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Saturday, July 31, 2010

Sadly, this is all true...

At 5 pm, the bank sign said 100 degrees. Yep, it's summer in FL.

You know you're a Floridian if....

Socks are only for bowling.

You never use an umbrella because you know the rain will be over in five minutes.

A good parking place has nothing to do with distance from the store, but everything to do with shade.

Your winter coat is made of denim.

You can tell the difference between fire ant bites and mosquito bites.

You're younger than thirty but some of your friends are over 65.

Anything under 70 degrees is chilly.

You've driven through Yeehaw Junction.

You know that no other grocery store can compare to Publix.

Every other house in your neighborhood had blue roofs in 2004-2005.

You know that anything under a Category 3 just isn't worth waking up for.

You dread love bug season.

You are on a first name basis with the Hurricane list. They aren't Hurricane Charley or Hurricane Frances. You know them as Andrew, Charley , Frances , Ivan, Jeanne & Wilma...Irene...Cheryl....Rita Mary...Alison

You know what a snowbird is and when they'll leave.

You think a six-foot alligator is actually pretty average.

'Down South' means Key West

Flip-flops are everyday wear. Shoes are for business meetings and church, but you HAVE worn flip flops to church before.

You have a drawer full of bathing suits, and one sweatshirt.

You get annoyed at the tourists who feed seagulls.

A mountain is any hill 100 feet above sea level.

You know the four seasons really are: Hurricane season, love bug season, tourist season and summer.

You've hosted a hurricane party.

You can pronounce Okeechobee, Kissimmee , Withlacoochee , Thonotosassa and Micanopy.

You understand why it's better to have a friend with a boat, than have a boat yourself.

You were 25 when you first met someone who couldn't swim.

You've worn shorts and used the A/C on Christmas and New Years.

Edited to add: The above is not my came from one of those ubiquitous e-mails that gets forwarded and forwarded and forwarded. I don't know who to give credit to, but it is certainly true.
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Thursday, July 29, 2010

Photovision's Amazing Deal

Photovision DVDs are THE BEST. If you are a professional photographer, wanna-be, or just someone with a camera and a desire to learn more, you will be amazed at how much these DVDs will teach you. I first learned about them on a photography group I am part of, and figured for the money I couldn't go wrong. But they are a treasure. Real shoots with real (amazing) professional photographers sharing what they know with YOU. I've gleaned SO much. It's like going to an expensive professional photographers' conference, except you control what you learn/watch and when you watch it.

There is a special right now- 6 two hour long DVDs (one mailed to you every other month for a year) for just $39. I have two years worth, and each and every one of them is worth more than $39 individually, but you get all 6 for $39. Go HERE to check them out. There is a money back guarantee, but you won't need it, because you will LOVE these DVDs.

Legal Disclaimer: If enough people use my link to purchase the DVDs, I can win free products from Photovision, but the endorsement I offer is truly based on my own personal experience with these DVDs, which I paid for and LOVE.
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Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Welcome TOS Crew...and everyone else!

The TOS Crew mates have been organizing a "blog walk" every week, and this week, my blog is part of it...and me with nothing exciting...just some mundane ramblings. Welcome to my life!

Here are more ramblings for your possible enjoyment ;-)

My kids went to Music Camp last week. It's put on by the local Baptist church, and it's amazing. They go from 9-3 Monday through Friday, and at the end of the week, on Sunday night, there is a musical that they do. A local lady from that church, who runs a Christian book store in town, writes the whole production. This year, Mimi and TJ participated (Sari was too young, but she gets her turn next year), and Scott was a helper. It's a bit nerve racking to have your child volunteering at a program all day long-especially when they have deep sensory issues-and more especially when the church is not your own, but we go to Precept there, and he participated for years at Music Camp, so he did great, and Miss Paula said he was welcome to help again next year. WHEWWWWW!

Here are some pictures:
TJ is the blondie who desperately needs his mamma to cut his surfer dude hair again. He was miles away from me (it never fails, where ever I sit, they are on the opposite side). It's good to have a professional camera or I'd never have pictures!

Mimi was right behind the microphone stand, but a got a few pictures of her.

Mimi's one coveted chance on the microphone. She's desperate to be a great singer. Sadly, like her mamma, God has not gifted her with a great singing voice. An acceptable singing voice, yes, but not a great one. She got to sing on the last song, which was Amazing Grace. Better her than me-that song ALWAYS makes me cry.

