24 April 2018


That’s number four in braces so far. 

22 April 2018

Catching Up

It's been a while since I've kept up on the blog regularly, and since this blog serves as a little history of journal for our family I'd like to get back into the habit.  So here's a little catch up of the last few months:

Biking: I "inherited" a neighborhood mountain biking group from a friend who started the group and then ended up moving away.  So I usually organize weekly rides with about 3 to 6 other ladies that I know from the neighborhood & my church.  My mom has joined us too.  It's been a lot of fun exploring the local trails together and watching everyone in the group become more confident riders.  And they are good sports and put up with the new bike routes that I try out, even though that occasionally means crossing a stream or carrying our bikes through bushes.


Running: The boys have always enjoyed the school Running Club, and this year their school started up a Cross Country team for the upper grades, so Kolby, Elijah, and Camden got to participate in meets with other middle schoolers in the district this Fall.  (And there was one meet where all the grades got to participate, which was fun for Courtland & Isaac too).  They had a lot of fun with it (Kolby & Eli even each asked for good running shoes for their birthdays this year).  And Kolby's excited to do cross country and track & field next year in high school.

Dancing: Kolby went to his first stake dance (church youth group dance) in November after he turned 14.  At the last minute, before he was going to leave for the dance, I thought to show him how to dance with a partner (I wasn't sure if they'd still do many slow dances like that at the stake dances like we did when I was a teenager or if they'd just do mostly fast songs, but I'm glad I showed him how because they do still do slow songs at these dances).  Michael and I went along since they needed chaperones that night, and it was fun to see him hanging out with his friends and asking girls to dance.  Since then, he's never missed a dance whenever we've been in town.

More Biking: One day the boys had a day off school so we planned a big bike ride.  We rode down Camino Del Sur, then west on the bike trail along the 56, then onto a trail heading towards Penasquitos Canyon, (then a long detour when Camden's tire got a flat and I thought I was all prepared to change it, until I realized his bike didn't have a quick release tire, so we needed a tool to take it off.  :(  So I left the boys on the trail and rode to a bike shop in Del Mar, but they didn't have the right tool.  So I went to a drug store and got some pliers, then went back to the boys and we patched the tire.  Then we rode over a big hill, into Penasquitos Canyon to the waterfall, and Michael came and joined us.  The plan had been to ride all the way through the canyon to Black Mountain Road and back home again, but because of our earlier delay it was getting dark so we left the canyon and drove home.  It was a fun day.

Creating an "Adventure Wall":  Way back in July I decided to create an "Adventure Wall" in the loft upstairs with family photos from over the years of the cool outdoor adventures we've done together, and some pictures & quotes I made.  I got a bunch of random frames at thrift stores & painted them, then Michael & the boys helped me hang everything up.  For Christmas my mom got me a cool print of an 1800s map for the big frame in the middle.  We left a few of the frames empty so we can add future adventures.  Finally got it all up on the wall back in November.  All the printing, cutting, framing, measuring, & hanging took a while, but I was really pleased with how it turned out in the end.

(I made this one with an old vintage map that includes the Bridge To Nowhere trail,
one of our favorite adventure spots up north of here).

(This is kind of my motto with the boys when we do our adventures,
inherited from what my dad always used to say back when he taught us how to rappel as kids).  

