Friday, December 27, 2013

Merry Christmas!

Whew. Glad it came, glad it went. :D

Christmas is always such an exciting time of year, even though it really felt weird this year. I think it's because I spent so much time going back and forth to the hospital with my dad all month, and we ended up sick for several days prior to Christmas Day. The sicklies are still hanging out, but we are functioning, lol.

Our week has been great, even if it has flown by. I took care of some last minute shopping on Christmas Eve (Even did some learnin' while I was out...did you know that poinsettias could be a little poisonous to doggies? I do now, thanks to my plant lesson at the store, lol.), and we spent a great evening with family.

The hubs, the boys and I hung out with my grandmother and my aunt. We baked cookies for Santa and watched It's a Wonderful Life.

How cute are these little guys?! :)
The creative process...
Santa LOVED them. ;)
Getting the boys into bed that night was as difficult as it is every year, but we had such a good evening together. Christmas morning, we all bounded out of bed (even me!), the hubs read the birth passages in the Bible (annual tradition that the hubs has carried over from his own Christmases with his family) and we headed to the family room to open gifts to/from one another, and see if Santa left any goodies...

Santa brought roller skates, a dart board some stocking stuffers. 
I love this photo, and the expression of joy on my eldest's face, lol! What would elicite such a reaction? That would be the swanky new Galaxy Note 10.1 tablets they received from the hubs and I. We were so excited that it worked out we could get them these...they have had an iPad for a couple of years, but they were hand me downs, that we passed to them when we upgraded. They had been looking at different tablets and decided they really wanted to try something different, and they fell in love with these. LOVE this photo. They were so excited about them, they didn't even balk when I told them I had a list of educational games and apps I wanted them to download. ;)

The hubs and I got a couple of really cool gifts from each other and the boys...

Two new books by Michael J. Sullivan.
He's been wanting a Pea Coat for a while, we were stoked that we found him one!
A pink wagon for hauling around all of my scrapbooking stuff!
These. Are. Awesome. I love My Little Pony, and I have a twisted sense of humor. Discovered this awesome artist at Dragon Con several years ago...she also has a twisted sense of humor, lol. These are from her My Little Demon line.
After our gifts, we went back to Nanny's for a lovely lunch, then spent the evening with friends having an amazing pizza dinner. New tradition! ;) 

This post is quite long enough. I will post pictures and talk about the pizza evening in my next post. Since we are heading down to my parents and my in-laws this weekend for even more Christmas celebrations, I will also include that fun in my next post. 

Hope you all had a fabulous holiday! Until next time...

Sunday, December 22, 2013


Every. Single. Year.

Braeden and I deal with allergies and asthma throughout the year, but Bailey and Walter get sick only once a year. Always during the holidays. :( We know it's coming, we do everything we can to prevent it, and yet...there it is.

This week, three of the four of us have been fighting with a major head cold. No flu this year, thank goodness!

Nothing too eventful happened this week, but my dad did finally have his surgery! Well, he had one of them. The surgeon is hoping to do the second surgery tomorrow. He will definitely be in the hospital over Christmas, but things could totally be worse, so no complaints. We are planning on going down next weekend to have our Christmas festivities with the families. This weekend was the original plan, but with the sicklies, that didn't work out. It's okay though...having it next weekend just prolongs the holiday fun. ;)

I really can't believe that Christmas is in 3 days!

Probably won't see a lot of schoolwork this week. They will continue to read...


Interjecting with an extreme moment of pride here, we'll get back to the post in a sec...

Braeden finished The Sorceror's Stone this week. FINISHED. A book with more than 50 pages. And very few pictures, lol. FINISHED. Yaaaaaaay! We are so stinking excited for him, and the best part is he is so stinking excited for himself!

He has already started Chamber of Secrets, and is really enjoying talking to us about the differences between the books and the movies. :)

Okay, back to the post.

