Sunday, August 07, 2016

A Fun Reward

Ruby has been working very hard in gymnastics.  She recently got her front hip circle on the bar.  I would tell you what that is but I can't.  I don't know how to describe it.  Anyway, it was a big deal and she was very excited and proud, as she should be.  She asked if we could go to Bahama Bucks as a reward.  I was happy to oblige.

We don't got to Bahama Bucks often but we all enjoy it when we do.  If you aren't familiar with it, they sell snow cones.  I like it because their birthday cake snow cone with chocolate drizzle tastes very similar to snow creme.  Given I live somewhere it never snows, it is awesome to get a taste of snow creme occasionally.

It seems to take a while for the snow cones to be made.  I guess because they have to shave enough ice off of a giant block of ice to make it and even with a machine, it just isn't quick.  Bahama Bucks has several games you can play while you wait for your order and while you are eating.  My family loves this.  We always have the best family time.

This trip we got to play Headbands.  Hilarious!

Saturday, August 06, 2016

Signs Your Daughter is as Softball Player

I was helping Eliza Claire clean up in her room this weekend.  We were cleaning out her closet, getting rid of all her shoes that were too small.  She came to a pair outgrown cleats.  She asked if she could keep them.  She said they had lots of special memories.  They were the cleats from her last year of 8U All Stars and first season of 10U fall ball.  I agreed that she could keep them.

Eliza Claire started to put them back in her closet.  I asked her to hand them too me.  I thought about putting them on her bookcase but then I had a better idea. I tied the laces together and hung them over the rod where a quilt hangs in her room.  She thought that was an awesome place for them.  I remarked that we really should clean them off.  She was emphatic that we were  not going to do that.  

Friday, August 05, 2016

Shoe Shopping Observations

I took the bigs to get their back to school sneakers this week.  Rehm started band camp this week and Charlotte has dance team camp next week.  I always wait until the last minute to do this shopping to make sure their feet are as big as possible, hoping they will be able to wear them a little bit longer before I have to replace them.

This is why I have not taken the littles yet.  I'll take them in about two weeks.  It is driving them crazy that their siblings have gotten new shoes and they have not.  Tough!  Your feet might grow in that two weeks.  And the way Eliza Claire has been growing lately that is a very real possibility

Anyway, it is hilarious how differently my son and daughter shop for shoes.  Each was given a $50 budget.  Anything over that comes out of their own money.  In the time  it took Charlotte and I to run to the restroom and measure her foot, Rehm had picked out shoes.  Not only did he have shoes, he had found a pair of his favorite brand that were originally $90 on sale for $40.  My guess is this is the only pair he even tried on. He asked if he could get some new socks.  Since he was  under budget I said yes.  He grabbed those and was done.  Bam!

Don't you love the "Are you taking a picture? and Why?" look?  Actually, I think he asked both those questions.  Silly boy.  He should know by now that his mother takes pictures of everything.
Charlotte.  Had to look at every shoe in the store.  Try on a half a dozen pairs.  Realize she needed a whole size bigger.  Have a minor melt down because she did not want shoes that size (a 10).  Her brother thought this was completely ridiculous.  Come to terms with her new shoe size.  Try on several more pairs.  Debate a bit.  Pick a pair.  At least they were in her budget.  But she had to buy her socks she decided she needed with her own money.

Yes, she is enjoying the process way more than her brother.  This was pretty early in the process.

By the time we left Rehm was beyond annoyed.  Part of that was because he had to sit around Academy for an extra 30ish minutes and part was because he was exhausted from day 1 of band camp. I keep reminding him these experiences will make him a good husband one day.  Or they will make him decide to never get married.  Either way.  He will know what it is like to live with a girl and know what he's getting himself into.

And once Charlotte had picked out shoes she was bubbly and super talkative and in the best mood ever!  I thought her brother was going to come unglued before we made it home.

Its never boring around here,

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Must Have School Supply if your Children Make INBs During the School Year

First of all I know some of you are wondering what in the world a INB is.  It is an Interactive Notebook.  Many middle school and high school classes use these.  Basically the students use a five subject notebook to paste in all of their handouts and notes and anything they need for the class.

The one problem with INBs is they get huge and take a beating.  It is very important to have a really good five subject notebook.  Otherwise, your kid will spend half the year trying to tape theirs back together.

My kids started using the Mead Five Star Advanced line of 5 subject notebooks when my oldest went to middle school for all their INBs.  These notebooks hold up for the entire year without breaking a sweat.  They are the best notebook ever!  I'm serious.  What makes them so much better than the rest of the spiral notebooks?  Two things, vinyl on the front and  back and a cloth cover over they wire spiral.

