Sunday, October 19, 2014

Little Red Hen Vibe

For a while, we have been wanting to experiment with grinding our own wheat. Today, we finally found the time to do that. It was not only great fun, it was also a great workout! There was a serious Little Red Hen vibe going on around here, though we did stop short of growing our own wheat.

Who will help us get the wheat?

Who will... us...

...grind the wheat?

Who will help us eat the bread?

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Big Day

The kids and I got up early this morning and headed to Sea World's homeschool day, where we met up with some of our CC buddies. We had a great time seeing the animals, enjoying the beautiful day and being in a totally different kind of classroom! (Did you know that baby Beluga whales are born dark gray, even though the parents are almost white, so that they can hide in their mothers' shadows as they swim along together?)

It was a good day for us to be away, since we had a showing for the house. One piece of feedback they left for us was that they "really didn't like that the house was so messy." All I could think was, "I can only imagine what you would have thought had you seen it yesterday before we cleaned up!"

When the field trip was over, we hustled back to our neck of the woods so the big boys could participate in the homecoming parade. This is always one of the highlights of football season, and for them, the parade IS homecoming. Clay and Ruth also love it because every person on every float throws bucketfuls of candy. In fact, I have a secret suspicion that the parade is surreptitiously sponsored by the local dentists.

Somewhere between Sea World and the parade, my credit card disappeared, and I had a mild heart attack. Fortunately, it resurfaced once we got back home.

I had to put off looking for it longer than I would have liked, because when we went to pick the boys up at the end of the parade, our vehicle overheated and was in no condition to drive. Thankfully, the parade ended just down from our regular mechanic shop, so we were able to leave the vehicle there, and our sweet, sweet friend was willing to come to our rescue and give us a ride home.

While I've had a (mostly) fun day, I am now completely pooped and ready to chalk this one up to history.

Sea World San Antonio

The view from the Splash Zone

Watching the whales jump was amazing

"Big Show" sporting his pink sign for breast cancer awareness
(Thank you breast cancer awareness month for making pink a cool color for tough football players,
since this was the last remaining piece of poster board in the house at sign making time!)

Mr. Max

Clay loves a good parade!

Sunday, October 12, 2014

RTW Packing Favorites

Even though our RTW trip is still months away, we have already started packing. You see, we are trying to do this trip with just a carry-on sized bag apiece, and that takes some planning--and a little practice. Jeff and I pretty much have our bags packed, though we continue to tweak the contents and make adjustments. We won't pack the kids bags until closer to go-time, since they are still growing, but we are already starting to figure out bags and toiletries and other things that don't depend on growth spurts. It's an interesting and, at times, maddening challenge. I will admit that I have shed real tears over things as silly as which toiletries to bring and which to leave behind. But, I have also discovered some really cool products that I might not have otherwise been introduced to. Here are some of my RTW packing favorites. If you have any tried-and-true travel must-haves or packing strategies that make your travel life easier (or more beautiful, comfortable, etc.), please feel free to share them. I am more than willing to learn from the experience of others. 

The pack. It's nice because it converts from backpack to handheld carry-on.
It has a laptop sleeve, which is accessible without getting into the main packing compartment.
And, it has tons of pockets. I'm seriously amazed at how much stuff fits in here.

Jeff got me a set of these Eagle Creek compression bags for my birthday,
and I loved them so much I bought myself another set.
They're like dresser drawers for your suitcase, and they make me happy,
in a place-for-everything, everything-in-it's place kind of way.
Plus, mine are semi see-through, so I can just go straight for what I need. 

Convertible dress/skirts. Cute and comfortable, and just plain fun.
Not to mention quick-drying and relatively wrinkle free.
I have the one from Exofficio, on the left.
Ruth has the Mountain Hardwear one, on the right.

I was skeptical about this powered toothpaste, at first.
But, I really and truly love it, and might even use it if I wasn't traveling.
There are a bunch of variations, and I haven't tried all of them,
but this fluoride-free cinnamon one is wonderful.

Convertible pants are pretty much a requirement for a trip like the one we are taking,
but I knew upfront that I didn't want zip-off pants. That led me down the path of roll-up pants.
I love these from Eddie Bauer. They are stylish, comfortable, quick-drying
and have zippered pockets to deter pickpockets.

