Birthday Girl’s Weekend– Santa Barbara!!


Hello friends– Do you have fall birthdays to celebrate in your family?? We have a big one– Maryann turned 10!!  So last weekend we trekked up to Santa Barbara for her “ten year old birthday trip.”  Let me tell you, it’s big fun to have all that time to ourselves with our bright spunky girl!

We started out referring to our Birthday Fun Map–  First stop was the Moxi Museum for kids.  Maryann was in her element.  Hands on exhibits using light, art, sound, movement.
     

     

Then we were off on the Little Toot tugboat tour of the harbor– the Captain even gave Maryann a turn at the wheel!
     

We made a Sunday morning stop at the Santa Barbara Mission–founded 1786.
     

Then dropped in to stroll through the lush Santa Barbara Zoo.

     

We picked out our favorite pieces at the SB Art Museum– and puzzled over a few we were unfamiliar with.
     

And we rounded out our day with a tour through the historic courthouse– up the tower for views across Santa Barbara.

     

The sun was about to set when we headed back to deliver Maryann home.


We’re so thankful for days exploring with this sweet girl.  Happy Birthday 10 year old Maryann!!  Here’s to a great year ahead!

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Family Trek through the Sequoias!


Hi all– Just back from 5 days with family at Sequoia National Park.  Growing up, every summer, my Mom and Dad would stash 4 kids and piles of camping gear in the station wagon, and head up the interstate to Sequoia. So it was big fun to do it again with my Sis and some of our kids!!

We set out one morning to hike our way around bright and brilliant Crescent Meadow (an old favorite for me and my Sis, Lulu!)

      

     

Midway around the meadow, we found a quiet spot to stop for lunch and a chance to rest our hiking feet!  And then on we trekked…

      

We finally arrived at Tharpe’s Log– a fallen redwood tree that became the home to the first settler in that area, who raised sheep in the adjacent meadow.

     

It was a fine full day–and being immersed in such beauty filled my soul.  I was thanking God for the glorious views all around me.

      


Thanks bunches to Charlotte, Micah, Jodi, Maryann, Larry, Jobay, Laurel & John (and Ted & Lu!)  for being the best adventurous, intrepid hiking buddies.  Let’s do it again!!

Grammy Camp 2018

Hello friends– We’re just through with this year’s Grammy Camp– and it was tons of exhausting fun!   How can 4 small girls strike so much joy in one old grandma??  I took a big bunch of photos– but I’ll just send you my favorites of our 4 day together.  (And then give you the list of all we did– for any of you Grammy’s out there who are planning your own Grammy Camp!)

With this crew, arts & crafts are always popular!!  We painted t-shirts and painted favorite animals on canvas, made Fathers Day cards and cut and pasted monsters together,  and there was daily lunch bag decorating while Grandma made sandwiches.

     

 

      

 

Grandpa Larry drove us all out to Irvine Regional Park for a day at the zoo and the Nature Center, a picnic and a little tree climbing.

      

     

There were lots of other things to keep up busy.  There were daily picnics and playgrounds.

 

 

 

 

 

There were good times in the kitchen– a Brownie Bake Off, mixing up homemade ice cream and a Make Your Own Pizza Night!

     

Early on we had a scavenger hunt at the library and stocked up on bedtime reading.
     

One evening we set out at dusk for a flashlight hike.

We spend a sunny afternoon decorating sugar cookies and then eating them up at a tea party.
     

And followed clues all over the house & yard on a treasure hunt to find the treasure– bubble gloves.
     

We headed out to the backyard for our Wacky Water Day– splashes and squeals and water balloons.

So at Grammy Camp there are just TWO rules!

#1. Eat an ice cream every day
#2. No Grumping!!

And for activities:
Bible Stories at Breakfast every morning

Cooking– homemade ice cream (later made into sundaes),A Brownie Bake Off (brownies later delivered to the Great Grandparents, Make Your Own Pizza night, decorate sugar cookies

Library Scavenger Hunt (find a book with a mouse on the cover, a book by Dr. Seuss, a book about an amazing girl…)  and check out the books for reading at home.

Art & Crafts– Paint your t-shirt,  decorate your lunch bag, monster collages, paint a favorite animal, Fathers Day Cards– (describing Dad on one side, making his portrait on the other).

Daily picnics/playgrounds and the Splashpad at Lemon Park

Movie & popcorn night (Paddington Bear 2)

UNO championship (involves M&Ms!)

