Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Tuesday Coffee Chat

It's time for Tuesday Coffee Chat with Time Out for Mom. (The graphic is not working today for some reason.) Today's question actually made me stop and ponder ...

Rebel without a cause ... Are you a rebel or a by-the-book kinda person?

On the surface I do not look like a rebel. In fact, I appear to be a little lame. But after really thinking about this question over several cups of coffee for a couple of days, I realize that I am really a rebel in my heart. Or as I like to describe myself, a non-conformist.

My typical reaction to things is that if everyone else is doing it, even if it's "good", I am not going to do it. I take this approach with television shows (Oprah ... no thanks), books (you will not catch me reading Harry Potter, Twilight or 50 Shades or even a popular new Christian book or author), blogs (once bloggers get popular and worshipped by the masses I delete them from my feed). I find that if I start to follow a fad then my heart is in the wrong place. I absolutely do not believe in the world's definition of success.

I prefer to do things my way, which to many others probably looks wrong. But when I take that approach it serves me and my family well.

This does not mean that I don't follow rules. I follow a lot of rules that I think are stupid. They have been put in place by those in authority over me and I am to follow them whether I like them or not. But in any area where I have freedom to make my own choices, I make them.

I hope that this is a quality I have successfully passed onto my children. I want them to always know that it is okay to be an individual. The litmus test for their decisions should be whether God would approve, not whether the world would (even well-intentioned family members, including myself).

"Do not conform any longer to the patterns of this world ... "(Romans 12:2), take the road less travelled, etc.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Weekly Wrap-up ~ Spring Break and the One After

My last Weekly Wrap-up has been done for over a week waiting for me to take a few minutes to put some photo collages together. I've just been so busy during the day and so tired at night! So this wrap-up will contain happenings from the past two weeks.

We had an amazing Spring Break two weeks ago! We spent Monday through Wednesday at home just sleeping in, playing, relaxing, and enjoying ourselves. We had mostly springlike temps and even some sunshine. Kyndal and I started doing the 21 Day Fix on Monday so we were so sore for the majority of the week that little else got done. But it was fantastic to have nowhere to go and nothing to do!

On Thursday the little kids and I went to Oklahoma to spend the weekend with Rick. We arrived just in time for pizza on Thursday night and then came back to his house to watch a movie and get to bed at a decent hour. We had scheduled a field trip with our best friends on Friday and had an early start.

Friday morning we drove to our friends' house to see the progress on their new farm and to visit with their little donkeys. Of course Brynne was in love!

The first stop on our field trip was the Dewey Hotel and Museum in Dewey, Oklahoma. We missed the seasonal opening by one week, but we were able to look in the windows and roam around the grounds. The hotel was originally built in 1899. I really wish we could have gone inside. The rumor is that it's haunted! It also has the original jail in the back. It's all pretty cool.

Next was lunch at Pies & Such in Bartlesville, Oklahoma. It looks like quite the dive. To use the restroom we had to go around to the back of the building and enter through the kitchen area. The wiring was messed up so we couldn't even shut the door to use the potty or it was pitch black dark. When we walked out the homemade bread was cooling on a rack just outside the bathroom. It seemed a little unsanitary. There weren't any lights on in the restaurant while we ate. I wondered how the restaurant could actually pass an inspection. And the waitress looked alarmed that us three moms were coming in with six kids, but she seated us and took our orders.

This is the kind of place where you can get a sandwich (on homemade bread), the soup of the day, a salad, and/or the one special offered, and that's it. The kids all got sandwiches and I ordered the meatloaf special. Oh, yum! And the kids absolutely loved their sandwiches! Top notch food! Then we ordered several different slices of homemade pie. Again, wow!! We were complimented by the waitress who told us that our children were the best behaved they had ever had come into the restaurant. I highly recommend this restaurant, although the ambience leaves quite a bit to be desired. We were on a pioneer field trip, so it fit perfectly with our theme of the day! I am so glad we gave it a try!

Our next destination was to climb on and tour a 1903 steam locomotive. This was the kids' favorite part of the day. Eli pretended to be a train bandit and chased the girls all over the train. It was fabulous! And HUGE! It was cool for the kids to see an authentic steam locomotive. And they even got to get into a train car like the one that Mary and Laura were in on the runaway train of Little House on the Prairie.

The final stop was at the Nelson Carr One Room Schoolhouse. The kids got dressed in period clothes that we brought from home and then had school with the school marm for about an hour. She took them through several different lessons and the rules of the school. The kids got to do spelling and math problems on slates and use quill and ink pens. They had to take turns reading out of the McGuffey's Reader. They had to raise their hands, step out of their desks and stand to answer questions, etc. They loved it!! It was a really great experience! So fun!

Just before we left town we decided to stop by Keepsake Candles. The owner showed us how they make candle molds and they each dipped a wax ornament. It was a neat way to end the day.

We were exhausted after our fun day so just came home and played some cards with Rick's sister and brother-in-law before getting to bed.

On Saturday Rick and I took the kids to a really cool retro bowling alley in downtown Tulsa called Dust Bowl. It only has 8 lanes and you have to score your own games the old-fashioned way. It was a lot of fun and we really enjoyed it!

We came back to the house and had a dinner to celebrate the birthdays of our nephew and his wife and Rick's step-dad. We also played Ticket to Ride before bed. We slept in on Sunday and then got up and enjoyed breakfast with Rick's family and one final game of Ticket to Ride. Early afternoon we loaded up the car and headed back to Missouri.

And Spring Break was over.

