Dogwood 52 Week 5

Landscape- Black & White

Dogwood 52 Week 5.jpg

I’m participating in a Dogwood 52 photography challenge group on Facebook.  We’ll be doing a photo from Dogwood Photography’s weekly prompts, to be posted no later than Sunday.  He cycles his prompts through 3 categories (portrait, landscape, and artistic) varying his prompts so that you can develop different techniques and familiarize yourself with various camera functions.


Friday Fave Five: Spring Break

1. Easy access to the nation’s capital


The Cherry Blossoms are coming out in full bloom this week


We love to visit DC. Our original plan had been to go to the National Zoo but all the parking was full by the time we got there 30 minutes after opening so we tossed out those plans and went to the International Spy Museum and had lunch along the National Mall before exploring around some of the memorials.



Taking a rest at the WWII Memorial fountain


We take every oppurtunity we have of climbing trees 🙂

I definitely recommend the International Spy Museum!  The kids had so much fun crawling through air ducts, learning about disguises and gadgets, and seeing James Bond’s original Aston Martin. They even got to practice decoding messages with simulated Enigma software.  Super cool.

2. Wonderful friends to share our adventures with


Resting at the Reflecting Pool 


Exploring around a lake near our house earlier this week

3. Good behavior… Little Warrior has been struggling a lot lately.  He’s an extreme introvert and being at school all day really exhausts him. That, and he’s bored stiff in Kindergarten since he’s quite a poppy.  So the week off for Spring Break has been amazing for his choices and attitude. ❤ Such a huge blessing!

4. Bible study  I am privileged to study the Word of God and walk through this difficult season with an amazing group of women. We each give and take according to our season, and support one another in immeasurable ways. I can’t imagine going through life without these wonderful ladies.

5. Productivity I’ve finished a bunch of projects and been working a lot on decluttering. There’s a big consignment sale coming up so I’m purging clothes the kids have out grown to sell there.  I’ve also been making sure to go to bed with my kitchen clean every night and it’s made a world of difference in my attitude when I come downstairs to start my day in the morning.



Every week Susanne hosts Friday Fave Five to share what blessings we’ve found in our weeks.  Hop on over and join the gratitude fest. 🙂

Dogwood 52 Week 2

Week 2- Landscape: Traditional


I liked this shot but not as a ‘traditional landscape’ like the prompt called for.  I had planned on getting out to shoot more later in the week, but ended up catching the cold that’s been going around so made do with a shot from a walk around an old, stone church on Wednesday.

I’m participating in a Dogwood 52 photography challenge group on Facebook.  We’ll be doing a photo from Dogwood Photography’s weekly prompts, to be posted no later than Sunday.  He cycles his prompts through 3 categories (portrait, landscape, and artistic) varying his prompts so that you can develop different techniques and familiarize yourself with various camera functions.

Friday Fave Five- March 11

FFF birds on a wire

Every Friday, Susanne over at Living to Tell the Story hosts Friday Fave Five. Participants share five favorites from the week in an  effort to focus our thoughts on our blessings.

1. Spring Weather  We had one last snow last Friday and it was lovely.


I took the pups out for a hike along the river and got some lovely pictures.  But now it’s sunny and in the 60s & 70s and we’ve been to the park nearly every day this week.  Absolutely wonderful.

2. Sewing  My friend’s daughter is learning to make a quilt and she came over this week to baste her backing-batting-front together.  It looks so lovely and I’m so proud of her for working so hard on it. Unfortunately I didn’t snag a photo but will try to get a good one when we finish up the binding.

3. Audio Books  I’m not much of an auditory learner but in all the craziness of life I haven’t been able to keep up with my reading like I’d like to.  So I started borrowing audio books from the library (you can even download them to your phone/tablet via the OverDrive app) and even purchased a few on my iBooks account.  This way I can ‘read’ a book while doing dishes or driving to and from appointments.  I love it!  And the kidlets love it too- they’ve already listened to Paddington and an unabridged version of Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book. I’ve borrowed Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone from the library to listen to next.

4. Swimming  A friend invited me to swim at a local aquatic center with her.  The moment I hit the water my soul was refreshed. Swimming is the only sport I’ve ever been any good at and it’s the one exercise that makes me feel invigorated WHILE I’m doing it.  So grateful to have been reintroduced to it.

