a week. With two small children it was the only time she could find to write the first story about Christy Miller. After two years and ten rejections the novel Summer Promise was accepted for publication in 1988. Robin hasn’t stopped writing since. Over 4 million copies of her 75 books have sold and can be found in a dozen translations all over the world.

Robin and her husband now live in Hawai’i where Ross is a counselor and Robin continues to write to the sound of tropical birds chattering in the palm trees outside her window. Their children are grown but manage to come to the islands with their families every chance they get. Robin's awards include: three Christy awards for excellence in fiction, a Gold Medallion finalist, Mt. Hermon Pacesetter and the Mt. Hermon Writer of the Year award. Robin travels extensively and is a frequent key-note speaker at various events around the world. She serves on the Board of Directors for Media Associates International and Jerry Jenkin’s Christian Writer’s Guild.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Blueberry Heaven

I'm a blueberry girl.

I was raised in Oregon picking (and eating) blueberries every summer with enough to freeze to last all winter.  And I would just got get a Tupperware and eat them frozen.  They were my candy.

So imagine my frustration all these years when my parents moved us to arid Eastern Washington and there were no blueberries to be picked and the ones in the store were an expensive tasteless option.

Cory helped pick, maybe half a bucket full, most of which he ate!

Luckily I married a guy whose parents live in blueberry country Oregon so for the past few years I've stocked up every summer when we go visit.  Not enough to last the whole year, but enough to help me survive.

Noah figured it out pretty quick

Then a couple years ago I heard that there might be a blueberry farm locally.  I wasn't sure I believed it and since I had my Oregon supply I didn't look too hard.

This year my mom had a flyer on her counter so I started calling around.

Saturday night... we picked blueberries half an hour from our house!

The bushes are still babies (ie, you have to sit on the ground to pick) but they were loaded.  And unfortunately not much cheaper than the store bought ones.  But oh, the flavor!  And the actually getting to pick them myself!

By the handful and stealing from our buckets!

We came home with 25 pounds of berries (in just over an hour, that's got to be a record!) and froze 3/4 of them.  We've been eating ourselves sick and today I made my first ever pie.*  How perfect for me!

It was divine and now I'm in heaven with my own secret blueberry stash!

*Recipe complements of Short Stop, crust too!

Friday, July 22, 2011


There's only one way to be full in life, and I've been missing it lately.

Full of life, overflowing with joy, pouring out and splashing all over others.

To be full of God first, to fill up with Him, is the only way to actually have room for all the other things in life.  The things that make life full, the things that are joyful.

I want to be full.  How much will it take to get me over the edge, to jump into that cup with no looking back.  To know that this is the only kind of full that's worth having.

All the rest is just an illusion.  Life looks full, but there's nothing in the cup at the end of the day and you're still thirsty.  Thirsty for real, joyful life.

From his abundance we have all received one gracious blessing after another. ~John 1:16

This is a post prompt from The Gypsy Mama. Join in?

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: Sneak Peek

The boys room is getting a makeover this week... it's been painted blue and now decorations are being added...

Notice that Noah is "helping" me paint with some of the clean brushes!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

16 Months

It's really hard to believe that Noah is "only" 16 months old as he is a completely independent and very confident little boy.

He loves to climb everything.  Definitely taking after Uncle Kevin.  Also wants to do everything that big brother does... even though he's 3 years younger!

He climbs and has very little fear.  Today he climbed a ladder at the park to above my head height (yes, I was standing right there).  Although the other day he climbed up on a stool at my parents that wasn't near anything and then started crying because he didn't know how to get down.  That's the next thing to figure out!

He's a big eater although sometimes for whatever reason he will decide he doesn't want to eat the food you've put in front of him, even if it's something he's eaten easily a dozen times before.  Then no amount of coaxing will get him to eat it.  But he will probably eat it again the next day.  Random!

He has all his molars in now and 2 out of 4 eye teeth.  I'm thinking the other 2 should be coming soon as he's back to his hands in his mouth and drooling.  He's also fallen asleep at the table three times in the past couple of weeks.  Poor kid, he must be growing again!

I call him my Noah Monster because he's very wild.  He loves to run and "bam" into you and give hugs.  He can and will take down his older brother.  Here he's "taking down" his Nana.

And he's not a little kid either... wearing more 24 month clothes than 18 month clothes now.  He's slightly over 32 inches and almost 28 pounds.

All words in Noah language start with an M (Mama, more) or a B (book, balloon, ball, bath, brother, birdie, even peek-a-boo).  He does also say Dada, Nana, and Papa too.

We haven't learned too many new signs, but he's very good at asking "please" for anything he wants.  Especially when he's begging!

Noah is very affectionate (if you call bamming you affectionate!) and loves to snuggle.  He particularly loves this bunny!

But it was very hard to get him to hold still long enough to even get one not fuzzy picture!

 My little ham!

Many times he will do something he thinks is funny and then look to see if you are watching.  He loves to dance any time he hears music and then will look to see if we're watching him!

