Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Table Grace

It's been so long since I have last written, I don't even know where to start.  That happens to me sometimes.  I have so many things that I want to write about and I can't really figure out how to say it all so instead, I end up being silent!

But let me start here by saying that it has been really crazy around here the last few days.

My mother in law is sick and in the hospital, and has been there since Saturday and we are not yet sure when she will be able to come home.  She is curable, but she is just in a lot of pain right now and it will take time for her body to heal. 

When she is gone, I realize even more just what she does around here...and let me tell you, I miss her sorely!  She is always the one to just quietly pick up the loose ends.  She has not been doing as much since she was working, but even then, just every once in a while, when things got too hectic, I would come home to an empty sink and a clean kitchen.  Or a clean bathroom.  Or 2 bathed little kids.  Or a load of clean diapers.  Or the trash at the curb. 

Just the little things that seem to make such a difference.

Elizabeth went to Awakening Fest on Saturday with the Youth Group, and they camped out overnight til Sunday and come home super muddy and super tired...and in my van.  It is great having a large car.  I get the opportunity to drive the kids around and talk to whoever is in the front seat.  I recently found out that this was a coveted seat not only because it is 'shotgun' but because of the 'interesting conversation'.  Nice.  They think I'm interesting!  What a compliment coming from a group of teens!  (Right?)


I have other exciting news to tell you!

Look at this:

This is our dining room table.  Yes, I know.  It's horrible.

But if you remember a few weeks ago, I made a resolution to do 2 things:

1.  Clean the table off every night for dinner


2.  Have a veggie at every meal

And know what?  I have, with the help of our resident cook, Elizabeth, and our wonderful table-cleaner-offers Jo and Jimmy, we have been able to do these 2 things every single night!

So, yes, there is a table under all that and yes, we DO see it every night!


what is my next goal?

To reduce the plastic use in our house.

We tend to use a lot of plastics.   We have plastic plates and bowls for the little ones, a few plastic cups left and a lot of plastics that we use to pack lunches in.  And we also tend to use plastics in the freezer and in the fridge for left-overs. 

Honestly, for us, I do not think that it is possible for us to completely eliminate plastics from our house since we have to buy our own meats and cheeses and they always come in plastics.

But, I have been wanting to use something else in the freezer and for leftovers for a while now for a few reasons.  For the issue of food in plastic, but also because I get tired of using and washing out those gallon ziplock bags, and I don't like to wrap in wax paper and then foil all the time because it seems like so much waste.

But to buy those glass containers at the store can get expensive, and a lot of them can't go in the oven.

And then I found a solution!  I am so excited!!!!!

Pampered Chef has come out with glass containers that will go in the fridge, freezer, microwave and oven!  (Maybe I'll tackle the microwave next...)

Take a look at these guys!  They are so fun!  I already love and use the one and two cup Prep Bowls for EVERYTHING...even giving Jo snacks out of them instead of plastic bowls...and they go from freezer to oven, too, and now I have some glass storage containers. 

Of course, since I am a consultant for Pampered Chef, so I get them for a great discount, and since this is my blog and I can do what I want, I am shamelessly going to put in a plug for myself and say that you, too, can get them (or anything else you want) at a HUGE discount or even free if you host a show...and for those of you who live far away, you can do a catalog or online show and I'll still give you the full cooking show benefits just 'cuz I love you guys. 

Ok...that's enough self promoting. 

But seriously, I am really excited about these glass storage containers.  There are also removable labels that can go on them, too, which is another thing because if I write on the bag, then it wears off eventually, and if I use sticky tape, then I can't get it off to relabel. shall I set this goal?  I can't really say that I will get rid of all plastics by a certain date, but how about I say that I get rid of at least half my plastics and only use glass in the fridge and freezer except for packing meat in the freezer, which I will continue to wrap in paper. 

That sounds like an achievable goal. 

I also have made it my goal to reduce the use of plastics to feed the kids.  So, I am on the hunt for another option.  Jo is using almost all glass now, but Gabriel still makes me really nervous because he is just learning the whole fork thing and sometimes scoops his whole plate onto the floor.

