Tuesday, April 30, 2013

G is also for Graduating

In just 10 days, my oldest child will graduate from high school. I'm not really sure how to feel about that. I guess having her move out a year-and-a-half ago to go live with her dad has given me enough time to get used to her being gone, and virtually on her own. Now I am just really excited for her and her future. She's a grownup now, whether she is ready to be or not. I can honestly say that her growth and maturity over the last several months has made me very proud of her and I know that she will be okay.

Last night was her baccalaureate at school. She is enduring her last week of school this week. Next week she will be on her senior trip with her class. And then she graduates on Friday.

Kyndal, I love you. Enjoy your last couple of weeks of being a "kid"!

Brynne, Collin (Kyndal's boyfriend), Kyndal, my niece Rylee, Eli

Kyndal and Grandma Leta, my mom 

My baby ... all grown up.

Monday, April 29, 2013

G is for Green Tea

At our house, at any given time, you will likely see someone drinking a cup of green tea, especially in the winter months.

As soon as someone gets the first signs of getting sick, a warm mug of green tea is placed in his or her hands.

Dawson starts each day with a cup of hot green tea before he goes to school. When Eli was in school we didn't allow him to drink from the water fountains because of his lower immune system. Instead, he took a large water jug filled with green tea and drank from it all day at school.

Brynne even has a special tea pot and tea cup and saucer and her own loose leaf strawberry green tea that she drinks often.

When we start to feel sluggish or cranky in our school day at home, I make a round of hot green tea for everybody.

And starting in the late afternoon until I go to bed at night, you probably will not see me without my yellow ceramic travel cup filled to the brim with stevia-sweetened green tea. In the summer, after I am done drinking my coffee in the morning, I usually drink 64 ounces of iced green tea with lemon throughout the day.

Why all the green tea?
  • It tastes good.
  • It keeps us hydrated and gives us energy.
  • It has loads of health benefits because of the catechins and other antioxidants, and anti-viral and anti-inflammatory properties.
Green tea is consumed in large quantities in many ancient countries and is thought to be a large contributing factor in the prolonged lifespan of it's citizens. It is proven to slow osteoporosis, fight and prevent certain cancers, contribute to weight loss, and decrease the occurrence of heart attack and stroke.

Image Credit

In other words, it's a good-for-you-good-tasting-satisfying-health-promoting drink. And we drink tons of it. And most nights I even prefer it over a glass of wine. It soothes me that much.

Image Credit

Join March at Ben and Me for more Blogging through the Alphabet fun.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Dating Through the Alphabet ~ No Date for Me, But Still a Linky

Rick and I remained a state apart this weekend, so no dates for us. But, if you had a Dating Through the Alphabet date this week, you can link up!

I am in the process of planning our "C" date for next weekend.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Weekly Wrap-up ~ A Week of Really Wrapping Some Things Up

In our regular life this week…

It has been a challenging week in many ways. On Tuesday my garbage disposal clogged up and then backed up into the kitchen sink. My dad, the plumber, is in Florida at their house doing some work. He told me I wouldn't be able to use my kitchen sink or my dishwasher until he gets back tomorrow .. on Sunday .. as in a total of five days! So, I have been doing dishes in the bathroom ... small stuff in the sink and pots in the bathtub. It's been interesting.

Then Dawson's poor Cadi has given him trouble all week, this time with the transmission. The fluid is just draining out and he hasn't been able to drive it, so he and I have been sharing a car. That's no big deal because I don't really go anywhere until the evening and I can pretty much walk anywhere I need to go. 

We started looking for a car for him on Craigslist, although that makes me very nervous. He has had his heart set on an SUV of some sort. As chance would have it, one of the girls' I play bells with at church bought a new car on Wednesday and so her 1996 Ford Explorer was for sale .. for $800!!! He test drove it, loved it, and got the car yesterday. He was a happy boy. Immediately after getting it, it started having problems, it seemed with the transmission! My friend's dad told him that it wasn't a done deal so to drive it for the weekend and if he didn't want it he could have his money back. He was driving it out of town to show one of his friends (there were four of them in the car). He put on the brakes to turn into a drive to turn around to head back to town and the brakes wouldn't work and the steering wheel locked up! He drove it into a steel fence. The airbags deployed and he and the passenger were burned by the airbags and had some minor cuts and bruises. The boys in the back seat were not hurt. The car, well, yeah. The owner agreed to take care of the car and pay Dawson back his money if we will pay for the repairs to the fence. The highway patrolman advised me to take Dawson to the hospital because one of his arms had a knot on it and might be fractured. Thankfully it was not and he only has soreness, bruises, and some burning on his arm. Oh, and lots of emotional trauma. He is really upset. I am just glad they are all okay.

