Thursday, July 26, 2012

Carousel Gardens

Back in December an anonymous donor gifted the homeschool group on campus with Friends of City Park membership cards. These cards granted us free access to Storyland and the Botanical Gardens and discounts on other cool things. Last night we enjoyed another perk of the membership--my favorite thus far. We were invited to the membership appreciation night at Carousel Gardens in City Park. Not only did we get unlimited free rides but we also ate free cotton candy, popcorn, and snowballs.

Needless to say, the kids were pleased.

I love Ryland's little forced grin.

Piper finished off Ryland's cotton candy while the guys rode the ferris wheel.

I am not that into rides but I was totally into the Haydel's Bakery table. I thought I was getting in line for a measly cookie (if you can call their cookies measly) and then I saw that they were serving little slices of unbelievably delicious cake. Oh. My. Goodness. Perhaps their cakes truly are worth fifty bucks a pop.

After the boys got off the ferris wheel, a cute clown wandered up and asked them what sort of balloon animal they wanted. They requested balloon swords.

Then they got in line to get airbrushed tattoos. 

They asked me if I was going to be there taking pictures for Jathan's first real tattoo. I said, "Yes!" You know I totally will. In fact Jathan was kind of disappointed this one wasn't going to last forever. 

I'm sort of hoping that the boys will choose something other than Batman should they decide to get something more permanent. 

The boys then rode the carousel while Piper watched, cheering. 

I didn't get pictures of the boys on the other rides because they were going so quickly but rest assured they had a blast! There were the dump trucks, the tea cups, the monkey jump, and the big slide. Then it was time to go home and wash all the sugar off! And my favorite part? They were all so tired that they fell asleep and slept all night (Even Piper! Hooray!). = )

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The Post in Which I Talk About Chick-fil-a

Chick-fil-a fans happy with the company's pro-marriage/anti-gay marriage stance are all posting all over Facebook. I'm seeing cute little memes and links to articles and status updates about eating at Chick-fil-a some more tasteful (no pun intended) than others. I started to post and say that I would eat at Chick-fil-a even if it were run by gay people. Because they have good food. And it's a restaurant. Where you eat food. (And also they gave me a bunch of free food!) I don't really care what's happening behind the scenes as long as everyone is washing their hands afterwards. = P

How much do our beliefs and values affect where we spend our money? My family has been boycotting Kraft, Pepsi, and Nestle products because they use kidney cells from aborted human embryos to test flavorings that go into the foods they manufacture. We are pro-life based as the Biblical belief that life begins at conception and that all life is highly valued by God. So that belief has penetrated deeply into our everyday life; it has affected the way we shop.

Should I be more adamant about supporting companies that adhere to the same beliefs that I do? Perhaps. But I've really been more drawn to doing things myself. I don't buy Kraft macaroni and cheese anymore so I found a good recipe and make a better version from scratch. I stopped drinking Crystal Light then I actually 
read the ingredient list and found that two of its ingredients, aspartame and acesulfame potassium, are linked to a higher cancer risk. I've been drinking more water which as it happens is the healthiest drink for adults. It just seemed more logical to me to get closer to nature, closer to the source, to being whole, than to try to find a substitute for the brands I chose not to buy.

But back to the Chick-fil-a ordeal. So you're a supporter, huh? Does being pro- traditional marriage mean that you are anti-gay? Gay people are boycotting companies such as Chick-fil-a with what they are calling an anti-gay stance. Do you boycott companies who support gay marriage with the same passion in which you have stepped up to defend Chick-fil-a? Do you even know which companies are "pro-gay"?

Let me help you out. Do you have any GAP clothes in your closet? How's your favorite pair of Levi's fitting these days? Did you go running in your Nike's this morning? Had an Oreo lately? Have you Googled anything today? Checked your gmail account? Been to Target or Whole Foods? Starbucks? Do you have a Microsoft product installed on the computer you're on right now?

What are we really achieving "supporting" Chick-fil-a by sharing the logo over and over online while we still pour billions of dollars into all these other companies who then use that money to support ideas we don't agree with? Is that hypocritical? Are company boycotts pointless? I'm betting none of you could withdraw from the world enough to not somehow inadvertently support something that you disagree with. I don't think any of us have a very good answer for the problem but I think it makes a lot more sense to do what I did when I decided to stop buying Kraft, Pepsi, and Nestle stuff--refocus your efforts where they really count. Make things better for yourself not by tearing down others but perhaps by doing something good for your marriage. Get off your soap box and wrap your arms around your spouse. Make your husband a hand-breaded chicken sandwich on buns your baked yourself. ; ) Whatever works for you.

Now excuse me while I go focus on some truly important things---my home and family.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

The Downside of Homeschooling

As reluctant as I am to say it there is one thing I do not like about homeschooling. GASP! I know. I sort of forget about it each year until August or so and entire aisles at Walmart become devoted to back-to-school supplies. We truly have no need for back-to-school supplies. Sadness.

Jackie's First Day of School
Jackie went back to school the same year Keeleigh started kindergarten. Check out their matching LL Bean backpacks!

