Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The Theme for July is Camping

You know, I'm a preschool teacher and sometimes often that kind of bleeds into my non-teacher life.  Looking ahead to the month of July, we have plans to camp a couple of weekends already, so I figure we'll just plan to become camping experts.  Colby's scout den is camping the weekend after the fourth. Ron and he will be the only Feehans going to that.  The pack is having a family camp-out the following weekend.  At least four of us will make that one, Ron's going to see if he can get time off.  And now it looks like Colby's birthday party will follow the theme the next weekend. I think we will have four extra boys around and treat them to fishing, a campfire, some games, and a sleepover in the front yard.  Woo Hoo!

I found this site while I was looking for scavenger hunt ideas for the bucket list.  It also has various birthday party themes and activities.  Here is the camping theme.  Lots of fun stuff there to explore.  I wanted to post it here so that I don't lose it.

Thursday is a busy day here.  We will be in town all day.  We have plans for story hour, some errand running, a picnic at a park (possibly including a scavenger hunt, or not), and then we'll meet some other Clarke County Moms to paint tee shirts and play.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Freezing Bananas (a re-post)

I originally posted this 1-25-11.

I bake a lot of banana bread when I am baking for the farmers' market in the summer.  I do also bake it some when it is not farmers' market season, though my kids would say not enough.  I don't like to pay 50 cents a pound for bananas.  I also don't like my kitchen to smell like rotten bananas.  So I stalk my local grocery store.  Their policy is to discount bananas when there is no longer any green on the skin.  Once they are discounted, the customer can purchase a bag of bananas (usually about 2-3 big bunches) for a buck.  (Our Fareway changed their produce person, and the banana policy changed at the same time.  It is no longer that great of a deal, but better than full price.  I have found bags of bananas at HyVee though.)

I discovered a few years ago how easy it is to freeze bananas.  I peel and freeze the bananas whole in the amounts I need for a recipe.  If you need 2-3 bananas for a loaf a bread, freeze 2-3 bananas together in a baggy.  Pull a baggy of bananas out of the freezer the night before you bake.  The bananas with thaw into a brown puddle of mush, but this is perfect for banana bread!  No need to mash the bananas ahead of time.

I also do the something similar with zucchini.  I shred it, measure out the amounts I need for my recipes, and freeze to use later for baking.
I am sharing this post with the frugal ladies hosting the Frugal Tuesday Blog Hop.  Head on over to Learning the Frugal Life on Tuesday to see other frugal tips.  Post your own frugal tip on Tuesday and join us!

Summer Bucket List, Week 4

We have a Summer Bucket List, thanks to Kelly over at Little Wonders' Days.  This is simply a list of fun things we want to do or accomplish this summer.  We just completed our fourth full week of summer.  To review our previous weeks go herehere, and here.  This week was a full week of summer adventure.  We checked off bucket list items left and right and had a lot of fun!

1.  Visit 10 parks to play and picnic:  Friday between a couple of other activities we took a break and visited Q Pond's playground and also picnicked on string cheese, lunchmeat, grapes, munchies mix, and water.  The playground is an old-school playground.  The metal slide was too hot, but the boys climbed on the jungle gym and tractor tire, played on the swing, spun on the merry-go-round, and bounced on the bouncy platform.  Braedon led his brothers on a 'hike' through the short trail.

3.  Fishing:  Since I am late and writing this on Monday, I should probably not include yesterday's activities, but I'm going to anyway...  Yesterday we went to a family birthday party at East Lake.  The party included fishing and a short boat trip around the lake in a fishing boat.  We didn't catch many fish, but had fun practicing our technique.  And Colby pointed out this was the first time he had ridden in a boat.  Hmmm, I guess it is.  Yay!

