Saturday, December 31, 2016

New Year's Eve

Yes, it's 31 Dec 2016 and I'm just now posting NYE 2015 pics. That's okay- it looks very similar to this year's pics (if I'd taken any this year.) Well the kids are 2-4" taller, V is awake a lot more, we no longer have our yellow fair cups, but we did have lots of the same fried foods. I do enjoy our NYE tradition of each person making an appetizer. In Baltimore, we went to BJs and everyone picked a premade appetizer that only required heating, now the food isn't any healthier but there is some more cooking involved. 
c picked pigs in blanket 
KG breakfast eggrolls
T crab rangoon
C beef empanadas
K honey BBQ chicken wings
D deep fried apple pie
M carrots/ Whitman's sampler that i forgot for  Christmas :(

I really enjoy our tradition of each person serving the food they made and as they serve telling the person what they love about them. So many different responses- so sweet to hear the kids say why they love us and each other. 

 This year James did go to the NYE service at Manna. the kids and I stayed home, v ran all over the place and then went to bed, the other kids played K's new game and wii. When James got home, we counted down and yelled Happy New Year! (I think it was 9 pm. And toasts of sparking apple cider.

Last year we went roller skating

with friends. Lots of fun!

This year we're going to a new church site. Praying for a great new year!! 

WFMD- I wrote this last Spring

That's Works For Me Day (since I'm starting this post on Saturday but have no idea when I'll post it.:)
I always liked the Works For Me posts but I really haven't been blogging or reading blogs much lately so I've gotten away from it. It's usually how someone shares something that's been working for them. but I've also like it as a way for me to think through the things that are working well for us. Because I know I need to be reminded about those! The things that are hard just scream at us for attention and seem to get it. And I know I do want to think about "whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things."  

So what is working for us? 

Job of the Day- we have a kitchen helper, water helper book straightener, chicken helper, and "cT" helper. I'm still working on getting the kitchen helper cooking more meals than breakfast but that's a start! I love that the kids love books. we are still working on people putting books away after they read them, but the book helper helps us to reset each morning The "T" helper job is still in the works- this was c helper but when she turned 4, she became a big girl. The chicken helper is a good idea that some do better than others.

Room of Responsibility- each week our biggest four are each assigned a room of responsibility- bathroom, living room floor, living room furniture, or ask mommy. It's their job to straighten (or clean for bathroom) that room each morning. 

Chore clip boards- James duct taped each of the kids' clipboards so it's easy to tell whose it is and put nails up on the wall to hang them. Each week I give the kids a chore chart that lists their chores for the week. A few change each week, lots stay the same. (I keep meaning to have the kids fill out their own and call it handwriting but I haven't been that organized yet.)

Rotations/ short lessons are still working for us. Some days better than others but it's amazing how much you can do it a short amount of time when you keep doing it lots of days! And I really enjoy that I get one on one time with each of the kids each day and reading lots of great books! We have branched out so "Spanish" now includes Rosetta Stone, DuoLingo, XtraMath, and Dance mat typing (occasionally- I'm not really sold on that one- seems more game than typing.) K keeping up with his own school is great! He's really plugging along. He loves reading and history which helps! 

Just keeping going with Math is working for us. No pressure of having to get done on a certain day. We can slow down when needed or speed up. Love going at the right pace for each!

Today Kathi Lipp's 2000 item declutter challenge worked for us. Well we modified it to 250 items but that's a start! The kids did great decluttering. Yes, they are excited about the "Clutter cake" I promised them once they reached 250. (Well once our junk food/ sweets fast ends 31 January.) They were so excited and did a great job! Yes, lots of it was little stuff but that's often what clutter is, isn't it?

I started this post with the plan of posting this link because my sweet baby boy is becoming more of a busy toddler than a sweet baby. How did that happen so fast? I'll soon need some ideas of things to keep him doing good! 

oh and I want to we're going to start hymns again. Reading this  made me want Hymns for a Kid's Heart but I couldn't find it online tonight. Maybe at the consignment sale coming up. Although I bet people keep that one if they get it. 

