Tuesday, October 27, 2009

McKenzie's 16th Birthday present

So Mike finally broke down and bought a new car!

His 1999 Chrysler Concorde has served us well. We bought it in June 2003 when we moved to Austin. We had survived with only one car for 8 years but without the public transportation options we had in Seattle, we had to go to two cars. We bought the Concorde with 60,000 miles and as of Saturday the car had over 160,000 miles. I wish I could say that Mike was going to miss his car, but I don't think so! He has a 35 mile commute to work so he spends a lot of time in his car.

The new car, a 2010 Toyota Camry, is kind of similar to his old car. Dark red, four doors, tan leather interior, and moonroof. Wait! It is exactly like his old car! Honestly it doesn't look that different than the old car except for it's about 5 feet shorter, it hasn't faded to pink on the top and the passenger door actually opens. Oh, and the new one has a lot less miles on it!

Rebecca has been Mike's car buying assistant for the past month or so. On their first car buying expedition, Becca interviewed Mike about what he wanted in a car and wrote of list of what he wanted so that she could show it to the salesmen. She would also take pictures of the cars that they would look at and write down notes as they did some test drives. What a great helper. Kenzie went along once but apparently didn't understand the car buying rules. She felt it necessary to tell the salespeople what bad shape Mike's old car was in and how bad he needed a new one. Mike felt it necessary to tell Kenzie to shut up!!

I must admit I didn't go on these trips. The car really is Mike's. I can count on one hand the number of times I have driven his car in the last year. The car he ended up buying he brought to the house and I got a chance to drive it around the neighborhood and give final approval before Mike made the final decision. I still think it's funny how much this car is like his old one!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Getting Ready for Halloween!

It's been a busy day around here for us! It has finally cooled off enough to spend a day outside. this is the first day we have been able to turn the a/c off since April! October has been terribly warm this year with highs in the 90s every day. Finally a little relief from the heat.

I baked some cookies this morning and threw in a load of laundry and then started working on Becca's costume. She has a dress that I made for her that she wants to wear. It's way too short now, so I made a petticoat to go under the dress that reaches the floor. I spruced up the ribbons, added some fancier sleeves and "Voila!" a princess dress!

For McKenzie I got out an old scarecrow costume out of the attic, one that I wore before I had kids. Kenzie is just about the same size I was way back in the day so with a few modifications it will fit the bill. The original had pants, a tunic and a really darling hat and neck thing with patches on it. Her version has a skirt instead and a vest, both of which I whipped up this afternoon.

Mike spent the morning sprucing up the yard, pulling weeds, putting out mulch etc. Now he is working on cutting out some wooden pumpkins for the girls to paint. We still plan on carving pumpkins but around here the carved pumpkins only last a few hours before they start to melt in the heat. So we saw some painted pumpkins at a craft show a couple weeks ago and though how fun it would be to paint our own version and put them out in the yard. That way we could show a little Halloween spirit for longer than one day.

Other than that, we have been crazy busy with work and school. Both the girls have a lot more homework this year and I have a lot more responsibilities as a team leader and member of the Building Level Planning Team and union representative for our school. Mike's job keeps him as busy as ever, so it doesn't leave a lot of time of weeknights for much of anything other than dinner!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

First Day of School 2009

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Heading to Universal

Well the girls are off to Universal with friends. I was supposed to leave with them this morning but I wasn't feeling well, so I decided to catch up with them later. I have had a very upset crampy stomach since Thursday. Not fun.

So Mike has been gone all week to Spokane visiting his family. His mother's surgery went fairly well. The surgeon was able to get most of the tumor but decided to leave the part that was wrapped around the motor cortex. Carol will need some radiation to help it reduce further. The biopsy showed that the tumor was not malignant but not exaclty benign. This type of tumor has a 30-40% chance of recurrence.

Carol got home from the hospital yesterday (Friday). She is still suffering some weakness on her right side which will hopefully go away when the swelling in her brain subsides. As for now, she is having problems with her right foot not cooperating. Hopefully a little physical therapy and she will be as good as new!

Mike is flying back today and I will be picking him up at the Orlando airport at 12:38 am. Ugh. I'm such a good wife. So the plan was to spend the day in Orlando at Universal with the MVs and the FDs and then pick up Mike at the airport and stay to play on Sunday and Monday. Slight change of plans for me. I woke up feeling fine, my stomach just a bit bloated but by the time I got out of the shower I was so cramped up I couldn't stand up straight. So I took some Advil and Gas-X (couldn't hurt, right?) and sat down but it didn't really go away. Claudia came and got the kids and I went back to bed. An hour of bedrest really helped.

The doctor prescribed something to help so we'll have to cross our fingers and hope for the best. good thing for insurance. The prescription was $512!! Copay was $50. Yikes. Walmart didn't even carry the stuff so I had to go to Walgreens. Anyway hopefully everything will work itself out soon. Otherwise I'm going to have a very hard time going back to work.