They will read, and they will play some games. Maybe some quick games of hangman and tic-tac-toe in between gift wrapping and nose blowing and doses of medications. :/

Also, there is some baking to do before Christmas. This is one of those times where I have no problems marking their cooking off as schoolwork (fraction lessons, science, etc.). :D

That's about it for this week. I wish I had more, but the DayQuil/NyQuil alternated mix is making me foggy. I'm going to grab my tissues, some orange juice and my handy-dandy bluray of White Christmas.

We celebrate Christmas, so I shall say to those that celebrate, may you and your family have a very, very, merry, merry Christmas. If you don't celebrate, then I will say that we hope you enjoyed/will enjoy your winter holiday of choice. :)

Braeden and Bailey, Christmas 2010.

Braeden and Bailey, Christmas 2013. Gosh, what a difference just three years can make!

Sunday, December 15, 2013

So many things... little time!

Really. Where the heck is the month going? Where the heck has the year gone for that matter?

Every time I turn around, another week has passed. I still have some shopping to do, a family dinner to plan and hopefully, some surgeries to get through.

Not surgery for me, but for my dad. I mentioned last week that my dad needed more back surgery and that he was being transferred to a new hospital and to a new surgeon/team. Well he was finally transferred and was scheduled for surgery this past Friday, but it didn't go on as planned. Along with his ortho surgeon, there has to be a vascular surgeon for the sugery too, and he got caught up in another surgery. So, we are shooting for next week. Tomorrow, actually. Fingers crossed...

I worked Monday and Tuesday last week, and spent all day Wednesday shopping with the boys. They had gifts to buy for their cousins and some friends, and while we were exhausted by the time we got home, we had a great day together!

Friday, I went to the hospital to hang with my parents. Even though the surgery didn't happen, I enjoyed the extra visit time with them. The boys and I had planned to go to their Christmas party at our new homeschool group, but since I couldn't go, Tracy (thankyouthankyouthankyou, Tracy!) made sure to swing by and grab my boys so they wouldn't miss the fun. There were games, food, crafts...they told me they had a great time!

One of the activities that Braeden's age group did...they had to make a Christmas tree cup stack in 13 seconds or less. :)
One of the games the teen group that Bailey's in did...they had to get a gingerbread man from their forehead into their mouths, without using their hands or anything. Haha. Thanks so much to Tracy for sending me a couple shots of their fun!

This week, there are several things on our schedules. I will be heading to the hospital again tomorrow, maybe even on Tuesday as well, to be with my dad. Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, we have doctor appointments, work meetings and 4H activities (a Christmas party for the kids, and then a party at a local senior center that the 4H group is working) to get to. Then, hopefully, the weekend will see our Christmas celebrations with my family and my in-laws.

School-lite will still be in effect. Bailey is going to check out some homeschool book reviews to see if there is anything he wants to put on his reading list. Braeden is 70 pages away from finishing Harry Potter and the Sorceror's Stone! This is HUUUUUGE for him!!! Not only is it the first real novel for him, his brother hasn't even read the series yet (he wants to, but loves the movies and is afraid if he reads the books, he won't like the movies anymore, lol...told him that probably wouldn't happen, but we'll see...). So for the first time, Braeden feels like he has something special to talk with his dad and I about, kinda like "one-uping" big brother. ;)

If I can get them to, they will also play some vocabulary games. I want Braeden to work on contractions, and the same site that he will do that on, has SAT word games so Bailey can practice high school vocabulary. Usually they don't rebel against online games, but they've been just as busy as I have it seems, so I'm not sure how hard I'll push if they do. If they don't work on these things this week, they can always tackle them when they pick up their normal-ish schedule after the holidays.

Okey doke. I'm off for now. Heading out to do more shopping I think. Hope everyone has a great week!

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Eating Healthier and Holiday Schedules

We have talked for a loooong time about changing the way we eat. Buying local, and buying organic. Growing what we can. Staying away from the nasty chemicals and preservatives and such. Finally, we made the jump a few weeks ago, and started doing rather than talking about it more.

I'm here to can see a difference, and see it sooner than you thought you would!

