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Tuesday, December 6, 2011

KKT: Chocoate Cake Trick

A small cooking tidbit. Lots baking to be done this season!!

When making chocolate-based cakes or breads, grease the pan and dust with cocoa powder, instead of flour, to prevent sticking.

Merry Christmas!


You have found (or rediscovered) our blog. It truly has been a blessed and busy year. Unfortunately, that means the blog gets put on the back burner! To remedy that, I will attempt to condense one years worth of news into one, hopefully not too boring, blog post.

Our postcard to you was our feeble attempt to connect with you. Although, we do want you to know that you are always in our hearts and minds, even if we don't pick up the phone to tell you. Because of the Air Force, church, and other capacities we've been in we've been blessed to come across some truly wonderful people. Many of you we hope to never loose contact with. In reality AF is a small world and being LDS is a small world, but when we combine the two the connections are endless!

We started off last November believing we had more time in Ohio. Plans fell through on the AF end and got orders for Travis to teach at Vandenberg AFB in California. We were excited to move back to the West coast, but sad to leave so many wonderful friends we'd met in Ohio. I wish we could squeeze Ohio right between Oregon and California.

After the new year I flew to California to house hunt with my mom. The search was unsuccessful. The following weekend, I was searching again from my comfy couch in Ohio and came across the house we ended up buying. The buying process was slowed because it was a foreclosure. Perseverance (and TONE of nagging from Travis') won out and we love our new home. I'm getting ahead of myself!!!

In March, Travis graduated from the Air Force Institute of Technology (AFIT) in a Masters in Space Systems. He studied Hawk Moths. The biology of moths will someday help the AF in creating micro air vehicles. He enjoyed his research and is hoping to continue it in the future. He has recently been asked to be on the thesis committee for the person who took over his research at AFIT.

At the beginning of April, we did a DITY move and headed for California. We visited church history sites on the way and made a pit stop in Colorado. We stayed in Colorado where we were able to visit some lifelong friends. Some we knew from our beginning in Air Force (the first time we were stationed at Vandenberg AFB), so we knew from Minot (ND)AFB, and some we knew from Wright-Patt (OH) AFB. We stayed a few weeks with Travis, while he attended some training. Then my mom (Yaya) flew in and continued with me to California.

We drove straight to the realtor's office the day we got to Santa Maria . They took us to see the house. I was pleased! The house is further from base then we wanted. However, the community is quiet and safe. We have excellent neighbors that we connected with right away. In fact, she home schools her 5 kids. They're older than our kids. They get along fabulously. I'm grateful! Often the kids play together, while I get housework done!

Anyway, once the house was finalized the truck with our belonging came. We packed our own stuff into a trailer in Ohio and hired a driver to drive it to California. Its a company called ABF. Before we arrived in California, Travis contacted the Bishop of our new ward to find some people we could pay to help me unload the truck. Everything went smoothly. While Travis finished up the next 3 weeks in Colorado, I unpacked the whole house (except the office and garage).

Summertime! We were so happy to be near the beach and connect with friends we hadn't seen since North Dakota (and a few from the last time we were here). I did some summer school with the kids to keep them occupied. We decided to enroll Dynomite into the local elementary school for Kindergarten. I wanted her to attend pre-school, but it just didn't work out that way. We worked all summer on her letters, numbers, colors, shapes and writing her name to get her prepared. Trouble had to work on reading. I also was able to teach the kids swim lessons one-on-one.

The benefits of moving yourself is that the AF pays you a lump sum and whatever you don't use to pay moving expenses, you get to pocket. With some of that money we paid for a years membership to a local gym and a years worth of personal training sessions for me. I was feeling out of shape and knew that I needed some motivation. They gym has a large and clean children's area where they watch the kids and an indoor pool. That is how I was able to to one-on-one lessons. I followed the instructional videos from U-Swim.

