Sunday, July 27, 2008


Hello, there!

I actually have a few moments and internet access, so I thought I would let you know we arrived safely to the Sierras last night.

We left Our Hearts' Haven about 11 am yesterday.........only had a couple of stops before we got past Sacramento......gas.....Starbucks........

The night before, I had found a Joann's Superstore in Stockton. We had NO idea there was such a thing....but we LIKE it! :) My kids may always to demand a stop in Stockton at this Joann's store, they liked it so much. :) Anne finally found some fabric for another Regency dress.....and then, the kids REALLY scored. Butterick Patterns were on sale for 99 cents each, and no coupon needed. I think between four of them they purchased about 25 patterns. Almost all of them are costumes: more Regency Era and some medieval......and many 1950's style (think grown women's style, no the teen style, with Poodle skirts), as well as a few modern patterns. I found a swet nightgown pattern for myself.

Then, we headed to Walmart for a few items, including the all important Star Wars Light Saber for Malachy. :) His last one is WORN OUT......and a boy can always use a working light saber :) It is an early birthday present.

Grabbed a dinner of Subway sandwiches, which really hit the spot....and got into our friends' house about 10:30....10:24 to be exact. We all guessed the time of arrival....and Matthew got it ON THE SECOND.

We chatted till about12:30am........and still made it to Mass about 30 minutes away this morning, near the Lake House we will be staying at with our friends. My friend Willa's husband's family has owned this lake cabin since at least the 1930's, I think. We are back at Willa's house and are packing our things and will leave in a few minutes to join them at the cabin.....we will be there till at least probably no news from us till then.

Oh, the smoke...well, it was not until we were in Stockton, that the blue sky showed......the entire drive down I-5, the sky was a sickly pale gray color.....often reminded me of what it may have looked like in The Stand written by Stephen King, after the nuclear blast. I have been thinking about re-reading that book........I do not go in for much written nowadays.....but I read that as a teen and I always remember that I enjoyed it.

Well, we are off to the Lake and cabin....I just bought new oars at a local store for the rafts.......the boys are raring to go!

Prayers for all of you!



Thursday, July 24, 2008

Ten Beautiful Things.....July 2008

I have been kind of grieving over the fact that I have not had beautiful "things" to see this smoky summer........
........woe is me. :)

And, then, Thursday evening, just before dusk, I drove into town, and I do what I always have done, for almost two decades, and certainly all this summer..................I smiled to myself, GIDDY, every time I see the wild sweet peas all over my hometown area. I LOVE sweet peas............they are April's flowers........and April is MY month. And, they are every where............I can't wait for them to arrive to arrive each it means summer is finally HERE. I watch them growing on the sides of roads.........till they bloom......and bloom and bloom. I just love their smell.........don't you?

Those sweet peas reminded me that I cannot find Ten Things Beautiful. I have been trying.........and it just depressed me to look up at the mountains. Being the optimist that I am, I decided I had to get rid of that negative thought, and to search out ten beautiful things, IN SPITE OF the smoke. I thought out my plan and kept my eyes low, out of the smoke, looking for beauty. I just had to lift my spirits. :) And, I guess that means..........look LOW!

So, here is what I came up with yesterday, in no particular order:

1. Sweet Peas...........everywhere around here...................around every turn in the road..........they are so familiar to heart and eyes expect them............and they prove themselves all summer. I wait expectantly each does my heart good, trusting God, that out of the depths of winter.......I KNOW He will always return the sweet peas to me.

Taken June, 2006.

Taken June, 2006......Paddy (3 1/2) and Malachy (4 1/2), playing and exploring a field of sweet peas. Paddy belongs to Willa and we will be leaving tomorrow to go visit them for a week. This is the photo Anne has on her computer desktop.

2. Miss Miranda's sweet smile and yummy smell when she got out of the bath to give me a goodnight hug Thursday night. Five year olds are so yummy, aren't they!?!

Miss Miranda visiting with us and our kitties last week.