Now having said all that, they aren't cheap.  They are typically about $8 each.  And...they can be a bit hard to find.  You have to know where to look at each store for them and be a bit persistent until you find them.  In fact, throughout the year when I happen to be in the office supply section of any box store if I see one of these babies I grab it and stash it for the next school year.

You can find the Mead Five Star Advanced Five Subject Notebooks at Target and Walmart, I know.  Sometimes they are in the special school supply section and sometimes they are over with the regular school and office supplies.  Wherever they are they will have maybe a half a dozen of them if you are lucky and they will be hiding near the rest of the other spiral bound notebooks.  Amazon does have them but they are double the price so don't even bother.  Oh, on the Target website it will tell you if your local store has them and what aisle they are on.  According to the website all of the Targets near us currently have them in stock.

I'm telling you, run, don't walk and buy these precious guys now!  You will be sad if you don't.  I currently have six of them in my stash.  I have no idea how many my kids will need this year, but I'm ready.  And yes, I waited to post this until I had all I needed.  I didn't want there to be a rush on them and not be able to find them. I kid, kindof.


Friday, July 29, 2016

30 Days of Mayhem: Beach Photo Shoot

Here are some of the best pictures from our quick photo shoot while at the beach.  Mom likes to have a picture of all five of the grandkids to hang in her living room and needed a new one.  For 20 or so minutes of our time and a novice photographer (me), I'd say they turned out pretty good.

My Nephew Zander



Photo Credit to Charlotte
My Sister Sherri and Zander

Mom, I have not forgotten that I need to send these to you.  I have not been anywhere to get a flash drive.  Will hopefully do that this weekend.

I think there are two more 30 Days of Mayhem posts (I found pictures of things I haven't posted yet) then I really am done.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

The Tacky Tourist Picture

My dear, wonderful husband may have rolled his eyes when he caught saw me purchasing this family picture at the NC Aquarium.  I knew he would but I wanted it as a memory of our crazy 30 Days of Mayhem.  I paid the extra $5 to have both the digital and printed copies of the photos.  This might just be the tackiest of the bunch but I love it!

I bought these pictures so that I could put one in a frame somewhere in our house as it has all six of us in it.  We don't get a lot of pictures of all six of us.  All four of the kids, sure.  The kids and Michael, sure.  Occasionally me and the kids.  But I'm usually the one behind the camera or the one shying away from having my photo taken.  I want to remember being silly and having fun with my kids.  And I want them to remember me doing those things as well.

When I looked at this picture today, I realized that it told an even bigger travel picture than being part of 30 Days of Mayhem.  Michael is wearing a Camel City Goods t-shirt.  I bought it last November when I was in Winston-Salem (Camel City) before heading off to quilt retreat with my mom.  For those of you who don't know, Winston-Salem is Camel City as it is the home of RJ Reynolds Tobacco Company - the maker of Camel Cigarettes.  I grew up on a tobacco farm and both my parents worked and retired from Reynolds - I even worked there a summer. We won't get into a smoking debate, we will just notice that this is nostalgic for me.  Rehm is wearing one of his uniform shirts from his trip to Sea Base in the Bahamas with his Boy Scout troop.  Ruby is sporting the 30 Days of Mayhem trip shirt, she might be my favorite child for that.  Charlotte is wearing her Hamilton t-shirt that she bought in NYC a block from the theater.  It represents the trip but also something she is currently passionate about.  Eliza Claire is wearing a Mickey shirt that I made for our 2015 trip to Disney World.  Another great family trip with lots of family bonding and good memories.  Then there's me.  I just wanted to be comfortable.

So yeah, it is a tacky touristy over priced picture, but when I look at it, I hear a story that weaves through the years and interest of my family.  And well its just funny because its tacky.

Yes, I will eventually quit writing about this crazy trip of ours, but I make no promises on when,

30 Days of Mayhem: Retrospective

So we've had a bit of time to get away from each other.  Yes, we have spent a lot of time in our own rooms or at least in different rooms.  I, for one, have spent more time than usual in my room with the door closed.  I'll blame the door being closed on Ramona. She likes to chase the cats.  Its just easier to keep them separated.

My house is a disaster, still.  I think most of the suitcases have been unpacked.  They might have all been unpacked at this point, I honestly don't know.  The cooking box is still sitting on the dining room table as I haven't wanted to tackle it.  I really just don't know where many of those items are going to go and have not wanted to figure it out yet.  And then there is the stack of mail.  I have not been through all of it yet.  Bad, I know.  Good thing all the bills are paid electronically.

