Daniel Sings the Gospel Fuzzies (And it’s ADORABLE.)


YES, I KNOW.  It’s just too much cuteness.

So today Daniel graduated from Pre-school. We are a low-drama family, I think. Okay, well, we are 5/6ths low drama, plus me. I bring the emotions, for sure. They started out the ceremony with this video of painting the nursery and the baby gradually getting bigger and bigger, and yes, I was crying.


Mr. Comedy

Daniel came strutting out like a rooster when they called his name. It was pretty hilarious, but then he got on stage and went silent on us. Our kids definitely get the stage fright. I feel their pain. I used to get it too.


His teachers coached them well on how to pose for photos when they receive their diploma.



We love our Dan man. And yes, of course, JD took his shoes off during the ceremony. He and I have a thing about wearing shoes.


I was thrilled on our trip home, when Caleb got Daniel to sing one of his graduation songs for us and even caught it all on video.

This video is extremely sweet, and listen closely because Caleb has one well-timed funny line at the end. Watch it. You’ll be glad you did.:

For those of you reading via email, here’s the link: April’sblogvideo

And now we are all so FREE! Alan has been completely done with his thesis, even with approvals of the thing, for a week now. Joshua finished his school year today. Caleb finished his school year yesterday. Dan graduated. Now I have only to finish up my grade book and report cards, pick out a new house, and move out of this one. Bring it on, y’all! I still can’t believe it’s all really happening!




When We Met Matthias: Story of a Military Family


I’ve kept a tiny secret from my blog audience. Well, not all that tiny…8 pounds of secret at least…

military families

Oh, yes! Please welcome little Matthias!! (But no, he’s not mine. I just got to hold him for a while. I’m done, people. Remember?)

No…I didn’t have another baby. I did better than that. We brought this baby home with us, but we haven’t taken leave of our senses. We brought his mama home with us too.

military families

Emma and Matthias

hehehe Aren’t they precious?


We even took Emma to my favorite place in the world, Point Lobos, a couple of days before she had the baby.

It was just a few weeks, a few of the fastest weeks ever. See, Emma’s husband is a friend of ours, from church, and he is in the military. Church family is real family because many of us don’t have the luxury of having family anywhere nearby.

When you’re in the military, you aren’t the only one making sacrifices for your country. Even your spouse makes sacrifices, yes, most of us realize that. But people often forget who else makes sacrifices…


living the patriotic life already

Our babies. Our children. Our teenagers. They sacrifice having their military parent there for birthdays, for Christmas–ouch! Christmas, and God forbid, even sometimes for births. Not to mention the service members who never return at all, leaving whole families motherless or fatherless, not just for months or years but forever.

But don’t worry. Emma’s husband, Richard, did actually manage to fly in for 3 days. He was there just long enough to be there for labor, delivery, and a little of the hospital stay before he flew back out again. Babies come no matter what orders dictate. And you can’t plan a family around the military. We decided that long ago. It’s too uncertain. You just pray for the best.

military families

Richard enjoyed his cereal that Saturday morning, as Emma braced herself through the contractions of labor.

God greatly provided for this sweet, new family. I can’t imagine giving birth without your husband there, but it does happen to military families all the time. So glad that wasn’t the case here.

Well, Emma’s labor and deliver went beautifully. But once the baby is born, the work doesn’t end there. And to compound the situation, this young family was also in the midst of moving. We were so happy to get to be a part of it. We simply moved JD in with Dan, and believe me, they loved that, and we made the nursery back into a nursery again.

When I moved into this house, I thought, “Wow! 5 bedrooms! Wow!” It’s a gift to have so many rooms, and gifts are meant to be shared.

“Do not withhold good from those who deserve it, when it is in your power to act.”  Proverbs 3:27

military families

me and Emma at her baby shower

And of course, Emma and little Matthias blessed us more than we blessed them. It was such a pleasure to hold a newborn again. Did you know that rocking a sweet newborn baby is good for your heart? Oh, it is. They kept giving us thank you gifts, but we didn’t need gifts. This was a wonderful thing to be a part of. I am so thankful. Y’all know I love to be the hostess.

