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Friday, December 18, 2015

Orders in!



It's officially official.
Orders are in and we are moving to Yuma, Arizona in early March.

We've had the heads up that this is coming and there are things I can get excited about, like 365 days a year of warm, sunshiny days, but there are things that are overwhelming.  Like the fact that I've never even been to Arizona.  We've moved to different states before, but this is the first time we haven't gone to interview/meet people/look at housing before moving there.  Our previous 2 moves, we were instantly connected to a church and friends and had housing all lined up.  This time, we are literally going to drive across the country, pull into Yuma and not know a single person or know where our house is or where the grocery store is.  It is going to be weird!

Also a little overwhelming is that cross country drive.  I can't even blame it on the kids...just the thought of driving all that way seems daunting.  We've started talking through some things, but right now our plan is to relax and enjoy the holidays and then jump into moving mode in January (packers come end of February).  I think this might be the comical part of this year; trying to figure out logistics of moving.  For instance, they say that packers come and you just leave your house as it is and they pack up everything, even your trash! Um, I am not okay with that and am immediately thinking of all the purging and organizing that I need to do before these strange people come touch all of my stuff.  I even tried to convince Ben tonight to let me pack up the house (so I can have it my way) and rent an RV for a luxury trip...he was not convinced.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Extracurricular activities

It's a tough subject. 

I've met many parents who choose to homeschool so that their children can be involved in more extracurricular activities.  There are kids in 5 different activities and their parents will do anything to make those activities happen, even to the extent of working extra jobs just to pay for them.

It's easy to fall into the trap.  First, the trap of believing that you are not a good parent if you don't have your kids involved in a million things and second, the trap of giving into your child's every whim.

This week, Alison talked nonstop about her list of activities she wants to do.  If I would give in, she would be one of those kids involved in a million things.  I'm not making this up, this is what she talked about this week: 

"I need to take Karate so I can learn how to break bricks."

"I should be in the Nutcracker because I'm really good at ballet."
Me: "You have to take ballet in order to be in a ballet."
Alison: "Oh.  Well, can you sign me up for ballet?!"

*hear a commercial on the radio about auditioning for a Disney show
Alison:  "MOM!  Call the number!!!  I want to audition!!!  I've always dreamed of being on TV!"
Me:  "Honey.  In order to audition, you have to know a script which means you should probably do a play before you audition for TV."
Alison:  "Ok, well, sign me up for a play!  I'm a great actor mommy!"

SIGH.

She is full of dreams and I don't want to squash them, so I promised I would research a new activity that would fit our family.

I believe in doing one activity at a time.  I want our kids to experience different things and have a chance to see where they are gifted and what they enjoy.  I also want them to be active and meet new friends and maybe even be stretched at times outside of their comfort zone.  However, I also believe there is great value in a family dinner.  I believe that a life that is not constant "go, go, go!" and has time for reading books as a family or just being together, can be a greater blessing than extracurricular activities.  On top of all that, I believe that letting kids be involved in whatever they want to gives them a sense of entitlement...I've seen the airs some kids give off about what they are doing and I know Alison senses it and that often fuels the fire of "I want to be doing more things".
 
All that to say, I contacted a few gyms in the area and discovered that one offers a homeschool class.  I'm a picky person, but was sold on how professional, yet personal they were.  The director said we could take a trial class and then decide if it was for us.  It was real gym, with a real coach and with other kids who are in the same boat of life as my kids AND all 3 of my kids can participate at the same time AND we had the entire place to ourselves...score!

Terrible picture, but within 30 minutes of their first class, the coach had my kids doing spins on bars and walking on high balance beams.  The kids came out saying it was the most fun they have ever had.

Eli's in the red shirt and Alison's in the blue tank
They couldn't stop telling Ben about the day and he said, "I think we'd be fools not to take them back."
Back we will go and hopefully I can get a better picture this week!

Thursday, December 3, 2015

The unexpected

I never expected that one of my challenges in homeschooling would be keeping a child out of pj's.  This kid.
He is constantly changing pj's and if I make him wear normal clothes he spends the whole time asking when he can get back into pj's.  It's crazy.  So crazy that he's even been wearing his little brother's!

How about we learn about math and not how to change pj's?!


