Our two child things (5 and 2) are currently in Hawaii, but we are a military family, and we live where the Army tells us. This blog is designed to keep us in touch with our family and the friends we have made along the way, to offer insight into our turbulent military lifestyle, and to share our experiences as we try out "homing school." So glad you stopped by!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Seven Things I Have Learned This Year

1. How to make tortillas from scratch. Bread making has always been intimidating to me, and cooking with lard has always been TERRIFYING to me. But sometimes, you just gotta do what you gotta do. Especially when you're pregnant and you're an ocen away from any good Mexican food. I found this lard-free on one of my favorite cooking blogs, The Homesick Texan, and how about that. I made tortillas! They were GOOD, too!

2.God doesn't care much about all the nit-picky details that Christians argue over. When my life is over, I just don't think that at the Pearly Gates, I will hear questions like, "Were you dunked or sprinkled?" or "Did you take communion sitting, standing or kneeling?" In my Bible reading this year, I came across this theme over and over, and I have decided that that stuff just doesn't matter that much to God. What matters is: did you, with a pure heart and honest intentions, seek to truely know and honor the Lord?

3. Cole Slaw is really good on pulled pork sandwiches. I don't know if this is a Hawaiian thing, a new thing, or if I have just been missing out all these years. But now that I know, I'll never go back!

4. If I ever have my own house, I do not want there to be a pool in the backyard. Talk about high maintenance! OK, so it wasn't so bad when we were enjoying the pool all the time. But then it got cold and we didn't go anywhere near the water, but I still had to clean it every week. That was kinda a bummer.

5. Real estate transactions are way more compolicated and involved than I ever imagined, and I would never want to be a professional realtor.

6. Home is with my husband. When Scott deployed last year, the kids and I moved back to my hometown, and I'm really glad we did. WE got to spend some good quality time with family and got to attend special events like birthdays and graduations. There's no place like home, afterall. Even so, home didn't feel quite right without Scott in it. When the deployment ended, we went back to Hawaii, and now that my family is all together under one roof, I am truely HOME.

7.Turning 30 isn't that bad. I have to admit, the first time I had to write my age as 30, I cried a little bit. Ha! But now that I'm on the other side of it...what was I so worried about? I am immensely blessed, and God has provided me with a life that I am so thankful for. :)

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Learning About Hawai'i

If you live in Hawai'i, it would be a shame not to learn about Hawai'i in school, right? Of course, our curriculum doesn't include anything state-specific, but the islands have such an interesting history and culture! I decided we needed to find some way to add a little bit of Hawai'i to our school day.
Enter A Visit to Hawaii coloring book. Each page has a short paragraph explaining some part of Hawaiian culture, including anything from the formation of the islands (I find it very interesting that a single volcano produced all of the islands. It continued to flow as plates shifted, producing the 8 different islands) to fun facts about surfing. We read a page once a week, and then Child Thing #1 gets to color. She is sooo into coloring (and any artsy craftsy thing, really) lately.

I'm really glad I came across this coloring book. It is a great addition to our curriculum because it's fun, easy and both of us learn a lot from it!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Haole

In Texas, I'm a gringo (or is it gringa). In Hawai'i, I'm a haole. That's the Hawaiian word for "white guy," and it isn't necessarily a derogatory word. Just depends on how you use it, I suppose. But if you learn the history of the word, it really is not so flattering. :P

Basically, haole means "one with no soul." That's a loose interpretation, you understand, so let me explain. Everyone knows what "aloha" means, so I will start there. "Ha," in ancient Hawai'i, was the breath of life, what I understand to be the soul. "Alo" means to face, so the word "aloha" means to face another person and breathe the breath of life, to open your spirit and your soul to that person. So, to greet someone in old Hawai'i, you would face them and say "haaaaa," breathing into each other.

When the first Europeans came to Hawai'i, you can imagine they were not so comfortable with this way of greeting. Those prim and proper British people... So, instead of sharing the breath of life with the native Hawaiians, they did things like stand at arms length and offer their stiff hands. The Hawaiians thought this was weird and so called the Europeans "one with no ha."

This is the way I understand the meaning of the word; I hope it's accurate. I'm just a haole, of course, so maybe I don't know what I'm talking about. :)

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

What Should I Do?

*SIGH* Child Thing #2 now refuses to take an afternoon nap. I suspect, he's not really ready to give up his nap because if we happen to be in the car in early afternoon, he konks out for hours at a time. Or if I lay him down on the couch and turn on the TV for him, he will usually fall asleep instantly. But...if I try to put him in his bed...not gonna happen. He'll stay in there (sometimes) for a hour and not fall asleep.

So this has put a kink in my homeschooling schedule. I used to work with Child Thing #2 in the afternoon during naptime. As I see it, I have two options.
#1. This is what we have done for the past couple of weeks. We start working on school around 10 a.m., with little brother attending school with us. This makes for many distractions on the part of both student and teacher. We take a break for an hour or two for lunch and recess, then spend another couple of hours finishing our lessons. Today Child Thing #2 got VERY grouchy in the last half of school, so I laid him down on the couch and let him watch a TV show while we finished up school. Child Thing #1, of course, did not want to miss out on the TV time, so she rushed through her work to get it done.
#2. Attempt to get Child Thing #1 to take a nap in the afternoon (by either method mentioned above), and continue with our old routine of doing school during his nap. The thing is I can never guarantee that he's going to fall asleep. And if I use the TV to induce naptime, my scholar will not be interested the least bit in her schoolwork.

I don't know...what should I do?

It definitely makes me wonder about next year, when there will be 3 child things. Will I be able to keep up the homeschooling then?

If so, I'm not so sure I will use Sonlight again. There are some things I really like about that curriculum, but some things that just don't make much sense to me. Maybe this is how kindergarten is supposed to be, but, it seems like the curriculum does not go in depth to any subject. You get just a little glimpse of everything, but don't do much true exploring and learning of any topic. I also don't know that it is organized that well. The science lesson plans bother me because we'll spend a week learning about, say...sea life, and then do a science activity that is not related to that at all.

But I have to say, I have totally loved the "read alouds" included with the curriculum. Child Thing #1 and I have both enjoyed the books, and sometimes I even try to talk Scott into reading some of our school books because I found them so interesting!

Anyway, lots of questions about the future of our homeschool. I don't even know where we'll be living next fall. We'll just take it as it comes, I suppose. :)

Friday, November 11, 2011

My Favorite Websites

This month's 7 on the 7th topic (or as it happens, 7 on the 11th for me) is the websites you visit the most frequently. Here are mine.

1. Facebook. Yes, I'm addicted, I visit multiple times per day. How many? I'm not sure. I don't keep track, and I'd probably be embarassed to admit it anyway.

