Tuesday, February 18, 2014


 By Peggy.  On a drive to Sedona via Instagram.

We are wrapping up our time in Arizona.  I am so glad we got to spend some time traveling to different parts of the state. Sedona was definitely a highlight!  But living where we do, I am spoiled to see palm trees, mountain preserves and cactus everyday.  And after this gorgeous weather the past week, it is going to be so hard to leave.

So, this week we have a few things going on.  We are preparing for Esra to turn eight in April. Perhaps she will be baptized, but I don't think she is ready yet.  We are still helping her prepare for being eight by having the sweet, marvelous Sister Missionaries come over and teach her a little lesson.  She looks forward to it every week.  They teach her an ASL sign, sing (and sign) a song, and talk about a simple concept.  Estelle and I are in the other room so Esra stays focused.  The lessons don't last more than a few minutes, but they mean so much to Esra.  

Esra is starting her new P4/5 Sonlight curriculum this week.  I needed more structure for her, especially with her persistent hearing problems.  (We are currently dealing with double ear infections, and a burst ear drum.  So, that means her hearing aids are not being used, poor girl.)  

It is a regular school week with memory work, math, music and swim lessons, but we are most looking forward to the Phoenix Liberty Festival on Saturday.  A homeschoolers delight, really.  Have you ever been to a living history fair?  I know I enjoy talking to historical interpreters. But I really love seeing all the gorgeous costumes and regalia, much of it handmade by those who wear it.  Inspiring!  I can't wait to tell you more about that.  Until then, here are some interesting links and things:

:: I watched this interview twice today and both times I cried.  Pray for Justina and the Pelletier Family.  You can donate here and here to support their legal defense fund.

:: Ali Edwards shares how she is tackling those unfinished projects.

:: Pioneer Woman and Nie Nie explain why telling our stories are so important.  Family History and Technology are coming together in a beautiful way.  RootsTech and FamilySearch are leading the way to help us tell our stories and find our ancestors stories, too.

:: A documentary about never asking about your past: The Flat

:: I think it would so dreamy to build a house here in Virginia.

:: Chow Locally is going to be part of our last few months in Arizona.

:: Could this be creepier than Elf on a Shelf?

:: Sisters, a wheelchair and an amazing dance routine. Beautiful!

:: Elana always comes through. This time it's Paleo Thin Mints!  I think I have everything in my pantry.  I can't wait to make these.

:: Painted acorns are for peasants!  from Pinterest, Are You Drunk? 

For my friends in New England, be safe and warm this week! 


Monday, February 17, 2014

HopeKids Baseball Clinic

 By Peggy.

We are part of a marvelous charity called HopeKids.  

They provide memorable outings, concerts, tours and events to families with children who are suffering from a life-threatening illness or condition.  Essentially HopeKids functions as party planners.  They take care of everything for moms and dads who are wading through in-patient stays, medical bills, consults, and the unending care of a sick child, or the grief of losing that child last month or years ago.  HopeKids offers a community to families who now have a new normal.  

And they work with so many caring and giving groups here in the Valley. 

Whether it is Valley Youth Theater's energetic dress rehearsals, Ballet Arizona's Angel Nights, Harkin's Cinema Saturday Movies, Bumble Bee Ranch Day,  Whispering Hope Ranch Retreat, Watoto's beautiful testimonies set to dance and song, or our favorite Notre Dame Prep's HopeKids Festival, we have been able to enjoy family time at no expense to us while breaking away from the routine of care to have fun and make friends.

This latest outing was a new experience for us.  And we had a blast!  

This weekend we were invited to the Pinnacle High School Baseball Clinic just for HopeKids.  And it was a perfect day with perfect weather.  It felt like we were at spring training!

Estelle brought her bat that she got for Christmas.  (Sam custom-lathed a bat and burned her name into it.  It is the coolest gift!)   Estelle loved being at bat.  She did not want to do any catching or play in the scrimmage game. And she loved running the bases!

Esra was all set with her powerchair and cute engineer hat.  She loved telling all those young men where to go and what to do!  They were so patient and friendly with her.  She was in heaven!

Besides the baseball team, their coaches, the HopeKids and their families there were no other staff or parents present from the team.  There were no spectators or media.  

I was told that team try-outs had just finished and the new team was just announced.  The HopeKids clinic was their first time a new team together.  They forgo their first practice and use the time with the HopeKids as a their first team-building event!  

The boys are not rewarded with extra credit or service hours either.  This was purely a compassionate service.  

What a day.  We were surrounded by great people doing good things and hard things.  We are blessed.

Thanks, HopeKids and the Pinnacle High School Baseball Team, for making a great memory with us! We are so glad we went.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Estelle's Birthday

 By Peggy.

Remember I told you that I sent the girls outside while I finished up the cake?  They were so excited to see the end result but with our amazing weather it was actually hard to get them back inside.  

Here are a few more pictures from Estelle's birthday.  

It was a simple and sweet family party.  She got presents from us and her grandparents.  Plus, she got phone calls from each grandparent too.  We are so glad they took time to remember Estelle so completely.  She just glowed with delight.

Now I have a six year old who can start learning to write thank you cards and pay her tithing.