Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Much better day

Today went much more smoothly. We packed up and left after the conference ended. We had lunch at Bob Evans and then went to the Nashville Zoo (free with our Knoxville membership!!). We arrived home about an hour ago and are glad to be back. We are looking forward to seeing friends we have missed due to our recent travels and are ready to settle back into our routine. I am looking forward to a date with my husband and Monday night with the girls!

Here are a few pics from our journey. Sorry there are no photos from yesterday's craziness.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

What was I thinking?

Ever had one of those days you sort of knew was going to go badly? You just were off your game, and you knew it. Ever had one on vacation? Today was that day for us. We are winding up our trip with more vacation for me and the kids and work for Tim. He is busy with a conference and the kids and I are along for the ride (and some pool time). Here is the saga of the day, pity me, laugh, whatever- I'm too tired to care:

7:00 kids up and the older three wake up Katey- who needed another hour or so. Bedtime last night did not go well- it was 10 pm before they got to sleep.
7:45 Dad heads out for breakfast with other attendees- kids find out they can't go and pitch a fit- even though Mom bought cool cereal, they think Dad will get Cocoa Puffs. (Mom has Honey Bunches of Oats - got them free with coupon- Tina would be proud!)
8:30 Dad stops back by before his first session to see if things have chilled out and to report there were no Cocoa Puffs and then heads out again.
9:00 We leave the room to go walk around the hotel. See waterfalls, see if the pool is open, allow the lovely cleaning lady to vacuum up the many crumbs left after the kids ate the free cereal (yes I will tip when I leave).
10:00 Our room is still not ready. The pool near to our end of the hotel is closed because they found glass in it. I appreciate the safety, but am bummed at the long walk to the pool that is open-the entire length of the Opryland Hotel. We walk to the other pool and verify it is open and has a kid pool. Katey is pitching a fit as we have now toured the entire hotel (including the conference center) and she has seen enough. I drag my tired two year old who wants to swim BADLY away from the pool and back to what I hope is an available hotel room. I am thrilled at all the looks I am getting as I make my way back across the hotel. Visualize me with one who is miserable and another who has decided it would be fun to hop along the carpet patterns and fall down and roll across any circular shapes. Its a game but others don't seem to be appreciating it. The oldest two don't want to wait for the younger set and are repeatedly moving further ahead than Mom would like.
10:30 Our room is clean! We get changed into swim apparel and head back to the pool (another trip across the hotel). We arrive and all get in the kiddie pool. I want to relax a little. They can all handle 18 inch deep water without a problem. We are in for mere seconds before an employee approaches and informs me that the pool is closed. I get ready to let him have it, but then he tells me "a child had an accident in and around the pool and we must close it for chemical treatment." He points out the "accident" in a couple of nearby areas. You all know my germophobic nature. I couldn't get my kids out of the pool fast enough.
10:45 Thoroughly grossed out we move to the large pool. The kids swim and enjoy themselves for an hour. Mom nearly has a nervous breakdown watching four kids (only one of which can swim) in a pool where they are all in water over their heads. We leave the pool and Mom decides to take a shortcut to avoid walking through the heart of the hotel wearing a swimsuit and towel. Unfortunately the layout is confusing instead of ending up in the Magnolia area and our room, I lead us to the convention center. I now feel really out of place in my attire and am rushing to get us headed in the right direction. Pay attention folks- this is where the day goes to pieces- this is where I realize I should have stayed in bed. Carter is lagging. I keep having to look back and encourage him to keep walking. As we begin our walk on the walkway above the "Delta" I look back to see my son peeing off the walkway onto the water below- a beautiful waterway where guests can ride boats and enjoy the horticulture. I scream, but a three year old boy with a fondness for doing his "business" in the wild doesn't stop on command. He finishes and I discipline him and explain for the 100th time why we have to reserve our "business" for the bathroom.
12:30 We are back in the room for lunch and quiet time- HALLELUJAH!!
2:45 Tim returns and we head out for the Frist Center. Neither of us has had lunch- the kids have eaten so we promise them dessert where we get food. We decide to find something along the way. We wind up on 2nd Ave after deciding to pass on several "local color" places due to the bars on the windows. We figure out quickly that lunch ended at 2 at the Old Spaghetti Factory and most other places downtown. It is now after 3. BB King's Club boasts a quick and affordable lunch menu and is still open. We decide to give it a try, despite the bar atmosphere. We are the only patrons, so its all good. They have good food according to a couple on the street and even manage to get dessert for the kids in the form of chocolate cake. It takes a while (almost an hour) to eat there. We are sweating our meter parked van. I get the check and find that the chocolate cake came with a $10.99 price. So much for my frugality. $38 with tip and all Matthew and Carter ate was cake. I will give the place some credit- my food was good!
4:00 We go to the Frist center. The kids last maybe 10 minutes in the exhibits. The youngest two couldn't resist playing with the ropes or trying to touch things. The volunteers are having a heart attack. We walk in the room and they instantly come near. Laurel and Matthew were really doing well and I felt bad we had to pull the plug. The kids and I head to the children's area leaving Tim to enjoy the exhibits alone. All was well. The kids were being creative. An employee called us the model patrons as she trained a new volunteer (she didn't see us in the exhibits!). Then Katey filled her diaper. Guess what I forgot at the hotel. So I wait as long as possible, but then leave to find Tim and make an exit- we are fumigating the museum at this point.
5:30 We head back to the hotel. Dinner at McDonalds for the kids picked up on the way - to go - due to Katey's condition (Mom is truly off her game if we are patronizing the golden arches!).
6:30 More swim time.
8:00 Fountain show in the "Delta" I am amazed that the fountains are splashing so much as I feel my feet getting wet. I look down to see it is actually Katey kicking my Diet Coke can and spilling it on my feet.
9:00 Children in BED!!!!!!!!!!!

