Monday, August 18, 2014

N, O, P ~ Blogging Through the Alphabet (Favorites Edition)

Ben and Me

I fell behind on my Blogging Through the Alphabet posts. Vacations and tons of family activities have been my daily blogging subjects instead. So, I am going to get all caught up in one post.

N is for Naps

Now that I don't drink coffee, naps have moved up as my number one favorite thing. When I was younger I had to get in comfies, under the covers with the drapes pulled, and turn on a fan to settle in for at least a two hour nap. Anything less than that just wasn't worth it. And Rick and I used to talk about how stressed I was about dying and being in Heaven because I probably wouldn't get naps if I was singing the Hallelujah Chorus all the time. Now that I am older, I don't care as much for the long naps but prefer power naps. I love to lay down on the couch for about 30 minutes in the afternoon, close my eyes, and just rest. I doze off and sleep peacefully and when I wake up I am ready to fix dinner and continue on with the evening. I don't nap every day, but I wish I could.

O is for Order 

In order for me to live peacefully (and most especially for those around me to live peacefully), I must have order. I don't do well with nilly willy days and I cannot stand things strewn about. Now, let me clarify. I am a piler. I have piles on my desk, in the kitchen, in my bedroom. These are not hoarders kinds of piles, but small piles nonetheless. And I know exactly what is in them. And I want them to be stacked as neatly as possible in an orderly way on the surface. I have to have my pillows on my couch in their "spots" and I put them that way about 100 times a day. I like to do the same thing at the same time every day. I wouldn't call it OCD because I can function when things are not the way I want them. It just kind of drives me batty.

I did not say I was a clean freak, because I am not. I clean until things are orderly and then I am satisfied. This means there is dog hair still under the couch, that my stove is crusted with yuck, and I need to scrub my bathtub. But if you just walked into the room, you would feel order and you would believe it was clean! It's all trickery!

I am also not organized. Being orderly and being organized are two completely different things. Please do not ever open my closets or cabinets, especially if you like things organized. If things are stuffed in there not falling out and can be closed behind a door, all is good. Plus Rick is organized. So as long as he is organized, I can rely on him and I don't need to be.

P is for Project Runway

Project Runway is my favorite television show to watch out of all television shows. I love the creativity. I love the personalities of the contestants. I love the fashion. But most of all I love Tim Gunn. I have said it before and I will say it again ... if you ever want to spend a ridiculous amount of money on me, I would like to spend a day with Tim Gunn. I also want a Mood canvas tote. I keep thinking I am going to order one from the Mood site but never do. I don't even know if you can buy them anymore. I don't even sew, but I think the bags are cool.

So how is that for random??

You won't hear from me for a few days as the little kids and I are headed to the lake with our best friends from Oklahoma. This will be our last hoorah before we start back to school a week from today. I must say that I am now ready to get back to school so that we have more order around here.

I need to get off of here so that I can finish watching Project Runway from last week. And I might even have time to take a little nap before we leave.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Clear the Dishes, It's Time for School!

Homeschool Classrooms

We do not have a designated school room. Even if we had a room we could use, we wouldn't. We just aren't happy unless we have made a mess from one end of the house to the other. Our dining room is in the center of the house with our kitchen on one side and our living room on the other. We like to do our school work at the dining room table, on the couch, in the sitting room, or in the kitchen. Life is school and we don't like being closed off.

You have seen these pictures before because things rarely change around here. (I don't like change.) A couple of things have moved around, but that's it.

We start our day here, at the dining room table. I put our whiteboard in the corner by the windows  (not in the picture) and we do the majority of our bookwork and artwork here. We use clipboards because the tile on our table is a rough surface when writing. We just grab our supply caddy and books and get going. We usually start with a nice cup of hot tea.

My desk and shelves, that hold all our supplies, are in the room with us.