Summer seemed to fly by. We had a great visit from Travis' Dad, his wife and daughter, and two other cousins. We went down to Disneyland with them. Travis was able to go to SOS training in Alabama. Travis was able to finish his second Masters; this one in Space Studies. While Travis was gone Yaya, Aunt Candy, and I took the kids camping for a week. Dynomite entered Kindergarten and Trouble stated at the classical academy in town. A classical academy is a school that allows you to home teach and still have some classroom time. At the academy he does science and history lessons. At home I teach reading, math, vocabulary, writing, language arts (reading, spelling, etc...), art, PE, and whatever else comes up :-) I have actually found that I'm enjoying myself and I get to see Trouble in a whole new light.

Trouble and Dynomite have taken up gymnastics. They're naturals (as any mother would say)! They both love to go and seem to enjoy it. Dynomite said her favorite thing is to 'play in the chalk'!

Backpack has grown up so much this year. He is a fun-loving, although aggressive, 3 year old. He loves to play with the other kids and has taken a special interest in Aussie. Its heart warming to see them play together and Backpack protecting Aussie. We've had some ups and downs with Backpack in the past, but we just now starting to realise that many of the troubles we've had are food related. We've cut milk out of his diet and he's doing better.

Aussie is charming. If he's not playing, he's snuggling. His personality is starting to shine. He is constantly soaking up every tidbit of information around him. He tries so hard to keep up with the other kids; chasing after them, helping with school lessons (eating linking cubes and crayons), breaking..I mean...carrying dishes to the sink. When the others laugh, he laughs. If they're whinny, he's whinny. If they're climbing, he's climbing. He is just simply a joy to have around.

During the fall, we got into a good routine. Homeschooling has sucked my time and energy from me. So on the days that Trouble is in class (twice a week) that is my time to tackle housework and laundry. Twice we've been able to visit family in Modesto, CA. Once for my cousin's BEAUTIFUL wedding and then back again for Thanksgiving. Its so great to live near family again.

Travis was called to the 2nd counselor in the Bishopric. A calling that never ceases. Between work and this calling we hardly see him and the minute he comes home, he's ready to hop into bed. BUT, that of course isn't the case! As soon as the front door opens you hear shouts of "Daddy!" and the patter of little feet running to the door. And before you know it, he's happily rolling around on the floor with them, on the couch reading a book (some days even falling asleep halfway through!) or up at the table playing a game. Bless his heart!!

However, for Christmastime we are treating ourselves to Disney Christmas Cruise! I feel like after all the events of this past year, we deserve it. We worked hard moving ourselves to earn the money. The kids have been so good tagging along while we uproot them from best friends, move them half way across the country, throw them into a new environment, and while we try to make the best decisions for them by trial and error.

After the cruise we're going to have quite Christmas at home with Papa (my Dad). Travis will then begin construction on our home to add another bedroom upstairs for anyone who'd visit ;-) We have approximately 2.5 years here and intend to spend at the beach or with family :-)

Merry Christmas!! We wish you all the best, and hope you and your families are doing well! We pray for a new year that will prove to be blessed for all!

Thankful List

Our Family Thankful List for each day in November:

1. Our own little family
2. Warm house
3. Games to play
4. Food
5.Compliant and Helpful Trouble
6. Joyful Dynomite
7. Ambitious Backpack
8. Sweet Aussie
9. Daddy's job
10. Education
11. Books to read
12. The Weekend!!
13. The Knowledge of the Gospel
14. Family Home Evening
15. Cookies
16. Technology to help us learn and stay connected
17. Beautiful days to play outside
18. Fun movies to watch
19. Pizza
20. Animals, especially ones we can have pets (if mom and dad would let us have one)
21.Warm baths and showers
22. Trouble's Birthday, so we can have a family birthday party!
23. Holiday's with no school or work
24. Thanksgiving at Aunt Donna and Uncle Richard's with Papa!
25. Christmas music
26. No Snow, this year :-)
27. Holidays to remember Christ.
28.Arts and Crafts
29. Friends
30. Scriptures and Hymns

Family Pictures

This year we went cheap and had my mom snap a few pictures of us. Then Travis had some fun getting pictures of the kids.