Another unexpected:
I gave the kids fair warning that I wanted to start school earlier this week; we were going to get up, eat breakfast, read our bible story, do morning chores and try to start school by 8:00.  Just saying this freaked Alison out.  "8:00!  But the bus doesn't even come until 8:15"...yes, she's still stuck on public school time.  Monday morning, I told her to start her morning chores (get dressed, make bed and brush teeth) at 7:50 and at 8:00 found her lounging on her bed, naked, looking at the weather app.  I gave her a warning and went to the schoolroom to begin work with Eli.  8:10 rolls around and she's still lollygagging in the bathroom, admiring her outfit and making goofy faces in the mirror.  At the second warning, she scurries to the school room all frenzied.  BUT she still hasn't brushed her teeth or made her bed and begins to cry because she just didn't have enough time.  Apparently a princess needs at least 15 minutes to pick a proper outfit.  I told her that I can respect she needs a few more minutes to get ready, but she still disobeyed by not finishing her chores and there are consequences for not obeying right away.

*sigh*

Do you know what's hard?
Finding consequences for an 8 year old that aren't more of a consequence for me.

So, before she could have any electronics for the day, she had to clean up Colin's room.  Thanks to two rounds of guests that equaled all the toys in his room and extra beds on the floor, she got to clean up this beauty:


She just stood in the middle of the mess and started crying.  Ha!  I kinda wanted to cry too.


*Before you go thinking I'm a super mean mom, I'm not expecting them to start school at exactly 8:00 sharp, it's more a goal and guideline for our day.  I do, however, expect them to obey right away and to be respectful.

**Anyone have good consequences for an 8 year old?

Sunday, November 29, 2015

The secret is out

Hubs and I have talked for years about writing a fitness blog together and when Hubs found he had a little more "down time" after deployment, he jumped into making it happen.  He's put in a lot of work and I think it looks fabulous.  Here's the link if you are curious:  A Sweaty Life...the name is a play off of our private family blog 'A Simple Life'.  Hubs decided not to be as discrete about our family on the blog and the reality is, if someone really wanted to know details about us, it wouldn't be that hard to find.  All this to say, the secret is out on our family names and going forward on this blog, I will just use our real names.

Hubs = Ben
Princess P = Alison
Bubby = Eli (or Eliot)
Charlie = Colin


This week, Alison did all of her work in one sitting so she could really enjoy family time and not worry about school.



I was secretly excited that she decided to do this.  It made our week so much more relaxing!  We got a Christmas tree and spent the day decorating the house before family came to visit.



Nana, Grandaddy and uncle Jordan came to visit and we ate lots of food, did some shopping, played games and relaxed.


My favorite part of the week was seeing endless smiles and tons of snuggles.


I'm a little nervous about jumping back into the school "grind" in the morning, but am thankful for a week of refreshment.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Schoolroom makeover!

 If I saw that title on Pinterest, it would have me hooked!  I'm afraid my little makeover would greatly disappoint any Pinterest viewers, but I think it's important to keep the perspective of making a schoolroom that works well for your family.  It doesn't have to be cutesy or filled with learning boxes or lined with bookshelves.  I know a lot of families that school happens around the dining room table and when the work is done, they load all the books into crates and move them to the corner.  That might be us in our next (smaller) house, but for now, I function best with a room dedicated to school.

Our rearrangement comes after Hubs did ONE day of impromptu school with the kids.  ONE day.  I'll be honest, when he brought up "how he would do school...", I was annoyed.  However, I respect that men are problem solvers and he was actually right.  How the room was arranged, I was spending a lot of time bouncing around the room helping different kids and giving them different things to do.  By the end of our school day, the couch would be filled with books that I had laid down while working with one of the kids.

Old room:


"New" room:

I sat in the middle, with all of our materials behind me so I could dish out work in a more efficient way and be right there to help/teach as they needed. When Princess P saw the new arrangement, she said, "I better get dressed like I'm going to real school!".  I wasn't sure how to take that comment, but I think she felt like it was more schoolroom esque now.  I'm also really sensitive to her comments about "real school"...I take school seriously, but I don't think she'll ever be able to get the public school comparison out of her head.

I thought the rearrangement worked really well for us.  We definitely got more done!  Because everything was literally right at my feet, I could easily hand them something extra to do while they waited.  For example, Princess P's math had us cut up an apple into fractions and then we used the apple slices to stamp leaves onto fall trees.