Tennis (and tennis friends)

We were so blessed to get to participate in a homeschool tennis clinic spring 2016. Six weeks of (almost) free lessons at Methodist University conducted by their tennis professional program. So much fun! We did miss one lesson because of our trip to OBX but we took racquets and played a lot while we were gone.

little c even got to play!

We were so excited when our good friends came to visit for their spring break! The first night they arrived we all went to baseball games. They were happy to go with us especially to get to play catch in the empty field.
Most of the time we hung around the neighborhood/ Fayetteville, but we did make one out of town trip. We went to Carolina Tiger Rescue. So glad we did. The kids read a book and then saw a video which talked about the dangers facing tigers- extinction, abuse, neglect, ... and wanted to make a difference. We found the Tiger Rescue and raised money (selling cupcakes, a yard sale). The Tiger Rescue  field trip was fun and informative.

 I wish I had some pics from our backyard camping, park day at Mazarick Park, tennis at Terry Sanford high school,
We did get a pic of our first chicken bath! She liked it!

And Pelicans was a hit for everyone- well, except poor Kelly who caught a bug. Thankful that no one else did!

S and c- two peas in a pod!

KG was crazy about baby T

So glad that no matter how many miles, how many months, these are forever friends!!
Next time we'll have to go back on the trail for old times sake.

Field Trips

I started this post a long time ago and never finished- here it is anyway- we went April 2016 and had a great trip!  go April, May, June to get butterfly kit $6 per person, $20 for kit.

Monday, December 26, 2016

T's 9!!

I can't believe our third is nine already. Such a great boy! So blessed to be his mom!  T loves baseball, soccer, legos, comic books. He plays hard but also likes his rest. He often runs ahead on our walks so he can take a little rest.  He's great at rubbing my hair, loves backrubs, and is super with his baby brother and sister. We had a fun celebration this year.  We went to the early service church and then drove to Greensboro.  Everyone was happy to go use their summer reading program gift cards at Edward McKay book store. Then we went to the Greensboro Children's Museum and had a great time! Last year V was just an observer- this year he was all in! All the kids took turns taking V and c to try out all the fun things- work in the dental office, drive an ambulance, sort mail, go camping, ... So much fun!!

 We were having so much fun we could have stayed longer but we wanted to get to Grandma's house. V fell asleep just as we got there so the other kids stayed with Grandma while V and I went shopping! We enjoyed dinner and cake and then played the fun game Grandma gave T for his birthday- "would you rather." Fun times!

 Monday morning Grandma had work. We had breakfast and then hit the tennis court! We had a lot of fun hitting the ball around, played a little soccer, and then headed to Sciworks.  We had just as good a time as we had Sunday. Kids loved all the machines- they were even reading and learning from the signs too :) V really loved the animals and petting the cornsnake. Tons of great exhibits!

 We got home in time to make carrot souffle, shrimp scampi, and pound cake for dinner. T even opened a present or two before soccer practice. We had a great day!! Happy birthday T!

Wonderful Western Wanderings Part two

Thursday morning everyone did great packing up. Site neighbors said the kids were so well behaved.  We would have loved to have stayed longer but we couldn't reserve any more nights so we were on the road again! And God’s timing is good. AC went out leaving the Grand Canyon but we were able to get it fixed since we decided to stay in a hotel in Las Vegas.  We did make a quick stop at Hoover Dam and Lake Mead. (Well not quite as quick as we wanted at Hoover Dam, since they decided we looked dangerous and stopped us for a thorough vehicle inspection. :)

We were so thankful that we could check in early and James could get AC fixed. We’d been listening to God’s Smuggler about Brother Andrew’s ministry behind the Iron Curtain and how God provided for his needs. God showed us how He provides our needs too as the AC went out at easiest time to get fixed, we were able to check in early so kids and I could rest/ do laundry in AC, and the van was a quick, free repair. James picked up chicken and rice from Trader Joe’s (plus wine and chocolate for me J We went swimming and then to Freemont Street Experience. The lights and music were neat. Some of the street performers were good- especially the spray paint artists. (Definitely had to shield eyes- lots of not good things to see there.) It was neat to drive down the Strip at night and see the Stratosphere where James and I stayed almost exactly 20 years before. 

