Easter on The Ranch



We spent Easter Sunday on the ranch together with just our little family - a rare event coming from big families on both sides! We had intended to go to Easter mass in Fort Jones - even stopped by Saturday to check the time at the adorable little church in town! - but after a late night at the neighbors the girls were all sound asleep at 9am and seemed ambitious to get up, fed, dressed and have pleasant church goers ;)

but the Easter bunny still found us!


and then we had an egg hunt up behind the house


my Ukrainian egg attempts. Not winning any awards here ;)


the girls found them and hid them all again 


JJ in her finest Easter ranch wardrobe


her curls are the best after she actually has a shampoo ;)


and this kid made fast friends with a pet Lizard - carrying it around everywhere and insisted on bringing it home in a Tupperware habitat with straws for air holes. #sorrylizard


and there were many lizard shows. JJ was Francie's loyal assistant (just don't ask her to hold the lizard)


I love my view from the cozy couch in this little cabin :) happy Easter!


and another reason to celebrate - the end of Lent means Heff and I can drink our road trip Diet Cokes again, woohoo! ;)


Emmy's Baptism Day

We celebrated a big day for Emmy on January 18, 2014 - she was baptized a Mormon! It was a special day for Emmy and she had all her biggest supporters there to be a part of it. They'd never seen so many catholics in a Mormon church - whooping and cheering when she got dunked in the font! (I guess that is not the norm ;) Emmy has always been very spiritual and as we all know - a very special soul! She met a friend who is LDS and attended church with her and said "I've never met so many people like me in one place!" We are so happy for her and loved being a part of a really special day.

Getting to the church - the girls rushed out of the car to see their Em

Peas in a pod!

all of our relatives were there - on time even! Aunt Kim gives Francie a squeeze

One happy Em! And dressed beautifully modest of course ;)

Tiny and Gladys - who Maisie said looked "beautiful and not recognizing" all dressed up for Emmy's day. We didn't take any photos during the ceremony but it was a beautiful and very special service. New friends and the missionaries she met with spoke about her and then we went to a different room for the actual baptism in the font of water. The kids were all right in the front and watched her get a full body dunk backwards (followed by the cheering!) but Tiny was SO confused and for the rest of the 45 minutes back in the ceremony room she was yelling "Mem!? Wah-wah!?" (like WHAT just happened?! Emmy went in the water at church?!?!"

Kelly and Lauren after the ceremony pushing the girls in the basketball court - of course Mormon's have basketball courts in their churches?! (funny side note: Francie had been one of Emmy's biggest critiques about converting. The conversation one morning before school went like this:

Francie: "Emmy, why do you want to be a Mormon?"

Emmy: "Well Francie it's important to me and I feel like I belong in the church."

Francie: "Are you sure it's not just because you like hanging out with Stacy?"

Emmy: "Yes Francie I like Stacy but it's more about the church and community."

Francie: "But Emmy, You are a CATHOLIC." (deadpan straight staredown to Emmy.)

Mary - had to jump in: "Francie, it's ok we are welcoming to all religions and it's most important we all believe in God. Emmy can still come to our church too even if she is Mormon."

Francie: "Well. Ok. But... we have donuts at Catholic church." (haha good one France)

(and Emmy under her breath to me "Can I tell her we have a pretty Temple that looks like Disneyland!?"

and after chatting for awhile after the service we invited everyone back to our house to celebrate of course! I was pretty flattered when two of the Mormon boys came up to me as they were leaving and said "THIS was the best after party we've ever been to!" Family specialty.. mormon conversion "after parties" :)

Drew and Jerry

Tiny, probably looking for Em to ask her again about the "wah-wah"

Em and her buds - JP and Will Frimel (who she nanny's for in the afternoons!)

Awesome BFF Maddie who flew down from Gonzaga to surprise Emmy!

Andy and Mimi talking to Jefferson, who baptized Emmy

Em and Scar


the sweet Missionary sisters who helped Emmy prepare for her baptism

James, Uncle Rich (Emmy's Dad - who's Mom was a Mormon and was happy to see her happy in part of her family's roots!) and Heff. (and YES our after party included alcohol since everyone is asking - Catholics are fully supportive as long as they have their celebration drinks too :)

SO proud and happy for you Em.

Lots of supporters - the best :)

and a quilt we made for Emmy with a collection of vintage and new laces and fabrics - everyone there that day choose a muslin heart and pinned it on the quilt to show their love.

These 8 kids are SO LUCKY to get to have Emmy in their lives everyday helping to take good care and be an example for them.

and the Baker girls too!

