Monday, April 14, 2014

Weekly Wrap-up ~ Thumbs Up


We just finished our MUCH-DESERVED Spring Break trip to Florida and are now back home in Missouri. It was a perfect week and we are sad it's over, but are looking forward to our final Spring Break week at home. Good thing we have no plans because it's supposed to snow today??? What?

The Past Week in our Regular Life

We left our house last Friday afternoon and drove two hours to spend the night at our friend's house. Then we were up at 3:30 a.m. ready to leave for our trip. We had a very good drive considering we were piled in one car with five kids. There were lots of movies watched and snacks eaten.


One of the kids has asthma and he was having some troubles at the beginning of the trip. Then Brynne arrived in Florida with a sore throat and a fever. She had a very fitful night of sleep that first night and ran a low-grade fever all day on Sunday. They spent the first day on the couch playing Minecraft. But after that they were both all better and ready to have a fun vacation.


The Schooling Basics

NONE. The End.

The Schooling Fun Stuff

We did log some school hours this week! We spent 3 hours at the National Naval Aviation Museum.


We spent 2 hours at Mess Hall - an interactive Science museum.


We watched a practice show of the Blue Angels and got autographs and talked with them.


We spent many hours wave jumping. (If you don't think that's P.E. then you have never jumped waves.)


We toured Fort Pickens.


And we stopped by the pier to chase the pigeons and look at the boats.


The Kitchen

Jodi and I made a specific meal list and stuck to it this week. It was nice to share the kitchen and meal preparations with a friend. We may or may not have sipped a few glasses of wine.


The Days Ahead

This week we are on vacation from our vacation. We are taking off this week from school and just getting the house reorganized. Brynne has softball practice a couple of evenings this week, we have bowling on Saturday, and Easter is Sunday.

The Books We are Reading

Mom: Revenge Wears Prada by Lauren Weisberger (finished), Fly Away by Kristin Hannah, Living So That by Wendy Blight.

Brynne: A Surprise for Lily by Mary Ann Kinsinger and Suzanne Woods Fisher.

Eli: Big Nate: On a Roll by Lincoln Peirce (finished), Big Nate: In the Zone by Lincoln Peirce.

Read Aloud:  The Raft by Robert Trumbull.

The People and the Places

We had such a great time with these people this week!


The Savings Jar(s)

I put $5.30 in the change jar.

The Bible in a Year

I did not read my Bible each day this past week. But this week I will be reading two days' worth each day to get caught up.

The Favorite Things


Rick surprised the kids by coming home on Saturday evening to greet them when we walked in the door. They didn't know he was in the house and when they saw him they pounced on him! Brynne just sobbed and sobbed. They love their daddy so much and were so happy to see him.

Kyndal and Dawson were awesome while I was gone and I came home to a clean house. I was so grateful to them.


Linking up





Friday, April 11, 2014

Five Days of …. Missouri - Quirky Places {Schoolhouse Review Crew Blog Hop}


I have had a lot of fun sharing my home state of Missouri with you this week. I have shared all of the fun things to do in St. Louis, Kansas City, and the Ozarks. I have filled you in on a couple of remarkable historic landmarks in the Laura Ingalls Wilder home and childhood home of Mark Twain. But today I thought I would tell you about some of those quirky places that you might want to pull over to see if you are traveling through the state.

Here are a few of my favorites on the Roadside America list of Missouri Tourist Attractions and Oddities:

Big Chair in Branson, Missouri (there are several things in Branson .. it is a quirky town!).


Precious Moments Park and Chapel in Carthage, Missouri.


Jim Brown's Gas Station in Center, Missouri.


Oldest Continuously Operating Motel on Route 66 in Cuba, Missouri (heck, just drive the old historic Route 66!).


Walt Disney Hometown Museum in Marceline, Missouri.


Beverly Hillbillies car at Ralph Foster Museum in Point Lookout, Missouri.


And there is even one right near our stomping grounds … and I didn't even know about it … You can spend the night in a train at the Cruce's Cabooses Bed and Breakfast outside Calhoun, Missouri. Well how do you like that?


I hope that you have enjoyed your trip through Missouri this week, and hopefully we will see you here soon!