So I'd love to know...what solutions do you have for getting plastics out of your kitchen...or do you think it doesn't matter?

Thursday, September 22, 2011


I just got back from Elizabeth's Back-to-School-Night.  For those of you who do not know, that is the night when the parents go to the school usually without their kids armed with their students schedule and run through a 'day' of school...with the class bells ringing and the parents all looking like kids on the first day of school...happy to see other parents they haven't seen, rushing through the super crowded halls with their schedule in hand looking for the next class and hoping to get there in time. 

The idea is that we parents get an opportunity to go to class, experience the school, and meet the teachers in 10 minute increments.  (No, we don't stay there as long as the kids do, the 'classes' are only 10 minutes each.)

It was strange for me to go this year without Jimmy, but he had to stay home with the little guys because neither one of them had slept all day (!) and my mother-in-law is sick and wasn't up to watching them.

But that's not my point.

As most of you know, Jimmy and I have decided that when the baby is born in February, I will stay home with the kids.

Jo is in preschool now, headed for kindergarten next year. 

She is slated to go to the school in our area, which I am not fond of for various reasons, this being one of them, but not the only one.  This school also does not have the advanced program that Elizabeth went through and did very well in and which set her up well for success now that she is in the higher grades.  I could try to place Jo in the school where Elizabeth went, but since there is a new principal, things are very different there now, too, and the classes that Elizabeth got are no longer run the same. 

So, there is the option of applying her for Spanish immersion at a different school, but there is no promise that she will get chosen, especially since we speak Spanish at home.

Private school is completely out of the question.

So homeschool has come to mind. 

This idea has been percolating for the last few years, actually, ever since I really started to read about it and realize what it really was...that it's not just a bunch of overprotective moms keeping their kids in the house all day(a common misconception)  as much as a chance for parents to teach their children what they need to know in a safe environment and be actively involved in choosing what they are exposed to and lots of other really positive things.

But going tonight to Elizabeth's school made me see a little bit of a different side to things. 

For example...

Elizabeth's geometry teacher is a professed math nerd.  He makes his own website and updates it with the kids' homework just for fun.  He is the head of a competitive math club and he does math stuff at home in the evening because he just plain likes it. 

I don't particularly feel that way about numbers.

And her science teacher is a crazy science wizard who loves all types of science and has a science club, too.  He tosses the textbook out because he says it's boring and outdated (it is) and instead makes his own plans and teaches the kids in a very hands on way that still gets them the end results.

Her French teacher speaks to the kids only in French...from the very first day of French 1. 

The band teacher's husband is a professional tuba player and may be helping Elizabeth out on the tuba since the teacher is the one who saw her talent and wanted her to play the tuba.

So Elizabeth will be (and has been) receiving many different teaching styles from many different personalities throughout her public school career. 

And that is a good thing.

But sometimes that is a not so good thing.

And Elizabeth has used her school as a mission field.  She has invited 5 friends to come to church with us and 3 of those are still regulars who has gotten baptized and accepted Christ.

And she is one who stands up to others and dresses modestly when others don't and who doesn't use bad language when others do.

She is a witness in who she is and how she acts and what she does in school.

But with that, she has to put up with inappropriate comments from teachers and bad behavior from students.

But Elizabeth is strong enough to withstand that and continue in her trec and has talked to the principal of her school to see if she can organize something for See You at the Pole.

So, what is the right thing to do?

If we are to raise our children in the way they should go, isn't that way the way of a disciple making life?

But as parents, I believe that we are also to protect them and train them and keep them innocent and, yes, in protected from storms, in a safe place where they won't get hurt.

So how does one know the 'right' thing to do?

In many blogs that I read, there is a legitimate 'reason' to homeschool. 

Too much homework than what is necessary to learn and therefore is bogging the kids down.

Too long a bus commute.

Teachers teaching their pupils to talk down to their parents.

Dangerous schools in dangerous neighborhoods.

But I live in one of the richest areas that has some of the best schools in the country. 

And there are a lot of programs and outlets for the kids.