The big kids all gave a toast to Emmy - it was SO sweet and they each did an awesome job speaking in front of everyone! Francie had asked the night before to give a toast but said she might get too shy. She practiced though and said "Emmy- I am really happy for you that you are being a Mormon now. I know you made a good decision. Even though you are leaving our family church - the church that our WHOLE family goes to - I am still happy for you and I love you." (#catholicguilt?!) Francie was too shy to give that very direct little toast :) but the big guys said "a toast - to Emmy? I got this!"

What a handsome, polite, well-spoken guy!

Francie was in heaven with all the big girls

they all were!

Lots of Love for Emmy

Em and Jefferson

and a lot of ladies who love Emmy

We know Kaky (Emmy's Mom) was looking down from Heaven with a big smile and a kiss with her sisters

thoughtful gifts from the Baker girls!

these two :)

Yes we do

Witches' Night Out 2013

We had another fun Witches' Night Out for the 5th year in a row! It's a fun tradition we have to keep up... bringing friends from all over together for a night of witching gab and fun. We planned to do it in the backyard but it was really cold that night so we moved it inside and spooked it up in there too!

Marisa and Alicia and I got the house ready for the witches...

Until Next Year Witches!


Happy Birthday Maisie Moo!! I can't believe you are FOUR. You are such a sweet little girl and a light in our family. You LOVE babies and your little sisters and ask me probably 12 times a day if you can 'hold Tessie' which you do with a big smile on your face. Yesterday I found you sitting on the front porch in a tiny chair holding her around the belly in her little onesie (you had gotten her OUT of her crib!) and had the iPod next to you playing music for her. You were whispering to her telling her what a good baby she was. You are so sweet Maisie!

we had a birthday celebration for you in the morning. You woke up and said "let's go see if there are decorations!" Emmy got you sprinkle donuts and Jamba Juice as you requested. You had cards from Jannie and Aunt Marge and your sisters. Mom and Dad got you art supplies and outdoor stuff. Walkie -Talkies even!

and Gladys our awesome housekeeper got you a HUGE hello kitty pinata filled with candy. She knows you well! She brought it two days early and you had it sit at the table with us every meal.

Dad got you dressed in your cute skinny jeans and tank top (you are bean pole Maise!) and brought you down to see

love all your cute little Maisie faces

opening presents

You wore a pretty pink dress to school (after Francie spilled a Jamba ALL over you at breakfast) with your new sparkly pink shoes from Emmy and a pink headband and pink bracelets. Not sure what your favorite color is? ;)

You love that you get to spend so much time with your god-mother Emmy - she made this cute collage for you - Maisie by the years!

Dad and I took you to school for your special birthday morning. Teacher Jamie was sick but Francie got to sit with your group for morning story time and a birthday candle

and even Tess, Emmy and JJ came to watch!

you were so cute up there - your friends were so excited to sing to you

then DAD got to read your favorite book to your whole class! (The Sneeches! thanks Aunt Maureen)

you looked pretty proud to have your Dad up there

he did a good job reading the whole book

we just had some family and neighbors over for dinner for your birthday. You made treat bags at PLAY in the afternoon and then we all went to Baskin Robbins and picked out a cake.

you and Francie decorated

then it was pinata time!!!

it's a spectator sport

Daniel did it in!

bye-bye kitty!

Gladys and her buddy Tiny Tess

more after dinner fun

and CAKE!

maybe already had some chocolate cookies face

make a wish

love that little face!



and the long awaited blanket Jannie MADE FOR MAISIE!


pretty good birthday :) here's to being FOUR!

Easter at Jannie and Grampa's

We went over to Jannie and Grampa's for Easter afternoon for lots of fun with cousins.

Francie with her buddies Caroline and Brooke

and it isn't a party til Jannie brings out the Cascarones!

I got to demonstrate the crackin egg technique on Drew- good sport Drewby!

Mimi practicing

sister smash!

Emmy let Tessa "pretend" to get her :)

Wine and confetti - happy UJ

Beautiful Emmy and her buddy Tiny Tess

Jannie and her girls! (just missing Scarlet James!)

and then it was egg cracking contest time (a Greek Easter tradition we adopted! Last egg end to crack wins)

Line up

last ones standing - Jerry and Heff...

Jerry wins!

basking in the glory -

... but notice quiet little Maisie in the corner...

