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Friday, December 31, 2010

Vacation Dreaming



This time of year always finds my family dreaming about our fall vacation. Don has to turn in his date requests by Dec. 31st in hopes of getting his preferred dates. So, my head is spinning with excitement as we plan our trip to Hilton Head Island in South Carolina. Every vacation that I have planned has a very seemingly impossible budget to stick to, but they are always AWESOME!!(and I mean this in the humblest way possible;) We are blessed to be able to use www.getravelop.com which provides resort villas, townhouses, and condos for $379 per week. This is actually cheaper than staying at a low budget hotel and with having full kitchens(saves money on eating out), washer/dryers(we take very few clothes) and 3 bedrooms(space to spread out), I find it difficult to go elsewhere. Only certain people can use this, like government employees and teachers. One alternative that I have used for the same rates without the stipulations and EXCELLENT customer service is www.wyndham-vacations.com  We always say we are going to our "vacation house" and this makes the little ones feel very comfortable about the whole being away from the familiar.
Why Hilton Head?? It combines the best of our family's dream vacations. First, it's an ISLAND!!! Wahoo!
Second, you can ride a bike EVERYWHERE, yes, even on the beach, the island is covered with wide bike paths! They have several rental companies www.hiltonheadbikerental.com  with extremely reasonable rates including free baby seats, baskets, locks, resort delivery, and pick-up. The idea of riding our bikes to a picnic on the beach, to Mass, Adoration, thrift store shopping, or to go to see lighthouses, children's museums and conservation areas is heavenly. Our resort even includes 2 bikes free with our townhouse. Third, we love wildlife, and Hilton Head has a plethora of it, from dolphins, flying fish, sharks, crabs, alligators, sand dollars,....etc.
There is even a Chick-fil-A! I know it's probably not the healthiest place to eat....but they have the BEST chicken sandwiches! Hilton Head Ice Cream Inc. has also received rave reviews, so we HAVE to try it! It's these little things that make me smile!
When life stresses me out, I have something to fantasize about, plan our budget, save coupons, send away for visitor info, check out books from the library so we can learn about it's history and wildlife.

UPDATE: I actually booked with http://www.wyndham-vacations.com/ because I found a 15% off code (RMN15) on http://www.retailmenot.com/ an excellent source for online/offline discount codes. Not only are we paying less, but there is a 3 day cancellation fee with 100% refund, which is much better than getravelop's policies.
Coral Reef Resort, here we come!!
HAPPY HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Coolest Toy Ever..Plasma Car!

Santa brought this to our house.
 No batteries, sturdy, kid-powered vehicle.
It goes up to 6 mph, so just enough speed for a thrill but no scary spills.
It can hold up to 220 lbs, so I can ride it with the little ones.
Tomorrow is forcasted to be nice, so we hope to take this baby to the park for a real spin!
I hear that you can get it online for $50 including shipping...our version is called the coaster car.
(Just ignore my mismatched Santa socks and messy dining room!)

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.~Edmund Burke

Monday, December 27, 2010

Unplugged: Chrismas Caroling

I know it's a little late in the season to post this, but we had so much fun caroling the week of Christmas!
There was a group of 19 of us that went including 1 seminarian. We went from house to house in our neighborhood and the reaction of our neighbors was heart warming and touching, a few of the lady recipients, actually cried! We were offered treats and 1 man took pictures. One of our favorite gifts was hugs! Most every single person said they had never been caroled before. Okay, well I kind of scared a couple of kids when I asked if they had a request, and they ran and hid behind their Daddy's legs..other than that, is was all positive. We agreed to make this a Christmas tradition.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Christmas

Kisses for Grandma


Christmas Lights on the Party Bus 

 Look, I'm Mr. Donut Eyes!
 We had to laugh at the "after".

My side of the family, of course I forgot my camera at our other celebrations;)

Hannah received twins that she named Sophie and Sophia.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

2010 Photo Album



Click here to see:  Picaboo Photo Book

It seemed like all we did this year was move, but I managed to scrounge together a few highlights from this year.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Book Review: God Gave Us So Much

I recently reviewed this book with my kiddos. It is beautifully illustrated and all the kids loved the pictures. The book contains 3 books in one, God Gave Us the World, God Gave Us Love, and God Gave Us Heaven. The stories are all about a little Polar Bear having conversations with his Mother, his Grandfather and His Papa. The recommended ages for this book are 4-8. I think it's closer to 6-8 at least with our experience. Benny, who is 4, loved the pictures but didn't quite understand the story's lessons, it's a little more depth than what he was capable of understanding. Elijah (7) and Hannah (9) enjoyed reading the story and were able to grasp the concepts just fine. As an adult, I enjoyed the messages and one of my favorite passages from God Gave Us Heaven is ..."Sometimes we think we need stuff, but it's just more weight for us to carry. Our best stuff doesn't weigh anything at all- stuff like love, family, friends, and faith. That's where are real blessings are." It is well written and I felt like most of the messages applied to our family. I think this is a very nice book to have in a family collection and maybe even to use as a special Christmas Book to get out during the season, even though it isn't a Christmas book, the fact that it's about Polar Bears in the snow would be a nice variation to the theme. It is a very well made hardback book and even comes with a ribbon book marker in it. I am always glad to see faith-themed religious books with a Christian moral. I definitely give it a thumbs up!
Here is a link to purchase it on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/God-Gave-Much-Limited-Three-Book/dp/0307446298
I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Unplugged



Did you know that God created a beautiful, exciting, vibrant, thriving world right in the other room, in the backyard, and out the front door?? Here's a pretty radical suggestion:


There is something that is probably inside your home that is literally extruding the life right out of you. Your television and sometimes, yes, even your computer. These things are fine in moderation, but most of us have gone far beyond that to the point of neglecting those around us. Consider for a moment unplugging your tv, turn off your cable, and greatly reduce your computer time also.

