Monday, December 30, 2013

Birthday in Heaven

Today would have been my father's 85th birthday.  Unfortunately, he's been gone from us for almost 20 years.  There isn't a day that goes by that I don't miss him.  I told my nine year old today how much fun he and his grandfather would have had playing jokes on everyone and being ornery.  They have a very similar personality in that respect and both my sons have my father's blue eyes.

My dad adored his grandchildren.  My sisters' kids got the pleasure of knowing and loving him.  They were teenagers and young adults when he passed.  My's painful for me to even think about how close they were to him and at five and eight, when their beloved Pop Pop was just took them years to get over it. My father kept them whenever they wanted to visit, picked them up from school, took them for treats, brought them donuts, loved them with a passion.  My girls idolized him and he saw them each and every day.

My oldest son was just a year old when his pop died. Another grandson that my father was so thrilled to have!  My father was right there when Brian David was born twelve weeks early, calm and steady, he was sure that all would turn out fine, even when my husband and I were terrified they wouldn't.  My father would hold him and walk with him, showing him the ceiling fans that seemed to fascinate my little man so.

My father died of an aneurysm on July 6, 1994.  He never got to see my youngest son, who is so very much like him.  He never got to see his girls grow up to be women or his "dink" have two beautiful girls of her own.  He never got to see his six great granddaughters or two great grandsons.  He would have been so proud of how his family has grown.

I don't always talk about my dad, but I miss him every day.  I dream of him and he's always smiling.  I hear his laugh in my mind and I smile.  I reminisce about the silly things he did that drove my mother crazy.  I share memories of him with my sons.  It's not enough, but it's all I have.

One day I will see him again, when I leave this world for the next.  I will smell his English Leather cologne and see his bright blue eyes twinkle.  I sometimes think that if I could just knock on the door of my childhood home that he would be sitting right there on the sofa, watching his console TV with Hogans Heroes or Gilligan's Island on.  It's true that you can't ever really go home again, but if I could, I know he would be there.

Happy Birthday, Daddy.  I love you.  You were always so much fun and I miss you.  I hope there are celebrations in heaven and maybe John Wayne and Carroll O'Conner are helping you blow out your candles.  Until we meet again....

Friday, December 27, 2013

Merry Christmas!

It was hard to get into the Christmas spirit this year for some reason.  We did alot less as a family in terms of Christmas shows and pagents etc, but alot more in terms of cold nights under warm blankets watching movies and being together.  We were happy, just not jolly, I guess you could say!  Two days before Christmas we decided to head out with our boys and have dinner.  This turned into a very nice holiday outing with dinner at Ruby Tuesdays, walking in the mall, seeing an old friend, hanging out and watching a holiday train garden and seeing some lights on the way home.  Christmas Eve was spent playing games, watching movies and I wrapped while my husband took the boys out for last minute mom shopping.  I baked lots of cookies and about 8pm we got our houseful of guests, including MomMom, both daughters, our son in law, both granddaughters and my daycare baby, along with her mom.  We all waited excitedly for Santa to come by on the fire truck, going out too early and freezing to death, but enjoying the anticipation of seeing the fire truck crest the hill and Santa to be aboard.  The two toddlers were jumping in the back on my husbands truck, squealing and clapping.  My nine year old was dancing with excitement and when the moment finally came, everyone was excited, waving and yelling for Santa.  The kids faces were lit up and their eyes sparkled with that magic only Santa brings.  

Back inside where it was warm and in new pajamas, I gathered my little son, one daughter and one granddaughter up onto the sofa so that I could read the traditional Twas the Night Before Christmas before seeing the older ones off to their own homes and my sons off to bed.  My nine year old still believes, so there was milk and cookies for Santa and so much anticipation that he couldn't sleep.  At 4am he came in my room yet again and said "Good Morning, Mom!".  Sorry, buddy.....not yet!  Finally at 6:15, my husband got up and went in to him and they both piled onto our 20 year old and woke him up.  The dogs had to get in on the fun and I went out to light the tree and make the coffee.  