I have always loved the smell of a new box of crayons. But we really have plenty. I have a seventh grader now and if things were different she would so be getting that super cool locker divider and organizer with magnetic mirror. I will also have a kindergartner this year but there's no reason to buy a first backpack or a cute little lunch box. I did ask him which one he would choose if he was going away to school. He chose Spiderman. I saved the mental image in my head of him on his first day of school even though I'll never have a real snapshot of it. And "school" clothes. Oh, I could buy some school clothes. But let's face it, we're so not getting out of our pajamas. = P

Keeleigh on her first day of kindergarten!

It's a silly little thing but it's something I will kind of miss. Can anyone else relate? Homeschoolers, is there anything you miss about not sending your kids to a "regular" school? Public-schoolers, want to send me to Walmart with your list and a couple hundred dollars?

Walking Keeleigh to class on her first day of kindergarten. 

Monday, July 23, 2012

Nana and Pappy's Visit

Last week we got a treat...a visit from Nana and Pappy! It's always amazing how the kids don't often get to see their grandparents but they always take up with them like no time has passed at all in between visits. Even Piper climbed right up in their laps. She showed Pappy what her favorite pastime is.

He was happy to oblige her with a few stories.

Tuesday we took a little trip to the Botanical Gardens. Mom and Dad paused for a quick picture in City Park first. Don't you just love palm trees and blue skies?

We really enjoyed the Botanical Gardens despite the fact that it was a *little* warm out. It was beautiful there. The live oaks were a favorite with the kids. Better than a jungle gym!

One of my favorite parts was the pond of lily pads.

They had these fantastically huge lily pads that I'd never seen before. 

After touring the Gardens, we hit Storyland and let the kids play a little. 

I have no idea what story this statue is from but it inspired Nana and Ryland to strike a pose. = )

Wednesday we hit the French Quarter and walked through the French Market where Keeleigh found this cool mask. 

And of course Nana and Pappy spoiled us with a ton a delicious food. We got to eat out at the Louisiana Pizza Kitchen, Olive Garden, and Outback. Yum, yum! 

Keeleigh went home with her grandparents for some Alabama time. She's already having a blast. I've gotten pictures of her building a cool table, hanging out in her own personal loft, and working airbrushing tattoos. I know she's going to have a blast there! 

Friday, July 20, 2012

Keeleigh the Iguana?

Last week Keeleigh got creative with makeup and turned herself into a lizard! I swear she needs to be a makeup artist when she grows up...she did all of this with regular makeup from my makeup case. Check it out:


Friday, July 13, 2012

Have You Seen These Cups?

When Keeleigh was little, my mom bought some of these awesome Tupperware cups. She used them often and they were so durable that they all survived until Jathan was old enough to use them. At that point I requested my mom buy us another set since I knew Ryland and eventually Piper would love them, too. I'm pretty sure we had at least 8 cups like these.

Somehow all but two of them have completely disappeared! I'm not sure if friends have accidentally taken them home with them after visiting with us or if my kids have accidentally left them at a friend's house or on the playground but I miss them. = (

Have you guys seen them around anywhere? We're missing a blue one, a yellow one, a green one, an orange one, and a pink one. I'm pretty sure these have been discontinued by Tupperware (and they are sort of out of my price range at the moment anyway) so I'd love to get them back!

Monday, July 9, 2012

5 Reasons I Should Stay Off Facebook

1. TMI

So, I remember the weirdest things but one brief conversation I had over 10 years ago stands out to me. It was high school and like all high school girls I had friends, enemies, and frienemies. One of my then-frienemies (we've grown up since then!) was friends with one of my enemies. Standing by the lockers one day, frienemy walks up and says in reference to enemy something like, "She shares too much information. Sometimes it's almost like, 'Hey, guys. I just farted.'" Of course, at the time I ate this up and laughed at her expense but over the years it's been a little reminder that more often than not I need to shut up. Just shut up. I've often been tempted (and have too often given in to the temptation) to over share. I think the Internet feels far safer than it really is. I need to remember that.

2. Friends...or Stalkers?

Speaking of "friends", I have 321 of them. I know that number is much higher for many of you, but I've been careful to only accept requests from people that I know and would like to interact with. Out of all of those friends, I have only accepted two requests from people whom I do not know in any way. I've only ever unfriended three people. I have unsubscribed from a lot of people's status updates, however, for various reasons. My news feed is pretty much a constant cycle of about 10 people's status updates and 3 very active pages that I've "liked." Most of my "friends" rarely/never post anything and never comment on anything that I post. Then I or my mother or other family member will see them in person and they'll say, "Oh, yeah, I saw that on Traci's Facebook page." Do you know what we'd call it if in "real life" someone was walking around amidst us not saying anything or making themselves known in any way but looking at all of our personal information? We'd call that weird. And it feels weird when people do it in my online life, too. But when you put yourself--details of your personal life including thousands of photos--on Facebook you're pretty much inviting people to stalk you. 