What have you got to lose?

For starters, your very life. Did you know that the World Health Organization estimated that one of the top 10 leading causes of death was a sedentary lifestyle? Link: "http://www.who.int/mediacentre/news/releases/release23/en/index.html

What have you got to gain?( annual totals):

  • Money..$900 ..The average cable bill is $75 per month.
  • Time ..15,355 Hours..An American Time survey finds the average American spends 5 hours per day watching tv.
  • Better Grades
  • Peace.. witnessing violence in media contributes to violent behavior.
  • Weight loss..Television is one of the many contributing factors to obesity.
  • Sleep.. Often because of inactivity insomnia occurs.
  • Cure of ADHD and related conditions.
  • Many more....sexual promiscuity, drug use, alcohol use, and smoking/tobacco use has all been linked to tv. Article:http://www.med.umich.edu/yourchild/topics/tv.htm
What can we do now?


  • Discover the great outdoors, most cities have awesome nature centers, neighborhood parks, bike paths, lakes, etc.
  • Find your artistic side, take a ceramic, sculpture,sewing, guitar, piano, drum, class/lessons.
  • Volunteer at your local family shelter,church, school, hospital, nursing home, and library.
  • Pray, you can't pray too much!!!
  • Laugh, tell a joke, listen to one,the world is a constant source of humor.
  • Visit the library, this place is full of adventure!
  • Museums, there are so many different kinds from art to history to children's to science and more!
  • Travel, there are places to discover close by or far away.
  • Exercise, you don't have to join a gym, go for a walk, bike ride, swim, hike, climb, or turn on the music at home and just groove on.
  • Cook, there are about a bajillion cookbooks out there.
  •  Adopt a human, visit a local nursing home and choose a new Grandma or Grandpa, become a Big Brother or Big Sister.
  • Write a letter, when is the last time you used a pencil/pen and wrote to someone?
  • Sing, it's ok even if your tone deaf, flat or off key,it even lowers your blood pressure.
  • Smile...You use less muscles in your face than if you frown. Not to mention, you can totally make someone's day!!
  • Adopt a pet from the humane society.
  • The list goes on.
So, here is the challenge, Unplug your tv and then post this article on your blog. Whenever you write about an unplugged activity title it "Unplugged: Sewing" or whatever activity you participate instead.


Are you up to the challenge?
If so, let me know, comment with a link to your blog.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Thoughts

We had a really lovely Christmas gathering at my Mom's house last night followed by a tour of Christmas lights on a party bus. But all I can think about was while at my Mom's, we had the tv on so the guys could watch football. I was DISGUSTED at the commercials and how pornographic and suggestive they were! The media is victimizing men! Something has to be done to stop this, I'm seriously angry and mad and I feel like sailing away to a faraway island and secluding my family from such filth. I know that isn't what God is calling us to do, we must fight the good fight, but it isn't easy. One of the reasons I left facebook was because they allow porn to be advertised on their site, that ISN'T OK, it ISN'T! I know you can filter it out....BUT WE SHOULDN'T HAVE TO!!! Even when I log on to check my email, there are sometimes ads for Victoria Secret and Dior perfume that are horribly suggestive. This type of "advertising" isn't only victimizing men, it's denigrating to women, it totally makes women feel inadequate to try to live up to an airbrushed unrealistic image of worldly "perfection". God created us in His image and likeness, we are better than this garbage, WE ARE!
   One of the coolest groups I have ever seen is "That Man is You" and Don was telling me he wants to start up a group at our parish. He used to belong to the group at our old parish and it really changed him and opened his eyes to the way that the devil is trying to desensitize us through the media. This program is fruitful and is what this world needs.
  This is a rambling of thoughts, and as I contemplate the birth of our Lord and his second coming I feel compelled to try and change what I can...with my limitations and worthlessness, but I am trying.
  Sometimes I forget that we aren't here to "have a good time" we are here to know, love, and serve God, not be a slave to the media, our possessions(struggling with one!), and instant gratification(this one too!!).
St. Francis of Assisi said "Sanctify yourself and you will sanctify the world" and this is the hardest thing to do, I struggle with myself so much! Just when I think I am getting somewhere, I fall harder. I think it's all part of the journey and  I remember a quote from a puppet show at the Midwest Catholic Family conference "a saint is a sinner who keeps on trying."