Literally at my feet had some consequences though.  I didn't have room for my own stuff since I gave up my desk for Charlie's workspace.  So I set my cup of water on the floor and while turning around to get a book, I put my entire foot in the cup of water.  The kids thought it was hysterical...I knew there needed to be some tweaking to this arrangement.  Hubs came home from work, walked in the new room and instantly new how to make it better.  How does he do that?!  He fixed the room for me and then went to start dinner so I could finish putting stuff away and I am so thankful this man is home!!!


Now I can still use my desk when Charlie isn't working and it looks a little more uniform.  The only problem I need to solve today is that Calendar you can see on the easel.  I had it taped up the wall, but it just keeps falling down.  So I stuck it on the easel until I could figure out a good calendar solution, and clearly that hasn't happened because it still says October.  Any suggestions???

Sunday, November 15, 2015

THIS is why I homeschool

Ok, not the only reason, but it's a BIG one.  I absolutely love being present to see the light bulb click on for big things.  Bubby can see the end of his reading lesson book ('Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons'...LOVE this book) and asked me one day, "So when I'm done with the book, am I all done reading?"  Princess P never actually finished the book and once it clicked that she could read, she jumped right into easy readers.  I told Bubby that once he decides he's a reader, he'll be reading and will move onto real books.  He had in his head that because he still has to sound out words, that he's not a reader...but this day it clicked and he decided that he could do it!  He was excited and kept stopping to say, "I can read!!!"  He wanted me to record the whole story, but it took for.ev.er...so just watch the first 30 seconds of this and you'll get the idea. 


P.S. It is impossible for him to sit still when reading and naturally he was playing dress up when I called him in for his lesson, hence the Transformer with swords and slayed animals all over the floor....welcome to teaching a 5 year old boy.


Another big reason is so we can do things like this:


Hands on learning and family time.

Am I saying that you can't have these things if your child is in public school? NO.  But I personally feel like I'm able to soak up these experiences better when I'm their teacher.


And recently, in between "field trips" and long reading lessons, dinner has looked a lot like this:

Basalmic Pork in one and braised white beans in another

Meat in one crock-pot and veggies or potatoes or beans in another.  Normal people would put them all in one, but I like having differing flavors on them.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Yikes!

We had some new friends over to play yesterday (we met them at soccer) and the mom was asking me about homeschooling.  Her daughter goes to the school we pulled Princess P out of and was naturally curious why.  Her last question was, "So, do you have a strong community of homeschool families?  Like, do you have a group of people you can bounce ideas off of?"

Oh how I wish I did.
Sure, I know lots of homeschool families and there are certainly wise people who have done this long before me that I talked to before jumping into the venture, but I don't necessarily have people in my daily/weekly life that are in the same homeschool boat as me.  I pointed out to my new friend that sometimes a homeschool community is hard because there is such a wide variety of homeschool philosophies and methods to carrying out that particular philosophy.  

Here's the thing about homeschool: you make up what it looks like and you decide what is taught.


Which brings me to my longing for that community to bounce things off of...

I did lots of research on curriculum before picking this year's studies, but it's so hard to really know what will work for your child and your family until you are actually doing the curriculum.  Princess P is in 3rd grade and beginning grammar this year.  Some of the books I looked at seemed way too easy and I knew she would be bored out of her mind (which is one of the reasons we pulled her out of public school), so I picked a well respected booked called "Shurley English".

Yikes.
This book is intense.


You are supposed to do one chapter a week and each chapter is broken up into 5 lessons (1 for each day of school).  The kicker is each lesson is crazy long...and hard.  There are jingles for each concept learned and I think it's their attempt to make it fun and easy to learn the concepts, but we listened to one song and Princess P was covering her ears and pleading, "Please make it stop!".  Ha!  They are pretty bad.  This is the one she was supposed to learn this week:

Needless to say, we have not done the jingle part.  I'm trying to convince the Hubs to write us new jingles that are a little less, um, old school...is that a nice way to say it?
The book says it's for homeschoolers, but I feel like it's more designed for a co-op.  Therefore, it's required me to modify it to fit us.  I've had to pare things down and simplify it to make it not so overwhelming for us, but still helps her learn a good grammar foundation.

So, 5 lessons into this shindig and she's classifying sentences.