Top shelf: cameras and electronic supplies (cords, etc.), tray for completed papers
Second shelf from top: Books and binders we use often but not everyday, my planner
Middle shelf: All of the books we use every day (see how we have simplified?)
Second shelf from bottom: Bible, nature, and science notebooks, extra copy paper
Bottom shelf: MUS manipulatives, supply caddy we take to the table, clipboards

I got a new laser printer this year (I feel like a pro now). I use our printer/copier every single day. I got tired of paying for a color cartridge on my Kodak inkjet when I was always using grayscale, and then it broke (darn). So I bought a monochrome-only Canon laser printer/copier/scanner. I am in love. It's a little bigger than my inkjet so I moved it over to the antique sewing table. I like it much better there. We have a few more daily supplies there and the kids' Bibles.

When we are ready to watch a video or play a game, to do independent reading, or to do work on the couch with our clipboards when we are feeling tired or under the weather, we retreat to the attached living room.

When we do our read a loads we usually move a few more feet into the sitting room. We can all sit on the love seat together and the dogs have room to lay with us on the footstool. We just pile all up together.

We have our globe in here and all of our library books. We light a candle or our wax warmer so it's fragrant and relaxing.

We are able to live in our home with our school items all around us but still feel like it's our home. So where are all the messy miscellaneous supplies? In the hall closet. Our hall closet is lined with shelves. I have all of our junk hidden behind the closed door, and this is also where I store our whiteboard on Friday afternoons when we are done with school for the weekend. It's kind of a mess, but that's why it's behind a closed door!

I mentioned the kitchen. We are in and out of there all day getting drinks and snacks and fixing meals. We like to try to incorporate cooking into our studies, and will be doing a lot of it with Prairie Primer this year, so our kitchen gets a workout.

Thanks for stopping by our schoolroom when it is actually clean. In fact, I just organized everything today so we are feeling ready to go in a week from Monday when we officially start!

Friday, August 15, 2014

Random 5 on Friday

1. I'm not going to lie .. it's pretty great to be told by my 17 year old son that I am his best friend, that if Taylar ended up like me that he would be happy, and that he would marry me if he could (in jest, of course.) There's something awesome about your teenager actually liking you.

2. My kids are all in the phases of a rotten summer cold. Eli has a sore throat and stuffy nose (the first phase). Brynne has a stuffy nose and is coughing (the second phase). And Dawson is coughing like a maniac (hopefully the last phase). They are all feeling pretty cruddy.

3. I started playing tennis this week with three good friends. I am certainly not a natural, but I learned quick and did okay. It was a lot of fun and great exercise!! I am really looking forward to our next match!

4. Dawson started back to school this week. He is now a senior in high school. Where, oh where, has the time gone. I mean seriously. I just love how individual he is. He is quirky and fun (see the Spiderman backpack?) and I can't believe this is his last year of high school. Oh, and that cute girl with him is Taylar. She's pretty awesome, too.

5. I decided I needed a serious change to my hair. So Kyndal cut it into a short bob, that I will more than likely wear naturally curly most of the time, and colored it to my natural color with highlights. She does such great work. I love it! So fun!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Husband and Wife Time

At the end of this nutty past couple of weeks, Rick and I went away for some Husband and Wife time on Saturday and Sunday to celebrate our anniversary that was in June. I didn't realize how much we needed this time away until we were alone. It was amazing! It didn't take but just a few minutes of devoted time with him for me to remember exactly why I love him so much. It was a perfect getaway!

Rick planned the trip and wouldn't tell anybody where we were going. First we stopped and had lunch. Then we went to Kansas City, Kansas, to a hotel and spa called Chateau Avalon.

Each of the rooms were themed and we stayed in the Hemingway Room. It had a luxurious bed and furnishings, a mood-enhancing fireplace, and a separate step up bathtub/shower/spa room. It was heaven!

Once we checked in we grabbed some drinks at the bar and went out to sit in the porch swing overlooking the fountain. We just spent time together and talked and held hands.

Then we went back to our room to relax. We didn't even turn on the t.v. We just talked and ate a light dinner that we bought on our way to the hotel of grapes, cheeses and crackers.

Then Rick whisked me off to my 90 minute massage that he had scheduled for me. Oh. my. gosh. I came back to the room, feeling like a noodle, and had a spa bubble bath before bed. Holy moly talk about relaxing!

(Um, yeah. No pictures of that to share.)

And the next morning they delivered us breakfast in bed! The food was just okay but when is the last time you had breakfast in bed with your spouse, prepared by someone else? Have I mentioned this place was heaven?