I think I will just keep us all home for a couple of days. We could really use an uneventful day!

In our homeschool this week…

After such an exciting week of school last week in St. Louis, this week we had several odds and ends to wrap-up so that we can move on to our last units of this school year. Can anyone else believe it's already almost May??

Earth Day

On Monday we paused to celebrate Earth Day. It was a great day! We read the book Bag in the Wind by Ted Kooser and then spent the day discussing Reduce, Reuse, Recycle as it pertains to plastic bags. Our big project was making posters to hang at our local grocery store and Dollar General. A boo to Dollar General in that their store policy is that you cannot hang any signs that are not store-affiliated. Eli was disappointed that his sign didn't get hung. Brynne hung her's at the grocery store. (Eli's Scout leader told him that he could hang his at the Scout cabin.)

We also Reused some plastic bags to use on our square foot gardening box as the divider ropes. We made the ropes like jump ropes and will attach them to our box with nails.


We finished up our study of Vikings. We read three great books (our favorite was What a Viking by Mick Manning and Brita Granstrom),  learned more about longboats (now the kids want to make one), and cooked beef barley stew and barley flatbread to take to our potluck dinner at church Wednesday night (well, only the stew .. the flatbread was pretty bland, but was a great example of the types of food the vikings ate.)

Speaking of Vikings. Have you watched the series Vikings on The History Channel? Now, I must warn you .. it is for MATURE audiences! It is true. to. history. They were not good guys. There is lots of killing, and degradation of women, and violence. However, it is good! Dawson and I are watching it. He is 16, so able to handle it. I do not let my little two watch it, or even be in the room. He and I watch it after they go to bed. It has sparked a real interest in him. He even read one of our books, comparing the accuracy of the show to historical facts. I have to say, the show is pretty dead on in it's accuracy.

Lewis and Clark

We wrapped up our study of Lewis and Clark this week when I noticed that "Lewis and Clark: The Great Journey West" was on Netflix! I didn't even have to buy it, so it's been taken out of my Amazon cart. It's a great movie and I highly recommend it. (Of course it's a whole lot more fun to watch on the IMAX at the Gateway Arch, but oh well.) We also completed our map study and journal page about our "newly discovered animal" at the zoo.

The Others

The rest of our time was spent doing our Bible lessons, Spanish, cursive handwriting, spelling, multiplication lessons and facts, and personal reading. It was a jam-packed week.

Have I mentioned how ready I am for our simplified summer schooling schedule?? Oy!

Places we’re going and people we’re seeing…

We ran out to see Leonard and Dora Mae at our favorite Amish store to pick up some barley, rye flour, quinoa, peaches, soap, and peppermint oil. I might have also snagged a Lilac bush that came from Leonard's former home state.

Eli had Scouts on Monday night and they started preparing for their camping trip that is coming up on May 24th. Mmmmmm .... can't wait for that! (insert sarcasm here .. this is the part of scouting I don't care for.)

Brynne has been having lots of softball practices now that it has stopped raining (although it's raining today). I am SO proud of how hard she is practicing and how good she is listening to her coach. She has never played before and she has really taken to it. She will be the second basegirl.

Tuesday night I had my ladies' circle at church. We are reading Becoming a Titus 2 Woman and one of the things we discussed was bondage. There are only six of us and the vulnerability and honesty of the women really touched me.

And on Sunday we will see our Kyndal stand with her graduating class at her baccalaureate ceremony at school. Only a couple more weeks until she is a graduate.

A favorite thing this week was…

Feeling the love of reading in our home during the day. The kids just breeze through their books and are really enjoying their reading time. We are loving our new read-aloud Bud, Not Buddy. We are blasting through books! Our stamina with reading has increased so much recently and I couldn't be more happy with our progress. Honestly, I could just sit and read with them all day.

What's in the kitchen this week ...

