this past week i’ve had that nagging feeling i needed to donate blood. you are able to donate every 8 weeks and right when i hit my eight week mark i start getting the calls. asking me if i can donate again. then the emails. i had three emails in my inbox in the last week alone all with donation spots close to my home. somehow the days flew by and i hadn’t made it to donate. last night was another chance to donate. i had promised henri a date night and by the time we got home it was 7:40 and i had forgotten all about it. i sat down and checked my email, there it was in my in box. united blood services taking donations at my church building until 8pm. i grabbed ava and said lets go.

ava has never gone with me to donate blood. she knows i do it. she is scared to death of shots and needles. i have to admit i was the same way when i was little and up until i had my first baby i would freak out at the sight of a needle. i didn’t sign up ahead of time so it took a little longer than normal. we had to go through all the questions. they were so kind to her down there. she got to eat as many snacks as she wanted and they talked to her about the importance of donating blood. the phlebotomist explained that every bag we donate saves 3 lives, that they separate the blood into platelets + plasma + blood. each are used for different traumas. she also said they need 700 donations a day to keep up their supply and get nowhere near that. so they are always in a deficit.

ava was so loving. she held my hand and rubbed my arm (the one that wasn’t having blood taken) it was sweet to see her being the brave one. telling me it was ok. usually i’m consoling her at the doctors office. i could tell she was nervous for me and she didn’t want me to feel nervous. i assured her i was fine and i am happy to donate blood. my veins are huge and i fill a bag quick. i don’t have side effects. i’m ready to go the minute i’m done. how can i not donate. there was a young boy donating next to me. maybe 17 or 18. i wanted to hug him. i wanted to tell him how awesome he is. donating blood out of the goodness of his heart on a tuesday night on his summer vacation. he could be out with friends, at a movie. but he chose to be here doing this. his mom must be proud.

jack had two blood transfusions when he was in the hospital. one the night before we found out he had TAPVR. i remember the nurse waking me up in the middle of the night and saying they would have to transfuse him. i was so out of it. it felt like the first time i had sleep in 5 days. i said ok and dozed right back off. she woke me up again and said i need you to sign for the blood transfusion. shocked i said “BLOOD TRANFUSION???” what?! no!! i said i guess i didn’t understand what you were saying. they did so many tests and X-rays. it was all blurring together. i thought it was just another test. she brought the doctor in and he explained jacks body was shutting down. he was no longer making new blood. i was raised jehovahs witness. (i no longer am) we were not allowed to be given another persons blood. i remember every field trip permission slip my mom would write -do not give blood for any reason. all over it, in capital letters and underlined. it was ingrained in me that we don’t take anyones blood. for anything. so being faced with this decision was very difficult. ivan and i talked about it. the doctor explained this was his only option. i cried. he was given his first transfusion. a tiny bag of donors blood. i called my sister the next day. i told her how i was worried about telling my mom. she is no longer jehovahs witness either. we’ve never talked in depth about it but i know she would have done the same thing. when faced with the decision, you do whats best for your baby. he was given his second transfusion during open heart surgery. i am forever grateful to those donors that saved jacks life. i often think about who they are. i look around when i’m donating and think it could have been one of these people. i wonder whose life i’m saving. a baby like mine. someone with cancer, a mother a father.

life is precious. life in unpredictable. you never know if that could be you or one of you family members in need of a transfusion. having that blood available is so important. i hope to encourage anyone who is able to give to do so. it is one of the greatest gifts you can give. if not the greatest. to save a life is invaluable. its quick, virtually painless and usually very convenient. united blood services  set up all over the valley. get on their email list and they will let you know when they are in your area. thank you to all that donate. you are a hero. you have touched my life and saved jacks.

Go here to donate




ava has really taken an interest in cooking. she especially loves it when i let her make a recipe all by herself. she recently learned how to use the stove and is very cautious. we have gas so i explained to her that she has to keep her hair + clothes away from the open flame. i’m so proud of the young lady she is becoming. my mom did such a good job of teaching us how to cook + clean. if you read this post then you know we started at a young age. i feel i would be doing ava a disservice if i didn’t teach her all the things i want her to know before i send her off into the real world. she doesn’t have near the amount of chores i did but she is starting to cook, clean and sew. she helps me out so much and i enjoy these teachable moments. hands on is the best way for her to learn. so the other day when she asked me if she could make something i new this salad would be perfect for her. its easy and really delicious.









strawberry spinach salad

1 bag spinach

1/2 pint strawberries, sliced

1/8 red onion, sliced thin

1/2 c. sliced almonds

1 Tbsp. butter

2 Tbsp. sugar

put spinach, sliced strawberries and onion in a bowl. in a sauce pan on low-med heat cook almonds + butter + sugar until almonds are browned, careful not to burn them. when they are browned pour them onto wax paper to cool. once cooled break almonds into pieces and add to salad. feta would be great on here too. add dressing right before serving.


