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Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Disney World 2015 (Day 2)



Day 2 - Epcot

It's day 2 of our big Disney Adventure and today we headed over to Epcot.  We have three days in Epcot with fast passes for several of the bigger rides so today was an easy day for us as we mainly decided to explore the front portion of the park and will start exploring the World Showcase on our 2nd and 3rd Epcot days.

Ashleigh scanning her wrist for Soarin'
I forgot to mention yesterday how wonderful the Magic Band system is. It makes things so much easier having our photo pass account, dining plan, theme park tickets, dinner reservations, and our hotel room key all on our wrist.. The kids are loving scanning their wrists at our fast pass destinations as well as for our photo pass pictures.

We headed into the park at 11am and high tailed it over to Soarin' for our first fast pass.  When I road this ride the first time when just Charles and I went, I completely enjoyed this ride. However, when you have two small kids and you know one of them is scared of heights, you worry - A LOT!!!   The kids did great but Mom was so worried Garrett would freak out and try climbing out of the seat.. LOL   They both seemed to enjoy the ride and once our feet were back on the ground I could relax.

We made two separate trips to the Ice Cool Station - a place where you can try various sodas from different countries throughout the world.  I was glad to see they still had the Japan selection still available - this is my favorite although the Zimbabwe version is just as good.  Alyssa really liked the Inca Cola (it tastes like bubble gum) while both of the little ones seemed to like the Zimbabwe and South Africa selections.


However, with the exception of Dad, NOBODY liked Beverly from Italy.. It was really funny as we had someone from Italy sampling drinks beside us and she said she couldn't stand it either..  If you ever go to Epcot, be sure to sit inside the Cool Station and watch others as they sample Beverly, it's more entertaining then some of the rides.. LOL


Garrett and Ashleigh try Beverly

After Soarin' we enjoyed a really nice lunch from Sunshine Seasons.  This was one of Dad's favorite places for quick service last time we went and he was just as happy with it this time around.  Dad got the turkey and swiss sandwich with potato salad while mom and the kids each got the chicken with black beans and rice meal.  The chicken was large enough that I could get one serving to share between the two kids with each getting plenty to eat - I just asked for an extra plate.. (We did the same thing at Peco's Bills yesterday).  There was no room downstairs for us to sit so we were allowed to go upstairs to the Garden Grill area where they are currently down for renovations. We had the area all to ourselves and had a nice view of the "jungle" while we ate. 



After dinner it was time for our fast pass for Turtle Talk with Crush which is so cute..  Those with kids will recognize Crush as the sea turtle from Finding Nemo.  Crush comes out and and actually talks to the kids in the audience - it's a full interactive experience.  Ashleigh was a bit upset that Crush didn't call on her to ask a question but the presentation was very cute and even a few more "adult" jokes were included.. The funniest part was a boy asked how turtles were made.. LOL 

Crush the turtle learning about humans as he teaches us about turtles.


After crush, we headed over to ride Spaceship Earth.  Garrett was very scared about this ride as he had watch a YouTube video and saw something about lightning in it.. He was scared there was lightning inside so getting him onto the ride was a big of work.. He finally got on it, thankfully without too much problems. Spaceship Earth is a journey back into time into the history of communications, from the times of hieroglyphics, to the telegraph and on to today.  It also goes into possibly situations for the future to come.  The kids ended up loving it, especially the beautiful view of Earth from space.


Since we already have fast passes later in the week for Mission Space and Test track, we decided to skip those for now and head over to Canada. Ashleigh has really been looking forward to trying Maple Sugar candy since we read about it in Little House in the Big Woods so I promised her when we were at Epcot she could try it.. 6 dollars later I purchased a box that contained 5 pieces, once for each of us and we sat and enjoyed them.  Ashleigh declared they were extremely yummmy... lol   We walked around Canada for a bit and went to watch the 360 Vision movie about Canada which the kids really seemed to enjoy.. We also checked out all the wood carvings including the totem poles and the kids picked out which ones were "Disneyfied" and which one was the authentic one made by the Northwest Indian tribe.   Then we had fun taking pictures in the cut outs for our faces.  Many years ago I took a picture of Alyssa with her head in the cutout. She was about 3 at the time and it currently hangs on my livingroom wall as it is one of my favorite pictures of Alyssa.  So we recreated those same pictures and those will go on the wall as well. 