Today has reinforced my policy of not asking more from the kids than they can give. A little forethought goes along way when you have four kids. The crazy things that happened today could have been avoided for the most part. Katey was tired and shouldn't have been walked so much. Carter should have been taken to the bathroom before we walked back in through the cold hotel. I should have asked how much the cake would be. No one in their right mind should take preschoolers to a museum (especially after feeding them chocolate cake and skipping the 2yr old's nap). Do kid friendly things and the kids have fun. Push them and pay the price. I know this- I stuck to this policy on the first half of our trip. Today was my fault- apparently I needed the reminder. Tomorrow Tim will attend sessions and we will swim and get ready to go home. No waiting around for the room. Hopefully the pool close to the room will be open. It will be kid friendly or no go. Mom is on vacation, but tomorrow she will be more on her game!

Friday, May 23, 2008

Zoo members

We are now members of the Knoxville Zoo. Apparently when you have four children it is cheaper to become members than to pay for a one day admission. We can now also go to the Nashville Zoo for free, sort of, with the reciprocal agreement (about 130 facilities participate). Their family membership is for two adults and two children so we will have to pay for Carter (Katey is free since she is under 3). Sounds like they are penalizing people with lots of kids in Nashville doesn't it?? So it appears that this will be the Zoo weekend. I have pics, but left my camera cable at home so I can't share them today.

Our visit can be summed up in one word: Poop. Basically, if we can see the animal doing his "business" that animal was automatically moved to the top of the "interest factor" list. I have reached the pinnacle of my homeschool career. I take my children to the zoo, we read the plaques, go to the keeper lectures, and what do they focus in on? Bodily functions. Is this an age thing? I hope so. Actually, they did learn some new things. They told me all they learned on the way home and they picked up a lot more than I thought. They had a lot to tell Nana when we got back. A big favorite were the Gorillas. They were playing with toys, running around, and backing up and banging into the glass where the kids were watching (in play not aggression- we let the Crabb family deal with all large animal aggression!). We also were able to see them eat and that was lots of fun. The butterfly habitat and Kid's Cove were high on the list as well. It was a beautiful day, the zoo wasn't crowded, and we got to pet a Llama. I think we will enjoy going back several times over the next year.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

What is that smell?

