Sunday, January 25, 2015

Where in the world are the Watts?

I told Jeff the other day that it would probably be enough for me to homeschool the kids. Or to be a CC director. Or to try to sell the house. Or to plan an around-the-world trip. But sometimes trying to do all of those things simultaneously is a bit much, and I feel the crazy threatening to take over. I just keep reminding myself that all are rewarding and totally worth it and that I won't always have all these things on my plate.

The good news is, some of the work is already paying off, and I am excited to report that our travel plans are really coming together! We now know, and have confirmed, where we will be staying all the nights from the time we leave Marble Falls on May 4 until we leave Africa on July 24. In case you're curious about where in the world the Watts will be during those months, here's a schedule so you can follow along:

WhenWhere
May 4Dallas, TX
May 5Airplane (from Dallas to Frankfurt, Germany)
May 6Windeck, Germany
May 7-13Rijinsburg, Netherlands
May 14Hamburg, Germany
May 15-16Berlin, Germany
May 17-19Prague, Czech Republic
May 19-25Vienna, Austria
May 26-27Mako, Hungary
May 28-29Deva, Romania
May 30-31Bran, Romania
June 1-2Bucharest, Romania
June 3-4Veliko Tarnovo, Bulgaria
June 5-6Sofia, Bulgaria
June 7-8Estias, Greece
June 9-12Athens, Greece
June 13Ferry Boat (from Greece to Italy)
June 14-27Naples, Italy
June 28-July 2Rome, Italy
July 3Airplane (from Rome, Italy to Livingstone, Zambia)
July 4Livingstone, Zambia
July 5-6Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe
July 7-14Cape Town, South Africa
July 15Train (from Cape Town to Johannesburg)
July16Nelspruit, South Africa
July 17-18Draasloot, South Africa
July 19-22Kruger National Park, South Africa
July 23Johannesburg, South Africa
July 24Airplane (from Johannesburg, SA to Rome, Italy via Cairo, Egypt)

We will also be updating the world map and local time clock, both located on the right hand side of the blog, as we travel, so that will give you another way to keep up with us. We are really looking forward to watching that percentage of countries visited number go up and up and up!

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

A new semester at Watts Homeschool


Math class at the bar
(Teacher was all business, but the students couldn't resist a glance at the camera)

A weighty project

Learning letters with Starfall

Someone's self-assigned art project

Whitney's cotton gin

The first grader, who has been working in the third grade math book,
decided he was ready to take on Algebra. Nothing to it.

How does pH affect jelly's ability to jell?

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Good times

My parents gave the older boys tickets to a monster truck show for Christmas, which was to be held last night. So, we decided to make a weekend of it. My uncle, aunt and cousins were also in the area, so we got to spend some time with them yesterday, unloading furniture (which my parents graciously offered to store for us while we are traveling), putting together a huge jigsaw puzzle, eating yummy food, shopping and just visiting. Today, the boys, Jeff, my mom and I took advantage of the gorgeous weather and went for a nice little hike, before we had to head home.


Love these people!

Monster Trucks

Don't let this picture fool you, they had a great time, even if it was a little loud!

kings of the world

"You are my sunshine..."

Hit the trail!

Thursday, January 15, 2015

First Favorites of the New Year

Form and function meet in this hard shell case with bonus keyboard cover.
Taking care of business is much more fun when everything is covered in a splash of color!

I have struggled with hormonal acne most of my adult life.
This is the first face wash I've used that really seems to keep it at bay.

Weston received this kit for Christmas,
and we have been having a blast conducting the edible experiments. 

I received the Fitbit Charge as a gift, and I absolutely love it!
It actually makes choosing a healthy lifestyle fun!

These three sites (booking.com, airbnb.com and vrbo.com) are our go-tos
for finding and booking places to stay overseas. We have gotten many good deals, on personality-filled
accommodations, for our exceptionally large (by European hotel standards) family. 

I have been looking for months for a comfortable pair of flats that would work with pants or a skirt.
These Merrell Mary Janes are the perfect solution.