 For dinner we crossed the Friendship bridge and hopped on a boat to head to the Beach Club for our reservations at Cape May's for their Clam Bake.  This was a dinner specifically for Garrett as he absolutely LOVES clams.. And sure enough, he ate two large pails full of them.   Alyssa was thrilled to see Calamari on the buffet and while I was a bit hesitant about buffet calamari, it was actually really tasty. Ashleigh ate her weight in clam strips and dad and I tried just about everything offered..  Everything was super fresh and yummy and we all got our fill . 


We headed back to Epcot and Ash and Garrett got to meet up with Chip and Dale.




With full tummies and after a long day, we decided it was about time to head back to the hotel.. We took our time leaving Epcot, allowing us to take some great photographs of the Spaceship Earth. Also, since there was a conjunction of Venus and Jupiter,  we set up to take a photograph of the monorail passing under neath it..  






Once back at our hotel, we relaxed by swimming in the pool and then we hit the sack since we had an early wakeup call for the next day.

All in all, we had a wonderful first Epcot day.. Tomorrow is Hollywood Studios.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Disney World 2015 (Day 1)


It's the first official day of our Disney Trip..   Today we got up early, checked out of the Shades of Green and headed over to the Port Orleans Riverside resort. Since Disney does not allow pets in the hotels, we checked Morla (our tortoise) into the Best Friends pet resort which conveniently is right across the street from our resort.  Port Orleans is an absolutely beautiful resort that is designed to resemble the old Plantation homes found in the Old South.

Port Orleans Riverside Resort - Alligator Bayou 



When we checked in our room wasn't ready so we headed off to the Magic Kingdom to start our day.  The hotel would text us a message saying what our room number would be.  We headed over to Best Friends Pet Care and got Morla checked in for the week.  Best Friends is awesome and they were thrilled to get a Tortoise to care for.

It's every mom's dream to see the excitement on their kids faces when they first enter Disney World and they see the castle for the first time..  And sure enough, the excitement was there, the kids freaked when they saw the castle for the first time.   But so was a massive thunderstorm.  We tried not to let a bit of rain ruin our day though and so we trudged through the rain and made our way to Frontierland. We were all starving and so we headed to Peco's Bills for some burgers.

Since we were already wet, we decided to head over to Splash Mountain for our first ride.  The rain had dispersed the crowds and we were able to walk right onto the ride.

Garrett knew this ride from playing a player made Little Big Planet level that someone had done of Splash Mountain. Because of this, he recognized the music and much of the stuff going on.

Ash hung on to mom for dear life for the big drop but overall the kids seemed to enjoy it very much and said they wanted to ride it again.    Luckily we didn't get on the third boat that tends to absolutely soak the people riding in it and we didn't get too wet from the ride.

The next ride we headed to was Big Thunder Mountain Railroad.  Both Garrett and Ashleigh were really looking forward to this ride but when Ashleigh started seeing it in real life, she started getting a bit frightened by it.  She found the steep banking to be a bit intimidating and was afraid that she would fall out of the train. I had to assure her that no, she would not fall out and she did indeed ride the ride but it would not be considered one of her favorites. LOL   Garrett however, loved it and wanted to ride it again (which we probably will).

After catching the two big rides we got lucky and were just in time to catch the Festival of Fantasy Parade.  We lucked out and got a spot for all of us up front.  The kids had so much fun waving at all the various characters that they got to see.