So off to Orlando soon. Will post pics later. And yes I still plan on posting the rest of our vacation pics but I promised myself I would get my chair covers done before I worked on anything else. Three done, three to go. At this rate the vacation pics should be up by Christmas!!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

What's Up? you ask

Well maybe you weren't asking, but if you are visiting my blog, there's a chance you might be mildly interested. . .

Carol's surgery lasted four and a half hours yesterday. The surgeon was able to remove 95% of the tumor. He left the part that had grown into the motor cortex, not wanting to deal with those kind of side effects. The tumor was more aggressive than anticipated and it looks like Carol will need at least a round or two of radiation. Another side effect has been some reduced mobility on the right side. Although Mike did tell us that his mom could feed herself with her right hand she was not able to control her right foot. So no walking as of yet. So it is not the perfect outcome, but it is what it is and way better than it could be. We shall be cautiously optismistic.

As for us? Well I got about two hours of sleep last night. I will have to admit I slipped up and had way too much Pepsi yesterday and it appeared to make me wired. So I brought it on myself. ugh. But I had to get up because I promised Claudia to pick her up from the RV repairshop at 9. So I picked her up, dropped her off at home, grabbed Kacey and headed back home. Neither Kenzie nor Becca wanted to get out of bed to play with Kacey!! Lazy butts. Finally Becca got her butt out of bed around 10:30. Claudia and Carlie came by around noon and brought pizza for lunch. The girls played, we visited, we ate, the usual. Then Claudia took pity on me and took my kids back home so I could take a nap. I love you Claudia.

I wish I could say I was super productive but this morning was just a haze. My washing machine is acting up and I ordered a new drain pump for it. I hope I can install it myself and I hope that fixes it. Thirty minutes after ordering the part, I went to fold clothes and now my dryer is on the blink. No heat. Just tumbles round and round blowing cold air. Great. So I think I will be calling a repairman for that one. Ugh. If it isn't one thing, it's another. If I hadn't already ordered the part I would have been at Jetsons buying a new washer and dryer!!! I can't stand unreliable appliances. I can't even stand thinking about the laundry piling up. It drives me nuts.

So after my nap I took Claudia back to the RV place and picked up the kids. Then I finished my third chair cover. Half done!! Yeah. And then the girls and I tackled the living room. We dusted from top to bottom, vacuumed everything that didn't move (and even a few things that were moving around), and cleaned the leather couches and ottoman. Not fun but needed to be done. And I am kind of freaking out thinking about going back to work with a house that is in shambles. I feel no motivation to do housework when I get home from a long day at work. Who does? Actually I feel no motivation to do it in the summer either, but in my head I know it's easier to do now.

After cleaning I watched Eighteen Kids and Counting which always astounds me. How that woman can function without ever losing her cool I do not understand. Yet I envy her unflappableness (sure, that's a word. Trust me.) And we watched the Little Couple who went to the doctor to see if she should have a baby. I get the desire but her stomach is about 3 inches long. And I know how uncomfortable it is to have a kid pushing against your ribs and your bladder at the same time. I was one that never "dropped." There wasn't anywhere to drop to!!

Ah, eleven o'clock, and it's definitely bed time. Even with an hour long nap, I am seriously sleep deprived. Plus I should call Mike. I haven't talked to him since about two o'clock. And he's very old fashioned; he doesn't believe in boys calling girls. He thinks it is very forward. Whatever. He just never calls me because he sucks. Love you Honey!!

Monday, August 3, 2009

Sometimes I amaze myself!

So here is a photo of my dining room chairs. I bought six of them plus a 108 inch dining room table at a yard sale in Austin several years ago. I should say a shed sale because this couple was emptying out their old shed. These chairs and the table were pretty beat up. They were a pickled oak with a cream colored nubby fabric that was covered in years of dirt and grime and CAT HAIR!!! But the whole set was $30 which fit into my budget at the time.

So Mike ripped off all the upholstery and I painted everything black. I debated going with white but our rental house at the time had white walls so I went with black. The fabric was from Hobby Lobby as was the foam for the new seat bottoms. In all it was somewhere around $100 for paint, fabric and foam. I have never been crazy about the style of the chairs. I think they look pretty outdated, but hey for $30 who is going to complain? But over the years the upholstery has gotten spilled on and painted on and glued on, etc. Our dining room is much more of a crafting space then a simple eating space. At any rate, it was time for an update. I've been looking at new chairs for a few months and I almost went with brown leather ones to match our sofa and loveseat, but Mike didn't really want to spend that much (approx. $150-200 per chair). He figured if we were going to spend that much, just get a whole new set. Well, a whole new set isn't really in the budget and we are leary about buying new furniture for this house when we are not certain how much longer we will be here.