Cleaning & Getting the House Ready: When we found out they were going to be moving back to San Diego we invited Michael's sister, Jennie, and her husband Dalin, and their kids to move in with us.  So there was some cleaning & organizing around different parts of the house that I really wanted to get caught up on, a few little jobs or pieces of furniture I'd been meaning to get to for a while, and a couple big things I really wanted to get done so I felt like the house was ready.  Our guest room was mostly ready for them, except we had also been using it as an extra storage space and a place to put all our papers that needed to be filed.  So I got all the extra storage stuff cleared out of there and got all those papers filed & organized, and cleared off the book shelves so they could use that space.  And I had been wanting to get night stands & little lamps for that room for a while, so this grave me a reason to finally get around to doing that.  I cleared out one section of the pantry so they could have their own space.  We found a handyman to help with some repairs around the house, and also make a few little changes -- including adding an electrical outlet in the closet under the stairs so we could move the printer from the guest room to the closet, and adding a timer to the light switch for the light outside the front door because our front entryway is always really dark if people come to the door at night.  I also worked with the boys to get their rooms thoroughly cleaned up, even down to emptying out their closets and getting rid of lots of little things -- which was nice to get things cleared out so it wasn't so cluttered, because the boys' cousin, Taelin, now shares a room with them.  And we cleaned up the playroom, which is now Amika's room, and moved the lego table out of there into the loft.  But the biggest thing was the garage!  The garage has been a gradually worsening mess for the last nearly-3 years since we moved into this house.  I was aware it was a mess, but I wanted to install shelves like we had in our last house, and I just wasn't willing to spend the time to organize the garage until we saved up to do shelves and could get it really organized.  So the piles of boxes, suitcases, tools, camping gear, shoes, dog items, bikes, etc. just continued to increase over the years until we ended up with quite a job.  But I spent a few days and sketched out a plan for how to build the shelves and where everything would go once things weren't all stored on the floor anymore.  And we found someone to build the shelves, and we had the walls painted & the floors coated, and I installed a "nerf wall," and mounts so we could attach the scooters to one wall, and the skateboards & ripstiks to another wall, and got bike stands so the bikes aren't in a pile on the floor everyday anymore.  And then we spent an entire Saturday with our whole family & a lot of help from Dalin and got everything organized and up on the shelves.  And it feels amazing.  No cars for this garage -- it's the new game room.  We had the old air hockey table (that's been buried under boxes and tools for the last couple of years), and we picked up a couple couches, and now it's a fun space to play, read, or just relax.  The last thing I have left to do is to mount the two surfboards to the wall above the garage door, then everything will be up off the ground.  I'm really happy with how it turned out.  We'd like to maybe add a foosball table or a ping pong table someday, we'll see.  But for now it's just right.
Before: The younger boys' room

After: The younger boys' room!

Before: The older boys' room

After: The older boys' room!

Space in the Pantry
The Garage: Before


The Nerf Wall

Celebrating: We had a wonderful gathering of family & new and old friends at our house for Thanksgiving.  Michael made his turkey, and I made my traditional side dishes, and we had kids galore all running, playing, eating, and jumping on the trampoline.

Growing: I guess I should stop being surprised at how fast the boys are growing and how big/old they're getting.  I can't believe I have 2 teenagers already.  And I really can't believe Kolby's voice has gotten a little lower and if you look real close you can see he has some facial hair (!), and Kolby has outgrown my mom -- but not me, not quite yet.  And Eli has recently started to get taller too.  And Kolby will start high school in the Fall.  He just went through the process of selecting all his classes for freshman year already.

Gardening: There are some plants in our yard that I especially love.  I'd have to say the snail vines are my favorite -- they have these unique spiral-shaped buds that open into pretty purple flowers, and the fines grow really well on the patio cover.  I've also trained them to grow up and over the garage (although one of the ones by the garage inexplicably died the other day, I have no idea what could have caused that because the other vine near it is totally healthy.  So now I'm going to have to remove that one and replant it 😟).  I also love the the passion fruit vine -- it's the one fruiting plant in the yard that has really taken off and produced fruit like crazy.  We had over 150 passion fruits this last season, and it's starting to flower and fruit again already.  Plus our second passion vine, the one that has been a late bloomer and grew really slowly compared to the big one, has suddenly grown a bit taller and is covered in flowers and lots of new little fruit.  I'm excited to see if these ones taste different or not, since they're a different variety of passion fruit than our other vine.  We've also gone to a couple classes at Walter Anderson Nursery about fruit trees, and have gotten on a good schedule of fertilizing and trimming our trees.  So the citrus & avocado trees are looking pretty healthy, and the loquat tree is growing like crazy and is a really beautiful little tree so far -- I think I'll let that one grow into a larger shade tree if it keeps growing at the rate that it has been.  Oh, and I had a good little harvest of spaghetti squash & butternut squash (although I need to learn if there's anything I can do to help them grow larger), and a few zucchinis.  Oh, and yesterday morning I finally got around to putting up the wire along the fence along the side yard, so now it's all ready to plant a vine to grow along the wires --so that was nice to get that up.
snail vines