We had  reservations at Chef Mickey's for dinner so we walked over the the contemporary resort and checked in.  The food has improved greatly since the last time I had been there and the character interaction was great.. Ash and Garrett got to see Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, Pluto and Donald ( a couple of them even came over twice).. Minnie even snuck in a surprise kiss on Dad.







After dinner we hopped on the Monorail and took a tour of the various resorts on the loop and watched some of the fireworks.  We were all exhausted so we decided to call it a night and head back to the hotel, however, we didn't realize that Alyssa's prepaid phone needed to be renewed that afternoon so we missed the text message.  After a quick trip to the front desk, we headed off to building 28 to room 2803 in Alligator Bayou and got settled in.   The room is amazing, decorated in very rustic looking furniture and with a cute little Murphy bed that pulls down with Louis the Alligator as well as Tiana and Naveen from "The Princess and the Frog".

Two Queen Beds

The Murphy Bed

There's a pool almost right outside the door to our room so we all had a nice swim before hitting the sack.  Needless to say, the kids (and mom and dad) crashed hard and had a great nights sleep.


Sunday, June 28, 2015

Disney World 2015 (Days 0 - Arriving)



After 36 hours of driving, the family finally made our way from California to Florida for our big 8 day Disney World vacation.  We've been saving for this trip for over 5 years now and even had to cancel the trip last year due to the uncertainty of the Air Force.  But we are here and I would love to report that everyone is feeling that Disney Magic..

Unfortunately, that hasn't been the case.  LOL

We left California late on Wednesday Night after telling our dear friends goodbye for the final time, as they will be heading to the East Coast before we return home :(  It was probably 10pm before we finally pulled away from the gate and we headed south to hit I-10.

 Pretty quick in the trip, we started to smell burning oil.  We thought that maybe with a recent oil change, some oil had gotten on the engine and was just burning off.. By Phoenix, Az we realized that oil was leaking from the oil filter - the filter had a defect and the seam and separated.  We found a Walmart about 30 miles off of the interstate and 50 dollars later, we had a new filter and were back on the road.

We made it to Texas on Thursday and stopped for a hotel for the evening in a town called Fort Stockton.   The next day we drove to the Houston to visit family for a few hours and then decided we would drive 2 more hours until we made it to the Beaumont, Tx area to stop for the night. The Lord had other plans for us as shortly after we got onto I-45 we ended up with a flat tire. We quickly changed the spare on the Interstate and we honestly feel God didn't want us on the road that night because while it set us back, the flat occurred in front of a Days Inn hotel with a Discount tire across the street and the tire was replaced free of charge (the tire was only 2 weeks old).

After getting our tire fixed we were back on the road. We visited more family in Port Arthur and were so grateful to have the opportunity to have visited the two days with those we had not seen in over four years when we moved to California.  That night we were back on the road and by Sunday afternoon around 5pm we were in Disney World and checking into Shades of Green. .Leaving Texas we met up with some bad weather and had thunderstorms off and on through to Florida.



  After a bit of confusion, we checked into Shades of Green (a military only resort here at
Disney) and made our way to room 3156.  WHAT A BEAUTIFUL HOTEL!!  The room even had a doorbell  lol   We had dinner at the Garden Grove which was having a buffet of chicken wings that night. I made the mistake of trying the "Noah's Inferno" wings and OMG!!!  They tasted so good but very hot and unfortunately they made their presence known when I woke up at 4am with severe heartburn.  There was a little pond on the property and the kids got to see a small (about 4 foot) alligator. 

The hotel is absolutely beautiful and if you are military, I highly recommend it.  The room placement is a bit confusing however as it is a very large facility. 


In all honestly, we were completely exhausted from our drive here and we didn't explore the hotel too much.  We all got a good nights sleep to prepare us for checking into the Port Orleans resort the next day as well as our first day in the parks.


Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Book Review: Love Arrives in Pieces


Overview:
For so long, Stella was known for her beauty. Now, with her heart stripped bare, she must discover who she really is.
Former pageant queen Stella Varland doesn’t trust beauty anymore after her divorce. Her appearance betrayed her and led to her brokenness—so instead of being beautiful, now she tries to make beautiful things, but always falls short. So she keeps her passion for her secret art to herself and focuses on her interior design work. But if she doesn’t get another job soon, she’ll be stuck living with her parents.
Contractor Chase Taylor is determined to live a life of no regrets after losing his fiancĂ©e in a car crash. Now he lives life at full speed, striving to see how much he can accomplish. He knows if he slows down, he’ll fall apart. So he returns home to Bayou Bend to renovate the town’s old theater, and is shocked to learn former flame Stella is the designer for the project.
Forced to work together, Chase and Stella battle their chemistry and their pasts as they struggle to compromise and come together on a vision for the theater. Chase doesn’t understand why Stella is such a subdued version of herself, while Stella doesn’t get Chase’s constant need for productivity and speed. Their wills clash as they attempt to hide their brokenness—and their unresolved feelings for each other—until Chase breaks through Stella’s walls and convinces her to enter her mosaic tile art in a contest.
A near catastrophe, a fire, and a small-town gossip mill finally force both Stella and Chase to realize that they have a choice—to hold on to the shards of their pasts, or surrender their fragmented pieces to the One who makes a beautiful masterpiece from the broken.

My Review:
I wasn't too sure if I was going to like this book before I started it but I was very pleasantly surprised.   St. Amant does a great job bringing both Stella and Chase to life on these pages.  Stella is indeed a broken character who's feeling the after affects of a failed marriage while Chase, also dealing with his own loss after his fiancee died is as well. The author digs deep into the aftershocked of the pain and betrayal of broken relationships as well both present and past.  There is a lot of emotion in this book and you get involved in how these characters feel throughout the book.  

Stella is not the typical independent, strong woman you find in most books.  As said, she's a broken individual who's emotions typically overwhelm her, causing anxiety and panic attacks.  She also makes somewhat rash decisions that has consequences.  She has a supportive sister but her mother.....
Stella's Mother drove me absolutely bonkers at times.  Stella being an ex pageant queen seemed to be the only thing the mother seemed to care about and every time she said "A pageant queen doesn't..." I just wanted to reach through the page and slap her.. LOL   Here's a girl who's husband left her for a younger woman and the mom can't seem to understand that her daughter is hurting. It's like she kept driving the knife deeper.   Ugh!! 
Chase is a great character who also has made bad choices in his past but has really turned his life around for the better.  He's a good guy overall, caring and compassionate.  He oozes confidence on the outside but inside he is a broken mess much like Stella.  
One minor complaint. While the characters are well written and well developed, the plot seems rather weak.  For example, the book constantly refers to the past relationship between Stella's sister and with Chase and how wrong he was to ask out Stella while dating Kat.  However, as many times as this is brought up in the book (and the apparent animosity of Stella and her family towards Chase even from the start), the backstory here really doesn't reflect the serious grievance that occurred.  I felt more was needed to really develop this aspect of the story so that you could really understand and feel why they feel the way they do.  Instead of developing the story, the author spent more time developing the characters and the relationships but I would have liked to have seen equal time spent on developing the story so that it doesn't appear to be on the backburner. 
Overall, I really found this book to be a wonderful read and I am sure I will enjoy more of St. Amant's books in the future. 

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

SmartKidz Media (A Schoolhouse Crew Review)

The kids and I use videos a lot in our homeschooling. For them, being able to actually see what we are talking about really drives the point home.  We recently were given the opportunity to review the SmartKidz Media Library for Homeschoolers by SmartKidz Media which is an educational library of videos, music, games and ebooks geared for children of all ages. 
 
