Education, Praises, The Kids, Traveling

The Graduate

12.14.18 Anthony's Graduation (9)

As Anthony’s homeschool teacher for 4-1/2 years (from 5th grade until halfway through 9th grade), I can attest to the fact that he was not always the most independent worker.

12.14.18 Anthony's Graduation (23)

In fact, I like to tell people that Anthony was expelled from homeschooling due to driving the teacher crazy.

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So I couldn’t be more proud of how hard he has worked in college, even taking on extra classes for two semesters to graduate early.

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Not only that, but he did so with honors…graduating Magna Cum Laude with a Bachelor’s degree in Christian Studies with an emphasis in Biblical Studies. Well done Anthony!!

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And we finally got to meet his sweet and beautiful fiance, Kameko, in person!

12.14.18 Anthony's Graduation (15)

They are such a cute couple and are going to make me gorgeous grandbabies some day :).

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Three of Anthony’s grandparents were thrilled to take part in the celebration. Kelly came in for the weekend celebration too, although we were not able to snag her a ticket to the ceremony itself.

We all loved the leis that Kameko made and brought to congratulate Anthony. It is a Hawaiian custom to place stacks of leis on a person during important events.

12.14.18 Anthony's Graduation (25)

After the graduation ceremony and a brief tour of campus, we returned to our Airbnb that we all shared together for a catered Chipotle dinner.

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Then we taught the gang how to play 4 Up and 4 Down.

12.14.18 Anthony's Graduation (62)

12.14.18 Anthony's Graduation (63)

And of course, there may have been a cocktail or two to celebrate!

12.14.18 Anthony's Graduation (66)The next day, we continued the celebrating and enjoyed spending time with my brother, Brad, who was a trooper and hung out most of the day, even though we made him drive to the Westside. Feeding him double hamburgers every two hours seemed to help. His girlfriend, Gwen, came for a while after work as well.

12.15.18 Visit from Brad and Gwen (2)

Our niece, Abby, also stopped by for a short visit with her dog Moes.

12.15.18 Visit from Abby (1)

12.15.18 Visit from Abby (3)

It was a great weekend celebrating Anthony’s accomplishment. We are so very proud of him! We can’t wait to see what the Lord has in store for him in Hawaii. We are so happy that Kameko came to the mainland for the celebration as well. Since Anthony and Kameko flew back to Jacksonville with us until New Year’s Eve, we look forward to spending time with them over the next few weeks. And Kelly (and her boyfriend) and Carl’s parents will be joining us for the annual Christmas-week visit as well.

Lots of family time to look forward to the rest of this year.




It's About Me, The Husband, Traveling

Tucson Visit

Carl and I just returned from a crazy, hectic weekend in Phoenix, celebrating Anthony’s college graduation and meeting our future daughter-in-law. More on that to come! But first, we were able to head down to one of our favorite places for five nights to spend some time with Aunt Sandy in her beautiful home in Tucson.

12.18 Aunt Sandy's House (1)

When my mom heard that we were going there before the graduation weekend, she decided to crash the party and come along with us.

12.18 Aunt Sandy's House (2)

We enjoyed relaxing at Aunt Sandy’s and sharing in cocktails, meals and plenty of games together.

12.18 Aunt Sandy's House (4)

The days were sunny and warm and the evenings were cool, perfect for sitting by the fire each night. Aunt Sandra was thrilled that Carl enjoyed building the tending the fire as much as she does.

Carl and I broke away one morning for a hike in Sabino Canyon, since our trips to Tucson wouldn’t be complete without spending time in the beautiful foothills.

12.11.18 Hiking in Sabino Canyon (10)

We tried a new hike this time, after a 70-year old man told us it was his favorite hike. It was a grueling 1/2 mile uphill climb with panoramic views at the top. At least that’s what I’m told, since I couldn’t make the last 15 minutes.

12.11.18 Hiking in Sabino Canyon (3)

It’s embarrassing to be shown up by a 70-year old.

Sitting in a lounge chair and gorging myself on popcorn at the movie theater was my reward for almost making the entire hike. We saw A Star is Born and enjoyed it.

12.11.18 A Star is Born Movie

Aunt Sandra also took us to the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum…a place that we have never been to in all our years of visiting Tucson.

12.10.18 Sonora Desert Museum (1)

It was a beautiful walk (or ride) through natural Tucson gardens with exhibits with various native animals.

12.10.18 Sonora Desert Museum (4)

I’m not exactly sure how they are native animals to the desert, but we even got to pet and feed some stingrays!

