Cub Scout Campout at the Sequoia National Forest

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Cub Scout Troop in front of General Sherman TreeAs a Cub Scout family, and as a family that enjoys each other’s company while sleeping in a tent with no television, limited cell phone service and a spirit of adventure, taking a trip up to the Sequoia National Forest was a sweet beginning to the new Webelo 2 year for my oldest.

Webelo 2-boys have a set of requirements to earn badges, and in general, just have to do outings and such to promote to a Boy Scout by the end of the school year next year.

One of the things that my husband and I recognize for our three children is:

This is the time of their lives.

They will never be this little again.

They will never have this chance to be with their parents, at this age, to do these fun things while my husband and I are able-bodied and younger, again.

We are not taking that for granted.

Friday

I took a day off of work on a Friday and we headed up one of the mountain ranges that surround our valley in California.Kids and parents packed

In discussion with the Cub Scout leaders, we knew that Saturday was going to be our big day together as a group, so we worked our meals and our plans around the group activities.

Three days and two nights in a beautiful, mosquito and bug infested setting.

Tent set upFriday afternoon we set up our tent after we arrived and we took a brief walk around the camping ground to see what we could find.

The paved road led us to a small stream, where we were able to cross it at a fallen tree that had clearly become a little bridge for hikers.

The stream had several small fish in it, and the kids just seemed to love hanging out with their daddy, despite the mosquitos and bugs.

There were small fish in the stream running along the campground. The kiddos love hanging out with their daddy!

There were small fish in the stream running along the campground. The kiddos love hanging out with their daddy!

But alas, all good things must come to an end.

Our precious 6-year old got a headache, and right away, I knew she hadn’t been drinking that much water – primarily because of the drive down.  (Yes, we purposely don’t give them water bottles in our vehicles when we drive for more than two hours. Don’t judge.)

She ended up crying when we got back to the campsite.  We started giving her water, and after the crying she sat in my lap about to fall asleep.

We continued to give her sips of water and about forty minutes later she said her headache felt better.  I suggested that she lie down and as she took her shoes off to go into the tent, she threw up.

Now, I look at that as a blessing.

Go with me – she threw up outside the tent.  WHEW!  She felt immediately better and continued to drink water as we sat in the tent together looking up at the canopy.  My husband cleaned the outside while I cleaned her up inside the tent and she was ready to eat after about twenty minutes of hanging in the tent with mom.

Our planned dinner consisted of hot dogs for the kids and steak for my husband and I.

Steak and Hotdogs for DinnerThe meat bees were few (praise God!) and the chips went well with the steak.  As this was a Cub Scout event, no alcohol is allowed, so we didn’t have a drink on this trip – but that’s okay.  We want to teach our children that alcohol isn’t needed to have fun anyway (right?)

Saturday

The breakfast we planned was cereal and milk, and we also brought bagels and cream cheese.  I had pre-packaged lunch bags (just gallon Ziploc bags with granola bars, beef jerky, goldfish crackers, etc.), except for the sandwiches.

I made the sandwiches that morning and although I didn’t take a photo of it, one thing I know to do was to put peanut butter on both sides of bread before putting the jelly in the middle.

Helpful hint: The air in the mountains dries out bread within a few minutes so ensure that for every piece of bread you take out, you close the bag.  😉

DeAndrasCrafts kids on the shuttleThere’s a fantastic free shuttle system in the park that travels from the campground to various locations throughout the park, to alleviate the parking problems during the weekend.  Now that I have experienced it, I have a few general bits of wisdom and observations: ShuttleRouteMap_2012_web-Erika

  • The shuttle goes slower on the curves – this helps for a child (like one of mine) that feels nauseous when on curvy roads.  Yes, this also means it takes a little longer to get from one point to the other, but it’s still convenient to get around.
  • The Saturday afternoon shuttle lines were insane.  We waited at least thirty minutes to get on a shuttle from the Giant Forest Museum stopping point to Lodgepole Market, but the kids went inside the museum while some of the moms saved a space in line.
  • The shuttles are extremely full.  They (ahem) push the limit of passengers in one shuttle, but it also means that a large group like ours was able to ride one bus.

But overall, the shuttle was the easiest way to get around, and certainly didn’t cause any headaches of transporting kiddos anywhere.

The entire group all started out on the climb to Moro Rock. The beginning steps of Moro Rock

Per the National Park website, it’s a 400 step climb up to the top.  All my children (ages 10, 6, and 5) were able to do it, but the little girl did not want to get close to the edge and was frightened of the heights.  There’s a bench at the top that she sat on with her older brother while my husband and youngest and I all took photos at the top.  It was a wonderful view and site.