12.  Library activities:  It seems we lived at the library this week.  But you know that wouldn't bother me one little bit.  This was our library's 100 year celebration, so the librarians had big plans for various ages throughout the week.  Monday we watched Gnomeo and Juliet as the free movie in the children's library.  Thursday we were excited to see the magician as part of their summer story hour series.  It was the same magician as last year, but he is quite entertaining.  Friday the boys had their caricatures drawn by an artist brought into the library.  He had several backgrounds for the kids to choose from and then sketched their heads and faces onto the body/background they chose.  We also started working on our library reading programs.  The older two get to enter their names for weekly prizes once for every book they read.  Brody gets a free book for every ten books that are read to him.  We'll be back to the library at least once this week for story hour's balloon artist.

24.  Go on a hike:  We hiked around Grade Lake on Monday.  This is a 2 mile trail, with the trail on the back-side of the lake through the woods.  Colby and Brody had walked this with me last summer while Braedon was in summer school.  This was Braedon's first time on this trail.  It was misting, windy, and chilly on the day we hiked, but we didn't feel any of that in the trees.  I learned that Braedon can identify deer tracks as he found several on our hike.  The path has wild black raspberries nearly throughout.  They weren't quite ripe, but we may go back this week and see if we can pick some.  There were also mulberries, but the berries I found were on the ground.  The boys refused to taste them from the ground, even though they were whole berries, in perfect shape.  The trees appeared to be too tall to pick from.  We had packed a lunch of sandwiches, trail mix, and water into a backpack and took turns carrying it.  

25.  Go to a movie as a family:  Wednesday our local theater offered two matinees of Kung Fu Panda 2.  Following our hike, we caught the 2:00 showing.  I love when we can go to the local theater.  It's cheaper than the bigger theaters in other towns.  The couple who runs it worked to renovate it a few years ago and the money for admission and concessions is going to a local business, not a chain.  It only has one screen, but the seating is great.  I saw several other families enjoying the show and I know there were others that came to the 10:00 showing as well.  So glad this is available to us.

(38.  Family Pictures by Jamie were scheduled for Saturday at East Lake, but we got rained out.  This may not be rescheduled until the end of summer.  Disappointed, but necessary when we had torrential rains and lightning.)

Other things we did that were not on the original list:
*Volunteering:  Colby, Brody, and I cleaned up after the youth rodeo as a cub scout service project last Sunday.  
*We had friends over last Sunday.  Ron had friends over to paintball.  Some of them brought their kids to entertain our kids.  Fun!
*Ron has gone in with a group of friends to purchase season tickets to the Iowa Raceway in Newton.  Three of his buddies couldn't attend Friday's race, so he took all three boys with him.  He sent me some pictures of Brody falling asleep halfway through the second race.  He was sitting on Ron's lap with the noise reduction headphones on and just drifted off and slept through the rest of the race.

Who knows what this week will bring for us.  The first part of the week I'm going to try to get some housework done that I've been neglecting.  So we will try to get some of those 'around the house' bucket list items checked off.  Thursday and Friday look full of fun in town and then we are into the big holiday weekend.  Woo Hoo!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Love the Library

I have always loved the library.  In my youth I would walk to the public library several times a week and spend hours devouring books.  I often forget and neglect to utilize the library as much as I could.  What is more frugal than a free book.  I never really read a book more than once anyway.  Nowadays there are also movies available, no rental fee.  And who can forget the scads of programs offered to all ages.

This summer our small public library has reading rewards programs for all ages, story hours, craft times, interactive classes, and contests.  It offers monthly book discussions for adults.  It offers free internet.  The librarians can help you find the books you are looking for and if they are not on the shelves there, they will order them from a neighboring library.

This week is our local library's celebration of 100 years serving the public.  They have some extra-special activities planned.  This afternoon they are offering a free children's movie complete with popcorn.  Friday they will have an artist there to do caricatures.  Fun!

Don't forget to utilize your local library--it is just about as frugal as it gets.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

How my husband celebrated Father's Day

My husband is like a big kid!  He was lucky to get to do two of his favorite things this weekend.  Last night he took the kids to the local racetrack and watched cars (and then trucks) go around in circles at top speed and at top volume.  They had a good time.  I got to stay home and relax with a book, a movie, and a mountain of laundry.