Lively Trouble (7 Years old):Monkey Dynomite (5 years old):

Determined Backpack (3 Years old):

Aimless Aussie (1 year old):

Yaya and the Grandkids:

Backpack's ER Visit

Backpack and Trouble were playing 'Train'. Backpack was sitting on a blanket and Trouble pulled the blanket out from him, thinking Backpack was holding on. Backpack went forward and split his chin on the tile floor. Travis was still at church. He rushed home and took Backpack to the ER.
Luckily they used Dermabond and glued his chin back together! So much easier and cleaner than stitches!
At first his chin was bruised and had a huge scab. The bruising has cleared up and the scab has fallen off. It looks like the scarring will be minimal :-)
This was backpacks 2nd trip to the ER. Our first in California! I'm just glad it wasn't anything worse!!
**Sorry, no pictures!!**

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Backpack's First Haircut

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Jack-o-Lantern Trouble

Trouble has lost tooth number 5! It was quite the ordeal since it was still attached and simply bothering him. Travis wrapped dental floss around it. He freaked, but backpack grabbed it which left the tooth crookedly hanging. Then Travis popped it out. It is now peacefully resting in the "Toothless Wonder" doll's shield awaiting the tooth fairy!Trouble go brush your teeth...well, tooth...Jack-o-lantern Trouble! Just in time for Halloween!!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Santa Barbara Zoo

Santa Barbara Zoo is just over an hours drive south of us. It's an easy drive, straight down on the 101. It is a smaller zoo with your typical animals and pretty landscaping and habitats. I think it could be laid out better. I'm a linear person which means I like having one path that leads to everything there is to see.

Also there were only two bathrooms at opposite ends of the zoo. While looking at birds Backpack announces his need to pee. Combined with his infancy in potty training and the trek to the nearest bathroom, it is needless to say that we didn't make it. It was a noble effort and a brownie point for a well prepared mom with extra clothes.


They are apart of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). We've had a membership with them for 3 years now. Minot's Zoo and Dayton's children museum are also apart of this association.

The kids were very fascinated with the Rhinoceros Hornbill. It looks like it has two beaks. Click here for more information. Neat fact: the male has red eyes, the female has white eyes.
The kids thought that the turtles were being friendly, but we know this as "nature taking its course":

Monkey watching AND I think there was some lemurs in the background:


Elephants...just for record you know Travis wasn't with us because these are bad pictures :-)

While the kids were engrossed with smelly penguins I took this pictures of the city. Just imagine your down somethings throat looking out (see the hanging uvula) and you see Santa Barbara!

I guess that uvula is elephant food, see the trunk? I was wondering what it was :-)

Cheese....hey look at me...sigh...

Giraffes! We didn't see the baby one. I guess the baby came as a surprise. The caretakers came to see them one morning and surprise there was a baby! Guess what honey, those weren't just cramps!

They had a 'How to train you dinosaur' show. The kids were enthralled! When it came out I thought a few kids, not mine, had wet themselves.

The trainers were demonstrating how to train animals. The idea is to train the dinosaur to allow the caretakers to brush his teeth.

He even pooped on the stage...no, I did not get a picture of that!! The costume was impressive!

At the end of the day the kids just wanted to play. What do you find inside dinosaur eggs? Three Tubbs kids :-)

Oops, I guess four. This was was already out!

Highlight of the day: sliding down a hill on cardboard!

We paid how much for the kids to slide into a tree covered in foam??

Monday, August 15, 2011

Dynomite's First Day of Kindergarten

My early riser is excited for Kindergarten!
Here she is sporting her new frog jammies. Just before this picture I asked her if she was excited. Even though her mouth is full of banana, I could tell that she was because she launched into her obvious HaPpY dAnCe!She wanted to wear a shirt with a tie. This is her, I'm-so-happy-I-can-wear-a-tie-today look.All set for school!! Backpack on, new clothes, and brushed hair! Okay Mom, enough pictures....lets go!!

You may be asking yourself, "Why is this 4 year old little person going to Kindergarten? And weren't you homeschooling?" Those are valid questions! I will answer in bullet points:

  • Dynomite was DYING to go to school!

  • I wanted to put her in pre-school, however it is very expensive around here for private school (3K/yr on the high end!!). Public pre-schools cannot legally take her because she turns 5 before December 2nd which makes her eligible to go to Kindergarten.