We also enjoyed a lovely lunch break at the museum with these beautiful Prickly Pear cocktails.

12.10.18 Sonora Desert Museum (2)

Thanks for taking us to museum Aunt Sandra!

On our final full day, we enjoyed lunch with my uncle Larry and his wife, Judy and were able to teach them our new favorite card game, 4 Up and 4 Down.

12.12.18 Lunch and Cards with Larry and Judy (2)

It was a great visit in Tucson and I’m so glad that we got to spend time with Aunt Sandra before all the madness in Phoenix. Thank you for a lovely time Aunt Sandra. I hope that Alexa is still keeping you company in Tucson!

The House

Guest Bathroom Update

When we moved to Jacksonville, I used the shower curtain and other items from the boy’s bathroom update from 2012 as shown below for our guest bathroom.

bathroom 44
Minnesota: Boy’s bathroom

That means that I had been looking at that same unironed, wrinkled red, brown and tan shower curtain, towels and bath rug for over 6 years.

Magnolia Falls House 033
Jacksonville: Guest bathroom

Sometime after we moved to Jacksonville and the photo above, I finally ironed the curtain and it made a world of difference. Ironing is just not my thing, people but jeepers, I can NOT believe that I left it like that for several years. How embarrassing.

This is another shot of the Jacksonville guest bathroom, after I affixed a border around the mirror and covered the ugly medicine cabinet with a piece of artwork but before we replaced that ugly light fixture.

Mirrors (3)

So earlier this summer, I mentioned to my husband that I wanted to update the guest bathroom and asked him if he’d help me remove the ugly builder’s mirror and medicine cabinet. I also dreamed of putting shiplap on the wall across from the toilet. He said he would but not until the fall 😦 . He also said he wanted me to model the bathroom after our friends, Dee and Eddy’s newly remodeled bathroom since he really liked the style. Here is a photo Dee sent me of their bathroom.


It turns out the delay was a good thing because other friends from church mentioned that they were driving to southern Illinois to pick up a truck load of old barn wood and said that we could have some for free.

Bathroom (2)

I cleaned off the wood and brushed on a coat of polyurethane to protect it since it was going into a humid bathroom.

The first step in our bathroom transformation was for Carl to remove the mirror and medicine cabinet and patch the wall, including filling in some holes and spraying orange peel spray over the repaired areas to match the rest of the texture on the walls.

Bathroom (1)

When he was done, Carl installed our gorgeous wood on the largest wall, going about two-thirds of the way up the wall.

Bathroom (6)

Then I painted the remaining walls the same color as Dee and Eddy did, but just slightly darker (Sherwin Williams Sea Salt/Comfort Gray).

Bathroom (3)

Next I placed a tile border, just like Dee and Eddy’s bathroom, but in a different, beachy style.

Bathroom (5)

Instead of patching the medicine cabinet with drywall, we decided to make an inset tiled shelf framed with leftover wood.

Bathroom (7)

This is after the outside molding was completed. We plan on putting a shelf across the middle but we haven’t done that yet.

Bathroom (8)

After the finishing touches, like a new free-hanging mirror, shower curtain, towels, rug, artwork, outlet covers, wastebasket, hooks and toilet paper holder, the bathroom was complete!

I love it so much!

Finished bathroom (3)

This is with the light off so you can see our light fixture better.

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And here is the wall across from the toilet and sink.

I thank my handy husband for his hard work in helping me complete my vision. And thanks again to Dee and Eddy for the inspiration. And to our friends, Ed and Brenda, for the beautiful wood. This room was definitely a group effort! I know that our guests will really enjoy it.

It's About Me, The Husband, Traveling

Savannah – Day Two

On Friday, we walked to the Historic Cathedral of St. John the Baptist, which has been open in it’s present form since 1912, and had a tour.


St. John the Baptist Cathedral (1)

The Cathedral is one of only a few with hand-carved Stations of the Cross (as opposed to paintings or reliefs).

St. John the Baptist Cathedral (4)
It was hard to photograph due to the light pouring in the windows on either side.

The Cathedral is very reminiscent of the grand cathedrals of Europe. It was quite beautiful.

Then we walked to a few more Squares that we had missed the day before. We also came upon the infamous Pirate House, which supposedly housed pirates back in the day and is now a restaurant.

Pirate House

After that, we drove out to nearby Tybee Island to see Fort Pulaski.

Fort Pulaski (1)

We spent several hours at the Fort in the museum, getting a tour and walking the grounds on our own. It was so cool to see the shelling on the outside of the fort from the Union forces during the Civil War.

