Dalmatian life lessons

Ariel is about to turn 5.  She is in a serious nurturing stage.  Perhaps its due to me constantly bringing home babies or perhaps it’s because God simply gave her a sweet spirit.  Either way she babies her stuffed dogs like they are actual children.  It’s so precious it actually hurts.

I found a gem in the garage of a dalmatian puppy toy that I thought she would love to play with, so I offered it to her.  She responded with “Well I don’t know mom (she calls me mom like a teenager. ugh!).  My other mommy puppy would be ok with [the dalmatian puppy] but Aurora (the ‘baby’ puppy) would be scared of [the dalmatian puppy] because she looks different.


Gut check.  Where was this coming from?  My children happen to be especially blessed to have what I call a ‘rainbow family’.  Some cousins are half black and half white and some cousins are half Filipino and half white.  It’s a fantastic model to teach kids that all kids/humans are the same even though God made us different, like the color of our hair, the color of our eyes and yes even the color of our skin.  We are all unique and different and yet the same.  We are all God’s created works of art.  And frankly, because the lesson is so obvious I never thought I’d really have to teach about racism.  I thought we were free and clear of this hard life lesson.  Guess I was wrong.

So to hear this out of her mouth shocked me.  I immediately sat down and talked to her.  Important to note, I didn’t lecture.  Instead I asked questions.  I wanted to find out where her heart was at.  Was she really scared of different-than-her-looking people?

Mommy “Why would Aurora [puppy] be scared?”

Ariel “Because she looks different”

M “Do you think Aurora should be scared because [the dalmatian dog] looks different?”

Ariel (pause) “No.  Cleo (the mommy puppy) would be fine playing with her”

M “Well that’s good.  I think the dalmatian puppy would like that.  Do you [Ariel] think that the dalmatian puppy is scary?  Do you think Aurora and the dalmatian puppy could play together?”

Ariel (pause)  “Yah I think they could play together”

M “I think they could too.  It’s always nice to make friends even when friends are different”

And just like that Ariel went inside with her new-found friend as though the whole world hadn’t shifted.  It’s easy to see our children as innocent little babies.  They are our babies.  However, I was reminded that these children, my children, are not just children.  They are little people who will grow into full fledge adults who must face this grim ugly world.  And unfortunately this ugly world includes catastrophic issues such as race hate.

Forget racism.  That is far too easy of a word.   Race hate.  Skin hate.  Different hate.  People hate.  Puppy hate.  It’s all the same.  It’s all hate.  And that is not what I want to instill in my family.  Because at this house we love God and others.  Jesus called for us to love Him with all of our strength, mind and heart, and to love our neighbors as ourselves.  Pretty simple and yet extraordinarily difficult.

Today I was glad that I was presented with an opportunity to talk to my daughter and glimpse into her heart and see that while it isn’t perfectly angelic and pure, it is moldable and teachable and today I got the chance to show her God’s grace with a little help from a black and white furry friend.

“Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.  By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”  John 13:34-35

Playing tourist

So I had the privilege to go back to California for a good friend’s bachelorette party.  (thank goodness for mileage points!)  It was a complete surprise as to the days events.  I LOVE surprises!  Turns out we were chauffeured into downtown Los Angeles to hop on a double decker bus and go exploring the city.  I have lived in So Cal my entire life and I don’t think I have EVER just hung out in downtown LA.  Sure I have gone to a couple of events here and there, like a show, but have never spent any significant time there.  I mean, why would I?  I have always been told it was scary with muggers and other such unscrupulous individuals.  Plus, the smog is out of control.  Why yes, yes I was totally sheltered… why do you ask?

Anyway, up on that second story bus I got a new glimpse of my ‘hood.  I found and new love and respect for my city.


“peace!” *trying to really embrace the tourist approach and went for a japanese tourist*


Where it all begins (and that is especially true in my house!)



The famous Paramount water tower


These things are old hat to Music Man who works here on a weekly basis, however to this wannabe I still get a thrill out of seeing this beautiful symbol of stardom.  It’s not too late to be a famous actress is it?  I mean I’m only in my mid thirties…  *gulp*



Here is the Disney music hall.  Obviously something red carpet related was going on but who knows what specific event it was.  That’s the cool/ordinary thing about being in LA, this is a regular thing out here.  Both a marvel and familiar event around these parts.


