Friday, February 26, 2010

We're In Savannah!

The girls on the stairs leading up from the waterfront area
where we went to dinner.

The streets down by the waterfront are a rough cobblestone.
You'd break your ankle in high heels (not a concern for us)!

We had to wait for our table and we sat in this area
and had this lovely painting to look at.

Leah thought these glasses made her look like
Willy Wonka (Johnny Depp version).

We stopped at the Lodge Cast Iron Factory store in South Pittsburg, TN
while we were driving through the Appalachian foothills near Chattanooga.
Yes, if you must know, I succumbed and purchased a grill/griddle combo.
It's a grill on one side, flip it over it's a griddle! Come on over and I'll whip
up something scrumptious for you on it when we get back home!

After two long days of hard driving, we arrived in Savannah this evening at about 7:00pm. We put on 923 miles yesterday and about 450 miles today. It was a lot of miles but we're here now and eventually I won't mind sitting down again.
We're staying in the historic part of town and after we got here the valet parking attendant recommended a seafood restaurant just a couple minute walk from our hotel. We went there for dinner and had a great meal.
In case you're wondering, parking is difficult in Savannah and most hotels have valet parking for their guests. Now we're just relaxing in our room and will be calling it a night soon so that we're rested for tomorrow. We want to walk all over and explore this beautiful city!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

It's Unavoidable

I think Lacey's got the same sinking feeling I do about getting this suitcase closed...


I have come to the conclusion that you cannot avoid stress when you are preparing for a family of five to get away for a month.

I have made my lists and checked them twice to no avail:

Bills paid? Check.

Car maintenance completed (including new tires and battery)? Check.

Various appointments scheduled and completed? Check.

Dog care arrangements made? Check.

4H meeting on April 1st that we are hosting with another family planned? Check.

Art classes completed ahead of time? Check.

School books and supplies packed? Check.

Clothing and personal items packed? Check.

Various other items packed? Check.

Diet successful and 10 pounds lost? Umm, never mind.

I realize that part of my stress comes from my attempting to anticipate the things we will need and bringing them without overpacking. For example, I don't want to buy bug spray or sunscreen when we've got plenty of that here at home. Stuff like that. Plus, is it really necessary to bring my bird watching scope, tripod and window mount? Well, actually, yes, I think it is.

It's the last minute stuff that seems to consume so much of my time. There are a lot of little odds and ends to remember. The girls and I are leaving tomorrow morning, hopefully at 6:00am to drive down. The men will follow next week, flying into Orlando. If we forget something at least it's comforting to know that they can bring it with them.
Well, the clock is ticking so I'd better get back to work!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Ingenious Snowboarding Boy

Snowboard rails with spikes to add an element of danger

Homemade wooden snowboard rails before Mom imposes the "No Spike Rule"

Putting another snowboard rail out

Snowboard boy having fun in the snow

Here he goes down the slope!

Daniel and his first grind on his new rail!

My son asked me to look out our bathroom window which faces his world famous snowboarding slope. We've got big hills around here but for his snowboarding runs a smaller hill is better. When I looked out the window and saw his homemade wooden "rails" I was a little taken aback. If you look closely at the first two photos you will see that to create a bigger challenge he broke some large dowels and put them in the snow around the rail, pointy side up.

Mothers of the world unite! Every mother worth her salt knows that undoubtedly he would lose an eye on one of those wooden spikes. I told him in no uncertain terms they had to go. He was completely disgusted. Any other boy might have a problem with impaling himself on those sharp wooden daggers but not him. They simply made his snowboard area more fun. Hoo boy. Please, pray for me! Can you imagine this boy in five years when he is learning to drive?!

As you can see, he did make a couple runs down the hill before dinnertime. One rail is quite ingenious. He attached a pvc pipe to a 2x4 by drilling small holes in the pvc tubing and then screwing it on to the 2x4. I know I should celebrate his creative ideas but it's not always easy when I feel as though I need to protect him from his sharp, spike infused schemes!

Monday, February 22, 2010


Elaine and I on our Florida visit in April 2008

We're getting down to the wire.

The girls and I are leaving early Thursday morning to begin our journey to Florida. It seems hard to believe that it's already almost here! I've been working hard to tie up loose ends before we go. There's a lot to do before Thursday and there will be even more to do when we return but I'm not going to think about that part right now (says Scarlett).

I've been pondering our school routine and how I want to handle it in Florida. The past two years I have lugged everything with us and insisted on school as usual. This year I'm willing to think outside the box. What blessings are we missing in Florida because I'm a slave to the schedule? Probably more than a few.