The school in around the corner...walking distance...hollering distance from my house.

So where does Jo go and how does one know the answer?

Not all kids are created the same.  Elizabeth is her own child and has done well in school both academically, emotionally and spiritually.

But Jo is a completely different person.  How will she do?  How will we know...before it's too late?

Let me give you an example.

Ever since Elizabeth was little, I would take her with me when I would go shopping and she never asked for anything.  NEVER.  EVER.  She knew that by asking, she got nothing and by NOT asking, occasionally, she would get a treat.  Very very occasionally.

But not Jo. 

I have done the same with her and with Elizabeth.  You ask, you definitely DON'T get.  You don't ask, you may get something, but probably not. 

But all we have to do it drive by a store and Jo will say, 'Mommy, I need some of those pink tennis shoes that have the laces in them.'  Why does she say this?  Because she saw a picture in a store window.

She doesn't watch TV, so she doesn't get ads there, and we rarely shop anywhere for anything other than food. 

But she asks.

Where did she get that tendency?  You know, the one where she compares what she has for lunch with the other kids in her class, or the one where she doesn't want to wear certain clothing even if it fits just fine.

Elizabeth was not like that.

Jo is.

Is Jo more impressionable, then?  Will she be more easily swayed by culture and society?  Does she need to be under the protective shelter of our house and our wings a while longer? 

Or will she outgrow it? 

Or is her drive to announce her wants merely an expression of her forwardness and her outgoing self who knows what she wants and will not be swayed?


Where is the 'right' place for our children? 

And, of course, the shoe is not one size fits all...

so, how DOES one know?

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Does this ever happen to you?

All of my children are 'good' children.  They say please, and thank you, and yes ma'am and no sir and they sit at the table and eat with a fork (usually!) and they do their chores and mind their elders.


Rarely, yes, very rarely, but sometimes there comes a time when they turn into little hooligans who do not do what they are told, and they wake the baby and they don't eat their dinner nicely and they fight with their siblings and they throw things and scream and kick and yell and holler and create such a fuss that I wonder whose child they really are because they certainly can't be mine!

And so, they are sent to their room and told that it is bed time.

They put on their pj's and brush their teeth and go potty and wash their hands and face.

And they don't let Mommy or Daddy say their bedtime prayers because they scream and holler and yell and kick and so I stand at the door and say 'God bless my little one and give her peace' and I shut the door.

And then this child, whom I love dearly, screams and cries and I say to her that she needs to stop because she is going to wake the baby again and she still cries and screams.

And so I tell her she needs to stop NOW and that I am going downstairs and if I hear her and if I have to go back upstairs, then she will have to get a spanking.

And she says she doesn't want a spanking and she repeats to me what she has to do to NOT get a spanking and so I leave the room and make my way back down the stairs only to hear the weeping and gnashing of teeth continuing to come from her room.

And so I have to go back up the stairs and make good on my promise because what weight does a promise hold if you do not follow through with it? 

And so a fanny gets swatted and more tears get shed and a firm get in bed is said...again...and the door is closed and my weary bones slink back down the stairs and I hear...



Snores, perhaps?

The sawing of logs?


But why?

Why does this sweet child of mine push the envelope so far?  Why is it necessary to go to the most base levels of discipline in order for this child to find her peace and rest? 

I do not beat the child.  I swat her fanny with my hand so that it probably stings a bit, but no marks, no red welts, just a smack.

So why does she need this?  Why do hugs and calm words of I love you and Sleep well, my love and Let's try again tomorrow not work?

So maybe now, just to ensure a good day and a good night, I will smack her a good one every morning upon arising and every night before know, just for good measure. 

I'm kidding, of course.  I would not do that.  I do not punish with no crime.

(Although my mother used to say, if we swore that we were not responsible and that we should not be punished for whatever crime it was that we were being accused of, that perhaps we didn't do it this time, but that she was sure that there were plenty of times when we did stuff that we got away with so it all evened out in the end.  Well, I must say that MY end didn't agree with that...)

Anyway, I just don't understand this offspring of mine.

Does anyone else have encounters like these?