Flashlight Hike around the neighborhood before bed

Bedtime stories (of course!)

Irvine Regional Park –picnic, zoo, nature center, train ride, tree climbing

Ice Cream Sandwich Race- beat Grandma around the block!

Tea Party with Martinelli’s and cookies we decorated

Wacky Water Day (water balloons, water bag toss, squirters)

Slide show of Grammy Camp photos the last night before bed.


So very glad, so thankful to have our grand-girls, so bright and full of fun.  And a Big Thanks to Larry for all the grandfathering he did for those girls along the way.  Can’t wait for Grammy Camp 2019!!

Happy Grandma

Hey there– It’s been a grand week– we trooped up to San Francisco to meet our new baby grand-guy baby Otto!!  Hung out with his brother & sis– that Eero and Mae.  Watched baby Lois 3 days while her mom headed off to work and to top it off landed in Ojai today with the 3 big grand-girls to celebrate Maryann’s birthday #9!!  It was a fine full week!

It was good times with little Lois — reading, crawling, hanging out with Mom & Dad.

   

Always a great time with Mae & Eero –picking Mae up at school, out for ice cream, playing at home, and Mae & I assisting on Jessica’s extraordinary donut making day!

     

And then there was new baby Otto– sweet and tender– so much fun to study his little face and watch him squirm and wiggle!
    

To finish the week off, we trekked up to Ojai to get in on the fun of Maryann’s #9 splashy birthday party at the pool.  Love that friendly, inventive girl!

   

So it was the best week– lots of hugs and talks and playtime with grand-kids.  What more could a grandma ask for?!  And one more photo to remember that getting that perfect angelic grand-girls photo doesn’t always work out–

Wandering in Wisconsin

Friends— We arrived in in Wisconsin for our John & Laurel’s wedding (more on that later!!) and since then have been taking in fun and food with our other kids winding our way across  the state.  A little “scrapbooking” of some of the best bits…

We crossed the Mississippi River into Iowa to explore the Effigy Mounds National Monument–a series of Native American burial mounds set in a forest overlooking the Mississippi.  A green and leafy afternoon hike.  Loved it!

     


photos:  forest, pretty lichen, Larry, Brian & Lois on the trail, the Mississippi River, The 3 Heungs by some burial mounds.

Next stop– the Great Wolf Lodge complete with the country’s biggest indoor/outdoor waterpark.  Aside from my first harrowing trip down a water slide, it was a lot of fun splashing with grand-girls in the water.

     

photos: Charlotte, Jobay & Maryann complete with wolf ears,  Jobay– the rope bridge champ!, 3 bathing beauties, in the lobby of the Great Wolf Lodge.

A trip over to Milwaukee, demands a brewery tour. A little beer sampling and an animated tour guide named Winston made it a lively afternoon.

     


photos: Lakefront Brewery building. after tour snacks, Winston, soft pretzels and savory spreads.

Next morning, we walked along Lake Michigan to reach the Milwaukee Art Museum, a monumental structure, by the architect, Santiago Calatrava (Spanish!).

     


Lakeside view of the museum, Ani in the reception hall, Larry by a Chihuly glass work, Lois on the prowl at the museum.

One more stop, at the Pabst Mansion, built in the 1890’s by the brewing family, an elegant look at their sumptuous life.

     


photos:  The Past Mansion, the womens’ salon, bathroom doors, our bright tour guide with Captain Pabst, the servants dining room.

Finally, Larry and I explored the Milwaukee Public Museum–a well done natural history museum–complete with butterfly room!!

     
photos:  Display of the museum exhibits back in the 1800’s. The butterfly room and a couple of it’s residents.

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It was a fine full week, traveling across the green and glorious state of Wisconsin– thanks to Micah & Jodi & those 3 fun girls, thanks to Ani & Brian and our littlest tourist.  You all made it such a wonderful time together.  I am thankful.

Grammy Camp 2017!!

Hi there fellow grandmas (& potential grandmas!!)– Just finished up 4 days of Grammy Camp with the 3 oldest Grand-girls.  It’s an annual event around here– Lots of crafty messes, early morning baking, a little pool time, library scavenger hunt, girls’ night out to the movies and a kidseum!

There’s just 2 rules for Grammy Camp–
#1.  One ice cream every day.  #2.  No grumping.

So here’s the highlights– lots of girly (& grandma) fun!!:
Art projects– painting initials & making Fathers Day notes and the tackiest puffy painted t-shirt!