I have been trying to squeak by with what we have at home. I really need a big trip to the grocery store, but am trying to put it off until next week. I went yesterday to pick up a few odds and ends to get us by, and some dog food. I did't think the dogs were much into waiting until next week to eat. 

What we're reading ...

Mom: Dark Places by Gillian Flynn, Becoming a Titus 2 Woman by Martha Peace, ** Created to be His Helpmeet by Debi Pearl, Papa's Pearls by Diane Flynn Keith, Gift from the Sea by Anne Morrow Lindbergh.

Eli: Captain Underpants (the fifth book) by Dav Pilkey

Brynne:  Snowball and Shadow (Puppy Place) by Ellen Miles

Read-aloud: Bud, Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis (LOVING this book!)

** I have had a couple of people comment stating that they are interested in my opinion on Created to be His Helpmeet. I love it. I think Debi Pearl is right on and that if every woman followed her views on marriage, we would all have happier marriages. I do wish I was better at these things, naturally. I am learning and growing.

Things we're working on…

Our gardens. We are making plans, discussing what we are going to plant in our square foot garden, ordering our herbs for our Herb Fairy study, making our square foot dividers by braiding plastic grocery bags into ropes, and making some herb garden markers out of tin cans.

I’m grateful for…

The fact that our summer schooling schedule is rapidly approaching. We will be doing reading, multiplication, and our Herb Fairies and gardening study. You can bet I am going to be logging hours because we plan to reward ourselves with another trip to Florida in October.

I rewarded my kids this week by…

Getting Eli a new wrestling guy and a Hershey for being such a good shopping companion, and buying Brynne a new baseball bat for working SO hard at practice. They also got to eat Dairy Queen with grandma while I was with Dawson at the hospital.

Things you might have missed at Journey to Excellence ...

A photo, video, link, or quote to share (silly, serious or both!)…

Thankful this guy wasn't in the car with Dawson when he had his wreck.

We are happily linking up this week at the following sites:

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Herb Fairies ~ ENDS April 25th!

I recently read a post by my friend Diane about a program her and her daughter, Grace, are doing called  Herb Fairies. I was VERY intrigued! Herb Fairies is a book club and "herbal mentoring" program for kids. It comes with a monthly chapter book about fairies who use herbs in their lives for healing and other purposes. The stories are beautifully illustrated and fun, and then there are activities, games, puzzles, coloring pages, etc., that go along with each book. The books are delivered once per month, and cover one herb that is in season that particular month.

Purchasing the Herb Fairies books and program was for a limited time, and I missed the deadline. (They only start the distribution of the first book of the series in the Spring ... remember, the books are based on seasonal herbs.) Bummer! But on the website you could sign up for e-mail notifications of when the books would begin distribution again.

This morning I received an e-mail that Herb Fairies has been opened back up for A LIMITED TIME! Herb Fairies will take new members only through midnight, April 25th! The cost is $97 for the whole year's program, or three payments of $37. The great thing is that it has a 100% money-back guarantee! I signed up for the payment plan so that we can get the first two books, access to the website and activities, and then see if it is a program we would like to continue.

Why am I interested in this program? The kids and I are getting ready to start our Square Foot Garden for our science unit for the remainder of the year. We have a large area where we could plant herbs and other edible flowers and fruits. I thought this would be another GREAT way to teach the kids about the healing power of herbs, and to get them in the garden. AND they will be "doing school" in the summer, and not even realize it! ::wink::

If you are interested, go to the Herb Fairies website NOW before it's too late!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

F is for Frugal Vacation Destination

As you can see from my previous days' posts, we spent several days this past week in St. Louis, Missouri. It is one of our favorite cities to visit as a family. In fact, the kids want to go every year. We always seem to do the same things, even though there are tons of things to do that we have never gotten around to doing. It is a fun-filled city and the activities are cheap and, oftentimes, FREE! If you are a car drive away, St. Louis is a FRUGAL vacation destination. Here's what to do once you get there ...

Hotel. First, I recommend staying in a hotel NOT in the downtown area. They are super-pricey there and staying out a bit doesn't add much to your drive time. We have stayed in an extended stay 20 minutes out of downtown and, this time, we stayed at a Drury Inn near Forest Park, which is the zoo area. That being said, stay in a Drury Inn if you can. The one at the Convention Center downtown is actually not too expensive, in comparison to other hotels, so if you want to stay downtown I would choose it. Why Drury Inn? FREE parking, FREE big hot breakfast, FREE evening buffet, FREE cocktails in the evening, FREE popcorn and soda all afternoon, FREE indoor pool, FREE internet. We probably saved $200 on this trip just in free food at the hotel.