Friday, September 16, 2011

Five Minute Friday - Joy

Seeing as it's Friday and I have about 5 minutes to dedicate to my blog today, I do believe that I will participate in Gypsy Mama's 5 Minute Friday!

The rules?  Write for 5 minutes without stopping to correct or edit.

Today's topic?


Ready?  GO!

Yesterday was a hard day.  I am not sure why, but it ended the evening with a broken down spirit and tears threatening to spill over, frustrations, anger, and disappointment.

And that was just me.

A lot of that can be attributed to the fact that I am pregnant, hormonal and we are about to make a HUGE family change.

But today was different.


Jimmy and I had a heart to heart, we both admitted our misgivings and fears about what we are about to do, and we had a good time of connection.

And he mowed the lawn.

I didn't realize how much that meant to me until it was done.  The back is still left undone, but we seem to spend most of our time in the front and while he was finishing up and I took the little guys out to play for a little while and to watch him (and find a dead bird that the cat had caught and gifted to us and that then someone had then accidentally squished so all its insides were spilling then we had to pull out the science book and look at what the different parts of the bird that we were seeing were) I felt pure


The kids were happy to be in the lawn that was not up around their knees (OK.  I'll be honest.  Up around their belly buttons...the lawn mower has been broken for a long time!) and I was happy to see them play together and laugh and squeal with


Pure, giggling rollicking, roll on the ground


And so I was infected with that joy not only because the lawn was finally getting mowed, but also because my husband knows me well enough to know that it would make a difference so he lugged a mower over here and after a long day at work worked even harder to get it done for me because he cares.

And I know that it will work out.  I know that I am on the winning team of God, Jimmy and me and nothing, not even tall tall grass will hold us back.

And that brings me


Thursday, September 15, 2011

A Decision Made

The baby kicks
A fluttering reminder of the new life
That will soon join ours.

I sit and think in wonder about this little child,
This little being who has already changed our lives tremendously

Jimmy and I together have decided, with our boss at work, that after this baby is born, I will not return to work. 

I am so excited.

and terrified.

This is a HUGE decision.

I have never ever been a stay at home mom.  I have been a involved-my-child-in-my-work-at-home-mom, running a child care center for school age children in my house, and I have been a take-my-child-to-work-with-me-mom, when I worked at the school and Elizabeth was my sidekick, and I have been a work-at-home-mom, working at the computer while my mother-in-law watched the kids in the other room, and I have been a leave-my-kids-at-home-while-I-work-mom, but I have never been a stay-at-home-and-focus-on-my-family-mom.

Not that I don't focus on my family, but perhaps some of you out there know what I mean.

That means that I have 5 months left to work.

And 5 months left to train Jimmy to take my place at my job. 

Five months is a long time.

Five months is no time at all.

I am a wreck of hormones and stress. 

We have never left the kids home with any one other than family...until this last week.  My mother-in-law got a job outside the house and so we have had someone come in and watch the kids.  I love her.  She is an awesome lady and the kids seem to really like her,

But she's not me

and she not their Gramma Uita.

So I go to work everyday with my heart and my mind sitting on the front step, looking in the windows while I am trying to concentrate on getting my work done and being sure that Jimmy is understanding what is being done. 

John, our boss, has agreed to let Jimmy try to take my place, so that he can pay him like he pays me now, but he has said that he has his doubts. 

That means that we are cutting out two-thirds of our family income and hopingpraying that Jimmy will aleve John's doubts and prove to him that he deserves to be paid as much as I am getting paid now. 

And if not?

Well, let's just not go there right now.


If things go well, this could really be an exciting time of change for the company, as well!  Jimmy is much better than me at some of the things that I am expected to do, and I know that there is the perfect marketing person out there just dying to work for a growing company like the one we work at.  So basically, the bottom line is that I am good at what I do, and I believe that I do it to the best of my ability.  And there are some aspects of what I do that Jimmy just won't be able to do.  But since I am CAPABLE of doing things, I end up doing them even though I may not be the BEST person for it simply because there is no money or reason to hire anyone else right now (like marketing and the website). 