2. Friends' Blogs. I love that I can keep up with what's going on in the lives of friends who are spread out across the world.

3. CNN.com. Gotta know what's going on in the world around me!

4. Pioneer Woman. Love this blog! It's got hilarious stories, great recipes and even a homeschooling section.

5. Hostess with the Mostess. This website has awesome party ideas and themes with tons of pictures. Most of the parties are planned and designed by professionals, so they are a little out of reach for a regular mom like me, but I still love browsing the featured parties, getting inspired, and trying to make my parties look as fabulous as the ones on this site.

6. Homesick Texan. A food blog featuring awesome recipes from back home.

7. Yahoo. It's where I get my e-mail, do a lot of searching and sometimes check out news stories.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Hobo Dinners. Fun fun!

When I was a kid, I loved going to my grandparents' farm. Especially if it was a bonfire weekend. Anytime there was any clearing of property, all the debris was piled up and set on fire. That meant we kids got to roast hotdogs and marshmallows outside. We would search the woods for the perfect marshmallow roasting stick. One that was forked on the end--and not just one fork--maybe 10 or so so that we could roast a whole bag of marshmallows at once. And one that was at least 5 feet long so that we wouldn't have to stand with our backs to the fire, arms extended behind us holding out the stick so the heat wouldn't scorch our eyebrows off. :P

There's definitely not room for a bonfire in our little backyard, but we did recently acquire a fire pit. And not long ago we cooked "hobo dinners," a meal my grandmother would prepare for us on bonfire days. It's basically a layer of sliced potatoes, carrots, onions, a ground beef patty, another layer of onions, carrots and potatoes, all salted and peppered and wrapped in foil. Then you stick the foil package directly in the bed of the fire and let it cook for 30 minutes or so.

Then when you open it up, you have a simple, hearty, super fun meal waiting for you! Everything about hobo dinners is fun. I sliced up the potatoes, carrots and onions then let everyone assemble their own packet, which was fun. Of course, anytime we get some good family time outside with no electronics on, we have lots of fun. But the very best part is probably the dessert. :) The Child Things used a single spear from our hibiscus bush instead of a multi-tined, extended handle marshmallow roasting stick, but from the looks of it, the results were just as good!


I'm Still Here!

Well, I haven't fallen off the edge of the planet. I'm still here. I have just been having some issues that have left me too exhausted for blogging after the kids are asleep at night. Issues like extreme fatigue, low blood pressure, nausea, lack of appetite, heartburn, occasional insomnia and an overall "blah" feeling. Ahh...the joys of pregnancy.

Yes, if you haven't heard Child Thing #3 is on the way and due in May! I am, of course, very excited, but to be perfectly honest, I am not the type that "glows" during pregnancy. No, I'm more the crabby miserable type, and this pregnancy seems like it's worse so far than my first two. I don't know if it really is worse or it just seems worse because with two at home I don't have much--or should I say any--down time during the day to recuperate.

But the first trimester is almost over, and I'm slowly starting to feel better and have more energy. Plus, I can't feel too sorry for myself, because my friend Amanda just gave birth to her third after spending the last half of her pregnancy taking care of her two boys by herself because her husband deployed. But then again, she was always more the "glowing" type.

So, there's my excuse for my absence. And In that absence, much has happened. Here are some of the highlights.

To celebrate my 30th birthday, I took surfing lessons. So much fun!!
Road trip to Hawaii Kai

The Child Things at the Pumpkin Patch
Scott and the rest of his company got muddy on the obstacle course.

Halloween: Kate Middleton, a crusader, an owl and a monster. :)

Friday, September 9, 2011

What Have I Been Doing?

So...it's the 8th...almost the 9th of September and I haven't even really thought about my list for Seven on the Seventh yet, so I'm just gonna take a pass this month. I haven't blogged at all in a while...what have I been doing?

Well, I'm now the FRG leader for Scott's company, and I'm finding that to be pretty all-consuming. I'm having a great time doing it, mind you, but it definitely keeps me busy. It's probably really one of those things that you can put in as much time as you want, and I guess I'm putting in quite a bit of time. Hehe. And homeschool, of course.


Here is Child Thing #1 on the first day of school in our school room.
Now we are on week 4, and are starting to get into a good rhythm. For the most part, things are going well. We do have a few issues with motivation every now and then. She enjoys her science, her math, her Bible and her history a lot. The things that she finds challenging (reading and writing), she really drags her feet on. But I'm finding ways to make it work.

-It's better to do the hard stuff first, before her energy starts to drop.
-It helps a lot to take a snack break after she finishes the hard stuff (even though it really only takes us 2-3 hours (usually) to finish all our assignments). It's good motivation to know she'll get a treat when she finishes her work, and it's good to sit and recuperate after stretching your brain to the max. ;)
-She loves it if I let her take a "friend" to school. This means she gets to pick out a stuffed animal or doll to be a student. It makes me more like we're playing school, but whatever works! She and the other student will take turns reading sentences in her readers, or I will call on different students to answer questions on the worksheets. Of course, she is the voice for the stuffed animal too, so it's not like she's doing less work.

We have also joined a homeschooling group on our island and are starting to get involved in that and make some friends. So, yes...so far so good in homeschool. Things are busy, busy.

In other news, my blogger seems to have some sort of malfunction, and I can't leave comments on almost all of the blogs I read. so...don't think I'm ignoring you...just having some technical difficulties.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Remembering the Haunted Indian Village

It's only August, but we are already starting the debates on what we want to be for Halloween this year. You have to start early if you want to get your favorite costume, as we learned last year. We haven't come to any firm decisions yet, but it got me thinking about my Halloweens as a kid.

One year my cousins and I decided we would put together a Halloween party. Though I grew up in Houston, we spent a lot of weekends in the country. My grandparents have a little farm in East Texas, and me, my sisters and our cousins spent hours playing in the gully and woods in the horse pasture. The animals had created paths through the woods, and we created and named our own landmarks, like the Indian Village, where we constructed a circle of lean-tos (thanks to the newly-gleaned knowledge of my boyscout cousin) around a "campfire." The girls named things like "The Friendship Tree," and "The Peaceful Meadow," while the boys came up with "Blood Hill" and etc. Ha!

Anyway, we knew this wood so well, we decided we wanted to spook our parents by taking them on a tour of "The Haunted Wood" on Halloween night. One person would act as a tour guide, leading all the grown-ups along the paths, where ghosts of the Indians who once inhabited the wood would jump out at them and dead bodies would dangle out of trees above the trails. We had maps, schedules, even recorded sound effects, and were ready to scare the socks off our guests. The grand finale was to be at the Indian Village, where we would communicate with the Great Indian Spirits, and they wouldn't be too happy that we were there.