Today he had asked if he could have friends over to play.  We have a paintball field in the back part of our yard.  He ended up with just short of 20 paintballers and some of their kids at our house for much of the afternoon.  He now has several new bruises and one big goose-egg.  He had a blast!  I hung out in the house, did a little housework, played around on the internet, and read another chapter in my book.

Hey, it works for us!

And before I post let me say a little something about Ron.  He was already a dad when I met him.  One of the things that attracted me to him is the way he interacted with his son.  He still is a great father to all four of his boys.  He is a male role-model for several other folks at his work and just in general.  He is very hands-on, coaching and playing with the boys.  He is easy to talk to.  He helps out around the house.  He's a pretty great guy and I'm lucky to have him.

My own dad is hard-working.  He is a farmer.  He was always there for my siblings and I as we were growing up.  He attended ball games, concerts, and dance recitals.  Currently he is the biggest fan of my baking.  He is my back of plan for day care and has taken the boys to help him on the farm (sometimes at the last minute).  We spent some time with him over the noon hour today.  He, Colby, and I worked together to get the fire started in the fire pit for our wiener roast.  Dad didn't get to stay too long though as he had hay to bale.  Hopefully he is enjoying his candy bar bouquet that the boys got him.  They had a hard time giving it up.

Neither of my grandpas are still living, but they were a big part of my life while they were here.  Grandpa George was also a farmer (as was his father, and my brother--it's in the blood).  He and Dad farmed together and he was at our house every morning at about 5:30 to go over the day's plans.  Every morning when I woke up, I could expect to find him at our kitchen table.  He also ran the feed store for many years.  He was my way in to early basketball practice.  My Grandpa Lewis was a veterinarian.  He raised six kids and was a father figure for several of their friends, and better than a dozen grandchildren.  He was so patient with us.  Whatever we needed, he found a way to get for us.

I'm thankful to have had all these men in my life.  They truly have helped me to become who I am.

Clarke County Farmers' Market, the past ten years

About ten years ago (I'm guessing, I can't remember for sure) we had a great abundance of pumpkins in our garden.  (Ron often gets excited about new varieties and over-plants.  The bounty depends on the weather and that year was perfect for pumpkins.)  So he and Calob, then 10 (or so), hauled pumpkins to the town square and set up a table at the local farmers' market.  They made pretty decent money.  Soon Ron was making plans for the next summer's garden and utilizing the opportunity to make a little extra money on a more regular basis.

Seeds and live plants were ordered or bought locally.  We attended a training so that we could accept the checks issued to WIC participants and senior commodities recipients.  A couple of areas were tilled up and planted.  Meanwhile while Ron experimented with varieties of plants in the garden, I experimented with various recipes in the kitchen.

We've had good growing seasons and poor growing seasons through the years.  Sometimes we sweat it out in the heat and humidity.  Sometimes we get rained on.  Sometimes we sit with jackets on and a blanket covering our legs.  Each year we tweak our plans and try to make improvements.

Our boys have grown up in our market.  They don't remember not being a part of market.  Colby and Brody were both born after we were involved in the market.  When we started out, we were the youngest vendors by about 30 years.  Many of the vendors were old enough to be my grandparents.  We now have several young families vending at the market and you can bet you will see kids playing in the grass or on the bandstand when you visit the market.  Several of those older vendors are still there, some are no longer with us.  We have become quite the family--celebrating births and mourning deaths together.  We are a very small market, averaging about 10 to 12 vendors at mid-summer during the height of the season.