Friday, December 17, 2010

Interesting Blog

http://vaccinesexposed.blogspot.com/

This is a very fascinating blog by a family who has been very affected by vaccines and the mother, Dawn, has done an amazing amount of research and discovered quite a few scary realities. I would suggest starting from the beginning of her blog dates to understand everything in it's totality. This might be useful for our efforts.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Pretty Pleased...with Progress



Don spent the last weekend installing laminate floors in the kitchen and dining rooms. I think this guy could do almost any DIY project...he's super awesomely wonderful. Little by little(as we can afford it) we are re-facing our 42 year old cabinets with frames and bead board centers, we loved the bead board so much we even decided to use it on the back splash! Bead board was the most inexpensive thing I could come up with for the back splash, it cost less than $20 for the whole kitchen...the whole kitchen isn't finished yet. The hardware we found at Jabara's Damaged Freight for $1 apiece!! The exact same ones at another Home Improvement establishment was $6.99 each!! We also have European hinges/concealed hinges for the cabinets that I found online for .73 cents each, we haven't figured out how to install them...looks a little tricky, but I have my heart set on not looking at rusty ancient cabinet hinges. I had to keep reminding myself during the planning phases of the kitchen why we moved here in the first place....to live within our means! That meant not getting new cabinets or granite counter tops or expensive flooring. This remodel is within our current means, but there is a plan buried deep in the recesses of my thinker that includes the above mentioned luxuries....but it's years(decades) away from fruition. Overall we are happy with the progress, but will be very happy when it's finished......someday soon.....

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Wednesday Whines


  • 1 hour 20 minutes spent on 7 story problems.
  • One of my children "quit" school, but after learning they would be required to live in their bedroom consuming only water, bread, and peanut butter until they did everything their parents require, their mind somehow changed. Miracles DO INDEED HAPPEN.
  • Charlie has a fun new habit of eating something and then deciding(after a few minutes) that he doesn't like it and then he deposits it in various areas around the house. It's like a treasure hunt!
  • My lips are chapped and they won't heal.
  • I finally found the advent wreath, but I have been too lazy to get it out of the box.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Friday, December 10, 2010

Groupon

Check out the awesome deals in Wichita!
http://www.groupon.com/r/uu13989415

Wisconsin Chapel Approved As First Us Marian Apparition Site

http://www.ewtn.com/vnews/getstory.asp?number=109982

I am so excited about this!! We have family near there, so I think we may try and make a pilgrimage there this spring or summer.
FaithButton


1. Finally cleaned out the fridge...it's a little embarrassing how many empty sour cream and margarine containers were in there.
2. I was able to stick to a pretty tight budget this week...I admit I haven't done that enough lately;)
3. Cleaned out my scary purse...seriously, I can't figure out how crumbs get in there! I swear I don't eat over my purse!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Wednesday Whinefest

  • Okay, I don't know how to "link up" to all the other whinos out there, but here is my version today.
  • First of all, the faucet that we got the "great deal" on craigslist, leaks!! So we had to buy a new one.
  • Then, the garage door opener only likes to work sometimes, it doesn't like cold or windy days.
  • We called our favorite garage door service establishment and made an appointment for today.The guy came bright and early and finished in record time, only to tell me that he's not the one to fix the door, just the spring replacer guy. UHGGGA! So now we have to wait until next week to schedule another guy to come out and actually fix it.
  • We put our Christmas tree up and let the kids decorate it, but Charlie keeps pulling all the ornaments off and ripping down the pearl strands, it looks like someone set up the tree, then opened the lid to the ornament box and threw them point blank at the tree with hurricane force. Fa..La..La..La..La..La..La..La..flop!
  • Our 2 oldest boys served Mass for the Holy Day, but apparently need a refresher serving course..or 2 or 3. We are blessed to have such a patient pastor.
  • Thankfully everyone is over the stomach flu!! YAY! But now everyone is coming down with a cough and a cold. A little early Christmas gift I guess;)
  • After 38 years in existence, I still don't like Math, and dislike teaching it even more!
  • Dear Lord, your gift arrived, but unfortunately, I think there has been some sort of mix up, I asked for well-behaved children, but instead you sent a lesson on patience. What is your return policy?


Monday, December 6, 2010

Beauty is the Eye of the Believer


The kids decorated the tree all by themselves!!
Over the years, I have let go of perfection and each little
drooping ornament, crowded branch, backwards/upside down decoration is a symbol of the kids' anticipation,  Christmas joy and expectation and my "not having to fix it" is my tiny little sacrifice of love for their efforts. Through the eyes of the kids, it is the" most beautifullest Christmas tree ever!"

Bubble Machine

                                      .
Benny and Charlie received a bubble machine for the bathtub. Here is a conversation from the other day:
Mommy: "What is that awful smell? Charlie, did you do poop-poops in the tub"?
Charlie: Shakes head no.
Benny: (pointing at the bubble machine)" Hey Mom, that's not the only bubble machine in the tub, you see, my butt is also a bubble machine."
Mommy: "Nice."

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Christmas Photo Fun


Well...not really fun per se...but it was quick, a little chilly, and HEY everyone had their eyes open!! SUCCESS!