Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Dear Santa

Creative writing assignments can be so fun when you are homeschooling.  No subject is taboo or too political or too whimsical.

My youngest needed more writing time so I told him to write a letter to Santa. From the view point of an elf. Trapped in a stocking.

This is what I got:

                                                                                                               December 15, 2015

Dear Master Santa: HELP!!!

As I was checking out a fireplace, like you asked, I decided to check the possible volume that a stocking could hold while I waited for the pickup mini sled.  I accidentally fell in and got stuck.  As I was trying to get out I discovered traces of coal, I think we should do a background check on "Ryan".  Back to the point, I need help getting out of here.  Don't come in yourself. You still have ten more days and we need to be quiet, maybe you can send in the EERS (Elf Emergency Rescue Squad).  Don't send Lenny.  I still think he caused the "chocolate incident" last week.  If they're not up for it, send Twinkly, he may not help but at least I will have company down here.  Please come quickly.

Urgently signed: Tumbles

Friday, November 6, 2015

Progressive Dinners

When I was in youth group, one of the activities we did was called a progressive dinner.  All of us teens would load into a fleet of cars and head to someone's house for the appetizer course of our meal.  Once we finished eating that person out of house and home, we would travel to the next course on the menu at another house.  It was so fun.  The same group seldom in the same car twice.  We would invade at least four homes for food for one meal.  The dessert house was the longest stop because games would follow the food.  These dinners would last at least two and a half hours with lots of laughter and fun.  The tradition continued in college for our church group there. Lots of good memories.

This year for Halloween the youngest M wanted to do something special, but not trick-or-treat.  My friend had taken her kids on a different kind of progressive dinner, so I stole the idea from her and we took the boys on a "Fast Food Progressive Dinner".

It starts with clues.  Each course of our meal has a clue the boys must figure out before we travel.

Stop number 1 is just for a drink. We are not getting chicken, like you would think. There's no burgrz here, just some thirsty cows. So we will grab our drinks before we get our chow.

 Drinks from Chick-Fil-A

Appetizers are next before we drop. We are headed to the place with the cool car hops.  We can order rings or sticks from our parked car. But don't think there will be hedgehogs where we are.

 Appetizers from Sonic

Our next stop is for some greens. Be thinking lettuce, not the beans.  A couple tomatoes with croutons, too. The place with the redhead is waiting for you.

  Salads from Wendy's

For our main course, we'll hang with the guys. We can eat burgers and enjoy fresh cut fries.  It's not much farther to this favorite stop. We'll get out of the car and into a chair we will flop.

Now to grab a bowl and fill it full. Toppings galore, and that's no bull. Sarah's favorite critter* is where we're bound, where lots of toppings can be found.

*Sarah is the boys' cousin who collects frogs.

We had so much fun with this fun version of a meal on wheels.  We laughed and enjoyed un-interupted  family time in the car as we traveled from stop to stop.  I will keep this family activity in my back pocket and start planning new (and harder) clues for our next meal about town.  

We may even have to try this with some friends too!

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Time Flies - Faster and Faster

It is amazing to me how much time has passed since my last post.  It seems like it was yesterday I was sorting through photos to find just the right ones to highlight my geocaching experience.

Now it is nearly the end of October!!! We haven't even purchased our pumpkins yet for the annual carving.  School is moving along in full swing.  Both boys are enjoying the new pathes we have chosen for them this year.

MikeG is thriving in the self-paced, independant world of  Liberty University Online Academy.  This is his 8th grade year and he has finally entered a project for a science fair.  Watching him work his way through the scientific process was a learning experience in itself.

Matt was forced to changed from our favorite curriculum because we had done every year they had written.  We do miss it.  Our new lessons are different, great, but different.  We are still figuring out the whole system but enjoying the information that includes catapults, knights, swords, and dragons.

Outside the house, our crew remains active.  All of us are still participating in tae kwon do.  The hubs is a 3rd degree black belt, soon to be joined by MikeG in January.  I am a 2nd degree black belt, soon to be joined by Matt in January.

The boys take piano lessons during the school year, leaving summer for many adventures - camping, biking, hiking, and of course, geocaching.  Baseball is still up in the air, if we will play this coming spring, but we will always support the Pirates by attending a few home games.

This is an exciting week at our church - Missions Week.  Dinner at the church Sunday - Wednesday, followed by a missionary giving his testamony about what is going on in his home away from home.  It is one of the favorite weeks of the year.  Kids have their own programming and the youth have some special time with the workers one night after the regular program is done. What a fun week of fellowship and missionary support!!