There is more to say about our market and our personal involvement in it, but I'm going to save that for another post.  I am going to share a favorite recipe from my kitchen here:

Zucchini Bread
3 eggs
1 cup oil
2 1/4 cup white sugar
3 tsp vanilla
2 cups grated zucchini
3 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
3 tsp cinnamon

1.  Grease two loaf pans.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2.  Beat eggs, oil, vanilla, and sugar together.  Add zucchini and mix well.  Add dry ingredients.  Mix thoroughly.
3.  Pour batter into prepared pans.  Bake for about 60 minutes.  (I bake this alongside the pumpkin bread and it takes 1 hour.  On its own it would probably take less time.  It's ready when it starts to pull away from the side and the center springs back when you tap it.)

I learned early on that you can grate the zucchini without peeling it.  This saves time and I imagine it adds nutrients to the bread.  This bread is moist and tastes like cinnamon.  Yum!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Summer Bucket List, Week 3

We have a Summer Bucket List, thanks to Kelly over at Little Wonders' Days.  This is simply a list of fun things we want to do or accomplish this summer.  We just completed our third full week of summer.  To review our previous weeks go here and here.  This was a busy week for us.  I had two half days of work and two full days of training.  We had ball games four nights.  We had Farmers' Market Tuesday evening and this morning.  However we did manage to accomplish a few things on the list.  Here is a rundown of our week.

1.  Visit 10 parks to play and picnic:  I'm going to count the playground at my school.  Braedon and Colby have been helping me with a preschooler that I am providing some summer services to.  As part of the plans we are orienting him to various parts of the school that he will be utilizing in kindergarten next year.  That includes the big playground (preschool has a separate playground) and the cafeteria (preschool eats in our classrooms).  So Braedon and Colby got to play on the playground and eat breakfast at the school with H and I.  Much of the equipment was purchased with a grant last year so it was new to me.  My boys attend another school, so it was new to them too.  Fun for all of us.

21.  Homemade bubbles:  Sunday Brody helped me make some homemade bubbles and hunt for unusual bubble wands to bring to Grandma's for the wiener roast.  We took the following items for wands--slotted spoon, slotted spatula, plastic berry basket, bead, apple slicer, a canning ring, and a regular bubble wand.  The boys enjoyed it and especially liked the devices that made lots of bubbles hooked together (the apple slicer and the berry basket).

50.  Make and play with playdough:  We made kool-aid playdough and have been playing with it as part of our activities with H at the school.  It's been great for working on fine motor skills, imitation, turn taking, appropriate play, and language skills with H.  My boys just love to play with playdough and we don't do it very often at home.

Other items we did that were not on our original list:  
*Four baseball games--trying to squeeze those games in before tournaments next week.  Brody and Colby are going to miss playing with their buds that we see while Braedon plays ball.  
*Ate fresh strawberries out of the garden.
*As I type the boys and Ron are attending a local race at the Clarke County Speedway.  It's scout night so they should also be enjoying good company in the stands.  

This week looks a bit less busy (but still pretty full).  I'm sure we can get some activities in.  As I review the list I'm looking forward to it!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Picnic Ideas

Well, we are nearing the end of ball season.  However we are trying to get rain-called games made up in the next week before tournaments start next week.  Sooooo we are spending the next 4 evenings at the ball park (weather permitting).  I'm all about supporting the local concession stand, but I try to limit my purchase to a bag of popcorn (fifty cents).  If we ate at the ball park it would cost at least $15 for all five of us to have one meal item (hot dog or walking taco) and one drink.  You all know it wouldn't really stop at that.  We'd have to get candy, a second hot dog, or some other 'very important' item.

We do a lot of picnicking in the summer.  It's a cheap activity that can be made fun with the right attitude.  Standard picnic fare for us is a sandwich (pbj, lunchmeat, cheese, egg or tuna or chicken salad, etc), fruit and/or vegetable (apples, strawberries, bananas, grapes, carrot sticks, celery/peanut butter), something salty (chips, pretzels, chex mix), water or other cold drink.  We mix and match.  