We rehearsed our plot, and it went off without a hitch. But, uh...doing it in the dark was another thing. Especially when one cousin (who shall remain unnamed because it was me) suggested that the cousins who were going to be the spooks should not carry flashlights because then the grownups would where they were going and wouldn't be surprised when someone jumped out at them. The Unnamed Cousin acted as tour guide, so luckily for her, she did get a flashlight.

There she was, leading a line of soon-to-be-terrified grown-ups into the woods. She stopped at the first designated scary spot and instructed her guests to listen to the ghosts of Indians. The ghosts were supposed to issue a foreboding warning about what was to come, but instead heard something like "mwaaa mwaaaaa mwa mwaaaaaaaaaaa mwa." Amazingly, the cousin who had been assigned the leave the tape recorder at that spot had made it in the dark without a flashlight, but not before tripping several times over tree roots and etc. and dropping the tape recorder hard. It never worked again.

Along the path the group traipsed, with several spooks jumping out at the right time, even eliciting one startled scream out of an Aunt. Then the guide began to lead them uphill towards the Indian Village, where they would all soon be screaming in terror (insert evil laugh here). However, the tour guide, even with her flashlight, soon lost her way in the dark woods. After several minutes of searching for the haunted Indian Village, the tour guide stopped and called into the darkness, "Oh, Great Indian Spirits, call to us so that we can find your village."

The Great Indian Spirits heard her and answered back, "We can't find it, either!"

Eventually, the tour guide and her group of grown-ups did make it to the Indian Village, but by that time they were laughing more than screaming. Ahhh well, it was a good try. So, the tour guide and the spooks all made it back alive to the farmhouse, where the younger cousins (who said no-way no-how were they going into the woods on Halloween after dark), had set out a lovely spread of Halloween refreshments.

That was a fun day...such happy memories of times spent with my family. Somehow, I don't think the memory would have been quite as pleasant if the trek through the Haunted Wood had gone as planned.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Back to the Real World

Sigh...Tomorrow is when we must go back to the real world. Scott has been on Block Leave for the past month, but tomorrow it's back to work for him, and so it's back to work for me. We have definitely enjoyed this month, just hanging out together as a family, and it would kinda be nice if it could last forever.

But then how would we pay for our nice little beach house? I guess we'll have to wait till we're retirement age. :P

I guess the good side of it is that life will finally be back to normal. We have been riding a roller coaster since last June when Scott deployed, and now things will be settling into a routine and we'll finally start to feel normal again.

We are also starting Kindergarten homeschool tomorrow. I've got everything ready to go. Except I was really tempted to buy Child Thing #1 a back-to-school outfit and a cute little backpack for her first day of "homing school." You know, for that back-to-school picture snapped by the front door that every Mom has to have. I resisted the urge, though, because I'm trying to be more non-consumerist.

So, Real World, here we come!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Seven Ways I Spend my Free Time

It's time for Seven on the Seventh again. This month, we are writing about seven things you do in your free time, so here goes. :)

1. Messing Around on the Computer- I spend more time than I should on the computer. Facebook, blogs, research, news, etc.
2. Scrapbooking-Though I am terribly behind (I haven't even started this year's scrapbook), I love making them. It's a record of each year's memories. It's fun to put them together, and it's fun to browse through old ones, too.
3. Quilting-This is something I was introduced to a few year's ago, and although I'm not great at it, I really enjoy making something with my own hands that is unique and useful. These are long term projects, though. I usually spend months making one quilt. Right now I am soooo close to finishing a quilt for Child Thing #2, and after that I am going to start a baby quilt for a friend who's expecting. Probably won't get it finished in time for the baby, but...oh well.
4. Reading- I love reading, especially a good novel. Unfortunately I don't read those that much these days. I read a lot with my kids (About to start the Laura Ingalls Wilder series with Child Thing #1!!), and I seem to read a lot of informative books lately.
5. Sitting on the Back Porch-I love my back porch. Luckily for me, I live in Hawai'i, so the weather is always perfectly nice in the evenings, so I can sit back there while the sun goes down, feel the ocean breeze, smell the plumeria blossoms and relax while the kids play.
6. Beach- I like to swim, I like to snorkel, I like to bodysurf with Child Thing #1, and I think I could just sit on the sand all day long. I predict we will go to the beach at least a couple times a week while we are living here in the house so close to the ocean.
7. Gardening- We haven't started a garden here at our new house yet, but we do enjoy growing our own food, and so do the kids, so I bet it won't be long before we get something going here.

If you are interested in participating in Seven on the Seventh, just let me know and I'll add you to the e-mail list. :)

Our House

I have written a Hawaiian-sized (read: BIG) rent check three times now, and I haven't blogged at all about our new house. We took a risk and signed a lease without ever really seeing the house, and although there were a few surprises, we are really liking it here so far.

The house consists of one big room, which is the living room, dining room and kitchen all in one. Beyond that is an enclosed lanai, which was one of the surprises I mentioned before. This is what was supposed to be the third bedroom. But with big sliding glass doors and no closet, we chose to make it an office/toy room/homeschool area instead. That means there are two remaining bedrooms, so the child things are sharing a room for now. The room is a decent size and they don't seem to mind sharing, so it's working out.

The house is nice, but small. The big plus is that it's only about a block to the beach. It's so nice being able to walk down there without having to worry about packing a ton of stuff. We can stay for as long as we like, and when we start to get tired, just walk back home. Pretty cool. My favorite part of the house is the back porch. it's got a pretty big porch and yard that's pretty big by Hawaiian standards. I love to sit out there in the evenings and enjoy the cool breezes and the mountain scenery. Have I mentioned lately how blessed we are to get to live here?

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Maui Vacation


Maui in the morning
 We made it to Maui and back with the child things, and we had a really good time on our little vacation! For some reason, my darling husband scheduled us to leave Oahu at 5 in the morning, so the vacation started very early. I am tempted to complain about having to wake up at 3 a.m., but it was kinda cool to see the sunrise from the airplane. We arrived in Maui just after the sun did, and then the fun began!

We stayed at the Ritz-Carlton Kapalua. If anyone is looking for a place to stay in Maui, here's what we thought of it: the grounds were beautiful, the room was very nice, the staff was oh-so-friendly and helpful (almost indulgent), the pool was great, the food was delicious, the spa was AWESOME, and the golf course also got rave reviews from my other half. The only downsides: it was pricey, and the beach (though it looked like lots of adults and teenagers were having tons of fun boogie boarding) wasn't the most kid-friendly beach we've been to. It was always windy, and the waves weren't the coddling waves we're used to.