That is our fall fun at the moment.  It feels like each season flies by faster and faster.  Just as I was getting ready for summer to begin, winter is making its cool temperatures known.  Trees that were green yesterday, have dropped crimson, and golden yellow leaves today. Enjoy the moments as they happen, record them if you can, because the next thing you know, the year has started over again and new ideas and events are ready to happen.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Geocaching update

For those who know me, I realize I may have gone a bit crazy over my hobby of geocaching, but I won't admit that out loud. 
We have stopped after ballgames.

Made our more nimble family members climb trees.

We usually make the find.  In the past year and three months, with the help of my family and geocaching friends, I have logged 756 finds in 22 states.  

My friend, Angela, and I even made a trip in June to Maine to meet a friend of hers.  The 12 hour trip to the most northern state took four days.  We had no schedule for the entire week of the trip.  We stopped where we wanted and did so often to grab a cache or two (or four or six...). We logged 8 different states and 156 finds.  We found easy park and grabs (P&Gs) and hunted down an elusive multi-cache.
The scenery was beautiful and the trip was fantastic.
We even made a FTF (First to Find) in New York! Cachers race to be the first to find a new geocache.

We found several different containers on the trip that we had never seen before.

With all the fun we have had with this activity,
 Scouring the forests,
 Finding fossils,
 checking under bridges,
Discovering hidden memorials,
this hobby will last many, many more years!

All who wander are not lost, some are geocaching!

Friday, June 5, 2015

Flying - The conclusion.

So the plane finally took off, after two cancelled flights and a major delay.  The boys loved the exerience of flying.  I will admit the two little Ms have always been great travelers.  They sleep on long car rides; they give plenty of notice when a pit stop is needed; and they only ask a dozen times how much longer the trip will take.

This experience was a test even for them.  Once we landed in Miami at 1:00am, our connecting flight had already taken off.  Since the airline frowns on boarding passengers mid-flight, they booked us on a flight later that day at 4:30 in the afternoon! It was only a 3 hour drive, so why wait 14 hours for a flight that might be full.  Due to the weather in the north and flights being rerouted, cancelled and delayed, all the hotels were full and because it was the middle of the night, most of the restaurants were closed.  So while my wonderful, and extremely tired husband went to get our luggage, I sprinted to the car rental desks to find transportation to get us to the Magic Kingdom, our desired destination, before our passes began in a few short hours.

I was able to claim a minivan and have it waiting at the curb outside the baggabe claim, while my man tried to rescue our two checked suitcases from a closed baggage claim. No luck. So we drove away with the hope our clothes would be at the Orlando airport in the much later hours of the morning.

So while the boys slept in the car (and I got in a short nap), Mike drove us north.  We arrived at our hotel outside the original airport at 5:30 in the morning.  Our room was waiting for us, but we had to check out by 11:00.  No problem. We all collapsed into the beds and awoke four hours later.  Thanks to packing two changes of clothes for each of us into our carry-on bag, we all dressed in clean clothes and headed out to experience day 2 of our vacation.

We went to the Orlando airport to return the rental and cancel our flight that the airline booked us on for later that afternoon, since we were already at the destination. While I returned our pumpkin turned coach, my man went to claim our bags. Well, one of them had arrived.  The suitcase with the boys clothes and all of our toiletries had missed the flight. We were promised it would be found and delivered to our resort the next morning (it did finally arrive Tuesday evening). Then we ate lunch and caught the Magic Express bus to Disney.  Now for the relaxation and fun of a week filled with great food and experiences.

As furstrating as getting there was, the rest of the week was amazing.  But that's the next post.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

First Time Flying

Picking up from my last post, many moons ago, packing for vacation was successful.  We left that Friday night for our hotel that was minutes away from our karate tournament that was being held the same Saturday we were to fly out of Pittsburgh.  We had is planned well.  Big M and I would compete in the morning, have lunch on the way to the airport, and check our baggage in at the airport with an hour to spare before our flight.  No sweat.

Both little Ms were a little nervous at the prospect of flying.  Neither of them had been in an airport before, let alone on a plane.  We had done our best to describe what the boarding procedure would be like and how the plane would sound and feel during take off and landing, but, as we all know, experience is the best teacher. We each had our carry-ons and plenty of things to keep us busy during the flight. We were as ready as we could be.

The weather had different ideas.

As we were eating lunch, we received a phone call stating our flight had been cancelled due to bad weather in our layover spot in Philadelphia. Not to fear the call went on, we had been rebooked on another flight and our trip would continue as planned. Whew!

We decided our lunch would not be as leisurely as intended so we could get to the airport sooner and make sure all details of our changed flight were in order and our four tickets were still together.  I could only imagine the airline separating the adults from the children by mistake.

