our love day 2017

Last week, the girls worked hard to double up on school, so that they could take the day off on Valentine’s Day. They didn’t understand why they didn’t get the day off normally because Valentine’s is a holiday (to them). I tried to explain what kind of holiday it actually is, but I don’t think they quite understood. It was a lot of… “But mommy, it’s a holiday! We have to celebrate!”

Our love day morning started with Ben and me giving them the heart surprise balls. They had a blast unraveling it to discover their little treats and trinkets. Their favorite treat was the self-inflatable balloon. It was a lot of fun to watch inflate and we all anxiously waited for the loud “POP!” it would make.

After the girls finished unraveling their balls, Ben had me sit on the bed and handed me this little booklet. It was a quirky story of all the things we do together and then it ended with him giving me these quirky shoes I had been eyeing from Rachel Comey a couple seasons ago. He managed to find them when they went on super sale from Shop Bird.

Ben went off to work and the girls spent all morning working on Valentine presents. I had to limit each person to making only one thing per person, otherwise, they would make 10 things for each person. Handmade gifts can get out of hand pretty quickly with my little ones.

After lunch, the girls and I headed out to Ben’s work to deliver some valentines we made for him. I created these honey bear jar cards for each girl to fill out their name, and we cut out paper hearts and stuck them on a stick so they were kind of like heart balloons on a stick. On each heart, each girl wrote one reason why they love Ben BEARY much. He was definitely surprised by our presence and presents! The girls loved being able to visit him at work.

When Ben came home, we all cuddled together and watched Cutthroat Kitchen with some homemade ice cream. Once the kids went to bed, we parked ourselves on our bedroom floor, with my take away sushi and his bowl of canned beans and rice, and we had ourselves a simple, but romantic evening together while watching 24 Legacy.

While he spoiled me with a creative story and shoes, my gift for him wasn’t quite that fancy. The paper heart balloon I gave him read, “I love you BEARY much because are you irresistibly smooth and XXTRA hot!” Inside the box, there was a package of Lindt chocolates, their motto is that their chocolates are “irresistibly smooth,” and the “XXTRA hot” pointed to his other gift, which was a bag of XXTRA hot Cheetos. Ben is definitely irresistibly smooth and xxtra hot, but most importantly, he leads and teaches me to savor Jesus more. He is my valentine 365 days a year, well, minus a few days here and there where we might be fighting. Once we kiss and make up though, he’s back to being my valentine.

Clearly, we had a very full day of celebrating love for our children and each other. Hope your love day was spent celebrating love with family, friends, or just treating yourself to an extra piece of chocolate (or some shoes)!



my four galentines

Yesterday, I took my four little galentines on a Galentine’s Day date. We woke up and finished up school by noon, ate lunch, then went out for some sunshine and cupcakes. I wanted to check out the new Baked Dessert Bar location, and of course, I knew my sweet tooth loving gals wouldn’t mind that one bit. On Mondays, they have $1 mini cupcakes, so each of us picked one. True and Soul picked out strawberry cheesecake cupcakes, Brave and I went for a salted caramel pretzel cupcakes, and Glow went for s’mores. Each cupcake was moist and absolutely delicious. Their new location is nice and spacious, so I think we’re going to come back one day to do a little homeschooling there, and nibble on desserts on our break. As much as I love staying home (I’m such a homebody and I hate traffic, which is hard to avoid in SoCal), it is really wonderful to get out and enjoy a beautiful day with my sweet galentines. It reminds me I need to take them out on more adventures!


soul turns seven

Our Soulie turned seven about a month ago, and she’s the one that intentionally tries to be like me, so her birthday request was to stay in bed all day (like I do) and do nothing, but watch movies. Thus, that’s exactly what we did. She did have specific food requests… pancakes for breakfast, In-N-Out for lunch, two pies (1 pecan, 1 pumpkin) for her birthday cake, and homemade pineapple and prosciutto pizza for dinner. Funny thing is she barely ate any of it! When she’s excited, she tends not to eat, and this pretty much happens every birthday. She’ll make these grand food requests, but just have a bite or two. Nevertheless, I’m happy I can make her little birthday food wishes come true.

Ben and I had 7 gifts for her, her handmade birthday outfit (see more about it here), her own Fuji Instax camera, film, photo album, a bag, and mechanical pencils. Her sisters went all out with handmade gifts for her, and Brave even played the Happy Birthday song on the guitar for her. It was such a chill day, and we all hung out together and watched a bunch of movies in bed. I’d say by her smile you can tell that it was exactly the way she wanted to usher in seven.




our mini thanksgiving 2016

We’ve started doing our own Bratcher Thanksgiving on Wednesday nights (here is last year’s), so we can have some quiet time together to reflect on the holiday and share what we are thankful for. During last year’s Thanksgiving, we learned that the first Thanksgiving, more likely an autumn harvest feast, did not serve stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, or pies (they didn’t have potatoes, wheat, flour, or butter). Thus, we discussed that for our next Thanksgiving, we would do research and serve things that were more likely seen at the first feast.

