Tuesday, May 24, 2016

One Hour

This year, my youngest is in half-day kindergarten. This has been really great for both of us.  It allows both of us a gradual transition to full-day school next year. However, since my older girls are in school full time, there are often little blocks of time between pick-ups or drop off at school that can make getting "real" things done tough. Lots of time people ask, "what do you do with that hour?"

Friday, May 20, 2016

Who cries during "The Chicken Dance?"

I think we've all been there. That moment when you watch your child do something and you swell up with pride for them. I sure have. I think it's because we've watched them, held them, been on this journey with them....and then in these special moments, we see them soar. I remember the strong will with this one. She was determined to do things on her own. She wanted her own space. She hated the car with a passion. A furious, red-faced, screaming infant passion. Nothing I could do would appease her. And as frustrating, and infuriating as this was for me as a mom, I did have to begrudgingly admire her strength and her unrelenting determination that she would.not.give.in!

Anyway, in the years that have followed, I've truly been in awe of this girl's drive, her strength, and her ability to work her way towards her goal. Her dad and I have fostered this in her, but I know with all of my might that this will is all hers. She is one of the most determined, hard-working people I know. And she's 10.

She's done math problems I really don't think I could do now (and most definitely not without a calculator). She finishes her home and school work prior to a family vacation. She furiously memorizes scripts that her teacher says she can use a paper for; because she knows it will look more authentic. She loves math and science and art.

But this morning, I am teary-eyed for a different reason. My scientific, mathematical, factual little girl has really evolved over this past year. She joined the "Spirit Club" at school and has been giving speeches and presentations. And this morning, as the school's pep rally began, a Beach Boys song came on, and my little girl started dancing. She killed it! But more importantly than that, she had a HUGE smile on her face the whole time. I am so proud of her because she is constantly pushing herself, and growing and learning new things.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Yellowstone: West Thumb

Yellowstone Park was so enormous, it was a bit overwhelming to decide which portions to see each day. We did a bit of research before our trip, but even so, we didn't really feel the magnitude of its size until we were driving through the park each day. We kind of stumbled upon West Thumb because of its proximity to our campground. It looked really interesting as we were driving by, so we pulled in to explore. And, it was so interesting we ended up going back twice. We all had fun exploring this portion of the park.

Here's a useful map for this portion of the park:
Map of West Thumb
This interactive map helped with navigating the entire park:
Main Map of Yellowstone

I also had downloaded the Yellowstone National Park by Chimani app on my phone. It was extremely helpful. If you download it directly onto your phone (or tablet) you don't need to have cell service or use your data plan while you use it in the park. It does take quite a bit of space on the phone, but it was well worth it!

In one easy walk, you can truly get a feel for the landscape of Yellowstone; where thermal features mingle with the raw beauty of the lake and forest. It's really one of the most unique things I've ever experienced.
 The kids loved walking on the wooden boardwalks, and navigating around the little geysers and thermal features.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Local Produce

One of the best things about living where we do, is the abundance of fresh food. We are really fortunate to be able to grow vegetables, fruits and herbs nearly all year long. And the Grocery Store near us has an excellent selection of organic, fresh and delicious foods. We could not be more grateful. But one of our favorite people to visit is "Farmer Cliff," an organic farmer who lives just a couple miles from our house. He grows delicious lettuce, squash, tomatoes, and other organics delights and sells them so affordably that I just could not believe it! I found Farmer Cliff by searching, "Organic farms near ____ (my city)." You can try searching, "organic foods, freshly grown foods, etc." and see what you come up with. Many cities now have Farmer's Markets, or you may get lucky enough to find your own Farmer Cliff!
Today when we visited the farm, I was only going to pick up some fresh local honey. But Cliff let the kids visit his new hen houses and insisted that each take home a very fresh egg. They were thrilled! It's amazing that we can live right here in the suburbs and still benefit from farm-fresh produce and wonderful fun on a real farm. We love our town!

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Bacon- STAT!

Ah bacon....the thing that dreams are made of. Okay, maybe a little dramatic, but I do love my bacon. And so does the rest of my family. In case I haven't mentioned this yet, this crew gets horrifically cranky when hungry. And since we don't really eat packaged meals, preparing a quick breakfast was challenging at first. I found having muffins, pancakes, or banana bread pre-made and brought with us was extremely helpful. But for that real protein punch, having bacon was even better! At first, I used to cook the bacon on our griddle outside the r.v. This works well, but definitely takes time. When beach camping (with electric hook-ups) this is no problem at all. I mean, who wouldn't want to spend time cooking bacon like this?