This afternoon I noticed a strange odor. It wasn't bad, sort of chemical like. It was in my closet, the laundry room, the girl's room. I couldn't locate the source, until I noticed that the smell was often accompanied by Katey's presence. I bent down and realized it was something on her. Her hair had a strange odor. It was not wet or sticky, but it smelled. It was time to get ready for church, no time for a bath, so I tried a wet wipe and did the best I could. The odor still there, but not as prevalent. I asked a couple of friends at church and they couldn't figure it out either. What had the child gotten into?? I told Tim about it when we got home and looked around after I put kids to bed. I can't find anything obviously tampered with. A few minutes ago Tim got into the shower. He was looking for things. I had cleaned the tub and not put things back in their normal places. I helped him find the things he needed and was walking out of the room when he said "what happened to all my shave oil?" I immediately said "let me smell that". You guessed it. My daughter had squirted her hair with shave oil. Apparently it had absorbed into her scalp leaving only the strange odor. So her scalp is probably softer unfortunately her Daddy may cut himself while shaving. Mystery solved.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

video problems

Blogger is currently having problems with video. The camping pics won't display until this is corrected. We are heading to E TN tomorrow to visit Papa and Nana for a few days. Since they have entered the world of wireless I will blog from there if there is a blogable event. Hope everyone has a great weekend!!

Monday, May 19, 2008

Camping Trip Pics

Fish, Kickball, Ticks, and More

We fished, we played kickball, we played shuffleboard, Matthew learned to swing without assistance, we saw wildlife, had campfires, cooked pancakes for breakfast, met a new friend, wore sweats and t-shirts to church, and found multiple ticks on our children. What more could you ask for? We spent the weekend tent camping at Piney campground in LBL. It was fun. Laurel claims to like tent camping better than staying in a cabin. The weather was good. A little chilly on the first night, but very pleasant during the day. The kids did well. If the filth on their clothing is any measure they had a great time!! The highlights for the kids: playing with Keri (a girl in the campsite next to ours), fishing, and eating ice cream from the camp store. We saw turtles, a beaver, multiple species of fish, a goose and 4 goslings, a frog, a skunk, two turkeys, and a heron. We slept six people in a five person tent - and we actually slept. We didn't get to hike, but kept busy in the campground utilizing the amenities there. A couple of the amenities were none too pleasant: lots of ticks and poison ivy! Hopefully we won't break out. We removed all the ticks quickly, but it still has us all itching and checking!! I have pictures and will try to post them tomorrow, but for now its off to shower and bed- fun is exhausting!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

A little soulful music and a fridge on the outs

Our "new" fridge is out. The evaporator fan or something like that. At least the entire unit hasn't given it up and we have an extra in the basement. So far the freezer seems to be holding its own. I may lose a few pounds climbing up and down stairs gathering food for each meal- not a bad thing. Its sort of like camping at home. The milk is in a cooler in the kitchen floor. I am just glad we had the backup unit since I just did a major Walmart food buy. The part will take a week to arrive :(. Thankfully we are camping this weekend (away from home) and will empty out most of the food inventory.

Also, I have added a couple of new tracks to the playlist. I enjoy praise music so there is a soulful version of The Days of Elijah. Its my worship fix on the list. I have to expose my children to worship in different forms. I want them to know worship isn't done in a certain way. My Church of Christ friends know where I am going-enough said. Have a little praise time while you visit.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

CVS saga

This post is long. I warn you now. I am a woman who loves to tell a story with all the details. I often edit down my posts. Not tonight. This post describes a saga so I feel the need to share all elements of this story. I want you to feel the process. My kids are in bed, I have time to write. So sit back, relax, read on, and share the experience.