You see?  With Jimmy doing better at the things that I'm not as good at, like the website, he can help increase sales there, while the things, like marketing, that he can't do, will HAVE to be done by someone, so this will force the company to find the right guy to do that...which will mean...GROWTH! 

And all of this comes at the tail end of a profitable contract with the new Martin Luther King, Jr Memorial, which should give the company enough cashflow to be able to hire someone else to market.

This also means that our other part-time lady, who wants/needs to be full time, will be able to take Jimmy's spot in assembly and get the hours that she needs, and we will be able to hang on to her rather than lose her to a different full time job.  She is an excellent worker and if she left, it would be a great loss for the company.

And I have been wanting to be at home for a long time now. 

But that doesn't mean that I am not afraid.

Of what?

Well, the loss of income, for one,

But also, I am afraid because I have never done this before, and it is a total different mindset to be at home than to be at work.   Can I do it?

I don't even know how to put this into words right now. 

Do any of you who have experience in this have any words of wisdom to share with me? 

(Jimmy would appreciate it)

Monday, September 12, 2011


Around here, we do things pretty eco-friendly.  I mean, we don't really use the AC, keep the heat down pretty low, hang the laundry out to dry and use cloth diapers.  We usually have more recycling to put out on the curb come a Tuesday morning than trash, and we generally try to keep good ole Mother Earth in mind as we make decisions throughout the day.

But I still feel like there is so far to go!  

I cook with non-stick pans, have plastic plates and cups in the cupboard (even after purging a few months ago!), still buy, eat and feed my kids processed foods, drive an ancient van that doesn't get the best gas mileage, and use conventional cleaners, soaps and lotions...oh the list goes on!

But then I ran across this blog called Eco-Novice, Going Green Gradually, and I thought


That's me!

I can be an Eco-Novice, too!

Then I ran into a particular blog of hers about how to avoid eco-hysteria, and I knew that this was one that I had to read.  It seems like every time I turn around, someone or something somewhere is telling me what I should or shouldn't do, eat, touch, let around my kids...argh!  

Where's my protective bubble when I need it????

But I like this lady and her blog.  I like her idea of avoiding all the hysteria and just picking a few things that can be done relatively easily, cheaply, and within the constraints of your family.

'Cuz after all, like she says, a sane parent is also important to my child's well being.


Here is my list of things that I am resolving to do to make our family happier and healthier.  It takes 21 days to make a habit, right?  

So in 21 days, you must ask me these questions:

1.  Are you eating veggies with every dinner?

2.  When you eat dinner, is everyone in their own chair, eating their own food with the table cleaned off except for the dinner stuff?

If I can answer, why, yes, of course!  Then you know that I have succeeded in the first 2 achievable steps in getting my family on the right track toward healthier living.

Now, I know that those 2 things don't really have to do with eco-stuff, but they do in our house!  

Elizabeth often makes dinner.  So, she calls me and chooses a main dish off our list of dinners we have the ingredients for and she makes it.  And that's great!  And she's an awesome cook.

But...inevitably, when the dishes hit the table, there is something missing.  

Uh....Elizabeth...what veggie did you choose tonight?  

Ooops!  I forgot again, Mom.  

And by then, everyone is hungry and no one wants to wait the extra time to prepare something else so it gets looked over...again.

So now, the main dish choices are paired with veggies on the list.  The 2 go hand in hand.  

We'll see if it works.  (But her favorite veggie is peas...and I don't like peas!  But I have a solution for that.  We always seem to just not quite have enough peas to go around, and so I have to sacrifice and pick another veggie.  Oh, the things mothers do for their children, right?  I think Elizabeth has caught on by now!)

And the second resolution, if you will, is to keep my sanity (by cleaning all the day's detritus off the table before we eat dinner) and to let Jimmy get at least some of the food that is on his plate!  Gabriel had gotten accustomed to sitting on Jimmy's lap and eating off his plate because he soon realized that big boys don't sit in highchairs.  But now that he is older, he is eating more and will clear the whole plate!  So, he must be regulated (and strapped into!) his booster seat and eat off his own plate!   The kicking and screaming usually stops once he sees the lovely green peas on his plate...