So I started thinking about recovering the chairs with a new fabric, something lighter in tone but durable. And then I saw a picture in a Pottery Barn catalog of some chairs with covers on them. Aha! I thought. That's the answer! I've made chair covers before for my last set of dining room chairs (rescued from the dumpster at our apartment in Lynnwood) so I knew it was a possibility. But I didn't know how it would look since the back of this chair isn't upholstered. It's kind of bumpy. So I ended up buying more foam! There is now a piece of foam cushioning the back and the chair cover goes over it.

Looks pretty good, huh? Kenzie helped me pick out the fabric. The cream goes with our wall color, the pale blue coordinates with the curtains in the living room curtains on the other side of the room. The mini stripes in red, mustard and sage coordinate with the accessories in the dining room and living room. Plus the cover can be stripped off and thrown in the wash!

I will have to admit this redo is much more expensive than the last one. The foam cost about $40 and the fabric was about $200. It was on sale and I probably bought too much, but I didn't want to risk running out. So far I have one finished and another one almost done. I am hoping to finish two today and get the other three done by the end of the week. Then I can post pictures of what it looks like altogether. But so far, I am pretty darn pleased!

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Prayers Needed

Well Mike is off to the airport today so that he can fly into Spokane. He got a call Friday telling him that his mom had had a seizure Thursday night and doctors had determined that it was caused by a tumor in her brain. Currently she is resting at Sacred Heart in Spokane awaiting surgery on Monday. The good news is that the tumor appears to be benign. The bad news? Yeah, I think you can figure that out for yourself.

Mike will be gone for a week, so there will be some serious girl time in the next week. The past week the house has been craft central! We spent a couple days making cards and I must admit there is still a folding table set up behind the couch holding a bunch of papercrafting supplies. The dining room table is sewing central because I am making new chair covers for the dining room (one down, five to go. . .) Pictures will be coming. Thursday we spent the afternoon at a ceramics studio where we all painted for a couple hours. Next week the pottery wheel will be here so we can start throwing our own pots. Ok, just kidding about that.

So while Mike is gone, my goal is to get the covers finished and clean up all the crafting stuff. I should catch up on some scrapbooking too, but I always manage to push that off. I need some crafty friends that can kick me in the butt. Oh, and my garden is coming along too. More on that in a different post I think. Plus I need to finish blogging our earlier trip. See? I won't miss him at all because I will be up to my eyeballs in projects!!

Please keep my dear mother-in-law in your prayers. Hmmm. . . that sounds funny. Dear. Like she's a doddering old lady. My MIL is strong, feisty, fiercely loving, funny, independent. . . and she raised the best man in the world. It's going to take a lot more that a tumor to bring her down. I love you Carol.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Catching Up

Okay, so better late than never.
I will be trying to blog about our vacation over the next day or two. No promises, but I would like to get it done before I forget!

Then I can catch you up on what we have been doing since we got back! A whole lot of nothing, really, so you ain't missing much.

Vacation Day 10 July 4 Williamsburg

We actually got out of bed today! The girls slept in until 10 or so. They weren't moving too fast. But we showered and left for Williamsburg around noon. We started at the Welcome Center and watched a little film and then took a shuttle bus to the historic district. We ended up seeing a lot, but it was very crowded and kind of warm. Plus the girls were still a bit tired. We saw the blacksmith, the dressmaker, the cabinet maker, the apothecary, the book binder, the brickmaker. . . There are so many things to see and do every day! There were a couple of special Independence Day activities too. Here are the girls posing outside the cabinetmaker's place.
We stayed at the blacksmith's for quite a while. They were demonstration how to make a hammer. Pretty cool.

The girls were happy to do their part to help mix up the clay! It was really stiff and I kept thinking one of them was going to fall over! But no. When they went to wash their feet McKenzie sat in a pile of clay, so for the rest of the day she had a dirty bum.

Trying on a bonnet. Looks kind of funny with the braces, huh?

Little Miss Riding Hood, aka Becca
She totally thinks I should make her a cape like this. And I keep wondering When the heck would she wear it in Florida????
We stayed until 6 and had planned on staying for the 4th of July festivities, but the girls were worn out and wanted to head back to the hotel. So we did. We ended up seeing the fireworks from the lawn in front of the hotel. Not exactly what I had planned, but hey whatcha gonna do?

Vacation Day 9 July 3 In bed!

So we spent the entire morning in bed. No one wanted to get up. Becca was really not feeling well at all and Kenzie was STILL coughing!! So off to the urgent care. It took me forever to find one. I got directions from the desk clerk and never could find it. I called Mike to have him get directions off the internet; he was out on the Atlantic fishing. I called Claudia to get directions and she was at Walmart and not anywhere near her computer. So I finally headed back to my laptop at the hotel and looked up the directions. So we check in at 2 o'clock and we finally got in to see the doctor at 4. Ugh. Sitting in a waiting room for two hours with two sick children is bad enough at home, but even worse when you are supposed to be on VACATION!!!