This is my youngest climbing to the top of the stairs before looking over to the top of Moro Rock.

This is my youngest climbing to the top of the stairs before looking over to the top of Moro Rock.

On the top of Moro Rock, there two "ends" of view, and this is one of them overlooking some of the valley.

On the top of Moro Rock, there two “ends” of view, and this is one of them overlooking some of the valley.

This is the other end of the top of the rock. Behind us is the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range.

This is the other end of the top of the rock. Behind us is the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range.

 

The left hand side overseeing the south of Moro Rock  The road to the south valley of California.  The right side of the south valley

One of the best things about this trip was the challenge of the hiking.  The Cub Scouts have to hike a certain amount of miles with a group, even if it’s family, and our scout was able to accomplish all his hiking on this one trip, even though we know he’ll get more hikes in throughout the year.

Going down the stairs was more precarious than coming up it seemed at times on Moro Rock....

Going down the stairs was more precarious than coming up it seemed at times on Moro Rock….  It did go much faster though, as expected.

The next thing we did was take the shuttle to Crescent Meadows.  We had planned on eating lunch there and then dispersing as individual families, but a few of the families stayed together and walked the Crescent Meadow loop.

That was a two-mile round trip hike, that for us included a visit to a tree that the Scouts and siblings were able to climb into.

Cub Scouts in a TreeThe next cool thing was Tharp’s Log, a home built inside a log.  You can find more information about it on Trip Advisor.

My youngest was trying to get out of the photo and instead, ended up being the center of attention while walking in front of the group! Tharp's Log in the Sequoia National Forest.

My youngest was trying to get out of the photo and instead, ended up being the center of attention while walking in front of the group in front of Tharp’s Log.

We also got to see a bear.

That’s right, a bear.  IN THE WILD.  It was awesome, even if you can’t see it in the photo I took.

There's a bear in the center of this photo. It's brown in color, but a California black bear trying to find food, nonetheless. We saw it along the Crescent Meadow.

There’s a bear in the center of this photo. It’s brown in color, but a California black bear trying to find food, nonetheless.
We saw it along the Crescent Meadow.

As I stated above, the toughest part of the whole day was the shuttle ride back to our camp.  After the Crescent Meadow hike, the families went their separate ways and ours chose to have ice cream outside of the Lodgepole store.  We sat around and people watched for about 1/2-hour, which my children have told me that it was one of their favorite things about the whole trip.

<Big sigh.>

Everyone is different, I know.

Dinner on SaturdayWe ate pizza that night that my husband learned to cook on our cast-iron skillet, and all of us enjoyed a restful night of sleep after a big day.

Sunday

My children sleeping in the tent after an exhausting day.

My children sleeping in the tent after an exhausting day.

I had a great night of sleep that night, unlike the first night ~ probably because I was exhausted too!

My children woke up around 7 AM, which is relatively late in the day for all of them.

We packed up camp and had planned to hike to the John Muir Grove in the morning as a family.  We left a little later than we wanted on that hike, but overall, we were able to hike the distance with three children and probably six to seven stops in about three hours.

That includes the time we spent hanging out at the grove as well.  We almost gave up, but ran into some people that passed us and told us it was “around the corner.” It was about a quarter mile away at that point and it was totally worth it!

This is the trail to the John Muir Grove. We started out at Dorst Campground and walked with our children to the grove. I tracked our hike and it was easily five-miles.

This is the trail to the John Muir Grove. We started out at Dorst Campground and walked with our children to the grove. I tracked our hike and it was easily five-miles.

Image source: RedwoodHikes.com

A family selfie on the trail to the John Muir Grove.

A family selfie on the trail near the beginning to the John Muir Grove.

On the way to the grove, we saw one deer, on the way back from the grove, we saw a deer and two babies! They were all around this beauitful, but mosquito infested meadow.

On the way to the grove, we saw one deer, on the way back from the grove, we saw a deer and two babies! They were all around this beauitful, but mosquito infested meadow.

This is where we stopped to eat a snack-type lunch we packed of granola bars, fruit snack, drink plenty of water, and stack some rocks. My daughter is in front of our pile. It's a beautiful overlook where you can see the final destination from the south west view.

This is where we stopped to eat a snack-type lunch we packed of granola bars, fruit snacks, beef jerky, drink plenty of water, and stack some rocks. My daughter is in front of our pile.
It’s a beautiful overlook where you can see the final destination from the south west view.