Last night was my first attempt to do the CVS shopping to get free money thing. Their ad this week had several things we needed (wanted) and so it was a good week to get oriented. I read online about the how to's of shopping at CVS and was utterly confused. For any of you who don't know that this is a science- IT IS. The super women online get $60 worth of merchandise for 25 cents, but how do they do it? I feared spending money and not getting the "deals" and having to break the news of my poor CVSing to my husband. Fortunately my friend Tina is a super shopper. She is the bargain queen and a CVS veteran. Naturally I sought out a tutorial. I took my ad, we perused it over dessert and went shopping - at 10pm. Possibly the idea of shopping at 10 pm should have given us pause, however we often are late night people on Monday nights, so we were not concerned. We entered the store. My ad was marked. My trip well planned. Tina had even provided additional coupons to boost my savings and make me feel even more triumphant. My first error was with the body wash. I missed the coupon in the dispenser. However, Tina kept me in check and sent me back for the coupon. I got the Hershey's chocolate (aka Tim's nightly fix) and loaded up. Toothpaste, dental floss, toothbrushes, baby soap, TP, AJAX, diet cokes, and mountain dew. Tina has guided me, my cart is overflowing, and its time to check out. I am checking out the items that give extra bucks first. That way I can use the bucks I earn to buy the other sale items- confusing, but shopping savvy- thanks to Tina. So they ring my bargains up. I pay and think I am ready for step two when thankfully Tina notices I didn't get all my "bucks". I got the $10 on $20 oral b stuff, but no bucks for the chocolate, no bucks for the toothpaste. We figure out the toothpaste is for a smaller size, now out of stock. The larger size is on sale, but no bucks. I return it- I am looking for real deals here- not just discounts, people. The not so friendly manager processes my return. Then we realize that because the chocolate is 99 cents and I counted them at $1 each I didn't get quite enough for that deal. So I buy more. However the register doesn't combine my purchases. The not so friendly manager comes up again. She can't manage to return the chocolate in order for me to buy it all again as a single purchase so she writes me a hand written "bucks" voucher. Now step two- my sale purchases. I am taking advantage of the 5 12 packs of coca cola products for $11 deal for our camping trip this weekend. I have picked up off the display 3 packs of diet coke and 2 packs of mountain dew. I pay for all of this and step away to tally my savings when I realize I didn't get the coke deal. Why? mountain dew is made by PEPSI!! (Yes, I know many of you know this, but I didn't-why were they on the same display???) We have now crossed over into the comical phase of this saga. Yes, I went back to the register and to the poor young man who can't believe that he has to get the manager AGAIN (who at this point is outside on her smoke break). She comes back and is noticeably happier. She says "I wondered why you were buying Mountain Dew". DUH!! Why didn't you say something?????? Anyway, they return $19.75 worth of cokes and I buy the correct assortment for $11. At this point it is 11:17 pm. I began checking out at 10:49 pm. Count the minutes, do the math, feel my pain. Tina promises it is not always like this, but we are both exhausted. She has to be up to leave for vacation at 6 am. We didn't need the saga. It was supposed to be a quick trip. I still had to go to Walmart for groceries! The bottom line: I saved money. I got $19 in "bucks". I used it to buy sale items we actually need. In the end it boils down to 10 1lb Hershey bars and 16 rolls of TP for free. I learned a lot. I learned Tina is a true friend who deserves a vacation. I think I will do better next time. I will read the fine print and know ahead of time exactly how many "bucks" I should get. I'll do my math in advance. I also learned that you can get great customer service at Walmart if you do your shopping from 11:30pm-1am.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Hair cuts and a lost tooth

Appearances are changing around here. We gave the boys haircuts on Saturday. There are lots of ticks around and after finding three on the boys' heads we decided it was time for a summer cut. Hopefully this will be cooler for them as they play outside and also help us spot the ticks when they come inside. They both look different with short hair! Laurel lost one of her front teeth today. Mom and Dad worked together to give it the final pull and out it came. It will be strange to see her without her little baby teeth on top!
Also, we learned that 70% alcohol pads from the pharmacy will remove ink from a laptop screen. Now we will let Carter live. That is all you need to know, trust me its a Monday.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Mother's Day

Today the children treated me to breakfast. Toast and a drink was delivered to me while I was getting ready for church. They also blessed me with a card in which they had written the message:

Once you love, then you die
But that's okay, Happy Mother's Day.