Soooo, I am considering bringing a few basics that I want us to focus on and taking a short break from the rest (which will be waiting for us when we return). That would mean two things: a lot more fun in Florida AND a very full spring schedule. I need to talk to the children and see if they're up to facing the grind when we return. (Am I up to facing the grind? No fair! Trick question! Heh, heh...)

The other motivating factor is that my wonderful sister (who we are going down to visit) is recovering from surgery and not doing well. My father died when I was only three and a half. Both my parents were widowed when they married each other and my Dad was quite a bit older than my Mom. Elaine is his oldest daughter from his first marriage and she has always been generous in sharing memories of our father that I've been so hungry to hear.

I think I want to be more available to her, additional family that lives down there and others who will be visiting for my niece's wedding in Melbourne. I'll bet I could come up with an educational field trip for every single day that we're down there who knows what other kind of opportunities might await?

Thursday, February 18, 2010

It Pays to Speak Up!

My daughters and I enjoy spending time taking in cultural events in Minneapolis. The Minneapolis Institute of Arts and the Minnesota Orchestra are two favorites. Last month we went out to lunch after a concert at the Minnesota Orchestra and to celebrate Leah's birthday we went to an upscale restaurant in Minneapolis.

We had a very lovely prix fixe meal that we all enjoyed and the service was outstanding. As we finished our lunch, however, Leah happened to overhear two kitchen staff arguing and using profane language! Can I just confess here and now that I was checking a voicemail on my telephone before we hit the road and when I am engaged in a task I am sometimes (okay, usually) oblivious to my surroundings? Emily was away from the table and I was preoccupied so Leah was the only one who was subjected to the kitchen outburst. It was bad enough that our server told them she had young customers at a nearby table and to please control themselves. Unfortunately, that didn't have much of an effect and our special lunch ended on a sour note.

Leah didn't inform me of the chefs' tirade until later in the day and so I wasn't able to say anything while we were at the restaurant. The more I thought about it, however, the more I felt I should express my displeasure with the manager and the owner of the restaurant. I sat down at my laptop and crafted a letter and mailed it off a couple days later. We had been waiting for a response, wondering what they would say and today we received our answer. A letter of apology and a $50.00 gift card for the girls and I to return and try again! We are all excited and willing to give the anonymous restaurant another chance.

I'm not sure that they serve diet food but sometimes you've got to splurge.

Bon Appetit!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Slow and Steady Wins the Race

At least that's what I'm telling myself these days.

This weight loss plan of mine is not moving along as fast as I'd like it to. Shocking, isn't it? I mean, I'm sure there are a lot of people out there trying to lose weight thinking, "Whoa, this weight is dropping off way too fast, I've got to ease up on my diet and workouts!" Yeah, right.

I have been working out more and trying (trying!) to cut back on the sweets. So, in other words, I haven't been doing anything drastic in my weight loss efforts, and that was part of my plan. Don't ask me why I thought I could lose ten pounds in less than four weeks without drastic changes. Well, it's back to reality my friends! Changes are coming, but it's s-l-o-o-o-w.

So far I've lost - drum roll please - 1 pound. I'm not giving up. I'm also not buying new clothes for our trip to Florida. If things feel a little snug that will just have to serve as a reminder that I'm changing the way I'm eating (less) and moving (more).

I keep reminding myself, slow and steady wins the race! Think of the turtle, that's me, slowly and steadily moving toward my goal.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

A Frosty Morning

Our frosty landscape

Leah and the frosty trees

It was even beautiful when you looked up!

The birch trees in our yard glittering in the sun

The frosty tunnel of trees

Another frosty scene along the trail

It was foggy here last night and when we woke up this morning it looked like a fairyland outside. Rarely have I seen the frost that thick. Each tree, twig, weed was covered with about a half inch of sparkling frost!

I talked my darling daughter into snowshoeing with me and taking some photos. When the sun came out the frost began falling from the trees and it seemed odd to be covered in "snow" on such a gorgeous sunny morn.

I hope you don't get bored with more winter photos because I just couldn't resist posting them on my blog.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Playing in the Snow

View of our house from a ridge beyond the pond

Three trees bending down

Theodore with a snowy face after snowplowing

Theodore the snowplow at work!

Lovely snowy landscape

The dogs and I out on the trails

Doesn't this look like a snowy tunnel of trees?

The neighbor's field he lets me snowshoe in

Lacey, out walking in the snow

Theodore zooming around like a wild pup!