spaghetti squash

blood oranges

passion fruit vine

wires on the fence

Christmasing: We had a great time at the cabin for Christmas with the 7 of us, Mom, Dad, Matthew, Aaron, Sierra, Grandma Faun, (and the 2 dogs).  And did all the Christmasy stuff: gifts, acting out the nativity, reading the traditional Christmas Eve books, playing rook, & skiing (Sierra's first time!)  And a new thing that hasn't happened in all the years we've been going to the cabin: we got a visit from a bear.  One night Camden was taking Berkley out and he was standing out in the snow and noticed that what he thought was a large "rock" in the yard moved.  We could hear Berkley barking, and when Camden said there was a bear I ran out and grabbed her and brought her in.  (We're lucky it was just Berkley, our scaredy-cat dog, out there, because she wouldn't get close to anything scary, but if it had been Harley I know he would have gone for the bear for sure).  We all crowded at the window and watched the bear, trying to get some pictures, as it sat in the yard and ate something from a bag, then casually walked around the front of the house and off into the woods.  We went to look outside after it left, and found that it had been inside our cars! and it was a bag of pecans from our van that the bear had been eating.  We made sure there was no more food in the cars, closed them up, went inside, and became increasingly grateful that there hadn't been any damage to our cars at all as we watched youtube videos of other bears breaking into cars and causing terrible damage.  Then we woke up in the morning to find that the bear had returned, gotten into a car again, and fortunately hadn't damaged it.  That was a pretty eventful night.

My mom named the bear Wellington

Flipping . . . and cartwheeling . . . and swinging around bars.  Courtland has been obsessed with gymnastics for months.  He kept asking us if he could take gymnastics, and I couldn't see how in the world we could add one more time restraint to our schedule and one more cost to our budget (especially imagining that if we let him add a sport, each boy would want to add an additional activity, which would really add up).  But after months of Courtland spending more time on his hands or flipping through the air than he spent on his feet, and coming home from school each day to show us the gymnastics moves he had learned from his friends at school, we finally decided to look into it.  We let him choose, and he decided to stop piano lessons and start gymnastics (with the agreement that he would continue practicing his piano on his own each day).  He started his class a couple weeks before he turned 9, and has continued to love it ever since.  And I found plans online for a simple gymnastics bar made out of galvanized steel pipes, and we made that for his birthday -- here's a video clip of him showing me what he could do on the bar the morning after he got it for his birthday.  It's been pretty fun to see him pursue something he really loves.  (And I've been super surprised, but so far none of the other boys have wanted to switch from piano lessons to a different activity yet, even when we've asked them if they might want to try anything new).  And yes, Courtland continues to flip, rather than walk, around the house.

Remembering: On January 22nd Michael's Grandma Bradshaw passed away.  I helped gather photos from her kids & grandkids to put together a slideshow to show at the viewing & funeral.  And since we stayed at Grandma's house while we were there, I spent any spare time taking photos of any old family photographs or documents that I could find, and since then I have gradually been uploading them to familysearch.org to share them with the rest of the family members.  Fitting, since Grandma was so involved in family history all the years that I knew her.