 
Playing videos on Kindle Fire
Smartkidz Media Library is a subscription based streaming website that offers various safe and educational options without questionable advertisements.  The library is contained on your internet browser so there is no software or downloads necessary.  The website says that streaming is possible to the Roku using the Roku's internet browser but this option is only available for those who own a Roku with browser capability. Mine does not so this option wasn't available to me. However, I was able to stream the website to my television using the LG Smart TV's Internet App on my television with no problem and videos ran smoothly.  I was also able to use my Kindle Fire and my children's Nabi DreamTab tablet to play videos without any issues.
There are so many aspects to the Smartkidz Media library.  First, it is very much like a Kids Friendly version of Netflix with various movie options that can be streamed to whichever device your watching on.  The video options available are educations with many videos about animals, nature, culture (some tribal nudity), science and history.  Videos are geared towards various age groups so whether your child is a toddler or in middle school, there's something they would enjoy.  My two youngest really enjoyed the videos on Nature's Miniatures and How Did They Make That videos while my teenage daughter really enjoyed the Cultural videos and watched all of them in one setting.  Videos are relatively short, about 30 minutes or less, making them perfect for kids with shorter attention spans.  There's even videos for Health and Fitness that includes exercise videos.
 
 
There are many selections in the library for parents with younger children. The Baby Signs section offers videos that introduce parents to the Baby Signs  program, as well as videos and printable rewards in regards to Potty Training.  All of my children are beyond the baby years but these videos are well done and would be great for any parent with small children looking for advice on these topics. 
 
Another offering from the media library is their collection of Mighty Ebooks. The Ebooks library is grouped together both by age (2-4, 4-6, 6-8) as well as by topic (story songs, Aesop fables, Mother Goose, Bible stories).  These books are Flash animated Ebooks and play as videos.  The "Easy Learning 4 Special Needs" section also has many Ebook offerings which give the option of the video "Read to Me" format or as an Interactive format. These books are designed to run on any computer or device that can run Flash version 10.2 or higher.
 
One of our absolutely favorite parts of the Media Library was the Music and Fine arts area.  With various choices as far as Classical, Cultural, Jazz and Blues and Relaxation music selections, we spent many hours listening to the options available.  Ashleigh found an appreciation for Handel, Bizet and Mendelssohn while Garrett usually opted for Mozart and Beethoven and we usually had to take turns picking out what to listen to in the background while doing other studies.   There is also a Karaoke selection of Children's favorites located in the "Read Set Sing" section. 
 
Some of the Classical Selections available in the Music and Fine Arts area 
Also available are the "Quick Find Study Guides" which is basically a Cliff Notes on various subjects. From Mathematics, English, Science and History, these are great for looking up a particular fact or theory and getting a brief explanation without having to wade through other information to find it.
  
There is also a nice selection of Flash based games in the Fun Zone section of the website. While these games are extremely cute, there were some minor glitches to them. My daughter quickly became frustrated with the Dress Up Divas game, which is a virtual paper doll, because each try at placing a article of clothing resulted in a message of "Opps, that's not right" or "Almost". No matter how carefully she placed the item, it never would fit properly to avoid the reprimand.
 
With as much as the media library currently offers, it's apparent that Smartkidz Media is working to expand even further.  There are currently placeholders in various areas of the website that promise new content is coming soon. Topics such as Living Skills, videos on actions sports and history and study guides for accounting and foreign languages all seem to be in the works.
 
I would really like to see SmartKidz Media develop it's own Roku Channel rather than try to rely on users streaming using a browser or screen mirroring.  Hopefully their marketing team has already considered this and are working on it as it would make this wonderful library much more accessible to it's subscribers.  Overall, this is a wonderful collection of videos and other media that kids will enjoy and with new content being added, will continue to offer hours of entertainment that I can feel comfortable with them watching. As with any videos, it is recommended that you watch the video ahead of your children just to make sure you feel the material is age appropriate, however.
 
Smartkidz Media offers a 14 day free trial to allow parents to try the Media Library. If you choose to continue using the media library after the 14 day trial, membership is $10/month of $99/year. There is no contract nor any cancellation fees if you choose not to keep the service.  
 