3. Channel Surfing

I think I've always had a wide array of friends and acquaintances...people from all walks of life. My Facebook friends are no different. It's kind of strange though. It's seriously like half of my friends are gay liberal evolutionists and the other half are hardcore super-conservative Bible-thumpers. Some days checking Facebook is like constantly flipping between Fox News and CNN stopping to stare at The 700 Club and Howard Stern in between. I walk away with my head spinning! 

4. I'm Pretty Sure I'm Right and You're Wrong.

Sure, everyone's entitled to their own opinion but I'm of the opinion that you're opinion is wrong. I am pretty passionate about every little thing that I believe in and somewhere along the way I've gotten kind of radical. I'm a Christian; my family and I have been uprooted from everything we've ever known to go into a cruel, needy world by beliefs most people think are nutso. I guess technically we have a large family even though four children doesn't seem like that many to me. I don't believe in birth control and I get "those" comments every time we go out. (You know, "Wow, you have your hands full," and so on.) I breastfeed my children and think that breastmilk is the absolute best possible thing you can feed your baby and cannot fathom why so many educated women give their babies formula. I homeschool my children and while I don't believe it's feasible to do away with the public school system, I do think educating your own children should be done far more often than not. 

Like I said, I'm pretty passionate about all of these things but all of these things make me feel very different than a lot of you. Sometimes I get tired of watering down my beliefs to stay P.C. At the same time, I don't want to butt heads with everyone I encounter. I don't say everything I think but my thoughts will not let me rest. I feel like maybe if I didn't bombard myself with details from everyone else's life on Facebook, I wouldn't get sensory overload and spend so much time thinking about unnecessary things.

5. "She must have too much time on her hands." 

Someone said these words of me. Someone who doesn't really know me and was talking about me behind my back. He was talking about me in the first place because he disagreed with something I said on this blog, something controversial but true. He was trying to imply that I blogged and was on Facebook so much because I had nothing else to do. His comment stung. At first I thought, "He has no idea how much I do! Who is he to judge me? He is retired and even when he worked he had an easy job. I bet he never even helped care for his children." I was immediately defensive and I could have left it at that but I believe that most of the time when criticism hurts there must be a hint of truth to it. Yes, I do a lot at home for no pay and with little recognition. I work hard every day and throughout the night. But the truth is, I do get distracted by things like Facebook over and over. I check in multiple times during the day. I upload hundreds of pictures. Sometimes while I'm doing this, my children go without. "Wait a minute," I say ten times. "Hold on." It's frustrating to be called away from something I want to do! But I shouldn't be that way. They are far more important than looking at the 100 beach pictures you just posted (that will just make me jealous anyway) or even reading what verse inspired you today (I should be away getting inspired myself!). I have a hard time maintaining priorities and am even worse about moderation.

So what am I to do? I think my life would be a little simpler and I'd feel less frazzled if I didn't have this social media distraction. Sure, I'd lose that convenience factor of instant networking but I might actually be forced to have a real social life. I could text or call a friend when there was something I needed to share or--wonder of wonders--I could speak to them face to face! 

Can anyone relate? What keeps you logging in? 

Saturday, July 7, 2012

I Dream of Straight Jackets

I have a long history of crazy insane dreams. Judging from last night's samples, I'd say that history is sure to continue. I think I had three dreams which I tried and tried to remember but only one stuck.

My mom and I had been selected to go on a trip to the moon as part of a reality show. Oddly enough, my mom was completely okay with this. I, however, was experiencing some apprehension. We were going through several training exercises one of which was riding a truck up a spiraling roller coaster-like track straight up into the sky. I didn't know how I was going to do it.

Apparently Jackie had already been to the moon, so he was trying to give me a little pep talk. He seemed to think it was no big deal.

The dream ended with me overcome with thoughts of fear and inadequacy. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity, I thought. I should be happy! 

Usually I can relate my dreams to something happening in my life. My brain goes ninety to nothing all day long and I often bottle up emotions and my insane dreams sometimes are actually the best way for me to decipher how I truly feel. I'm not really sure what "moon" I'm afraid to travel to, though. I just hope no one shows up with a real rocket.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Sew Crafty

One of my Pinterest boards in entitled "Sew Crafty." This week I actually got around to making a few things from that board as well as my second ever pattern project.

The boys got new superhero capes made from men's t-shirts that I got from the SWAP shop. Super duper easy and cute even if you leave them un-embellished. Of course, you could always applique their favorite superhero symbol on the back.

This was my pattern project...a new skirt for me! The pattern was $1 from Walmart and I'd gotten the fabric for free so this was a really great, frugal project.

I was even happier that it came out well because this skirt has POCKETS which is an awesome thing in case you didn't know.

I had a good bit of fabric left over so I decided last minute to make Piper a little pillowcase dress to match Mommy's skirt. Didn't we look cute Sunday morning? = )

Piper got to wear her new dress on her very first day in the big girl class at church! I can't believe she's left the baby nursery behind for the 1-year old class but she loved it. 

I loved sewing this week and it's inspired me to do even more projects especially for Piper---it's so much fun making sweet little dresses for little girls!