But yesterday morning I drove these two to the airport because they are flying overseas to be with Emma’s parents for a couple of weeks, and then Emma and Matthias will reunite with her husband and move to their next duty station. Matthias is literally gong on tour first to meet all of his people.

military families

Emma said, “Let’s wake him up so he will sleep on the airplane.” Smart momma.

military families

sort of awake

military families

totally unaware that he’s about to fly across the Pacific Ocean

There are no lengths that a military family won’t go to to see the grandparents. It’s such a unique lifestyle. Matthias is 3 weeks old, and he has more stamps on his passport than most of us! Yes, he even has a passport!

military families

Y’all this girl is so brave. She has taken all of this in stride: first baby, husband being away, flying overseas, and moving…Shew! That’s a lot! Her positive attitude was such a blessing.


military families

“Wake up, Matthias.” “Ehhhh…”


Matthias has gotten a quick introduction into the strange lifestyle that we lead, as military families.


And in only 4 more weeks our not-so-young-and-little family will also be reminded, as we up-root yet again for our 9th move. Yep. 9th. 

But it’s a great adventure. And I say bring it on. God bless, Emma! Thank you for sharing some time with us! We will miss you all!


Bye-bye, sweet baby!!!



The Linq Procedure: Another Half Naked Story


It is done. I am Wi-fi equipped. No, literally. My chest has wi-fi. Today Dr. Grogin implanted a Linq heart monitor into my chest.

That’s right. I got to go through just one more heart patient embarrassment.

Let me set the scene for you.

#1. About 5 nurses and 1 doctor in the room

#2. I was naked down to my waist.

#3. They had to cover my face with a cloth because the procedure was just below my neck, and the area had to be sterile.

#4. I was totally in my right mind. Only local anesthesia, because that’s how I asked to do it.

I know you think that as I lay there, blindfolded and half-naked, that I was thinking, “Oh, I am so going to blog about this.”

But not really. I was actually thinking things like:

“This cloth covering my face is smothering me. I should have let them sedate me.”


“Oh, I’m freezing. When will this be over?”


“I am so naked. I am so naked.”

As you may or may not know, I’ve been having strange heart-pounding and roller-coaster-like heart cartwheels since January. Through much testing, we found out that it’s ventricular tachycardia episodes, but otherwise my heart is structurally fine.


At first, my favorite doctor, PA Carlquist, thought that I would need an ablation, but then Dr. Grogin decided against it. Instead, he wanted to implant a Linq heart monitor into my chest. This thing goes right under my skin and can last up to three years. This should give them more information on what my heart is doing.

I joke that I have Wi-Fi because the thing communicates with a little data base I keep by my bed that sends reports to Dr. Grogin. Fascinating, really. I’d never heard of these until this year. But then, I’d never even heard of ventricular tachycardia until this year either. Medical professional I am clearly not.

I decided to do the procedure, which is very quick and easy, unsedated because I really don’t like feeling woozy-headed, especially considering that I’m going to my boys’ AWANA awards program tonight. I’d like to be firing from all thrusters while I obsessively take their pictures and beam with pride.

But don’t worry. They gave me lots and lots of local anesthetic. I even told them, “Remember, I’m a red-head, so feel free to give me plenty. It takes a lot.”

I can’t explain it, but it’s true. It takes a lot of drug for me. They were nice. They gave me lots.

I think this Linq monitor is going to be a good course of action. In fact, while I was in the hospital today, the EKG machine went off two different times and said “Pair of PVCs”. Of course, you know I came home and googled what the heck a PVC is. It’s basically the same thing as ventricular tachycardia, just far less serious because it’s only one or two beats. It’s like 2 ventricular beats being off instead of 6, and it is actually very common, whereas v-tach is rare. But it’s not surprising that I would have these, since I’ve had V-tach.

I have learned so much about hearts this year. 2016 has been a serious drag, but it’s all okay because April is going home. The South is calling my name. And every time I start to feel down, I just remind myself, “Self, we are going home. And this will be nothing more than the past, my own strange time in the land of Oz.”


Actual poppies, which grow wild here in my beautiful personal land of Oz:  California. (Poppies are the state flower.)

There’s no place like home. There’s no place like home. There’s no place like home. C’mon, Toto, only 6 more weeks! I’m clicking my ruby-red slippers with excitement!