Hey! I haven't posted anything in a while... I've been busy but that's no excuse. I don't know how the rest of you ultra-bloggers do it, but I sometimes can't keep up with all the details of life and my blog is the first thing to go.

One of the fun things I've been doing lately is snowshoeing in all this snow we've gotten. I really love going out on our (and our neighbors') trails. It's so beautiful out in the snow and the dogs really love getting out there with me. Well, Lacey not so much, but Theodore does. He literally puts his head under the snow and pushes around like a little mini snowplow. It's hysterical to watch!

I've included a few photos from a snowshoe jaunt in the fresh fallen snow a few days ago. It was gorgeous! I hope you're all enjoying this winter as much as I am. Believe it or not, I'm actually sad about leaving our beautiful snow. That may seem crazy to most of you, but I really like getting out in the snow to snowshoe, ski or snowmobile. I guess it's a good thing I like the snow if I'm going to live in Wisconsin!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

How NOT To Spend Your Friday Night...

I was curled up by the fireplace last night, reading my Bible when the telephone rang. It was my mother, who lives "next door". She asked me to come over and look at her hand but didn't say why. I had graciously shared the car with my eldest daughter so she could go to a movie with friends and so I was without a vehicle but I told her I'd walk over. When I say we live right next door, we are on one 20 acre section of the original 40 acres and my mom lives on the original farmstead on the other corner. It's extremely hilly with woods, open pastureland and ponds thrown in. All that to say, it's about an eight minute jaunt when you are moving at a good pace. I didn't wear my snowshoes and so I was sinking in the deep snow as I walked as quickly as I could across the frozen tundra.

Mom's hand was injured when two (family owned) dogs got into a fight and she tried to intervene. Thankfully it wasn't terribly serious but I called the triage nurse at the local hospital to ascertain if she needed to go in. By then it was after 9:00pm and neither mom nor I relished the idea of spending a few hours in the ER but that was where we ended up. She was cleaned up, x-rayed and stitched up in about 3.5 hours. The ER was really very busy and so we had to wait while the young doctor attended to everyone. Mom ended up in the dental room. I didn't even know that hospitals had emergency dental rooms! Now I do, and so do you.

Thankfully her injuries were not more serious than what they were. No broken bones and no apparent nerve damage. It's not even her dominant hand which, apparently, is kind of strange. It will be sore but a day later I'm just thankful that I was here and able to help when she needed me. I can't even begin to tell you how many times my mother has attended me in emergency room visits but it's been a lot. I was an extremely adventurous and active girl and didn't think about the possibility of accidents happening to me. I had a horse fall on me when it reared straight up and fell over backwards. That hurt. A lot. I had numerous stitches and other various injuries. Somehow I survived, a little battle scarred, and so did she.

Life is like that, isn't it? It's hard, hurts at times, and can leave us with scars. Even so, I'm trusting that all my suffering in this life has a purpose and for that I'm thankful. I'm also thankful for a mom who let me live a life of action and adventure, roaming the countryside on my horse. Thanks mom!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Time To Shape Up!

After too many hours of internet searching, e-mails and telephone calls I finally found success today: Our family is heading to Florida next month. We have family in the Cape Canaveral area and have enjoyed spending time with them in the spring the past two years. This year is extra special because my niece is getting married in March and my sister just had surgery and her health is extremely delicate. My sweet husband told me that he had been putting money aside and he wanted us to go again this year. How wonderful is that?

So, I began looking for a place for us to rent and I ran into the same old story: no place with accomodations for five in March. I don't know how many calls I made but it must be close to 100! I just knew if I was tenacious enough I'd find something and sure enough, a rental agent that I hadn't even called (one of the other 100 must have given her my name and number) called me back with a cancellation. Seems some of the NASA folks will be leaving after this month's shuttle launch and they won't need their condo unit in March. There's another shuttle launch in March so I don't know why they won't need it then but I'm glad they don't. Because it is a unit rented by NASA on a regular basis they do not have any photos to send me. Ack! I've never rented lodgings sight unseen but I mailed her a deposit yesterday. Faith or foolishness? You decide.

Now it's time to get serious about getting in shape. That means working out more (way more) and eating less (way less) in an effort to fit comfortably back in my summer clothing. Nothing like the threat of wearing a swimsuit in Florida (modestly styled, of course!) to motivate a person... I've got about three weeks and it's going to take at least that long. I'm hoping to lose about ten pounds. I'll keep you posted on my progress. In the meantime, I'm typing this while I work out on my cross trainer. I have a hunch my posts will be coming from here a lot!