3. Miss Miranda's mommy: to love her beauty, both physically (great smile, sparkly eyes and gorgeous the dark colors God painted her........) and the beauty within her soul. She has a great big heart............and I love my friendship with her........and scrapbooking at her house, as often as we can. :)

4. Amazing sunsets through the smoke..............see previous post.

5. The little plastic "bubbles" Miss Miranda left in the dirt and flowers in front of her garage........they look like little fairy bubbles...........and I was so delighted when my eye caught them. I definitely had to look low to catch them! :)

6. The other wildflowers growing on the side of the roads.......and in the meadows I drive by daily. Yellow is an especially prominent color!

7. I passed so many beautiful ponds during my drives on Thursday. The reeds growing in the ponds are so the strength they bring to my mind.

8. The little Western Scrub Jay hopping across my road as I drove out to town.

photo from google

9. Delicious kitties cuddling together.......all day, every day. Malachy cannot get his fill. He drags me out of the house, sometimes a few times a day, to see what they are up to......."how cute they are! Take their picture!"

Our sweet babies

10. "Farmer Jacob" know, like Farmer John. My friend Shawna and her husband, Jacob, have just purchased 11 acres of beauty.......ponds, streams, wildflowers, birds, dragonflies..............etc. Oh, and A LOT of work. :)

So, I drove onto her drive-way yesterday, and there was Farmer Jacob, which I vowed to call him from now on a few weeks ago when he and Matthew were lifting hay bales.........yesterday he was standing by the pasture fence, tying the sprinkler to the fence with wire........just like I see farmers do all the time..............they are always messing with their fences, you know. :) Anyway...........seeing Jacob there brought a grin to my face........and he was wearing his usual great grin. I said: "And this work will never end".......and He said: "And, this is only the beginning." Another big grin. He is SO happy. :)

So, there you have it! I actually came up with more..............maybe for another day!

I feel better already........and today, I could even see more beauty, now that I have changed my attitude! :)

God bless,



Remember I mentioned the hospital bill here? Well, I got a chance to chat with someone from billing when I was at work Monday.....she "chased" me down, she said..............and she gave me some very good news!

Looks like I am ging to get a 30% discount and monthly payments for 30 months, no interest. That makes me feel slightly better. But only slightly...........I still want that gazebo...........


There is a lot of sewing going on around here! The girls are going nuts sewing two more Regency costumes and making Regency bonnets to take with them out of town. They are having such fun! Here is a link to Anne's blog where you can see the first one that she sewed.
Blessings to our dear friend Shawna who blessed them with the borrowing of a sewing machine when mine decided to FIGHT them. Also thanks to Kathy's mom who gave them a Serger in May.


We are going out of town this weekend. We will be gone for a week. I know you are used to me not getting posts on here......but I have a good reason next week. Most of the time will be without internet.......but maybe at the end of the week I may find time to post something.

We are visiting our dear friends (a Catholic homeschooing family) in the Sierra Nevadas, on the western side. We are SO excited. And, Anne gets to go, too! One of her best friends is here, as well as Matthew' well as mine.........and probably Garrett's and someday Malachy's, too!
We will being staying part of the time at her in-laws "lake house" which I just found out is one of the best recreational lakes in California.........who knew? I always pictured it as a little mountain lake. What a special treat!


And, when we return home, we will have some of our other best friends over for a visit from Nevada..........another Catholic homeschooling family. This family also contains one of Anne's best friends.........Matthew's too......and mine also........and another fun playmate for Garrett.


One of the exciting things this summer is that Anne has managed to do a six-week math course in three weeks at the local JC...............her teacher just happens to be a Catholic homeschooling mom...........and has allowed Anne to work on ahead of the class. This means Anne will have THREE weeks of summer off from school..........she SO needs this! So do I! :)> It will start this Friday afternoon...............and includes all of the visits above plus a camping trip to the coast with her, that would be us!


