Bucket List

Earlier this year Big made up a “bucket list” of sorts. It was more of a “things I’d like to do this year” list, but either way it was a cool way to see what she had in her mind to do and learn.


Most of the list we checked off: Mardi Gras, Wicked on Broadway, skiing, etc. It’s been a BIG year.


There are a couple of items left.


  1. GO to the start of the Boston Marathon. One, my mom lives in the town where it starts. Two, a ton of the runners strip down from their warm stuff and throw it by the side of the road, so it’s a fun place to scavenge work out gear (you know, if you’re 13 and a size S…like Big…). Maybe next year for this one.


  1. Learn to sail.


I come from a sailing background. Not a swanky Newport, RI big yacht sailing background – more of a small lake, small boat racing background. I LOVED sailing when I was a kid and picked my college (and partly my career) based on that love. When I was in high school I taught sailing at our local boat club. So, when we were visiting family who happen to own a little dinghy, Big HAD to give it a try.


Obviously, this was NOT going to be a mom-daughter sail. No way. Not gonna happen!


But, I could help her (and her similarly clueless cousin) rig the boat, brief them, and yell from the shore. And since Big has read all of the Swallows and Amazons books, so she’s totally qualified. (Ask her!)



So, they set off and I coached from the shore. They only tipped a couple of times – and more swamping than actual tipping.They didn’t crash when landing. They didn’t get hurt. They didn’t break anything. Most importantly, they had a BLAST and Big is ready to try again. I think in a few days with me in a kayak nearby she’d be safe and solid.
And no, I haven’t been trolling Craigslist for sailboats. Nope. Can’t prove anything!


Huntsville Girls Weekend

This past weekend Big and I had a real, live ALL GIRLS WEEKEND!! The Boys were off on a scout trip, so we decided that instead of staying home we’d head out on an adventure. We considered a trip to the beach, but our last minute planning made that impossible. Camping was an option, as were a few other things. I came up with the BRILLIANT idea of heading to Huntsville to visit the Space and Rocket Center. Big is a HUGE space buff so it seemed like the perfect place.

For her birthday recently Big received the movie Space Warriors and the kids have watched it 2 or 3 times. [I will say, as an aside, that while the tween crew loves the movie it’s so amazingly awful that I can’t stand to be in the same room when it’s playing, LOL!!!] So, the idea of going to the place where it was filmed, and where Space Camp is held, was a pretty huge win.
We drove the long haul over on Friday afternoon, hoping to arrive at our hotel and hit the pool…. Well, booking hotels online isn’t always a win – so we spent an hour once we got there looking for a new hotel. I’m not super picky – but it was creepy! Thankfully my first reservation was refundable! We found a new place, checked in, swam, and headed out for dinner. It is always fun for us to hit a “big city” (yes, Hunstville qualifies for us!) and do some shopping, eat out, and – yes – hit Target! At the hotel we were able to watch some Food Network (no cable at home – so we binge when we can, LOL!). Needless to say we went to bed tired and late.

Big was so THRILLED to head to the Space Center in the morning, so we got up early, ate breakfast, and headed to be there when it opened. That turned out to be a BRILLIANT call because when we were leaving at 1 the lines were much, much longer. So, the Space Center is, in my humble opinion, expensive. It cost nearly $45 for the two of us for one day. Our fee included the museum, a few rides, and one IMAX movie. They had a small military discount, but nothing great. The rides that were included were: a one story rock climbing wall, a Mars simulator ride (not super scary according to Big – no seat belts, even), a g-force simulator, and a shoot in the air type launch simulator. After riding them Big was generally unimpressed and as an observing parent I’d say there were on par with carnival rides. Again, getting there early was huge as Big could ride what she wanted with no line.

We are huge museum people, so we hit all the displays. I enjoyed reading up on Werhner Von Braun and looking at the life of astronauts. Big played a little on their “interactive” Mars display. Without the rides the museum and display parts would take two hours to go through slowly and read everything. With the rides, the IMAX (which was one of our favorite parts – we did the one on Hubble), all the displays, and an enthusiastic tween – we were done by 1:30. That included a little time for a snack and an attempt at shopping. Sadly, Big didn’t like the shirts so we didn’t get anything at the gift shop.