Noah is also a big helper... although sometimes it's not exactly the "help" we want!  He's figured out how handles work and so anytime he finds one he tries to use it (Wii remote strap, grocery bags, my purse).  Here he's trying to pack my scrapbooking bag around.  I don't think that will work as it probably weighs more than he does!
The best part about the helping is that when he does something he thinks is awesome he will then clap for himself. It just cracks me up every time!

I love my Noah boy, he's not a baby anymore!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Biking the Monuments: Part 2

If you missed the first half of our tour, start there, otherwise, onward!

By the time we got to the Vietnam Memorial it was pretty much dark.  Which is unfortunate considering the wall is black.

But it was still really amazing and sobering.

There were lots of fireflies in the grasses under the trees.  Very cool since this is only the second time I've ever seen them.  And also this really weird undulating buzzing sound coming from some trees, but not all.  We guessed that they were cicadas.  Did I mention they were loud?

We zoomed by this pond - with an island for the Founding Fathers - and luckily we were at the front of the group so I could stop and take this photo and then catch up to the end!

The WWII Memorial is really pretty at night with all the water and lights.  There are quotes all around on the walls and the pillars in the background are one for each state.

It's just to the west of the Washington Monument, but you don't even hardly notice it in long pictures because the Monument is just so big.

The last Monument (not a Memorial as it was started while Washington was still alive) we just sat below it and talked about it.  The history is so incredible.  It was started and then stopped for something like 100 years.  People called it a disgrace to have a half finished monument in the capitol.

And the top triangle part, the whole thing, is made of aluminum!  It had just been discovered and since they didn't know how to refine it they thought it was going to be a very precious metal like gold so what better thing to put on top of the monument!

Our very last stop was in front of the White House.  No, you can't really get this close, I just have an awesome zoom lens!  They used to only fly a flag over it when the President was home, but in recent times they decided that was a security risk so now they fly it all the time.

And finally we were done... and starving!  So we walked about 12 blocks up to Chinatown to try and find this noodle place, only to discover that we couldn't eat there.  We did get a couple of take out egg rolls and then wandered around trying to find some place that had a kitchen open after 11pm!  We ended up at Clyde's and while the atmosphere was really cool the food was just mediocre.  This was kind of our date part, but I was practically falling asleep over my food.  Guess I need to get out and bike more... or else it had just been a long week already!

Many thanks to my sister-in-law and brother-in-law for keeping the boys so we could go and do this!

And now to post without as many pictures... sorry it's taking the blog forever to load!

Once again this post was partially sponsored by Bike and Roll and we had a fabulous time!  They have locations in Chicago, Miami, New York, and San Francisco as well.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Bike the Sites DC: Monuments at Night

Ever since I saw this tour on someone else's blog over a year ago it's been in the back of my mind.  When I found out we actually were going to Baltimore and DC it was the first thing I looked up.  We had such an amazing time with the Bike and Roll crew!

We met the group just a block off the Mall and got bikes, helmets, and these lovely fluorescent yellow vests to wear! (no, I don't have a picture of us in them, I forgot until it was too dark)

Then we headed over to the Mall to get started.  Here is our awesome tour guide, Drew, giving us the intro. He would give us a brief history of each monument and then let us go explore it on our own for a few minutes. 

If you're ever in DC and see all these yellow vested bicyclists go by... you'll know they belong to Bike and Roll!

First stop, the Jefferson Memorial.  This is one I'd never seen even a picture of before.  There are 4 quotes on the walls and then when you turn around you see across the Tidal Basin to the White House and the Washington Monument.

 White House to the left of the Washington Monument in the break in the trees.

If I remember correctly (just assume that I'm saying that for all the rest of my facts so I don't have to type it again, okay? There was a LOT of info on this tour!) which ever president had this monument built did it this way so that Jefferson would always be looking over the White House, keeping the current president in check, per se.

Last term, FDR died in office

Next, we went just around the Basin to the FDR Memorial.  This one is relatively new and it's quite large.  It's spread out into four sections, what they call rooms, that make up the 4 terms of his presidency.  We ended up going through it backwards and I have no pictures of the first couple rooms because there were a couple other walking tours that showed up with mobs of people.

This statue has small wheels on the back to represent the wheel chair that he had to be in, but never wanted to actually be seen in public.  It was very small and he always had a cape to cover it.

Eleanor Roosevelt is the only woman with her own statue here.  All other women are simply representative.  She was the first "First Lady" to have a real political presence.  The seal is from the UN.

Somewhere over on this side of the Basin they are currently building a MLK Jr. memorial.  I'm not sure when it will be done or what it's supposed to look like.

The Korean War Memorial is just in front and to the side of the Lincoln Memorial.  There are 19 soldiers in a "field" of bushes with granite strips running through the middle to represent the jungle and swamps they had to walk through.  And anywhere you walk through this memorial there is always one soldier looking at you.