We stayed until the moment they forced us to check out and then made the drive back home feeling refreshed, rejuvenated, and more connected than we have been in a long time. We are planning on revisiting the Chateau Avalon next year.

This little trip reminded me why it is so important to make special time to be alone with your spouse. It is so easy to get caught up in being Mom and Dad that we forget to be Husband and Wife. I am terrible about that. It is especially difficult for us with Rick living out of state during the week. When he is here the kids pounce on him and want his attention and I am ready for a little break from the full daily responsibility of being Mom. With money being tight, our time together is easy to put on the back burner. But I don't want it to be that way anymore. The investment in our marriage is worth it! I love my husband and I know he loves me and we enjoy spending time alone together. We just need to do it more.

Thank you, babe, for a wonderful couple of days away with you. I am looking forward to the next time we can do that!!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Wednesday Hodgepodge - Nothing to Fear

Joining From This Side of the Pond for Wednesday Hodgepodge. I really enjoy doing this each week. I think it gives you, my readers, more of a glimpse into who I really am.

The best part of waking up is .....

Having some quiet time in the house before everybody else gets up and enjoying a steaming cup of Chamomile tea. I don't mind waking up, I am just one who needs to start their day slow.

Given a choice, which animal interaction would you most like to experience (or for those non-adventurers ... which would you dislike the least?) - Swim with the dolphins at one of the several locations in the Florida Keys, a lion encounter ten minutes from Victoria Falls (Africa), or a day at a remote base camp high in the Big Sur Wilderness via the Ventana Wildlife Society helping track California condors?

I have actually watched Rick, Kyndal and Dawson swim with dolphins in Cozumel. I had no desire to do it so I just watched and took pictures. I am not adventurous enough for lions, or even dolphins, but after driving through Big Sur last week on my birthday, I would love to track California condors with the Ventana Wildlife Society. First, I am obsessed with birds. But beyond that, the Pacific coast at Big Sur is breathtaking!!

What is something you fear about 'old age'? What is something you look forward to?

I have concerns about how well I will be able to get around when I am old since I already have arthritis. But otherwise I have no problems with getting old. In fact, Rick says I can't wait. I am really an old lady trapped in my body. I look forward to quiet days, napping, reading, sitting with my dog, piddling in my yard and gardens ... pretty much my life now, except I'll have no excuse not to do it!

Hot sauce ... are you a fan? If you answered yes, what is something you make/eat that must have hot sauce? On a scale of 1-10, how hot is too hot?

I do like hot sauce, especially on Mexican food, but with my stomach and heartburn issues I have to stay away from it now. In fact, just yesterday I gave Kyndal a large jar of homemade salsa, made by a chef and his wife who are authentic Mexican and Italian, because it would absolutely tear me up. I would regret eating it for days.

It's been said that children learn what they live. What do you think children learn at your house?

I hope that my kids are learning that having little and living simply is the best way to live. It frees up your time, energy and money for investing in the people you love ... just spending time together without the necessity of being entertained and having an activity-filled life .. that a family dinner, movie night or a walk together is what makes life meaningful ... that contentment is to be sought and treasured. And most importantly, they need know that it is okay to be exactly who God created them to be, even if others don't agree with it. We are all unique for a reason.

What's your favorite movie with a number in the title?

Sixteen Candles. I can quote the majority of the movie.

Saturday (August 16th) is National Tell a Joke Day ... share one here.

From one of our favorite SpongeBob episodes. You have to be in our family to "get it".

I realize that is not really a joke, but it is what first came to mind. My favorite joke is kind of dirty, so here is a blog-friendly joke:

A blonde went to the doctor for a stomach ailment. The doctor said, "Ma'am, you are pregnant." The blonde said, "Is it mine?"

Insert your own random thought here.


Brynne's 9th Birthday

We made it home from California just in time for Brynne's 9th birthday. It was important to her that we be home so that she could spend her birthday with her whole family. On Thursday night we had my family over for her requested dinner of spaghetti and french bread, salad, fruit, and warm brownies with ice cream, whipped topping and cherries.

Then on Friday night we had her birthday party at the park with all of her friends. She wanted a Pokemon themed party.