There's also a list of vocabulary words that she has to define and write a descriptive sentence for and then she has to say if 2 words are synonyms or antonyms.  Then she has to decide if they are common or proper and if they are singular or plural.

Then she's supposed to write a paragraph and then edit the paragraph and then find synonyms of words in the sentence to enhance.
Then it wants her memorize a state, it's capital, it's postal abbreviation and what year it was admitted to the Union.
And then take a test and write in her journal and memorize scripture and I am not joking.


Oh, that's right...she's just 8.  And do you know what she wants to be doing?  She just wants to hang herself upside down on the couch and then hysterically laugh when she snaps a picture of me explaining to her that normal people do not hang themselves off of couches like this:


She immediately asked me to post this picture and I agreed that it did kinda feel good on my back.  Well, so much for ladylike manners...but at least she'll know how to find a prepositional phrase.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

You may be wondering...

"Is she still over.whelmed?"

I'm thankful to say that I am feeling much better.  We've eased into a routine and I feel like reintegration is finally settled.  I also am kinda thankful for my overwhelmed day because those freaked out plans have really helped the days run smoother.  Stress does have a purpose, it's just a matter of not letting it rule you or stick around for longer than it needs to be.

It also helps that I cleared my plate a little more.  I decided not to run the half marathon with Hubs in a few weeks and we stopped going to homeschool gym class.  I didn't want to let either of these go, but it's definitely helped me feel less stressed.



"What's the latest craziness going on?"

We had the privilege of having several people in our home this past week.  I am so proud of us for staying on schedule with school among the chaos and it gave us a chance to talk to the kids about showing hospitality.  Some friends from Chaplain school were here for a day, en route to Italy for their next assignment.  I was mentally taking notes of their adventures in case we ever have to move overseas, but I know it's not for the faint of heart.  We fed them and the kids all played and they were able to shower and wash some clothes before getting on a 12 hour flight.  Best of all, we got a day with some great friends.  One thing I love about the military is you make good friends quickly.  We also had my father-in-law here for the weekend.  The kids had a great time with their Poppy and after he left, I realized that our kids already have a wonderful gift of hospitality.  Showing love to a grandparent may sound easy, but our kids only see them once, maybe twice a year.  In a child's life, it's like meeting them all over again and they always welcome them with immense, unending love.


Tangent?  How did I get to my kids' gifts from the craziness of life?  Because this week, among everything going on; soccer games and dentist appointments and halloween and visitors and cooking, I felt this sense of...I don't know the word...longing for my kids to be a certain way (skilled at sports or music or art or something) and equally comforted and defeated that they will be who God created them to be no matter what I do.  I could feed them the healthiest food in the world, and they could still get cancer.  I could tell them about Jesus every single day and they may still not believe in Him.  I could pay a bazillion dollars for music lessons and they may still stink.  I could do nothing and they could be President.  Oh, the inner wars of a mother.


This is the result of a busy week of school and visitors and an impromtu visit to the doctor:



5 loads of laundry in the hallway...with a sword on top.  I'm considering it home protection; if anyone breaks in, they'll have to fold some laundry before they can get to us.

Now you're wondering about that impromtu visit to the doctor.  It's a good story.  Bubby has been casually complaining of his tummy hurting for awhile.  I always ask the mom questions "Have you pooped?  Are you going to throw up?  Are you just hungry?" and I tried increasing his fiber and gas medicine and cutting out dairy.  The complaining was getting worse, but still not stopping him from playing and doing school, so I took him up to the base.  After seeing a doctor and getting xrays of his tummy, it was concluded that he is majorly backed up!  HA!  This was a moment I was so thankful for military healthcare and I didn't just have to pay for an xray to tell me that my son needs to poop!  Needless to say, we are now on a "clean out Bubby's intestines" plan and have spent the last 2 days close to the potty.  Never did I think my life would include holding a book up for my kid so he could do his reading lesson while sitting on the potty.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Dear Commissary

Dear Commissary,

You may not rearrange the entire store...period.  It's just plain mean.  Your pretty basket of maps of the new layout was empty, but I'm pretty sure no one has time to look at/follow a map of a grocery store!  And just so you know, flour should always be in the baking aisle; that's basic grocery stocking 101.  And while we're at it, could you please teach customers to stand on the side of the aisle if they are looking for an item or *ahem* flipping through a giant file folder of coupons.  Thanks!

