June and July – Just the Highlights

31 Aug

I wanted to be sure to include this picture in this here little online photo album, so I am going back in time to Father’s Day and this picture of the kids celebrating their awesome, fun and loving Daddy. That day we relaxed and had a picnic at the park while the kids played, then took a short scooter/bike ride.




The highlight and focus of July was Luke’s birth day. We were so happy to finally get to visit with his adorableness in the comfort of home (actually not until August). We love you Lukey!




07 Aug

It has been a long time since I have added to my online photo album here. So long that I took a couple of tries to enter my password before I got it right.

In the midst of the busy summer, we have done our best to soak up what we can. We had spent a lot of time swimming, and the kids have both come a long way with their swimming skills this summer.

We love the pool!


My little fishes mostly want to be under the water, so most of the time, this is what I see.



They do occasionally come up for air though. At least as often as other mammals that live mostly in water do.



Another thing we have been soaking up is time with the Vanolis before they move this fall. This last weekend the kids got four days in a row of “Hannah-time”.


One of those four days included a trip to the fair where we slid instead of soaking.


Super fun on the slide! Next time we will have to go to the other side of the fair and do the really big one!




Birthday Month

29 May

It may be a couple of weeks after his actual birthday, but it is still Silas’ birthday month and so there is still time to celebrate our new three year old! Silas is still the same affectionate, energetic boy he has always been, and this year he has been gaining independence, learning to keep up with the bigger kids, and developing his interests in many things with music and instruments leading the list.

To this mom, his smile is melting and charming beyond belief, and it may be the downfall of us both.

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He has more energy than ever and would like to be riding, running, jumping or wrestling most of the time, but he can also settle in for a movie or a book or even just a good cuddle.



Life with a three year old is not super-great for dogs as a rule, but they manage to have a workable relationship with treats and licks and reluctant tolerance on their part.




I am still very happy and blessed by the love that Ali and Silas have for each other. It may be because of or in spite of many things, but I will take it as a gift!



So Happy Birthday Month Silas. You are a little man with lots to say and lots to do and we promise to pray for you and support you as  you begin this next year of adventures!


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Easter 2014

22 Apr

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We enjoyed yet another wonderful Easter. It began with Ali’s school Easter program. Those kids sang and danced their hearts out. The twelve kindergartners were so sweet while they were sitting in the audience waiting for their turn. They sang along as the younger classes performed and quietly giggled together. They have clearly bonded over the last two years of preschool and kindergarten. Ugh for the fact that we will all be going our separate ways in a few months.




The day before Easter a few neighborhood families got together and had a community Easter Egg hunt. We all brought eggs for the kids to hunt so we now have quite a variety of candy. It was the first time we have tried this, in fact it was actually Ali’s idea, and we are now talking about expanding and inviting the whole neighborhood next year.

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Finally on Easter morning we had more egg hunting to do!

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We held with tradition and had a wonderful Easter day at Matt’s parents house, with plenty of friends and family around, lots of food, swimming and celebration.

He is Risen!



My Monkeys

21 Apr





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Disney Day

23 Mar

It had been quite a long time since we had last been to Disneyland, so we jumped at the chance to join the rest of the Hawkins clan for a day there recently. Our trip was postponed by our one and only big rainstorm of the winter, but once we finally made it we were given a beautiful day to enjoy.


As with most little ones who don’t remember Disneyland, just the tram ride to the park was a thrill for Silas. We got there nice and early so the park wasn’t open yet.


Once we got inside the crowds were pretty light and we hit Tomorrowland right away.



It is a very good thing that the lines were short because waiting in any length of line is challenging for a 2 1/2 year old, even with six adults to keep him entertained.


It is a good lesson though, since the payoff once you get on a ride, is so great!



Our munchkins prefer the sophisticated rides like the Mark Twain riverboat to the thrill rides, and the favorite ride of the day was the Astroblasters.


We made it the whole day and into the evening with no more than the expected Disney-induced meltdowns, and the kids loved finishing the day watching the parade down Main St.

See ya later Mickey! Thanks for a great day! We’re out of here!



On Goal Setting

27 Jan

For the first time that I can recall, last year I set some New Year’s goals for 2013 and posted them here on this blog. That turned out to be a very positive thing for me. Some of the goals I set last year I accomplished, some I did not, and in some cases through the process of pursuing those goals I accomplished more than I had even set out to do.

Bottom line: I know I accomplished more last year with goals than I would have without them, and even though I did not have the time for reflection and goal-setting that I had at the first of last year I do not want to miss out on that opportunity for this year, so I am squeezing some in before January is over and the year is too far underway.

