Saturday, October 29, 2016

San Diego Zoo

In the midst of my calamity week, I was reminded about the San Diego Zoo special for October.  Kids get in free!  I was under the impression that active duty military also get in free, but they are a little misleading on that advertisement.  The service member gets in free and dependents get a whoppin' 10% discount.  Military friends beware, each park has their own set of rules when it comes to discounts (Sea World was the whole family got in free and you needed a print off+ID to get in).  

The deal was just too good to pass up.  Without this special, it would have cost me $200 just to get into the zoo!  Plus, Eli is learning plant and animal life for science, so with a garden and a zoo visit, we're good...right?  I asked a friend if she wanted to join us (promising her that I am not crazy) and she was sold on the deal as well.  I am so thankful she came because it made the trip so much more fun.

Also worth noting for people interested in going to the zoo, there is also a San Diego Zoo Safari Park that is in Escondido and is not the same as the downtown zoo.  Both of our GPS's took us to the Safari park that was 40 minutes past where we wanted to be careful.  However, we did note the winery and nice shopping center right by the Safari park and put it on our "future trip" list.

I thought it was the best zoo I've ever been to.  I loved the paths that lead you through the animal exhibits.  I felt like I was really in their habitat and the animals were much closer than I've ever experienced.

Coolest animal we saw...not cool that I can't remember the name
 We went on a Friday and were prepared for crazy crowds, especially around the panda's (notorious for a LONG line), but we were surprised to find it not that packed.  We walked right up to the panda's and were able to look at them for as long as we wanted.

Watching the pandas.
 The kids loved the petting zoo part and play ground near the entrance.  The mom's loved a chance to sit and drink a coffee.

My only complaint would be that the bathrooms were really hard to find.  7 Arizona kids who are used to drinking a lot of water=a lot of bathroom breaks which= 2 moms doing a lot of walking to find hidden bathrooms.

I can see how you can spend a couple of days at the zoo.  We didn't see everything, but I was satisfied with what we did.  They have a lot of great animals and fun exhibits.  We will definitely be going back next October. 

By the time we were done at the zoo, we figured we either needed to hit the road ASAP to avoid traffic and get home for dinner (there's no place to stop along the drive home) or we needed to stay until rush hour was over.  We chose the beach!  When in doubt, choose the beach!

We did not plan on going to the beach, but it was perfect.  The kids played in the sand and climbed the rocks and had a blast getting their clothes soaking wet. 

Laural and I sat on the beach and laughed about all of our calamities of the week and just let the sound of the ocean wash away all the stress of the week.  It was just the refreshment I needed.  It was music to my ears when she said, "I really needed this" and I was so thankful that the trip was not a burden to her, but a blessing. 

I've only been to San Diego 3 times and I don't really know my way around, but I do know my way to Smash Burger.  Go there.  By far my favorite burger place and make sure you get the smash fries!

We drove home that night and didn't hit an ounce of traffic.  As I drove, I realized how I felt so much better.  Isn't that strange?  It should have been a stressful day.  I should have come home feeling more burnt out, but instead I came home with a big smile on my face and refreshment in my heart.  It was so good for both Laurel and I, that we have already begun plans for another (but longer) trip.  I half jokingly said, "Field trip Friday's at the beach!" Oh, I love that about homeschooling. 

Thursday, October 27, 2016

A calamity of a week

And the week isn't even close to being over.

 Image result for deployment memes

There must be something about hitting the 1 month mark.  Everything fell apart this week.

Let's see...what's all happened in the last 4 days...

*I realized that I was drinking expired coffee.  I thought I was just being a coffee snob and the kcups were not up to my standard.  Nope.  I stopped drinking it immediately but it left me very grumpy for school.  Lot's of coffee is essential to life right now.

Thank you Target for sending me a free Starbuck's coffee coupon (you know you spend too much money there if they send you this).  The second school was over, we made our way to pick up a giant coffee and I pretended I didn't know how many calories were in the drink.

*Made the fatal mistake of going in Old Navy with 3 kids...and that giant coffee.  Alison has zero pants and is in between sizes, which equals very stressful shopping.

*Colin has bitten Alison twice.  This has never happened in my mothering life.  He's 4! 

*Reading, writing, math and history is the only school we're doing right now.  Alison is struggling to get a single thing done and has cried every day.  I couldn't even tell you why she was crying.  And if she wasn't crying, she was arguing.  Eli, on the other hand, got mad that math was too easy today and stopped talking to me.  Then I was super mature and said, "Fine.  I'm not talking to you either!"

*Colin stepped on a nail and it was stuck in his foot.  Why was there a nail in on our schoolroom floor?  That story involves a naughty puppy...

*We got in the van to go to the library and it started shaking.  I immediately had visions of having to buy a car by myself and said, "Ok, everybody out!".  We've been driving Ben's car since because I refuse to deal with car problems.