The famous Hollywood walk of fame and what’s the most important star (or the most liked one I found on our path)?  Disneyland of course!

Next we toodled around town and caught glimpses of these fabulous areas


Why hello there famous depictions of famous things!


Probably the nifftiest Denny’s I will ever see


Los Angeles Post Office.  Fancy schmancy



Union Station

Our first stop off the bus landed us here


It was a cleverly disguised whole in a huge building that led you to a mecca of ethnic foods.  It was a feast for all of your senses.  One of my friends decided to try an authentic gyro and she marveled at its taste.  I merely had an apple from one of the small produce stands.  But let’s be honest.  What I really wanted was a churro, but surprisingly it wasn’t on anybody’s menu.  Can’t wait to go again and really try out some awesome food.

Got back on the bus and caught some more tourist areas






Um, sir you’re not supposed to be standing up on the bus.  But I’ll bet you got a nice shot!


Now why can’t all neighborhoods have lights drapped across from building to building?  Seems to me a great way to spruce up neighborhood morale (and perhaps the electric bill so that’s probably why not).  Still…. it’s so pretty.


I was amazed at the detailed art on some of the walls.  I also loved the detail on the paved street *not pictured*.  These people clearly cared about their neighborhood.  Love it.

After a while we got off the bus due to the zero shade and too hot combo which threatened to electrify my already looming caffeine withdrawl headache.  So we decided to jump ship bus and head around town via a 12 person cargo van.  Which, by the way, is something that my knuckle head husband has priced out just in case we need one.  Uh huh….

Onward and upward we pushed on and we decided to puruse how the other half lives in this famous fancy hood




I popped into a sweet kiddo clothing shop and nearly doubled over in sticker shock.  $400 for a 9 month old dress that some cute kid will no doubt poop and puke in?  NO thank you!

While we stopped for a bite to eat I caught a glimpse of this celebrity hot spot




Where all the celebs go to get caught being naughty.  Yes, sometimes they call up the paparazzi themselves.  As they say, any press is good press….. I guess.

And Minnesota wasn’t too far from my mind, not with this sign


I had a great time.  I acquired a new-found love and respect for my hometown.


Classic reads in the discount bins

I find myself with more time to myself here living in the country.  Probably due to many factors such as A) hubby’s job isn’t a constant pressure (he still has to work here but he doesn’t have to drive anywhere while staying here), B) we have less stuff so less stuff to take care of, and C) I can send the kids outside to play and they actually want to because there is an entire field to run around and explore.

One of my favorite things to do is check out the local second hand stores.  Many times there is simply a ton of junk, but if you can weed through it, you just might find yourself a treasure.

Here were my clever finds.


There is a Cow in the Cabbage Patch and Country Babies Wear Plaid were each $0.50.  Seemed totally appropriate for the farm.  For only a $1 I picked up a hard backed The Worlds Best Fairy Tales.


*sorry its difficult to see I obviously need to step up my photography skills*

For $3 each I picked up what appears to be never been read hard back classic reads like Heidi, The Wizard of Oz, Tom Sawyer and Black Sheep.  What a steal!  My (almost) homeschooling heart leapt for joy seeing these!  It looks as though these were published in the early 80’s.  In fact Music Man remembers reading these exact books.  Does that officially make these vintage?  Wait, more importantly does this make us old??!!

Why don’t we just focus on my brilliant finds instead of my age, mmmmkay?

Daddy toys

Boys will be boys.  Little boys like toys and big boys like toys.  Its not too different except for the size.

You see we have quite the field to take care of and some of it has been over run with thistles (spiky weeds).  Here the kids are running thru the weeds (although these aren’t the spiky ones), just to give you an example of the size.



Instead of trying to tackle it with our riding lawn mower, Music Man decided to call in the big dogs.  He called our dairy farming friends to see if he could borrow one of their professional tractors.  They amazingly said yes.  