Hallmark could do no better. It was from the heart, it rhymed, and I will always keep it. Maybe too much talk about salvation in the house? Its okay. Laurel, Matthew, and Carter also made cards at church so I was throughly appreciated. Tim promises progress on moving the playset into the yard and getting the kids going on their swings. Katey will love it and Mom will love having the kids playing in the backyard away from the road.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Katey gets a new "do"

Apparently Katey felt the need for a beauty treatment. While I was busy with the other children Katey decided to rub Carter's leftover banana from breakfast all over her hair. She told me "I am all done, hair pretty" when I asked her what she was doing. A sticky, smelly, Einstein look, and she was quite proud. This was something she loved to do as a baby, but I thought we were past it. This was the first time she was intentionally "styling". I guess it is preparation for when she is 13 and comes up with some new creative hairstyle and I have to learn to love it. For now, Mom is in control and we are headed to the bath.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

The best day ever (not counting Disneyworld)

Today was a dreaded day. Laurel went to the dentist yesterday and found out she had two cavities and would have to go back today. There were tears-many of them. This morning she was upset. I decided to run errands before the dentist to keep her from sitting around ruminating about it. However, at 1:30 on our way to farm day Laurel proclaimed this "The best day ever as long as you don't count days at Disneyworld". Pretty good for a girl whose mouth was still numb from the dentist! Here was our day:

8:00 breakfast and get ready to go
9:00 library, sign up for summer reading
9:45 post office - picked up two packages - always a treat to get to open a package (Laurel got a new Bible cover)
10:15 Dentist - can't speak well enough of Dr. Fitch. Laurel did great and came out smiling! She told me all her worry was for nothing.
11:00 Riding bikes at Murray State - great place to ride off the street - long straight rides around on sidewalks- (some students had to dodge the kids as they learn to steer). Katey scraped up her knees on the sidewalk :(!
11:30 Lunch with Daddy on campus! Something we used to do a lot at Martin. It was nice to get to see Dad in the middle of the day. The kids rode across campus on their bikes to the Curris Center and ate with Dad.
12:30 Ice cream at DQ.
1:30 4-H farm day at the Murray State Expo center- they got to pet pigs, goats, a cow, an ostrich, hold baby chicks, see bugs, learn about farming, and ride a horse. Could one day possibly contain all this fun??

Its now 5:45 and I am about to put kids in the bath and feed them dinner before going to church (the meal at church was a no go as two kids are asleep and it is Mexican food - not the kids favorite). I am EXHAUSTED!! It was a lot to do in one day and its not over yet. I told the kids it is a lot easier for Mom to do one thing a day with some schoolwork than to run them around all day for playtime when we are on a break!! They strongly disagree and preferred the break day, of course. I am glad they had fun. There were lots of smiles. Even Katey was happy with her boo boos after Daddy produced band-aids from his wallet. I won't have any trouble sleeping tonight! Hopefully staying home tomorrow won't be too much of a bummer. Sometimes you just have to give Mom a break!

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Laurel and Matthew ride without training wheels

Laurel and Matthew are so proud- they can ride without training wheels!! A short lesson from a friend a few days ago for Laurel and a little help from Dad was all it took. For Matthew it was mere minutes. They both did great!! See the video online with the link below.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

The 50th Birthday Weekend

It was great! We surprised Tim at work on Friday and took off for the weekend to Pennyrile Forest State Park. We returned for cake with our small group and Tim opened cards from family and friends near and far. It was a great weekend. Thanks to everyone who helped pull it off : all of you who took the time to send cards/emails, Alice (and Aaron)- who lent their mailbox so the cards could arrive secretly and watched my kids while I got groceries and supplies for the trip, Matt and Janie who collected cards from friends at church and provided the birthday cake, Tim's colleagues who helped me announce the surprise, and everyone who kept the secret!! You all helped make it a special day and we really appreciate your being a part of the celebration!!

Here's a little glimpse into our weekend adventure (Pardon the hard to read script! Its hard to find a color that shows up over the colors of nature!)-