Are we losing weight or seeing a change in our physical appearance necessarily? Not yet, but I'm sure we will. What we are seeing are health benefits. Speaking for myself, I can tell that I ultimately feel better. I feel less hungry in between meals, and when I am snacking, I make better choices. I feel like I'm no longer having sugar crashes througout the day, or carb withdrawels in the evenings, and while I'm not out training for a marathon, I do think I have more energy.

The biggest changes we made, cold turkey, were NO artificial sweeteners of any kind and no junk food. No cheetos. No cookies. No gummy candy. We replaced cheetos with pistachios. We replaced cookies with cocoa almonds. We replaced candy with dark chocolate covered blueberries and pomegrante seeds.

Are those choices inherently healthy? Maybe not. But they are definitely better than what they replaced! We also stopped buying juices, for the most part. We stopped buying sodas a long time ago, but we replaced that with juice. Fruit punch, apple juice, etc. Those things aren't bad occasionally, but they are still FULL of sugars. So, we are all drinking water now. The boys made have juice or milk with dinner, but the rest of the day is water. Oh, and the hubs and I still have our coffee in the morning. Not giving that up. BUT...I did replace my flavored creamers with organic cane sugar and organic, lactose free half and half. That's something at least. :)

We are doing local produce when we can, and I'm getting organic, free range eggs from a friend. We are also buying organic in stores. Everything organic, when we can. When we can't, we are reading labels and making sure we can pronouce everything, lol.

Does all of this mean that we are hardcore health nuts? Nope. We know we will have times when we are eating with friends, or eating out, where we won't make choices as healthy as we would at home. But, we are taking baby steps and sticking with it. And we're honestly happier for it.

Okey doke. On to other things.

School is still slow. Our official holiday schedule is we are breaking from Thanksgiving to New Year. They have both logged onto T4L on their own though, and I think that's awesome, but there is no pressure to complete a specific number of lessons/assignments. We learned a little about Hanukkah last week, and this week we are talking about the Winter Solstice and how different countries celebrate Christmas.

The boys will also have some vocabulary word study, thanks to Facebook. Yep, Facebook. The oldest does have a FB account, even though he rarely remembers to post on it, lol. He was scrolling through this week and discovered that there are TONS of grammatical errors. He's not the grammar police, like his dad is, but he was astounded that so many adults and older teens had so much trouble. Punctuation, spelling and a distinct problem with homophones (to, too, two, there, their, etc.) were what he noticed the most. So, vocabulary study thanks to FB. Whatever works, right?

I'm going to log off, with a request and a share. The request? Prayers, happy thoughts and/or good juju for my dad. He went in for back surgery last week and it didn't go as planned. He was supposed to have a decompression and a fusion, but when they went in, they discovered a serious spinal infection. I don't know how this wasn't discovered before, but it wasn't. So, the surgery was not completed (he did get the decompression, but not the fusion) and he now has to undergo a long, long treatment of IV antibiotics and possibly more surgery. He is in a smaller, local hospital right this second, but as soon as a bed opens up at Emory, he's headed there to get specialist care. I'm praying and hoping that he gets the treatment he needs and will feel some pain relief soon. I appreciate you keeping him in your thoughts...

The share? I enjoyed my throwback holiday photo last week. Let's do another, shall we?! ;)

2008. Bailey was 9 and Braeden was 4. Holy cow, how they've grown! That was also the first Christmas that Teagan spent with us. We had just rescued her in October of that year. They loved her (and still do!) so much! 

Until next time...

This week I'm linking up with the Let's Homeschool Highschool Blog Hop!

Sunday, December 1, 2013

The Food Coma...

We all get one during the Thanksgiving holidays don't we, lol? I ate and ate and ate, and loved every minute of it.

Hope you all had a great holiday with your loved ones!

The week went by very quickly, thanks to a couple of days at the tax office, then holiday festivities and shopping. I didn't do the Black Friday thing like I normally do, but I did end up hitting ONE store about 4pm Friday afternooon. It was awesome. The crowds had dissipated, and there were still good deals left.

