Mom and Daughter Escape

In the midst of the craziness of Thanksgiving, Big and I took off. We had to run errands (sincerely, I needed to get a lamp part and there was only one place I could get it).

But, we also needed some time.

Just us.

A little hanging out.

A little something special to hide away in our hearts during the bustle.

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And what better place than Le Madeliene?

It’s “French”.

They have girly food.

And a fire.

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And insanely delicious desserts.

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So we stole some time.

And ate an early dinner.

And hung out.

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And it felt like we played hooky from our obligations for just a little while.

And we kind of did.

Because sometimes when you’re 44 or 13, you need a break.

And a little treat.

And a chance to breathe and be yourself.

And a special little memory to hide in you heart.

And maybe a strawberry Napoleon.

I know I needed it.

Big needed it. She said it was her favorite part of the week.

How about you? Any special breaks this week? Please, make a plan for a little something special for you and a loved one during this crazy holiday season. It doesn’t have to be fancy. Or expensive. Just a little time to hide away and a memory to cherish.

Linked at The Modest Mom Blog

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AWESOME Teen / Tween / Family Adventure

This week the family and I are visiting my husband’s relatives in Texas. It’s been an awesome trip so far!! The other day I was searching online for an activity for the kids – 12, 13, and 13 – and came across a website for

URBAN ADVENTURES

No, I wasn’t paid, compensated or asked to write this. We just used this services, it was awesome, and I want to share it!

Here’s a screenshot from their website:

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Basically, it’s a service that you buy and it gives you access to the game on your smart phone. Here’s a run down:

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The adventure is good for a team of up to 5 people. Ours, with a discount code from the website, was $44. For 3 teens and 2 chaperoning adults, I thought it was a great value! We didn’t stop for lunch or take many breaks, and it took the kids about 3 and a half hours. If I compare that to movie tickets – I think it’s a great deal and a much more fun memory maker!

So, what’s involved? Basically, you’d walk to the assigned location (good for the kids to have to learn directions, map reading, and spatial awareness!), and then figure out a clue to get the next location revelaed. The clues are word puzzzles, crosswords based on building plaques, elimination games, and more – and they teach about the trivia and history of the area. The kids had a great time with the puzzles and I think their ages were perfect to really “play” the game. Paper and pencils are a must!

On our route there were 18 and a few bonus questions. Our game was about 3 and half hours long, and I think from the car back to the car we walked about 4 miles. One of my only critiques would be to loop the route a little better – not to make it much shorter – but to get back to car and eliminate a backtracking kind of boring walk after all the fun.

On the whole, we will DEFINITELY do another one of the adventures. It was a blast. The kids struggled with sharing the phone, taking other’s ideas in to solve the puzzle on “their” turn, and teamwork – so it’s a great way to work on character and leadership issues as well as having a fun trip and exploring somewhere new. Yes, it even snuck in a bunch of history about the area…I’m a sneaky homeschool mom like that!! I HIGHLY recommend spending the money, taking a day (I’d figure in a lunch stop along the way – our route had TONS of cool looking restaurants!), putting on good shoes, and doing one of the Urban Adventures!

Road Trip

Saturday the family and I headed out on our Thanksgiving road trip. it was awesome because the WHOLE family made it for the ride. Often the kids and I drive and meet DH, or pick him up on the way, or we go as a trio. It was AWESOME having him there, and not just because I got to nap!! Trips are just more fun with him.

This was about the first hour out…

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Zorse. He’s a mess. He drank WAY too much coffee this trip. Thankfully we don’t have to stop much with him…

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Crossing the Mighty Mississippi. It’s so pretty. It’s also super cool how you go from the hills on the east bank, to the FLAT western bank in Louisiana.

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Zorse was a willing model, while Big and Little used my phone for picture editing.

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Other fun stuff on the trip – naps, snacks, video games, puzzles on the Kindle, books, books, books, snacks, football on the radio (and espn for the non-driver – GO ARKANSAS!!), audio dramas, and more puzzle games!

Are you road tripping this week? What do you have planned for the trip?