Fort Pulaski (4)

We learned that although it took 18 years to build the fort, it only took the Union troops 30 hours to breach it and cause the Confederates to surrender the fort. There are many cannon shells still lodged in the fort. This is also one of the only forts that we have ever seen with a filled moat surrounding it.

Fort Pulaski (2)

Our next stop was Wormsloe Historic site to see the beautiful moss-covered live oak drive made famous in the filming of Forrest Gump.

Run Forrest

Here is my photo taken through the gate.

Wormsloe Site (2)

Because sadly, that was as close as we could get.

Wormsloe Site (3)

We didn’t realize that it would be closed by the time we arrived. Darn it.

Wormsloe Site (1)

After another 15,000 steps (or almost 7 miles) of walking, we decided to head on home after successfully exploring Savannah and the surrounding area.

It was a fun time away and I’m glad that we spent time exploring beautiful, historic Savannah, Georgia!

It's About Me, The Husband, Traveling

Savannah Road Trip – Day One

After some contemplation, Carl and I decided that we didn’t really feel like the 5-1/2 drive back and forth to Santa Rosa Beach, especially now that beach season has passed. So instead, we decided to make the much shorter 2-1/2 hour drive back and forth to Savannah, Georgia, a place that we have yet to visit, for a few days.

We left on Thursday morning, arriving in Savannah at around noon. Armed with a map and walking tour guide, we set out to see the 24 Historic Squares established in the middle of neighborhoods (called wards) in the 18th and 19th centuries.


It was a lovely sunny and warm-but-not-too-hot day for walking through this lovely, historic district learning about the history of the area and admiring the beautiful homes. At each square we visited, I would pull up the description and read about the history of the square, who it was named for and why they were significant and learn about historic homes surrounding the square. So many grand old homes dating back to the mid-1800’s!

At one square, all the surrounding streets were blocked off by barricades and police cars and we noticed all sorts of heavy equipment and antique props throughout the square.

Movie Set on the Square (1)

Even the cobblestone streets were covered in dirt. We quickly realized that it was being used for a movie set. When we noticed a “City Dog Pound” prop and a semi truck parked nearby with “Disney Buena Vista” on the side, we thought…what live-action film could Disney be making involving dogs?

Movie Set on the Square (3)

Since 101 Dalmatians has already been done, I quickly landed on Lady and the Tramp. Later that day, we talked to a police officer at one of the barricades and he confirmed that I was correct! It was amazing the amount of work and equipment (dozens and dozens of semi trucks parked along the area) needed to film one presumably very small scene of a movie. By the next morning, everything was loaded up and workers were scraping up and sweeping all the dirt from the streets. When you see the live-action Lady and the Tramp movie in a few years, think of us when you see the park scene with the Dog Catcher!

One of our favorite sites on our walk was the old prison.

Prison (1)

It still had some of the original iron doors intact.

Prison (2)

We also enjoyed walking around the historic Colonial Park Cemetery. It was interesting how they had stacked up the old gravestones along the outer walls, assumingly because they no longer could identify where the original gravesites were located.


We walked along the river front, even stopping for ice cream at Leopold’s, where ice cream has been made on site since 1919, as a reward for all of our walking.

Leopold's Ice Cream (1)

After walking back to our hotel and then finding a local pub for dinner (where I had Savannah specialties of Fried Green Tomatoes and Shrimp and Grits), we headed out and walked around some more at night for a few more hours.

Exploring at Night (1)

When all was said and done, we walked a total of 27,803 steps (or 12.5 miles) on Thursday!

You can believe that we crashed hard when our heads hit the pillow that night!

I’ll tell you about Day Two tomorrow.

Just for Laughs

Mega Millions


Tomorrow morning when I wake up, I’ll find out if I’ve beat the 1 in 303 million odds of winning the all-time world record lottery jackpot. Because, no, even with the prospect of winning $1.6 billion dollars, I’m not staying up until 11pm ET tonight to see if I’ve won.