Of course, the whole one store thing seems less impressive when I tell you that I spent all freaking week glued to Amazon's Black Friday week sales and Best Buy's pre-Black Friday events. :D

This upcoming week is going to be crazy again, but hopefully it will go well. The boys and I are going to their Minecraft club tomorrow, then leaving straight from there to head to my parents because my dad is having back surgery on Tuesday (any prayers, happy thoughts, good juju you want to send his way, I would appreciate). We are planning on staying Tuesday night, then going straight from my parents to our nature science program on Wednesday. All of these things are a couple of hours of drive time each way. Thursday is the last Master's class of this year (they return after the new year), and a Christmas parade in town that evening. Or maybe skating. They haven't decided yet. Friday, the boys have park day, followed by a fun 4H activity: decorating the local senior center for the holidays!

Whew. I'm exhausted just from typing all of that...much less doing all of that.

School will come in spurts of available time, but we usually plan on this time of year being lighter than normal anyway, so that's good. The boys, as always, stick with spelling and reading. I might be able to get them to play some holiday specific puzzle games and work on holiday unit studies or printable worksheets. We celebrate Christmas, but we all enjoy learning about different winter/holiday celebrations. :)

For now, I'm going to go put up a Christmas tree! We turn on the Christmas music, throw on our Santa hats and make an all afternoon event of it. Love!

Until next time.

I always get nostalgic and reminiscent during the holidays. I'm going to leave you with a coupla photos from six (SIX!!!) Christmases ago! Geez, they grow up too darn fast...

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Tax Time Already?

It's not, but I start working tomorrow so it certainly does feel like it. :/ Hopefully it won't be too bad...just preparing for the upcoming tax season and getting things ready around the office before it gets busy. As much as I want to whine, I'm not and will instead be grateful for the extra money! :)

The week went well last week. Bailey submitted his first draft of his 4H portfolio for DPA, so it's good to have that out of the way. This is his second DPA, but his first as a 4H senior (9th-12th grades). He's so excited, and I love that.

I don't have anything really planned for school this week, but I think it will work out fine since we have the back half of the week off for Thanksgiving. I'm hoping Bailey will work on some analogy activities (struggling with that at the moment, but I think he just needs a little reinforcement a la game play, lol), and Braeden will work on his reading comprehension. He's actually doing really well with that! It's taking him a little longer to read than it did his brother, but he can tell you EVERYthing he read. :D

That's about it for this week. I know. Short and sweet. We spent the weekend with the fam and now I'm exhausted. I'm going to grab dinner and curl up with a new TV show, Almost Human, before bed.

I want to leave you with this - I saw today that the word "selfie" was just added to the Oxford English Dictionary. I hate that word, but my sweet nephew took an adorable selfie today while he was playing with my phone:

Couldn't you just eat him up? ;)

Wishing you and yours a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday...

Monday, November 18, 2013

Monticello and Montpelier...

I don't know how well this is going to go, because we took a TON of photos...and I can't narrow anything down. But I will try.

While we loved both places, Monticello was, hands down, our favorite. So much history, but so much neat history! Thomas Jefferson had so many stories to tell. We learned about his family and his friends, about his work in government, we learned about how much he enjoyed being on the cutting edge of what's new in the world, and we learned about the Jeffersons and slavery.

Ok, remember what I said about not being able to narrow down photos? Yeah. Well. I made it through a teeny tiny portion of what we have and this is what I have for now. :/


In touring Jefferson's home, the guide made a point several times to tell us how close Thomas and his family were to the Madisons. Apparently, Monticello had a room that the grandchildren called "Mr Madison's room." After learning that, we thought a trip to Montpelier was in order.


This was a neat place too, but they are still working on recovering furnishings and artifacts from when James and Dolley lived there. Major restoration was finished around 2008, but there were no records kept when Dolley had to sell everything, so getting period pieces back has proven difficult. Regardless, it was very cool.

Sorry for the limited pics. Maybe I will be able to go through them again in a couple days and pick out some more. Right now though, my internet is rebelling and my eyes are crossing.

We spent two days at these historic places, but they will meet our homeschool requirements for history for quite some time! We are still googling things as we remember them. We go back through photos and talk about what we learned, and we even took information that we learned (either from googling, or by going back through brochures/pamphlets) and made lists on SpellingCity so they could practice spelling and vocabulary words from our trip.