Overlooking the resort grounds
Personally, my favorite touristy thing we did was take a boat ride out to a small offshore island called Molokini to snorkel. Definitely the best snorkeling I've ever done! I guess that's not saying a lot since I had never snorkeled until 2 years ago when I moved to Hawaii. But it really was pretty spectacular! I finally got to see the two fish I always look for, but never find: the Moorish Idol and the Humuhumunukunukuapua'a (Hawaiian state fish).

We also drove the Hana Highway, and I'm sure we did not experience it to its fullest, but it was still amazingly beautiful. There are dozens of stops to make a long the way, but we wanted the child things to enjoy it as much as possible, so we did not do any of the hikes or swim to any waterfalls or pull over at every scenic overlook. Even so...it was awesome! Here are some of the things we did stop and see:
Keopuka Rock, which was filmed in the opening scene of Jurassic Park.


Beautiful coastline scenery
 
Child Thing #1 at Waikani Falls (The Three Bears Waterfall)

Child Thing #2 at Wai'anapanapa Black Sand Beach. The kids had a good time at this place...it had CAVES!

The Child Things at a red sand beach in Hana
More beautiful coastline scenery
A fresh coconut and coconut ice cream.
Child Thing #1 had a fresh coconut before we left Hawaii and loved it, so the whole 9 months we were living in Texas, she kept asking me when she could get another one. We saw this stand, Coconut Glen's, on the side of the Hana Highway and thought it was the perfect opportunity. We bought a coconut and some ice cream made from coconut milk (which was actually really good), and of course, she did not like the coconut at all. Scott tried it (his first taste of fresh coconut milk) and didn't like it either, so I drank some and then we threw it away. The first time I tried drinking a coconut, I didn't care for it much either. It just wasn't what I expected. You'd think it would be very sweet and creamy, but it's more like water. But it has grown on me.

We all loved the ice cream, though, and I also loved what a hippie/environmentalist Coconut Glen was. No plastic spoons. He gave us a sliver of a coconut shell to eat our ice cream. And when the Child Thing asked him if he had any straws to use to drink the coconut, he stepped outside his stand, pulled a leaf off of a papaya tree, used his machete to chop off its hollow stem, and stuck it in the coconut for a straw. It didn't taste very good, though...

What else did we do in Maui? We went to the Maui Ocean Center, an aquarium that we all enjoyed. Child Thing #1 is now positively fascinated with hammerhead sharks. We spent a good deal of time hanging around the pool at our hotel. And we visited the very quaint downtown Lahaina. It was a wonderful vacation. So much fun! And there is much more fun to come! At the end of the week, we will have visitors arriving!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Headed to Maui!

Don't expect any blog updates from me for a few days. Tomorrow we are headed to Maui for vacation!! Woohoo! I'll take lots of pictures for you. Have a fun weekend, friends. I know I will!

Redeployment Ball-Fun, Fun!

If you'd like to know why being an Army wife stinks, see my collection of blog posts on deployment. But sometimes we get to do fun stuff, too, like the military ball we went to not long ago. If I hadn't married a military man, I probably would not have attended a formal event (other than weddings) since my high school prom. And it's kinda fun! Actually, I'd say I have more fun at military balls than I did at prom. :P

So the military ball has all sorts of formalities and etiquette rules, but I have learned that for the most part, nobody really cares much if you follow the rules or not. Here's the basic format:
1. First there's a social hour, which is just mingling time. I love to "people watch" and take a look at all the gorgeous gowns! A ball is technically a black tie event, so if you follow the rules, you are supposed to wear a full length dress, but every ball I have been to, there have been women who wear "cocktail" style dresses, and they look amazing, too, in my own opinion.
2. Then you go through the receiving line, in which you are introduced to and greet the "hosts" of the event. There are all sorts of rules for the receiving line, like don't carry a drink. I stand in front of Scott as we proceed through the line (the woman always goes first). He introduces me to the first person in line (that person is supposed to already know his name and rank by checking out his uniform), but you don't shake that person's hand. That person introduces you to the next "receiver," whose hand you do shake. Then your names get passed down the line until you have shaken every one's hand in line. All these guidelines, but it usually turns into a disorganized mess as hundreds of people go through the line. :P
3. After the receiving line, you can enter the ballroom and find your table and place card, but you aren't supposed to sit down until instructed to do so.

4. When everyone is in, it's time for the formal portion of the ball. It includes the presentation of the colors, lots of toasts (including the toast to fallen comrades, which is a tear-jerker. I should write more about that one another day.), and the grog bowl ceremony. Oh, the grog bowl. A friend and I laughed at this last ball how at the most formal of the events, these soldiers act the most informal. All of the company commanders pour a bottle or two or three of alcohol into the grog bowl, and they explain to the ball attendees that each bottle symbolizes something his or her company has accomplished. Scott chose orange cognac (because orange is the signal corps color) and everclear, because his soldiers kept the communications EVER CLEAR during the deployment. You should have heard his company hooping and hollering. :) Also included in the formal portion is an awards presentation. My soldier was 1 of 3 people in the battalion who received the Order of Mercury. Way to go, Babe! Now he gets to wear a swanky medal around his neck when he wears his dress uniform.
5. When all the ceremonies are over, it's time for dinner and dancing. When you leave, don't forget to bid your hosts, who generally post themselves near the exit, farewell.

Yes, this ball was MUCH more fun than high school prom. I especially enjoyed this one because Scott was so involved in the program. It was so cool to see his soldiers cheer for him when he received his award and during his part of the grog bowl ceremony. And as always, it's just fun to get dressed up every now and then!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Military Pomp

Big event from last week: Redeployment Ceremony. I realize that to some of you, redeployment sounds like a bad thing. It seems that it should mean "deploying again," but no, it's a good thing! Redeployment means coming back from deployment. Yay for redeployment!

So we got to witness some real military pomp at the ceremony. First, all the battalions marched in, calling cadence, of course. Since Scott is a company commander, I was very proud to watch him marching up front, leading his company to the drill field. Here he is, in the front row, the nearest column.
When everyone was in place, several people of impressive rank spoke, recognizing some hard-working volunteers, and commenting on how spectacular the troops look and what an outstanding job they did in Iraq.

They do look pretty spectacular, don't they? Except for the smudge on my camera lens, of course.

Here's another foggy picture, but that's Scott in the center front, with the orange flag...excuse me, guidon...blowing into him. I tell ya, if rows and rows of saluting soldiers doesn't arouse some sort of patriotic pride in you, then come watch one of these ceremonies with me; I'm sure the military pomp will get to you. It's easier to feel patriotic, however, if you don't have two hot and bored kids pulling on your legs. Just a helpful hint from one who has been there.