Friday morning we had a good breakfast at the hotel, played a little basketball, and then took the shuttle to the Aria. It was fun to see the art and displays at different casinos. We loved the free tram rides, shuttle, and shows like the aquarium at Caesar’s Forum, the wildlife at Flamimgo, the “I lost my M movie” at M&M world (3 stories of M&Ms), beautfiful conservatory at Bellagio. Then we had a wonderful buffet lunch at Cravings where Active Duty military got 50% off for four people. Tons of good food! K loved the pasta and carving station, James the eggs benedict, KG &C loved the desserts (James told them they could have as much dessert as they wanted- so thankful the enzymes seemed to help C and c with dairy.) We were so full we didn’t have much dinner and just enjoyed another swim –to beat the 110 heat!

Saturday morning we got up, had breakfast, and drove to LA. We made PB & J sandwiches at Steven and Dena’s apartment and then drove to Getty Villas art museum. So glad they fit in our van- we had more time to visit and LA traffic is crazy so I was happy for Steven to help navigate! The museum was beautiful and we were glad to have someone take a picture of the 10 of us! We had to park near bus parking bc the van was too tall for garage parking. After the museum, we went to Dukes’ a wonderful Hawaiian restaurant right on the ocean. Steven and Dena treated us to an amazing dinner while v enjoyed a nice nap to the sound of the ocean waves! Musicians performed a luau dance for Steven and Dena’s 10th anniversary. Then we went to a gelato shop- yum! We all got different kinds- all delicious except v’s smoky milk but he liked it since he’d slept thrugh dinner. 

Kids loved the family activity room

So happy to hang out with Aunt Dena and Uncle Steven

Sunday morning the kids were excited for another hotel breakfast. Then we picked up Steven and Dena and drove to the beach. We parked near Santa Monica pier and had a good morning walking on the board walk. The weather was great and the kids had fun doing rings, pullup bars, balance beams. We decided to dip our toes into the ocean but that led to wet pants, then wet shirts, then swimming. We weren’t dressed well for it but worth the mess for the fun! V enjoyed seeing doggies and followed them down the board walk.

So cool to go Coast to Coast this year!

After cleaning up as best we could, we headed to In and Out Burger- James’ request during CA visit. Yum! After a wonderful visit with Steven and Dena, we headed back to Las Vegas. 72 degrees at the beach, less than 2 hours away 118 degrees along drive. At 9 pm by the pool was still 105! We tried to see my cousin Ed but he wasn’t home.

 Monday morning 27 June we drove to Zion National Park and were so thankful to get a campsite.  We loved the river walk, riding the shuttle, visiting the  nature center. Our favorite part of Zion (and definitely a high point of the whole trip) was swimming in the swimmming hole near our campsite. Kids and James had a blast swimming while It was one of the surreal moments of amazing beauty around- while the 8 of us enjoyed the water.

Tuesday 28 June we realized just how thankful we should be about getting a campsite as we saw that people line up starting at 6 to get a spot. We didn’t get there Monday until 1130 but God saved us one!  We broke down camp and then headed to the visitor center to finish junior ranger badges. We took the scenic drive to Bryce Canyon- beautiful! We picked up junior ranger badges at the visitor center but realized we couldn’t finish them in time to get to Moab before dark. So we just enjoyed the views from the shuttle and our hike from sunset point to inspiration point. Amazing!