1/4 c. vegetable oil

1/2 c. red wine vinegar

1/2 c. sugar

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. pepper

this dressing is great for all different salads. this recipe makes a lot and it stores well in the pantry. i like to keep it on hand and use it in place of tradition ranch or italian.





my sister is in town from california and they are staying at the hyatt in gainey ranch. we’ve stayed there a bunch of times and love the pool especially for little ones. they have an adult and kiddie pool so if you don’t bring your kids you don’t have to be surrounded by everyone else’s. the kid pool has a beach entry, so perfect for jack. he kept calling it the beach. they also have a toy box of sand toys. so perfect! they have a splash pad in the center of the pool that shoots up water and the kids loved jumping off it. elle has been able to swim since she was 18 months old. we did isr swim classes with her and our older two. it really is amazing what they can do when they are that little in a 6 week class. every year she starts out rusty and then within the first week of swimming she’s back at it like a fish. the weather was amazing, overcast but warm. arizona is really doing it right. normally we are sweating right now and can’t keep cool for anything. this year its a whole other story. i like it.



ava and henri really are the best of friends. they always stick together. elle sometimes joins in but i know those two will always be with each other. they have a swirly slide that the kids went on a million times. elle was finally big enough and she thought it was so great. i think she went on it the most. i love seeing her be so brave and getting so excited realizing something she thought was scary is actually really fun.





the beach entry was perfect for jack. sometimes baja steps can be slippery for him and before i know it he’s got water in his face and is so mad. a beach with no waves is right up his alley. i love this picture of ava catching elle as she jumps off the side. i love that my girls have each other. everyone needs a sister.



jack and my niece amelie play so well together. they sat in that toy box playing with the sand toys for a good 30 minutes. kind of nice to keep them confined.



theres nothing easier or better than ordering lunch by the pool. the kids thought the food was fantastic. they ate every last bite and wanted more. the lounge chairs were great, they sat right on the beach and made it so comfortable for us to sit and watch the kids while hiding under the shade. the older i get the less i want to be in the sun. we had so much fun with our cousins today and i loved getting to hang out with my sisters. all these fun days are making it so hard to leave.



i am currently looking for a place in seattle. the prices are skyrocketing and the houses are teeny tiny. its kind of funny, living in the suburbs like we do right now and all that goes with it. everyone wants a huge house with a big backyard and a pool. an oversized suv. a bedroom for each kid so they don’t have to share. a playroom. an office. a movie room. it all makes me laugh. the rest of the world doesn’t live like this. the me just over a year ago thought i need the same thing. until i moved into 1819 sq feet with 4 kids a husband 1 dog and 6 chickens. yes i do have an amazing 1+ acre backyard and that makes up for a lot. but really i could never see myself living in a 3500+ sq foot house ever again. my sister sent me a picture of a pillow and i can’t remember exactly what it said but something to the effect of we don’t mind our small house we actually like being in the same room as each other. made me laugh so hard. she also lives in a small space in california and loves it. i think we all dream of having a little more room for that craft space or bigger laundry room. i’ve come to realize i don’t need all that extra “stuff”. you know the stuff that sits around and never gets used. the “nice” stuff and the “everyday” stuff. i caught myself not using the serving dishes i really love and saving them for special occasions that happened twice a year. what a waste! when we moved from our last house we lost almost 600 sq ft but gained a lot more yard which meant a lot less time cleaning and a lot more time playing with the kids outside. a lot more picnics under the eucalyptus trees. i got rid off all the junk we didn’t need, the toys that didn’t get played with. the clothes that didn’t get worn. the ugly dishes. anything i didn’t love or use everyday went. i can’t tell you what a burden that extra stuff puts on your life. it feels amazing for everything to have a spot. no junk drawers. no closets full of clutter. if it doesn’t bring us happiness it doesn’t stay. that also means i don’t just buy to buy. i weigh my decisions. do i need it? if not, it doesn’t come home with me. this will save you a lot of money and even more regret and waste.  here are a few tips that helped me break free of all the clutter.

– evaluate what you have. do you need it? do you love it? start by getting rid of anything broken or that has missing pieces. next if you haven’t used it in a year it goes. if this is hard for you, box it up put it in the garage. if you don’t open that box in a year take it straight to the goodwill. no need to even open it again, you already know you don’t use it.

– i stopped reading websites/blogs that tell me i need to buy. consumerism gets the best of all of us. everywhere i turn i’m being told how great the newest hair, shoes, clothes, cleaning products are. how they will change my life only to be told a month later how great the latest product is and how mine is now junk. they are paid to tell you that. they received that product for free and are paid to promote it. which is fine but im not taking it as their real opinion. i’ve fallen into this in the past and i end up with 10 different kids of hair smoothing serum, non were great. i however do love an honest favorites list. somethings work better than others and i like getting my moneys worth.

– realize whats important to you and work on that first. is it having a playroom? then maybe having two kids share a room is worth the trade off. we don’t need huge homes we need our current home being used in the most functional way possible. our home is three bedrooms + a large playroom. our kids share a bedroom and they love it. it keeps them close and keeps the toys out of their bedroom.

-everything has a spot. if you don’t have a spot for something you either need to get rid of it or get rid of something else to make room. when toys are arranged nicely on a shelf they are more likely to get played with. this makes cleaning up easier. i like to keep crayons/markers + craft supplies in nice jars or containers. i do the same with my pantry. oxo makes great airtight stackable containers. this keeps things neat a tidy.

– keep up on decluttering. this is a weekly/monthly chore. weekly, get rid of extra school papers + mail + trinkets from birthday party’s or mcdolands toys. monthly, go through closets + drawers and anywhere clutter is starting to pile up.

im not a minimalist in the sense of having 20 items of clothes and 1 blanket on my bed. i do keep “things” to a minimum to make room for memories. i spent a lot of my childhood cleaning. i remember most saturdays not getting to go play because we had to clean. it was bizarre as a child, i remember a friends sister saying “yeah right! you always say you have to clean. you guys are not cleaning that much.” we were. my mom has too much stuff. she holds onto stuff instead of memories. she still does and every time i talk to her she tells me how overwhelmed she is. how messy her house is and how she has to spend her weekends cleaning. no amount of cleaning will help with the clutter. get rid of things. enjoy your life and have fun with your family. you don’t want your kids to say all we did my whole childhood was clean!


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