Speaking of my professional camera-I have dust on my sensor. Big dust. OIY! Now I either a) have to chance dealing with it myself and potentially messing up the sensor and having to replace the camera, b) send it out for $50 and 2 weeks to be cleaned, or c) let a local camera shop guy do it, although he admits it makes him jumpy. Or I guess there is a d) Live with it and fix all the dust spots in editing, which goes hand in hand with e) be sure always to take pictures of busy backgrounds so you won't notice. Decisions, decisions.

One decision just got easier though. It looks like I FINALLY have a new leader for "our little homeschool group". What started as 5 families in Marie's living room has become 275 families and way too much of a time commitment on my part as my oldest learner moves into his teenage years, and my youngest learner officially starts kindergarten. I've been running it all as a one woman show (with two close friends as advisers on the tough issues), and I'm thrilled beyond words to pass it along.

I spent this morning and early afternoon planning a bit for this upcoming school year, and making the kids' summer Reading Bingo cards. I can't take any credit for this idea, it's all Aunt Fanny's, but the gist is that you make a bingo card, and in each block you fill in a reading assignment. When they get a "bingo" you offer a reward of your choice, and a bigger prize for the whole card being full. It was VERY time consuming to set up- figuring out what I wanted them to read and how much was reasonable for each child- but it has already paid off. My youngest has done 5 squares, Mimi says she did 7 (I'm a bit skeptical-she's NOT a reader by nature), and the boys each started too. Of course, the fact that I copied Aunt Fanny's incentive of eating our way through the novelty ice cream section at the grocery store as their rewards might have something to do with their keenness to get reading.

The kids are doing another VBS this week. All four of them are there-Scott as a helper again, and again at a church that is not ours. VBS's are God's gift to homechooling moms. It is the one time all year when I get to experience what "building school" moms get to experience all school year long- a quiet house and a chance to actually get things done without interruption. That's why I figured school planning was a good idea.

Mimi had a tooth pulled yesterday. THAT was drama. Tears, hysterics, and a ton of threatening on my part, but it's finally out. Her gum and root have been infected for a month now, so it HAD to happen. She skipped VBS today to recover (I'm not totally heartless), and is currently napping, but I think she'll feel better tomorrow.

I feel like I should have more pictures or at least something nice as a "thanks for stopping by", so here's a picture for your enjoyment. It' s my new credit card. I couldn't find my existing card on an account we weren't using, but want to switch to because it has a low interest rate. I went to the web site to try to request a new card, and they have this program where you can upload your own pictures and have them printed on your credit card. You can do a new one every month- but I think that's a bit excessive. I'm happy to have this one for a while :-).

I'll share the rest of this week's blog walk list with you when I can get it to work. I copied it here, but none of the links work, and I can't get them all right now, so I'll fix that later! Thanks for stopping by!

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Thursday, July 22, 2010

Random Ramblings

My brother is in Hawaii right now. Saturday he will be a married man. Saturday is our father's birthday, and also the anniversary of my brother and Sheila's first meeting face to face (they "met" on eHarmony!). I could not be more happy for him. Mimi is in her element helping my mother plan their local reception once they touch back down on the mainland.

I cancelled our cable service today. Amazingly a company that couldn't call before they showed up to fix out cable (and so showed up during the one half hour I wasn't home) can call 3 times after I cancel to find out why I no longer want their service.

Mimi is determined to get a dog. The one we have isn't good enough. (And I kind of understand that-he's not a dog that any of them can interact with except Scott, and he refuses to be house broken so he can't actually interact with us in the house at all.) She is an absolute PILL about it though, and she has taken to breaking into hysterics every time we see a dog loose and don't stop to pick it up. It happened again tonight on the way home from church. This time the dog was a pit bull without a collar. Can you say, "Heck NO".

Our health insurance gets renegotiated August 1st each year. This year our deductible was going up to $5000 (from $4200), and our premium was going to be around $1400 a month. For the record, that's more than our mortgage. It seems that when you are part of a small group, any health issues in the group impact everyone exponentially. SO the fact that one of the owners' wives had her foot amputated last month clearly didn't help us out. For that matter, my biopsy last year probably didn't either. So we looked into our own coverage. We are getting a similar policy for our family for less than $500 a month. Crazy, no? We might actually be able to pay our bills now. I'm so excited, I'm doing the happy dance. God is good.

