Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas from our family to you and yours!  May today and the remainder of the Christmas season be a time filled with joy as we celebrate our Saviour's birth! 

Friday, December 23, 2011

Christmas Cookies

Every year, the girls and I make Christmas cookies - some years more than others.  I try to make a wide variety to give away, but no matter what, we always make decorated sugar cookies with royal icing.  This Christmas, this was the only variety we got around to making.  They are our family favorite, not only because they taste great, but also because they are so fun to decorate and are pretty to look at on a plate.  I always think that painting would be great fun and since I'm no painter, this is a great way to "paint" an edible treat.  I love this Christmas tradition of ours and hope it will keep going for years to come . . . maybe even with my grandchildren one day, God willing.  :-)

Sunday, December 18, 2011

The Great Rush to Christmas Break

It seems every year, that the week right before Christmas break and the week before the end of school in the spring are the two busiest weeks of the year in our family.  Given that my hubby is a high school teacher, this makes sense; not only are our girls finishing up before the holidays with school work, school Christmas celebrations, and last minute teacher gifts, but then my hubby is also preparing his final exams, finishing up grades, and wrapping up his semester.  So, needless to say, this past week has been quite a whirlwind for us - from our internet being down for a couple of days to my hubby's car breaking down (towed and fuel pump replace, too), then baking 4 dozen cookies for my kindergatener's school cookie exchange, volunteering in my first grader's class for a holiday luncheon, and baking undecorated sugar cookies for my third grader's class party.

Blogging is an activity that I thoroughly enjoy and gives me an outlet of communication with others as I traverse my way through motherhood, but when it comes to the holidays, it has to go by the wayside to some extent.  The joys and pleasures of being with family and spending time together monopolize my time (in the best possible way).  So, between now and the New Year, my posts may be rather infrequent . . . and you'll know I'm off having fun!  :-)

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Fun with Leftover Fleece

Fleece is such a fun fabric for projects because it doesn't really fray.  You can cut it, use it, and there you have it.  Last winter, I lined a scarf that I had knitted for Selah with fleece that she picked out and made her a matching beenie.  We have been using the leftovers little by little.  Ken doll, who had lost his clothes, got a pair of board shorts for surfing that are now permanantly on his body.  :-)  #1 and #2 wanted to make little baby blankets from some of the fleece, so I cut out two squares and cut fringe around them (while they are pinned together) and the girls tied together the pieces of fringe which holds together the blanket; this method making fleece blankets is quite popular and super easy.  It's a fun idea for baby showers, Christmas gifts, or just a warm blanket for your child's bed.  We had a very little bit of this fleece left and #5, Little D, has 2 matching monkeys and they now have the remaining fleece as winter outfits; #4 and #5 are getting a kick out of it. 

Friday, December 9, 2011

Awww, Mom, Was This Really Necessary?

Lilah's an extremely tolerant dog, but that's my impression of what she is thinking while I took these pics. 

Thursday, December 8, 2011


Yesterday's shots were of some of my girls playing dress-up.  Raiding their own closet and mine (my wedding veil, hats, scarves, belts, shoes) is a regular occurence and the results never fail to crack me up.  When the girls came down in these outfits the other day, it was just too funny.  Livia meant to be dressed as a bride (and a lovely "bride" she was), but Isabella and Selah just put together outfits with no intended look in mind and they ended up looking like a hippy and a gypsy.  I love watching children put their imaginations to work - it is definitely one of the joys of parenting!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Pictures with Santa [or Terrifying Your Toddlers]

Why is it that toddlers never seem to want to see Santa or take a picture with him?  Before the age of 3 or 4, I think that kids are only excited about this idea because someone has told them about it in an excited voice.  I'm pretty sure that the whole excitement over Santa in my children's imaginations last between about ages 4 and 6 until they realize that Papi and Mommy are really Mr. and Mrs. Claus.

The business where my Mom works was offering Santa photos to their clients as a holiday treat, so I took the 5 girls in with hopes that all of them would somehow be in this picture smiling all at once.  You can see the results below; at least we have some pictures for posterity. 