Maisie still had an uncracked egg! (questionable if she cracked with anyone ;)

Jerry ready to take her down - (no a godfather would never do that...)

and it's MAISIE for the win!!

pretty happy about it

and then on to pizza making

if anyone in the family will want to be in the restaurant business - it's this one. (don't worry, we'll tell her to wise up)

pass the baby time

and trike rides

aw such a sad face for cousin kate!

the teenage boy cousins - Luke, James and Drew are very patient with the baby girls!

and where's crazy J been in these pictures? Oh there she is :)



How am I so lucky to have these four little girlies?! They even agreed to put on pretty Easter dresses for me - and a few of them smiled for a sisters photo on the front porch before we left for Easter at Jannie and Grampa's (some ladies walking by the sidewalked stopped to watch the picture taking spectacle as Heff was trying to make them smile and look behind me - when I called it "I think I got ONE" he said "Thank God - let's not do that again til next year." The ladies laughed at us :)

This is how a lot of them looked ;)

and of course many many like this

but we sure love them!

Christmas in Red Bluff 2012

As per usual - Christmas in Red Bluff was craziness! 15 cousins, 12 girls/3 boys, 13 of them 5 years old and under! We all stay under the same roof at Oma's house and it's just all kids all the time. And lots of really good food, lots of cocktails and beers and lots of fun. We also had a big birthday bash for Oma and Nana's 65th bday at Kat & Donald's new house on the 28th. We are so lucky to have such a big, crazy family - especially to celebrate holidays like these!

4 babies in 4 months

off on a river walk

Maureen's latest sidekick - baby Molly

Heff and JJ ready to explore

cousins looking for flat rocks

Izza and Francie on the island

big girls

JJ throwing rocks then wiping her dirty hands on Dad

Brian and a bunch of babies

overkill on my 1960's polaroid filter?! :)

Kat, Me and Maureen with our baby girls - more filter overkill.

not much love for the group photo request

big girls smile for me

heading back to the caravan of cars

carrying big rocks - Francie and I had a little life lesson work on the walk back. She claimed the rock was too heavy and kept cermoniuosly and dramatically dropping it. I told her "we do hard things" (thanks LIFE blog) and we talked about this each of the 23 times she dropped it. It was a long walk.

Tehama county is pretty even in it's dry, barren state

Family photo (thanks Andrea)

pick up tailgate cheese sticks

and another dinner feeding 30+

new additions get plates this year

crazy kids

love that stare down OD!

15 cousins

cute babies! all look like their dads

big sisters and little sisters

dinner at Kat & Donald's cute house for the twin's 65th birthday bash

We left the other 11 kids at Oma and Opa's with 3 babysitters and 4 extra large pizzas :) the babies were along for the ride

count um. 9 months oldest to 4 months youngest

Sidecars and a whole lotta binkies

great toasts to the birthday girls

a few pies

and after cake and Happy Birthday - Heff and I were off on a running start to grab the kids, pack up, drive 4 hours home, un-pack, re-pack and get on a 7am flight for our next adventure!!

Getting ready for Christmas

The stocking were hung by the chimney with care... and Jannie has a lot of work to catch up on needlepointing stockings! haha - kidding JanKnit :) We got the house decorated and Christmas playlist plugged in the ipod to get us all in the spirit, just a few random photos of Christmas at our house - the first year in a new house and as a family of six :)

First tree in the new house

colored lights on the fence (Heff's favorite :) and Santa hand-me-down from Jannie on the porch

Horse and carriage drop off!

and the New Baby tree Jannie made for Tessa - all her own sweet ornaments in red and silver. love it Jannie!

and my FAVORITE part of December - all the pretty holiday cards we get from friends. There are some pretty creative ones this year! I ran out of room but maybe should have rethought where to hang them since I've covered the windows and I never take them down until February

and the Thursday before Christmas the girls were already out of preschool and Emmy was sick - I had a million things to cross of my list before the ball started rolling down the holiday hill the next day so the girls all piled on my at Bumble while I worked on my laptop. It's not like we have a PLAYROOM there or anything :)

Wishing You a Very Merry Christmas!!

from our family to yours! This year our card was a combined Merry Christmas/Announcement for Tessa/We've Moved card. Way to pack it in on one stamp. Jennifer Baciocco took our family photos and Sara helped me pull it all together on a card that we printed in town (way to shop local huh? ;) I'm pretty sure Jen might have photoshopped someones head to produce a photo with all six of us looking towards the camera - but we'll take it. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you and yours!