I need to go write a letter of reference for a Catholic homeschool young lady for a wonderful college.............please pray to the Holy Ghost that I can write the words needed!


God bless you until I "see" you again!



Sunday, July 20, 2008


Most of you know that last summer was barely spent at home........there was a two-month cross-country trip, the Star-Spangled Adventure, followed by six weeks of rehearsals and performances of three plays and then two weeks at Disneyland and San Diego.

Our family was SO looking forward to staying home all summer..........we had wonderful plans.............exploring new hikes and old favorites (since we live in one of those hiking-central kind of places), taking daily walks in the evening and or morning (since I really need the exercise), walking out to "our meadow," inviting friends over.........breakfasts, lunches and/or dinners at the Lake, like we used to do in the old days.......really working on the property, establising new beds of flowers and herbs........maybe working on a Mary Garden and sunflower houses.

Sigh........VERY BIG SIGH..................

As you are probably aware..........there have been a lot of fires burning in Northern California.

At the end of that week I was ill..........there was this strange evening, on Saturday, June 21st........when this big lightning storm came over the top half of the state. There was little rain.............but someone reported more lightning strikes than anyone had ever counted in a storm before. The sky was so forbidding.

By Monday afternoon, it was reported by Sacramento that there were over 840 fires in the Golden state of California..........and all, but three were north of Sacramento. Isn't that scary?

And then, the SMOKE arrived..................and it has barely lifted in the four or five weeks since.

The air quality is too poor for hanging outside, for opening windows, for seeing our beautiful scenery.

The only thing it is good for: are amazing sunsets. When else are you able to look directly at the sun without being blinded???

I have included some photos share what we have been seeing here.............

The photo below is our backyard view, taken just before dusk last week. Today, you could not even see this mountain.

The view from the site of my future gazebo:

Um, what do you mean you cannot see Mount Shasta therebehind the trees???? This has been our view of Mount Shasta all summer. VERY BIG husband says he is miserable this it is another very long winter. sigh. poor guy, he has such a great view of Mount Shasta from his desk at work......and......he is getting so tired of winter. this does not help much. oh, well........

Two views, above and below, of the same sunset. I love the close-up of the trees below. I LOVE my zoom on my camera..........I am at least 100 feet from this tree.


The photos below are a series of one sunset in particular. Both Matthew and I took these photos.
They are kind of amazing.........but not like what we saw in person...........






This last one is so cool.
Matthew got the weathervane on top of our chicken coop.
It is much clearer before I had to shrink the photo to get it on the blog.........but, you get the picture. Pun Intended. :)

I posted all of these photos a few days ago, waiting for time to journal.......only to have such two clear days, I thought maybe our summer would be redeemed. On the way home from work yesterday, I saw this amazing and HUGE wall of smoke in the could see the sun-kissed, orange smoke floating to the west. Well, we went from one of the clearest days all summer to one of the worst days all summer. Today was so bad, I do not think even non-respiratory-impaired folks should be out. It was very painful. All of the mountains in the photos above did not even exist today.......... :(

Please remember all of the fire-fighters in your prayers, and their families. They make great sacrifices for us. I appreciate what they are doing..........and I feel bad for them having to work with no rain in sight........high temperatures.........and in all of that smoke. I hear the smoke is worse in the towns south of us. UGH.

Blessings from Smokeville!

With love,



Yay! I can finally sit down and just write for a few moments.

I spent the entire day yesterday with Matthew in our school room planning out his senior year....and collecting resources. Boy, does he have a lot to accomplish this year! Let's all pray for him, he may need it! :)

I am very excited for his year. He will enjoy the learning. He is like his mother and older sister..........a compulsive student. :) That is one of the reason I LOVE homeschooling.........*I* get to keep learning..........and..............without the tests!!!