Smartkidz Media can be found on social media at both Facebook and on Twitter. 
 
SmartKidz Media Review

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Weekly Wrapup 6/21


We had a lot of fun this week doing various things in preparation for our big cross country trip to Disney World.

First, the kids are relieved that we have taken a bit of a break from our normal studies (until we return) and have instead focused more on the countries that are represented in the World Showcase at Epcot.  Epcot is one of those parts of the park most people find boring - the World Showcase doesn't have any rides (there use to be one in Norway but it is now being dismantled for the upcoming Frozen ride that will open sometime next year).  Because Epcot is more of an Educational experience and not like the other 3 parks, many people, especially those with smaller kids, find it to be their least favorite park. My husband and I , however, find Epcot to be probably our favorite park out of the 4 and have already planned 3 days there during our 8 day trip.  However, we also wanted the kids to enjoy it and understand it as well, so we had an International week this week featuring foods and studies from 7 of the 11 countries at Epcot. We figured if the kids were familiar with each country and it's culture they would be more excited to explore these places in the World Showcase, interact with the people from those countries at the various shops and restaurants and be somewhat familiar with regional cuisine as well.

The entire family was involved in this trip around the world as we all learned together.  Each day we would eat a lunch from our country of the day, then I would hook up my computer to the television and together we would fly through the various Amanda Bennett unit studies that I had for that country.  (These units are meant to be used over the course of a week, which we did in about 2 hours.. lol).. Then we would work together to make an authentic dinner from the same country.   Some of these countries were reviews for Garrett and Ashleigh, who had already done the unit studies, but others were new for them. Charles, Alyssa and myself also learned much that we did not know about each country.

On Monday we studied the United Kingdom. This was somewhat a review for Ash and Garrett and they remembered much of what we studied earlier in our school year.  For our lunch I made Scotch Eggs and small cucumber sandwiches. Scotch eggs are always a hit in our house; everyone loves them but I do not make them often so they are always a treat when I do.  If your unfamiliar with this treat, it's basically a hard boiled egg wrapped in breakfast sausage and then coated with bread crumbs. Then its pan fried until the sausage is cooked. It's very rich and savory and worked well with the lighter bit sized sandwiches. For  the sandwiches I just took two sliced of bread, put a small amount of Philly Onion and Chives cream cheese spread and sliced of cucumbers, cut off the crust and cut it into four individual bite sized sandwiches.  We then sat down and talked about the four countries that make up the United Kingdom, looked at each of their flags, did a virtual tour of Big Ben and Westminster Abby, discussed the Queen and her family and looked at some of the various animals that are native to the UK.

For our dinner we made Bangers and Mash hand pies.  While Bangers and Mash are not typically served as a hand pie, I knew that Ashleigh, my picky eater, would not be too thrilled with the dish if served as is. However, for some reason, if you put it in hot pocket form, she will eat just about anything. Sure enough, these proved to be a hit with the kids and Ashleigh even asked for an extra pie.  The recipe can be found here at the Betty Crocker website.


For Tuesday we visited Germany.  This time we had Kraut Bierok (German Cabbage pockets) for lunch. (Again, hot pockets are always a good thing lol).. This is basically seasoned ground beef, onion and cabbage stuffed inside a biscuit and baked.  We did find out that this wasn't really an authentic German dish but was more of a Polish food brought to Germany with the Polish Immigrants who relocated there.  This proved to be another hit with the kids.  While "visiting" Germany we discussed Berlin and the Brandenburg Gate, Reichstag, Hamburg, Frankfurt, and talked about Johannes Gutenberg.  For dinner I made a traditional German dinner of beef rouladen with potato dumplings and red cabbage.  The rouladen and dumplings were a success but the kids did not like the red cabbage and my husband found it to be too sweet for his liking.