This war was only 4 years as opposed to the 12 of Vietnam yet almost the same number of men were lost.  The wreaths were there because the day before was an anniversary of some sort.

The Lincoln Memorial is seriously huge.  Just like you see on TV and pictures.  The funny thing is there is a rule that no statue on the Mall can be taller than the one on top of the capitol building at 28 feet.  But the creators of this memorial got around that by making Lincoln 28 feet tall... sitting down.  So if he were actually to stand he would be much taller.

The view back from the Lincoln Memorial is really neat... except that the Reflecting Pool is currently a giant mud hole.  They're making a new foundation and adding a filtration system (I guess the water is never as pretty as the pictures), but it will take a year and a half to be done.

This was a little past the halfway point of our tour, we got granola bars (I wish we'd brought our own snacks too!) and then we were biking in the dark.  Drew reminded us to keep our mouths shut unless we needed more protein... in the form of bugs!

We did have lights on the front of our bikes, but I'm not a huge fan of biking in the dark somewhere I've never been before!

I'm very glad we picked this tour rather than try to see it all (including the capitol buildings) in 3 hours because we'd never have gotten off our bikes (and my behind wouldn't have made it!).

And I have so many more pictures that I'm going to have to make this two posts... part 2 is now up!

Bike the Sites provided me with a free ticket to go on this tour because I asked if they would in exchange for my write up.  However, my love for this tour is all my own!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: Grandpa's Boys

We had so much fun this weekend with Grandpa and Grandma 
in town for the car show, which included a special guys trip to see Cars 2!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Smithsonian: Boys Love Planes

On Saturday we all piled into our boat of a rental car and headed out for Washington D.C.  I was super excited as I've never been there before!  What a thrill to drive in and see the Washington Monument for the first time!

All the museums have cool art out front!  This is the Air and Space one.

After we found a parking garage (don't be fooled, there is decent parking in DC near the mall!) and ate lunch in a little garden we started in to the Air and Space Museum.  At first glance I thought it would be a lot bigger... but we really only covered the major galleries and a couple of the side ones and spent a large portion of our day there!

Space Ship One

I think you could easily go every day for a week and still not read and take in all the cool stuff they have there!

This is the gondola of the first hot air balloon to circle the globe without stopping. Fascinating stuff!

There was also a very small triangle of moon rock in this main gallery that you could touch!

The museum is very generally divided up into Air and Space sections (left and right) and it goes by era.  We started on the Air side (which is to the left or west end).

The entrance to the WWI gallery

This was one of the galleries we went through more thoroughly and I was surprised at how little I knew.  We focus so much on WWII now that this one gets overshadowed.  There were some major military breakthroughs (first war to use arial stuff) and it was just a very horrific war.  They didn't focus only on the air side, but there was other parts of the history as well.

The Wright Brothers Plane

Of all the galleries in the Air and Space museum this was my favorite.  The lighting was soft and the central focus was the plane itself.  There were also the most interactive displays in this room.  There was even a video simulation of the 4 flights they made on the very first day proving that they could fly.  Cory watched these with us and a week later remembered that it took them 4 flights to get a good one.

A picture of me, see, I was there!

This was the lunar lander and we caught the end of a presentation by a tour guide here.  I was super curious about the what looks like orange tinfoil so I asked him.  It is in fact mylar (just like our helium balloons - so many things we have now came from NASA!) and anywhere you see it there were sensitive instruments behind that they were protecting from the sun's particles. 

This is one of the real landers, but not the one that went to the moon.  There were I think 12 if I remember correctly so that they could test them, but the first one succeeded so they just went for the mission.

This is also a test version of the Hubble Space Telescope.

After this we headed over to the Museum of Natural History and walked through a sculpture garden in between.

Version: I Married a Goofball

Allison's friend Echo met us there and so we convinced her to take a group photo.  Yay!
Incidentally we didn't plan to be color coordinated by family...

Noah thought it was all cool

We ate dinner at the cafe in the museum (gross and overpriced) and since we had walked by the dinosaurs to get there I was excited to go back... but not so, Cory.  He pretty much refused to go back into the room where the big ones were.  I don't think he realized before hand just how big they were going to be in "real life" and he was scared of them.

Eventually we headed upstairs to find the Hope Diamond.  It got a new setting recently for an anniversary.  This setting is called Embracing Hope.  It's only temporary though and eventually it will go back into the original setting which looks more like a brooch.

Before this there was a gallery of a natural world photography contest.  Some of the pictures were absolutely stunning!

And beyond the Hope Diamond was a gallery with many famous settings of jewelry and then a gallery about minerals and gems and then one about mining.  Me thinks we went through that section backwards!

And then it was closing time and they had guards coming through to herd us out.  I did manage to get one last photo from the second floor.  This elephant is the first thing you see when you come in from the Mall side and it's really awesome.

After a very full day we headed back to Baltimore, but not before driving the wrong way which accidentally took us by the Washington Monument again allowing me to get my best shot of it at sunset.