The Story of My Wedding Dress: What Fire Couldn’t Burn


“Your wedding dress? What do you want me to do? It’s…” I don’t remember exactly what my mom said, but I got the idea.

“Ah, man! My wedding dress? I didn’t even think about that. I forgot that was in there. It’s damaged too? Well, everything is. It has smoke damage?”

“Well, yeah. We can try to have it treated,” she offered.

I don’t know how much exactly insurance covers, but I want them to use that for what they need or at least what can be used again. Neither of which applies to my wedding dress.

I turned to Alan. “My wedding dress? What do you think?”

It’s so silly. I mean, my parents lost everything in their house fire. Literally everything. My few trophies and wedding dresses and old letters were trivial. Why should I care about my wedding dress?

“Trash it,” Alan said.

Ouch. Men. They just don’t get it.


Me and my high school friends at my wedding. I was 21 when I got married.

I sighed.

My mom was on the phone, waiting for my answer. “Do you want some time to think about it, and get back to me?”

“No…I…uh…well, I mean, I…Alan says we should…um.”  I couldn’t say throw it in the dumpster. I could not say those words…

“Well,” I continued in my bumbling, “No. I will let it go. It doesn’t fit. I will never be 115 pounds ever again. That’s not even… And I have no daughters, so there’s really no conceivable reason to keep it.”

“Are you sure?” Mom asked.

Sigh. “Yes.”

And that was that. The last few weeks I have so badly wanted to fly down to Alabama and be with my parents. Just to be with them through this great trial, as my brother, thankfully, has been. I wanted to stand on the lawn and help sort through what goes in the dumpster and what gets ozone cleaned. I wanted to be there. But I wasn’t.

It hurt. It hurt to know I could not be there, and I couldn’t. There are times that I could have, but this wasn’t one of them. Once you are married, you have an overriding duty to your family. Two become one, and this was my husband’s busiest hour. I had to step it up on the home front so that Alan could finish up his thesis. If I left, Alan would be left with a 2 -year-old, a 5-year-old, an 8-year-old, and a 10- year- old.  That thesis wouldn’t even be turned in yet, and graduation is only a month away.

So I stayed. Because when you’re a mom, that’s what you do. You put your husband and children first, even when it’s hard. It’s part of that whole “for better or for worse” thing.

Thankfully, I have the kind of family that understands that. Instead, Mom is actually flying here to help us out because I have my procedure this Wednesday.

I can’t wait to move back down South so I can be there for my family again.


Because there are things that fire cannot touch.


The fire took my wedding dress. It didn’t take my marriage.

The fire took my parents’ house. It didn’t take their lives, their identities, their love, their hope, their faith, nor their memories.


Through all the years of my childhood, only one photo of all five of us was ever made. After the fire, it was nothing more than a rectangular crunch of glass on the hallway floor. The fire took our photos, but it didn’t take who we are.

It took my parents’ earthly refuge, but it didn’t take their Heavenly one.

The things that fire cannot touch are the most important things of all:

-our spirit


-good deeds








-your relationship with God

The wedding dress was truly a small thing. It has significance to a woman that is hard to explain, but our marriage was always bigger than any wedding.

Things of this world: having a house in the right neighborhood, a car with heated seats (my dream!), blankets, computers, dishes, stemware…We grow attached to these things. We’re so attached to them that Alan and I pack them up every few years and haul them all over the country with us.

And for what? They are so quickly reduced to dust and hot ashes. It is all a brilliant reminder of a Bible verse we know..

19“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.    Matthew 6:19-21

It’s such an easy sentiment to use. It isn’t so easy when there are suddenly no records, no pictures of your people, no souvenirs of your past, no, not even so much as a laundry basket to count as your own. That’s a level of loss you have to experience to understand, I think.

But the most important things survived. My parents escaped this fire! Hallelujah! None of us kids or grandkids were there at the time, so no one died. Praise the Lord! We all still have each other, we have our sense of humor, and we have our faith.

What counts in the end? It’s all still there. So this situation reminds me of a different Bible verse. When everything is tried by fire, what will remain?