We drove to Arches national park and stopped by the visitor center before heading to camp at Moab Rim Campark. We had quite a dust storm. James and c made chili hotdog hobo pies but the wind blew so hard that even a full can of chili blew all the way down the picnic table. We all huddled inside Kingdom 6 tent to eat as the wind whipped around. Finally we decided to brave the outdoors and went to the park. Two sweet girls came over and we were all amazed at how much we had in common with the family! The kids soon became friends!  They enjoyed tag, biking, fireworks, charades, eating together. Their family took a camper from NY and had just left CS headed for Salt Lake City and Yellowstone (like our future Northern trip.) So sweet to see such great connections! Hope to see them agin in the future. 

Wednesday 29 June we drove to Arches and hiked to Double Arch and Windows. I especially liked the Primitive Trail- not too long but it felt like it was just us and nature! We drove around to some of the other arches and then had a wonderful picnic by Devils’ Bridge Campground. Beautiful site that had good climbing for all the kids! It was hot out so we decided to celebrate our 20 year anniversary with gelato at Moab Brewery. Yum! Then we had a slightly scary drive up to Lake Owaha- the campsite attendant had recommended it for swimming. But between the one lane, steep, gravel road, the cows on the road, the fact that we almost ran out of gas, and the ice cold water, it wasn’t exactly what we had in mind J But it was beautiful! And when weren’t thinking about those things, we really enjoyed it! 

After leaving the beautiful lake, we found Mill creek waterfall. We had fun and then enjoyed beef stew, cantaloupe, fireworks, and burnt brownies with our friends.

The next morningThursday 30 June we broke down camp. Before driving to Colorado Springs, we enjoyed one last playtime with friends. We spent Thursday night in Vanessa's camper. The kids enjoyed the zipline and James grilled hamburgers and hotdogs while we talked about the good old days. How times have changed!!

Friday morning 1 July we headed out early to Focus on family. It was really neat to go on the tour of the Focus on the Family building but the highlight was definitely Whit's End. We shared a WODFAMCHOCSOD and fudge ripple, did the 3rd story slide, and found tons of good books. We made a quick trip to the AFA- the cadets were practiving marching in preparation for arrival of new cadets. It's no West Point, but it really is pretty there! Next we went to Garden of Gods. We weren't expecting the big crowd that was there but we did find a parking spot and had a nice picnic there. We drove through Manitou Springs and past our old house, before taking pizza to Khanh’s amazing house. It was so good to catch up on old times and get to know Khanh's husband and son and sleep in a nice bed! We planned to hit the road early Saturday but Khanh convinced us to stay for homemade breakfast ;) So good to have wonderful friends- even across the miles and years. 

Saturday 2 July We began our massive drive back home. 25 hours in 3 days. We could have made it faster, we could have enjoyed it closer, but we made the best of what time we had. The drive from CO-KS is not majestic like CO, amazing like Utah, but it is pretty in it's own way. We drove aroudn a little in Kansas- where T was born. We did enjoy Steak n shake which Aunt Penny introduced us to with the gift card she gave us- the garlic burger was really good and super shakes! We really enjoyed going back to Cabela’s. We went there so many times when K & C were  c and V's ages. It was so fun to c and V watch everything with the same amazement- the fish, the deer, the monkey playing tag with the lions :) V slept so much in the car that he was wide awake and ready to play. I decided a walk in the hall was better than waking up my sleeping family. (He wasn't loud just wasn't still- so I wasn't keeping the hotel guests awake either :) The nice front desk attendant invited me to go have early coffee so v and I had a 3 am coffee/ muffin break.

Sunday 3 July Our next day was more driving. We did enjoy swimming at the hotel in Lexington, KY. Kids even did really races with other kids and then we watched the Fort Bragg baseball game on TV before bed.

Monday 4 July We stopped at Grandma’s on the 4th. So good to see family. fireworks

We did some great hikes on our trip:
            Palo Duro Lighthouse trail 7+ miles
            Grand Canyon 3 miles Bright Angel Trail
                                      Rim trail
            Painted Desert
            Las Vegas Strip
            Los Angeles beach
            Zion Riverwalk
            Bryce Canyon rim trail
            Arches Double Arch and windows primitive trail 2+ miles

We listened to some wonderful audio books: Chronicles of Narnia, God's Smuggler, Adventures in Odyssey Ultimate Road trip, Lillian Trasher


We are really enjoying our kombucha. I'd tried it before but never liked it until having some at Janelle's this summer. Now we're hooked. We even took a starter set to Nana and Papa at Christmas. Here's Janelle's post with instructions.