Opening presents was more fun with all 4 kids at home, but the boys enjoyed their morning, taking turns with their gifts and talking about them.  They had gotten me a few things and the gifts were thoughtful and things that really represent me.  I was very impressed!  Then my husband gave me a compliment.....he told me I "really know what they want" and I do "a good job" with Christmas.  He is not a man of much verbal praise for me and his kind words made my heart sing.

After breakfast with the boys and our younger daughter, we all did our own thing, relaxing and napping and I made the food that I had to take to our older daughter's house for dinner.  We girls headed out a little early to help with getting dinner out and ready and the guys all joined us for a great Christmas feast.  There were family members from my side, from my daughters' natural father's side and from my son in law's family, so it was a nice mix and conversation flowed freely while the granddaughters got lots of attention and hugs.  

My husband and I finally got into bed close to ten and both of us had to work in the morning, although he was the one that had to get up and out since I work from home.  We snuggled in under the covers and kissed another wonderful Christmas goodbye.  Here's to the end of 2013 and the beginning of 2014.  I am ready for a bright and positive new year full of fun and family, love and busy activity.  Thank you  God for blessing my family with good health and enough to keep them comfortable and get them through.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Up for Review

Today we had our first homeschool review of third grade.  The county reviews do not stress me out like they do alot of my other homeschool friends.  I have never had a bad experience in the thirteen years I have been doing them so I don't find them to be something to dread.

We got to the library around 9:15 with my daycare child and my son.  I had decided to leave my granddaughters with their other grandmother because they can be a bit of a handful, plus lugging all my gear for school and 3 little girls didn't seem like a lot of fun.

Our review was with a new gentleman and it ended up taking 30 minutes, about 20 minutes longer than it normally does.  Everything went well and he got a good review.  The gentleman was kind and engaging and my son was polite.

After the library we picked up the girls and they were both crying by the time I drove the 2 minutes home.  The next hour was hectic, getting 3 kids fed and the baby a bottle and all I managed to inhale was a bowl of 3 minute noodles.  I finally got the older two kids down for a nap and Dakota settled watching a movie and then, of course, the little one was screaming because if she's awake, she's hungry lol.

I did get about an hour of quiet, maybe a little less, before the 2 year old granddaughter decided she didn't need her normal three hour nap and a two hour one would suffice.  I am sleepy, wishing hard for a nap, but instead, I will wait for my daycare child to be picked up at three and then take my granddaughters to Walmart with me while I pick up a few things I need for our pot luck tomorrow.  .....No, wait, just got a text from the mom that she won't be picking her daughter up until 3:45, not 3:00.  Can't take all 3 girls and keep my sanity, so it will have to wait til after dinner.  Ugh.  It's cold and it's just going to get colder when the sun goes down.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Add One and Stir

Today we added a new friend to the mix. Brooke joined us for daycare and she is six months younger than my oldest granddaughter.  We took my before/after care child to school and then when the granddaughters arrived we took 45 minutes to feed and settle everyone before starting our day.  It was really, really nice outside, so while Dakota did his morning work I let them go out on the deck after sweeping off most of the wet leaves.  Dakota and I did our math and spelling out on the deck....probably for the last time before April.  That's a sad thought.

When it was reading time and Koda went inside to read Mr. Popper's Penguin for our book club, I read Curious George and the Dinosaur Tracks to the girls and then we used magnifying glasses and followed our own dino tracks out to the picnic table on the deck and got to make their own dinosaur tracks by pressing their toy dinosaur feet into Play Doh. Dakota and I were able to get our language arts done and he read a short factual book on the Titanic during that time and his BrainPop then we fed the girls, popped them in for a nap and took our lunch break.

After lunch, while it was quiet, Dakota and I read the first three chapters of Tonight on the Titanic, by Mary Pope Osbourne and did our comprehension questions with that.  We watch a genetics video on BrainPop and he took the quiz to continue with our human development unit in Health.  He did the review questions he knew from memory for his Greek Myth class and watched a fun video and then for History we took a fun turn and he got to play a computer game called Warrior featuring Alexander the Great, as well as a Kindle game about the Titanic.