Be sure to check out all of the other bloggers joining in on this blog hop. Specifically, I would love it if you would visit some of my good friends …

Dusty @ The Moon and Back ~ Five Days of Babywearing
Kristi @ The Potter's Hand Academy ~ Five Days of Spring Studies
Jennifer @ Royal Little Lambs ~ Five Days of Essential Oils
Annette @ A Net in Time ~ Five Days of Science
Jen @ Happy Little Homemaker ~ Five Days of Frugal Fitness
Meg @ Adventures with Jude ~ Five Days of Homeschooling from the Kitchen
Lori @ At Home: Where Life Happens ~ Five Days of Favorite Books
Tauna @ Proverbial Homemaker ~ Five Days of A Christ-Centered Home

April Blog Hop

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Five Days of …. Missouri - Historic Landmarks {Schoolhouse Review Crew Blog Hop}



Are you looking for a little history while in Missouri? There are several historic sites, but two in particular would be worth a special trip.

Laura Ingalls Wilder Historic Home and Museum

Mansfield, Missouri, is home to Rock Ridge Farm, better known as the Laura Ingalls Wilder House. It is the home that Laura and Almanzo built and resided from 1896 until her death in 1957 and where she wrote the Little House books. The home is one of the few surviving structures where Laura actually lived and is now a museum honoring her.


The Museum and grounds are open from March 1st to November 15th. You can visit:
  • The homes
  • The Rose Wilder Lane museum
  • The Rocky Ridge Bookstore
  • Laura's Vegetable Garden


While you are in Mansfield, and if you love gardening, stop by Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Company. I have heard it is quite a site to behold! They specialize in preserving 19th century seeds including Asians and European varieties.


Mark Twain Boyhood Home and Museum

Hannibal, Missouri, is where Mark Twain lived and was the inspiration for The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn. There is a several structure museum and Mark Twain's boyhood home. You can even see the white picket fence bordering the home. A ticket to the full exhibit includes admittance into the following:
  • The Interpretive Center
  • Mark Twin's Boyhood Home and Garden
  • Boyhood Home Gift Shop
  • Huckleberry Finn House (real home of "Huck Finn" [Tom Blankenship])
  • Becky Thatcher House (real home of "Becky Thatcher" [Laura Hawkins])
  • J.M. Clemens Justice of the Peace Office (where Mark Twin's father was a judge)
  • Grant's Drug Store (where the family lived for a while and where Mark Twain died)
  • Museum Gallery
  • Tom and Huck Statue
  • Seasonal productions 

These are definitely two trips that my kids and I will be taking in the future. In fact, we are doing a full year study on Little House on the Prairie starting in the fall, so a trip to Mansfield will be imminent.


Be sure to check out all of the other bloggers joining in on this blog hop. Specifically, I would love it if you would visit some of my good friends …

Dusty @ The Moon and Back ~ Five Days of Babywearing
Kristi @ The Potter's Hand Academy ~ Five Days of Spring Studies
Jennifer @ Royal Little Lambs ~ Five Days of Essential Oils
Annette @ A Net in Time ~ Five Days of Science
Jen @ Happy Little Homemaker ~ Five Days of Frugal Fitness
Meg @ Adventures with Jude ~ Five Days of Homeschooling from the Kitchen
Lori @ At Home: Where Life Happens ~ Five Days of Favorite Books
Tauna @ Proverbial Homemaker ~ Five Days of A Christ-Centered Home

April Blog Hop

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Five Day of …. Missouri - The Ozarks {Schoolhouse Review Crew Blog Hop}



For today's tour of Missouri, we are meandering through The Ozarks.

The Ozarks encompass a large stretch of land in Southeast Missouri. If you are looking for some lake and country fun, it would fit the bill for you. Today I will be taking you through Springfield, Branson, and the Lake of the Ozarks.

Springfield, Missouri

Springfield is a quiet city with its claim to fame being the home of the original Bass Pro Shops. We lived there for seven years and even though it is a fantastic city wherein to reside and raise a family, Bass Pro Shops is about the only touristy thing there is to do there. Really. I only mention Springfield because if you are going to Branson and are into the fishing/hunting/outdoors thing, then it's worth a short drive to Springfield to see it. While at Bass Pro Shops, it's worth a look at the Wonders of Wildlife museum and lunch at Hemingway's is first-rate.