Also, no matter how hot and bored your kids are at the ceremony, they will miraculously regain all sorts of energy if you take them to the "after party" where there is free pizza, fruit punch, moonwalks and face painting. :)
Superhero mask!

Guess Who's Two

Child Thing #2 is now 2 years old! Because we had a birthday party for both of them before we left Texas, we didn't have a big shebang celebration for him. Scott had to work, so I walked the kids down to the beach that morning. They both LOVE the beach!! I am so happy about that because a year ago, neither of them were too comfortable in the water. That evening, we had a pineapple upside down cake and opened presents.


This water table was so intriguing that he pretty much let his sister open the rest of his presents while he studied the box.

 
My baby is so big! He'll even tell you so. If you ask him if he's a baby, he replies, "No. Boy."

What I'm really enjoying is watching the two kids interact and communicate with each other now that he is talking more and more. Of course, sometimes the communication consists of "Mine!" "No, MINE!" "No, MIIIIIIINNNNNEEEE!"

But other times it's really very sweet and amusing. My favorite thing is when Child Thing #2 carries a book over to his big sister and says, "Read book, Baboo." I haven't figured out exactly why he calls her "Baboo" yet or where that word came from, but that's her name.

So then Baboo will say, "Ok, I'll read you a book." And they'll sit down together and she'll read while he intently looks on. She has a surprisingly large number of our picture books memorized and can "read" him almost any book he brings her.

So yes...he's getting to be a big boy! If you don't believe me, ask him yourself. :P

Saturday, July 9, 2011

It's Official...Unofficially.

Look what I got in the mail! It's our curriculum for kindergarten, and I'm excited about it! Last year I wrote a lot about our trial period of homeschooling, but until recently I didn't decide for sure what we were going to do about school this year. As you can see, I have now decided. We are going to homeschool, and we are using the Sonlight curriculum. The Child Thing and I have already rummaged through the boxes a little bit, and both of us found items that looked interesting.

It's still not totally official. I haven't registered with the state, but that won't be hard. I'm feeling positive about this and about our new curriculum, too. I think we will have a great school year!

Collections

As you know, I just moved for the hundredth time in my adult life, and as I unpacked, I almost felt ashamed of myself for having so much STUFF. After living for a year on the contents of 4 suitcases and a borrowed mish-mash of items, what I have now seems positively excessive. Here are 7 things that collect in this house, either intentionally or unintentionally.

1. Books! I love books, and it's one thing I don't feel guilty about having copious amounts of. We have shelves and shelves of childrens books, of course, but I also love books. And I like to buy antique books when I can find them. I think they are beautiful and full of history, and I buy them because I hate to think of them deteriorating and ending up in the garbage. I especially love the ones that have names or messages written in lovely, old-fashioned script on the inside. The inside cover of my old copy of Paradise Lost reads, "To Phil. From Mrs. S. L. Dowling. Christmas 1894."

2. Pitchers. When we first got married, I bought a pitcher because, ya know, you need a pitcher to serve lemonade and stuff. After that, I came across lots of pitchers that I loved and wanted to buy. But of course I already had a pitcher and didn't need more. After longing after a dozen or so pitchers, I realized I just really like pitchers. They have such an elegant shape. So, why not start a collection? Then I have an excuse to buy the ones I really love, even if I already have one.

3. Blankets and Quilts. This is something I do not intentionally collect, but we have ended up with so many! I know several very talented quilters who have been kind enough to gift us with their beautiful creations. I try my hand at quilting myself on occasion, and have produced several in the collection. And somehow we have accumulated a gazillion little throw blankets over time, so we have ended up with quite an impressive quilt and blanket collection.

4. Recipes. I totally love when friends pass on their best recipes to me! I will copy it down or print it out and write the name of the person who shared it with me and stick it in my rather disorganized recipe binder. It's something I will most likely have for decades that will remind me of a person I hold dear every time I cook a meal inspired by him/her. And I'm always printing off recipes I find online. Half of them I never get around to trying, but...

5. Scrapbooks. OK...I just found 3 boxes full of scrapbooks and I have no place to put them in this little beach house. I like to make one for every year, and I have several "special edition" scrapbooks, too. Like I have an Army scrapbook for Scott, and I have a "baby's first year" scrapbook for the kids. I did not realize until this week how many I have made, and I'm actually feeling quite overrun by them!

6. Toys. They have taken over the house. They have taken over my life. Someone help me!

7. Movies. I do not collect movies ( I really don't care much about movies), but someone else in my house does. And he has drawers and drawers full of them. I kinda wish he would get rid of some, actually. Then I would have a place to store my scrapbooks. :P

Monday, July 4, 2011

Pictures to Share

Well I have been wanting to share lots of pictures, but things have been so crazy lately I haven't done much blogging at all. I am still trying to unpack our house and am now sick for the THIRD time since coming to Hawaii. Uggh...what is wrong with me? Either there are strange germs on the island that I have no immunity to or, with this move, I am overworking and overstressing and not sleeping enough and have forced my body into shutdown mode.

Anyway, I'm just going to post a few random pictures from before the move all at once because otherwise they might not get shared at all.

Child Thing #1 at our big birthday bash. Unfortunately, I didn't get a good picture of Child Thing #2 with the cake because he was not the least bit interested. He didn't even really want to eat any. Just put that boy in the pool!
What he did enjoy, however, was the cookie cake we got to celebrate his sister's real birthday (since the party wasn't on her birthday).
She was THRILLED when she realized she got an American Girl doll for her birthday!
Now for our dance recital pictures. This is her tap costume. She danced to Yellow Submarine. Tee hee!
Here she is after the recital in her ballet costume with Grandma, cousin Julie and Aunt Robyn. By this point she was rather tired and cranky, but you might have already guessed that by her facial expression.
Here we are with Grandmommy and brother. We coaxed a little smile out of her!
And then I tried to get a picture with the little ballerina and the impending meltdown happened.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

HE'S HOME!!

Wow, a lot has happened since I last wrote! Most importantly, we made it to Hawaii and have welcomed home our soldier! I have lots and lots of stories and pictures to share (birthdays, graduations, looong plane rides, illnesses, tutus, new house, etc.), but for now I'll just give a little recap of our special homecoming.

The day of the redeployment ceremony, we were all still pretty tired from our travels and from all sharing one air mattress, but we were excited none the less! When it was time, my mom-in-law and I loaded up the kids in the rental car and drove to the air field where we would soon be meeting Scott! Time passed quickly, so before you know it, the soldiers were marching in, the spouses were jumping up and down and waving, we said a prayer and the pledge, they sang a song and then the words, "DISMISSED."