This enchanted piece of the hike had birch trees hanging over the trail almost as a beautiful entry to the John Muir Grove.

This enchanted piece of the hike had birch trees hanging over the trail almost as a beautiful entry to the John Muir Grove.

An fallen tree on the trail becomes a fun, adventurous obstacle to go under or around.

An fallen tree on the trail becomes a fun, adventurous obstacle to go under or around.

My children posing with funny faces in front of one of the first trees we found in the John Muir Grove. These trees are amazing and are only found in California.

My children posing with funny faces in front of one of the first trees we found in the John Muir Grove.
These trees are amazing and are only found in California.

Sometimes, the giant redwood trees need no caption. This is my husband in front of one.

Sometimes, the giant redwood trees need no caption.
This is my husband in front of one.

I've been blessed to see these trees over the course of my life here in California. They are impressive and to me, are a testament to the Lord's greatness. Plus, this hike made me feel strong. ;)

I’ve been blessed to see these trees over the course of my life here in California. They are impressive and to me, are a testament to the Lord’s greatness. Plus, this hike made me feel strong. ;)

I have a love for these trees that I can only imagine was similar to John Muir himself. I want to see them again.

Don’t get me wrong, I love my comforts and enjoy the advantages of living in a home in the city, but there’s truly an un-tapped component of doing a hike like this and looking up at these trees.  It’s indescribable.

My only suggestion is that if you haven’t gone to see the redwoods, then I hope this post helps you try to plan to see them. I can promise you, you won’t be disappointed.

The tops of the redwoods

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Week thirty of Fun & Crazy

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So week thirty started out in the Huntington Lake Campground (where we hope to stay again) and ended at home with a total of six-children in our house!

We had a fantastic Cub-Scout camp at Huntington Lake where the boys earned a couple badges and worked on a hiking requirement. My oldest also earned his credit for “making a fire.”

Kids on rock at Huntington CampgroundFrom Cub Scout camp, my husband and my oldest headed over to Yosemite Bible Camp (YBC) in Oakhurst, and I proceeded to take my two youngest home to drop off clothes and bedding.  I ended up being completely exhausted (of course) but felt like eating a good cheat-meal, so I took them to John’s Incredible Pizza.  Yes, this also means I was all by myself during the week taking care of my two little ones.

My kiddos on the Frog Hopper ride at the Pizza place.

My kiddos on the Frog Hopper ride at the Pizza place.

Before leaving the house, I made a small game plan of what I would prepare for dinner for myself.  My husband is the chef in the family so I use recipes from the internet, usually pinned ones from Pinterest because I can’t just throw things together to save my life.

I made a recipe from my Healthy Eats Board, called Avocado, Chicken and Walnut Salad from Kayotic Kitchen.  I didn’t buy the parsley, but other than that, the recipe was a TOTAL SUCCESS! Definitely a Pinterest win.

Avaocado Chicken Walnut SaladI think one of the best accomplishments of the week was completing the Instructable for my Darth Vader Purse.  I ended up finishing the purse in one night during the week and wanted to enter the Fandom Contest over at Instructables.  (Shameless plug: If you’re a member and have a minute, please vote for me!)

Watermarked purseOther awesome stuff that I learned about and that happened –

I made bacon in the oven for the first time.  I couldn’t believe that I had never made it that way before, even though I heard about it.

Oven bacon in ovenOven BaconI almost feel sheepish about writing it on the blog, because I know many people have always cooked bacon that way, but hey, this is reality and I just learned to do it this week.  You better bet I will only cook it this way from now on.  I got my recipe from Pinterest (of course) from the site: Today’s Mama.

I made watermelon jam (it looked more like jelly to me) this week to use up my frozen watermelon juice.  I got the recipe from Blondie’s Cakes.  It only took four ingredients and I’m all about simple jelly’s or jams. I’ll be making it again, basically because I love things that are both tangy and sweet and this watermelon jelly has a hard-to-describe flavor.

Watermarked Watermelon JellyI learned that there are auctions on Instagram where you can bid on things so people can raise money for certain causes.  I bid on one such auction a couple weeks ago and opened up one of my packages from Kiwi and Hope. The owner, Kiah, is one of my internet-friends that I met in a mutual group of bloggers & hustlers that get things done.  If you have time, stop on over at her shop to see some of her latest purses and clutches, as she donates a portion of her sales to orphan care and adoption causes.  I won this adorable pineapple purse and key-fob, as well as a delicious organic chocolate, that I confess I ate the entire bar in one evening.  Kiwi and Hope auction giftThank you for allowing me to give you some internet love Kiah!