Sincerely,
A momma who doesn't have the patience to find flour!

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Puzzles

I love puzzles.  I have wonderful memories of doing puzzles as a kid with my family and I've tried to pass on that love to my kids.  But here's the thing, the tradition is a CHRISTMAS puzzle.  December rolls around and I break out festive puzzles, watch sappy Christmas movies, sip hot cocoa, eat way too many molasses cookies and I am one happy girl.  My own family has joined me over the years and I love it.

Princess P asked to buy a puzzle while we were in the mountains and I had this momma moment of "YEA!  My puzzle love is sinking in!!!"  We bought the puzzle but didn't start it until we were back home.  Reality check...this puzzle turned out to be way harder than I thought.  It looks like it's for kids, but it's not!

Anyway, the puzzle has sat out on our dinning room table for almost 2 weeks now and we'll work on it here and there.  I still love it.  It's calming for me and I love that the kids have something to do when the thought "I don't know what to do" crosses their little head.

Princess P said one day, "My perfect afternoon would be: working on the puzzle while daddy plays music."

Check.


I'm curious what the theory is on puzzles, if they help education at all.  I'm sure there's some study out there...my theory is they are great for quality family time and somewhere in there, the brain is being stretched as it searches for pieces and makes matches.  If nothing else, it's some times patience building :)

Friday, October 23, 2015

Stitch Fix Review, take 2

Before you look any further, please say to yourself, "I will be gracious".  Hubs took these pictures as I tried on outfits last night after the kiddos had gone to bed...it was long day and I was exhausted and just wanted to check ONE thing off my list...thus he took pictures right then and there.

They sent this cardigan:


This top and necklace:
 
 (sorry you can't really see the necklace...but it's teal with gold leafs)

Some "boyfriend" jeans:

And this top:
 

My review:
Overall, I feel medium/high.  Okay, that's not normal terminology...
I like the basic style and quality and price.  The fit on all of them was not exactly spot on; the shirts were on the verge of being too big and the jeans are a little baggy in the knee area.  I think I'll keep the grey stripped shirt and I'm still debating on the others.  Hubs thinks the last top looks too renaissancey but I think it could be cute.

Thoughts?

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Over.whelmed.

That calm, confident girl that I'm told I've turned into, is gone.  Au revoir, syonara, adios.

We jumped into "normal" this week; Hubs is back at work, the kids started school and I became a teacher again.  I was up early Monday morning to get a workout, quiet time, coffee and a shower before the kids were up at 7:00.  5 am is not for the faint of heart.  I also missed the memo that fall was cancelled this year, and Monday morning brought freezing temperatures and a broken heater.  Yea.  Of course, now that Hubs is home, he can make a simple phone call and someone comes out that same day.  You know if I had called, it would have been a week before they thought about it.  But, we'll just choose to be thankful for a working heater and move on.


I was super excited about "normal".  Perhaps too excited.  I was thrilled that I could actually plan out the next 3 months...minus holidays and family visiting and the million other things we want to get done, I know we'll be here and can have somewhat of a routine.  Watch, now that I said that, Hubs will probably get orders to leave in December.  I don't use a box curriculum for the reason that I like control of each subject, but with that comes having to make my own schedule for every single subject.  I wanted it done, but it was overwhelming to finish and in the back of my head, I was freaking out that after I wrote it all out, it wouldn't actually happen.  How do you plan for sick days or days that a specific assignment takes longer than you anticipated?  I'm sure the logical answer to schedule flex days, but it's too late, the schedule is already written.

Here's what we're doing this year:

3rd Grade:
Spelling
Cursive
Grammer
Math
History
Proverbs study
Reading for 30 minutes

Kindergarten:
Writing
Math
Five in a Row
Proverbs study
Learning to read

For each one of these I use a curriculum/book and I'd be happy to share that info with anyone interested.

So here's where my freak out came.  Our schedule is full...like not wasting a moment full...and we haven't even started science!  Or piano lessons!  Or Spanish!  And you may have noticed that there isn't even a preschool section yet!  Poor Charlie.  The other two had crafts and themed snacks and letter focused activities and #3 gets random things thrown at him to do to keep him occupied as I juggle the other two.  We have homeschool gym class on Tuesday and go to the library on Thursday and that's it.  No co-op or sports (soccer ends this weekend) and I feel like our schedule is to the max.  Plus, it's important to me to teach the kids house chores and cooking and scripture and somehow in all this I have to find time to be me and not a teacher or mom.