And in between Springfield and Branson you will find Lambert's Cafe: Home of the Throwed Rolls. You will definitely want to stop there to eat. You choose an entrée and the waiters bring around all kinds of southern foods and plop them down right in the middle of your table on a paper towel. You will have fried potatoes, fried okra, and all other manners of fried food. Then if you want a roll, you catch the attention of the roll thrower and they zing it across the restaurant to you. It is very entertaining and the food is awesome!

Branson, Missouri

Missouri's greatest tourist attraction would have to be Branson. It's like the mini-Vegas of Missouri, without the gambling. The streets are lined with amphitheaters with all manners of shows, from second rate country singers, to magic shows, to gospel shows, to much more. You will find Silver Dollar City, White Water water park, a gazillion hotels to fit every style, and shops, shops, and more shops. Branson is not really my cup of tea. But I know people who go several times a year for the food and to take in the shows.


Here is sampling of what you will find:

The Titanic Museum
Showboat Branson Belle
Dolly Parton's Dixie Stampede
Legends in Concert
The Shepherd of the Hills

There are as many restaurants as things to do in Branson, but a fun restaurant I have enjoyed is Mel's Hard Luck Diner. It is a 50's inspired restaurant with burgers and shakes and the wait staff and cooks sing 50's hits throughout your meal. It's a fun place to go!


Lake of the Ozarks

Now this is what I enjoy. In fact, my parents have a small house right on the lake and we go several weekends a summer. I am not much into adventure boating, skiing, and the like, but I love a relaxing day at the lake. You can stay in resorts, such at Tan-Tar-A or Lodge of the Four Seasons. You can rent a condo or cabin on the water. Or you can just get a hotel. The watersports are endless from boating, to fishing, to jet skiing, to water blobbing, to parasailing. There is absolutely no short of fun things to do on the lake. Restaurants on the water are a lot of fun and can get pretty wild, so be cautious if you take your young kids there on a Friday or Saturday night.


Be sure to check out all of the other bloggers joining in on this blog hop. Specifically, I would love it if you would visit some of my good friends …

Dusty @ The Moon and Back ~ Five Days of Babywearing
Kristi @ The Potter's Hand Academy ~ Five Days of Spring Studies
Jennifer @ Royal Little Lambs ~ Five Days of Essential Oils
Annette @ A Net in Time ~ Five Days of Science
Jen @ Happy Little Homemaker ~ Five Days of Frugal Fitness
Meg @ Adventures with Jude ~ Five Days of Homeschooling from the Kitchen
Lori @ At Home: Where Life Happens ~ Five Days of Favorite Books
Tauna @ Proverbial Homemaker ~ Five Days of A Christ-Centered Home

April Blog Hop

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Five Days of …. Missouri - Kansas City {Schoolhouse Review Crew Blog Hop}



Welcome to Day 2 of the Five Days of …. Blog Hop sponsored by the Schoolhouse Review Crew. I am giving you five days of Missouri. Today we are talking about Kansas City.

We live much closer to Kansas City than St. Louis. I guess that's why we haven't really vacationed there. I have never looked at it from a tourist's perspective. So that's exactly what I have done. I pretended that I had never been to Kansas City before and were researching a trip there.

If I were going to visit Kansas City, I would do it around Christmastime. There are so many fun things to do and see in Kansas City around Christmas.


Where to Stay

The Country Club Plaza is a magical place with all of its Christmas lights. There are many hotels with views of the Christmas lights, and it's lovely.


The shopping and restaurants at The Plaza are second-to-none, and you can walk to get wherever you want. It is a perfect central spot while you visit the city.


What to Do

Next to The Plaza is the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art.


Just a couple of miles away is Union Station and Crown Center. Union Station houses Science City and is a lot of fun! This science museum is quite a bit different than many we have visited. Historic Union Station is absolutely beautiful and fun to see.



Crown Center has an outside skating rink that is very popular during the winter. Once you have skated for a time and need to warm up, you can visit the SEA LIFE Aquarium or Legoland Discovery Center.


If you happen to be there at the right time, you can catch a children's production at Coterie Theatre. We have seen Bud, Not Buddy. And this summer are going to see Schoolhouse Rock and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. The mall is decked out for Christmas and so fun to see!




The National World War I Museum at Liberty Memorial would be such an awesome place to visit, especially if you had been learning about the war. We will definitely plan on taking a trip there in the future.