Let me just say that I am soooo glad this year-long deployment is behind us, and it is soooo wonderful to have Scott home again! Despite my jet lag, exhaustion and trip to the ER, I am as happy as can be, and my world feels right again. :)


Can I just say that it was absolutely awesome to hug and kiss my husband for the first time in 6 months? The part that really made me tear up, though, was Child Thing #1's reaction to her Daddy's return. She was abundantly overflowing with pure joy!!


And this, my friends, is probably the very best day an Army wife can have!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

No Time...

No time for blogging. Dance recital now. Birthday party tomorrow. Painters come the next day, so house must be empty. Moving to Hawaii in less than a week. Stress level: waaaaay up there.

Monday, June 6, 2011

My favorite movies

Alright, so this month Seven on the Seventh is totally going to expose me as a sappy, emotional, romantic girly girl. For June, we are listing our 7 favorite movies, and I happen to like sappy, emotional, romantic, girly movies. But they have to be kinda funny. Not sappy and emotional like The Notebook That was the worst movie ever! Why would anyone make a movie so depressing?!
Anyway, here are my favorite movies of all time:

1. My Big Fat Greek Wedding: It makes me laugh out loud every, single time. Remember when the aunt ever-so-seriously confides in her new relatives that she ate her twin? Or when her cousin reveals the bridesmaid dress and she recoils in horror? And how they misspelled the groom's parents' names on the wedding invitation?!
2. The Whole Nine Yards: This one makes me laugh out loud every single time, too. Especially the part where they are hiding out in the garage and he's sitting on the tires and he starts to slip off, but he's trying to play it cool and not make any noise. Ah ha ha ha!
3. Music and Lyrics: Gotta love a movie with a British guy in it! Plus the '80s music video is awesome! Plus it's just sweet.
4. My Fair Lady: While I must point out the Henry Higgins is kind of a jerk, this movie is beautiful! And Audrey Hepburn is beautiful!
5. Tombstone: It only takes 3 words to explain why this movie makes the list. "I'm your huckleberry."
6. Sound of Music: Touching storyline, historic setting, moving characters, lovely music, gorgeous scenery, Julie Andrews.
7. Pure Country: Ok, so this movie does not have a deep, moving plot and is at times poorly-acted (sorry, George). But it is a fun, feel-good movie. And I must remain loyal to my all time favorite celebrity, Mr. George Strait, lest I lose the title of #1 fan.

Anyone who wants to participate in 7 on the 7th is welcome. Just let me know and I'll send you the topic ahead of time.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

We're Almost There!!

The weeks are growing few until this deployment is finally over! And I am SO HAPPY to say that! I cannot wait to have my family whole again and my heart whole again. Just the past few days, it has hit me how soon Scott will be coming back, and I have so much more joy than I have for a looong time. I wouldn't say I have been depressed or anything, but I have been...incomplete. I can live without him, I can even enjoy life without him, but I really, really like it when I get to live with him.

Ecstatic. Thrilled. That's what I feel when I realize how close redeployment is. And there is lots of other exciting stuff going on right now, too. Child Thing #1 has her first dance recital. We're planning a birthday party for both the child things before we leave. We're packing up our stuff to go to Hawaii. We have secured a rental house (just a block or so from the beach, if I may brag a little bit). It's all so exciting!

Of course, in the back of my mind lurks the question, "what if we don't like each other anymore?" And it's a valid question. The Army counselors/chaplains say couples develop coping mechanisms to deal with life alone and to deal with war, and those don't always mesh well when it is over. And they say the spouse left at home has had no other choice but to become very independent and self-sufficient, which makes the soldier feel unwanted. And the soldier has experienced the horrors of war, and that changes a person. Then throw in the fact that both are used to their independent routines and have to re-learn how to live together, and you have the potential for a big mess!

Maybe it's foolish of me, but I'm not expecting this "adjustment period" to be quite as rough as the last one. We have been there before, and we made it through and still love each other. So we know that if it seems bleak for a while, things will get better. As far as I can tell, this deployment has not been nearly as traumatic as the last, so perhaps Scott will be less affected by the "horrors of war."

So there's that, but for now I'm just going to be excited that he's finally coming home! And that my kids are about to turn 2 and 5! And that I will soon get to see my little girl on stage in a tutu! And that we are about to move to Hawai'i! And that we are going to live on the beach!

God is good to me!

Monday, May 9, 2011

7 Places I have Lived

Dang! I'm late. This month my 7 on the 7th list is actually on the 9th. We were out of town for Mother's Day weekend, so I'm just now getting around to it. But for the month of May, we are writing about 7 places we have lived or visited. This list is a piece of cake for a military wife. So here they are...7 places I have lived.

1. Houston, Tx--I grew up here and have lived here this year while Scott is deployed.

2. Abilene, Tx--I lived here 4 years while I went to college. It was quite a change from the huge city of Houston. It's a much smaller town in the middle of windy, dry nowhere. But I actually enjoyed my time there a lot.

3. College Station, Tx--This is where Scott and I lived our first year of marriage because he was finishing up school at TAMU. Neat place!
4. Columbus, Ga--This was the first place the Army sent us, and out of all the places we have lived, it is my least favorite. I think it has to do with the first time I was really far away from my family, and the fact that we only lived there for about 9 months, so I never really thought of it as home.

5. Manhattan, Ks--Our next station. When I first heard we were going to Kansas, I'm sure I wrinkled my nose a little bit. But I was pleasantly surprised. The northeast part of Kansas is gorgeous, with green rolling hills. Plus Manhattan is a small town with a big university, and I thought it was a great place to live, and it reminded me a little bit of College Station.

6. Augusta, Ga--Yes, my husband got to go see the Master's. I didn't. I have good memories of this place because of the two friends we knew in Kansas who also ended up there at the same time as we did. Having good friends makes living in a new place so much easier, so I was so glad to have their company.

7. Wahiawa, Hi--Lucky us! We managed to get stationed in Hawaii. It is beautiful there with perfect weather, and we have experienced so many cool, exotic and new things, and a cool, exotic new culture because of the time we have spent there. It is a little different than I expected, however. There is a lot of poverty there, and at times, there is some tension between the military and the locals.

Here are the other blogs that do 7 on the 7th. Check them out, too! And if you want to play, you're welcome. Just get your e-mail to me, and I'll send you the topic for next month. :)

http://harkertravels.blogspot.com
http://schoolroomoflife.blogspot.com

http://romanfamily4.blogspot.com

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Taking it Easy

With less than a month left in the school year, I have decided to scrap the remainder of my lesson plans and have a fun and relaxed end of the homeschool year. The last couple of weeks in public school are always a joke anyway, right?