1. My first goal in 2013 was to shop at the Farmer’s Market once a month. I am pretty sure that I successfully completed this goal. Although I did not keep careful accounting, we made it a lot. Over the course of the year I got to try out several local Farmer’s Markets, and can now get in and out of the Channel Islands FM on Sundays in 15 minutes no problem (assuming I have no children with me). There were several side effects of our increased FM visits this year above and beyond the purchase of local, in-season produce:

  • We consumed many pounds of kettle corn at the Ventura FM
  • We ate many tamales/fish tacos/hot dogs sitting on the curb at the Channel Islands FM
  • We learned that FM people are people of habit, we almost always ran into the same people at the same places

When I wrote down this goal I was encouraged by a few wise women to start gardening myself. We took up the challenge and Matt took on the building project. I now have boxes and planters full of various stages of growing food. Our little patio garden certainly does not meet all of our produce needs, but I manage to harvest and use something from it almost every day.

In the spirit of setting a goal that is related to simple living as I feel the Farmers market goal was, in 2014 my goal is to work on organizing paper in our home. This will include taking steps to limit the amount of paper coming into our home by making sure we are using paperless billing and getting off mailing lists, and coming up with systems of sorting and storage for the paper that we do need to deal with.

2. In 2013 one of my goals was to run in four organized races: at least one being a half marathon and one being a 10k. I actually only did three races, but I am ok with that because as the year went on, I did not think that the benefits would outweigh the costs (both financial and logistic) of doing a fourth race. Also, the three I did were great experiences.
The Great Race of Agoura 10k and the Oxnard Salsa Dash 5k were both fun because we did them as a family. For the 10k, my mom brought the kids out after Matt and I ran the 10k together and she ran in the Family Fun Run with Ali. For the 5k we pushed the kids in the jogging stroller while we ran, my parents did the 5k too, and then I ran with Ali in the Kids Race. It felt good to do these as a family.

For my 13.1, I did the same race I did last year, Santa to the Sea. I was really nervous and discouraged at times during training because I was training so differently than the year before and I didn’t know if I was getting enough long runs in, but I ended up finishing 9 minutes faster than last year and feeling great! Yay!

For my 2014 running goal I would still like to do one half marathon this year, but I think I will do a different one. Additionally, my goal is to run at least 30 miles every month. I feel like I need to justify setting such a low number for my monthly goal. I can best say that I am “making room”. Hopefully that number will be easily surpassed most months, but it means that there is room for me to trade a 3 mile run pushing the stroller for a 1 mile run with kids on scooters, as that is as far as they can go most days. It also means there is room for other types of exercise rather than focusing 100% of the energy in my Health and Fitness tank into one activity.

3. My third goal in 2013 was to read one non-fiction book out loud together with Matt. Yah, about that. We only had a year, and it was a long book. With chapters and stuff. And reading out loud together takes energy and focus. Didn’t happen.

So for 2014 I have set a new goal relating to our relationship, one that I think we will have a better chance at succeeding at. Because we are lucky enough to work together, we make a point of having a lunch date once a week. Having that, we have not felt such a need to have regular additional date nights, but this year my goal is to add a once a month “real” date that will require a babysitter of some kind.

4. My fourth goal in 2014 is once again related to money. Over the years Matt and I have gone back and forth when it comes to who keeps track of our budget and accounting. When Silas was born those tasks completely went to Matt and I lived in ignorance for the last two years. So my goal this year is to check our budgeting software and accounts at least once a week so that I can once again be an active participant in that part of our family.

Don’t forget it is never too late to set some goals for the month, year or week. Even if you don’t accomplish your goal, you learn something about yourself and what you uniquely are designed to be and do.


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Celebrating Six Years

20 Jan

Alison Joy turned six years old this month and quite the lovely six year old she is. We have much to celebrate this year. She was blessed with a kindergarten teacher and class that are a good fit for her: loving, encouraging, stretching, having fun and learning a lot. She is developing some new hobbies and interests. She is back to taking aerial class, loves flying kites, and riding her bike and scooter. She enjoys books and drawing, and making videos with any recording device she can get her hands on.



The extra pointy party hat, is actually a unicorn horn. We celebrated with a unicorn theme this year, which was something different for us and a lot of fun! The traditional donkey pinata even got a horn and magically became a beautiful unicorn!



Fancy, isn’t it? Not for long though, he soon lost his head. It was a bit of a pinata charade. Lessons were learned about overfilling flimsy pinatas. It is a good thing there was technical support (i.e., Matt) on hand or it would have all been over after Ali’s first good whack.

Here is Silas having a crack at what remained of our reconfigured pinata after Ali’s first turn. The horn was somewhere across the lawn, but is now safely reunited with the head. The head, complete with unicorn horn now has a temporary and slightly ghoulish place of honor in our dining room until a reasonable amount of time has passed and it can quietly move on to its final resting place.


Another of Ali’s favorite hobbies right now is geochaching. We integrated that into her birthday celebration this year, going geocaching with all of her grandparents at a park one day, and having a small group of girls over and doing a treasure hunt around our neighborhood this last weekend.

Here are some birthday pictures of our six year old from her park geocaching day.

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Here are the girls finding a clue right outside our house when they were treasure hunting.


The treasure hunt ended up rather conveniently at a playground for a picnic lunch!




I am so glad to have had another wonderful year with this girl. I think that God gave us the name Joy for her middle name, because that is what she is and what she brings.

I love you Ali Joy!