Last week we were feeling the effects of a week off, but we trudged ahead. You can always tell when we are getting to the end of our school year because we tend to taper off on our hands-on activities and just stick to the basics, reading, and watching lots of videos. You can just tell we are tuckered out.

We have started reviewing fractions with our dvd series "Mastering 5th Grade Math". When we start summer school in June we will move onto Math U See Epsilon and really hit fractions hard. But for now we are reviewing what we already know. We continue to identify parts of speech with IEW's Fix It-Grammar "The Nose Tree". We do our Bible lesson every morning, watch CNN Student News, and read out of our personal books every day.

Lunch this week consisted of working out with Wii Fit that the kids borrowed from their Aunt Julie. They have become quite the yogis this week!

Add that to Brynne's Girls on the Run class and she did a lot of working out his week. While Brynne was at GOTR, Eli was at Lewis and Clark class trying some new foods he has never eaten before. According to his teacher he was a real trooper.

In the afternoons this week we read out of Little Town on the Prairie and watched some episodes of Little House on the Prairie. The kids also watched some of the Ken Burns documentary Civil War each day. (It was crazy to compare what was going on in the Little Town on the Prairie at the same time the Civil War was brewing on the East coast. It seemed like they were living in different worlds!) For Science the kids chose to watch an episode of Brain Games each day. That show is fascinating and very entertaining!

And that's how we pretty much spent our week. This coming week we will be adding in some memorization of the presidents, but will very likely be doing much of the same as last week. We are just so ready for our May break.

How about you? When will you finish your school year?

Friday, March 27, 2015

Random 5

1. It seems that over the past couple of weeks lots has been happening in the career department in our family ... a lot of potential! This week the high school received a phone call from a businessman in a nearby town who is looking for an apprentice/assistant of sorts to do multiple tasks for his businesses, including a good deal of computer graphics and online business sales. He was looking for potential graphic design candidates to interview. The computer teacher at the school chose only Dawson and he called the man for an interview. I took him to the interview yesterday and it went really well. It is one of those supernatural situations that you just know is God and Dawson is super excited at the prospect of the opportunity. It's a wait and see right now. But, if it works out, it may mean some extremely exciting things for Dawson's future. He would not have received this opportunity without being the smart and good kid that he is. He deserves this!

UPDATE:  Dawson received a voicemail this morning from the businessman. He said that his wife was so impressed with Dawson's character and with the things that he shared with her that she wants him. They are not going to interview anyone else and wanted to know when Dawson could start doing some work. ALL Glory to God!! ALL Glory!

2. My future son-in-law received some good news in his career recently, as well. He is an iron working apprentice. As he is a newbie, he has definitely had to take his lumps this past year, not working more than he has been working. This guy is a worker and has hated having time off. But when he does work he makes a great impression because he has one of the best work ethics I have ever witnessed. He basically got handpicked by a foreman in one particular company in his union who said he wants Collin on his team at all times. So Collin has started working for this particular foreman who works for a company that is working jobs pretty much all the time. No more going to the Hall to stand in line for jobs. His future is much more secure. I am so proud of the hard-working young man that my daughter is marrying. I know that he will always take care of her.

3. And Rick called me last night to tell me about a potential opportunity for him and our family. It would allow him to be based out of our home here in Missouri (no more living in Oklahoma during the week). But it would have him traveling potentially 8-10 months of the year going to job sites. But the exciting part about that is that the kids and I would have the freedom to travel with him whenever we wanted. The kids want to explore the United States and love to travel and see new things. This would give us the opportunity to do as much of that as we would want. We can easily homeschool on the road (a dream of mine). I also have a plan for how to make the traveling feel a little less like traveling and more like home on the road. And those weeks that Rick is not working he would be home with us. The even better part of the job is that he receives pay even on the days that he is not out working. He just makes more on the days that he is. Sound too good to be true? Well, we know the company very well, as it was the first company that Rick ever worked for when we moved to Oklahoma almost 15 years ago. It is a very solid company, family owned, and lucrative. We have always missed aspects of him working for that company because of the way they take care of the families. He has an excellent working relationship with everyone at the company, and we know they would take care of us. He would be taking the job of a gentleman who would be retiring who has done this job for many, many years. It's a dream job. And it has lots of neat potential for us as a family.

4. Me? Nah, I don't have any job prospects. But I don't want any. I have my hands full as it is. What am I up to? Finishing up our school year and helping the older kids with all of their life changes as young adults (full-time job, believe me!). I am now on Day 10 of the 21 Day Fix. I am not sure if I have lost any weight, maybe 1-2 pounds, or inches. But I can tell you that I feel amazing! The workouts are exactly what I like to do. I am feeling much stronger, and I am noticing some definition back in my legs (which means I am not going to be grossed out by myself in a swimming suit this summer). I am also running 3 days a week training for a 5K on May 2. I ran a mile straight the other day, 14 minutes straight, which is the first time I have done that in about 5 or 6 years. I am pretty happy with my progress. I am not following the nutritional aspect of the Fix, but am continuing to track my calories and nutritional values on MyFitnessPal, which is what I prefer. I am happy with how I am eating (really don't think I could do much more than I am doing), so losing any weight is not really a concern of mine now. I feel better in my clothes and just feel better overall, which was my ultimate goal.