This thing is no joke.  Last year when we “borrowed” the tractor to help with the thistles, the tractor came with a driver, the farmers son JJ.  This time however, they must have seen the gleam in Music Man’s eyes because they surprisingly let him drive this beast. (or perhaps they were just too busy doing their own work to be bothered with our measly lawn)


Can you spot his size 5 year old at christmas sized grin???  He was in heaven.

Driver’s viewpoint in the front



And from the back


This thing is massive!





Not quite sure I have ever seen him so happy.  Best part?  We can actually walk in our yard!  Thanks for the hard work sweetie!  It’s nice to have friends. 

Storm Damage

One thing that’s completely different from the Golden State of California and Minne(snow)ta is the weather.  Duh.

Well recently its been raining.  A lot.  Like breaking records kind of rain.  

Now for this native So Cal girl the change in scenery is a welcome change of pace.  But my tree disagrees.  





This was really an unwelcome change in our backyard as that particular tree added much needed shade on the play equipment for the kids.  Music Man was forced to chopping up the remainder of the tree that had fallen.



He had to bring out the big boy tools like this one


Even I had to come help (my arm obviously photobombed this picture)


Unfortunately this storm showcased a new problem we have.  Carpenter ants.  They are massive sized ants that destroy wood.  And apparently our tree was its mega sized buffet line for some time.


Do you see the gigantic hole they ate out of the trunk of the tree?  If I weren’t so sad about losing the tree I would take the time to marvel at the sheer volume of destruction these mighty workers did, but I’m too busy feeling sorry for my now too sunny backyard.

Here’s a shot of the inside of the trunk that was just beginning to be eaten through.  I have to admit it is kind of beautiful.



Well, I guess its always nice to have a stock pile of firewood for those summer s’mores.  

Honey Fest

Its been a whirlwind of commotion here.  So I’ll try and catch you up in the order of events. First of all, we had the pleasure of participating in Honey Fest event that our new friends, Becca and Rory, threw.  They are new to bee keeping and held an affair at their house.


First on the agenda was a show and tell of the (empty) hive and the tools of the trade.  Becca’s friend Adam was the one giving the TED-like talk about the wonderful world of bees.  He had my attention the whole time, but my kids… not so much. Maybe next year they will find it as fascinating as mommy and daddy did. Here is Adam showing the lid to the square honey hive.


Do you see the many sliders? (not sure of the technical term but it slides into the box so we will go with that)


A new beeswax slider


Here is one that is fully functioning beeswax.  Notice the difference in color! IMG_1401

Here is Ariel feeling the new beeswax.  Be careful not to “smoosh” it!


Now she’s feeling the “after” beeswax.  So cool to see the work in progress.IMG_1408

Daddy showing Mr. Sunshine the cool beeswax slider


Let’s not forget the tools.  This one is to pry open the sweet hive (which looks like a mini crow bar) IMG_1418

Here is the smoker


And the hazmat type of gear a bee keeper wears in order to help prevent being stung.  Although, its still inevitable that you will get stung.  Turns out its much like training a dog.  The bees react to your calm domination while in their presence. IMG_1415

Hey mom I’m here learning too!


Next we went up close and personal to Becca and Rory’s live bee hive in their backyard. IMG_1422

Adam says that really you could put them anywhere, but I just love this site where the bees are surrounded by greenery.  Its a beautiful location. Look I was brave and got super close without gear!


I look nervous don’t I?  That’s probably because under normal circumstances I wouldn’t be within shooting distance with stinging bees.  But somehow I thought that beeing (yes it had to be done) with an official bee keeper somehow made it safer. Here is the opening where the bees come and go

IMG_1428 IMG_1429

So after the tutorial of how a bee keeper works, we were delighted to check out the actual honey from Adam’s hive. IMG_1434

You better believe I got a BIG jar!  Tasted a sample and it was sooooo good.  It had a hint of cinnamon to it as well.  Amazing. Next up was trying to make honeycomb candles.  We missed out on this affair because mommy and daddy were talking too much with other people.  Whoops.  But one nice kid offered Little Rascal a candle.  First he wisely inspected it…. IMG_1436

then…. CHOMP.


Sorry little rascal that’s not the part you eat! These are just the sorts of affairs that you just can’t get in the suburbs.  Thanks for the rural paradise Becca!