My dedicated husband dropped the boys and I off at our airline's door and went to park the car in long-term parking.  By this time the snow was really flying and the temperature had dropped to the teens. Burrr!!

I grabbed the folder with our ticket information and headed to the desk to check our luggage and double check our tickets and changed flights.  This is where the fun really started.  Due to increased weather in Philadelphia, no flights were allowed in or out.  The flight we were rebooked on was supposed to have a layover in Philly just like our first flight. So now our second flight was cancelled. While I talked with the booking agent to find another flight, my man had joined us from his trip through the snow from the parking lot.

All our airline's fights to Orlando are routed through Philly. Since Philly was closed, flights south were limited.  After a 30 minute computer search, a direct flight to Miami was found that had four seats available. Book it, Danno! There was even a connecting flight from Miami to Orlando only 45 minutes after the first plane landed.  Fabulous! We would only have to wait at the airport for four hours for the flight.  No problem.  We had full charges on all our electronic gadgets, books at the ready, and even a few card games tucked into our carry-on bags.  Plus there is always wonderful people-watching in an airport!

So we found our gate and created a base-camp, so to speak.  Food was available nearby. Two moving sidewalks were within eyeshot. A power station for recharging was easily accessible.  We settled in for the duration.

It was fun to watch the giant plows clear the runways, blowing the snow tens of feet up into the air.  Ground crews and baggage handlers braved the freezing air, that was now in single digits, to shovel paths for the taxiing planes and scurrying luggage trolleys.  Time passed and we received another message from the airline, this time by text, that the flight - while not cancelled- was to be delayed. No problem, gadgets were recharged. Stomachs were filled. Legs were exercised.  We would wait it out, after all, Disney was at the other end of this trip.  Our tickets for the "Happiest Place on Earth" ran from Sunday to Saturday, dinner reservations began on Sunday evening.  Getting there was just the beginning of the adventure, right?

Another flight delay and then another. After the flight being cancelled and then re-instated, we finally boarded our 5:00 flight around 8:30.  It had been a long day of waiting, but we were on our way at last!  We got our bags tucked away and got into our seats. The plane was sprayed down with de-icer and we taxied to the runway.  The little Ms were nervous, slightly scared, and anxious to reach our destination. They each had a window seat. As the plane picked up speed and we were pushed back into our seat cushions, grins of excitement creeped across their faces and the glint of adventure lit their eyes as we rose off the ground, leaving it further and further below.

They watched the city lights fade from view and then settled back to enjoy the fight.  We landed in Miami four hours later, only twenty minuters after our connecting flight to Orlando had taken off.  Yep, the fun of air travel continues.  To be concluded in tomorrow's post.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Planning our Vacation

As I sit here typing, there is a load of clothes in the dryer and another in the washer.  I have already folded three loads and put away one of them.  The rest of the folded clothes are bing sorted. One pile to be put away by the boys and two other piles to be packed into suitcases.  The piles to be packed are arranged (and I use the term arranged very loosely) by matching outfits all over the living room floor.

This system developed a couple years ago when I didn't check the youngest's suitcase before we left on an trip and he had packed everything grey or black.  He looked like he was ready for a Goth party everyday of our vacation on the lake.  Grey T-shirt with darker grey shorts.  Black shorts with a different shade of black t-shirt.  You get my point.  So if we have any visitors today they are going to think our dryer exploded into the living room.

Careful outfit planning must be done for this trip.  We are leaving single digit temperatures and arriving to beautiful temperatures in the upper 70's. I think the key will be layers and roomy carry-on bags. This will also be the first time both boys will be flying.  To say they are excited would fall far short of the bag of emotions whirling through the house.

While we don't leave for a few more days, we are packing everything we possibly can now.  I hate the last minute panic of cramming things in a suitcase or bag, praying I haven't forgotten anything majorly important, like underpants or shoes.  I feel a little like Santa: I've made lists and am checking them at least twice.  I have this strange feeling we are going to get to our destination and I will have left the tickets for the amusment park at home.

I also have to account for layovers.  Normally when we travel, it is by car - leaving home when we want, stopping when we need to, and reaching the goal by day's end.  We will still get there by day's end, but having a one or two hour lay-over with two energetic boys is a differnet story.  Carry on bags will be filled with snacks, books, card games, and yes, the electronic gadgets to keep us all busy and help time pass as quickly as possible.

Speaking of time passing, when we planned this trip almost four months ago, it seemed the date on the calendar would never arrive.  Now "all of a sudden" it is just a few boxes away on the page.  We've talked about it.  Being the good homeschoolers, we have researched it. We have made and even crossed out some plans.  But now is crunch time, packing time, planning is over. It is time to put those plans into action!

Ready or not! Here we come!