5. Sweet Puppies  They bring so much joy to our life, despite their constant need to be taken to the bathroom and their propensity to chew ev.ree.thing. Par for the course for a 100+ pound puppy, I suppose.  Each month they seem to get better, so that’s progress.  🙂 Ape will be 9 months old this week!


Ape (8 months) & Shep (1 year)

Does anyone know where our puppies’ names come from? (HINT: the kids named them)

What are some favorites from your week?

Patapsco Snow


We had a light dusting of snow yesterday.  Probably our last snow for the season. And while I’ve grown to love the winter here (no idea who I am anymore!), I’m definitely ready for Spring so we can get back to daily scooter rides and outdoor energy burning activities for the Little Warrior.

I tossed aside my really important plans to wash dishes and vacuum solve the JFK assassination conspiracy and took the pups for a hike along the river.


It had mostly melted by the time we got back to the car, resulting in muddy paws and wagging tails.

But what a beautiful winters day it was!


Faves of the Best Coast

FFF tulips

Thanks, Susanne, for hosting us each with with your Friday Fave Fives!

Having been in Florida for a few weeks, I’m starting to notice the things I’ll miss most about living in SoCal.  So in honor of my home town, I’ll make my faves an homage to California, particularly San Diego.

1.  Freeways.   Oh man, do I miss these!  My love used to commute 60 miles each way- it was killer and took about an hour, sometimes more… sometimes less, depending on traffic.  Here he only commutes 10 miles each way… but it still takes nearly half an hour!  What?

2. Fresh Food.  I miss fresh produce.  There is one farmers’ market but it’s a good 40 minute drive from here (thanks to the fact that there are NO FREEWAYS) so we haven’t made it up there yet because it would cut into what precious ‘Daddy time’ we have.  In San Diego we had Sprouts and farmers’ markets which always provide us with fresh, organic, and affordable food.  And ya’ll know my obsession with Trader Joe’s.  Of course they have TJ’s on the East Coast too, but not where we are.

3, Restaurants.  We did try Whataburger.  It was delicious.  But I was so incredibly sick after.  There ARE tons of amazing seafood places here.  Unfortunately, salmon is about the only seafood I eat since shell fish make my throat swell up.  What I really miss are ethnic foods- Ethiopian, Indian, Thai, Mexican…  I’m salivating at the thought.  :o)  I look forward to visiting my favorite food haunts next time I’m in San Diego and Los Angeles! If you are visiting any time, you must try:

Rama– best Thai in San Diego and a great ambience! Their peanut sauce… oh my goodness!  I usually just get their satay and fresh rolls and Hubby always has the Gai Qua with a “Dirty Thai’ martini. Amazing.

La Carreta– best carne asada burrito.  Ever.  It’s in central Los Angeles so many folks are hesitant to venture through rougher neighborhoods to get there but it’s super safe and SO worth it.  I’m putting it on my SD faves even though it’s in LA because it it THAT. GOOD.  :o)

Lolita’s– best carne asada fries in San Diego.  Need I say more?

Ki’s Restaurant–  beautiful view right on the ocean at Cardiff-by-the-Sea and local, organic food. Super delicious and healthy.

Hodad’s– best burger, milk shake, fries AND onion rings.  Not often a place can win #1 ranking on all 4, but this place does.  Plus the vibe is awesome.

Here’s a bit of surf lingo controversy for you…  the conventional definition of a Hodad is someone who comes to the beach with a surfboard and hangs out but never actually surfs- considered a poser.

However, recently Urban Dictionary has come forward saying it stands simply for a greaser, not a poser.  People actually argue about this stuff.  Crazy, right?

4.  Weather.  There’s something to be said for 70 degrees and sunshine year round.  Without humidity.   Definitely miss this.  🙂

5.  Outings. San Diego has so many awesome places to visit.  Here are just a few of our favorites… there are so many more and I haven’t even gotten to our Los Angeles faves yet!

Balboa Park– different museums are free for residents on Tuesdays so we enjoyed visiting all of them many times.  The Natural History Museum and Reuben H Fleet Science Center are our favs.  Liam is so disappointed that he won’t be able to go to camp there this summer- it was the first year he’d be old enough.


San Diego Zoo and Safari Park– we have annual passes and used to go weekly.  It’s really the best zoo I’ve been to and has great programs. ZoeGrace went to zoo camp one year and Liam still obsesses about the sky tram there.

EL zoo1

Mema Zoe at Zoo1

The Living Coast Discovery Center– my friends’ kids fundraised like crazy and literally kept this place open with their efforts.  An amazing place to go and it was also fun to watch 7 and 8 year olds so passionately engage in something they care about- and actually make a difference!