She prescribed Nasonex for Kenzie and an antibiotic so we headed off to a pharmacy. While they filled the prescription we went to Outback for dinner because Becca really wanted their brown bread. Whatever you want, sweetie. Then we picked up the Rx, and did some grocery shopping and headed back to the hotel. Fun, huh. Worse day of vacation.

Vacation Day 8 July 2 Drive to Williamsburg VA

Mostly an uneventful trip up Interstate 95 except for when we almost ran out of gas. But we didn't, so it is best forgotten!

We pulled into Williamsburg around 3? 3:30 maybe? and checked into our hotel The Best Western Historic Places. It was very close to Williamsburg, maybe a mile and centrally located. On the internet I had purchased Bounce Passes for us all that allowed us to visit Williamsburg, Busch Gardens, WaterCountry USA, Jamestown and Yorktown for seven days. Can you say busy???

So after we unpacked we headed to Busch Gardens. We figured we would ride a few rides, have dinner and stay for the fireworks that evening. Well, we did go on a couple rides, but then realized that Becca was freezing because she was running a temperature. She didn't want to leave though so we stayed and had dinner. By then it was 7 or so and her eyes were just not looking right. So we decided to head back to the hotel. When we got there Becca's fever was 102. Ugh. So we crawled into bed and watched TV for the night!

Vacation Day 7 July 1 Drive to Cameron, NC

On Day 7 we got up early and packed up and headed out. End of the Smoky Mt. portion of our trip! Claudia headed back to Florida and the girls and I headed east, to Cameron, NC to see my high school friend, Lori, whom I hadn't seen since, well, high school!

Lori's hubby is in the military and stationed in Iraq (Bless you Matt!) and Lori and the four kids just moved into a very nice new place! It's a lovely house, four bedrooms, with a fabulous kitchen. I think Lori is feeling very blessed. I can't imagine tackling an undertaking like that on my own. But one thing I remember about Lori after sharing early morning drill team practices for three years, that girls has oodles of energy!! She is one of the cheeriest people I have ever met, always smiling and she is still the same!! Unfortunately I didn't get any photos of Miss Lori, but she looks just the same!

This is what Lori's children look like. Yes, really! They are just like her with boundless energy!!
Ben: Cute but definitely in the Terrorizing Three stage
Becca: I would take this girl home with me in a second. 100% Sweet with the most adorable voice on the planet.

Sam: All boy, not sure what to make of my older girls at first. But then jumped right in. My girls thought he was loads of fun to play with.
After a lovely homemade dinner, Lori graciously put us up for the night. Kenzie was still coughing (in fact, Ben called her "the one that coughs!") and so another rough night of sleep for Becca and I. I hope Lori and her kids did not get Kenzie's cold!! Lori made up delicious French toast for breakfast (Thank you!!!) and then off we went, down the road again. . .

Vacation Day 6 June 30 Horseback Riding

My other vacation posts were written when I was on vacation and saved on my laptop. Inexplicably, I only journalled the first five days. All I can plead is exhaustion! We were very busy and McKenzie's coughing was keeping me up at night so I wasn't getting nearly enough sleep. I will try to piece together the rest of the trip using photos. Let's see what I will be able to remember!!

Day 6 of our trip found us at this beautiful farm in the hills outside of Wayne where Claudia took the girls horseback riding. Because of allergies, I took pictures and then left them to it! I found a little farm store where I found plum butter and pumpkin butter! They had dozens of varieties of homemade jams. They also had fresh local produce so I bought a pint of strawberries and then headed into town. I found a darling little bookstore with internet access and caught up on my email, etc. That is also where I posted my first couple of posts about the trip.

Beautiful North Carolina Hills
Becca, Kace, Carlie, Claudia, and McKenzie riding past the cows. Those cows were very vocal and LOUD!!! I think they wanted some attention.
Here is McKenzie with her horse. She's a natural.
Rebecca takes her horseback riding very seriously! She was so excited to go horseback riding! I heard that her horse was not so excited and would have rather stayed in the pasture.
This little fella took a shine to Becca. He was lovin the attention. He even followed her horse on the trail!

Vacation Day 5 June 29 Biltmore

[Note: Because there are no pictures allowed inside the Biltmore, I didn't take any! We took lots of photos of the gardens and a few at the farm!]

This morning we got up and headed into town to Walmart to grab a couple items before heading to Asheville. While in the parking lot I got a call from Ms. Frederick. There’s nothing I can share at this point, but at least I have a better idea of what to expect when I get back to work in August. Claudia left her cell at the cabin so we headed back there and then back to Walmart to get ???. I can’t even remember. The trips to Walmart are really starting to blur together!!! Claudia gassed up the car and off we headed down the road!