We didn't plan anything for this party, just let the kids run and play. They had a lot of fun, and the weather was perfect!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

A Dream Vacation

For the past couple of years the kids have expressed a strong desire to go to San Diego, California. At first we started a plan of driving to and from stopping at destinations along the way. After some thought, however, we decided to just fly out West and take in all we could. So we started saving way back then. In fact, the kids even gave up their weekly lunch with daddy at Subway so that they could help save money toward the trip. We sacrificed and saved for a long time.

It was their first time flying!

On July 26th we flew to Las Vegas and stayed in Henderson so that we could get to the Hoover Dam quickly the next morning. It was a must-see on my list of things go do. And with Rick being an engineer, he was thrilled to see the greatest engineering marvel in the United States. It was quite astonishing and a great way to start our vacation!

The next two nights we let the kids experience the "real" Las Vegas by staying at the Luxor on the Las Vegas strip. Actually, we just hung out in our room, swam at the pool, ate a lot, and walked for six hours straight one day to see all the neat things in the hotels. New York, New York was a favorite, especially with the new addition of the Hershey store!

On July 30th we loaded into our rental car and made the drive to San Diego, stopping at some fun sights along the way, like Alien Fresh Jerky, the largest thermometer in the United States, and Peggy Sue's Diner.

We rented a condo in San Diego, which was a smart idea! The cost was actually cheaper per night than the hotels in the same area and we were able to fix all of our meals there. We were less than a block away from the beach (that we did not have time to enjoy) and Belmont Park was just down the street.

The real reason we were there, however, was to go to Legoland! It was Eli's dream and it did not disappoint! We were there when it opened at 10 a.m. and left when it closed at 8 p.m. To say we were exhausted is an understatement, but we had so much fun!

And the highlight was getting to walk on and see the actual set for the basement scenes in the Lego Movie. We thought Eli's head was going to explode. The rest of us thought it was pretty darned awesome, too.

Our second day there we went to the San Diego Zoo for another full day of walking. It is a world-class zoo and we saw some neat animals we have never seen before. We have been regular attenders of the Tulsa Zoo and St. Louis Zoo over the past 10 years, but the San Diego Zoo definitely had some exciting things to see!

Our stay in San Diego was not long as we had a full day's driving on August 1st to get to San Francisco. This was the part of the trip that was all for Brynne. This was also my birthday and I had the pleasure of seeing some amazing views from the Pacific Coast Highway. Big Sur was breathtaking!

We rented a flat in San Francisco. Again, the savings were tremendous! Our first day of sightseeing took us to Lombard Street, the REAL Full House house, and the Painted Ladies. We were exhausted after the previous busy days, so we went back to our flat early that night, had some dinner, and watched Sharknado 2. I just enjoyed driving around through the neighborhoods. Honestly, if I was a single gal, I would move there in a minute. It is the coolest city. I am definitely a Northern Cal kind of girl.

On our last day in San Francisco we drove up to Muir Woods to see the Redwoods. We absolutely loved this! It was beautiful and informational and just an inspiring place to be as a family.

On our way back to the flat we stopped for some good views of the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz.

We planned to go down to Fisherman's Wharf but it was so crowded and we were, again, exhausted and ready for some dinner at the flat and some down time. But we did have a cable car come up behind us!

On August 4th we started our drive back to Las Vegas. We drove through Reno so that we could have lunch with Rick's dad and stepmom. His stepmom had never seen Eli and Brynne as she has health problems and cannot travel. She follows my blog, though, so she latched onto the kids and talked with them like she has seen them every day of their lives. I think Brynne and her would be really close if she lived closer.

The drive took us forever but we finally arrived back in Las Vegas late that night, grabbed a hotel near the airport, and crashed. We had an afternoon flight the next day so were able to sleep in. Traveling home was pretty uneventful, although I thought it was funny how the kids seemed like seasoned travelers. They did such a great job flying! They even each had to sit alone on the last flight of our trip from Denver to Kansas City and they did it without any problems.

Hanging out at an outlet!

Overall this was a fabulous vacation. We were busy, busy, busy, but we saw all of the things we wanted to see and just had a fun time. We are already talking about our next vacation so that we can start saving for it. This time we want to do something with the whole family, including Collin and Taylar.