…12Now we see but a dim reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. 13And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love; but the greatest of these is love.                               1 Corinthians 13:12-13

Love remains. Love always remains. It is fire-proof. No fancy dress required.






The Adorable Singing Daniel

I spent all of my computer time house-shopping on the internet. Still didn’t decide on anything. So today let’s just let Daniel entertain us. Here are three ridiculously adorable videos of Daniel singing. He gave us an impromptu after-church concert, and Janet filmed it. He made up the words as he went along, and this may be the best home video we have ever made.

Each one is different, short, and equally cute, so you gotta watch all three!

Sing it with us now! aye-yie-yie-yie-yie-yie-yie-we-love-Jesus. 🙂 Happy trails!

A Happy Season for Me: Wrapping Up Homeschool Year 2


Joshua had several different speaking parts in this year’s school program. I was so excited and nervous for him. You would’ve thought I was the one with lines.

Well, if you’re new here you might not realize that I’m sort of a reluctant teacher. It’s not that I don’t possess the joy of teaching. Sometimes it is fun. The thing is that I cannot enjoy having so many things to do. There’s a fourth grader to teach, a third grader to teach, and a toddler running around. I finally threw in the hat and sent Daniel to pre-school, but it’s only three days per week, so sometimes he’s home too.

Then there’s the blog, the meals, I should at least talk to my husband occasionally (sarcasm. It’s just sarcasm), and the laundry, and heaven forbid, social outings or extracurricular activities.

It is not my cup of tea. I was not built to run around like a chicken with my head cut off and try to do so many things at one time. In the words of my adorable 2-year-old nephew in the swimming pool last year, “Don’t like it. Don’t like it. Don’t like it.”

I feel like I have so many things to do that I can’t do any of them well, because that’s exactly how it is.

So yes, this is the HAPPIEST season of all. Why? Because the school year is ending!!! I calculated very carefully. We will reach exactly 180 days on May the 24th.

We are all so ready for summer.

So we have a few pictures of the end-of-year-Classical Conversations program for ya and a little synopsis of what we covered at our humble little school. It was an intense year.


For Joshua, this year was all about learning the parts of speech and how to write essays. Each 4th-6th grade student diagrammed a sentence for the program.


Nonna and Alan. I was thankful we got to have a grandparent with us for the program. Living so far away from everyone, this is a rarity for us.


Caleb did a great job too. His class all recited their science facts together. They recited the parts of the atmosphere, types of leaves and leaf parts, and types of volcanoes.


These two were happy to be audience members. JD loves Daniel with the sort of undying devotion that only a sweet little sibling can give.


Not the best photo of Dan, but look at how HAPPY JD is! He’s ready for Mom to be done teaching and become his personal servant again.

What We Learned About This Year:

161 events and people in a chronological timeline (We love our time line song. Check it out here.)

44 U.S. Presidents– This is Caleb’s favorite memory work. He says them at lightning speed.
24 history sentences to add depth to our timeline
144 locations and geographic features in Africa, Europe, and the Old World


Caleb’s freehand watercolor world painting

24 biology and earth science facts including the classifications of living things and each continent’s highest mountain) Joshua totally rocked the highest mountains on each continent. I still can’t tell you them, but Joshua can.

5 Latin noun cases and noun endings and their singular and plural declensions
English Grammar Facts (including 53 prepositions, 23 helping verbs, and 12 linking verbs)
Multiplication tables up to 15×15, common squares and cubes, as well as basic geometry formulas and unit conversions

Oh! And we read the most interesting history text-book I’ve ever read. I’m pleased as punch to tell you that we finished the entire book. Alan even enjoyed getting in on this one. He would read it to them before bed at night. Home school is flexible like that!:


You may remember how I ran off all the corresponding activity sheets to go with Story of the World last summer. I thought we’d do so many of them. We did like 5, but that’s okay. We were perfectly happy to listen, learn, and memorize.

Joshua even wrote essays on the Trojan War and Greek mythology.

So now we’ve started on volume II. Caleb enjoys listening to the stories in the car, and Joshua enjoys reading them during silent reading time.

Joshua is 80% of the way through Teaching Textbooks Math 4, which was a much better fit for him than the A Beka curriculum, mostly because it took ME out of the equation. Ha!