We got to the Biltmore estate around 11 o’clock. What a gorgeous day! Sunny and warm and perfect for exploring. We parked and caught the shuttle up to the house and gardens. We headed for the gardens first, hoping to see them before it got too hot. After an hour the girls were pretty parched and gardened out so we headed back to the house to find some lunch. There’s a little courtyard area next to the original stables and you can go to a sitdown restaurant, a bakery or a little pizza place. We chose the bakery which was a wonderful choice. Their sandwiches were fabulous (I had a sundried tomato and chicken salad sandwich on croissant). Plus we had a strawberry parfait thing that was amazing, McKenzie had an apple streusel coffeecake that was divine, and Rebecca got a peanut butter cookie. After lunch we headed into the main house.

The main house is enormous and doesn’t feel like a “house” at all. It feels like a very decadent resort. It’s something like 180,000 square feet, four stories tall with a basement. We toured through most of the ground floor and select rooms on the other floors. The views from every room are amazing!!! The Asheville area is incredibly pretty, tree-covered hills with mountains beyond. Every room has a story and was decorated by George Vanderbilt himself. Cameras are not allowed inside, so no pictures to share. I guess y’all will have to go visit for yourself! We took a self-guided tour with accompanying audio CD that took about two-and-a-half hours. Around every corner is a new sight to marvel at. Definitely worth the money ($40/adults, kids were free, audio tour $8 per person).

After looking at the house, we headed out for some ice cream and then had to wait a bit for the shuttle to take us back to the car. We finally got back to the car around 5 o’clock. We dropped Claudia off at the Biltmore winery so she could do a little tasting and the girls and I went off to the Farm. We only had enough time to visit the petting zoo and not a lot else unfortunately. Most of the exhibits and demonstrations were over by the time we got there. Great excuse for us to come back another time! I took a few pics of the girls in a wagon and we headed back to pick up Claudia and head back to the cabin.

On the way home we stopped at Walmart AGAIN! My prescription was finally ready to be picked up and we needed some TP. For dinner we made spaghetti and garlic knots. A very yummy dinner. I missed the first 45 minutes of The Bachelorette, but caught the last part. Can’t believe she is holding on to Wes.

Kenzie still has a bad cough and it kept me up until nearly 3 o’clock. Ugh.

Vacation Day 4 June 28 Whitewater Rafting

Another good night’s sleep! Woke up to birds chirping and the sun shining. What a beautiful day! Today we were off to Bryson, NC and the Nantahala River for a day of adventure! We left the cabin around 9:45 and drove along the Great Smoky Mountain Expressway to Bryson. We arrived around 10:45 to The Paddle Inn Rafting Co. parking lot. For $25 each we got ourselves an 8-mile trek down the river with an experienced guide named Dustin. Well, he had been there a week, so compared to us, he was experienced!! We were fitted with life jackets, handed a paddle and loaded onto a bus for a short trip down the road to the drop off location. Once there our boat (#703) was unloaded we took it down to the river’s edge. I can just imagine what our guide was thinking. . . “what did I do to deserve this?? Why do I get stuck with 6 girls???” He was a good sport though and we had a fabulous time!! The river was 55 degrees so it was pretty invigorating when we got splashed. The sun was out though and the temp was in the high 80s. Claudia and I sat in the front, Carlie and McKenzie in the back, with Kacey and Becca in the center. Our trip started out almost immediately with a class III rapid so I got soaked right off the bat! After that it was mostly class I rapids with a few rocks to paddle around and sometimes over! Kacey and Becca got out of the boat a couple times just for the fun of it. The second time Becca went in the guide left here out there for about 3-4 seconds instead of pulling her right in. Her face was classic!! Wish I had been able to bring the camera! Right at the end we ended up getting beached TWICE!! Each time was only for a minute or so but it was, shall I say, fun?? I thought the first time we might actually tip because we were all to one side and the guide was bouncing up and down on the other. I thought it was possible that when we finally unbeached we’d flip right on over, but we didn’t. For large stretches the river was only a foot or two deep although the parts where the girls went over the sides was deeper, maybe 5 or 6 feet. On a scale of one to ten the girls gave it an eleven! We bought some photos from the trip that I will add to the blog if I can.

For lunch we ate at a pizza joint right on the river where we watched dozens of rafts, kayaks and canoes go by while we watched from our picnic table. Amazing!

We took the long road back looking for a place called Soco Gap which I had heard had very nice views. The GPS lead us to somewhere close but not quite there. On the way we stopped to explore Soco Falls and ended up taking the Blue Ridge Parkway back home. So amazingly pretty.

The girls played in the yard for a bit while Claudia made us dinner. Kenzie was tuckered out and stayed in to hang with me. Her fever is down pretty much but she has started to cough. Hopefully she will not keep us all up all night.