Wednesday was France.. We started the day with a nice lunch of Croque Monsieur which is a really sooped up ham and cheese sandwich.. I had never made a bachamel sauce before and I was really shocked I didn't screw this up.. LOL  This was a HUGE hit with everyone.. Our discussions today took us to Paris and the Eiffel Tower, The Statue of Liberty and it's history before coming to America, the Montgolfier brothers and the first hot air balloon, Lyon Cathedral and the Louve museum.  Dinner consisted of Chicken Cordon Bleu with roasted green beans and a caesar salad.  Another hit with the family.. Mom's on a roll :)

Thursday was Canada day.  This was another review for the two little ones because we had studied
Poutine: Proof God loves Canada
Canada earlier in the year..  My oldest and I had spent much time in Western Canada in Alberta when we visited friends in Edmonton and have visited Toronto in Ontario many times as well, so we were very familiar with Canada.  To start the day off we had Poutine for lunch.  Poutine is one of the most amazing foods every created and it is so very simple.  All it is is french fries smothered in beef gravy and with cheese curds melted on top. Unfortunately we do not have access to cheese curds so we had to substitute really high quality mozzarella cheese instead but it was just as wonderful as I remembered..  For our studies we talked about animals such as beavers and moose, the Canadian Flag, Maple trees and making Maple Syrup (I plan on buying them some Maple syrup candy while we are at Epcot), Hockey, Niagara Falls and the Hoodoos of Drumheller.  Dinner was suppose to be Canadian Cheddar Cheese soup but we had to drive to the Department of Motor Vehicles to get the registration on my car taken care of, get myself a new drivers license and...........


We had to allow my daughter to take her written test to allow her to get her learners permit to start driving.. She did really well and passed her test on her first try and so now she has permit in hand.. So LOOK OUT CALIFORNIA!!!


The Beautiful Wall Unit still at my friends house
Friday was suppose to be Morocco day but we found out that we were acquiring a brand new entertainment center from a friend who is moving. One of the terrible things about military life is that you make friends and then they leave and unfortunately, one of our closer friends is heading to the East Coast. While we are very happy for them, it's heartbreaking to see them go. Unfortunately, they tried without any success to sell the entertainment center and they did not have room on their moving truck for it so we're taking it.  It's an absolutely beautiful piece of furniture that they purchased in Turkey but it is  very large and will take up the entire wall.  Because of this, we spent Friday shampooing our carpets and moving our current furniture to other parts of the house to accommodate it.  We also bought their couches and a rolltop desk from them so once all the furniture gets moved in today, we're basically going to have a completely new living room..

The awesome news with all this cleaning and moving is that I got to claim the dining area as my school area. So now, I have everything together and organized in one area rather than having to search through three different bookshelves or my bedroom.. I'm VERY excited about this.



Finally, we've been busy packing and getting ready for our big trip. Unfortunately, it looks like it's going to be a somewhat soggy trip, as we've been keeping track of the weather and its extremely hot but rainy.  As we having been in humidity of any kind in 4 years, I have a feeling we will take a few days to acclimate to it and will probably be rather wilted for the first half of the trip.. LOL We've planned accordingly by running to walmart and buying ponchos, sunscreen, and flip flops so that even if we get rained on, we can still have fun.  Florida is notorious for afternoon thunderstorms so we expected those however, it looks as if we will be contending with rainy weather for all of our trip, or at least as much of it as we can see currently in the forecast.

The kids have been routinely tearing a link off of our countdown chain every morning when they wake up. They are great about taking turns doing it every morning, Garrett gets to tear off the orange links while Ashleigh gets to tear the yellow ones.  They know the black link means it's time to pack up the car because the following day we are leaving!!!   Our chain as shrunk considerably since we made it.


What is is.. and what it was when we started


We probably will not have a weekly wrapup next week as we will be on the road heading to Florida but we will be blogging once we get and hopefully we will have a really great Weekly Wrap up for everyone in 2 weeks :) 
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