   

Treasure Hunt– following clues to find the treasure — Squirt Noodles!! sorry, no photos. We were having too much fun squirting each other.

We had a couple park stops.

     

The girls’ favorite was splashing in Great Grandma Lo’s pool.

And we started everyday with Breakfast & Bible stories.  (Here’s the view sitting across the table from Jobay! Note the oatmeal is not disappearing.)
    

Spent our last day at the Bower’s Museum Kidseum!  Lots of hands-on fun for 3 girls.

     

Thanks Charlotte, Maryann and Jobay for tons of fun!!  It’s always makes my heart happy when you walk in the door!

P.S.– A few friends have asked about how Grammy Camp works, so here’s our schedule:

Saturday–
*Make your own pizza for dinner.
*Bedtime movie & ice cream sundaes

Sunday–
*Breakfast& Bible stories
*Church
*Backyard hot dog feast with Great Grandma Honey
*Fathers Day notes & puffy paint a t-shirt for Dad
* Crafty initial painting
*Dinner out on the town & movie: Beauty and the Beast

Monday–
*Breakfast & Bible stories (Maryann bakes breakfast!)
*Library Scavenger Hunt
*Park reading picnic
*Swim in Great Grandma Lo’s pool
*Taco dinner with Grandpa Larry
*Yogurtland!!

Tuesday–
*Breakfast & bible stories
*Bowers Kidseum
* Lunch on the road
*Trek on back to the girl’s home in Ojai

Grandma gets home and collapses!!

 

To China and Back

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Hello all– Our three grand-girls and their amazing mom have been off to China for about 6 weeks.  They traveled to Hunan Province for Chinese New Year with their other Grandparents there!  From all I heard it was a sweet time– here are my favorite photos:

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The girls with their grandparents in China.

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Jodi and the girls sitting down with her parents for the sumptuous New Year’s feast!  (Jodi’s mom is an amazing cook!)

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Twelve amazing dishes for the feast! –my favorite  rice coated meatballs–and the crabs!!

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Welcome Home at LAX.  Missed these girls and their mom, so glad glad they’re home.  Love that big smile Jobay!!!

P.S. Thanks Jodi for all your beautiful photos!  xox

Grammy Camp 2016

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Hello friends– I’m pretty much sprawled out on the couch this morning– winding down after 3 busy days of Grammy Camp with those wacky, lovable, full of fun grand-girls.  It was a fine time– and we tried to stick to our two Grammy Camp Rules:  #1. Eat ice cream once a day  #2. No Grumping (that one had a couple infractions!)

Our Saturday outing was to the Discovery Science Museum– trying out all the exhibits with Grandpa Larry.
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Playgrounds are high on our Grammy Camp list and we managed a couple of good ones.
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And we spent a sunny afternoon painting picture frames in the backyard.
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Three pajamaed girls followed Treasure Hunt clues to find sprinkles, whipped cream, bananas, chocolate sauce… so next morning we could fix up our Oatmeal Sundaes for breakfast– started the days with “breakfast & Bible stories”
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Friday we baked up some chocolate chip pumpkin bread and delivered them to Great Grandparents with a a rousing (noisy?) version of “Gobble Gobble Gobble Fat Turkeys are We!”  — and had extra hangout time with Great Grandma Honey for her 87th birthday dinner with the family.
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And my favorite part of the weekend was reading Thanksgiving books and sketching out blessings on our Thankful Heart Charts.
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We ended the weekend at Yogurtland to get in our daily ice cream before we hit the road back up to Ojai (some people had more toppings than yogurt!)
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Thanks Charlotte, Maryann and Jobay– for all the songs and hugs and giggles.  It’s a joy to watch you grow year by year…

Road Trip to San Francisco with those Grand-girls

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Morning fog across the hills at the old Fort Baker on the Bay (now a hotel, restaurant)

Hello friends–Just back from a trip up the coast with 3 girls in the backseat to San Francisco to hang out with their aunts, uncles and cousins.  We had a lot of crazy kid centric fun–  And stuck to our two rules– #1. No Grumping  #2. One Ice Cream Every Day!!   Here’s my favorite bits of the trip:

First stop, across the Golden Gate Bridge to the Discovery Museum, a wonderland for kids.
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Ani & Brian treated three girls all dressed in their best to a fancy Tea Party!
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We strolled down to Ocean Beach to take in a Corgi Fest!!  Over 600 Corgis on the run across the sand and in the water!!
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And there were plenty of picnics and playgrounds to round out the week!  (This day we were at the west end of Golden Gate Park!)
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And the sweetest for me is seeing those cousins–jump and laugh and color and play together.  Big Hugs for Maryann, Charlotte, Jobay and Little Mae (and Eero back by the window!!).
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Thanks once again Ani & Brian, AA & Jessica for the good times together.  There’s nothing I love more than days with you all. It’s the best.