Vacation Day 3 June 27 Sliding Rock

Apologies! I can't seem to move the photos around. So I guess the photos will just have to stay at the top and the commentary will be at the bottom!

I woke up early and decided to go back to sleep!! I had all the windows open (no a/c here) and the birds are rather boisterous in the morning, but I tuned them out! I woke up again around 9:00. Claudia was on her cell and the girls were all asleep. I took a shower and the girls started to move around. Kenzie still had a fever and was very stuffy and had a “weird” feeling in her throat. We ate leftover pizza for breakfast and the girls ran outside to enjoy the weather. At 11:30 we gathered the troops and headed to Walmart again. I checked on my prescription (they hadn’t heard back from Dr. Singer’s office) and we picked up Subway sandwiches and then headed down the road. We went through some very pretty area on Pigeon Road, orchards and pretty houses and little churches on all sides nestled into beautiful trees on steep hillsides. I can’t even imagine what this place looks like in the fall. We stopped to have a picnic at a little park along the road and then continued on to Sliding Rock.

Sliding Rock is a 60 foot long natural “waterslide” that ends in a seven feet deep pool of water. The water is around 50 degrees so it’s a refreshing break from the heat of summer. We weren’t the only ones who thought so!! The temps were in the high 80s so didn’t feel too bad to us Floridians! We arrived to long lines and no parking spaces! While Claudia found a parking spot I took the girls down the path so they could line up for their turn to slide. There were about 50 people in line in front of them so it took maybe 30 minutes for them to go. They came out cold and exhilarated and ready for another trip down! When they were on their third turn in line a big group of kids came in, maybe another 50 or so, making the wait closer to an hour, so we decided that was the end of the sliding. The girls played in the water of the creek for another 30 minutes or so and we headed back to the car. An hour later we arrived back to the cabin and after starting some laundry we all headed out to explore the neighborhood. We headed further uphill than the girls had gone previously and found a paved road and some very nice homes. These homes had big lawns with fewer trees, and nice views of the surround tree-covered hillsides. The roads were also very steep in some places requiring us to use long-dormant muscles! The road made a nice loop and we headed back to our side of the mountain, the one with the dirt roads! After another dinner of leftover pizza we settled in for a quiet evening of watching TV. Kenzie still had a fever and needed some cuddle time. After showers for all, it was time for bed!!

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Vacation Day 2 June 26

I woke up pretty early and got McKenzie and Carlie up, too. We had decided the night before that we wanted to get up early and take a walk around the neighborhood. Sitting in a car for 15 hours can make you want to run a marathon. There are maybe 4 or 5 houses on the dirt road between here and the main, paved road. They look like they were all built in the 60s or 70s maybe. Next door there are two enormous Great Danes and they are behind a wooden rail fence that is perhaps four or five feet high with only one rail in the middle to keep them in. Ummm. . . do they know that they could easily jump that fence?? They don’t much like having us for neighbors. There are trees everywhere, couldn’t tell you what kind, just that they aren’t pine trees, and a little creek that runs through the neighborhood. It only took us about 10 minutes to walk down to the main road and then walk back. Boy, my body isn’t used to walking on hills! I haven’t seen a hill in a year since we were in the Olympics!!

Everyone else was up by 8 and we got cleaned up and dressed and headed into town to visit the Walmart. We needed groceries for the week and I of course had to replace all of my toiletries. The Walmart that we found is only an exit away, so maybe four miles. It is very new and has the nicest produce dept that I have ever seen at a walmart. I stopped by the Pharmacy and they said they would call Dr. Singer to rewrite my Rx so I should be able to get it by next Tuesday (in time to take my next pill). So $190 later ($95 groceries, $95 in toiletries) we headed back to the cabin.

Claudia bought a new vacuum for the cabin while we were out and we spent two hours cleaning every bit of carpet that we could find. We also dusted and cobwebbed every inch of the cabin. There isn’t a regular cleaning service so things like that tend to get put off. Claudia emptied the dust hopper on the vacuum at least six times. Under one particular table that hasn’t been moved since 1995 (I’m just guessing since that is when the “new” carpet was put in) there were enough dust bunnies to fill the entire hopper. It was really gross but we were really glad we did it, because we just feel better having a cleaner cabin.

While we cleaned the girls explored the neighborhood further, found some trails to wander on and played on the tire swing in the back yard. All in all they did what kids should be doing in the summer. We headed into Waynesville about 1:00 to see the town and grab some lunch. Waynesville is very picturesque being set in the valley of the Smoky Mountains. The stores on Main street were built in the 1880s to 1910s, mostly brick. There are lots of flowers planted and even some artwork, some of which I got pictures of. I neglected to shoot any photos of the buildings. Oops. We ate at a place called Ceviches where I had a strawberry and goat cheese salad with the most amazing balsamic glaze. It was fabulous. Really.