St. Louis Zoo. It has FREE admission and is a great zoo! Parking is $12.00. But, there is FREE parking on the street OR you can park at Turtle Playground on the street and walk over. I wouldn't pay for parking. When inside, you do have to pay for the sea lion show, the infant animal zoo, the train, carousel, stingray petting area, etc. You can purchase an armband for $10 per person that would get you into all of those things. This time we just went to the sea lion show so didn't purchase the armband. It was $4 per person. Other than a couple of bottles of water, and a couple of stuffed animals, we didn't spend any money. You can bring in a full cooler if you want, so bring your own drinks and snacks.

Turtle Playground. I mentioned this briefly above. It is right across the street from the zoo. It is just a playground with huge turtle and snake sculptures that the kids can climb on. My kids love it, and we go every time. And, it's FREE! We took our lunch there one day.

St. Louis Science Center. It has FREE admission. Parking is $10.00. You can park on the street for FREE (very limited) or park by the Planetarium and it's FREE in that lot. Admission to the Planetarium movies is separate ($5.00 per adult, $4.00 per child), but the movies are cool so worth it, in my opinion. We lucked out this trip with it being the 50th anniversary of the Planetarium, so entrance was only 50 cents per person! We bought a snack there, but otherwise didn't spend any money.

The Gateway Arch. You have to go to the Arch. Admission to it and the Museum of Westward Expansion located within are FREE. If you want to go up in the Arch, it is $10 per adult and $5 per child. Go HERE to get a coupon for Buy One Adult Get One Child Free.

The Metrolink. Ride the Metrolink. It's cheap and fun!! This is where having a hotel out of downtown is easy. Our hotel was by the zoo. We parked our car in FREE parking at the Forest Park station and rode the Metrolink to the Arch one day. Both ways it cost a total of $8.90. We saved gas and the kids had a blast!

City Museum. This is the most expensive thing we ever do on our trip. Admission is $12 per person, and the roof is an extra $5 and the aquarium is an additional cost, as well. If you go on Friday or Saturday night after 5:00 p.m., it's $10 per person and is open until midnight. That's what we did this trip. It is the funnest place you will ever go to ... both for kids and parents alike. I can't even describe it. You have to go there to believe it. You have never been anywhere in your life where adults act more like goofy kids. That, alone, is worth the admission.

Other things. Of course you can go to a St. Louis Cardinal's game, or a hockey game. We always say we are going to go to Grant's Farm (which has FREE admission, other than parking) but never make it there. You can tour the Anheuser-Busch plant, ride the Becky Thatcher riverboat, go to Union Station, eat at Hard Rock cafe, and tons of other things. I don't know that we will every accomplish all we want to in St. Louis.

Our goal is always to experience as much history and do as many FREE things as possible. And, we always want to eat at a local hangout. In St. Louis it's Fitz's. They make and bottle their own rootbeer and sodas. It's not necessarily cheap or free, but it's GOOD and fun! And you can get a FREE rootbeer float by going HERE. I do not recommend getting one per person. They are HUGE! I'd just get a couple and share them.

As you can see, we spent very little money for a four-day vacation, in comparison to many vacations. And, it must be fun because my kids want to go back every single year. If you are looking for a fairly FRUGAL vacation destination for your family, or even as a weekend for you and your spouse, check out St. Louis!!

Linking this post up at Blogging Through the Alphabet with Marcy at Ben and Me.

I am also linking this post up with Laura at Loving and Learning on the High Plains.

Adventure Fridays

Monday, April 22, 2013

Math Rider {Schoolhouse Review}

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Oh, those dreaded math facts! Addition and subtraction facts have been mastered, for the most part. But this was the year of multiplication! And, I was dreading it! I remember standing in front of the class in fourth grade reciting my facts in head-to-head competitions. Dreadful! The thought of drilling my kids was even more dreadful! They both love computer games, so when Math Rider came up for review I begged to be chosen! And, I was ... thank goodness!