Weekly Review – Nov 21

I want to apologize in advance if this is the LAMEST Weekly Report ever. I wrote this long and witty report, but didn’t save it, so my ipad ate it for lunch. It was very sad. So, I’ll try and recapture some of the fun!

Sunday was the big Chili Cookoff at church. It was a blast!! We have a tiny fellowship – I refer to us as a “homechurch in a building” – and almost everyone brought chili. They were all delicious. On Saturday prepping for the cook off (and making chili for a friend to deliver her dinner), I made THREE separate trips to the grocery store.

Trip 1 – Red peppers. OK. Unless they’re cheap I don’t buy them…

Trip 2 – Onions. Seriously. I can’t believe I didn’t have onions!

Trip 3 – Cumin. Really. For chili. I went to the store and was met with this:

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I started texting a friend from church accusing her (JOKINGLY) of sabotage. I did find some no-name cumin on another shelf and managed to save myself from TRIP 4. In the end, the cookoff was a huge success and much deliciousness was consumed by all!!

The school week went well. We managed to squeeze in a couple of medical appointments, too. Apparently I have ocular migranes, which while terrifying, are better than normal migranes. Middle Age and I are NOT friends. The kids had orthodontist consults, and we start down that road next month. Yikes. I also made it to a Troop Committee meeting for Little Boy Scout troop, were I took over as the Troop Committee Chair. (Now that I write this all out, it’s not a huge wonder that I’m tired!)

Despite our best efforts at making school fun this week, we were ALL ready to be done by Friday. We worked hard to finish the week strong – and I didn’t cross much off THE LIST. The kids even did 2 science lessons on Thursday, working late into the night after TKD, to have more free time on Friday. They did a great job. Math tests were completed Friday (we’ve made it to the halfway point in math!!!), and little wrap up work was done, and…

FALL BREAK WAS DECLARED!!! PRAISE THE LORD!!!

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(In case you think my kids write this neatly – it’s my test – and it may be wrong! I forgot to grade mine…)

After the work was done on Friday we goofed off and did some baking. We are seeing family for Thanksgiving so many snacks needed to be made.

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In total there were:
2 batches of Chex Mix
1 batch of sweet Chex Mix
1 batch Chocolate Chip cookies
1 large batch Ranch Oyster Crackers
1 batch saltine tofffee

We should be SET for a while.

And, after the snacks were made and school was done we worked on a Kinnex set and watched The King and I. Musical Thearter Thursday – on a Friday – was a big hit. It was a great, busy, productive week… “etc…etc..etc..”

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I hope you had a FANTASTIC week. Are you taking a whole week off next week?

Linked at

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Advent Resources – Middle School Edition

With Advent just around I wanted to share a few resources that we’ve used over the past few years that we really liked.

Advent is such a tough thing. I want SO MUCH for us to slow down and prepare our hearts to celebrate Christ’s birth – but it’s such a crazy busy time. Recitals… parties…. Christmas boxes… Special “Christmas only” events like ice skating, performances, etc. I want to take it ALL in, and make tons of memories, AND slow down. All at the same time.

Some Christmas traditions we tried have failed miserably. The Jesse Tree has bombed for years. The concept is so amazing – scripture, Christ from Genesis to His bith… Read, color an ornament, pray…. I just fail at it. I guess I have this mental picture of my kids sipping hot chocolate while relishing scripture time and quietly coloring intricate, heirloom-quality ornaments. We’ve NEVER lived up that image! Maybe I’ve let perfection be the enemy of completion with this one.

Adornaments. Another fail. Maybe this year we’ll pull it off. (I’ll have to post a picture of this when I open the boxes. It’s a series of stories and scriptures with 12 cardboard ornaments highlighting the names of Christ.) I think we’ve made it a week before…

But we have had a number of things we LOVE. And that WORK.

First, a couple of devotionals. They’re historical fiction, but really well done. I would recommend these for ages 10 and up since there is some suspense and family seperation, some violence, etc. We LOVE these books and usually pick one to read aloud as a family each year.

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Jotham’s Journey for $7.99 on Christian Book

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Bartholomew’s Passage for $7.99 on Christian Book

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Tabitha’s Travels for $7.99 on Christian Book

You can also get a set of all three at Christian Book.