After that we headed back to the cabin. The girls played some more. Claudia watched TV and I took a long nap. I woke up around 7, Claudia warmed up some take-and-bake pizzas from Walmart, and we all watched the movie “Bride Wars.” Pretty cute. Kenzie was feeling a little off and it turned out that she was running a fever. 100.4 which went up to 101.4 until coming back down to 100 again. We didn’t head for bed until midnight or so and the girls were whispering on and off until nearly one.

Vacation Day 1 June 25

I wish I could say that our drive from Florida to North Carolina was uneventful, but it was filled with delays and more drama than anyone could wish for. We started off about 7:30 a.m. from Port St. Lucie and things went pretty well for awhile. We were making good time through central Florida until we got slowed up by a sheriff’s deputy in Brevard County. He was going about 69 m.p.h. and everyone was loathe to pass him, so there was quite a bottleneck. Claudia and I inched past him going 70 m.p.h. So imagine my surprise when he pulled in behind me and flipped his lights on!!! I wasn’t speeding I swear! And I was following Claudia fairly closely, but I wasn’t tailgating. Well, guess what? My tabs had expired. Ugh. Seriously?? A phone call to Mike confirmed that he had not renewed the registration. Plus I couldn’t find an up-to-date insurance card and the registration in the glove box was the old one from the Dodge Caravan (yes, the one we got rid of in 2006!!) Shit, shit and double shit. Needless to say I got a ticket and we decided I’d better renew my tabs before heading out of state. Thank goodness there was an office about 20 miles down I-95 not too far off the road. Mike owes me $80.10. Yeah, it all comes out of the same pot, but it’s the principal of the matter! While in Daytona we stopped at Subway and filled up with gas at Sam’s Club ($2.54/gallon) and away we went!

Traffic was brisk but moving pretty steady as we headed north into Georgia until a few miles south of Brunswick where we got stopped, literally stopped because of road work. Ugh. It took about 40 minutes to drive a mile and a half. And we were off again. This was where Claudia noticed that I had a headlight out. Oh crap. Just what I needed, another reason to get stopped by a cop!! We took a potty break and headed into South Carolina. The roads weren’t as bad as I remember and we moved along pretty well except for a few miles of crawling along by a minor accident. Central SC was really pretty and started to get hilly just before Columbia. We used Claudia’s GPS to find an auto parts store in Spartaburg so that I could buy a headlight and get it replaced before it got dark. Thanks to Romey at AutoZone for helping me out! The manager there said that they couldn’t do it for me if it required dismantling anything, but I really appreciate the fact that this guy went above and beyond to help this worn out smelly woman 600 miles from home. While stopped I reached into the back to get my anti-perspirant and guess what? Yep. Left my bag at home. So no anti-perspirant, no shampoo, no make-up, no tampons, no Rxs!!!! Oh my God. I’m cursed. We ate at a Taco Bell and then headed into the mountains and North Carolina.

I can’t begin to tell you how long the trip was. My back was absolutely killing me from about Vero Beach on. It was impossible to get comfy. But at least the discomfort kept me from getting sleepy! We pulled into Asheville, NC around 9:30 and headed toward Waynesville. More traffic tie-ups. More road construction. But now it was dark and the road was hilly and windy. Not fun. The cabin is actually in Balsam and we got there just after 10.

The cabin was kind of cute in a unique way. It’s been shut up for a few weeks so the air was rather stale and musty, to be expected. What I didn’t expect was the unique d├ęcor. You know all those bowls of potpourri and the wall art made from dried flowers and all the country cutie crap from the early 80s? Sometimes you see it at goodwill now and then but overall you don’t see it in people’s homes anymore. Well, now I know where it all went to die. A little cabin in Balsam, NC! There is not a square inch in this place that isn’t covered with a doily, wicker basket or dried flower. It’s a sneezefest!!!

Well, I’m off to what will hopefully be a comfy bed. Claudia and I took the bedrooms; Kacey and Becca are sharing a sofabed and McKenzie and Carlie are laid out on air mattresses in the dining room. I’m looking forward to a good night’s rest and a brisk walk in the woods in the morning.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Anniversary/Father's Day

Last Thursday Mike and I celebrated our fourteenth anniversary. Yeah for us!! The girls were farmed out to a friend's house and Mike and I spent a nice evening together, with no kids! We went to a restaurant called "The Ashley" in Stuart. We've been for lunch with the kids before and the food was wonderful. This time Mike and I shared a salad (green apples, pecans, bleu cheese, honey-apple cider vinaigrette). He ordered the herbed pork tenderloin and I had a filet mignon with a cheese and crab sauce that was divine. YUM!