Now for the fun stuff.

1. What was your favorite place we visited?
Michael: Niagara Falls, Ellis Island and the Smithsonian American History Museum.  Niagara Falls was just cool with the volume and power.  Ellis Island because of the stories from the immigrants and thinking about grandparents coming through those very buildings.  American History Museum because it was full of cool stuff.
Rehm: NYC and DC.  I just kind of liked seeing places I had heard of before and seeing them in person was kind of cool.  And just getting to see some of the places where some of the most important decisions in the world are made and where some of the best television is made I though was really cool.
Charlotte: NYC.  (She didn't tell me more because she is telling me by text but she liked it best because there is so much Alexander Hamilton history there and because she got to see the theater where it is playing.) 
Ruby: Niagara Falls because it was beautiful
Eliza Claire: Niagara Falls and the Beach.  They felt the calmest to me.
Jenn: Connecticut.  I would love to go back there and spend a couple of weeks.  What a lovely state with beautiful scenery.  And our hosts, were the best!  Thanks Beth, Chuck and Andy. If I went back, I would want to do some day trips or mini trips to Boston, Vermont and Maine.  Niagara Falls, again gorgeous.  I love nature.  It was just mind boggling to watch. Pine Knoll Shores.  Nature again.  My most favorite place on earth.  If I could live anywhere, it would be PKS.

2. What was your least favorite place?
Michael: Times Square because we were tired and it was so crowded.
Rehm: Nashville.  I didn't think it was as interesting as everywhere else. 
Charlotte: The Crater of the Diamonds in Arkansas (Did you read that as Ar- Kansas?)
Ruby: New York City because it was crowded. It was cool.  I might want to go back eventually?
Eliza Claire: The Van.
Jenn: I think Arkansas. Maybe its because we lost the piece to the Instant Pot there.  Or maybe its because it was 10 million degrees when we were mining for diamonds and we didn't find any diamonds.  I don't know.  I would go back in the fall or spring, given the opportunity and try again.  I feel bad saying I didn't like it and I think it really was the weather more than anything.

3. What is something unexpected you liked about the trip?
Michael: How well the Roku worked. How much fun it was to cook in hotel rooms.  (He didn't do any of the actual cooking)
Rehm: I didn't think I'd like Connecticut as much as I did but I liked it a lot, especially all the nuclear submarine stuff.
Charlotte: Family time.  (I honestly don't know if this is Charlotte's answer to this question or the next.  She is answering via text.  I sent her three questions, she sent back two responses.  I'm guessing this is where this response goes.  It was either here or her favorite thing about the trip. I'll insert another answer here for Charlotte as well - Dramamine.  She loved being able to sleep in the van, not getting car sick, and not getting bored.  She probably loved the lack of boredom the most.)
Ruby: The fireworks in DC.  I kind of liked it with the cloud.  It was neat to get a different experience.
Eliza Claire: I didn't realized that we were as busy as we are when we are home - I liked that we got to spend a lot of time together.  
Jenn: I had really low expectations for the trip.  I really thought there would be more fighting and complaining than there was.  I also thought I would go crazy not having any alone time.  I was pleasantly surprised by how smoothly things went and how much we all enjoyed it.  It was not nearly as stressful as I anticipated. Wow, don't I sound like the most pessimistic person ever? I liked how well everyone adapted and did what was needed to make the trip a success.

4. What was your favorite thing about the trip?
Michael: Getting to see so many cool things all together with all six of us.
Rehm: Seeing all the places I'd like to work or intern later in life, or possibly go to college.
Charlotte: See Charlotte's #3 answer.  She would not go back and answer more.  I said I would make up her answers for the ones she did not answer.  I'm going with her Hamilton shirt.  Seeing the Theater where it is playing.  She would be very annoyed that I do not know the name of the theater.  I could look it up.  But if she would have answered the question this would not be an issue.  Oh well.  And in general all things realating to Alexander Hamilton and the Revolution in any way shape or form were her favorites, made her light up, and start talking 90 miles an hour.
Ruby: Riding the boat into the Falls
Eliza Claire:  I liked playing dominoes in NC at the beach even though it was very loud and crazy because it was fun.
Jenn: Visiting with friends and family. It was so great to get to see friends and family we don't get to see frequently and to meet friends that I have known for 17+ years but never met in person. Relationships are so important to me and this was the highlight of my trip. The other thing that I loved and truly humbled me was the hospitality shown to our family by our friends and family. It is no small task to host a family of six and some many people went out of their way to do just that!  It left me complete speechless, grateful and awed.  The other thing that stands out as a favorite was sitting around the table having dinner and playing dominoes in our apartment on Staten Island.  It is such a treat to spend time all of us in one place that doing so while doing something so typical was just pure joy and a real highlight of the trip.