He has on his plate:

Religion & Catholic Apologetics (Book 4 of Our Quest for Happiness & Apologetics using a TAN book and syllabus from Our Lady of Victory School)

Latin I (yes, we are REALLY behind in this :/-one semester of Latina Christiana I and II and then to Henle with Mother of Divine Grace's (MODG) syllabus)

English IV (probably a combo of every other subject: we are working on spelling of SAT type words, Classical vocabulary, papers will be written in all other subjects this year, possibly a Shakespeare Club, and our Literature evenings, etc)

American Literature (a Junior College class with a great teacher and friend-both semesters)

Public Speaking (a Junior College class-one semester-one of Anne's fave classes & teachers-she thinks it is a perfect class for Matthew)

Chemistry (combo text & Great Course from The Teaching Company-Matthew LOVES their stuff!)

Geometry, with Patty, our wonderful math teacher & friend, using Jacob's Geometry

Voice (a Junior College class), with his two youngest sisters

Drama (a Junior College play, maybe more than one.......AND also one at our local charter school)

Piano lessons & practice----his last year with our favorite piano teacher :(, who happens to be a "descendant" of Beethoven, as a piano instructor :)

American Government & Economics (first semester only?? I doubt he will finish in ONE semester---using MODG's Syllabus and an Economics course from The Teaching Company)

Ancient Greek History/Ancient Roman History (one each semester---though, knowing HIM, he may spend all year on Greek :).........using MODG syllabus as a guide)

Driver's training (1st quarter only--online course)

SAT prep (1st quarter only--SAT Prep book and practice writing timed essays)

Next semester we will add:


Logic, if there is time. We tried this semester, but as you can see, it seems something had to was Logic, yet again. It is the Logic program from Memoria Press. He and his youngest sister (a professional argue-er) will be viewing the Teaching Company's Argumenation DVDs during the whole year.

Script Analysis (at the local JC with his favorite director)

Creative Writing (at the JC with Anne's favorite instructor)

Computer Course......not sure what yet, maybe a class at the JC?

And then, graduation with our local charter school at the end of May! YAY! He SO deserves this. I was worried when he entered ninth grade, since he came to reading a bit late.........and he has pulled off the most wonderful learning in these past few years. His memory is outstanding. He is so amazing and gifted intellectually. A very good actor, too. And he can play Devil's Advocate very well. He needs to go to college somewhere where he can practice arguing, so he can become very proficient. :) He and Maddelyn LOVE to argue.........that is why they are excited by those DVDs. And, of course, you realize I mean ARGUE in the intellectual sense, right? :)

After graduation, we expect he will have a GAP YEAR, while he hones his skills for the college he wants to attend. Who knows what will change between now and then...............


Funny, this started out as a Haven Heartbeats post and turned into something else......hey, but at least it is SOMETHING! :) I may even post again tonight, with photos! :)
God bless you today!
With love,
....who is going off to plan the new high school freshman and eighth grader today........thankfully, I already did most of the freshman.....just need to fine-tune! Phew!

Thursday, July 17, 2008


.......and will remain so, I expect!

I know it has been awhile since I got a post in lately.............(besides the 4th!) excuse is kind of a good one, this one time :)

On Father's Day I started having strange symptoms.......that by Monday were so severe, I needed to go to the ER, per my primary MD, and homeopathic MD, too......they were worried I might have a spinal infection, and the pain was beyond tolerating, even for my high pain tolerance.

Thankfully my labs came back without proof of infection.....I think it may have been the prayers of my friends and family.......but I was hospitalized for pain control, which we got by about 1:30am. I had more medications in 24 hours than I have had in 24 years. Ugh. Most of you know that was beyond MY comfort zone........I ended up feeling weak and wiped-out with nausea and a severe headache for the whole week. Funny, I had some fantasy that once the pain was under control, I would be feeling my normal self........I guess not! The recovery time shocked me.

Oh, I also had an MRI which showed that I have what we KNOW was wrong with my back (and unrelated to these issues)........and thankfully, nothing else.

So, that is my excuse. :) Once I got was too hard to get to the computer to write when I had just lost a week in my life.......lots of catching up to do. Has not happened yet, of course...............but I am plugging away. Barely.