I know I've said it before, but seriously...I am shocked by how much fun we had learning about these two men and their families!

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Thankful for Vacation, Thankful to Come Home.

We had an amazing vacation! We had so much fun together, and really learned a lot while we were gone. Felt like we did a good bit of roadschooling, lol.

There are lots of photos, but I haven't even had a chance to dump them from the cameras yet. When we got home, we hit the ground running with our normal activities. I do have some pics in my iCloud stream, so I can share some of those...

Shenandoah National Park:

Beautiful view!

Love this one of my guys. :)

While we didn't see any bears or exotic wildlife, lol, we saw LOTS of these cute little guys/gals. They were veeeeery comfortable with all of the traffic and sight seeing going on...

A couple of the places we went to play tourist, were Monticello and Montpelier. Thomas Jefferson's Monticello was absolutely incredible. We expected to have fun, but we ended up spending about seven hours there. Not only did we enjoy it, we learned a lot about him and his family (the guides there definitely gave us some homeschool help, lol).

James Madison's Montpelier was really neat too, but I don't have any phone pictures from there. Honestly though, those two homes need their own post. I hope to get to that this week.

Here are some additional pictures of the yurt we stayed in:

And this is just a random photo of a double rainbow we saw while we were out driving after a little rain shower. Boys thought it was so cool! :)

The drive home was fun. You'd think we would have been all sad and stuff, about leaving Virginia. But, we spent several hours reflecting about the trip and how glad that we were that we got to take it together. In between our talks about the vacay, and the bathroom breaks (so many! the 4 of us could never seem to all have to go at the same time, lol!), we played some games together. Road trip bingo was one. Another is a word game we like to play. One of us says a word, then the next person says a word that starts with the last letter of the previous person's word. It's something we started doing a few years ago, and we all love it. The boys build their vocabulary, but it also helps with other things like spelling and practicing putting words in ABC order.

We got in late Monday evening. Tuesday we had to pick the doggies up from the vet and grocery shop a little. Wednesday we had our nature program at Elachee. Thursday was Master's and Friday was park day. Whew. Like the energizer bunny, just keeps going and going and going... :D

Getting back into the swing of school was a little slow going. We really didn't have a solid block of time any day this week, so they just did what they could, when they could. Some days we had mornings, some days we only had evenings. I am soooo thankful that we can be that flexible when we need to!

Until next time. Hope you all have a great week, and remember to honor our military men and women tomorrow. Always, always thank a veteran when you can...any day, not just Veteran's Day. :)

Monday, October 28, 2013


This is going to be a quick post, but I did want to say hello from beautiful Virginia! :)

We arrived last night, after a drive up that included a yummy lunch with friends in NC, and some fabulous fall colors on the trees. I can't count on two hands how many times one of us exclaimed "Oh my! Look!" and the rest of exclaimed "ahhhhh or ooooooh." Lol.

The boys enjoyed the ride too. I had gotten them this little travel game set, with several different dry erase board activities. They played road trip bingo, tic tac toe, hangman and worked on some vocabulary activities (working on syllables and sight words for Braeden).

We knew we were staying in a yurt, but we really didn't know what to expect.

This is what we checked into:

All hardwood floors, a full kitchen, two small bedrooms and a luxurious bathroom (no not kidding about the bathroom!)...all surrounded by a canvas tent-like thing. It's honestly awesome. :)

The hubs and I do have a little bit of work to do this week, here and there. I thought I might have the boys do some T4L this week, but I don't think I'm going to hold to that after all. There is SO much to see and do and learn about around here! Tons of American history. We are going to check out James Madison's Montpelier (I think there are a couple of other past presidents' homes as well). There's the Shenandoah Valley National Park. And, as we discovered upon check in, Luray Caverns (totally can throw in a rocks and minerals lesson there, lol).

We are super excited about what this week holds for us! Hopefully will have a chance to post pics throughout the week, but more than likely, I will post a few key photos as a recap next weekend. :)

Until next time, have a fantastic week!