Then Hubs walked through the door and asked what was for dinner.
DINNER!

And I freaked out more.  

Need to plan dinner.  Need food for dinner.  Need to go to the grocery store.  Need to plan meals and make a grocery list before I can go to the grocery store and AHH!


Added to all this, the kids missed the "we are starting the school routine" boat and were struggling with obeying and having good attitudes.

In the middle of my long freak out to Hubs, I asked, "So what's the answer to all this?".  Guys are problem solvers, right?  And he, out of anyone, should get this craziness the best.  I love teaching our kids and I love the things we're involved in and I love cooking good food, but all that doesn't buy groceries or teach spanish.


I think I know part of the answer, but I'm not sure how to formulate it.  I think the answer lies somewhere in the network of other homeschool moms.  There are so many of us out there and I can't imagine one of us is saying, "I'm 100% great with everything on my plate."  If I'm wrong, please comment and tell us all your secret to life!  

As for groceries, I hope to plan out a month of meals and grocery lists so it's done and somewhat off my plate.  But my question now is: why do I turn so snotty when meal planning?  Seriously.  I pull up the list of regular meals and am immediately disgusted.  I have months of meals already written out in hopes that I would just cycle through the months and do you know what I thought when I pulled them out?  "Yuck!  I don't like any of these!  I can't make these again!"  BUT what do I do?  I end up making the same stuff that I just turned my nose up to...it just took 2 hours of browsing Pinterest to succumb to the familiar recipes.


The next day Hubs brought home this wine:


It was so perfect I had to take a picture with my crazies in the background. 

Cheers to surviving this first week back!

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Secret learning

We took 2 weeks off of school after Hubs came home to give our family time to adjust and have quality time together.  At first I felt bad about taking 2 weeks off, but I think I need a vacation just from looking at this post.  We agreed to be intentional about learning during this break, but to do it in a secret "we're just having fun" way.  Princess P was not fooled and sometimes struggled with her attitude when she felt like we wanted her to learn when she was on vacation.  However, it was a great opportunity to share with her one of our big views on education; learning is in everyday life and can be fun.  We never stop learning and we desire for our kids to find a love of learning.


So here are all of our "secret learning" opportunities during our school break:

This little girl LOVES science experiments.  However, she loves the end product and not the work that goes into or the info about why it's doing what it's doing.  She asked if she could make flubber and I agreed, but she had to do it all herself.  I made myself conveniently unavailable close by and just kept saying, "Read the instructions."  She had to measure ingredients (she struggles with knowing measuring cups and spoons) and follow step by step instructions and I feel most importantly, gained some confidence in herself.


We went to Colonial Williamsburg and learned about canons,


watched a blacksmith make kitchen utensils,


and took a tour of the capital.


Princess and I read 'Anne of Green Gables' and watched the movie.  She made kettle corn, again having to measure and follow instructions and I could get used to her making snacks!
 

Life skills and character values is high on my homeschool agenda.  So when Princess P asked if she could serve strawberries to our dinner guests, although not really something I had in mind for the meal, I said yes and let her figure out how to cut and serve them herself.
 
 


We went glamping for a few days and Princess P took her 'Nature Encyclopedia' (all on her own) with us to explore new-to-her nature.  Here, she's looking at a spiderweb in the ground that was covered with dew.


We went on a tour of caverns and talked about stalactites and stalagmite.  Hubs was sharing so much with the kids that the tour guide asked if he worked there...some day the kids will be rolling their eyes when he starts throwing out facts.


We found milkweed on our picnic in the mountains and Hubs taught the kids about them.  I really should have listened better to what he was saying because that's all I can say happened.  Learned about milkweed...check.


We saw a black bear!  Can't say you see that everyday!


We went to Monticello and learned about Thomas Jefferson.




I loved this place.  Seriously could have moved right in and been perfectly happy.  The way they delivered information was refreshing.  Sounds strange, but I felt like it was easy to understand, clear and to the point, but not completely dumped down.

Charlie even learned about how the moon orbits at this fun hands on exhibit.


And the kids got to write with quills and hang their writings up along the walking path.