The insurance paper just came in for this hospital visit...........and I am in a state of shock. For a 32 hour stay in the hospital.......and I was not even that looks like the charge is about $8,800. Is that SICK or what? I NEVER go to the ER............I rarely go to the doctor's office............this amount $$$ may be a deterrant in the future. This does not even include the MD bill or the radiologist's fees. Yikes! If I am going to spend $3,000 I would like to see a new used car sitting in the drive-way.........or take a wonderful trip somewhere.........or that gazebo I want.......ya know?

And, all of this money, for a day in the hospital........and no real diagnosis to show for it.

In suffering this trial, I was SO blessed by my friends........I owe thanks to some special people during this time........

In order of blessing:

My dear friend Willa kindly posted a prayer request for me, and my 4-Real friends came in mighty strong and generous, and for that I am most definitely eternally grateful. Even if I felt lousy, getting to talk to Willa daily was fun. :) Looking forward to continuing the habit! :)

My husband..........for staying with me at the ER even though I told him I was just fine, he could go back to work. :) I REALLY needed him there. I am glad he, at least he knows I really needed to be there.........especially when he looks at that bill. :/

Oh, and he also drove four of the kids up to Oregon to see their orthodontist, since I was still too ill to deal with the three hour round-trip drive to the appt.

David......he is my friend, and also my doctor. I had called him that morning and he sent me to the ER. In the ER they were unable to do anything more than vital signs till the ER MD could come see me...........David walked into the door to find me, and got the ball rolling, ordering me pain meds and fluids and the tests I needed. Phew! I had to wait at least 45 minutes on that guerney for help......he was such a sight for MY pained eyes! He is the best doctor for ME. I appreciate how respectful he is about understanding how I can take responsibility for my family's healthcare....and in using alternative therapies and avoiding drugs most of the time. And, it is nice we can pray for each other. He was surprised to hear from me that day, even asking me on the phone: How urgent is it, Chari??? teasingly, only seeing I meant business. He KNOWS I never call unless I have a REALLY good reason. :)

I left a message for my dear friend Louise to let her know I was going to the ER, and when I got to the "floor" she asked what she could bring. She started listing, tea, magazines.......and in the background I hear little Miss Miranda (5 years old) chime in with "a fresh cut flower?" :)

......that is SO Miranda :), I said YES, a fresh cut flower would do me just fine. The girls also brought me some yummy hot tea, one of my favorites, Vanilla Hazelnut by Celestial Seasonings, and some House Beautiful magazines. The next day they brought me fresh fruit because the hospital food for breakfast was disgusting, truly. Hmmmmm.....I think Miranda brought me some chocolate, too. These two are such gems! And, I am not sure..........I cannot remember, but I think Louise may have given a ride to one of my kids for a class.

(Interesting side note: Louise and I were born in the same hospital in Los Angeles less than a year apart...... :) )

I tried to call my dear friend Shawna to let her know I needed prayers as I headed into the ER, but was unable to get through to her.........I asked Louise to let her know..........when Shawna returned Louise's call......Louise's husband said she went to see me in the hospital........and immediately after Louise arrived, Shawna's cheery face was besides hers! Wasn't that sweet? It is so fun how the three us of make such a perfect trio of friendship. We balance so well. It SO reminds me of C.S. Lewis's descriptions in The Four Loves about friendship. I want to read it to them someday.

The three of them stayed and chatted with me, as once the pain medicine began working, I felt surprise, eh? :)

The rest of the week, was tough, as I mentioned above, a severe headache and intermittent on Friday, I had two of my kids needing to be in the town about 40 min north of us for dentist appts I had already cancelled due to my Aunt's funeral in May..........and because I was too seasick to drive, Shawna drove me up there.......... Now, how is that for friendship? :) Such kindness...............