My mom often saves my tush with a fun treat sack at the ball park.  She works at Fareway and often comes to the game from work.  She usually brings cold drinks, cheese sticks, and Bugles or something similar.  So that changes things up a bit and I don't have to hear quite as much whining about having the same old stuff.

I few things that I have done to change things up a bit:  using pita bread or wraps to serve the sandwiches, dips for fruits or veggies, vary the trail mix with whatever goodies we have in the cupboard.  One day I packed hard boiled eggs instead of sandwiches.  On Tuesdays we usually have some sort of leftovers from our stand at the Farmers' Market.  Cookies, chex mix, or rice crispy treats are favorites of the kids'.  

When we aren't running to the ballpark from another activity I try to take advantage of my crockpot or grill to serve something either before (or after) the game.  The bottom line is trying to serve a healthy (ish) meal without breaking the bank.  What are some of your suggestions for items to include in a picnic meal?

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Summer Bucket List Update, Week Two

We have a Summer Bucket List, thanks to Kelly over at Little Wonders' Days.  This is simply a list of fun things we want to do or accomplish this summer.  We just completed our second full week of summer.  To review our fist week go here.  I didn't think we had accomplished much this week until I started to review the list.  Here is a rundown of our week.

1.  Visit 10 parks to play and picnic:  Friday we played at East Lake Park on the bottom playground.  We packed a lunch of pbj, trail mix, strawberries, and water.  This playground has been around nearly as long as I have, but the kids still enjoy it.  I did notice that some of the playground structures had been removed (the big teeter totter, the swinging gate, the playhouse, at least one slide).  Some have been gone for awhile, some are recent removals, I think.  It does still have two merry go rounds, which you don't see very often anymore.  The boys swung on the swings, spun themselves silly on the merry go rounds, swung across the monkey bars and bounced on the smaller teeter totters.  I think Colby braved the big slide (Brody climbed up and right back down).  We were the only kids there and did get sprinkled on a bit.  Sadly, the park is in need of some trimming and repair.  Though I may have noticed it only because Mom told me that there are now only two park workers to keep all the county parks mowed, trimmed, and in good repair.  Maybe some community groups need to step up.

11.  Camping:  Ron and the boys slept in the tent in our front yard Sunday night.  I'm still hoping to go camping some weekend with some friends and I know we have some boy scout adventures coming up, so this is just a start.  Sunday had been hot, but it cooled off that night and Ron found himself needing to share Braedon's warm blanket.  No one was eaten by coyotes.  The dogs and cats never did quite figure out what was going on.  But I think the boys enjoyed it.  Ron said his back no longer feels like he's 20.  Mine either, that's why I slept inside.

23.  Look at the stars:  Brody and I laid down on the grass in the front yard and looked at the stars while the other three were getting the tent situated for sleeping.  I tried to point out the one constellation I still remember (the big dipper), but Brody didn't seem to care.  I also ended up with a tick out of the deal.

34.  Feed the geese:  There is an old railroad lake in town called Grade Lake.  It is home to 2-3 families of geese each summer.  Colby, Brody, and I brought them some stale bread and popcorn Thursday evening.  There seemed to be two families with goslings and one other couple there.  They enjoyed the popcorn, but kept their distance, hissing if we got too close.

46.  Donate toys to the thrift store:  We made a sizable clothing donation and also got a few toys snuck in there.  We definitely need to go through the toys again.  I know we can part with more than a small boxful.

Items not on the list that we did
   *Toured the post office with some other young families:  Kim, a friend of mine, started taking her daycare kids on local field trips a couple of years ago over the summer.  Last year she opened it up to other home providers.  This year she opened it to families.  The new postmaster was very receptive.  The kids seemed interested.  We enjoyed it.  Oh and Braedon was able to give our home address when she asked.
   *Volunteered:  All five of us helped load the semi trailer bound for Joplin.  We even made the local news.  Colby and Braedon started helping me with the preschooler I'm working with this summer.  He is working on many things, including social skills, and they are posing as his peers.  
   *Random act of kindness:  This was mostly me, but we did talk about it afterward.  I was stopped by a lady at the gas station trying to get home, who had run out of money.  I had a little money in my pocket that I gave her.  I talked to the two boys I had with me, Brody and Colby, about trying always to be kind and helpful, but also to be smart.  I'm not sure what her situation was, but I do think she needed help and hope she got home safely.

