Come Visit Cali (old sacramento)

The next few posts are going to be shameless plugs at getting you to come out to visit us. 
Just letting you know up front. 
We recently had a great visit with some sweet friends who agreed to let me use them in this advertising series called
and when I say 'California' I really mean 'the Gardners'.
come visit the Gardners.
we miss you!
and California is so much fun.  especially with us!

So, when you come to visit, you will most likely fly into SMF, good ole Sacramento airport, where either Jono, myself, or the whole crew will greet you, depending on the number of seats required in the swagger wagon.

Starting with a little history, we will procede to "Old Sac", the historic part of downtown Sacramento.  Back in the day, Sacramento was the gateway to gold country and little part of that world still remains.  We can see the trains...

say 'hi' to Black Bart and maybe the mounties...

and if you time it right you can see it in all it's 1850's glory at
There's also the train museum and candy and the river.
And that is just the beginning!

Stay tuned for more reasons to come visit us in California...



(left pic) field staff                   property staff (right pic)

While we were at the Young Life conference in Orlando, Jono had the opportunity to help one of the speakers.  He was illustrating some differences between Young Life field staff and property staff. 

Those on field staff spend hours with teenagers on a daily basis and need camouflage that is relevant to, say, a high school lunchroom.  Thus, you have designer jeans and satchel/man bag.  But, they also have to look respectable for the donors who support their ministry.  Thus, the clean shaven face and collared shirt.

When you look at the right picture, you see the property staff version.  Plaid flannel shirt, boots, and bushy beard are naturally found on someone who spends most of their life in the middle of the woods, booniesville, usa.  You might find property staff wearing designer jeans but that is because they were pulled out of lost and found after last summer.

In all seriousness, we have the utmost respect for our partners in ministry who are going out daily in pursuit of lost teenagers.  The jobs may look a lot different but the heart behind both is the same--to share God's grace and forgiveness with kids.  If you'd like to find out more about the ministry of Young Life, you can visit their website here.  If you would like to find out more about Woodleaf, the camp where we live (and work), you can go to that website here.

You may cast your vote for clean-shaven or bearded Jonathan in the comment section below.
Voting will close in one week.


Flying {over utah}

I've flown into Salt Lake City a time or two but this time when we flew over Utah I was blown away!
Maybe it was the time of day we were flying.  Or maybe the fact that we were flying without kids and I was free to look out the window.  Either way, we saw some amazing, big, crazy rocks.

The pilot was throwing out names like...
Monument Valley, Bryce Canyon, Pinnacles something.
I don't know which names go with what pictures.
Feel free to educate me.

I want to go there!
Walk through those monuments.  Stand in the valleys.  Climb one.
Who's going with me?!

As breathtaking and awesome it was seeing those massive rocks jumping up out of the ground,
it was even more humbling (and comforting all at the same time) to remember...


We Play Dress-Up

You didn't know?
Yep.  Pretty much pros.
We'll use any excuse to don a costume.
And whenever the kids have friends over they almost always end up digging into the costume box.
Imaginative play.  It's great.  Like this...

pirates + yoda
or spiderman

That was just for fun.  Then, the big kids were about to watch Super 8 and had to get in theme!

Don't they look freaky?!!

Anybody seen Super 8?  I really liked it!  Sci-fi is not really my thing but this movie was fun.
Goonies meets ET.  Zombies and aliens.
Kids making their own movie, doing their own scripts and make-up.
There is so much to love.

So, put on some white make-up with some heavy eyeliner and rent Super 8 for a super evening!
Tell me how it turns out.


Preschool Art {the original}

What with looking at other moms' blogs and Pinterest, I can get a little overwhelmed with all the cute educational things I'm not doing with my kids.  This day was about forgetting all that and getting back to basics.  What kid doesn't like finger paint?!
It is so fun to watch them go from

tentative-----to----->all in!

I'm sure you can do a Pinterest search and find a recipe to make your own finger paint but don't do that to yourself.  The kid is not going to know the difference and you just saved another hour of your day.

Keep it simple.
Simple is fun!


My Valentine

this guy.

 No really.  I do.

Did you see the uber-romantic poem he wrote for me?
Uh. Huh.

I hope your Valentine is as sweet as mine!


Teacher's Gift {monogrammed cup}

In case you are looking for a last minute teacher's gift for valentine's day (are you supposed to give them presents for valentines?) or just want to get a jump on end-of-the-year presents...this is what we gave the kids' teachers for Christmas.
These acrylic reusable cups were on sale at Pier 1.  I snatched them up. 
Then snatched up the Dremel etching tool from Jono's office. 
Real quick-like I etched the teacher's initial to the cup. 
I free-handed the letters (my years of making pep-rally signs prepared me well).  If you aren't comfortable with that you could surely print out a letter in the font you like, cut it out, tape it to the cup and use as a stencil. 
We completed the gift with some hot chocolate mix and candy canes.
A Starbucks or Jamba Juice gift card would also be a nice touch!


Valentine Printables

Check out Marilyn Scott-Waters free valentine printables.

All beautifully illustrated by Marilyn Scott-Waters.

We are going to try the heart ornaments to spruce things up for our romantic family valentine dinner.
Let me know if you found something fun!


Repurposed Windows

This camp has a plethera of treasure.
You just have to know where to look and what to do with it when you find it!
Jono found some old windows.
Guess what they are going to be???

A greenhouse!
We are kind of using this one as a guide.
I am so excited.  This should really help us broaden our range of produce and lengthen our growing season too.  Greenhouse strawberries, anyone?

It is going up right next to the chicken coop.  They are going to love it.

Don't the ladies look thrilled?!

I'll post more as we make progress.
Have a happy weekend!


Growing Crystals

While Abby is more likely to join me in my crafty pursuits,
Joe is always on board when I want to do a science project.

The project of the day was
growing crystals

Here's what you do:

1.  tie your string into knots (or use a pipe cleaner to form a certain shape.  we just used what was on hand)
2.  tie the string or pipe cleaner shape to a pencil and hang over the top of the jar
3.  boil a pot of water and add borax (also what we had on hand.  i think sugar or salt works as well.) until no more will dissolve.  scientists refer to this as the saturation point.  pour the solution into your jar until it covers the knots completely.
4.  hot water can hold more borax than cold water.  the crystals will grow as the water cools.  scientists call this precipitation and it is the same way that snowflakes form.

The next day take them out of the solution.
Hang them in the window.  They make beautiful sun catchers.
The bottom of the jar was also covered with crystals.
We thought that by coloring the solution we would get colored crystals. 
Not so.  If you want colored crystals, use colored pipe cleaners.

Ahhh.  The glories of precipitation.
It takes me back to my days in chemistry lab. 
My college roommate was also my lab partner and we were stellar at precipitates.  Although we never seemed to have the right amount of product.  Such and such amount of sodium and such and such amount of chloride theoretically makes this amount of salt. 
We defied theoretical science every time!


Hiking + loving the sunshine

Went on a hike in our local area
pulled out the baby backpack and
it was full of candy.  The day was already a success.

With sugar in our veins, we set out.

At the top is a fire lookout tower.
You can see forever in all directions.
ok.  not forever.  but pretty far.

Photo ops!

We threw some rocks.  Almost made it to the reservoir.  Almost.

These abandoned logs were perfect for playing "forest faces".
We took different pieces of the trees and put them together to make faces.

Seen any faces in the forest lately?