Cooking: For a couple years now I had this idea in the back of my head that I would put together a little cookbook with recipes of simple dinner main courses, things that don't have too many ingredients and don't take too long to prep.  Then I would have the boys take turns learning how to cook each recipe until eventually hopefully each boys will know how to make several good basic dinners from memory before he's ready to leave for a mission or college.  So I finally got around to putting the cookbook together, with several of my go to meals like chicken pot pie, bruschetta chicken bake, salsa chicken (and salsa chicken salad with the leftovers), taco soup, italian sausage & brown ride, chicken salad sandwiches, etc.  And I got some recipes from my sister my mom, Michael's mom, and his sisters -- so we've tried some new ones so far, like Michelle's yummy recipe for strombolli, and some old ones that I hadn't made for years, like my mom's stroganoff recipe (that I found out she got from my great Grandma Moore).  And I've tried to be mindful of actually teaching the boy to cook (explaining what we do and why we do it), rather than just having him help me make dinner.  It's been fun, and I hope they enjoy learning this, plus I've had the added benefit of it making it easier for me to plan our meals each week.

Fun with Cousins: Michelle and her kids got to come visit for a whole month, and Jake came and joined them for a week or so.  So fun to have them here!  And while they were here visiting they learned that Jake had gotten the job that he interviewed for before coming here, so they planned their move while they were here (Michelle & I spent lots of time looking at houses online), and they packed up and moved to Ontario, Oregon after they went back.

Fun with the other Cousins: Then in early March Jennie & Dalin moved in.  Taelin & Amika got into the same school that our boys go to, which has been really nice so they can all ride bikes to and from school together, and they seem to have adjusted well.  As far as adding 4 extra people and 2 extra dogs to the household, it's actually all gone really smoothly.  We're really enjoying having them here.  (Oh, and Jennie & Dalin just found out they're having a baby boy in October, so that's super exciting!)

Coco & Berkley

A little Magic: Dalin & Jennie were so sweet, as a thank you for letting them come stay with us they got us all season passes to Universal Studios.  That was so thoughtful, something we wouldn't have normally gotten for ourselves, and I'd been thinking it would be fun to take the boys to the Harry Potter World there.  We went for the first time over spring break last week, and had a great time.  It was all fun, but for me the Harry Potter part was my favorite!  We got wands for the kids on ebay and gave them to them at the park in Olivander's wand shop.  We were all worn out after a long fun day.

Hiking: And of course hiking. At the end of spring break week the boys and I got up at 4am to miss LA traffic and drove up to the mountains east of LA to explore Sturtevant Falls & Hermit Falls for our first time.  It wasn't a difficult hike, and basically the entire hike to Sturtevant Falls and back was shaded by big trees (which is a change from much of the hiking in this area).  It was so green, with ivy and ferns covering the valley floor.  And little antique-looking cabins all along the trail that the cabin owners have to access by foot.  Very scenic and different, just so green!  Luckily we got on the trail early and didn't have lots of other people around for most of our hike.  After going to the bottom of Sturtevant Falls, we backtracked and found the trail that goes up above the back of the falls, and the boys really enjoyed playing in a small pool with a much smaller falls.  That water was so cold that they really had to work themselves up to jumping in.  Then we headed back on the trail, almost back to the car, before we took a side trail to Hermit Falls.  Hermit Falls was more like my kind of waterfall -- big round rocks to climb on surrounding a few different pools.  The boys quickly got into the main pool that's easiest to access, and they coaxed Berkley in too.  Then we tied the dogs to a tree and climbed the rope down to the larger pool.  I had wanted to hang out down there for a while and do lunch, but unfortunately we couldn't all enjoy it for long, because the dogs started barking for us and I didn't want to bother the few other hikers who were there.  But Eli offered to go hang out with the dogs after he ate his lunch, while the other boys decided whether they were going to make themselves jump into the cold water or not.  They finally did make the jump a few times.  More people were starting to gather around that falls at that time, as we were getting ready to head out.  I would say, that if that falls was within an hour and a half of our house (and if we could find times to go there when it wasn't crowded with people), that's the kind of waterfall we would go to several times a year.  As it is, it was a really fun day, but braving LA traffic just isn't worth it for lots of repeat visits.  But I'm glad we went.