Ben was in charge of doing the research and he came up with the menu for the celebration…
Stewed pumpkins
Sweet pudding of Indian corn

Fresh cranberries (fresh and unsweetened)

Turnips (roasted, although theirs were likely boiled)

Stewed turkey breast with herbs and onions
Steamed clams
Steamed lobster

The stewed pumpkins weren’t super popular. The girls and I were fans of the sweet pudding of Indian corn, but it was so much better the next morning served as a breakfast porridge with fresh fruit in it. Fresh cranberries are tart and take getting used to, but once we adjusted to the tartness, we were popping them in like (sour) grapes. Only half the family liked the roasted turnips, but I threw the leftovers in a soup for tonight’s dinner and everyone like it much better that way. The turnips absorbed the soup and it took away some of the pungent flavor. The stewed turkey was True’s favorite (she had 4 slices!), while the rest of the girls devoured the clams. I think I like this menu for our Bratcher mini Thanksgivings because we celebrate Thanksgiving so many times with our families, so it’s nice to serve something a little different at home. For next year’s meal, I think we will skip the bird and serve mussels, lobster, and striped bass.

For our tablescape, I rolled out kraft paper, set out each plate settings, and then painted their names on the side as the place cards. We’re assuming the original Thanksgiving was likely earlier in the fall because we read they served plums and melons with their meals. The mandarins we placed on each plate definitely weren’t true to geography/era, but since our garden has plenty to share, it added a nice touch to our tablescape. I snipped off a couple vines from my jasmine and that provided our table with some greenery, and the white candles (from Dollar Tree, or order from here) set the mood.

I love our mini Thanksgiving feast tradition, and I especially love hearing what the girls are thankful for. After dinner, the girls read us a story about the first Thanksgiving, and put on a show for us.


sweet 35th birthday things

The birthday tradition is breakfast in bed for the celebrant with whatever it is they request. Well, I wanted my usual cup of milk, with 1 scoop or protein and peanut butter powder, plus 1 tablespoon of chia seeds. It may sound boring, but it’s my favorite breakfast. Along with my simple breakfast, my family gave me a couple other little treats. They gave me a box full of kid made jewelry (rings and yarn necklaces), along with chocolates to snack on while I spent my day in bed, and Wicked on vinyl. I think my favorite was how they decorated the box!

My only birthday request, besides my specific dinner requests, was to spend a couple days in bed doing nothing. Ben was home to take care of the girls and everything else, so I got caught up on some shows and read a book. I was also able to work on some hand-sewing projects. I love (and appreciate) having a couple days to do nothing. I’m always in go-mode, so it’s nice to stop and take a day off sometimes.

Before lunch, the girls came in my bedroom to surprise me with a show. It was complete with props, outfit changes, memorized poems, choreography, big bundles of cuteness, and a lot of laughs. It was the best “Happy Birthday Mommy Show” ever!

When we started dating, Ben gave me this “1000 Things I love About You” book, with the intent to keep writing in it throughout our entire lives. He redid the whole book a few years back into this antique French journal, so for my birthday, he added more sweet things into it. We are up to reason #55, so he still has a long while to go until a thousand, but Lord willing, we have a long life, so there’s plenty of time. He fills this in on random days, not just birthdays, but he was a little behind (maybe really behind), so he got caught up for my 35th birthday.

To spoil me even more, the girls gave me more handmade gifts… a little paper box to hold my nail polish, a personalized notebook, and a homesewn bag. It was a pretty simple and laid-back birthday, just like I requested, and it was the best way to usher in my 35th year of life!


cutthroat kitchen: bratcher edition

After Halloween last year, True decided that she wanted to be Alton Brown for the next Halloween. The other 3 decided after watching Star Wars Episode VII. True and Brave blended the two ideas together and came up with Cutthroat Kitchen: Bratcher Edition.

We are huge Cutthroat Kitchen fans, so they were so excited to bring one of their favorite shows to life. We even had some arguments because they wanted to film a full 1 and half hour episode (each cooking time is 30 minutes). Obviously, they cut it down a bit. What you see here is completely planned by them. They wrote a script, True directed (my sister filmed and edited the video together), and they would even practice for it! I just came in to do my “judging” and I was having a hard time keeping a straight face as I played along.

The girls are so proud of their episode (Ben and I are too!), so we hope you enjoy it!

Have a look back at some of our past Halloween stories…
2015: The Mystery of the Missing Leia and Yoda
2014: The Zookeeper’s Wild Day
2013: The Mystery of Pinkie Pielilocks and the Three Bears
2012: The Adventures of Spider-Girl & She-ra
2011: Barbershop Quartet
2010: The Three Little Piggies
2009: Hannah and Gretel
2008: The Untold Story of Oz
2007: Little Red Riding Hood

Happy Halloween friends!

video filmed and edited by: Reinna Sherie


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