A San Diego winter day at Sea World

There are many reasons that we live in San Diego. One is that our family lives here. We live about 5 minutes from both my parents and my in-laws. My sister-in-law’s family lives about 10 minutes away, and my brother’s family lives 15 minutes away. Another reason is that you can count on the weather to be mild most of the time. I have been freezing lately but that is just me. And yet another reason is the ability to play tourist in your own town. Yesterday, we went to Sea World down by Mission Bay. Sea World, even though it is close, is not a place I go very often. I think this is mostly because we love Legoland so much and would rather go there. We had a good time at Sea World though and I am half-considering getting the Fun Card for 2016 for all of us.

Sea World was still decorated for Christmas so I was able to get some nice pictures of my kids and my parents. I won’t be posting those here but here are some pictures I took of the decorations.

There were purple, orange, and green Christmas trees. My kids really enjoyed those.
Lamps decorated to look like snowmen!
This Christmas tree was so huge that my family looked very small in front of it!

We weren’t able to go to any of the shows this time. I don’t think my kids minded too much. My second son really wanted to see the sharks so that is what we did first.

There were a lot of people at the shark encounter exhibit so we weren't able to hang out there like we usually do. My son did ask me why the hammerhead sharks weren't out.
There were a lot of people at the shark encounter exhibit so we weren’t able to hang out there like we usually do. My son did ask me why the hammerhead sharks weren’t out. I could never get decent pictures of the sharks before but my new camera was up to the task.
The dolphins were out and playing. My kids enjoyed watching them play with some floats that were a lot like pool noodles!
The dolphins were out and playing. My kids enjoyed watching them play with some floats that were a lot like pool noodles!


We also stopped in my favorite exhibit, the penguins!

I loved how the entrance to the Penguin exhibit was decorated!
We stayed here for a little while. Penguins are such funny creatures. We watched them waddle around, eat some fish, and dive into the water. A few were sleeping.
I like the penguin who is napping in the foreground of this picture. It looks like it’s missing a head!

DSC_0129 DSC_0136 DSC_0155The three pictures above were taken at Sea World’s Bay of Play, which is the main reason I would get the Fun Card. I remember playing on the net climbs at Sesame Place in Pennsylvania. This play area is a lot like that! My three oldest boys loved the net climb. This would be a good place to take them after we are done homeschooling for the day.

Bamboo shark

On our way out of the park, we stopped at the horseshoe crab and bamboo shark exhibit at the front. There was a guide sitting behind the bamboo shark exhibit who was talking to everyone who stopped by. He was pretty funny!

I almost forgot! Happy New Year to all of you!




2015 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2015 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 670 times in 2015. If it were a cable car, it would take about 11 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Refurbishing My Rocking Horse

About 35 years ago, when I was a year old, my uncle made me a rocking horse in high school shop class.  My sister and I played with it a lot as little kids.  Then my parents held onto it for me for when I had kids.  My 4 boys also were able to use it and enjoy the horse.  With all that playing and use the horse was starting to look worn out.


I forgot to take a picture before I did a little sanding.

My youngest is a girl and she is about to turn 2.  She absolutely loves the My Little Ponies, so I decided to turn my rocking horse into one of the My Little Ponies named Pinkie Pie.



The first step in turning my horse into Pinkie Pie was to remove the original varnish coating.  My 8 year old son helped me with sanding the varnish off of the wood.



Dissected and sanded horse

Priming the horse

Ever feel you were being watched?






One of the big things I wanted to do was to add a mane and tail back to the horse.  I doubt it will last long, because it didn’t last me long as a child.  However, if I was going to redo the horse then I wanted to have it done right at the start.  After looking into materials, I decided jute would be the best choice since it is rough and pretty durable.  I also got pink dye to use on the jute.


After painting the horse bubblegum pink, the only thing left was to add on the balloon “cutie” marks.  I found the correct image online and printed it.  Then I cut out the balloons and used the paper as a stencil.  I put a small balloon mark on the side of the rocker, but some of the paper stuck in the acrylic paint which I am not happy about.


The balloons on the side were not impressive enough for me so I made a bigger stencil to paint balloons on the seat section of the horse. This time I traced the image onto the horse with a pencil and then painted.  I am much happier with how that part turned out.


All in all, I am happy with how the horse turned out.  Now to see what my daughter thinks at her 2 year old birthday party tonight.





Merry Christmas!


Isaiah 9:6 (KJV)

6 For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.

Luke 2:1-21(KJV)

And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed. 2 (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.) 3 And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city. 4 And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:) 5 To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child. 6 And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. 7 And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn. 8 And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. 10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. 12 And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, 14 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. 15 And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us. 16 And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger. 17 And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child. 18 And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds. 19 But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart. 20 And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them. 21 And when eight days were accomplished for the circumcising of the child, his name was called Jesus, which was so named of the angel before he was conceived in the womb.

I would like to wish everybody a Merry Christmas from our family.  These are the Bible verses that we read every year to help us keep in our hearts and minds the real reason for Christmas.  Yes there is family, food, and presents, but the main reason we have this day is to bring to memory what God did for us.

I know that Jesus was most likely not born on December 25th, but since we don’t know what day it was then this is as good a day as any.

Today I pray that all of you find the peace that only God can give, and that you all have a great time with family and friends.



Thanksgiving Vacation: Part Four – Sedona

I know that it is almost Christmas, but I thought I had better finish our Thanksgiving series anyway. Our last stop on our vacation was Sedona. I had been wanting to visit this town for a while and was glad we finally did! We didn’t get to visit both the parks we wanted but I know my kids had a great time.