  • Yaya (my mom) suggested I look into the elementary school near our house (15 min slow walk). The school is rated at 2 on greatschools.com because of their low state testing results (which did sway me to homeschool in the first place).

  • After some research we realized that their Kindergarten program is similar to pre-school in Ohio. I promptly enrolled her (What did we have to lose!). Plus it doesn't cost me dime!

  • She is the token blondie in her class! And probably the only white girl :-) But she doesn't pay attention to that, so we don't draw attention to it.

  • We worked all summer on pre-school stuff like: memorizing our address (set to the tune of "Where is thumbkin?"), writing her name and the alphabet, knowing uppercase and lower case letters out of order, recognizing shapes (1D &3D) & colors, counting small groups of objects (1-10), counting to 10 in Spanish, counting to 20 in English, and working with scissors and glue, and lots of coloring.

  • In the end, I figure either a)she'll do great and I'll homeschool her 1st grade next year or b)she'll struggle a little because she's young and I'll enroll her in Kindergarten in Orcutt.

The benefits are:

  • She get to go to school, like she wants!

  • Its close enough to walk to.

  • Lunch is free for all students!!

  • She's out before noon.

  • The classroom is beautifully decorated (much better than my dining room!) and is bright and cheery and full of great learning opportunities.

  • She has a wonderful teacher, that came highly recommended.

  • She'll most likely learn some Spanish. I had best to teach her a few phrases so she can talk to her desk mates :-)

Everything is great for her! I just hope the boys don't hold it against her that we all have to get up early now to get her to school at 7:45am!

Friday, August 5, 2011

Backpack potty trained!

On July 19th, Trouble and Aussie weren't feeling well so we opted to not venture out that day. I looked at Backpack and told him to take off his diaper because we are going to potty train!

The secret is to tell them months in advance that at this certain time (for us, when you turn 3) you can no longer wear diapers. (worked for Dynomite!) Then periodically have them go on the potty before that. In Ohio, Dynomite was trying to train him for pretend. Apparently that helped!

Luckily Backpack is highly motivated by candy. He will do anything to pop a sugary morsel into his mouth. Wednesday we headed to Wal-mart to buy candy and a prize. Then I made a potty chart on the unused fish tank with window markers.

1 candy if I took him to the potty
2 candies if he told me he had to go pee (and his underware was dry)
3 candies for going poop.

He progressed quickly. He held it in Wal-mart and when went pee in the toilet there. I think its a big step when they can go in unfamiliar places.

These pictures are from Friday, July 22nd. He completed his chart and got his prize. We've had a few accidents, mostly from not making it to the potty in time or he was too busy playing and forgot he wasn't wearing a diaper. We had one rough day after I put on the new kid friendly toilet seat and retired the potty chair (I really despise the potty chair!!!). Finally it came out that he didn't like sitting on the toilet. When I brought the chair back out, he was fine. At least the other kids like the new toilet seat.
Must always wash hands! Great way to teach the kids the alphabet!
Finishing up the potty chart!
His prize!
Backpack turns 3 on August 22nd!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

One Hand, Two Hands by Max Lucado made my kids smile!

This is a story of little girl who, with the help of her stuffed animals, illustrates all the great things her hands can do. Her stuffed animals come alive as they dig in the dirt, play musical instruments, and tie shoes with their hands. The story reverently ends with thanking God, in prayer, for her hands.

This book is great for getting the kids moving. They can act out what is being read to them. The book starts out silly, but draws to a quiet ending. It is perfect for a daytime read or get- your- sillies-out before bed. The kids were drawn to the colorful, pastel drawings and the whimsical way it reads. This is a must have children’s book to teach the importance of using our hands for good.

Thomas Nelson publishing has provided me with a complimentary copy of this book through BookSneeze®.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Empty California House

We decided that we were going to buy a house in California. I contacted a realtor help us choose a house. Aussie and I flew out in late February to go house hunting. I e-mailed a list of 25 houses to look at.

I flew to San Francisco and spent the night at my moms. We drove down Friday afternoon. My realtor informed me that 20 of the houses I wanted to view were short sales and that if I did put an offer on one of those house it could take 3-6 months before we could get moved in. I had less than 2 months!