5. Let's see. Other things going on. Well, Brynne is still doing Girls on the Run a couple of afternoons a week and Eli finished up his Lewis and Clark Class at the library. We'll be starting gardening class and book club soon. And Brynne starts softball in the next couple of weeks. I have been enjoying watching the kids do some unschooling. They are learning yoga on Wii fit, practicing cursive handwriting on the whiteboard whenever possible (Brynne), digging into the encyclopedia learning about video game systems (Eli). Brynne wants to join another class with Minecraft Homeschool. She has picked out a creative writing course that has her learning writing and then building her story on Minecraft. The 5K is coming up the first weekend in May. Then we have state bowling tournament the second weekend. Dawson graduates from high school the third weekend. And Kyndal gets married the fourth weekend. Then we leave for our vacation to the Caribbean to celebrate all of those events. Yeah, we're busy. But oh ... so .. happy!!

 Also linking up this week with Emmy Mom.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Wednesday Hodgepodge

This coming weekend is Palm Sunday, which marks the beginning of Holy Week. Do you celebrate Easter in your home? What was your favorite Easter tradition as a child?

We have celebrated Easter in our home in a myriad of ways over the years. We celebrate both the resurrection of our Savior Jesus and the fun of the Easter Bunny. In the past we have done activities such as making resurrection cookies, resurrection hills, and hunted resurrection eggs. We always color eggs the night before Easter. We don't do many other activities now that the kids are older. On Easter Sunday we go to Sunday School to celebrate with the other 4-6th grade kids I teach. Before we leave for church the kids get to dig through their Easter baskets. After church they hunt Easter eggs. Then we have lunch with my family. Last year it was at my parents'. This year we haven't even discussed it yet. If we don't all get together then I will make a nice dinner for my family here at home.  My favorite memory as a kid was probably Palm Sunday over Easter Sunday because the kids at church would all get palm leaves and do a procession during the church service. That's a neat memory. They still do that same procession today. I also enjoyed Easter dinner at my grandma's.

George Weinberg is quoted as saying, "Hope never abandons you, you abandon it." Agree or disagree? Share your own thoughts on the word hope.

That's probably true. Hope is available, you just have to put it into action in your own life. I don't think I put a lot of stock in hope. I lean more toward the Faith side, knowing that things will work out for God's good (even if I don't like what's happening). I can hope things will be different, but what is the point in that, really? I think hope can cause a lot of disappointment.

Weigh in with a yay or nay on the traditional Easter candies. A solid mild chocolate bunny? Cadbury Creme Eggs? Peeps? Reese's Peanut Butter Eggs? Jellybeans? Coconut Cream Eggs? Of the candies listed, which one would you most like to find in your Easter basket?

Anything chocolate ... YES! And I do love me some Peeps. But my favorite, favorite, favorite (and I will cheat and have at least one even though I am watching my calories these days) is a Cadbury Egg. Oh, yum!!!

When did you last feel 'like a kid in a candy store'?

Anytime I go into a bookstore I am in Heaven, especially if I have a cup of coffee in my hand. It can be at Barnes and Noble, a used bookstore, it doesn't matter. My favorite bookstore is Powell's Books in Portland, Oregon. I could piddle through there all day!!

What's something you know you do differently than most people? Does that bother you? Does it bother other people?

I read magazines from the back to the front. I have NO idea why I do that! It doesn't bother me, exactly, but it does make me wonder what the psychology is behind it. I would imagine that if someone watched me do it he or she would wonder the same.

Palm Springs CA, or Palm Beach FL, or the PALMetto State ... of the three mentioned, which sunny spot would you most like to visit right now? Which have you visited at one time or another?

I have not been to any of the three. But if I could choose I would choose South Carolina. I would love to go on a tour of many of the old plantations, stay for a few days in Myrtle Beach, visit Fort Sumter and other historical sites, and have some real old fashioned sweet tea.

If you could change the length of a day would you lengthen it or shorten it? Tell us why.

Shorten it. I am one that is always sad when Daylight Savings Time arrives. I love when it gets dark at 4:30 p.m. and the day is "done". It gives me an excuse (like I need one) to get in my pjs with a cup of hot tea and settle in for the night. I don't want my days longer, because then they seem to get filled with more work! Once the sun goes down we all get settled down and cozy in the living room for some t.v. time and relaxation as a family. So the earlier the sun goes down, the better!

Insert your own random thought here.

Have you seen Cinderella? Beautiful movie!!

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Tuesday Coffee Chat

The official Tuesday Coffee Chat is back this week. Today's question is ...

17 again! If you could be any age again, for one week, what age would you be?

I would be 23 1/2. That is how old I was when I became a mom for the first time. I was so young and had so much on my plate and so many distractions ... in my third year of law school, studying for the Bar exam, building a house, making big decisions I had no business making at that time in my life, trying to obtain it all. 

But I already had it all, in the tiny little package that was Kyndal.

It took many, many years later, and a few more kids, for me to realize that being a mom was all I ever wanted. 

I wish in that one week I would have held my baby close and just quit everything else. I wish I would have had wisdom and courage to quit law school, even though I had almost completed it. I wish I would have stopped construction on our house because we couldn't afford it. I wish I would have forced my husband (at the time) to step up and do whatever it took to take care of his family financially so I could stay home with my baby full time. I wish I would have had the foresight to know that homeschooling would be so great and would have devoted myself right then to starting her education at home.

I wish I would have soaked in every single moment of her in that week and for every week thereafter. Because now she is a 20 year old woman getting ready to get married and start a family of her own and it all went by in the blink of an eye. 

I'd like to think that doing that week over and doing it differently would have changed the course of the rest of my life. I wouldn't change any of it if it meant that I would not have ended up married to Rick and the mother of Dawson, Eli and Brynne, as well. But I have to believe that knowing early on in my life as a mother that motherhood was the most important thing, that I would have kept myself from going down a long path away from the destination God had planned for my life.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Wednesday Hodgepodge

Share a favorite song, book, or movie title containing the word 'green'.