So far, so good. 

We're two days in.  Check back in with me in 19 days....

Saturday, September 10, 2011

"BA Projects"

Elizabeth and one of her friends have first period English together in the local public middle school.

This friend called Elizabeth right after dinner today and was talking to her about some things that were going on, and many of these things disturbed me...enough so that I felt the need to pour them out here.  Am I using this blogspace too much like a diary?  Maybe.  But sometimes writing about things helps me to see them more clearly, and often you, my readers, have insights and thoughts that help me see things in a different light or help me see that I am truly seeing things the way they are.

The thing that bothered me most was that Elizabeth said that this friend had already started on a project that the teacher had not yet assigned, but that was available on Blackboard, the teacher/student communication area.  I asked how this project was getting done if NOTHING at all had been said about it.  Elizabeth informed me that well, yes, there had been SOMETHING said about the project...

That this was the first of their 'BA' projects. 

BA Project?  What's that?  Jo looked up expectantly to find the answer to that one, too. 

Elizabeth's eyes slid sideways as she said, "The teacher calls them big...uhhh...fanny...projects."

In other words, the teacher is telling the kids that they are being assigned big a** projects. 


Yes, Mom, all the teachers curse. 

Now, that may be an exaggeration, that ALL the teachers curse, but how does even one or 2 make it past the doors to educate our children? 

How can our children learn to respect their teachers and respect education in general if their very teachers are using off color language in the classroom?

Now, don't get me wrong.  I am very excited about the opportunities that the public school is offering Elizabeth.  It is great that she will be able to finish college course credits while still in high school, and it is wonderful that she can test through classes and be put into the classes that really fit her level. 

But at what price?

We choose the movies that we watch very carefully.  We do not allow bad language in our house.

And yet, I send our daughter off to school with a prayer and a kiss every morning to sit and look at a teacher, who is supposed to be respected and honored for their level of education and their dedication to our children.  But she is not so much basking in the light of higher learning as much as wallowing in the slime of low end vocabulary so that she can leave the class thinking...


If I want to teach, be respected, and make a difference, THAT'S the way you do it!


Am I over reacting?  Perhaps and probably. 

But Elizabeth spends waking hours in school than she does at home, with us. 

That's a lot to fight against.

Now, a lot of people would say, well, that's the real world.

But it's not.

She's a child.

And it's school.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Edisto Beach

So I know that you all are probably tired of hearing about our trip, but I just want to tell you about the beach part, because it was really pretty cool.
Gabriel took a turn at the wheel first to give me a little bit of a break.

I liked this on the car next to us...'cuz I personally love grits and a lot of people don't even know what they are!

Anyway, we drove for what seemed like forever down this little 2 lane highway and then turned off on onto an even smaller road that went by this:


...and I knew that we were in the country, and Jimmy wondered if this was really where we belonged.  It was actually kind of intimidating with all the local people looking at us like we were intruders...with money, which is kind of what we were.  We were there to vacation and support their local economy.

But then we went farther and crossed the bridge onto the island and turned down our dirt road to our cabin.  The landscape and foliage was incredible and stunningly beautiful.  For all the days that we were there, I still didn't get used to seeing this:

Live Oaks draped with Spagnum Moss with palm trees and fronds tucked in between them and pine trees sticking out, too.  It was like a tropical forest that had been untouched by human hands (well, when you weren't looking at the road, that is).

Then we went to eat and I picked up a paper and saw this article about the Martin Luther King, Jr Memorial which was really kind of interesting because we were pretty far from home, but this is the same project that we had been working on and that we had just left behind.  They were talking about our stuff!  Wow.  Sometimes I think that when you are in a big city, you forget how much that big city's actions impacts little places all over the country.  Of course MLK was important in this southern state with roads called Harriet Tubman Freeway and Freeman's Court!  This is what MLK was all about, and our fingerprints are all over recognizing him and his work in the fight for freedom.

Then there was Daddy time...