How about learning about money? The Money Museum at Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City allows you to do just that! There are even pre-visit and post-visit lesson plans for 5-8 grade and 9-12 grade. If we can take a vacation and log some school hours …. bonus!!!


Some other fun things to do in Kansas City, that cost quite a bit more money, would be Worlds of Fun and Oceans of Fun, Schlitterbahn Water Park, Great Wolf Lodge and the Kansas City Zoo.


Where to Eat

Our favorite place to eat in Kansas City is Fritz's Railroad Restaurant. The food is mediocre (greasy burgers and fries). But, the ambiance for kids is fantastic! You order your food by speaking into a crackly phone at your table. The kids get conductor hats to wear, and your food is delivered by an electronic train on a mini-railway system. The cost is very reasonable and we eat there everytime we go to the Crown Center area.


And of course you have to eat authentic Kansas City Barbecue. I cannot recommend any because I am not a huge fan of BBQ and I have never eaten any there. What?? I grew up near Kansas City and even went to law school there but have never eaten its most famous food. Tell me how you like it!


Be sure to check out all of the other bloggers joining in on this blog hop. Specifically, I would love it if you would visit some of my good friends …

Dusty @ The Moon and Back ~ Five Days of Babywearing
Kristi @ The Potter's Hand Academy ~ Five Days of Spring Studies
Jennifer @ Royal Little Lambs ~ Five Days of Essential Oils
Annette @ A Net in Time ~ Five Days of Science
Jen @ Happy Little Homemaker ~ Five Days of Frugal Fitness
Meg @ Adventures with Jude ~ Five Days of Homeschooling from the Kitchen
Lori @ At Home: Where Life Happens ~ Five Days of Favorite Books
Tauna @ Proverbial Homemaker ~ Five Days of A Christ-Centered Home

April Blog Hop

Monday, April 7, 2014

Five Days of …. Missouri - St. Louis {Schoolhouse Review Crew Blog Hop}


April Blog Hop

The Schoolhouse Review Crew is participating in a blog hop this week. There are over 60 of my crew members participating in the hop with topics ranging from geography to homemaking to frugal homeschooling to parenting. 

With summer vacations nearing, I thought I would change things up a bit and post about all things Missouri this week. I will be posting about our favorite cities to visit, historical landmarks, and just strange and fun things to do here. Missouri is one of those states that is off the radar when it comes to vacationing, but I hope that after reading some of my posts this week you might decide you would like to visit our fine state.


Our first stop is our favorite city in Missouri …. St. Louis!

We have actually vacationed in St. Louis on three different occasions. It is my kids' favorite place to vacation. No, there are no beaches and we do not go to Six Flags. But, there are so many fun and free things to do in St. Louis that it makes for a really fun trip and inexpensive trip. We still haven't done all that we would like to do there.

Where to Stay

You could certainly stay downtown near the Gateway Arch, Busch Stadium, and other downtown attractions. However, you are going to pay for it. We always choose to stay west of the city closer to the St. Louis Zoo. The hotel prices are much cheaper and it's only about a 20 minute drive downtown. There are lots of things to do on that side of the city. We have stayed at a Hampton Inn right next to the zoo and even a little further out at a Sonesta ES Suites. We liked this choice for our family because we had four kids with us and our border collie. The big boys had a room and bathroom of their own (they even brought their Xbox), the little kids slept on the sofa bed in the living room, and Rick and I had a king sized bed, our own bathroom and some privacy. There was also a kitchen so we ate all of our meals at home, save one special outing. The hotel had an outdoor pool, free breakfast, and free appetizer-style dinner. It was totally worth it.


What to Do

I could write about this for days, but I will just touch on our favorite things to do.

Gateway Arch

First up, the Gateway Arch. This is the tallest man-made monument in the United States. It acts as a symbol of the gateway to westward expansion. In the base of the arch there is a fabulous and FREE Museum of Westward Expansion. There is a junior ranger program the kids can do and lots of opportunities for photos. An IMAX theatre gives the opportunity for you to view Lewis and Clark: Great Journey West, which we have done several times. We have even watched it at home, but nothing beats an IMAX production. And, of course, you have to go up into the arch itself. There is nothing like it! From one side of the observation deck you see Missouri and on the other side you see Illinois. It's quite spectacular and it is NOT scary to go up into it. It is totally worth the admission price.