Caleb is still doing well with his A Beka math. He’s our math stud. Joshua’s our master speller.

It was a hard year. I brought on board a reading tutor, a part-time nanny (just on Fridays), several doctors (for me), and a cleaning lady just to make it sort of work. But it’s almost done! CC is done! AWANA will be done as of next Wednesday (Thank goodness!), and school will totally be finished May 24th. I’m counting the hours.

Meanwhile, I have not had a fever today, so whoo-hoo!!! Now I’m off to feed the children and head to Joshua’s baseball game!


Darling Photos of Seal Moms and Babies

seal moms and babies


Happy Mother’s Day! What better to share on this treasured day than some adorable seal mom and pup pairs from my favorite spot in the world, Point Lobos State Park.

This particular beach is not a seal hang-out for most of the year. However, when it comes time to birth babies, late winter/early spring, this tiny beach, completely surrounded by rock cliffs, becomes a true seal nursery. This is NOT a zoo. This is the real world, animal style.

ALL of these photos were taken by Aunt Janet, photographer extraordinaire.

This first mom and pup pair are the funniest. This little fella’ was rambunctious, robust, and ready to do some more swimmin’. Mama was trying to take a nap, and he kept sneaking off to the ocean.


She’s trying to rest, but off he goes…


Still going….Even for animals, some little ones are just tougher to raise than others.


Bet you’ve never seen a seal run, but this Momma did. She cut him off at the pass, barking up a storm at the little rascal.      “Nope! We are NOT going back out to the ocean. You don’t know what you’re doing. You are shark food. Now get back up on that beach, lay down, drink your milk, and take a nap. Don’t you go sneakin’ out to this water again without me, you hear. Bark bark bark bark bark!!”


Here she is, at the top of the photo, leading that baby back on shore. She had to keep holding him down with her little flipper.


This momma had a younger, smaller pup to bring in, and she just didn’t have her job figured out yet. Poor little pup was trying so hard to beach herself, but the waves kept washing her back out to sea.


Oops. There goes baby again. Mom needs to learn to get behind her.

Version 2

nursing seal baby


Every few minutes, you see another momma and baby seal coming in or going out. I could have watched all day, but I had taken a few elementary school boys with me who could only enjoy it in 5 or 10 minute increments.


If I were a seal, I’d hang out here too. Actually, I’m not a seal, and I still like hanging out here.


Look closely to see the baby seal on the momma seal’s back.

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This Mother’s Day is coming at perfect timing for me. I have felt a little down lately, mostly due to my mystery low-grade fevers. They zap my energy, and leave me feeling confused and a little hopeless.

But Mother’s Day reminds me of my most basic and happiest job. I am first and foremost a mom, and I am tickled pink to be Mom to our four precious sons. I always considered myself a “girly-girl”, so it’s ironic to me that I am now the mom with the baseball nails, trying to learn basketball lingo, and passing rules about not bringing slugs into the house. When I brush everything else aside, every other worry, every other commitment or hobby, this is the job that I most cherish: being wife and mom. I was never so happy as I am when I’m being mom.

-Wiping noses

-Trying to convince JD to poop on the potty.

-Reading These First Four Years to Joshua and Caleb

-Reading Green Eggs and Ham to Daniel and Caleb

-rocking JD in the rocking chair

-pushing them in the swings

-cooking their dinner

-buying their clothes

-hugs and kisses

-talking through their problems

-teaching them about Jesus and praying with them

-watching them play baseball

Oh, I love it all so much. What a wonderful gift to be entrusted with. I hope I can walk worthy of this calling.


And I’m thankful I don’t have to go it alone, like the seal mommas.


This guy makes being a mom more doable and more fun. I could not do this without Alan.

Mother’s Day is a reminder for me this year. It’s a reminder of how blessed I am. Healthy or not, I have a glorious life, full of purpose and every good thing. I must remember to be thankful and always share with others what I have. I am renewed with joy. What a blessing.


I better get to sleep. Alan and Caleb are making me french toast in the morning, and I’m super excited. I say Alan and Caleb, but they will probably all insist on helping.

Happy Mother’s Day, y’all!

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