I had read a lot about Cathedral Rock at Red Rock Crossing and wanted a certain picture of the rock formation with Oak Creek in the foreground. Unfortunately, we ended up walking the wrong way and I never got my picture! At first, I thought we might have wasted $14 getting into the park but my kids had such a good time that I thought it was worth the $14!


It took us about 3 hours to walk a mile and a half. There were so many things to see and we also were just a little bit lost. The park ranger at the gate gave us a map, but it was not very clear how we were supposed to get to Oak Creek/Red Rock Crossing. We stopped at Buddha Beach and disturbed the peace there quite a bit. There is just something about a pool of water that inspires boys to throw rocks into it. After eating lunch at the swimming hole (making sure to pack out what we pack in!), we headed back down the trail.

We found our way back to our car and took a few pictures of Cathedral Rock in the distance. I also played tour guide a little as a few fellow tourists asked me about what was in the park and the walking trails.

We had some worn out kids by the time we made it back to Flagstaff. We stopped at a natural water source on our way back. I’m not sure if it was an artesian well or if was water from Oak Creek. I do know that it tasted cold and delicious!

Since we were only able to visit Red Rock Crossing/ Crescent Moon Picnic Area on this trip, we are hoping to come back and hike in Red Rock State Park another time. Maybe when our kids are older and can handle a longer hike.

Hibiscus Cookies

One of the things I want to do in my yard is grow mostly edible plants.  I still want to have some flowers and plants that will look nice in addition to being edible.  This year I planted Thai Red Roselle (Hibiscus sabdariffa) from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds, it is a type of hibiscus plant with edible flowers.  The part I planned to use is the calyces, that is the part of the flower that the petals come out of.  The calyces are often used in teas like Red Zinger, and provided a tart citrus taste.

hibiscus plant

To harvest the calyces I wait until the the petals have dried, pull the petals out, and then take off the calyces.  Then I put the calyces on a paper towel until they are fully dried out.

I didn’t want to plant to many of them the first year since I didn’t know how many flowers I would get, so I ended up not planting enough.  I needed something to use the flowers I had and found this cookie recipe.

To make the hibiscus tea that was used in the cookies and frosting, I put the dried calyces in some cheese cloth and put them in boiling water.

flowers in cheesecloth

The tea was a dark red color and was very tart since I allowed it to brew for quite some time.

hibiscus tea

The cookies didn’t take on the tart taste of the hibiscus tea, but did have a hint of the taste.  The frosting ended up a nice pink color that Lynn wants to use when frosting our daughter’s birthday cake.



Thanksgiving Vacation Part 3: Petrified Forest National Park (image heavy)

Our second tourist stop at Thanksgiving was the Petrified Forest National Park in Arizona.  It was about a 1.5 hour drive from Flagstaff, AZ.  The weather decided to cooperate with us and was warmer than our trip to the Grand Canyon with no snow.

On our way we were looking for a place to stop and buy rocks.  Our boys all like to collect rocks, but in particular our second oldest loves rocks.  We wanted to make sure we got some sort of petrified wood for them to bring home with them.  A few miles away from the park we found Jim Gray’s Petrified Wood Company.  The store was amazing; I think we spent over an hour there and could have easily been there much longer.  There is a large amount of petrified wood and rocks of every kind.  The prices range from a few cents to ten of thousands of dollars, so everybody can find something they can get.  We were even able to find some Navajo-made pottery to bring back as gifts.

We entered the national park from the south and drove on a 27 mile road north through the park.  There are not many large plants growing in the area now.   There are large hills and cliffs that are laid down in beautifully- colored layers.  Of course there are also the petrified trees.  They are laying all over the grounds like fallen logs.  There are places with hills that have petrified trees sticking out of them and hills that are receding that have the petrified wood left on top.  The petrified trees break into chunks that look like lumberjacks have been through sawing all the logs into pieces.  Those pieces have so many colors.  They are hard to describe so I will let the pictures speak for themselves.


There are many other things to see in the national park.  There is Newspaper rock with some petroglyphs on it.  They are hard to see so there are binoculars provided, however, we were there at a bad time of day and the shadows prevented us from seeing much.  There is also Puerco Pueblo, a collection of Indian ruins that are about 700-1000 years old.  There are Petroglyphs there that are much easier to see.  For me the feet were the most interesting, I could imagine somebody sitting on a rock with his feet against the big rock as his friend turned his feet into art that would be enjoyed for hundreds of years.

Near the north end of the park is a tiny segment of Route 66.  Route 66 was one of the original major roads going across the country.  There used to be many towns and attractions along the road hoping to tempt travelers into spending their money.  Each attraction tried to be wackier then the others.  All that is left of this part of Route 66 is a rusted out 1932 Studebaker and part of a line of telephone poles.

Just before exiting the park is the Painted Desert Inn.  It hearkens back to the old days of Route 66 also.  It was built long before people started to drive through here, but was in use for quite some time.  Many famous people, like Bing Crosby, stayed at the Inn in the heyday of Route 66.  The views of the Painted Desert are beautiful, and really something you have to see in person.  The size and color of the area are very hard to capture with a camera.


There are probably more impressive National Parks, but the Petrified Forest is a good one to see if you are in the area.  The colors in the rocks and the stark empty beauty will appeal to many people.  This is a place I wouldn’t mind coming back to with more time so I could hike some of the back trails.