After you exit the arch itself, there are beautiful grounds surrounding it. If you go down the large stone staircase to the Mississippi River, you can go on a river boat tour on the Becky Thatcher or the Tom Sawyer. In my opinion, it's not worth it. But if you like that sort of thing, go for it!

Walk a little further down the river and there is a large statute of Lewis and Clark and Seaman at the base of the Eads Bridge. Again, my kids love this.

City Museum

If you are going to choose just one thing to do in St. Louis, go to the City Museum! I am not even sure I can adequately describe it. Basically it is a three-story (plus) playhouse of recycled materials where your kids can climb, climb, and climb until they are exhausted! Parents can, and should, participate, too! Your kids will climb up a slinky into the ceiling and then pop up out of a hole in the ground. They will slide down three-story slides. They will crawl through caves and dinosaur bones. And that's just on the main floor.

On upper floors there is a skateboard park .. but not for skateboards. It's just for climbing and running. This is my kids' favorite part! Talk about sweaty .. yuck! There is Art City where your kids can try out several different mediums. There is an area where circus performers show some of their skills. Pianos strewn about allow patrons to play. We sat and listened to a high school glee choir play and sing. It was fabulous!


And then it's time to go outside to Monstro City and The Roof. More climbing, more sliding, and there's even Eli the ferris wheel on the roof!

It is a crazy, fun place to go. We usually go on a Friday or Saturday night after 5:00 p.m. because the basic admission fee is just $10.00. It's an additional cost to go to The Roof or to the aquarium. Yes, there's even an aquarium.

St. Louis Zoo

Want something FREE to do? Go to the St. Louis Zoo. It really is free! The only thing they charge for is parking. But, I have a tip. Park your car at the Turtle Playground across the walking bridge from the zoo. It is free to park there. We park on the street. Pack a large lunch and at lunch time head back over to climb on all of the turtle statues and enjoy your lunch. There are things you can purchase in the zoo, special exhibits, but we really only just purchase the seal lion show. It's good. The baby animal zoo? There is FREE admission if you get there during the first hour of operation. That's what we do if we want to visit there. We get up at o'dark:thirty (my kids love that) to get there when it opens and then go straight to the baby animal zoo.



St. Louis Science Center

The St. Louis Science Center also has FREE admission. They do charge for parking, but we just park on the street instead. It is a pretty typical science museum, but it is still a lot of fun! There is also a planetarium that is cool to see.


Other Places You Might Like

These are not places we visit on every trip, and some we have never visited at all, but your family might be interested in what they have to offer.

Magic House
Grant's Farm
Anheuser-Busch Brewery Tour
Busch Stadium - St. Louis Cardinals
Six Flags

Transportation

One thing we did this last trip was to take the train into downtown St. Louis. The kids really enjoyed it! We even rode it across Eads bridge into Illinois, got out to say we had been to Illinois, and then re-boarded to head back to Missouri.


Where to Eat

Of course you can eat at all of the typical chain restaurants, and there is a Hard Rock Cafe. But our favorite place to eat is Fitz's Soda and Grill. It is a real, working soda factory and restaurant with yummy burgers and American fare and the biggest and most amazing floats you will ever taste! They are so huge that a whole family could share just one! But the varieties of flavors make you buy several. If you are lucky you can see the sodas being bottled as you eat dinner. It is very reasonably priced and just a whole lot of fun.



Vacationing in St. Louis is a lot of fun and I highly recommend a trip there. To do just the things I have highlighted above, you will need to plan for four or five days. Like I said, we still haven't done all that St. Louis has to offer.

Come to Missouri! We'd love to see you!


Be sure to check out all of the other bloggers joining in on this blog hop. Specifically, I would love it if you would visit some of my good friends …

Dusty @ The Moon and Back ~ Five Days of Babywearing
Kristi @ The Potter's Hand Academy ~ Five Days of Spring Studies
Jennifer @ Royal Little Lambs ~ Five Days of Essential Oils
Annette @ A Net in Time ~ Five Days of Science
Jen @ Happy Little Homemaker ~ Five Days of Frugal Fitness
Meg @ Adventures with Jude ~ Five Days of Homeschooling from the Kitchen
Lori @ At Home: Where Life Happens ~ Five Days of Favorite Books
Tauna @ Proverbial Homemaker ~ Five Days of A Christ-Centered Home