Math Rider is a computer game where your child rides a horse named Shadow on a Quest along a trail where he jumps over math facts. If the answer is typed correctly before it's time to jump over the math fact, then a point is earned. At the end of the Quest, the child is moved along the map to their destination. At the beginning of each Quest, an animated story is played out on the screen telling the child what goal he or she is working toward.

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Testimonials. I thought I would do my review differently this time and start with some testimonials.

"That game's stinkin' fun!"
"You're on a horse but you're doing math!"
"I can't wait to see what happens when you get there!"
~ Brynne, age 7

"I am seriously good at Math Rider!"
"This is awesome!"
"Math Rider .... YES!"
~ Eli, age 9

How We Used the Curriculum. Each day during math time, after our regular math assignment, one of the kids plays Math Rider for about 15 minutes while the other one practices math facts using another method.

Once I registered each of the kids on the program, they were able to log in themselves and get started without any help from me. So, is it easy? YES! I have monitored use of this program little, if any. They jump on, they play, they squeal, they lament over a missed problem, and they anxiously await their next Quest.

My Opinion. Did you read the Testimonials of my students? Based on that, my opinion is that it's a winner. Seriously, every single day they fight over who gets to play Math Rider first. We had to set up a schedule to eliminate the daily struggle. Their general opinion about the game is all that really matters to me, as long as they are learning their math facts. And, from what I can tell, they are! I can look at the Statistics to see what facts my kids have mastered. But I don't really need to do that because I hear every groan if they miss a fact. And I hear every "YES" when they get it right. When I initially set up their profiles, I put Eli on Easy Addition and Brynne on Medium Addition. Eli breezed through Easy and Medium and is now on Hard. Brynne breezed through Medium and was ready for Hard but said, "I need to go back and do Easy!" She wanted to complete all the Quests.

We will continue to use this program every single day until we have completed all of the Quests. They like it THAT much, and so do I. We all know that memorizing those facts is the most important thing they can do. And if playing a fun game every day is what motivates them to learn the facts, then I am all for it! And, we even like the music that is played during the Quests.

Thank you, Math Rider!

Product Details. Math Rider is simply a computer game, recommended for children grades 2 through 6 (or whoever is ready to practice math facts and has a good understanding of addition concepts) that you receive instant download access to after you make your purchase and requires no other materials as long as your computer meets the System Requirements. Math Rider uses the Adobe AIR Runtime which is compatible with both Windows and Mac. You can read the specific System Requirements by clicking on this link.

You can watch a 3-minute demonstration video by pressing play below.

You can also register for a FREE 7-day full-featured trial of the program by going to the Math Rider site.

The purchase price of Math Rider for a one-year subscription is $47.00. At that price you receive lifetime updates on the program. And more than one child can play the game at the same time.

More reviews of this product can be read at the Schoolhouse Review blog.


Sunday, April 21, 2013

Weekly Wrap-up ~ The 3R's, Lewis and Clark, and a Massive Field Trip

In our regular life this week…

Rain, rain, rain. I got my raised beds filled with their soil, compost, peat moss, and vermiculate mixture just in time! We stayed indoors most of the week due to the rain, with only a trip to Scouts on Monday evening and a trip to the dog groomer on Tuesday for the little dogs to get their spa treatments. Regular life met school life this week as we took school on the road to St. Louis, Missouri.

In our homeschool this week…

As we were preparing for a trip to St. Louis, we concentrated our studies Monday and Tuesday on Reading, Writing, and Math, and a mini-unit study on Lewis and Clark.

Reading - We read the last book in The Spiderwick Chronicles series, The Wrath of Mulgarath. That was the most reading aloud we have ever done at one time. We loved the series! Brynne finished reading Rascal and moved onto Snowball in the Puppy Place series by Ellen Miles. We ordered the next box set of books 6-10. Eli finished Book 4 in the Captain Underpants series by Dav Pilkey and started Book 5.

Writing - We are still working on cursive handwriting, using Handwriting Without Tears. We did a workbook page each day.

Math - Multiplication will be our constant companion for the remainder of the school year. They watched the dvd instructions for Lesson 3 of Math-U-See and did workbook pages each day. Then they continued to practice their math facts on Math Rider (review coming early next week) and with their Multiplication Wrap-ups.