 Which always brings smiles...
 And there was all-alone-in-the-sand time...
 And surf time...
 And brother-sister time...
Which brought smiles to everyone's faces!

Some of us were braver than others.  Can you guess?  Liz going way out, Gabriel holding onto Daddy's hands but out in front and our Jo hanging onto his shorts for dear life and hiding behind his legs!

 We took hikes...

Went to the end and back...

 And had a blast doing it!
 Like I said, the foliage and forest were awesome.  I have never seen anything like it. 

 The ocean was wonderful and we went in the late afternoon or evening, so we mostly had the beach to ourselves to fly and kite, play in the sand or waves, or just relax and minute or two.

 Gabriel and Daddy chose our paths with care and led the way...looking for where there may not be so many bugs!  But they were horrible!  I did ask one of the local park rangers what kind of bugspray to use and he told me to get a natural one made in that area called Evade-A-Bug, so we did and slathered ourselves in it and got relief.
 One morning Elizabeth got up early to make us all pancakes, which were a big hit!
 And many fun games were played in our awesome cabin.  The cabin was huge with 3 bedrooms, 2 full bathrooms, a full kitchen and a big screened in porch across the back with rocking chairs on it.  All this in a state park!  And we got it for a great deal because we were willing to rent it for the days in the middle of the week when no one else wanted it because  it was rented for both surrounding weekends!

 (Seeing these shoes lined up like this made me realize just how many feet there are in this family!)
 We also took some time to go to the Serpentarium...basically a snake zoo with turtles and crocs, too.  It was interesting and we got to see the turtles being fed.  I was not much interested in sticking around to see the other animals being fed!
 We also found some of our own wildlife!
 And then we went from this (above...and yes, pretty much the whole cabin looked like this!)
To this (below) in and hour and a half, getting everything packed up and ready to go to come home

But we wanted a family picture before we left, so Jimmy set the timer and....

 So Jimmy set the timer and... then Jimmy set the time and...

 Ok...last time...

So then Jimmy set the timer and...


 Here we are!

Thanks so much for joining me on my trip back through our trip!  I hope you enjoyed it!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Elizabeth's Schedule

I've just got to brag on Elizabeth a little here and give her some time in the limelight.  The little dudes are just so durn cute that they seem to always get the spotlight, so now it's Liz's turn.  Hope you don't mind a little bragging...

This is Elizabeth's schedule of classes this year:

1.  English 8 Advanced Academics

2.  Health and PE 8

3.  French 1 (Mais oui, c'est français qu'elle va être à étudier!)

4.  Investigating Matter and Energy (Science) Advanced Academics

5.  Advanced Band (Tuba.  They asked her to play the tuba again this year and offered tutoring with a professional tuba player.  She will also be available on the baritone, which she will practice at home.)

6.  Civics 8 Advanced Academics

7.  Geometry Honors (a 10th grade class that will count for highschool)

Need I say more?  Sometimes I feel like I don't say enough about our oldest, but I am truly proud of her!  Way to go, Elizabeth!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Perry and Pinehurst, Georgia

I am kind of excited to tell you more about our trip.  (I hope you are interested in reading about it, too!)

I knew that our drive getting to Perry would be about 11 driving hours, although we broke it up into 2 days, and the trip back would be about 14 driving hours since we were taking a 'detour' to Edisto Island beach in South Carolina.  This trip was broken up into 2 days, too, with the first day being on Monday with 4 hours of travel and the second day was not going to be until Friday, but it would be the remaining 9 driving hours.

Last year, I had read a post from one of my favorite bloggers and decided to try out her idea of making a bag of goodies to be parceled out during the long hours of the trip. 

I didn't have much time to prepare, though, since we didn't really finally plan the trip til the week of, but I got 2 bags, one for Jo and one for Gabriel, at the $ Spot at Target and got a few goodies for each of them in their bags to be controlled and handed out by Elizabeth when the ride got too long and too much for our littlest travelers.