Monday, November 28, 2011

Simplifying Christmas

A few weeks ago, we sat down as a family and had a chat about how we are in the process of decluttering our house and our lives from the "stuff" that so easily entangles us.  Things are great when they have a purpose and are used, but when they just end of being "stuff" instead and start to demand our time (because there is no end tojust attempting to organize them), then things have become a burden instead of a tool.  Since we moved houses last year, many of our things have been in boxes and it helps to see how much stuff we really don't need to have in the house and get rid of stuff that has accumulated.  Little by little, we are making progress on this goal of decluttering and living more simply.  We have been blessed with generous friends and family members over the years and have benefitted from their many gifts and gently used items that have been passed on to us.  But, in an attempt to no accumulate as much this Christmas, we made a family pact to give fewer gifts, give away things that we don't need or use, and focus on the importance of giving to those in need at this time of year.  As an alternative to traditional Christmas gifts, we have asked our family members to write each of our daughters a personal Christmas greeting that includes the sender's favorite Bible verse.  We will collect these and put them together in a scrapbook as a special Christmas 2011 gift that will be a wonderful memory for the girls in the future.  Also, as a family we are going to pick out a gift from the World Vision catalog that will be given to a family in another country to enrich their lives - a goat or some chickens, perhaps.  And that is what it really comes down to when we think about Christmas, anyway.  God sent us His Son, the best ever gift at Christmas to be the Saviour of the world; at this time of the year, it only seems appropriate to direct our thoughts to giving in meaningful ways rather than just on the things that we will be receiving. 

Thursday, November 24, 2011

The Climber

Literally overnight, #5 (the baby of the family) figured out how to climb up on a chair and from there climb up onto the table.  And this is how I found her, very pleased with her new accomplishment.  So, now not only is she even more closely supervised, but I am pulling chairs away from the craft table in the play room to discourage this type of adventure.  Not that I don't appreciate her adventurous spirit, but I would prefer to keep the climbing to hiking around our yard outdoors.  It is amazing the things babies learn and so quickly, too, especially with older siblings as models.  And, yes, my kids are the type that like to stand on the couch, etc., when Mom isn't looking (I admit it).

By the way, Happy Thanksgiving to everyone!  May your day be blessed and joyful as you celebrate with friends and family on this day.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Friday, November 18, 2011

A little avoidance, a lot of being busy, and some laziness wrapped all in one

Ever since my daughter being in the hospital a couple of weeks ago, despite my best intentions I have not gotten down to blogging as much as I would have like to.  I was in part avoiding my computer and all it entails for awhile; sometimes the demands of technology seem to be many and I need self-imposed mini-breaks throughout the year to just step back and do other things (namely read books).  I've also been a bit lazy about getting on and blogging, just because (and also because I've been a bookworm lately).  And, finally, things are always busy around the holidays.  The week started out with yet another visit to the doctor with #2 because her fever returned not long after finishing up her antibiotics; she had rebounded with an ear infection and is now taking meds again (and I'm fervently praying this is the end of it!).  The, it was off to the doctor for me to get my annual "fair-skinned-girl-mole-removal" done; I've never had anything malignant, but better safe than sorry.  Tuesday was volunteering in #2's classroom for a few hours with Grandpa on duty at home with the little ones, then off to Bible study on Wednesday.  Thursday was grocery shoppping and errands, and today wrapped it up with volunteering in #3's kindergarten classroom for a Thanksgiving feast (with baked drumsticks and veggies in tow).  Now, I have bread in the oven for a church party this evening.  Whew!  I'm tired just recounting it all.  :-)  Thank goodness for a week of Thanksgiving break off from school for the kids.  The question is, does that make it a break for mom, too???

Monday, November 7, 2011

For the Love of Bread

Challah made with brioche dough.
When my friend, Janene, lent me a book called Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day, I was a bit skeptical.  I love to bake my own bread and have had good success with making baguettes and Italian loaves from a recipe that start by making the dough in my bread machine and involves a few more steps thereafter.  This takes about 3 or 4 hours from start to finish, but since I'm at home this works just fine for me.  This book, on the other hand, is based around the creation of doughs that are high in moisture and don't require kneeding, punching, or multiple rises.  I started by making the master recipe from the book and it turned out really well.  So well, in fact, that I couldn't tell any difference between it and the regular bread recipes that I had been using.  Since then, I've tried several more recipes, all with great results and very little effort on my part. 