Unit Study - Since we were planning to spend Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday in St. Louis (the beginning point of the Lewis and Clark Expedition), we did a mini-unit study on Lewis and Clark on Monday and Tuesday to prepare for all we would see on our trip. We read three books (The Lewis and Clark Expedition (We the People) by Patricia R. Quiri, The Crossing by Donna J. Napoli, and Sacajawea: Her True Story by Joyce Milton). The kids got to see the expedition through the eyes of all of the characters, including baby Pomp. We also made a map of the route we would take to St. Louis (actually, the kids did this all themselves). Although it added about 20 minutes to our trip, Rick took the route they had created so that we could go through Jefferson City, Missouri, the capitol city.

Places we’re going and people we’re seeing…

A really cool part of our drive to St. Louis was seeing the rivers. The kids instantly recognized the Missouri River each time we saw it and discussed how Lewis and Clark had sailed in that exact spot we were looking at. It was fascinating for them! In fact, Brynne asked me if Lewis and Clark went through Jefferson City and I said I wasn't sure. A few miles later we crossed the Missouri River. So, yes, they did go through Jefferson City. She was so proud of herself for putting all that together.

Of course we are also saw the Gateway Arch, the Mississippi River, ILLINOIS (just across the Eads Bridge!), the Science Center, City Museum, Turtle Playground and the St. Louis Zoo!

A favorite thing this week was…

Rick's - The talk on inelastic behavior of steel on tall buildings ....  NOT! (He was stuck in conferences while the kids and I were out having fun.) Really it was having dinner at Fitz's.

Mine - Riding the Metrolink with the kids, and a beautiful day at the zoo.

Eli's - Footboarding at City Museum.

Brynne's - Playing at City Museum and getting over her fear of some of the slides and trying new things.

What's in the kitchen this week ...

The Drury Inn had full breakfast for us each morning, and a meal each evening! They had hot dogs, pasta with meatballs, baked potatoes, chili, chicken strips, mac and cheese, and more! Free breakfast, free dinner! All we had to do was take care of lunch. And our room had a mini-fridge and microwave, so we got lunchables and pizza rolls as lunch treats.

What we're reading ...

Mom: Dark Places by Gillian Flynn, Becoming a Titus 2 Woman by Martha Peace, Created to be His Helpmeet by Debi Pearl, Papa's Pearls by Diane Flynn Keith, Gift from the Sea by Anne Morrow Lindbergh.

Eli: Captain Underpants (the fifth book) by Dav Pilkey

Brynne:  Snowball (Puppy Place) by Ellen Miles

Things we're working on…

I had each of the kids pick an animal at the zoo that they had never seen before. I took a picture of it and pictures of the information about the animals. This week the kids will do a journal page about them, sketch them, and give them their own names. This is exactly what Lewis and Clark did on their expedition! 

I’m grateful for…

The opportunity to SHOW my kids the Lewis and Clark expedition instead of them reading about it in a textbook in the 5th grade (that's when you learn Missouri History in our public schools). We read about it, touched the Mississippi River, and planned to watch an IMAX movie about the expedition while at the Arch (they had the theatre closed for repair .... DARN!! I have it in my Amazon Cart for purchase). Then we went to the Westward Expansion museum that is at the base of the Arch. Eli and Brynne earned their Junior Ranger Badge for the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial.

I rewarded my kids this week by…

Taking them on the Metrolink from the Forest Park area of St. Louis to the Gateway Arch (actually across the Eads Bridge to Illinois .. they really wanted to cross that bridge)! They have always wanted to ride the train. It was so FUN!

Things you might have missed at Journey to Excellence ...

A photo, video, link, or quote to share (silly, serious or both!)…

We are happily linking up this week at the following sites:

Dating Through the Alphabet ~ B is for Breakfast

I had to get super creative this week because we have been on vacation with our two little ones. There wasn't going to be any alone time on this trip, so we stole time whenever we could. And that was at Breakfast.

Yeah, right, like I was going to let you see what I look like in the morning when I have just crawled out of bed.

While the kids slept in, Rick and I went downstairs for Breakfast together each morning before he went to his conference. You gotta takes those moments when you can get them!

What about you? Did you and your husband go on a date this week? Even if you aren't playing along officially, you can link up any date and give it an appropriate letter. That way others can steal your idea!

Next week, for us, it's a "C" date. Gotta start thinking about that one!