I think this coming week may be a tough one to get activities in.  We have a lot going on, including two full-day trainings for me, two half days working with the preschooler, our own farmers' market x2, and at least four nights of ballgames (weather permitting).  I am going to try to do some of the easier 'around the house' type of activities early in the week so that we can check some items off and not let the week get away from us.  Hope everyone else is enjoying your summer as much as we are!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Energy Efficient Fridge

Well I don't know about you, but my kids think it's their job to keep the door of my fridge open as much as possible.  We are working on that.  But even if your kids (and husband) are on the 'keep the door shut' bandwagon, your fridge will run more this time of year.  It's hard work to keep things cold in the summer!

A few years back I read somewhere that a fuller fridge is more energy efficient (this is also true for the freezer, by the way).  So I try to keep bottles of water in the back of the fridge, along with pitchers of water and lemonade.  It encourages the kids to keep hydrated and also helps fill the fridge.

As for the freezer, I try to buy things on sale and freeze them.  My freezer has cheese, lunchmeat, hamburger, hot dogs, chicken breasts, bananas (for bread), and various other items.  We try to keep it full too.

Small-town Iowa = Big Hearts

Two weeks ago an F5 tornado hit Joplin, MO.  This followed deadly tornadoes in Alabama and Arkansas (and I'm sure other places I'm forgetting about) earlier this spring.  We live in Iowa.  We have tornadoes occasionally.  Well, we have tornado watches pretty frequently.  That means the conditions are right for tornadoes to form, usually in conjunction with thunderstorms.  And we have tornado warnings sometimes.  That means that a tornado has been spotted either by a qualified person or indicated by radar.  It's when we are under a warning that we take cover in our basement under the steps.  Our schools have tornado drills like we have fire drills.  Our kids learn early on how to react.  I'm sure in other parts of the country tornado drills are probably replaced with earthquake or hurricane drills, neither of which we practice here in the middle of the country.

Anyway, something about the Joplin tornado really struck a chord with me.  We do live close to Missouri, but Joplin is probably 5 hours away from us.  Maybe it was the news coverage of a city so devastated that there was no semblance of a building where houses, stores, and nursing homes once stood.  Maybe it was because it struck at the end the school year when I was ready to focus on something different.  Probably it was a combination of those and other factors I can't put my finger on, but for whatever reason I felt the need to do something for the people in Joplin.

Here are some links that touched my heart and help encourage me to step up and do something.
Panoramas of Joplin before and after the tornado  Click and drag on the picture for the panorama.

First-hand stories from survivors:  This one had me in tears a few times.  I think because some of the accounts are from parents around my age or that had kids my kids' ages.  I could put myself in their shoes.

Incredibly, through Facebook I found that a friend of several friends and a current resident in my small town was from Joplin originally, still has family there, and was preparing to take supplies to her hometown in the next week or so after the storm.  I sent Sarah a friend request with a note attached that we had mutual friends, I wanted to help collect supplies for her trip, and could we communicate via facebook?  She accepted.  I think she got a few other such friend requests because within the next day she created a facebook group to try to organize this relief effort that was snowballing.  Before long she had made arrangements for a 53 foot trailer and semi to move supplies from Southern Iowa to Southern Missouri.