5. What is something you learned about yourself on the trip?
Michael: How nice it is to be unplugged from all work stuff. 
Rehm: I don't do well being with my family for 30 days straight, in close proximity. (He did great, he just didn't like it)
Charlotte: I need some wind down time
Ruby: I can't eat hotel biscuits and gravy for breakfast or I get car sick.  And I like marshmallows in my yogurt. (Breakfast in Niagara Falls had yogurt with lots of toppings)
Eliza Claire: I learned that I can get homesick.
Jenn: I really can spend this much time in small places with people and not explode.  It was close,but I did it.

6. Would you want to do a trip like this again?
Michael: Hesitant Yes - but it is a really long time to be away from the house.  Might prefer one or two smaller trips over the same time frame.
Rehm: possibly.  In five years? Yeah, sure.
Charlotte: Yes, I would think you were insane if you asked me this for real but eventually I would decided I wanted to go
Ruby: How soon? Not as big.  
Eliza Claire: Yes!
Jenn: Absolutely, with out a doubt, in a heartbeat! But please not this summer.

7. If, so where would you want to go next time?
Michael: I guess the Rocky Mountains or Europe
Rehm: More big cities - LA, San Francisco, San Diego, Seattle, Las Vegas
Charlotte: The west half of the country
Ruby: I don't care.  Anywhere.
Eliza Claire: Chicago, Oregon 
Jenn: Great Britain and Europe or Australia - so not happening but a girl can dream.

8. Is there anything else you want to say about the experience?
Michael: I was impressed overall with how well everyone coped with stuff. And all the cool things Jennifer could do to keep it running smooth (I'm just typing - he really did say that).
Rehm: America is pretty big and pretty diverse.
Charlotte: Next time we need to be better prepared for problems with the cooking and bring extra parts for anything that can break or come off of the Instant Pot.  I liked the way this trip was planned.  I liked that we had a plan of places to go but that there was flexibility in the plan as well.  
Ruby: It was really fun.   
Eliza Claire: I was very lucky to get to do this with my family.  
Jenn: I am so very glad we did this.  It was crazy and daunting to think about and plan.  We all went into it with a bit of trepidation, though I do think Michael and I did a good job of selling it to the kids.  My goal for this trip was to create lifelong family memories for us and we definitely did that.  The other goal was to give the kids a taste of many different places and experiences.  There is so much more we could have done in each and every location but that was not the goal.  The goal was to whet their appetite for travel and adventure and doing things that seem a bit crazy and impossible and that sometimes feel a bit scary (but not left on the subway scary).  I'd say we succeed on all counts.  

And that friends concludes 30 Days of Mayhem,
Reveille Rider over and out

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

What is it They Say about Necessity and Invention?

Maybe in my case today it wasn't so much necessity as laziness.  I'll go with necessity and thinking outside the box though.

I have been working since we got home from 30 Days of Mayhem to get the new to me car titled and registered in Texas.  Today, I finally had all the documents and signatures needed to make it happen.  About the time I walked in the Tax Assessors office it occurred to me that I planned to mail the NC plates currently on the car back to my mom on my way home.  I did not bring a screw driver along to change said plates.  I decided to have a Scarlet moment and worry about it once I had the plates in my hand as I half expected to find out there was some hoop I had not jumped through that would prevent me from getting them today.

I only had to wait about 15 minutes to see the nice lady who could grant my wish of making my car a Texan.  Shockingly, I had everything needed and I walked out with Texas plates.  I still had no screw driver.  I stood in the parking lot and debated my options, for all of about 15 seconds.  I could drive home, change the plates and drive back to the post office that is maybe a half a mile from where I was currently standing.  I could run in the drug store across the street an buy a cheap screw driver that I would never use again.  I could go to the post office and hope I could use a coin or key to get the plates changed.  I chose option three.

You get lots of comments, offers of help and strange looks when you sit on the ground in a dress in the parking lot at the post office changing license plates on your car with a quarter.  I did have multiple people ask if I needed help.  I'll choose to believe they meant with changing the plates and not mental help.  The good news is it worked!  The NC plates are now on their way back to, well NC. They should even arrive a couple of days before they expire at the end of the month.

Note to self.  It might not be a bad idea to put a screw driver in the car.  You never know when you might need it.  But in a pinch a quarter isn't a bad substitute.

Jenn - the Improviser