I have literally removed about 100 lbs of clothes from the house this week. That's not everything, but it is a lot of what there was to purge.

Somehow my custom ringtone got erased from my phone. So I needed a new one. I still have an iTunes credit, so I downloaded the perfect ringtone for me. It's Larry the Cucumber from Veggie Tales, and instead of singing, "Oh where is my hairbrush" he sings, "Oh where is my cell phone". Perfect.

The kids "show" for music camp is Sunday night at 6. All you locals should come. It's free, and always really good. Of course, their own daddy won't be there because he's teaching youth group that night...welcome to our life.

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Travel Kits:A Simple Way to Bless Others Review

I learned long ago that for children a 15 minute car ride can last an eternity! And if it's an eternity for the kids, it's an eternity times ten for the Mamma! So I quickly realized that if they had things to keep them occupied, everyone was happier. Travel Kits:A Simple Way to Bless Others takes that truth and expands on it not only for your own travels, but also as a way to bless others.

So what is a Travel Kit? Well, the author describes it best:

A travel kit is a collection of items that
will entertain and/or delight the passengers
(especially the younger passengers), thus making
the trip more pleasant for everyone. The items
should be chosen, purchased (or baked, rented,
checked out of the library, or crafted), and then
wrapped individually. The components of your
travel kit should be assembled in an appealing,
creative, hardy “container” that will easily
fit in your vehicle, within easy reach of the
passengers (or Mom’s reach, if you have very
young children).
Travel Kits: A Simple Way to Bless Others is an e-book with 93 page of ideas about how to chose things for your kit, chose your container, wrap your items, assemble the kit, and determine how the kits should be opened. The idea behind the Travel Kits themselves is to use love, ingenuity, and organization to design kits to keep your children occupied whether you are making a 15 minute trip down the road, or a 15 hour car ride across the country-and everything in between. Even doctor's appointments or necessary evils like taking your car in to be repaired can seem much shorter when your child has the excitement of a kit to look forward to. And it doesn't just have to be for children, or for trips. Think about making kits for people who are in the hospital or adults going on a mission trip. The possibilities are endless.
The pros: Even though I've done things like this for years, this e-book really inspired me to be even more creative, and it certainly gave me the idea to focus on more than just MY family. I came to see that my family could make these kits for others as a way to bless them and bless us in our service to them. I loved the pages and pages of ideas. And the fact that there were full color examples on every page was very helpful. This is an e-book you can refer back to over and over and get new ideas each time. And since it's an e-book by The Old Schoolhouse, you know that it is well done.

The cons: I didn't have any really. The book is very thorough. I do personally wish it was not $12.45, because it's not really a homeschooling necessity, but that might be a small price to pay to keep your sanity at your next Doctor's appointment or on your next excursion.

The bottom line: I was amazed at how many suggestions this book has! I wish there was a tactful way to print it out and give it to grandparents so THEY can use it for ideas, as I think my kid would love getting any of the kits suggested even if we AREN'T traveling! But for me, I truly loved the focus on how these kits bless your family members and can be used to bless others also so that they become a ministry of their own really.

You can download this e-book HERE for $12.45. While you are there, check out all the other great e-books TOS has to offer. To see what other members of the TOS Crew had to say, go HERE.

Legal Disclaimer: As a member of the TOS Crew, I received a free download of this e-book so that I could provide my honest review. That e-book was the only compensation I received.
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Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Catching Up

Here's my painting that I blogged about. It is of the lake that my uncle's house overlooks. I LOVE it to pieces. It reminds me of the Finger Lakes SO much.

Speaking of the lake my uncle's house overlooks, here it is on the puzzle the kids and I just finished.