Some of our favorites so far:
Chai- once we made and added chai tea, once we just added chai tea bags in the bottle during secondary ferment
Mango Pomegranate- we used juice for this and followed suggestions below
Grapefruit- we used combo juice/ fruit

  • If flavoring with fresh, frozen, or dried fruit, start with 10-30% fruit and 70-90% Kombucha.
  • If flavoring with juice, start with 10-20% juice and 80-90% Kombucha.

Here's some recipes we want to try.
Apple- Cinnamon
Pumpkin Spice
"Recipes kids will love"  (mine have loved all of them- but these look fun to try!)

Our only kombucha failure was pumpkin- we tried a recipe with pumpkin pulp and made a hot mess! but still excited to try more.

I do want to try some herb flavorings too!

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Wonderful Wanderings out West Part One

Wrap-up of Wonderful Wanderings!
23 days,
6500 miles,
6 national parks,
20 states,
lots of camping and hiking,
tons of audio books,
old friends,
new friends,
amazing memories

We left NC Sunday 12 June 2016 after James cleared and signed out on retirement/ terminal leave. We got on the road early and got to Mollie’s in time for a nice visit and even some Skipbo. It’s so nice to have dinner and breakfast included at the hotel. The kids love it! Monday morning Grandmollie was very happy to see us but she wasn’t feeling well so we had a quick visit and then left so she could rest. Instead of Checker board buffet, we went to Krystal’s for a quick meal and had room for a snowcone!  Everyone loved the carousel! V tried to catch the ducks and called  them “chickens.” Then C and I went back for another visit and more Skipbo. After the pool and dinner, K and I went to Grace Fellowship for Bob's (Ramona’s husband’s) memorial service. Afterwards, we took Mollie home for a visit and you guessed it- more skipbo! We also looked at some of her photo albums- next time we will take the Florida book. K was so sweet to volunteer to go to the memorial service so we got blizzards! Tuesday morning, we had one more visit with Mollie. V loved the “chicken” downstairs and Mollie loved V’s kisses and all of the kids’ hugs.

We made it to Texas in good time and even saw Janelle and kids on the road! It was fun to follow them back to their house. We enjoyed a good visit, bottle-feeding cows and goats, even got to milk 2 goats. Once the cows got in the horse pen and he chased them all over. We got to pet baby bunnies and went to the arboretum to hike and play. It was fun that the kids just picked up playing like it hadn’t been 2 years since we last saw them. Janelle gave me wonderful birthday presents- homemade goat soap and creams, table runners, chocolate, books, … so kind! I had a nice visit with her mom while the kids played basketball. Then Janelle and James took the boys to shoot a hog- they got to ride a Polaris too. While the girls and I (and V) got a movie and Sonic drinks!

hiking at the Arboretum

Taco soup lunch!

Worn out girl!

Morning kid hikes!

We left early Friday morning with homemade muffins, kombucha, and sauerkraut and drove to Aunt Penny and Uncle Joe’s house near Fort Worth. We enjoyed seeing their house and their Panama book and lots of family pictures. She packed muffins, sausage balls, juice and coffee and we had a fun trip to the park. Aunt Penny even made us a huge goodie bag of snacks, puzzle books, a gift card to Steak and Shake, even some clothes for me! A super nice visit!

Friday 17 June We drove to Palo Duro Canyon State Park. It was hot! We had Arby’s on the road for lunch and wraps for dinner. It was really hard to go to sleep because it was so hot- 106 when we got there. I was a little worried about our trip but it cooled down some the next day. Early Saturday morning we hiked the lighthouse trail 6.5 + miles. The last part was really steep up but thankfully James found a better way down. The canyon, hoodoos, cliffs were beautiful. The kids earned their first junior ranger badges. We enjoyed our after dinner hikes- except for the biting flies.