It worked out well, but I do think that next time I would like to take more time to plan out the trip like Tammy did.  I think that this would help not only to prevent boredom, but also to let the kids know how much longer we had til we got there.  The little dudes are still a little young to understand that passing of time, and Elizabeth is old enough to understand hours and miles, but by the next time we take a long trip like this, the kids' ages will be better suited to the kind of activities that Tammy had in her blog.

I had some pictures and memories that I wanted to share with you yesterday, but I was having a hard time getting things to download, so I gave up and I will put them here today:

 The Trampoline.  This is actually not a very good memory for me.  The trampoline was at my cousins' house.  Of the 5 of us cousins, I was the youngest by 3 years.  One cousin, Bill, was about the same age as my sister, Cassie, and the other cousin, Chad, was about the same age as my brother, Aaron.  That meant that they would pair up and play and I would always either be left out or allowed to join in because they were forced to let me play with them.  That meant that when the 4 of them played on the trampoline and I wanted to join in, they wouldn't let me because they said that I was too little.  Then they would all go off to do something else and I would be left to jump alone, which when you are visiting cousins, is not really that fun to do.

BUT...this time around, we made some new fun trampoline memories.  This here is Jo jumping with her cousin Sam and his friend.  The boys were actually very patient with her as she was really being quite annoying!

 This is what I really remember...the sand!  The church that we used to go to when we visited my grandparents was 2 doors down from their house so we would always walk there on Sunday morning.  This was the era when jellies (remember those shoes?) were in style and they always filled up with sand on the way between the house and the church!  And then, on this trip, I got to did all that sand get there?  There is not really a beach anywhere close...but that's just another geographical history lesson waiting to be uncovered, I guess!

 Then there are the pinecones!  We do not have many pinecones around the house here in VA, and it was really funny (for me at least!) because Gabriel was really afraid of the pinecones!  I guess when you are that little and haven't really seen one before, they do look a little menacing!  But he finally got over his fear and started collecting them once he saw them as a 'Little Boy' which is the name of one of our cats and which is what he calls all smallish fuzzy-ish things.  'Itta Bo!'

 Of course, those pines cones must come from somewhere, and I always know I'm getting close to GA when on the side of the highway are the tall straight lines of pine trees!  You can smell them on the drive.

 But this is something that I remember, but do not cherish!  These holes house ants.  And they bite.  Hard!  Gabriel found that out the hard way.  One got stuck under the strap of his sandal and he still has the red welt from it!  That is a small animal that will NOT earn the title of 'Itta Bo'!

 I always thought that this was strange when I was little and still do.  All the grass is flat, like crab grass, except for these sprigs that stick straight up.  The ends are covered with little black seeds.  I used to think that they were bugs, and they really do look like it, but it is so weird to see them sticking out so high over the other matted grass.

 And, of course, with all the pine trees, what to do with all the needles other than used them for mulch?

 And then the sun.  The hot, blistering, sweltering sun.  That brings the sweat that attracts the gnats that swarm all over and get in your nose and mouth and eyes.  That was not and still is not one of my favorite things. 

 And the AC units.  Everyone has one, and they run.  ALL.  THE.  TIME.  I mean, it makes sense because it is so hot, but you see these houses with the huge yards and no life in them at all.  No kids outside.  No one sitting on the porch rocking chairs.  No one.  Anywhere.  We were always the strange ones when we went there because we played outside and rode the bikes that were only brought out once a year when we visited.  This time, again, my family was amazed that the first thing the kids did when they got there was to run outside and explore the yard and play only to come in for water.

 The fields are big and open with pine breaks...

 And the traffic moves relatively slowly...

 past the cotton

 and the tobacco...

and oh, the traffic!  Look at that!  I think another one just passed us going the other way, too!  What are all these people doing out? 

I want to tell you about the beach, too, but I've been told that I really must get to bed soon, so I will save it for another day.

But I will tell you how we chose where we were going to go after we left Perry...

We looked at the map, Elizabeth, Jimmy and I, and we looked online at SC State Parks, and basically closed our eyes and jabbed a finger in the general direction we wanted to go and landed at Edisto Island State Park. 

To say that we knew nothing of it would be an understatement...

But I will leave it at that for now...