*Eli has broken two glasses.  He also concocted "soup" in the yard with dirt, rocks, flowers and hose water and tried to serve it to me in bed.

*Colin got a running nose and shortly after I set up the humidifier for him, the dog tripped over the cord and broke the thing to pieces.

*Snow birds are back and they take grocery shopping stress to a whole new level.

*Bought bad chicken.  The date said it should be fine, but when I put in the pot, it smelled horrible.  I thought I was just being crazy and it was for Maya (yes, I'm crazy and make our dog food), so I started to cook it and quickly the kids were saying, "It smells like fish!" and running out of the house.  It was awful.  Then, I was super smart and left the whole pot sitting on our driveway for 2 days.
*The worst=I tried to give myself a day off and purposely stayed in my pajamas and let the kids watch way too much Justin Time and ignored the chores.  FATAL MISTAKE.  The doorbell rang.  I forgot the exterminator appointment.  Y'all, I answered the door in my pajamas!  He comes in the house and is trying to spray around the 4 mounds of laundry, 2 giant piles of toys to be put away and open dishwasher drawer.  The boys are naked on the couch and it's painfully awkward at the state of our house. 

 *Again, trying to make things a little better, I told the kids to put pj's on and turn on a movie and I'd make popcorn and hot cocoa (ignoring the fact that it was 93 outside).  Of course, the popcorn popper decided to spontaneously combust.   Popcorn was flying everywhere!

 *Dinner has been a disaster.  Apparently I can't cook while Ben is gone and he keeps telling me to just keep things really simple.  I made bean and cheese burritos with guacamole one night.  It's safe and they love it and then Alison said, "So, we're just having an easy dinner tonight?".  Face palm.  She also almost cried when I bought bread at the store.  Food snob problems.

*The kids have been bugging and bugging and bugging me about getting Maya a bed.  Like talk about every single time we are in the store (and that's a lot) bugging me.  I finally agreed today when we found the cheapest option.  $27 and an hour later and Maya completely destroyed it.

She also dug a new whole in the yard this week.

There's a mental drain of 3 kids constantly talking and asking questions.  Last deployment, I didn't drink once.  4.5 weeks into this one, I picked up a bottle of wine and some oatmeal cream pies in honor of Ben. 

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Deployment and homeschooling

So, let's be honest.  Homeschooling and deployment are no joke. 

This week, we took some time to get some projects done.

Eli, checked out a cookbook from the library and has asked for weeks to make cupcakes out of it.  As luck would have it, Colin was learning about the letter C, so it worked out perfectly to finally make them.  I'm pretty sure he's getting too old to sit on the counter...

We also worked on planting a garden.  Eli is supposed to learn about plant life this year and deployment brain made me think we could grow a giant garden.  Why?  Why do I always bite off more than I can chew?  Hello.  Just mowing the lawn is a chore.

The kids were really excited to have their own spot and picked what they wanted to grow.  Eli is growing basil and carrots.

Alison is growing cotton (she got seeds from a cotton gin field trip), tomatoes and peppermint.

This project definitely took much longer than I anticipated, but I have learned a lot and the kids are really enjoying the work and I'm praying that something grows!

Can you see Alison in the tree in this picture?

I had to sneak a picture through my kitchen window.  A lot of learning happened in this tree this week.  She started writing a book about Maya up there and she memorized countless math facts.  That was our school focus this week.  It's been a long road of rebuilding her math foundation, but this week was a turning point.  Y'all, I bribed her.  And it worked.  Maybe bribed is a bad word...gave her incentive.  I told her for every stack of math facts and set of skip counting she memorizes, I'll pay her $1.  She spent hours working hard on memorizing and was SO excited to be working on it.  It gave her a boost of confidence and she said, "Thank you for making math fun!".  Best money I ever spent.

Eli wanted to earn money just like Alison and has also worked hard on memorizing.  Why is he jumping?  Alison had to try different ways to memorize to figure out what worked best for her.  I would have her write the facts she struggled with and say it 3 times, but it wasn't clicking.  In college, I learned the best reading while walking to class, so we tried moving and learning.  I found Eli practicing skip counting on the trampoline one evening, way after school was over.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

First day of school

School is in session!

The kids were excited to start, which I found surprising but refreshing.  The week has been going pretty smoothly.  I give thanks to the fact that I've taught some of the material before and familiar with the curriculum.  I also give thanks that the first few lessons are super easy and just easing into things.

Day 2 of math with Eli had me laughing.  He said, "Is that it?" when we finished the lesson, so I pulled out some flashcards.  He's never done flashcards, but a BIG smile came over his face.  He read 9+9=...and said, "Okay, so 20-2 is 18."  I just sat there staring at dad said that's how my grandpa thinks about numbers and he's a brilliant man, but I have no idea how to teach that way!