We saw lots of animals: tarantualla, Texas horned lizard, roadrunner, race runner, tons of rabbis, turkey, biting flies, …

So fun to watch the baby birds at our campsite. The parents kept flying back to fee hungry babies.

our slide for life!

Sunday 19 June we drove to Albuquerque, NM and ha a delicious Father’s Day lunch at Questadilla Grill in Old Town. Our waitress was terrific- we got a bunch of different kinds of quesadillas, margaritas, and Mexican hotdogs. The kids loved dinner and swimming at the hotel. I loved a shower and  laundry. We went to a Native American museum (Blue star) where we saw Native American dancing and learned about Pueblos. V loved the dancing room.

Monday 20 June we left Albuquerque and stumbled upon Petrified Forest- so glad we did. It was beautiful! Kids did their junior ranger program and enjoyed a couple of hours at the national park. God is so amazing- loved the views!

We continued driving to Grand Canyon- amazing drive and the Canyon is magnificent. So glad I listened to James and we spent 3 nights. Our campsite had some shade and the kids did great helping set up. We’d cooked taco meat at the hotel and had taco salad for dinner after walking around Mathers Point for a bit. Tuesday morning we had oatmeal and then walked a lot of the rim trail. James, K, and C went 10 minutes down South Kaibab Trail. Then we took the shuttle to the yauapai Museum which was neat to see models and pictures of the canyon. It is so big, beautiful, and breathtaking! We went back to the campsite for lunch- we used our new hobo pie makers to make ground beef and cheese hobo pies. We went to a junior ranger program at El Tovar hotel and hiked some more. We went to another ranger program at the Shrine of Ages. The program was good DUDE- the acronym the park ranger used to explain God’s amazing creation. Deposition, Uplift, Down cutting, Erosion. We went back to camp for dinner- BBQ beef hobo pies and apple pies. Then headed back to the rim for sunset praise service. It took a lot longer to get there than we thought so we were late but the kids asked to go back the next night. More praise- yes! Kids went to sleep quick. James c,  V, and one big kid in the Kingdom 6 tent and the other 3 big kids in the 4 man tent.

Wednesday morning, we had a bowl of granola and then hit the trail. V and c rode in Ergo carriers and the rest carried camelbacks of water. It was pretty tough- the toughest 3 miles I’ve done but everyone did great. The pretty views and yummy snacks helped a lot. Going down was hardest for me bc I was a little worried about slipping/ tripping/ turning an ankle but the rest had tougher time coming up. We started down the same time the mule train started. The guides even fit the part with long mustaches and leather chaps. 

We saw lots more animals: big horned sheep, rattlesnake, elk, lots of mule deer and begging squirrels, and a few chipmunks. We had a snack at the ½ way point and Hello Kitty gummy bears from Aunt Penny on the long hike back up. We were tired when we finished but it was a great hike! We rode the red shuttle to Hopi point where we’d seen the sunset the night before. We looked around a bit- you could see the Colorado River better and then got back on the bus. V loved the shuttle rides- he would grin and grin at people on the bus. A mom of 10 kids said “why would we be surprised that the youngest of 6 kids would be outgoing!” We drove back to camp for a big breakfast of oatmeal, fried egges, pancakes, fried bologna, melon, and juice. V napped, James rested, while the rest of the kids played a buble game. Such a great trip! We wanted to got to the worship service on time so we had an early dinner- hobo pies and made a last trip to the visitor center. We heard part of  a ranger program on California condors and then shared 2 rootbeer floats. V hasn’t’ learned sharing yet but it was good! Amazing to sing praise songs beside beautiful canyon. College students from NPS ministry lead it each night. We got to camp and James made a campfire for songs and s’mores. Nice end to a great stay!