Country Hospitality

Last night we were invited to our dairy farming next door neighbors house for a big family dinner.  We ate their steaks and homemade ice cream, while we supplied the lobster that Music Man caught off the coast in California.  It was delicious!

I was amazed at the differences in hospitality from here on the farm to back home in the suburbs.  First of all, please come dressed comfy.  There is no dressing up needed.  I wore a t-shirt and maxi skirt and felt over dressed and wished I had just worn my casual blue jeans.  Luckily the kids knew better and had worn their farm boots (rain boots), which wasn’t really necessary since they just ran around barefoot while conversing with the sheep, cows, and brand new baby kittens.  Even wearing eye make up felt overly done.

Although the menu was high end (steak and lobster!), the dinning was anything but.  First come, first serve while the many children ran around outside playing with one another.  This practically made me stop in my tracks I was so shocked.  Wait…. so the kids don’t get served first while my food gets cold?  How can I eat while the food is warm?  Won’t the children starve to death while I guiltily savor my delicious food?  Turns out we couldn’t quite bring ourselves to do that and ate with our children, but I was able to eat it warm.  I was blessed by a teenage girl who happily took my baby to play with while I ate in relative peace.  Most kids who were under the age of 10 wound up eating after the majority of the adults.  Surprise surprise, they didn’t starve.  They enjoyed the rest of daylight while bouncing up and down on the trampoline.  Call me amazed.

We were fed delicious food, the kids played with new friends and we were welcomed like family.  This is how the country folk do hospitality.  A girl could get used to this.



Father’s Day

So its no secret that we have a lot of kids.  Well that couldn’t have happened without a daddy.  And my baby’s daddy is quite the catch.

He is a man who follows Christ.  He he truly exemplifies a Godly father and husband.

He is a teacher in our home, encouraging our kids to participate alongside him in life.


He enjoys the little things like our baby’s smile



He takes time out to marvel at the mundane things in life like the garbage truck pick up



He’s willing to be goofy while on duty



He’s able to savor the precious moments





He fills their young minds with goodness and love



He gives them the push they need in life


He carries the heavy burden of family on his broad shoulders with a smile



He inspires new family traditions (yum smore’s!)



He’s right there during the highs and lows



Even while sleeping on the job, he’s the best



And he demonstrates that the best way to be a good dad is to love their momma.  Even if she is slightly insane. 



Happy Father’s day Music Man.  I love you.

Never a question

So today I had a lot of this


And a whole lot of this


(there is lots more that I didn’t picture in order to save a little respect) staring me in the face.

But sometimes when the day is as beautiful as it was today there is something that trumps all of that.



When Ariel came over and asked for me to read to her, all I could do is say YES.



Clean or sit outside with my darling girl on our fabulous porch?  Was there ever really a choice?

Sunday fun day

This weekend I decided to drop on downtown and peruse the antique store.  I have usually been able to score a fun deal every time I’ve come.  This day was no exception.  Here were the winners!


For $32 I snagged this porch plant holder.  It was the very first thing I saw when I approached the store.  It was outside just begging to be brought home with me!  I plan on shabby-chic’ing it up, so watch out for that in an upcoming post.


Next thing I found was the vintage watering can (the one on the right).  I scooped up this deal for $8.  There were several others at the store that had the added sprinkler head which really added on the dollars.  Those generally went for $29.  Considering I was merely using it to hold my flowers, it didn’t make *cents* to pay the extra expense.  I bought the bucket (the one on the left) last fall from the same store for a mere $5.  These two will make a perfect colorful vintage statement on my porch.


And now to the final piece!  At $22 this cow pitcher just had to come home with me!  Folks, I have a 100 cow dairy farm next door!!!  Seriously, how could I not bring this gem home to call my kitchen theirs?  Considering that I am accenting my kitchen with white and whimsical, this cow was meant to be.

I realize that I might have been able to score a better deal, but then again perhaps not.  The employee at this particular shop said that the items were all sold from various vendors, therefore I wasn’t able to bargain.  Not that I’m good at that anyway.  Seriously, I’m horrible.

Any fun finds from your local flea markets, antique stores or random yard sales?  If so, tell me about it!