Overall, our weekend was amazing – but the Space Center was a huge disappointment. It just struck me as a huge ad for Space Camp, and it really looked like nothing had been updated in years. Frankly, the kids I saw at Space Camp did NOT impress me (think tweens running wild), nor did their “leadership” (think disinterested college aged chaperones). The idea of “interactive” apparently only means “screen” – and there wasn’t a lot else. Yes, there were a couple of Gemini pods the kids could climb into – but no shuttle they could climb on, only a few displays on astronauts, and just a general disappointment for the cost. Needless to say, I would not make the effort to go there again.

But – our Saturday disappointment did not ruin the weekend! More shopping, more swimming, more adventure! We had an amazing time. I will cherish the time I spent this weekend with Big – the coolest 12 year old in the world!

Weekly review – 5/24/13

Seriously, it’s Friday already?!? This week has been NUTS!! We’re on our summer schedule, so it’s tons of fun and … math. LOL!!

Math – I think we’ve completed 5 lessons. Maybe 4. Math in our house it pretty much on autopilot right now. Little is on the geometry sections of Horizons 6, so it’s simple for him. Big is doing Algebra 1/2, but Saxon spirals so much most of it’s review and really easy. I’m super happy with both choices!

Writing– The kids are working on Scout stuff. Little is nearly complete with Citizenship in the Community.He had to do a write up on a movie, so he that this week. The kids are finishing the final touches on the family newsletter. Big is working on a massive tri-fold for an American Heritage Girls project. I need to be more diligent to FINISH the projects we start!

Scout Stuff – This week we attended the volunteer orientation for our local Humane Society and today we have our first volunteer session. To say they are excited is a HUGE understatement. Big is nearly complete with all the stuff she needs for her big award, also. We will be prayerfully considering our participation in scouting for the future. (The article linked sums up a lot of my feelings right now. It’s an excellent read. )

Field Trip! We had an amazing field trip this week. Here’s a teaser shot… More to follow this weekend…

ImageLife Skills Friday – We’re continuing with this and I LOVE IT! I am working on figuring out how to incorporate this in the school year. This week the kids are mowing the lawn, caring for a turtle, and volunteering at the animal shelter. I am sure we’ll stick one more thing in there for cooking or cleaning.

Rose for the Week – Animal shelter volunteer session and our field trip. I will report more on the first shelter visit later. I am confident that will be HUGE! I am loving seeing the kids find ways to serve in the capacities that God created for them to fill. It’s pretty awesome. (Also, getting the a/c in my car fixed was pretty sweet, too!)

Thorn for the Week – Or in this case, a thorn in my side! – THE FAMILY NEWSLETTER WILL BE FINISHED AND MAILED BY SATURDAY AT LUNCH!!!!!!!!!!! LOL!!!!


Scout School

Working Lunch, LOL!

Since the kids and I have pretty much finished up the official “schoolwork” for the year we’ve started working on “Scout School”. Big is a Trailblazer with the American Heritage Girls, and Little just “crossed over” from Cub Scouts to Boy Scouts. I figured with some down time and less school time, we could knock out some advancement requirements and merit badge stuff. The kids do fine with “free” time, but I think this will provide them with some framework for a couple hours a day, not to mention to field trips and other stuff we’ll be doing.

This week Little has been working on “Citizenship in the Community“, as well as keeping a turtle to finish up his “Reptiles and Amphibians” merit badge. Citizenship has been really interesting. We went to Municipal Court on Monday, which could be a post of it’s own! The kids learned a lot and I think we’ve come up with some ideas for bills to write for TeenPact in the spring. Tuesday we visited the Humane Society and filled out the paperwork to foster kittens or puppies, as well as interview the staff there. Tonight we’re attending volunteer training there also. Last night when I was at bible study DH and the kids watched “Hoot” as a part of the requirement (which we’ll discuss and record today). Little’s also been working on his worksheet and getting the details down, as well as prepping up a PowerPoint presentation on our town for the Troop. Hopefully not all of these merit badges are so thorough! LOL!

.Big is working on finishing up a few things for her huge end of year award. She’s working on Civics and Government, Bible Basics and Best Me I Can Be. Most of her stuff is paperwork since she’s done the requirements already. She is working on a really cool tri-fold about the operation of the federal government, and I am excited to post pictures of it when she’s done.

With all the fun we’re having this week I can TOTALLY see why people love Unit Studies. I talked to a friend last night and we discussed my going totally Unit Study approach for history next year. Maybe… We’ll see!!