Thanksgiving 2012

Heff and I hosted our first Thanksgiving in the new house! We had a relatively small group for our family but 20 of us gathered to cook a giant bird (thanks to the Matthews in Chico for raising it!) and hang out together. The girls

getting "Yummy" the Turkey ready

and on the spit! New BBQ Heff assembled Thanksgiving morning - still has to be faced with stone and finished off but it worked great for Thanksgiving day

Guys around the BBQ, their favorite place to be

aww JJ love for Dad

two tables set for 20

Mimi, Kate and Jannie with the girlies

cousins - lots of joking around and teasing of course :)

I don't remember what was so funny but Francie thought it was hilarious

Jannie and Grampa brought the pram over toour house while we can use it for Tess! That's JJ in there kicker her dirty little feet pretending she's the baby :)

and the champagne drinkers on the porch (I had to go raid their "good stuff" stash :)

John and Heff with the bird!

and I was cracking up my Dad was wearing a kids IKEA arts-and-crafts apron he pulled off the wall :)

Maisie and JJ are ready to eat

Instagramming Thanksgiving dinner is a must ;)

and proving that's a "Farm to fork" bird!

Dinner is served!

maybe doubling the mashed potatoes recipe was agressive?

Maisie insisted on the drumstick - even though it took her six tries to figure out how to get one bite off of it

turkey consumers

Everybody was supposed to write a leaf for the Thankful Tree - but my brother Jerry just held court and asked everyone what they were thankful for while he wrote them. My favorites are Caller ID, Costco, Picture Text Messages and "Speel check" haha

after dinner Lego building, Mimi the biggest kid of all of them was in her element ;)

and what's Thanksgiving without a reenactment of the first Thanksgiving Pageant?!

getting ready for pageant in my office before the big show

soccer ball was totally a time appropriate prop

taking a bow

and the big Turkey Trivia challenge (25 questions about family members personal information - always fun and always a fee fights over the RIGHT answer!)

Jannie the Matriarch in charge

Hank watching over the Turkey Trivia prizes -

it's a family sport

Big winners

Jannie and her girls PJ'ed up

late night hanging out letting Big Uncle Jerry entertain us :)

and Claire reading books to the girls in bed - Francie said her favorite part of Thanksgiving was "Claire... and Aunt Mimi" ;)

Dad in 'camo' with a pink baby blanketed-girl!

Uncle Jerry gave each of the girls a $20 dollar bill! (just like my grampa used to do on special occasions) and JJ looked at it, held it up and goes "Monies? Monies! ARCADE!" haha

happy kid!

and happy, tired mom and dad :) photo by Maisie

Halloween Extravaganza 2012

We had a rocking Halloween Extravaganza party at Bumble the night before Halloween! We took over Bumble and Area 151 and created a whole world of spookiness and fun. We had over 100 people but it worked great to have everyone spread out at the arcade with food and drinks at Bumble (plus facepainting and crafts in the Playroom) Parties like this make all the hassle of owning a restaurant almost worth it ;) Here were the pre-halloween festivities!

Heff took Area 151's choo-choo train on it's maiden voyage in the parking lot for rides. (It lights up with blue LED's at night - just wait for the Downtown Los Altos Holiday Lights Parade ;)

Francie got to come help me and Tess with set up in the afternoon while her sisters were napping. Result = awesome facepaint...

...and helping the "mixologist" tests his potions

40 bales of straw delivered - Rashelle and I rolled and dollyed they around to set up a little pumpkin patch and photo op when you came out of the haunted house. It's amazing how fast straw bales can fillout an big space - and how much work it is to clean them up the next day!

And when Heff came over to have lunch with me at Bumble I asked him what the chances were I could find a truck load of corn kernels by the afternoon. He claimed it couldn't be that hard - a few calls to feed stores later and he actually agreed to go pick it up for me, what a husband!

So we made a pit out of straw bales...

and threw in 600 pounds of corn! Jump on in

The tutoring room in 151 turned into a spooky haunted house complete with characters who jump out at you - my new events manager, Betsy, at Bumble is AMAZING at all of this!!


telling the ghost-guy "I wasn't even that scared!"

all of the staff hard at work at Bumble - it's so fun to set these parties up!

Spider girl

Wonder girl

Whole room photo booth - this was soo fun!

Checking to make sure everything is getting cooked in the kitchen

Ready for a party!

Me and Heff...

or Frankenstein and didn't-have-time-to-change into anything cool so I'll be a blue-haired cowgirl?

Showing off what she learned about dry ice

Spooky train conductor

and mean mom testing JJ's reaction with a creepy alien head on - she was skeptical!