Basically, you just mix up the dough and let it rise for a couple of hours.  After that, you can either use the dough right away or just store it in the fridge in a non-airtight container for quite some time and use it when it is convenient.  When you take it out of the fridge, a quick stretching and molding of the loaf is needed and then it is left to rise for a bit.  Then, it is off to the oven.  This type of bread-making definitely cuts down on prep time, the mess of mixing a new batch of dough every time you want another loaf, and the time involved in letting bread rise (a great way for those that work outside the home during the day to still be able to eat fresh, homemade bread for dinner).  This is one book that I will be purchasing for myself and I will continue to use these bread recipes.  I even got a little more creative the other day and added my own sourdough starter to the "master recipe" (that makes a baguette or boule type of loaf) and the sourdough loaf that came of it was one of the best I've ever made.  The crust was crunchy and the crumb inside was chewy, soft, and tasty. 

If you are curious about this book and high-moisture doughs, the website for it is found here:

Saturday, November 5, 2011

A Week Absent from Blogging

When I blogged last Saturday, I was happy to have several new blog posts in mind and excited to get typing.  Little did I know, our daughter #2 who we thougth had a virus was sicker than we thought.  By Saturday evening, she was running a fever that would not come down with Tylenol and couldn't stop coughing.  When she asked to go to the "hostible", I knew she was really unwell.  I got all 5 girls in the van right after 9:00 p.m. and dashed off the the urgent care which closed at 10:00 p.m. with a 1/2 hour drivve ahead of us.  My hubby was chaperoning at Homecoming at the school where he works and got in his car immediately and drove to meet us.  Selah was seen by the Dr. at Urgent Care, sent by ambulance to the ER (so that she could stay on the oxygen she was using), and was admitted around 2:30 a.m. to the Children's Hospital Ward of our local hospital.  On top of having an ear infection in both ears, she also had pneumonia which was further complicated by her asthma.  We had hopes that she would come home maybe the next day, but her oygen levels weren't up high enough and she stayed until Wednesday at lunch time.  My hubby and I were able to stay with her alternately at the hospital while also taking care of our other 4 girls at home, and a wonderful friend from church came to the house early Monday morning and stayed with our daughters all day so that I could stay at the hospital with our little sickie.  As a mom, it is hard feeling torn beween your kids; I wanted to be at the hospital, but I also wanted the other 4 to feel cared for at home, too.  It was hard for any of us to get much sleep at the hospital between regular checks of vital signs to respitory therapists coming in every 4 hours, from Dr.'s visits daily to medicine to be administered.  We were all extremely thankful to be back home when this short ordeal concluded.  But, through it all there was so much for which to be thankful:
  • Living in a country that has very good health care and medical facilites
  • Having good health insurance and being able to afford co-pays
  • #2 having the opportunity to truly heal and get better in a place where she was well taken care of and given all the tools she needed to get better quickly
  • Kind, caring, and professional  medical personnel at our disposal
  • The many friends and family that took time to pray for Selah's healing
  • God's healing touch and having His hand on us and our daughter during this time
So, I have been gone from my blog for awhile because my brain capacity and physical energy were being expended elsewhere, but thank God, we are back to our usual "normal" routine and I'm ready for a new week of blogging adventures. 

Saturday, October 29, 2011

A Garcia Girl Saturday Morning

This was one of the mornings when I was very thankful that we don't have cable TV and that our antenna doesn't work anymore either, so Saturday morning cartoons are pretty much out (not that they don't watch videos, though :).  What I do love to see the girls doing is engaging in creative and imaginative play and this Saturday morning was a joy to behold.  The girls asked me to make them tea and #3 requested that we use her tea set that she received for Christmas, so I got it down and made them a pot of tea (which turned into 3 by the end).  They dashed upstairs and dressed in "tea party" outfits and out the front door they went with the picnic blanket in tow.  And what fun they had with just a few snacks, tea, and some sugar cubes.  Lilah, who always thinks she is just one of the girls, did her best to join in, too. 
#1, #3, and Lilah with their tea party.

The rest of the sister join in and Peluche, my parents' dog is keeping watch.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Little Viking Goes for a New Look . . .

. . . a cut, that is.  #3 has been begging me to chop off her hair because school mornings are such a pain for her when we have to rake through all the knots and snarls in her long hair.  So, last week, one early morning before school started, I had her shower (so that I could cut her hair wet) and then I got the scissors out and did the deed.  She's more of my little pixie now with her new look and she's loving the low-maintence quality of it.  So, win-win for all of us.