I wanted to live in a certain neighborhood in Orcutt The schools are the best in the area and that part of town is closer to base. However, everything was over our budget or way too small. At the end of the weekend I put in offers for two houses, both short sales. Both houses were small than I wanted, but with big yards and in the right neighborhood. However, I wasn't really sold on either house and I flew home a little bummed.

One of the houses was sold quickly to someone who paid in cash and the other house wanted to wait to see if there would be another offer (that house is on the market now as a foreclosure, it is better for the owner to sale as a short sale).

I spent the next week pouring over the Internet and Realtor.com for another house to magically appear that I would fall in love with. And, it did!

This house was originally posted as a short sale, but no offers came through. The bank then took it off the market, paid for it to be painted and re-carpeted and listed as a foreclosure on Thursday. As soon as I saw we called the realtor, he went over and took pictures. We put in an offer right away. There was a little bit of drama with another offer and some confusion about which realtor was getting credit for the sale. In the end it all worked out and we bought this house.

I arrived in California with my mom on Wednesday, April 27th. We saw the house, signed papers on Thursday, April 28th, had the keys on Monday, May 2nd and unpacked the truck on Tuesday May 3rd. Travis arrived 3 weeks later. I had every room, except for the office and garage, unpacked and set up before he arrived. There was still a ot to do.

Around mid-July I think I could say that we officially are done unpacking.

Here are pictures the realtor sent to us. I haven't taken any of the house yet, but I will post them when I do.

This is when you first walk into the house. Living room to the right, there is another room past the door (formal dining room, which we use as a toy room), looking further down is the 'family room' (we use as the dining room) and kitchen:Living room. Its not huge, but but perfect for us. Legos have taken up permanent residence here, but those are the only toys in this room:

Formal dining room (AKA toy room). The dining room and living room have vaulted (cathedral ceilings...dumbest thing in the world, but Travis already has plans to add a 5th bedroom above the dining room):

HIGHLIGHT of the house!!! The kitchen!! On the other side of the island are more drawers and cupboards. I actually have empty cupboards. We bought a french door fridge, with the freezer on the bottom (thank you tax returns!!). What I love about it, is that it is functional, it has plenty of counter space, and a double sink.

This is really considered the family room because the fireplace is in the room and the cable hook up. We use it as the dining room. Where the TV is suppose to go, is where we keep our games. This is also double as our homeschooling area.

Here is a better shot of where the room is in connection with the kitchen. In the alcove next to the fireplace is where the games are. In the nook next to that is where I keep the homeschooling supplies.

Laundry room and door to garage:

Downstairs bedroom, currently being used as office/craft room (Moth free zone!):

Full bathroom on main floor. This shower is home to our pool toys/life jackets/inflatables, etc:

Side back yard. The shed is on this side with the kid toys and yard equipment. Travis pulled up the pavers next to the grass. That area is now a garden:

The swing set was included. Its is cemented in!

Looking down into the living room.

Looking down into the dining room:

Upstairs main bathroom. It has double sinks. And yes, I did get rid of the nasty, cushy toilet seat. I replaced it with the one downstairs. The downstairs bathroom now has a NextStep seat with the kid seat built in...best idea ever!

A corner of the master bedroom, looking part way into the master bathroom. There is not door, which means it is a master suite...so we were told! That little room is a room just for the toilet, isn't it special!Master bathroom. The door on the right is a huge walk in closet. The bath and shower are separate. Perfect for bathing 4 children at once:

Looking down into the backyard from the master bedroom:

Swing set. Travis made the poles by the slide longer, so there are two swings on either side. Then he removed the pole by the ladder. The kids were swinging into each other:

I don't have a picture of the front, yet. In our yard is a lemon tree and there was an orange tree, but Travis transplanted it into a different spot in the yard and it died. He should really steer clear of orange trees :-) Our neighbor' blackberries have found their way into our yard. Its great to have your own little berry patch, but not actually have to water it.

That's the house in all it wonderfulness. I'm already dreading having to move away from a house that is so perfect for us. There are some changes I'd make if we were going to live here longer, but for now we are very happy!

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