This is my current coffee obsession. 

We have been Starfall fans since Ruth was little.
Now we are introducing Clay to it, to teach some basic reading and math skills.
It's not as flashy as some programs, but the kids (even the older ones) love it.

On our practice trip to Canada,
we decided we really needed some collapsable water bottles
to make getting through airports easier and less expensive.
These fit the bill perfectly, and now we have a family set.  

I love the flavor and the moisture of this doTerra lip balm,
 but I especially love the fact that passes the kiss test with my hubby!

Monday, January 12, 2015

To Max, my favorite seven-year-old

Well, Max, you're seven! And, you are such an amazing seven-year-old, it makes me glad you and I both survived your infant and toddler years, so we could live to appreciate this day! I have really seen you change a lot in the last year, and I'm thankful for and proud of all the ways you are learning and growing and maturing!

In our household, seven brings two very special things: getting to watch the Star Wars movies for the first time and learning how to do your own laundry. We spent the weekend watching the movies, which you were thrilled to finally get to see, since you've heard your older siblings reference them so often. Tomorrow, you will get your first laundry lesson and will be well on your way to becoming even more self-sufficient than you already are. (You have already been helping with sorting and putting away, but now you will have the opportunity to go through the whole process.)

Speaking of self-sufficiency, you made your own birthday cake this year (with a little help and supervision from me), and it was wonderful! You love to help cook meals and do so regularly. You also often volunteer to help with other things around the house, and, when asked to something you didn't volunteer for, you will usually do it these days without too much arguing or complaining. And, on your new year's review/resolutions page, you said one of the things you learned in 2014 was to "not fight." Dad and I can tell you are really learning to master your emotions, rather than being mastered by them. This is something that proves you are really growing up.

You are (and always have been) a great collector of things--rocks, shells, pieces of paper, boxes, bags, and a million other things that have true significance to you, but that, admittedly, leave me shaking my head with a lack of understanding. Your greatest treasure has long been your bottle collection. In fact, that was almost a deal-breaker for you with our RTW trip. When we first told you about the trip, you were thrilled, particularly in regard to the possibility of going to international festivals. (We don't know if you really even understood what a festival is, but somehow that word piqued your interest and you grinned from ear to ear on hearing it). But, when we told you that meant selling our house and getting rid of many of our possessions, you broke down in tears, unable to bear the thought of parting with your precious bottles. We finally convinced you that we wouldn't have to get rid of everything we own, and that if the bottles were that important to you, you could certainly keep them. That dried up the waterworks, and then, you were completely on-board. Later, Ruth helped you cull the expansive collection a bit, so that it would be a bit more manageable for eventually boxing up.

As far as the trip goes, you are really excited about it. You are particularly looking forward to seeing Stonehenge and some of the places you've learned about in History. You are always up for an adventure, so I know you will love every minute! You've been interested in putting together your bag and have really taken ownership of it and its contents. And, even though you are all about the thrill of adventure, you also take the parts seriously that need to be taken seriously. You listen carefully to our safety talks and pay close attention when we talk about the logistics of getting from point A to point B. Before we went to Canada last month, we set up a mock airport in the kitchen, so we could show all of you what it was like to go through security. You took the exercise very seriously, and that night prayed, "Lord, please help me to obey all the airport officers and not get in trouble."

You started losing your teeth about a month ago and have already lost three since then--one of which mysteriously disappeared from your mouth in the middle of the night last night. We are hoping you didn't swallow it and are thankful you didn't choke on it. Dad teased you this morning, saying not all seven-year-olds are tough enough to eat teeth for breakfast.

Your little body is just full of energy, which sometimes you truly seem unable to control. I often send you outside to run laps around the house, when I see that it is becoming difficult for you to rein in all that energy. This is not a punishment, as you absolutely love to run and recognize it as a need that you have. This is an exercise that keeps us both sane. Running was, once again, your favorite part of the flag football season, though you did actually enjoy the game in its own right a bit more this year than last year. You would really like to try soccer, which we hope you can experience while we are overseas. You are also very interested in learning how to play golf, which is a bit surprising, since it's kind of the anti-running sport. But, you've been interested in golf for a long time, and I think your desire is genuine.