Monday, October 24, 2011

30 day photo challenge: days 28, 29, & 30

And a drumroll, please . . . thank you, thank you very much!  I've finally finished with my 30 day photo challenge, albeit taking much longer than 30 days and improvising here and there.  But, it has been fun and defnitely kept my blogging from getting rut.  So, here are the last 3 days.

day 28  -  daily routine
It is hard to remember a time when I wasn't doing this activity on a daily basis.  Once you have kids and they are small, changing diapers is just part of the daily routine, like it or not (pretty much not liking it).  Now that the baby of our family is 1 1/2, I'm starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel.  I'm definitely not anxious for her to grow up and quicker, but I certainly won't be sorry to see the diaper duties go "bye-bye".  
Little D happy with a clean diaper.

  day 29  -  purchased
This actually is another of my daily routines, too.  A must-have!
 Recently, we purchased a new cappuccino maker and, wow, does that ever make my mornings 10X better! 

day 30  -  in motion
Me, taken out hiking w/my hubby recently.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

30 day photo challenge: days 26 & 27

day 26  -  something old
Sometimes the best pair of jeans is the old pair and such is the case with my favorite pair of jeans.  They are so worn that they got a hole in the knee (a large hole) over a year ago and I patched them so that I could keep wearing them.  I don't wear these jeans out, really, but they are my work jeans around the house and are great for all those days when I am in the yard getting messy, cleaning out the hens' coop, gardening, or just on a rainy day.  
day 27  -  after dark

 I couldn't pass up the chance to show these pictures that my hubby took just the other night on a timer of the night sky.  It's amazing how many more stars are visible with the camera as opposed to just with the naked eye. 

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Don't Blink or You Might Miss Something

Wow!  When it comes to blogging, sometimes I feel guilty for being gone for a few days and not posting anything, or clustering together a bunch of my photos in one post for the photo challenge.  But, I've realized it's just silly to think like that.  Blogging or life?  . . . which should I do.  Well, living my life, obviously!  Without all the crazy and wacky adventures of my everyday life and being in the moment with my family and friends, I would have nothing to blog about it in the first place.  So, here's to loving God with my whole heart, soul, mind, and strength; being present with and for the people I love; and living life to the fullest for all the days that I am given on this earth!

30 day photo challenge: days 24 & 25

day 24  -  a smile
My oldest, #1, helping Mom with a smile and making scrambled eggs for herself and all the sisters.  
day 25  -  sunflare

Up through the leaves of one of our ancient live oak trees.

Friday, October 14, 2011

30 day photo challenge: days 21, 22, & 23

Well, I'm sort of keeping up with this challenge still, just more in chunks than day by day.  So, here are 3 more days  worth of photos.

day 21  -  pretty pattern

I like the recent fad from the last couple of years of incorporating browns in with other lighter colors.  This is the changing pad from my old diaper bag and I've always like the pattern.

day 22  -  trees

We live on the street called Calle de Encinas.  Encinas is the Spanish name for evergreen oaks, or as they are called in southern California, live oaks.  We have many of these live oaks all over our property, but the biggest and oldest ones are right up by the house and provide wonderful shade and are beautiful to look at as well.

 I've cheated and put in pictures I took last winter, when the grass is green.  Grass is just starting to poke back up through the dirt this week again.  

day 23  -  sunset

Now I'm cheating even more.  I'm sure I won't get to where I can see a sunset tonight  and I saw that my hubby has sunset pics from this month, so here they are.


The Dog That Thought She was Just One of the Girls

Dogs are such great daily therapy.  Lilah gives a good laugh on a regular basis.  She thinks she is just one of our girls and puts with most anything.  :-)

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

30 day photo challenge: day 20 - what i read

Wow!  I really like today's topic for the photo challenge.  I always tell my husband that I love words and that I eat them up.  I usually have quite a few different magazines and books going at once.  Lately, I've read Vogue, Ladies' Home Journal, Lady Susan by Jane Austen, am in the middle of Love and Friendship (also a lesser know fragement of Austen's work), read I Thessalonians for the last few days in preparation for Bible study, and am working on The Hole in our Gospel by Richard Stearns (president of World Vision).  
If you are looking for a thought-provoking read that will challenge your heart and mainstream evangelical Christianity in America, I definitely recommend this book.  Stearns recounts his move from being the CEO of Lenox (that makes china, dinnerware, jewelry, etc.) and living the American Dream with much "success" to becoming the president of World Vision.  He took a 75% paycut, he and his wife and their 5 kids moved from the East Coast to the West Coast, and gave up a lifestyle to which they had become accustomed.  They made this move after much thought, prayer, and realization that God was calling them to this big change.  As I read about the difference that comes about in the lives of children around the world from the work that World Vision does, I am touched and also inspired to be part of this process of living out the gospel (not just the easy and palatable parts of the gospel) of Jesus.  One small step my family I have taken towards being purposeful and helping others in a tangible way is to sponsor a child through World Vision.  For just about $1.00 a day, which isn't much a sacrifice for us to give up, we can give a child in another country the opportunity to eat and go to school.  If each one of us took a small step or two towards living out the gospel of Christ more fully in the world, what a difference it could make in reaching others with the love of Jesus.   