Lastly, and keeping in mind that I was by myself on Friday and half of Saturday, I took on the task of helping my brother and sister-in-love out by taking their triplets for a few days for them to get away with their friends.

On Friday we had nachos as shown here, which no-one, including my own children, really enjoyed.  They all wanted chips with no sauce.  Ugh.

Triplets at our houseWe had them all the way through Sunday, and I was very glad when my brother and sister-in-law came to get them.  I love these children more than anything, but it’s a great reminder of how blessed I really was to be given three souls to take care of!

I leave you with a picture of my daughter’s pumpkin plant. Of all the things I’ve grown in gardens in my relatively short lifetime, I’ve never tried to grow pumpkins.  Here’s to the amazing world, and I pray this pumpkin grows big for her.  She’s worth it!

Princess Pumpkin072415


Week Two Round Up of Fun and Crazy

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It’s already the second weekend of the year and there is still so much to do.

My hope for you is that you feel like you’ve hit some marks getting towards your goals and you’ll see the next week through with the Lord’s guidance.

Here’s what my family has been up to this week.

It’s been a long week.  I am tired.  If I didn’t take a few photos and write a few notes here and there, I would have only remembered the last few days.

Starting on Sunday, January 4, my husband and oldest were the only ones who went to church.  We had been fighting pink eye this week and we didn’t want to give it to anyone at church, just in case so me and the two youngest stayed home.

Week Two of Fun and CrazyAfter church, my oldest asked to do finger knitting again, so he sat next to me while I crocheted a yellow hat for my youngest.  My youngest had been asking me for a Minion hat and I hope to finish it this coming week.

On Tuesday, I got the chance to journal a bit and I wrote out my favorite form of motivation.  After much thought, I realized that it is ‘seeing progress.’  The top three things that motivate me are (1) An organized system, or one that has been proven to work, (2) beauty in the system – meaning that when it looks simple and pretty (think gorgeous Pinterest pins and set-ups), and (3) accountability.  When I know that someone is checking on me, I get motivated to do what I was asked to do or supposed to do, such as an assignment at work or having the personal trainer ask me how healthy I ate during the week.

Why do I mention this?

Because sometimes I write stuff down, and it’s not necessarily in the blog format.  I carry around with me a journal of all types, the one seen in my lap while I crochet.  There are crochet patterns in there, notes to self, random brain dumps, to-do lists, etc. all just to get it out of my head.  I need it and it works for me.

I wrote a blog post on Tuesday, just because I felt like it.  It’s call A Day in My Life – Lately. Over it I go over what seems like the mundane things, but why they are important.  I know I have an affect on others lives.  I am privileged to know so many people and want them to know they are important.  This is something I hope to pass onto my children – that they are here for a purpose, even if it was to put a toilet seat on their mothers potty or take photos of a roadway.

Wednesday was where it was wonderfully calm.  I was still stressed out but my children and husband needed me and I was there for them.  I don’t even remember what happened that day.  That in itself is pretty sad but at the same time, I am glad for the mundane.

Thursday the 8th we had a Cub Scout Den meeting after work.  Oldest at a Bear Den Meeting - Req. 5aWe covered two parts of Requirement No. 5, part a, do a poster on your favorite animal and part e, name and talk about an animal that is extinct.

My oldest has always enjoyed learning about the caiman.  He’s written papers on the caiman before and today was no exception.  Below is a close up of the poster and I posted this particular photo on Instagram.

Caimans - Look at the drawing!Look at that drawing!  I just think it’s so wonderful that he put so much detail work into his caiman picture.  I didn’t notice until we got home that he even turned the letter “c” in the name of “caimans” to make it look like another caiman by drawing legs on it.  Where does he come up with these things?  Children are just amazing.

We’re planning a Den outing on January 19th to go to the zoo together to meet another couple requirements for part 5.  I’m looking forward to it.

Friday came and I had planned to work out in the field again.  I left the office in my truck around 830 AM and was at my destination by about 9.  I spent all morning in the field and got a phone call from my mom at 1055 AM.  She sounded exhausted and told me that she had fallen and couldn’t reach the phone until just then.  I told her to call 911 to go the hospital because she mentioned that she thought her hand was broken.  She asked me if I could come pick her up and I told her that by the time I got back to my car and switched it out, it would be at least an hour.

This was my mom's hand on Friday in the hospital.  DeAndrasCrafts.com

This was my mom’s hand on Friday in the hospital. DeAndrasCrafts.com

Long story short.