Hotel del Coronado– staying here for a weekend was a treat I’ll remember my whole life.

hotel del view1

Birch Aquarium– always a fun place to learn about the ocean and watch surfers.  It has some great hands on stuff for kids too.

Mission Trails– we hiked here.  A lot.

mission trails1

La Jolla– We love kayaking there and seeing the leopard sharks up close! Pain in the butt to park, though.

Julian– amazing pie.  You-pick apples, pears, etc.  Fun pumpkin patches. The annual Grape Stomp (took the kids last  year and they loved it).  All worth the drive up from San Diego.  And on the way, you can always stop off at the Camel Dairy. For reals.

And of course, the beaches!  So many to pick from!  We tend to go to Coronado’s Silver Strand Beach for its close proximity and easy parking, but if I’m willing to make the drive, we also love the Encinitas and Cadiff-by-the-Sea beaches too.  Really, though,  you can’t go wrong with SoCal Beaches.


This commercial still comes up on our Hulu advertisements a lot and it makes us home sick every time…

Hope you all had a great week!  We’re headed West next week for the adoption, so the highlights of my week have been planning what special things from this list we’re going to fit in while we’re back.  :o)

Fave Five Feb 21

FFF feb.

To join in with us as we find the best blessings of our week, head on over to Susanne, who faithfully hosts us each week.

1.  Family Time. On Sunday afternoon many of my cousins and all of my aunts and uncles on my dad’s side gathered together at a park.  It was nice to catch up with family that I hadn’t seen in years.

2. Good Sermon.  There was a good sermon at my parents’ church on Sunday that spoke directly to where I am right now. All about finding your fulfillment and joy in the Lord and not in circumstances. A moving exposition based on Genesis 29, examining Leah’s quest for Jacob’s affections and her eventual contentment in worshiping God. It’s always a blessing when the Lord ministers directly to your heart.

3. Knitting Projects. I’ve finished the body of a plain vest for Zoe (have I mentioned how much I love Pickles patterns??)  and just need to finish up the yoke around the shoulders.  I started a sweet little baby blanket for my nephew (also a Pickles pattern, of course).  I just love this yellow- soft and cheery.  It took a bit to find the right color: one the mom-to-be would like and one I could enjoy staring at for a few weeks as I knit (I don’t do baby pastels…).   I’m loving how it’s turning out.  🙂

sunshine blanket1

4. Fantastic Lawyer.  The kids’ lawyer is back from maternity leave.  While the lawyer filling in was good, their usual lawyer is phenomenal and I know she will take matters well in hand to ensure that our adoption finalizes quickly.

5. Outdoor Adventures. We went on an awesome hike with my mom at Rancho Sierra Vista/Satwiwa.  My kids are great hikers and we’re already planning camping and backpacking expeditions for the summer.


Rancho Sierra Vista Trails


Saturday morning we ventured out into the fog to the Channel Islands National Park Visitor Center.


Observation Deck at the Visitor Center

At the visitor center we worked on  identifying sea life from our day at the beach earlier in the week.


The View from Pacific Coast Highway near Malibu



We found lots and lots of Sea Stars

We had a lovely week and things really did improve with my kids’ behavior.  My mum makes everything better.  You know how some people complain about sounding just like their mom as they grow older and have their own families?? I complain that I don’t sound enough like her.  :o)

Rancho Sierra Vista/ Satwiwa

While visiting my parents, we went hiking at Rancho Sierra Vista.  Wow.  My kids are studs.  We did six mountainous miles, switch-backing up and down canyons and creek beds.


The Camarillo Springs Fire that raged through here last Spring, the blaze that barely missed my parents’ home, completely vacated the trails of life.  No trees, flowers, animals… just charred earth.  



As we hiked here less than a year after the fires, we were able to see new growth, pushing forth from the damage.  Such a moving image for me to see after the week we’d just had.  NEW LIFE coming from DESTRUCTION. 


(That’s not snow, it’s ash!)

 It reminds me of the verse from Isaiah:

To all who mourn in Israel, he will give a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair. In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks that the LORD has planted for his own glory. (Is. 61:3)

It was a wonderful day.. and have I mentioned how much I love my Mum???  She’s amazing.


We are hoping to do the full 7 mile trek from Rancho Sierra Vista, across the Santa Monica mountains, to the coast on our next visit out here…