The Child Thing finished her Pre-K reading curriculum long ago and is more than half way through with the Kindergarten curriculum, so this isn't going to cause her to get behind. And to be perfectly honest, I think both of us were kind of getting bored with the routine and not having fun anymore. So...no more phonics and no more structured lessons.

For the last few weeks we are going to learn about the 7 continents and be very relaxed about it. I intend to spend 3 days or so on each continent, and here's what I have in mind:

Day 1: Read a short exerpt from What Your Kindergartener Needs to Know about whatever continent we're studying. Color map of continent. Color any other appropriate pictures. I found free printable coloring pages and maps for all of the continents at http://www.coloring.ws/coloring.html

Day 2: More Coloring Pages, animal sticker book (which groups animals by continent), cut out images from magazines that apply to our continent, read library books about/set in our continent

Day 3: Combine all cut out/colored images onto a poster to make a continent collage. Watch a movie set in our continent.

I'm hoping this laid back approach to our last few weeks of homeschool will break the routine some and restore the joy of learning, so that we are fresh and ready to go next year. I suppose this end-of-year burnout is normal. I was never homeschooled, but I know I sure felt that way by the time the last month or so of school got there. Any knowledge or advice on the end-of-year blues?

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Easter

Easter was a long time ago, wasn't it? I suppose I have been rather busy and rather not motivated lately and have let my blogging slip. So, a few weeks late: here's how we celebrated Easter.

Before church, he of course had an egg hunt. I wanted to buy cute matching Easter baskets for the child things, but as soon as the baby saw this football basket he reached for it, saying "ball ball ball!" So, we ended up with the tacky football basket. But oh well. At least his outfit was cute!

Once outside, Child Thing #1 raced around the yard picking up so many eggs that her basket overflowed and started leaving a trail of eggs behind her.

Her brother was not in much of a hurry, however. Every egg he picked up, he stopped to open it and check out its contents before putting it in his basket and searching for another. He certainly did not find as many eggs as his sister did. But he didn't really care.

In fact, he soon lost interest all together and decided he wanted to go for a swim instead.

I just love Easter! The egg hunting is fun, making the child things wear hats is fun, and for me it is truly a day of rejoicing over Christ's victory over death! I hope that everyone out there had an Easter as fun and blessed as ours was!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Our Favorite Book of the Week

We go to the library pretty much every week for story time and to let the kids browse for books. We stay until the youngest child thing starts madly pulling books/videos/magazines off the shelves (it usually doesn't take him long to get to that point), and then we check-out. Even with such a hurried and flustered trip, we always end up with some children's books that amaze me!

I am such a bibliophile (I dream of having a home with its own library...like a real library...floor to ceiling shelves filled with thousands of books. I have a collection of beautiful antique books. I also gave some serious thought to becoming a library science major during my college career.), so maybe it's not hard for a book to impress me. But there are so many awesome picture books out there, and they can open  up discussion and learning (for me and my kids) on so many different topics, so I'd like to try to feature our favorite library book of the week on my blog.

This week, our favorite was Where the Forest Meets the Sea by Jeannie Baker. In it, a boy and his father explore a remote shoreline in Australia. This book could lead to learning on the Australian continent, the Australian people and animals, environmental preservation, reefs, fish, dinosaurs, plants, and the list could go on. The child thing enjoyed the story a lot, and I found the illustrations to be very unique and fascinating.

Hope your library has this book, too, because I think you and your kids would love it and learn from it, too!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Our Homing School Schedule

When we started off this homeschooling experiment, it was not totally structured or planned out, but we have fallen into a routine that's working for us. Our focus is on phonics/reading, but our schedule allows us to touch on lots of other school subjects, too. Here's a little taste of how we do pre-school at home week by week.

Mondays: phonics (We use the Abeka curriculum, and we are seeing good results), handwriting (using a workbook published by Zaner-Bloser), art project (from the Art Projects K4 published by Abeka. Here's my opinion on it).

Tuesdays: phonics, science lesson (we read and discuss a chapter from What Your Preschooler Needs to Know).

Wednesdays: phonics, handwriting, science project (something that relates to what we read in our science lesson the previous day)

Thursdays: phonics, library trip, math lesson (We do a chapter from the math section of What Your Kindergartner Needs to Know. These are really more like math activities. They are very hands-on and lots of fun for the child things.).

Fridays: phonics, handwriting, picture study or additional art project

This schedule certainly isn't set it stone; we are very flexible and love adding on to this basic schedule, but it helps me to have a guideline. We also read lots of books, inspect the calendar every day, memorize a Bible verse every two weeks, etc.

I still am not 100% sure about what we're going to do about school next year, but I'm leaning towards homeschool right now, so I'm trying to be prepared for that if that's the route we go. So...any suggestions for next year? Do you see any glaring holes or have any advice on what we should include next year? I'm always open for ideas from those who have been there/done that! Thanks.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

9 Months Down

We have now passed the 9 month mark in this deployment. The end is in sight, and it's time to start thinking about moving back to Hawaii to welcome Scott home from Iraq!

The one word that sufficiently describes how I am feeling at this point in the deployment is weary. I'm tired of taking care of EVERYTHING in the house: cooking, cleaning, bills, taxes, garbage, laundry, pets, and I'm too tired to think of anything else, but I know there's more. That must be why God created marriage, so that two people could share the load.

My children are an amazing blessing, and they bring so much joy to me every day. I absolutely love being a mom. But I don't love trying to be both a mom and a dad. Trying to fill the roles of two parents is wearing me down.

And I'm tired of being lonely. I do have my family and Scott's family nearby, and that helps a lot! I am grateful to have had their support this year. But having them does not quite replace the husband-wife relationship, and that's as it should be, really.

I'm tired of worrying about him. Scott's actually in a pretty safe place this deployment, as far as war zones go, but there are still chances of bad things happening. And I certainly don't dwell on this because it would drive me nuts, but knowing, in the back of your mind, that the one you love could be in harm's way at any given moment...that will wear you out, too.

So yes, I am just physically and emotionally weary. Seems like every day ends with me feeling totally drained, even though I can think of no reason why I should be.

But I can see the light at the end of the tunnel! Soon our family will be back together, and I will have someone to help me do the dishes, figure out budgets, raise our kids and tell me he loves me. :) And I am an ARMY WIFE! They are the strongest people I know, so I can last three more months, no sweat. And, if the government happens to extend the deployment--say to 15 months or so--well, I know from experience that I can handle that, too. So, bring it on, deployment! I'm ready for 3 more months of you, but I will be incredibly glad when you are GONE!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Brainwashing by Bluebonnets

Our kids were born in Kansas and Georgia, but this year, by George, they are living in Texas! And since Scott and I are both natives (and proud of it!), we are making an effort to brainwash the children into becoming Texans. It is our dream for them that someday, they will plaster a bumper sticker reading, "I might not have been born in Texas, but I got here as fast as I could!" on the back of their beat-up pick-up trucks.