My friend and I used to sing the theme song to Green Acres all the time. I love that song! (Singing it in my head right now.)

Ralph Waldo Emerson is quoted as saying, "Shallow men believe in luck. Strong men believe in cause and effect." Would you agree? Are you a believer in luck?

Deep down I do not believe in luck. I believe God has a plan for each of us and when we are walking on that path it is revealed to us as we go. When our desires are in line with God's plan then we have hopes and dreams that line up with it. So when something good happens, just at the "right" moment, we know that it's God, not luck. Cause and effect definitely come into play here. God isn't going to make things happen for us if we make our own choices away from his plan. But at the same time, if we are wise enough to obey God each step of the way, our obedient actions will give us those results we desire.

Spring water, Hot Springs, handspring, spring fling, spring break, spring fever, offspring ... which 'spring' word best applies to something in your day, week, or life right now?

Oh we are in full-fledged spring break here!! And it's been awesome! We are sleeping in, getting in some good exercise, enjoying some nice weather (although today the temps are supposed to drop and it's supposed to rain). The kids are playing and doing what they want. I am relaxing and doing what I want. We decided not to go anywhere for Spring Break because in 65 days we will be going on vacation. We are saving up for that! This week has been just what we needed. No place to go and nothing to do. And we get to end it with a fun weekend with Rick in Oklahoma.

What's something you do to make yourself look or feel more confident?

Definitely taking control of my body with healthy eating and exercise. Don't we all feel more confident when we are eating nourishing and delicious meals, when our bodies feel energized from exercise (even if a tad bit sore), and when our clothes fit comfortably?

It's National Celery Month ... are you a fan? If so, what's a snack or dish you enjoy that calls for celery?

I have a couple here because I really do like celery. I enjoy celery sticks with pimento cheese spread for a snack. I make a really good baked salisbury steak with celery and green peppers. And my all-time favorite is my crock pot dressing I make during the holidays. Oh, yum!!

What's one thing you wish you'd learned sooner?

To be content with what God has given me and to be patient for His plan for my life. I got married the first time for the wrong reasons. And it has taken me until the last few years to really understand how having less feels like so much more, especially when you're daily sharing that little bit with family.

Would you like to own a second home? If so where would you want that home to be?

I have two separate dreams. One is to someday own a really nice pull-behind camper so that Rick and I can just travel all over the United States. My second dream is to someday own a small home somewhere in the mountains. Then I can visit my parents' house in Florida during the winter and stay in our mountain home in the summer, visiting there again for a couple of weeks in the winter for skiing for Rick and the kids. I want to keep our house we have now to come home to in the Spring and Fall.

Insert your own random thought here.

I am so sore from doing the 21 Day Fix (on Day 3 today). But I absolutely LOVE the workouts and my soreness tells me I am working those muscles that need to be worked! The workouts remind me of the classes I used to take at the Y in Oklahoma several years ago. I love body sculpting and light weights. It makes me feel amazing (or at least I will once the soreness works its way out)!! I have always had a hard time finding a DVD exercise series that I have wanted to stick with, but I think I am going to be doing these routines for a very, very long time. Awesome!

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Tuesday Coffee Chat

There is no Tuesday Coffee Chat this week. The host Leslie's father had a couple of strokes this past week and with his health issues and her family's spring break, she is taking the week off.

Since my kids will say later today, "Where is your Tuesday Coffee Chat?", I will go ahead and do some chatting anyway.

Let's talk weight loss ... or getting in shape ... or whatever.

I am attempting them both and have been since the beginning of the year. I have pretty consistently exercised 4-5 days a week doing TaeBo and/or walking and running. I have been charting my foods on MyFitnessPal. I am working hard to get fit and to lose a few pounds.

The trouble is .. it's a lot harder when you are 40-something than when you are 30-something, or even younger! In these 3 full months I have lost 5 pounds. I am happy with that number. But, dang, it's hard to take pounds off the scale! I know that part of it is that my body wants to be the weight it is, possibly to take care of my brittle bones as I get older. Are you curious how much I weigh? Right now I weigh 131 pounds. I am 5'6". I would like to be a very fit 125 pounds. I think that's doable. It just takes a lot of work!!

We are going on a Caribbean vacation in May to witness Kyndal and Collin's symbolic wedding ceremony on the beach in Cozumel, Mexico. On that vacation I would like to look smoking hot for my husband! So I am doing some extra work toward that goal.

Kyndal and I started the 21 Day Fix yesterday. The plan is to do the dvd workouts, in the recommended order, Monday through Friday. It will take us just over a month to complete them. In addition to that we are getting hardcore dedicated to posting our foods on MyFitnessPal. My goal is to eat just over 1200 calories a day and burn off just over 200 calories a day in my workouts. That would have me at 1000 net calories a day, and all healthy foods! I am also going to be running 3 days a week doing my Couch to 5K schedule so I am ready to run the 5K with Brynne on May 2nd. I am hoping to run on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturday or Sunday.

The 21 Day Fix program comes with a nutritional program, as well. But after just one day of using it I believe that it is a little too restrictive in caloric intake for someone working out at the level I plan to work out. I feel like, for me, eating less than 1200 calories a day is not healthy. I am going to use the little portion control containers to help me with that, and Brynne really likes using them to help her with proper portions when she eats. But I am not going to follow their general plan. I think it would be okay for someone who is wanting to lose a lot of weight quickly and needs more accountability. But I am pretty diligent about what and how much I eat and in what portions and I don't want to lose weight quickly. I would rather slowly lose weight by lifestyle change instead of true dieting.