One other book we ALWAYS read at Christmas is an obscure book. It’s call A Light at Tern Rock and it’s brillliant. Absolutely BRILLIANT. It’s about a boy and his grandmother and a lighthouse and Christmas. I won’t say more. I adore this book as a read aloud to start the holiday season.

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And, if you haven’t read it…

The Best Christmas Pageant Ever. I skipped this one for years, and I don’t know why. I think I had a block (like my not watching The Princess Bride because I was 20 and my mom liked it… That was a fail), and kept putting it off. It was a read aloud in a Sonlight core we did and I made myself read it. I LOVED IT. The kids loved it. We laughed and we totally got the lessons in the book. It’s wonderful. And funny!!

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That’s my list. I might add more later as I unpack the Christmas books box or if we find cool new things this year. I LOVE Christmas and can’t wait to start the season!!

Posted at STARTS AT EIGHT

Life Skills – IKEA

Back in the fall we made a road trip that landed us near Ikea.

I love Ikea.

I mean, I LOVE IKEA.

It’s a really good thing we don’t have one within 5 hours of us, or my house might start looking like the adorable, but messy and lived in, family set up they always show in the catalog. I dream about the minimalist Scandinavian set up – but I am a little too realistic!

While we were there we bought two of the classic Ikea bouncy chairs for the former “Schoolroom” recently renamed “The Library”. Basically, it’s the schoolroom with no table and two cute bouncy chairs. 🙂

Big graciously built the chairs for me. I think the ability to assemble flat pack furniture is a mandatory “life skill” that everyone should have before leaving home. LOL!!! At 13 she totally rocked it, so I am signing off that skill for her.

The subject:

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The process:

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The product:

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The dog wasn’t found at Ikea, though I think she’d like it there. Lots of soft places to sleep, people to pet her, and meatballs.

What LIFE SKILLS are you requiring that your kids learn before the fly the nest??

Goal Setting Monday

I’m not normally a huge blog pusher, but I need your help… Please consider following my blog! The link is at the bottom on the right. I need just a few more followers to try out for the Old Schoolhouse Review Crew and would love your support! If you like my blog and only if you like it!), I’d hugely appreciate it!!

On to the Weekly Goals…

Review from last week… Bold is “complete”.

Spiritual:
+ Daily time in the Word
+ Get 3 verses of Romans 12 memorized with the kids

Parenting:
+ Complete all items on checklist for school this week…We did ok, but didn’t complete the list.
+ Accountability with encouragement…. (We’re in a stage….please let it be a stage…) ETA – this is never”complete” but it was a good week
+ One night with no TV and a game night

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Personal:
+ Walk 5 times this week, 2 miles each, foot permitting…foot didn’t permit.
+ Make my coffee before bed...mostly fail…
+ Complete 3 video sessions in the Lightroom Class I’m taking (you know, after I register for it…)

Financial:
+ 2 trips to Starbucks this week… Not a minimum there…. three… fail
+ Dining out: once with accountability partner, once with kids… Ate with accountability partner – but we split and she paid, family ate out Tuesday lunch…Friday dinner with Big… overall ok!

Homemaking:
+ Rake front yard

Other:
+ Finish photoshop work on my Sunday shoot by weekend – done, and ordered! 🙂

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The Week Ahead

Spiritual:
+ Daily time in the Word – 30 minute challenge
+ Get 3 more verses of Romans 12 memorized with the kids

Parenting:
+ Complete all items on checklist for school this week
+ Accountability with encouragement…. keep it up
+ One night with no TV and a game night… try out Theater Thursday…

Personal:
+ Walk 5 times this week, 2 miles each, foot permitting
+ Make my coffee before bed
+ Complete 2 hours of video sessions in the Lightroom Class

Financial:
+ 2 trips to Starbucks this week… Not a minimum there.
+ Dining out: one lunch or breakfast with kids. One.

Homemaking:
+ meal plan
+ minimize grocery shopping this week as much as possible

Other:
+ empty, wash and vac car

Linked up at The Modest Mom Blog.