For Father's Day we drove down south to Hollywood (dropping Sophie off for a play date in Jupiter Farms). I had found a good deal on a room near the beach so we thought we would go down for a weekend of sun and sand. Unfortunately it was a little too sunny! Imagine that. . . in south Florida. . . in the summer? It was in the high 90s, way too hot to sit on the beach without shade. Probably too hot to sit on the beach WITH shade! We walked on the beach for approximately 10 minutes. The water was super warm and the sand was burning hot. so back to the hotel for us! Thankfully the hotel had a very very nice pool, so we spent the evening in the pool and well as Sunday morning.

Sunday afternoon we drove up to Sawgrass Mills, the most enormous mall I have ever been to. It's crazy big and truly overwhelming. There are over 400 stores. But more than that there were thousands of people there, hoping to escape the heat I guess. The majority were from other countries with dozens of different languages being spoken. That part was really cool. The walk from the car into the mall was about all the sun I could take and yes, even that much left me pink on my chest and shoulders!

From the mall, we picked up Sophie and headed home.

The last three days the girls and I have been busy getting ready for our big summer road trip. Most of the plans have been firmed up, reservations made, emails sent.

We are starting out in the Great Smoky Mts. staying in a cabin in Balsam, North Carolina with some friends whose family owns the cabin. Next week we will be heading to Williamburg VA where the girls and I will stay for a week seeing the sights! Then on the DC for a few days, over to Maryland to see Grandma Jo and then home again, home again, jiggety jig. Whew. It's quite a trip and has been a lot of work to plan, but we are so excited to get to see new parts of our wonderful country!

I may or may not have internet access over the next three weeks, but I will have my laptop, so I will try to update the blog if possible.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Last Day of School!!!!

Our much-awaited summer has finally begun! Well, kind of. I have two more teacher work days, but the kids are done for the year. On to sixth and fourth grade. Oh my!

Both girls came home with straight As again. Mike and I are so proud of how hard they both have worked and how much they have accomplished this year. They both have done an amazing job and came home with some impressive test scores. We couldn't be more proud!

We should be sticking around PSL for a couple weeks, catching up on chores and errands and playing with all of our friends. Then we are off to North Carolina to spend a week in the woods and then on to DC to see the sights. Mike will be joining us in DC after a conference in New Hampshire.

But for now, we are happy to put our feet up and relax for a bit!

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Growth spurt

So for the five people out there who are reading my blog . . . thanks!!

McKenzie's pants have been fitting a bit snug, so I had her try on all her bottoms this morning. She now has two pairs of jeans and two pairs of shorts. That's it! In the past, the issue has always been that her jeans get too short before they get too tight; now the length is still fine, but she can barely zip them up!

At spring break she had outgrown all of her clothes so we had to go from size 0s and 14 slims to size 1s and now, in less than six weeks, she has outgrown almost all of those new clothes! Thank goodness there is only three days of school left. I should be able to get away with just buying her shorts and capris and not worry about jeans until she goes back to school in the fall. My little girl is not so little anymore. . .

Monday, June 1, 2009

Is Anybody Out There?

Is anybody still reading my blog?

When I started this I thought it would be a nice way to keep people near and far abreast of what is going on in our lives. However, the lack of feedback leaves me wondering if anybody ever reads this! Maybe you folks are just shy and don't like to leave comments?

I think it hurt my feelings a little bit to post Rebecca's wonderful Young Author's project and not have a single person respond.

So here's the challenge. . . if you are reading this, leave a comment and let me know what your plans are for the summer. What are you most looking forward to? That way, I'll get some idea about whether to take the time to continue blogging and I'll know what everybody is up to this summer!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Update Great News!!

Good news to share!
First, I was reappointed and given a professional services contract (kind of like tenure) and I will have a job next year. I don't know what grade I will teach but I will be teaching Reading at St Lucie West K-8.

Secondly Becca and McKenzie rocked their FCATs!! Becca got perfect scores on her Math and Reading tests. As far as I know, she is the first kid in the history of our school to do that!! McKenzie got Level 5s in Reading, Math AND Science!!! Great job girls! We are so proud of you!

At their award ceremonies yesterday, Becca had the "highest GPA" for her class and Kenzie was named "Best Artist" by her classmates. Will post pictures when I get time!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Happy Mother's Day!!

Happy Mother's Day to my wonderful mother!

I got breakfast in bed this morning and then stayed there most of the day sleeping. I was definitely not feeling well. The kids and Mike took over laundry duty, etc. so I could rest. I am a lucky mom.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Back to the grindstone

Well, I went back to work today after 10 glorious days of spring vacation. I will try to post a few pics of our trip to Daytona when I get a chance. . . it may be a while. Things are already crazy around here!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Young Authors (Rebecca)

Great news! The young author's book that Rebecca has been diligently working on for the past three weeks was chosen as a Finalist at her school! Her story won for 3-5th grade! We are immensely proud of her for her hard work and for her creativity. She spent many many hours outlining her story and then writing and revising. She spent many more hours on all of her drawings. Here it is!