Grammy Camp

DSC04197_2Hey there friends– It was my plan to send off these pics of a few summer days with the girls while it was still summer!  Is it too late?  January now.  Oh, could this be a case of “better late than never?”  Well– here’s out Grammy Camp days last summer (I’m already making plans for Grammy Camp #2 this summer coming up!).

We spent a quiet afternoon painting in the backyard.  Fun to see what they come up with.
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And a sunny day at Great-grandma Lo’s pool with cousin Amelia– lots of noisy, splashy, wet fun!
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My personal favorite, our library scavenger hunt– stocking up on some bedtime reading.
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And there was our dinner picnic down at the beach with Grandpa Larry– complete with wave jumping, sand castle mounting and gritty sandwiches.
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And there was some fierce UNO games, pulling out their Dad’s old Legos and just playing around the house.
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We had pop corn & movie night, sing-a-longs with Tom Chapin in the car, the obligatory trip to Yogurtland, some messy cookie baking, good-night books and wake up books in bed, hugs–lots of hugs…  It was a grand week.

Just writing up this post made me miss the girls so much, I’m hoping in the car straightaway after church today and trekking on up to Ojai for some more girl time!

Coconut Pecan Chocolate Chip Cookies

IMG_8889Hi there–My grand-buddy (aka grand daughter) Maryann and I are good kitchen partners.  She’s usually happy to pull up a chair to the counter and mix and pour…  And she wants to dip her finger into every ingredient to give it a taste as we dump it into the mixing bowl– actually thinks flour is “yummy!”  I think we have a future cook on our hands…

So when I found this recipe from a favorite blog CookiesCakesPiesOhMy I knew Maryann and I should hit the kitchen.  Here’s what we made:

COCONUT PECAN CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES
3/4 cup butter (1  1/2 sticks)*
1/2 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1 egg
2 tsp. vanilla
3 tab. sour cream
2 cups flour
1 tab. cornstarch
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cups chocolate chips**
1 cup pecans
1 cup shredded coconut

With an electric mixer, cream together the butter, sugars, egg, vanilla and sour cream.  Then mix in the flour, cornstarch, baking powder and salt.  Finally continue mixing in the chocolate chips, pecans and shredded coconut.

Drop the dough by spoonfuls onto cookie sheets sprayed with cooking spray.  Bake them at 325 degrees for 14-16 minutes.  Makes 3 dozen smallish cookies.***

*If the butter is cold straight from the fridge, microwave it for a few seconds to soften it up.
**Kristen’s original recipe called for dark chocolate chips or chunks.  I think that would make them even yummier, but we just had plain old chocolate chips and used them for our impromptu Sunday afternoon baking.
*** Kristen posted the recipe for 14 large cookies–and we made them small– make them just the size you like.

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Off to see the Grand-girls!

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Hey there– You can’t tell just reading this, but I am practically jumping up and down with excitement!  We’re flying off Friday about midnight to stay with Micah, Jodi and the grand-girls in Shanghai.  It’s going to be stories and puzzles, the parties and runs to the park.  And Micah has promised a few days in the coolness of a bamboo forrest.  I’m already packed to go in my head!

You can betcha’ they’ll photos of big fun with girls to come on this blog!   Oh yes. I am thankful.

Happy Birthday Butterfly

Our Maryann picking a fistful of “donkey tails” to take upstairs to her mom.

Hooray! Our grand-girl Maryann turned 4 this week!! Although, she’s been claiming to be 4 all summer.  She’s a puzzle working, book scanning, question asking kind of girl and I couldn’t love her more!  Recently she decided that She and her sister Charlotte should be called Butterfly and Pumpkin Pie.  Hmmm, that has a lilting  sort of rhyme to it.  I’m praying for you little Maryann, for a year ahead to grow and flourish with all your 4 year old ways in far off Shanghai.  So HAPPY BIRTHDAY BUTTERFLY!!  Love you so…