Sarah's family and other contacts from the Joplin area have been communicating with us to make sure we are sending supplies that are actually needed and not things that will be a burden to them.  Folks don't have houses to store things like furniture, dishes, appliances.  People who just lost all of their possessions are not looking for lamps, high heels, or winter coats in June.  People who have found their lives changed so abruptly in this manner need toiletries, clean underwear and socks, paper plates, plastic-ware, baby-care items, and cleaning supplies.  They are also looking for some items that will return some normalcy to there lives like make-up, pop, and a decent bra.  Sarah's home church, First Baptist Church of Joplin will also take checks and will distribute the 100% of the funds to disaster victims with no overhead.  Over the past couple of weeks we have tried to get the word out to local churches, our thrift store, other community groups, and just common folks with big hearts.

Yesterday a group of us came together to sort our donations and start loading the trailer.  We were amazed at the generosity of so many.  We have received bags and boxes full of soaps, shampoos, lotions, toothbrushes, and toothpaste.  The police department donated many boxes of newer clothes sorted by size.  We have a few gallons of bleach.  We have cases of water.  The Murray Church of Christ came with a couple of vans full of toiletries, paper towels, toilet paper, and some non-perishable food items.  The HyVee manager and his family showed up while we were loading with a van-load of water, Gatorade, and hand sanitizer.  He called back to the store and had another employee head out with a pickup load of sturdy boxes with handles.  We had a great response from the community.  But this truck is big and we still have a lot of room.

Our efforts have gotten news coverage by the Des Moines' NBC affiliate.  (Which was the highlight of my boys' day--they are movie stars now.)  We hope that this will help us to gather more donations and fill the truck.  We have a church group heading down to volunteer in clean up in the next couple of weeks.  Plans are in the works for a group from Cross Ministries (the local thrift store) to head down later this summer as the first wave of volunteers begins to subside.  I am unable to work onsite in Joplin.  I am not in a position to write a big check.  However I am so happy to be able to assist with some smaller donations of needed items, helping to sort and load the truck, and trying to get the word out to the community and surrounding communities that there is a local effort in place to help our neighbors in need.  I am glad that my kids got to help too.  I hope it is just a piece of their development into caring, compassionate men.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Summer Bucket List Update, Week One

We have a Summer Bucket List, thanks to Kelly over at Little Wonders' Days.  This is simply a list of fun things we want to do or accomplish this summer.  Our first week of summer is over and I'm happy to say that we can check a few things off the list.  Here is a summary of our week.

1.  Play and Picnic at the Park:  Clarke County Moms had a playdate at Mallory Park in Murray this week.  The boys and I attended and brought a lunch of hard-boiled eggs, chex mix, carrots, and apples.  One down, nine to go.  Hopefully we'll be able to make it to more of the CCM's activities this summer too.

10.  Wienie Roast with S'mores:  Planned for today at Grandma and Grandpa Onn's house.  We'll sit and visit, roast hot dogs, visit some more, make s'mores, and then go swimming in the wading pool.

17.  Catch Lightning Bugs:  The boys found a baby bird.  It couldn't fly.  We weren't sure where it came from.  They caught lightning bugs and fed them to the bird.  The bird ate them and was dead in the morning.  Not exactly what I had planned when I included this in our list...

20.  Go to Adventureland:  We went with the cub scouts yesterday.  Brody was brave and rode more rides this year.  He actually rode some kind of scary rides like the Silly Silo (spins around until you stick to the wall, then the floor drops down).  Colby found a friend and family there as we were getting started and we spent the morning roaming the park with them.  Fun to watch them discover some of the rides together.  Braedon was his usual daredevil self--riding roller coasters and adventurous rides.  He ended up puking just as we were leaving at nine, after riding the Silly Silo three times in a row, followed by another spinning ride two times in a row.  Adventureland has been adding a water park over the last few years and we enjoyed that (I even donned my swimsuit).  Our friend had the brilliant idea to go across the street to Burger King for lunch and saved some money (half the price of eating at the park).  I got to ride the log ride (couldn't convince anyone to ride it with me before, but when your friend wants to ride it, so do you) and the Raging River and got soaked on both.  Ron found he is just beginning to feel his age and toned down his rides just a smidgen.  The weather had called for chance of thunderstorms.  It was cloudy, but didn't rain.  We didn't see any crowds until we got to the water park mid-afternoon.  It was a great day.