Academically, you are doing an amazing job, especially since you've adopted your "no fighting" initiative! You are already partway through your 3rd grade Math book, even though, by age, you are only "supposed" to be in 1st grade. You pick up concepts quickly and can truly do anything you put your mind to. Your reading is wonderful, and you are reading a lot just for fun these days, in addition to your scheduled reading during the school day. You have recently been enjoying the Cam Jansen books. You do a great job at writing, and you often carry around a notebook on which to make lists or write little notes to people. Whenever we stay in a hotel, the first thing you do is find the notepad and start jotting down whatever comes to your mind. You are still very much enamored with robots, and you spent some time this summer watching a great many TED talks on that subject. You also thoroughly enjoyed the robot room at the science museum we visited in Tampa and stayed until they were literally closing the doors. Additionally, you have a very good grasp on basic Spanish and were thrilled to discover you understood some words on the radio recently. With your combination of brains and leadership qualities, I believe you will go far in life!

Max, I'm so proud to be your mom. You make the days at our house fun and interesting and special. I love your hugs and your snaggletoothed grins. I admire your passion for life and your many and varied abilities. You are, by far, my favorite seven-year-old! I love you so very much! Happy birthday!

Love,
Mom






Sunday, January 11, 2015

Party Day

Max will turn seven tomorrow, so we made plans to have his party today. Actually, he opted not to have a party and instead just wanted to go to Jumpoline Park in Austin. But, we put the word out to the family and many of them decided to come spend the day with us. So, what started out as no party, really turned into quite a little shindig. And, we all had so much fun! After the first hour of jumping, we went over to the neighboring Applebee's for lunch and cake, before heading back for more jumping fun. It was a wonderful day of celebrating our almost-seven-year-old!

Max's candy cake that he made himself
(the BEFORE picture)

man in motion

ready to take on the trampolines

3/4 of the crew

happy little boys

jumping with big sister

Cake Time
(The cake did not fare well on the trip over to Austin.
"Happy Birthday Max" just became a jumble of icing and candy.)

By the time we sang "Happy Birthday," the KitKats were falling off the cake.

And, in the middle of the celebration, the Cowboys scored.

Nana and the little boys

The AFTER picture--remnants of deliciousness

cool remote control car from Nana and Papa

Time to relax after all that partying

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Tight End Training

Weston has decided that he'd really like to go to college--any college--on a football scholarship. Specifically, he aspires to become a tight end. To that end, and in honor of the new year, with all it's resolutions and new beginnings and goal setting, he has set up a strict Tight End Training Program for himself. He started the week after Christmas and has been very faithful to stick with it, so far. The first part of his plan is to make healthy and smart eating choices. He is eliminating sodas and other sugary drinks, cutting way back on carbs, eating more veggies and lean proteins and saying "no" to dessert, even when everyone else is indulging. If you know Weston, you know instituting this type of diet is huge! The second part of the plan is physical training. He is getting up every morning at 6:30, at his insistence, to walk with Jeff and me, even when the temperature hovers in the 20s and 30s, and even on weekends. (This is not only a testament to Weston's dedication to his goal, but also a testament to MY love and support of Weston, as I am not generally a fan of cold or early mornings!) He is also jumping rope during commercials, when we watch T.V. (We haven't watched much T.V. since the bowl games ended, but he was really faithful to that regimen during those many hours of football watching.) And, as often as possible, he is pressing Jeff into service as a tackling dummy and thrower of "hot passes." I am honestly inspired by Weston's dedication and enthusiasm to pursue his goal. I'm reminded how often I talk about change or wish for my dreams to be realized, without actually taking the necessary steps to make it a reality. I am so proud of Weston, and I know there is no limit to what he can accomplish!