So the bottom line is that I am going to continue with my current eating plan and step up my workouts, at least for the next month. I took before photos ... brace yourself ... and did all of my measurements. I am excited to see if there are any physical changes after completing the program and whether I have lost weight and/or inches.

Oh, and my reward for completing the exercise portion of the program is a Double Cheeseburger with everything from DQ when ours opens back up for the Spring. That incentive is all I need to stick with the program.

So, wish me luck! Hopefully my After photo collage shows some improvement in the mid-section.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Weekly Wrap-up ~ The Week Before Spring Break

All I can say is that the weather this past week was amazing! It was also our last week of school before Spring Break. And we were at the very end of our latest Prairie Primer (Little House) book The Long Winter. All of that added together means that we did a literal wrap-up.

Each day consisted of doing our 3R's - Reading, wRiting, and aRithmetic.

We had 15 chapters of The Long Winter to finish so that we didn't leave anything hanging over Spring Break this next week. So we did lots of read aloud! There weren't many activities to do with the content of these chapters because the majority of the story was simply about the day in and day out job of just staying alive during the 7 months of blizzards they experienced in the story. We had loads of discussion, though! The kids also continued to read out of their personal books. Brynne is still reading the second book in the Warriors series and Eli has moved onto another book in the Middle School Series.

The kids continue to move along through Fix-It Grammar: The Nose Tree from IEW. They did a lesson each day. They also FINISHED Math U See Delta this week!! We are ready to move onto Epsilon but will not do that until we start summer school in June. Instead we will go back to doing some fraction review with our dvd series Mastering 5th Grade Math until we conclude schoolwork for the 2014/2015 school year. Speaking of that, we will be finished with our school year on May 1st! 

The rest of this past week included some outside time and extra-curricular activities with Girls on the Run and Lewis and Clark class at the library. On Friday Brynne was sick (again!) with allergies so Eli and I left her home with Kyndal and we went to do some life skills work getting groceries. They also spent a lot of time drawing this week ... this time free handing Pokemon characters.

And that was our week.

We are looking forward to a week off! We are going to take one afternoon to go see Cinderella. I am taking Dawson to meet with his college academic advisor to get him enrolled for classes next fall. And then Eli, Brynne, and I are going to Oklahoma on Thursday for the weekend. We are going on a field trip to a one-room schoolhouse (where the kids will spend one hour receiving instruction from a pioneer teacher!), then to see a steam locomotive and a hotel still standing from pioneer days, and finally to have lunch at a small pie shop. The funnest part will be that we are going with our best friends from Oklahoma who are also working through Prairie Primer this year. It's fun to take field trips with friends!

We will spend the rest of the weekend with daddy and be back to start back to our final few weeks of school before our May break.

Things are wrapping up around here!

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Random 5

Welcome to another week's edition of my Random 5. You can link up with Miranda at The Pebble Pond if you want to join in. What random things are going on in our world?

1. Dawson interviewed for and received an offer to be a lifeguard at our city pool this summer. After he completes his certification he will be good to go. Kyndal and I were also going to try to work there, but the city has an old (stupid) rule that no two or more family members can be employed by the city at the same time. Isn't that ridiculous? For part-time minimum wage swimming pool lifeguards? This is particularly annoying when our City Manager has been "dating" a member of the city council for in excess of 15 years. Because they don't physically live together they get around the rule. Politics. Dumb.

2. Spring, spring, spring ... oh how I love you! It has been a glorious week here in West Central Missouri. The temps have been in the high 60's most of the week with amazing sunshine. It has been incredibly hard for me to stay focused to teach the kids when all I want to do is sit on my porch swing and listen to the birds sing. So we have taken some of our schoolwork outside. This kind of weather also makes me want to exercise constantly. Anything to be outside!!

3. Speaking of exercising, I am running again. About a year and a half ago I slipped and fell while going out to run and tore a ligament in my knee. I hobbled around for several months, barely able to walk. But after a good amount of healing I am now able to actually run without pain or aggravation. Dawson, Taylar and I have been running three days a week training for a 5K we want to run with Brynne in May as part of her Girls on the Run program. Man, it has felt so good to get back out there! And I am stronger than ever.

4. Next week we will be on Spring Break. On Thursday we are going to go to Oklahoma to spend the weekend with Rick instead of him coming home for the weekend. We will also get to spend some time with our best friends from Oklahoma, actually going on a field trip with them. The rest of the weekend will be spent hanging out with Rick's family. I am really looking forward to a weekend away with no responsibilities. We will play games, have meals together, go bowling, and just enjoy family. It's going to be fun!

5. I broke down and made Eli an appointment with a speech therapist. He has always received therapy, until we moved here. His stuttering seemed better for a while with the techniques that we know, but lately it has gradually gotten worse. He has an evaluation in June and then we will be doing consistent therapy. He broke my heart one day when we were talking about Heaven and things we would do there and talk to God about. He said, "When I am in Heaven I won't stutter anymore."

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Wednesday Hodgepodge

What's the first image that comes to mind when you hear the word 'spring'? Which phrase best describes the season of spring where you live right now (today) ... 'sprung!', 'almost there', or 'still waiting?'

Photo Credit

Birds, birds, birds, especially robins! Seeing them and hearing them tells me Spring is here. They know more than we do. Today spring has sprung! We have had mid-60's temps, sunshine, and even a rain shower yesterday morning. The birds are back, the allergies are in full throttle mode, and all I want to do is sit on my front porch. (Now, this is Missouri and we could have a snow storm tomorrow. But I really believe all the signs are here that spring is here to stay.)