I just wanted to document that if I’m so blessed as to win such an excessive amount of money, these are some of the things that I plan on doing with it (besides investing and saving plenty for my family/children/grandchildren):

  • Donating a large portion to our church, some missionaries that we support and various charities that we are passionate about, including Teen Challenge. Probably even staring our own charity involving something our whole family can get involved in.
  • Providing each child, parent, sibling, niece and nephew with a new house, new vehicle and a little nest egg. You’re welcome, family!
  • Purchasing myself houses in those areas that I would move between as desired each season…Hawaii, Minnesota, Tucson and Jacksonville for a start.
  • Buying myself a new vehicle or two for sure. I’m definitely ready for an upgrade from the 2003 car that I drive.
  • Giving Anthony and Kameko their dream wedding and honeymoon and bringing in everybody that would like to attend (just the wedding, not the honeymoon…ha!).
  • Travel, travel and more travel! Some traveling that I would like to do includes cruising (of course) but more specifically some intercontinental cruising and some river cruising. I would love to visit Costa Rica, Australia, New Zealand, Iceland and more of Europe. I would also love to rent buy an RV and travel all across the USA.
  • Hire people to do those things I don’t love doing but do because somebody has to do it! Those things include grocery shopping, cooking, cleaning, maintaining the pool and folding the laundry (I don’t mind the washing and drying…it’s the last step that I hate).
  • Yearly family vacations to all sorts of fun places.
  • Ripping out all the flooring in our house and replacing it with high quality, beautiful, hand-scraped bamboo flooring throughout.
  • Buying a new fancy adjustable bed that heats and cools each side independently.

That’s all that I can think of right off the top of my head.

What would YOU do if YOU won the jackpot??

The Family

What’s Up with the Family

I really do try to blog more but life is just different now with the kids (mostly) grown and on their own. I had thought possibly that I would stop blogging at my 10th anniversary, but with Anthony’s college graduation and wedding in the next year, I wanted to document those events. So anyway, I did want to give a few random updates on each family member.


1.2003 Coco Cuffs

Zack eating his Coco Cuffs, as he called them.

Zack is still working about 30-hours a week at the lumber yard and attending classes at FSCJ three nights a week. We were a little nervous since we found out that Zack had to take and pass remedial reading, English and math classes in order to obtain his certificate since he scored so low on the placement tests (I’m sure partly due to lack of trying since he didn’t think it would matter). So this semester he has remedial reading and one introductory computer class. And much to our joy, he actually said he likes the reading class more than the computer class, which is a little too basic/boring for him. He’s off to a good start and we are hoping to add a few more classes to his schedule next semester. Zack is an officially registered voter and is excited to vote in the primaries next month. If anybody is looking for a good political debate, Zack loves to talk politics! Or Marvel movies. Or video games. Or computers. Or current events. 🙂


Portland (16)...Thanksgiving Day

Anthony is working hard at his last semester of college. He spends most of his time attending classes, writing papers and face-timing with Kameko in Hawaii. We were happy to hear that he actually got together with his cousin, Abby, in Phoenix for dinner one night and they are planning on a camping trip together next month.


Thanksgiving with Gma and Gpa (3)

Kelly is finishing up her graduate coursework and working at an unpaid internship at a Mental Health Clinic in Minneapolis. She is enjoying it and gaining a lot of experience being a Mental Health counselor. She is also continuing her position as an AuPair coordinator for the Minneapolis area and oversees about local 10 AuPairs and families. And as if that wasn’t enough, she nannies for various children in her spare time! Her boyfriend, Avram, bought a rental house with his parents and he has been spending his weekends fixing it up over the past few months. During the week, he continues as a full-time inner city, middle school history teacher, a job that is not for the faint-at-heart. Way to go, Avram!


Speech-Language-Hearing Clinic, LTD., Director
Owner/Director of the Speech-Language-Hearing Clinic in Naperville, IL

My favorite, weekly Tuesday client had the nerve to try to start thinking about retirement (he turns 65 in December) and is cutting back on his hours so I’m only working for him twice a month now (as opposed to weekly), which is a bummer since I like working with him and my husband liked the money. I still have a total of 8 clients, which works out to about 10 hours of work a week, which is good with me but my husband would like to see more. Slave-driver!

In my free time the past few months, I scanned, edited, organized and saved to my hard drive and “the cloud” all 55+ photo albums from 1986 to 2006 (when we went all digital), which equaled over 37,000 photos and 75 GB of space. It was really fun reliving ALL of our family memories over the years and seeing the kids grow up before my eyes!


bike (1)
Carl’s 30th birthday fling!

Carl, who works more than 10 hours a week (barely) is excited for the cooler weather since it means that it is football season and so he can start on a few home improvement projects. The current project involves updating our guest bathroom before the deluge of visitors for Christmas. Stay tuned for a blog post when it’s completed!

5.Jacobsens joined us for next 3 nights (3)
Vacationing with good friends.

So many happy memories!