How do I love this puzzle? Let me count the ways. It is 1000 pieces, but it's not hard, and we did it in two evenings. TJ helped me until the bitter end. It's huge. Too big for my white board almost, so the puzzle surface is not totally flush, but that is not really a problem since it won't be there forever - I think I have friends who want to borrow it. BUT, before I got the chance to take this picture, our crazy kitty knocked it over and I spent the first part of my morning reassembling about 100 pieces. I could have KILLED the cat. My husband is letting me loan the puzzle out under duress, and once it gets back to us, I think we'll assemble it again and then put some of that puzzle preserver on it and frame it.
My kids are doing music camp this week at the church where we do Precept. Scott is a helper- today he had nursery duty, LOL. Mimi and TJ are loving it, as always, and they both got nominate for "Champion of the Day" yesterday. There are 5-6 groups, and each leader nominates one boy and one girl. The names are put into a basket and drawn out. Mimi won! It was a bag full of little trinkets, but she was thrilled.
We have a trial for Netflix right now. The Hubs has taken to watching 24, which we never have watched before. It's good, but really, the amount of things they cram into one 24 hour day is just mind blowing. The show is really good at cliff hanger endings, so we've had more than a few later nights than I would like.
I, on the other hand, have taken to playing the games I have downloaded onto my iPhone. I have a knockoff of Boggle that makes me INSANE. I don't know what dictionary it uses, but not a common one. It says it's the 2006 tournament dictionary. Let me just say, I learn a new word each time I play. And I'm also learning that maybe my daughter isn't as bad a speller as I thought. It' s just that I don't have her meaning correct. She's talking about a little bit of something (haet), and not the fact that she doesn't like something (hate). And that's just the tip of the iceberg. It does NOT however recognize the word cria, which is the name for a baby alpaca. The best I've done is 66 points and 78% of the possible words. I will never get them all. I just will never even begin to recognize some of their words as words.
I'm in the middle of my yearly clothing project. It involves packing up what the older two kids have outgrown in boxes labelled for their younger siblings to grow into. Then I purge what the younger two have grown out of, and either throw it away (ripped, stained, etc.), give it to Goodwill, or give it to a friend in need. That sounds easy enough, but in the process, I have to go through everything in their drawers and have them try on things so that I can have a plumb line to compare things too. Pants are the hardest part- the kids grow wider and taller so fast that I going through the pants and figuring out what fits and what will fit when it is cool again is a TON of work. My table is covered in clothes, the dining room is ringed in boxes, and the mess goes on and on. That is one thing I will NOT be showing you pictures of. Calgon take me away!
I had a ton of things to blog about before I sat down to do this...and now I've forgotten most of it. Why does that happen?
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Friday, July 16, 2010

Meatloaf might do Anything For Love...

but I will do anything for free food. And apparently, so will many of my friends ;-)

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Sanibel-the end

I guess I won't get a normal smile out of him until he is no longer a teen ager!
Nothing beats Sanibel sunsets...

especially on our last night there!

Scott stalks the overly friendly bird :-)

Mimi learns to speak her Gram's love language - Shells!

Dolphins even showed up to play in the surf . There were two groups of them but I couldn't get the camera to focus on them in the low light, so this is the best I could do. There are actually two in the picture above, you might be able to tell in the one below that I trimmed - but it's pretty grainy.
I love this! They sat this way on their own - feet to feet - and proceeded to try to bury their legs in the sand.

That's Mimi in the surf. I did not touch the color in this picture at all- the sunset just got better and better even minute.

My mother has perfected the "Sanibel Stoop". She's a professional shell collector now :-)

TJ's prized shell. I think he'd DRINK out of it if I would let him. He says it looks like a sunset inside, and it will help him always remember Sanibel.

Mimi found a live conch with a Sea Squirt on it.

I always say I hate the beach- and fundamentally, I still do. But we had a good time in Sanibel. The Gulf is really so much nicer than the ocean, and Sanibel is one of the nicest spots on the Gulf. We settled into an easy routine of getting up and having a leisurely morning, heading to the beach around 9ish, staying until 12ish (and I even was IN the water with the kids, although I refused to willingly get my face wet - I HATE salt water!), shower off in the outdoor shower, hit the pool for a while, and then back to the condo for lunch and a restful afternoon. After dinner, we'd hit the beach again, this time with me in my street clothes-just the kids in the water-and I'd either take pictures or collect shells. We'd stay until the sun went down and the sand fleas and mosquitoes chased us off the beach. Then we'd repeat the shower/pool event, although this time it was just a quick dip until the mosquitoes found me (the kids were safe in the water) and then back to get ready for bed. On the last evening, my sister and Bam-Bam joined us, and the kids had a little trouble settling in...there was a lot of musical beds...but the cousins enjoyed a chance to hang out together for a brief time. We also, as a side note, discovered that a local grocery store has the best selection of Blue Bell ice cream and the Groom's Cake and Cake and Ice Cream flavors ROCK ;-).
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Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Sanibel Day 3

TJ enjoyed running in the surf like he was Dash from The Incredibles.