So of course, as part of the brainwashing process, I had to do like every good Texan does and take pictures of my kids in the bluebonnets this year. Child Thing #1 has had her picture made in the bluebonnets before. This was during a visit to Texas a few years ago.

Look at those plump little cheeks! Look at those rubber band wrists! There are no more chubby babies around here. She's just tall and thin and so grown up these days! Sniff, sniff.

 This year, we took a day trip with my family (in-law) to Brenham, Texas to find some bluebonnets, and naturally we visited the Blue Bell Ice Cream factory while we were in town. The bluebonnets are not spectacular this year. We found a couple of decent patches, but even those just weren't as thick or vibrant blue as they could be.


Lucky for me, everyone else in the party had a camera and was willing to share pictures, as my poor camera made it to Brenham without its memory card. Nevertheless, the child things had a great time playing with their cousin in the flowers and eating ice cream. I enjoyed myself, as well, and I got to check something off of my spring bucket list (taking pictures of the kids in the bluebonnets). And while we're on the topic, I must brag that I have accomplished other goals off of that list, as well.

When we went to the zoo, the kids rolled down the big hill. They loved it as much as I did when I was little!


One of my other goals was to learn a little about cake decorating in preparation for someone's birthday. So, I bought a couple of beginning cake decorating books. I practised making marshmallow fondant for a cake for my sister, so I can definitely check this off the list, too. The little something that I learned is that I'm going to outsource! Making a fancy cake and trying to throw a party and keeping two kids alive is just too much to handle, so, yes, I learned something. I learned that I'm not going to make her cake.

So, 3 of 5 items from the Spring Bucket List are taken care of. But the next ones are the hard ones. Now I have to tackle a quilt and swimming lessons!

Seven on the Seventh: What I Wanted to Be

This month, the Seven on the Seventh topic is 7 things you wanted to grow up to be as a child. So here are my childhood aspirations!

1. A mommy. Give me two checks for that one.
2. A teacher: Check! I used to teach 7th grade English in quite possibly the poorest school district in Texas. It was awesome! The paycheck, however, was not.
3. An astronaut: No check for this one. Doesn't every kid want to be an astronaut?
4. The first female to play professional baseball. *snicker* Not even close!
5. A novelist: Well, I do have a couple novels in the works, but they'll never be finished. Not until my children are away at college, at least. So look for me in 20 years or so.
6. A newspaper reporter: check! My degree is in English, but I started my college career as a journalism major. I worked for my college newspaper during the school year, and then during the summers I wrote for a small local paper.
7. A ballerina: I must not have realized as a young age that I have absolutely no coordination or rhythm and I am a terrible dancer! Needless to say, this dream was never realized.

If you're the bloggie type and you'd like to play Seven on the Seventh, you're welcome to! If you'd like to receive next month's topic ahead of time, just give me your e-mail address and I'll send it out to you.

Here are the other blogs participating in Seven on the Seventh this month. Check out their posts, too!

http://harkertravels.blogspot.com
http://schoolroomoflife.blogspot.com
http://romanfamily4.blogspot.com

Friday, April 1, 2011

Ten Pounds of Strawberries

Busy, busy! Things around here have been busy. My sister, brother-in-law and niece visited from Italy! Then after that, one of my college roommates came to town to stay with us for a few days. It was wonderful having their company! Wonderful!

While my old roommate was here, we loaded up the kids and took them to a pick-your-own strawberry farm near our house. Everybody had lots of fun, and we came home with 10 pounds of beautiful, red, juicy strawberries. TEN POUNDS! That's a lot of strawberries! The kids just kept on picking till their buckets were overflowing. And the grownups kept spotting berries that looked too good to pass up, so we contributed to the excess, I must admit.
The strawberries taste as good as they look. We gave away quite a few of them, so I can't say for sure that none of the 10 lbs went to waste, but we definitely enjoyed the ones we kept, and we ate them all!
If you live to the south of Houston, you should definitely go to Froberg's Farm to pick your own strawberries. The child things loved everything about it. Besides the strawberry picking, there was also a picnic area, swings, smokehouse, and fruit and veggie stand. Great place! Hmmm...maybe we should turn our acreage into a strawberry farm!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The Day She Decided She Wants to be a Zookeper When She Grows Up

Zookeeper. Let's add that to the list of things she wants to be when she grows up. What else is on the list? Artist, mommy, chef, mermaid, author, gymnast, and etc. But this week, we had a pretty awesome trip to the Houston Zoo, so this week, it's a zookeeper.

My sister, her husband and their daughter are visiting from Italy, and one of her good friends from high school is now a zookeeper at the Houston Zoo. Zookeeper Jessica offered to take us "behind the scenes" to see some of the animals she takes care of. So cool!

First we visited the rhinos. I'm not sure what the plural of rhinoceros is, so I'm just going to say "rhinos." The Child Thing was not timid at all with these huge, horned creatures.
Child Thing #2, however, was not quite as friendly with them. I tried to coax him into giving the rhino a pat, but he was not buying it. Oh well. This was the first time in my life that I've ever touched a rhino, and it was actually a little softer than I'd imagined.

Next came the giraffes! We got to feed this big guy carrots and sweet potatoes. Again, Child Thing #1 was thrilled!

And again, both babies were not as excited. Both my son and my niece would hold a piece of food up to the giraffe, but when that long, black, slobbery tongue came out, they changed their minds.


When the novelty of hand-feeding a giraffe wore off, Zookeeper Jessica suggested we give him giraffey kisses, and she demonstrated by putting a carrot between her lips, holding it up to the giraffe and letting him take it right from her mouth! Some of us may have been a little hesitant, but then she told us that when George Bush Sr. came to the zoo, she convinced him to do it, so we did it, too. All except my brother-in-law, the party pooper! :P

My daughter LOVED it! Here's a picture of me kissing the giraffe. Actually, the giraffe kissing me. I have always loved giraffes, but I never really desired to have one lick me on the chin. Ha!


Of course, we saw lots of other animals, too (baby elephants!), but we didn't get this close to any of the other animals. Thanks, Zookeeper Jessica for such a fun and memorable trip to the zoo! And don't feel bad for the baby. He may not have enjoyed the animals as much as his sister did, but I did find him something that he liked a lot!