Bed, couch, stapler, garage door, computer mouse, recliner, flashlight, door knob ... which household item containing springs most needs replacing in your home? Speaking of springs, did you ever own a Slinky?

We have a 100 year old house with many original doorknobs. They are squeaky and fragile, to say the least. But I wouldn't replace them to save my life.

We have owned many Slinkys in my lifetime. And I hate them! They tangle too easily and then kids want them fixed, which is impossible.

March is Women's History Month. Share a favorite quote by a woman.

Photo Credit

What's a question that looms large in your mind right now?

Do my children know that their Father in Heaven loves them unconditionally, without wavering, and that He will never seek to hurt them in any way? Do they know they can always count on Him, come to Him with anything and know that they will receive His undivided attention and best advice for their best interest, each and every single time? Do they believe that even when they mess up their Father will not condemn them nor make them feel stupid or unloved? Most of all do they truly know that He will take care of them and all of their needs: monetarily, physically, emotionally, and spiritually? Do they really know it and believe it? I pray that they do. Because no one on earth can provide the same to them.

Are you a sugar freak? By that I mean how much do you love sugar? With all of the bad press sugar gets these days, have you made any efforts to reduce the amount of sugar you consume?

I never thought of myself as a huge sugar freak. I don't crave sweets. But I guess technically I am because I am a carb addict and all those carbs get converted to sugar. I would much rather have a plate of pasta than a piece of chocolate cake, but it's all unhealthy sugar when eaten in excess. I do watch all of my nutritional values, not just sugar. I track my food consumption on My Fitness Pal so that I can stay within healthy limits of all values. I do not believe in depriving my body of anything, but would rather eat a healthy balance of everything. I am not one who cuts out sugar from our family's diet. But I do try to use natural sugar or natural forms of sweetener whenever possible, and not to provide sugar in excess. I use liquid Stevia for myself. I have cut out all artificial forms of sweeteners. I am more concerned about the chemicals than the sugars themselves.

Would you rather have less work to do or more work you enjoy doing?

Less work. Even work that I enjoy is only enjoyable if done with a limit. I'd rather have more time to read.

Ever been to Texas? Of the top ten Texas tourist attractions which would you most like to see .. The Alamo, The San Antonio River Walk, The State Capitol, Dallas World Aquarium, Padre Island National Seashore, Houston Space Center, Schlitterbahn Waterpark in New Braunfels, Six Flags Fiesta Texas, Moody Gardens, or Galveston Island?

I've been to Texas many times. One of my favorite places to visit is San Antonio. We have thoroughly enjoyed the River Walk, and the Alamo is absolutely fascinating. And climbing on a cruise ship in Galveston is tops on my list of favorite things to do. Out of the places I have not visited I think the Houston Space Center would be at the top of my list. The kids would love it!

Insert your own random thought here.

Daylight Savings Time. Enough said.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Tuesday Coffee Chat

Today's Tuesday Coffee Chat is a fun one! It is simply this ... Would you rather _____ ? And the comparison is up to me.

This past week while looking through photographs it was mentioned how young, pretty and skinny I was five years ago. And I had to admit that, dang, I did look good back then! I don't look awful now, it's just that in five years I haven't been as diligent about taking care of my body as I should and I have allowed stress to take its toll on me. Stress really does affect your physical appearance over time.

While talking about this I admitted how old I felt. And one of the kids said, "Well, you do all old lady kinds of things. You like to stay in the house and read, etc. Do some young things and maybe you'll feel younger!" (That was paraphrased some, but that is definitely what I heard.)

And it got me thinking how right that child was ... I have started to get comfortable with my aging and have just been giving into it, maybe even trying to hurry it up a bit.

So here is my question for you ... Would you rather grow old gracefully or try to fight the process for as long as you can?

I have been very comfortable with growing older. Rick says that I can't wait to be an old lady, and he is right. I love the thought of having the whole day to myself, with lots of quiet, sitting and reading and watching my television shows, swinging on my porch swing with a cup of tea, piddling in the house and in the yard/garden, taking my dog for a walk, enjoying visits from my kids, spending quiet evenings with Rick.

But I also want to feel good, feel energized, look energized, act energized. I want my skin to shine and to still have a stylish hairstyle. I don't have to be in style in my clothing but I never want to be out of style. I want to have enough energy to attend the activities of my grandchildren and go on vacations with my husband. I don't want Rick to feel like he has to do everything alone because I don't ever want to leave the house.

I don't want to be a lonely old woman like my Grandma Alice was, just waiting to die. I want to enjoy life and enjoy it to the fullest for as long as I can!

I want to fight the process of aging as long as I can physically do it! And I don't mean plastic surgery, botox, spending thousands on beauty products. I mean staying active, staying alive, moving and doing and having fun, smiling and laughing, hosting dinners, attending activities. A lot of these things are outside my comfort zone. But if I give in so easily to the aging process, then I am going to be old before I know it.

So, although I plan to give myself a little bit of grace in this aging process (because I am, in fact, getting older), I am going to try my best to stay out there fighting it a little each and every day. And, hopefully, enjoying my life in the process. I am still looking forward to that quiet life I mentioned above. But it will be here before I know it, and I shouldn't rush it or welcome it so quickly. I have a lot of life to live and a family that wants to live it with me.

So how about you? Would you rather grow old gracefully or try to fight the process as long as you can?

Monday, March 9, 2015

Weekly Wrap-up ~ Mix it Up (Prairie Primer - Long Winter Weeks 2 and 3)

(Well, I typed this on Friday but am just now getting it posted. We've got a busy life with Spring in the air!)