That's a pretty good start, I think.  I still need to get this list posted to help to focus our efforts and to excite the kids about our summer plans.  It's not too late to make your own bucket list and join the fun!  Here's where you can see what other families have done this week to check items off of their lists.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Random Thoughts

May was a busy month and it appears that will be stretching into June.  The blog has been feeling deserted.  Whenever I come to post, I have so many things swimming around in my head that I want to post about that I can't seem to get anything down.  So in an effort to clear my head, today I bring you Random Thoughts, Volume 1 (I'm sure there will be more since I am often a random person).

*Joplin, MO has been on my mind a lot in the past ten days.  It feels near to me as we are about a 45 minute drive from Missouri.  Granted it would probably take us 5 hours to get to Joplin.  Regardless, it still feels like something like that could happen here.  Thankfully, I am able to do something.  Another mom in our small town is from Joplin and her family is still there (all are fine).  She and several other community members (many of us part of a mom's group) have organized a drive for supplies.  We will be packing up a semi Sunday through Wednesday of next week and shipping supplies to Joplin.  We have concentrated on toiletries, cleaning supplies, and survival supplies and hope that we make a difference in the lives of families down there.

*My cousin went into premature labor on Sunday and it looked really bad for awhile for both mom and baby.  Thankfully, things turned around in 24 hours and the baby was born safely, about 6 weeks early.  Both mom and baby are doing well.  In fact, he is doing so well that the doctors took him off oxygen yesterday.

*My sister is having a garage sale this Saturday.  This is a great excuse for me to de-clutter and get rid of some stuff.  I have done some de-cluttering, but I just hate it.  I need to do more.  Who needs two dozen shirts?  I mean, my boys would have to dirty several shirts a day and I'd have to be more than a week behind in laundry to really wear that many clothes.  Both of those instances have occurred, but not simultaneously.  Right now the boys are tackling their toys.  Hopefully we can get rid of some stuff so that there is less to take care of.  None of it is coming home.  I will drop whatever is left off at the thrift store on the way home.

*Cub scouts are also having a day at Adventureland this Saturday.  We're excited about that.  I haven't decided if I will be brave enough to don a swimsuit.  Normally I do there, but since there will be so many people I know there I haven't decided yet.  It's supposed to be warm, but the rain chances keep creeping up.  Maybe the chance of rain will keep some of the crowd away.

*I've gotten myself re-involved in two local groups this week.  Clarke County Moms is a group of moms that come together for playdates and to build supports for each other and other moms.  We did some of their activities last summer, but things got too busy for me with some college classes I was taking and then with work and I haven't been to any of their activities for some time.  I took all three boys to the park and picnic day yesterday and we are planning to attend more in the coming weeks.  Also I have been a member of Fiction Addiction (a book club) since its development this winter, but have never actually attended a meeting due to work conflicts.  I like to say I play along at home, as I read the books, but miss out on the discussion.  I went to the meeting last night even though I hadn't read the book (The Hour I First Believed by Wally Lamb).  I had fun and am excited to attend in July.  Our book for July is Something Borrowed by Emily Giffin.  I'm a few chapters in and will actually be able to discuss this book.  Woo hoo!

*I cleaned my van out this morning.  I threw away a garbage bag full of junk.  It's embarrassing to have trash fall out of the van when we get out, but for now we are trash free.  It really needs a good vacuuming, maybe I'll get that done tomorrow.

*We've started our Summer Bucket List and I'll blog about that in a separate post.  I'm trying to decided if I will blog a certain day of the week about this or just randomly.  It will probably be random, because that's just how we roll.

*It's past time for me to make lunch, so I guess I'd better get to it.  The boys have managed to empty out their toys into a carpet of stuff in both rooms so I might just have to play the mean mom and just start shoving it into garage sale boxes...  <sigh>