While I spent that one day in the hospital, I wandered over to my own department, OB, where I found my friend and co-worker, Micki. We chatted about what was going on, and she said she would come to my room and give me a massage, from the shoulders up. My nasty headache looked forward to that! Micki has a healing touch......I very much appreciated her coming to take care of me. Thanks, friend!

The nurses at the hospital took good care of me.........Donna G was working the desk and was very sweet, making sure my needs were met. I hope I was a good patient........some RNs are not :) I may not always like to be at work...........but I know there is no where to be found the quality of folks who work at my hospital. Our customer service is second to none........which is spite of being the smallest hospital in the third largest hospital corporate system.....with the highest customer service....consistently over the years. We have won big $$$ awards for it.....over 21ish other facilities.

Thanks to Meg, one of my husband's faithful employees........she and her roomate sent me a get-well card. She is so sweet, always doing things like this.

I know there were friends who were praying for me......even if I was not chatting with them...........Patty was out of town.......and she told Maria..........and I know they both were praying for me. And Gloria, I am guessing was praying for me :).........she was there all day with me on Sunday, when I could not face life........and then on Monday when she came to pick up her oldest child who was staying at my house, I was already off to the hospital. And Sheila, too.........who told Jen! Thanks, friends!

And, lastly listed, but of course not last, my wonderful kids..........who did not skip a beat but kept the house going all week, and took care of me..........and my own family, who were praying for me in Nevada and California.......wherever they were.


And, at the end of the week, on Saturday, June the 21st, was a lovely day spent with some lovely women at a homeschooling mom's retreat at my dear friend Shawna's beautiful home. And then this was followed by about 2.5 hours of rambling Shawna's new home on 11 acres with her and her mom and her two little girls. The meadows were in full bloom, we waded in the is SO Anne of Green Gables and Little House on the Prairie.......just like Plum Creek! And, I mean the ACTUAL Plum Creek......I would know, I have been there! :) We walked through grass taller than the little girls, and sometimes us. Such a nature preserve......and just what my house-bound soul needed.

Thank you again to all of you who were praying for me. Hopefully this is the end of the story (with the exception of paying those bills......ugh!).............though I am occasionally feeling tinges of that same discomfort. I seriously doubt I will head to the hospital for any next bout. :/


Now, I will try to get back to regularly scheduled blogging :)

God bless!


Friday, July 4, 2008

Cousins Came for Visit

Two weeks ago I realized if my youngest sister Jennifer did not come for a visit soon, she would not be able to come. You see, she and her husband Rob are expecting their 4th and Goal in September. Plus, she starts her new teaching job the first Monday in August......AND they have to run over to Minnesota at the end of July. The time was right.......and it gave her a chance to travel in her new car.


I have two sisters.....and a bunch of nieces and a few nephews:

Teresa, two years younger than me:
Alexis 20 years
Venice 15 years
Kaydance 11 years


Jennifer, about seven years younger than me:
Hudson 6 years
Avery 4 years
Carter 2 years this month
Baby, aka 4th and goal (dad's a football coach) expected in Sept


Then there is me:

Anne 19 years
Matthew 17 years
Sarah 15 years
Maddelyn 13 years
Garrett 11 years
Malachy 6 years


Jennifer brought her three kids plus Teresa's youngest. are a bunch of photos taken just before they left yesterday.........enjoy, Grandma!

Girl cousins on the swing: Sarah, Anne standing
Kaydance, Avery, Maddelyn on swing

Twin cousins, born three weeks apart: Hudson & Malachy

Big girl cousin Maddelyn & little girl cousin Avery

One from each of the sisters: Garrett, Carter & Kaydance:

Again, one from each of the sisters, the three youngest girls:
Kaydance, Avery & Maddelyn

Anne, Aunt Jennifer & Sarah
Oldest nephew Matthew hugging little cousin Hudson.
Now, off to the 4th of July parade and then all day at the lake followed by fireworks about 9:45 pm....because it does not get dark until then!
Happy 4th of JULY to you!
With love and prayers,