This actually took some getting used to. The first few times I used it, I didn't like it at all.
But, the more I used it, the more I liked it, and now here it is listed among my favorites.
It lasts a surprisingly long time, smells nice, leaves my hair feeling clean and not tangly,
and can also be used in place of shave gel, as well. So far, I have only tried the original,
but there are a ton of other formulas, which I'm looking forward to trying.

These are seriously the most comfortable shorts I have ever worn!
I loved them so much, I bought the skort, too. I want to wear them every single day!

The Nano Puff not only has a cool name, it also looks good,
is quite warm, and folds up into it's own pocket to make it super packable.

I liked the concept from the get-go but must admit that
this has required practice and patience and being comfortable with my body.
I am still learning but am overall very pleased with this little device.

It's a long-sleeved shirt. It's a ¾ length shirt. It's a jacket. It has a hidden pocket.
And, it is incredibly comfortable. The Shirtigan is one of my favorite travel pieces. 

Another multi-tasker. This turkish towel can be used as a towel, beach blanket, shawl, scarf or whatever.
Plus, it's soft, quick-drying, looks cute hanging up and takes up very little space in the suitcase. 

It seemed that taking a diffuser on our trip
was going to be out of the question, which made me sad.
But Jeff found this one and gave it to me for my birthday,
and it may be my very favorite thing on the list!
Now, I just have to prioritize which oils to take with me,
because a quart-size bag of liquids isn't all that much!

Friday, October 10, 2014

Getting our Zen on

Earlier this week, the boys and I read about Japan during our History time. So, to finish off the week, we decided to make our own Zen gardens. Now, we're thinking we may need to add Japan to our RTW trip. If we don't quit studying about different places in the world, our trip may go on indefinitely. Happy Friday, everyone! 

Sunday, October 05, 2014

First Horse Show

It was the first show for both Ruth and Whiskey.
Whiskey decided he wasn't having it.

So, Ruth rode Fozi, a horse she had never even sat on before today.

Showing Fozi some love

Proud of a 3rd place ribbon from her first ride

Sitting pretty with another 3rd place ribbon

Dynamic Duo

Ruth's cheering section

Thursday, October 02, 2014

Homeschooling: I'm lovin' it!

A "desk" for every student, and a student for every "desk"

built-in toddler entertainment
unconventional classroom

Monday, September 29, 2014

Oh! The Places We Will Go

Jeff and I spent the weekend working out the details of the African portion of our RTW trip. This will be the second leg of our journey, after 60 days or so in Europe, but because it is also probably the single most expensive part of the entire trip, we wanted to book flights and car rentals early, to take advantage of lower pricing and to insure we could all get on the same flights. We have been using Google Flights to look for deals, since you can put in a number of departure cities and find the best deals across many airlines and dates. This showed us that if we could be flexible on departure cities and dates (which we can!), we could find significant discounts--sometimes as much as $1000 savings, just by leaving one day earlier or later. Unfortunately, you cannot book flights directly with Google flights, and finding those same deals on other sites often proved challenging, if not impossible. Then, Jeff discovered the "explore" option on Kayak, where you can see prices to any location in the world, from any location in the world. Then, you can plug the best options in to their engine, and they will compare fares across sites like Priceline, Expedia and others. You can even purchase tickets directly through one of these sites, so you don't have to waste time trying to find the same flight elsewhere on the web. And, you can get great deals on rentals cars on Kayak's site, as well.

So, long story short, we booked our Europe-to-Africa flight, as well as our intraAfrica flights. (This time around the best deals came through Expedia, and we took advantage of significant discounts.) I'm so stinkin' excited! I spent a little time in Africa (Zambia and Zimbabwe) just after I graduated from high school, and I have always wanted to go back and share that experience with the people I love. We will get to spend three weeks in Africa (Zambia, Zimbabwe and South Africa), visiting Victoria Falls, Cape Town and Kruger National Park. And, as a complete bonus, our return flight gives us a nice long layover in Cairo, Egypt, so we will most likely get to see the pyramids and the Sphinx. This wasn't even on our radar for places to visit, so we are super-excited to have this side trip thrown in!

To keep our travels organized, and to insure we don't overlook anything from flight times to the local weather, we are using the TripIt trip planner. You can simply forward your travel confirmation emails to them, and they will put everything in order, from beginning to end, all in one easy-to-navigate spot. So far, we are very impressed with it! And, it's really, really fun to see our adventure coming together in black and white!