Sari shows off a Sea Cucumber.



Sari-all legs, and really growing up fast

An Olive shell with its living occupant.

Two more live critters-a conch and a moon eye/nautalus/whatever-I'm too lazy to look it up right now.

Sharing a discovery.

The live sand dollar Scott found. He cut his foot right after he found this (and before I made it to the beach) or I would have his picture with his "find". Mom was afraid for a little while that he might have stepped on a sting ray, but he seems fine although he did cut his foot pretty good. Oh, and we let the sand dollar go of course. We have really seen a TON of live things so far- so many that the shelling hasn't been very good as all the good, whole shells have had inhabitants. Tonight though we found some nice little shells and live things too, so that was fun.
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Sanibel Day 2

I love the way she is looking at him! Kind of like, "What's he going to do NOW?"

TJ got up with my mom and went with her for her morning walk on the beach. They saw 6 loggerhead babies make their way out of the nest and to the water. Way cool! (But no pictures!)
We went to the beach for a good part of the morning, but I knew I'd be in the water so I left my camera in the condo. I also decided not to take it to the beach with me in the evening so I would be free to be present with the kids and shell collect and do whatever they wanted and not have to worry about the camera. It worked out well because my mom just got a new little camera so she took pictures instead.

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Sanibel Day 1

Really it could be "Night 1" because we didn't get here until after dinner on Sunday, so there wasn't much day left. That meant we got to the beach at my favorite time, sunset. Low tide, tide pools, and cooler temps. It doesn't get any better.

Sari's comment? "That is SO in-ap-po-pee-it" Me, "What is?" Her-no words, just points at the shell covered least I'm raising a modest child, LOL.

Little hermit crabs...the tide pools were FULL of them.

Mimi dances in the sunset-lit tide pool.

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Summer Vacation Part 1

So because TJ got the pukes about an hour and half before we needed to hit the road, we postponed leaving FL until Wednesday morning, and that ruled out any time in DC, which we had planned to visit. We got to our campground only to find ourselves locked out of our cabin. It took about 45 minutes, but we finally got in. TJ was fine on the trip, not eating much, but fine, and the night was uneventful. That morning, we planned to hit Gettysburg, then Hershey, then our campground in central PA. Well, the car had transmission/engine problems as soon as we left the campground, so we had to detour to a Kia dealership and get that fixed, so Gettysburg was out. It was pouring when we got to Hershey, so I didn't bring the camera in, but we had fun, and free chocolate is always good. After that, we got to our campground, and my friend/boss from TOS Heidi and her family met us. Heidi had had her first summer job at that very campground! It was on the Susquehanna, and it's beautiful.
The view across the river

Digging on the bank-a mother's nightmare when you are staying at a campground!

Scott and Sari on a half-submerged old pier.

TJ-note how happy, and healthy he looks here.

The crayfish Scott found

My kids, Heidi's daughter, and a few other kids on a partial dam of the river (so the water is deep enough for the ferry to cross-otherwise, you can practically walk across the river)

Heidi's son, who is about a year younger than Sari

Heidi's daughter who is Mimi's age.

After Heidi's family left, we went to a local place for pizza. TJ didn't really eat, and when we got back to the campground he tossed his cookies again! Oiy!!! SO we spent a VERY uneasy night sleeping, and I had to take him to the potty about a mile away at 4:45 in the morning (it was already light outside). I watched the sun rise over the river while he took care of business. He and I spent the next hour and a half sleeping in the car so we wouldn't wake the rest of the family, and then TJ was fine. We couldn't check out until 10, so that kept us later than we planned, but then we got on the road and to NY around 2.

I did my cousin Everett's senior pictures that afternoon,

and it was also Scott's birthday, so we had a cake for him. It was a funky cake that looked like a hamburger with fries. The other kids loved it...Scott wasn't so sure, but he didn't seem to mind eating it!

That was the end of a busy two days, and the beginning of the restful part of the vacation!
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