It's Freedom Friday around here! (Why, oh why, didn't I think of this earlier?!). The kids are currently in their rooms reading, where they have been for the past 45 minutes. Their math assignments are done. And other than watching CNN Student News, they have the rest of the day to learn on their own. The weather has turned sunny and warmer so I imagine that will include some outside time. I hope so.

Me? I've been working on getting together photos of Dawson for his high school graduation senior slide show. In just over two months my boy will be a high school graduate.

This week we have mixed things up a bit. Brynne has added a program to her week on Tuesdays and Thursdays called Girls on the Run. She trains with other 4th-6th graders at the elementary school for a 5K coming up in May. Not only that, but they learn about healthy living and body image. It's a great program.

While she is there from 3-4:30 each Tuesday and Thursday, Eli and I are hanging out at the library. He really enjoys the computers there where he can explore world geography and other things. He calls me over to the computer every few minutes to show me what he has learned. On Thursday afternoons he will also be taking the Lewis and Clark class again (that he and Brynne took last year). He loves Ms. Nicole and her programs.

We had a public school snow day on Wednesday. When Dawson is home it's just hard to do schoolwork because he is fun to hang out with! We had a stressful day that day with some life issues so we decided to declare a day of JOY instead! The whole family just hung out together watching t.v. and eating pizza. We needed to be together.

All week we just carried on with the usual school stuff ... Bible, current events, grammar, math (Roman numerals), personal reading, and The Long Winter read aloud.

Our unit study topic this week was mixtures and solutions. We started out by watching a video by Brain Strew about mixtures and solutions. It was pretty good. Then we did some demonstrations of  mixtures using play dough.

We did some activities with Mixing Solutions and Making Potions. And then we demonstrated homogenous and heterogenous solutions using a recipe (zucchini muffins). Yum! Kitchen science is fun!

One last exciting thing for us this week is that Brynne's basketball team played in a basketball tournament his weekend and they won first place! It was a great way to end the season.

We have one more week of school before Spring Break. We were planning to go to Florida the first week in April, but with our trip to Kyndal and Collin's destination wedding in Cozumel in May, we cancelled that trip. We are just going to celebrate a week off with our public schools and Dawson instead. On Thursday of next week we are going to Tulsa for the weekend, however, to see Daddy and other family. We are also going on a fun field trip with our Okie friends on Friday. School always seems to happen even when we plan to take some time off.

We appear to be right on track to finish up our school year at the end of April. Chance has it that there is a pioneer days school field trip event on May 1st so we are going with some friends. That will be a fun way to end our year! We will take off the entire month of May (have I mentioned we have a high school graduation and wedding that month?) and will do our summer school schedule in June and July.

It's been a great year!!

Friday, March 6, 2015

Random 5

1. Life is nuts for us right now with preparing for Dawson's high school graduation and Kyndal's upcoming wedding. Both events are within one week of each other in May. It's crazy!

Where did my babies go??

2. Dawson and I were looking at photos from about 5 years ago, preparing for his senior events. He mentioned (oh so sweetly and with pure love and devotion) that I looked so "young, skinny, and pretty". He is right. I did. It occurred to me that the stress of the last few years has really taken its toll on me physically! I realize that I look as old as I feel. And I feel old. Well, enough of that! I've got two months before we go on a tropical vacation. When I look at those photos I am going to see a "young, skinny, and pretty" me again!! It's time to feel young again.

Okay, honey, I admit ... longer blonder hair makes me look younger.

3. The weather the next week is going to be beautiful!!! I cannot wait to get outside and feel some sunshine!!

4. Brynne plays her last basketball games of the season this Saturday. We'll get a couple week break and then will launch right into softball season. She is also attending an after-school class on Tuesdays and Thursdays to prepare for a 5K she will run in May. I am so proud of her activity level and commitment to sports that she loves. I hope she always keeps that desire to be physically fit.

5. I am so thankful for my husband. Although he's been Kyndal's dad for the better part of her life, she is not his biological daughter. They have had their struggles. Oh my goodness, have they! But he has never wavered in his commitment to take care of her. He has supported all of her decisions in moving into adulthood ... helping her and Collin buy their first house, emotionally supporting their decision to get married, and now making sure she has the wedding of her dreams. When she made the decision to change her plans and have a family ceremony and then a destination commitment ceremony in Mexico two months before her already-scheduled wedding, he worked tirelessly to make sure we had the funds to make that happen. I am not sure if she will ever get what sacrifices he has made for her all of her life. But I hope that she will always know that he is here for her. I couldn't have taken care of her or given her this start on her adult life without him. I am forever grateful for his love for us.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Wednesday Hodgepodge

In like a lion, out like a lamb .... does the first part of this saying describing March weather ring true where you live?

It certainly could and I certainly hope it does. We had a beautiful first day of March, but it was very snowy and cold. I hope that we have the opposite of that on March 31st ... sunny and warm.

March 4th is National Grammar Day. What common grammatical error bothers you the most? 

Your versus you're, and 99% of what teenagers think is proper grammar these days. I had an amazing English/grammar teacher in high school and she is rolling over in her grave with the improper use of grammar by current high school students.

William Arthur Ward says, "The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails." Which one are you?

I have always thought of myself as a realist. I might complain for a moment but then pull myself together and start making the adjustments. But when it comes to literal wind,  I am a pessimist. When the wind is whipping I just say, "Ughhhh!!!" and try to get away from it. With all the hurls from the arrows of the Devil lately, I find myself complaining instead of adjusting or having an expectation of God to change it.

What's something you need to 'march forth and conquer' this month?

Staying on a strict budget. With moving Kyndal's wedding up almost two months and paying for a destination wedding, we have had to come up with funds more quickly and in a bigger chunk than we were planning. To do that is requiring some belt tightening for the next few months. No extras!