My dad ended up going over there to pick her up.  After refusing to go the hospital at least three times, my father told her that even if she went to dialysis, they would have sent her to the hospital.  She finally went and was at the ER before 1230 PM.  She didn’t have a broken hand – it ended up being a really bad bruise and given her complications, it will look like that for quite a long time.

She had spent all morning on the floor, not near a phone.  It’s terrifying to me and I wasn’t even there.

We are praying that the Lord guides my brother and I as well as the doctors to do what is best for her, obviously trying to grant her wishes.

This is why I am tired.  She spent over 24-hours in the ER.  Did I mention she went to the ER last week?  I found out this makes hospitals look bad.  You know, when patients go back to a hospital because of the same exact thing that happened a week before.

She couldn’t get up from a fall. 

Her potassium levels are too high for her to get out right now.  I am grateful the doctors and nurses are taking care of her.

Seriously though.  This is emotionally exhausting.  This is what reminds me that I can’t do it all.

I’m going to go see her tomorrow.  I also took off next Tuesday just to take her to an appointment, assuming she’s out of the hospital.

This was part of the crazy week I had.

Again, it wasn’t all bad and exhausting.

Saturday I went to a day long ladies retreat and left feeling spiritually alive.  I was still exhausted from spending the night-owl hours in the ER with my mom, but I felt better and know that God has a purpose and a plan for everything.  My wonderful husband took care of the kiddos that day and they went to a birthday party.

I came home and found out my mom was still in the ER. As I write this it’s Sunday the 11th.  I’ll post more about the day itself next week but I will say my mom now has her own room and will be there through Monday.

I hope you had a great week.  I’m going to try to go to bed now. Big hug!


Creating a Hoe-down Background

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Creating a Background for a Hoe-down....

Creating a Background for a Hoe-down….

Oh the things you do for your kids.

Seriously though, I am very proud of this background.  It took me a total of about six hours over the course of three days.

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We started out with a canvas dropcloth similar to: Paint Essentials 9-Feet x 12-Feet Canvas Drop Cloth HW912. I bought it at the Home Depot and I believe it was around $21.

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p1070797I had purchased orange and purple spray paint, and had black paint to start off with.

The one can of orange and purple was just enough, but I ended up sending my hubby to the store to get more flat black spray paint.  He found some at our local Orchard Supply Hardware for $1!  It was great because I used a total of five (5) cans to spray paint the entire bottom half.  In this project, it didn’t matter that one can was a “Satin” finish one was gloss and the remaining cans were flat black.  Those facts don’t matter spray painting a canvas like this.

p1070800Above shows the photo I used to make the background.

The photo is from Oriental Trading Company (I do love them) as they sell the background on plastic.  I had to do the copy/paste/blow-up on screen thing to get it to a size I could mimic on my grand scale.

You can see the one-inch (1″) painters tape in several of the photos to create the edge of the mountain range.

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p1070802Do I look sick?  I was.  Sometimes the best thing is rest.  Mommy can’t always do that.  Thankfully my hubby took the Little Ones and I was able to just concentrate on the painting.

p1070803After day one.

What’s not pictured is the acrylic painting.  I took two containers of orange, one container of white and one container of yellow to add the details shown.  The white was mixed several times with the pumpkin orange and regular orange colors and yellow to make various colors of the gradients.  Just straight white was used right up against the black of the mountains, and I just used less and less white in the mix of the yellow and orange as I went up to the orange spray paint layer.

Any acrylic paint will do, and I use the local craft store (hopefully with coupons) to get my paint.  What I had to buy more of was the 2″sponge brushes!  I ran through at least three of those, but thankfully those are pretty inexpensive.

gradient photo

img_1822These cute little ones got to dress up western, eat chili dogs, and enjoy grandma’s company.

Look at the cute centerpiece!  It was made out of tissue paper, brown painted toilet paper rolls (as the logs) and a tealight was placed in the center for the “fire” look.  The blue rocks represent the Cub Scout color and it was set on a gold wrapping paper wrapped piece of cardboard.

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I got to square dance with my big boy, while grandma took photos and hung out with the Little Ones.img_1844

One thing I love about cub scouts is the idea that you do things that you wouldn’t normally do with your family.

Which includes square dancing.

My husband wasn’t able to attend due to a minor surgery that he was recovering from so I got to dance with my boy.  He’s really good at it and I hope we can encourage him to keep dancing-it-up.  Thank you grandma who took the photos and helped so much during that crazy time!