Link to child sponsorship for anyone that might be interested:

Monday, October 10, 2011

30 day photo challenge: days 17, 18, & 19

Here I am, playing catch-up once again.  I think catch-up is the story of my life at the moment and probably will be until I'm out of this stage of mommyhood.  The popular catch phrase, "It is, what it is" is certainly applicable. 

day 17  -  on the shelf
This is the open shelf above my fridge and we keep #3's porcelain teaset up there.  We bought it for her last Christmas when she was 4 1/2 because she loves tea parties so much.  The set doesn't get as much use during busy school weeks, but it gets plenty of use on the holidays.  I love the nice sized cups in this set because they are big enough to actually hold a decent amount of tea so that the girls don't have to refill after just a couple of sips.

day 18  -  in my bag
Not surprising, my bag is full of a wide variety of items from diapers, diaper rash cream, bibs, clothes, and socks to sewing repair kits, pepper spray, a return item for WalMart, many receipts, and much, much, more.  My back is so scary to look at, in fact, that my hubby does not like to go into the abyss to search for anything.  It's definitely a Mommy's bag!
day 19  -  where i slept

Here's munchkin #4 in my bed this afternoon.  Her older sister came home from school sick and I didn't want them chatting during naptime in the same room, so here is my little sweetie pie getting ready for her nap in my bed. 

Friday, October 7, 2011

30 day photo challenge: day 3 - what i ate

I actually had a pretty cool meal deal for lunch today.  My hubby got a coupon for a free lunch from Macaroni Grill for liking them on facebook and gave it to me.  I went and used the coupon and thoroughly enjoyed some pasta, panini, and their rosemary bread (definitely a carbo-loaded meal, but very tasty, and it was shared with a toddler and baby).  Unfortunately, I didn't bring a camera along.  Here is my supper and it was very tasty as well.  It is a beef and Gorgonzola wrap.  Yum!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

30 day photo challenge: day 15 - shoes

I was all ready to post day 15 yesterday afternoon when, lo and behold, my internet stopped working.  I thought it was caused by the rain and the antenna I have outside from my wireless interent company, but as it turns out it was a connecting part that had gone bad.  Thankfullly, the hometown company is a friendly small business that helps its customers quickly and with a smile.  I dropped the girls off at school this morning, picked up the new part, and we are back in business. 

Yesterday was a rainy day.  I went to Bible Study in the morning and wore regular shoes, but when I got home it was back to the work jeans and rubber boots so that I could go outside and check on the hens.  So, here are yesterday's shoes. 

I must add that shoes are definitely one of shopping weaknesses, but for the sake of space saving and budgeting, I try and keep my shoe shopping to a minimum. 

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

30 day photo challenge: day 14 - flowers

Since this photo challenge is open to interpretation by the one doing the challenge, I have chosen a flower in a bit of a different vein.  Recently, while up in San Clemente, an lovely acquaintance gave me a flower for my hair as a gift.  Liz owns a company called Jolie and makes handcrafted flowers that are really pretty.  I like to use mine as a way to dress up a boring bun or other less-than-inspiring hairstyles.  Here is a link to the Jolie website:
 And here is a picture of the flower.

Monday, October 3, 2011

30 day photo challenge: day 13 - from a distance

Well, here I am and a few days behind on the actual days of this photo challenge.  I think the 30 days will end up being more like 40 days when all is said and done, but like I've said before, real life comes up and gets in the way of blogging and that is okay.  Flu update: it seems it has finally passed through the household and is gone, at least I am praying that it is the case.  Now, to get back on an even keel again and get the house picked up, the laundry folded, and be sure everyone is on track with their schoolwork.  I'll be drinking more than a few cappuccino's and mocha's this week for an extra energy boost.  :-)

It may be hard to tell what you are looking at, but this is what I see from a distance everyday when I look out my backyard to the neighbors.  They have about ten horses up there in a few corrals and eventhough I don't want the responsibility or financial burden of a horse right now, I enjoy seeing their horses up their on a regular basis.