This was my most favorite part; the gardens.  We got to watch some workers harvest some vegetables and it was fun to see so many different things growing in one place.  We would LOVE a garden like this, although I would need all those workers to help me because I am a plant killer.  Love fresh food, but not so good at growing it.


Princess P learned to fish and caught her first one!


We planned to go to an apple orchard, but it turned into picking apples from this barn that already had them picked.  But they did have them sorted into different crates and the kids got to see and taste the difference in apples.  We also got to watch the apple sorting machine at the back and the boys thought that was way more fun than apples.


We took a tour of the ship Hubs was deployed on and no picture can do this it justice.  It took my breath away how big it was.


We ended our "break" with the zoo and watched the monkeys for a long time.  We also say this new animal that is a bear/cat.  I can't even remember the name of it, but it was the strangest thing I've ever seen.

Crazy long post and I can't believe we did all of these activities.  So much for resting.  I believe though, that this is what our family needed.  We learned, we laughed, we didn't worry about schedules or what time the kids went to bed and even if it was too much, we did it all together.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

A little getaway

Getaway is definitely the wrong word.

A little adventure?
A little added work with some pretty views?

 I booked a cabin by the Shenandoah River.  Princess P wanted to go camping, so this was our compromise with her; we can enjoy nature and still have a bathroom and bed to sleep in.  It didn't take long for me to realize that relaxation is hard to find when you are packing up your family and taking a road trip and trying to get 3 kids to sleep in one room.  And for some reason, nature seemed to bring out the chattiness in Princess P and she would not.stop.talking.


Before Hubs left for deployment, I had this huge desire to plan a trip for when he was back home.  I almost needed something tangible to plan for that I was in control of.  Hubs agreed to let me fully plan a family trip (he normally is the researcher and booker of trips) and said it also gave him something to look forward to.  Often times, during deployment, I would picture myself sitting by the river, listening to the crackling of a fire, starring up at the stars and soaking in relaxation.  That picture gave me hope that rest was coming on many hard days.



Okay, so I didn't come home completely refreshed, but it was still a great trip.

It did give Hubs and I time to talk.  We'd sit out on the deck of the cabin and sip wine and talk for however long we wanted.  The kids may or may not have been watching way too much cable TV, but we'll just say that was their form of relaxation on the trip.  One night Hubs said casually, "You know, it's a toss up between who changed more while I was gone; Charlie or you."

Me?

I was so surprised to hear him say that!  Um, Charlie is 3 and talking more and has grown inches and a ton changes in that stage of life.  But me?  He said that I look different and am calmer (with the quick disclaimer that I wasn't un-calm before) and more confident and sure of myself.

His comment, even though a positive one, left me thinking.  I can't look too different; I didn't cut my hair or gain weight.  Maybe the stressed really aged me or maybe he just forgot what I look like.  Or maybe the large amounts of stress left me too calm...am I numb to it all now?

Take for instance this situation:


My family is on top of a mountain.  Do you know how we got there?  We hiked up a rocky mountain with narrow paths and steep overhangs.  The only other couple up on the mountain offered to take this picture and the lady was literally shaking.  When we got back down, Hubs said, "Yea, there were some scary moments up there.  I was really nervous."  Do you know how I felt?  Fine.  Sure there were moments that I stepped to the outside of Bubby so he wouldn't fall off the cliff,  but my only stress came from trying to hold my tongue from snapping at Princess P to STOP TALKING!

"Oh! Look at this leaf!  Isn't it pretty?  I was hoping to see some squirrels today.  I wonder where they all are.  Alvin's my favorite chipmunk.  Don't the chipmunks have funny names?  But I really do like the movie, especially the one with the girl chipmunks.  Oh wow!  Look at that rock!  It looks like a turtle head!  Isn't that crazy?" 
 This is a seriously a short dialogue that came out of her mouth...I have video to prove it and that was just for 30 seconds of an hour.

Anyway, back to my point of change.  I really don't feel different, but I suppose the truth is, we're all changing, all the time, even when we don't notice.  It made me think about how much of life is spent thinking about what we want to change, either in ourselves or others around us or life situations.  But then when change actually happens, we can't really see it or pinpoint when it happened.


How has Hubs changed?  Well, apparently now he smokes a pipe.  Weird, right?  That change I can pinpoint...thank you smoking club on the ship.