An ongoing debate around here ... do you dust first then vacuum or vacuum first then dust? Of the two routine household chores which do you dislike the least? How's that for wording?

In my perfect world I don't vacuum or dust on the same day. Instead I do one major housecleaning chore each day of the week. However, I absolutely HATE to dust. That's why all of my surfaces are dusty right now. Vacuuming is not a whole lot of fun, either, but I have to do it several times a week because of all of the dog hair. I usually vacuum on Monday, Wednesday and Friday and then 'as needed'. I am supposed to dust every Wednesday, but I always tend to talk myself out of it until 'next week'.

According to thrillist.com the ten most photographed sites in the U.S.A. are: Cinderella's Castle in Orlando, Southernmost House in Key West, The Space Needle in Seattle, The Site of the Boston Massacre in Boston, The Bellagio lake/fountains in Las Vegas, The Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C., Coit Tower in San Francisco, The Art Institute of Chicago, Niagara Falls, and snagging the number one spot ... The Guggenheim Museum in New York City. How many on this list have you photographed? Which on the list would you most like to visit and photograph?

I have photographed the Southernmost Point in Key West, but not the house (didn't know there was a designated house). And I have photographed at The Bellagio. Otherwise, that's it. I think I would like to get an iconic pic of my family at Niagara Falls with the water and mist pouring down over our ponchos.

Fifty years ago Monday (March 2, 1965) The Sound of Music premiered at the Rivoli Theatre in NYC. Have you seen the film? Do you own a copy? One a scale of 1-10 how much do you love it (or not)? If you're a fan, what's your favorite scene or song from the movie?

LOVE this movie! I would give it a strong 9. It is actually one of my all-time favorites. I don't own the movie, but I have seen it multiple times and even seen it in a musical a couple of times. My favorite scene is when the nuns are walking Maria through the abbey to the cathedral for the wedding, leaving her at the gate with her future daughters and then the chorus of the nuns singing "How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria?" It gives me chills.

Insert your own random thought here.

I have now ordered my daughter's wedding invitations and my son's graduation announcements. Both events will happen within one week of each other in May. Whoa.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Tuesday Coffee Chat

Random Confession. It's good for the soul.

I am kind of an open book on this blog, and always have been. I am not sure I have anything to confess that you don't already know. So I guess the only thing I can say is that I am a t.v.aholic.

I was raised in a home where nightly television shows were our entertainment. We watched a lot of t.v. as a family, everything from Little House on the Prairie to Beverly Hills 90210 to Knots Landing. We would eat dinner, clean the kitchen, and then settle into the family room for t.v. time.

Not much has changed, except I DVR everything so I don't have to watch commercials anymore.

I like to get dinner done and cleaned up and be on the couch to watch t.v. by about 6:30 p.m. at night. I have loads of shows that I watch! There are a few things we watch all as a family, but for the most part we all watch different things. I happen to watch most of everything with everybody. It's just what I like to do.

Here is a list of shows that I watch (possibly a complete list, although I might be missing some shows):

Project Runway
Amazing Race
Downton Abbey
Call the Midwife
The Following
Worst Cooks in America
Game of Thrones
How to Get Away with Murder
Criminal Minds
Law and Order: SVU
Secrets and Lies (new)
Dig (new)
Parenthood (just finished the series finale)
Once Upon a Time (on Netflix)
Orange is the New Black (on Netflix)
American Crime (new)
The Big Bang Theory
The Night Shift

That's about 22 hours of television a week, minus commercials (yikes!), and not counting any movies we watch on the weekends. Oh well. It's my thing. I don't ever watch any daytime television, however. In fact, unless the kids and I are watching a video for school or they are watching a cartoon they have DVR'd on their lunch break, we don't even turn on the t.v. (except early in the morning when Macie is watching cartoons before we start schoolwork). Eli cannot stand for the t.v. to be on unless someone is sitting down actively watching it.

So there you have it. I love to watch television. I confess.

Monday, March 2, 2015

First Day - March

The First Day of March was a fun one! We got a good dumping of snow, the fun kind. Church was cancelled so we slept in, ate good food, and did lots of playing. Well, some of us did. I am linking up with Nicole at Journey to Josie.

This is how late I slept yesterday morning!! (Snow day!)

It was a snowy wonderland!

Started my morning off right.

Daddy snuggles with Quincy.

I parked in front of the furnace for a while.

And Rick and I had some breakfast and chat time.

Eli started his morning off "right" with a waffle and Wii U.

The furnace was a popular place today.

Right at 4 inches of good snow!

That had to be cleared off the vehicles.

I stayed snug inside doing laundry with more coffee.

Buck prefers the warmth of indoors.

Although he, Quincy, and Crusoe did go out for a bit.

Yadi stayed out with Kyndal the whole time she was out there. He was a maniac.

He didn't want to come in.

Neither did Chloe.

Kyndal adores her babies.

The family working on a snowwoman.

While I, again, stayed inside and had some warm stew for lunch.

Meet Lydia.

Everyone finally got cold enough to come in for cocoa.

And Jalapeno Chicken Enchiladas for dinner.

Rick and I watched The Mummy, a favorite.

My house with no people in it. Rick headed back to Oklahoma,
Kyndal, Collin and their dogs went home,
Eli and Brynne retreated to their bedroom,
and Dawson and Taylar were hanging out upstairs.

So I did some lesson planning and watched the finale
of "How to Get Away with Murder".

Until I went to bed for some blog time.

And ended my day exactly 12 hours after it started.