As soon as the girls left and I had gotten my husband dinner, Dakota and and I ran out to Dick's Sporting Goods and got him some cool new LeBron tennis shoes and then headed to his first 9U County team practice for basketball at Harundale.  His coach is a young man I knew when my older son played baseball and basketball for Harundale and whom I haven't seen since he was Dakota's age!  My son did very well, learning some great pointers and skills as he advances to a whole new level in the sport.  I enjoy this season very much.

At home it was a quick shower for him, a snack, printing work for me, a snack with my husband and then bed for all of us.  Time to do it all again tomorrow, just insert football in the basketball slot!

Monday, November 11, 2013

They're Back!!

Today Dakota and I are back to homeschooling while doing daycare, but with a twist.  Not only do we have 2 1/2 year old Natalie, but we also have 6 week old Rebecca.  And next week we get 23 month old Brooke!

This morning the girls arrived just as we got back from taking our M/T before and after care friend to school and we all had some waffles before sending my daughter back to her job with the Howard County School System.  I put the baby in the swing at my feet and Natalie went to play with her toys while Dakota and I started our day.  He did his morning work and wrote in his journal about his playoff experience this weekend.  He did some spelling, math and language arts and then, while Natalie ran in and out from the deck, we started our I Survived:  The Sinking of the Titanic book.  We talked about plot, conflict and resolution, figurative language and flashbacks in a story.  We have the book downloaded on our Kindles so we read the first three chapters, stopping to discuss things, and then he answered the chapter questions and we wrote down what type of conflict was noted on example one and what the resolution was.

By this time the little one was crying because she was hungry and the older granddaughter was beginning a slow decline so I knew it was coming up on naptime.  I fed the little granddaughter then put her in her chair and put the older one in to bed.  While Dakota read her stories I made her bottle and she went right out.

Lunch for both my sons and I was, at least, uneventful, but while I craved a 1/2 hour of quiet, Dakota decided he didn't want to disappear into his room with a tv show, but wanted to be out here with me, asking a dozen questions.  Sigh.  We decided we would watch a Magic Schoolbus video to help wrap up our energy unit and just before we got in in, my mom and stepdad came.  Oh boy.  My stepfather and Dakota wrestled and teased and wound each other WAAAAY up and my mom HAD to hold Rebecca, so she was partially awake.

By the time they left I had to practically hogtie Dakota to get him back down to a quiet state and rock the baby to get her to sleep.  We did get in that quiet half hour while the movie was on and I got to check my Facebook and email while Dakota watched Mrs. Frizzle and rocked his baby niece.

Our afternoon will consist of a written review of our energy unit, Part II of Chapter 25 in Story of the World on Alexander the Great and the fetal development BrainPop video and definitions looked up in the dictionary.  This evening will see us having breakfast for dinner then I have to do some PCA work before I can read or do chores or plan for some co-op lists I need to make.  I look forward to Mondays for their regular pace and quiet nights.  I also look forward to 4:30 when my daughter comes to pick up the girls!

Saturday, November 9, 2013


For my family, football is more than a's a way of life.  Since 1999, when my oldest son was six years old, we have spent most fall evenings at Lake Waterford, watching the boys go from green and inexperienced, to fierce competitors over a course of a few months is nothing short of amazing.  We have had our share of mediocre seasons as a family, but we have also experienced some spectacular seasons where alot of hard work paid off in a championship run.

This was, for all intents and purposes, Dakota's first real season of football.  He had played when he was very young (3-5), but he didn't like it and really had no part in the game other than standing on the field.  Now, at 9, he has accomplished so much. He is playing under his father's coaching and he has gone from scared and timid to an aggressive, intimidating offensive lineman who is a force to be reckoned with.  I am really excited to see what the future holds for him.

This season we went undefeated for the first seven games of our 90lb league.  No one expected it, but the boys grew, learning football and life lessons together and becoming a football family.  We lost the last regular game of our regular season, but still finished in the top eight of our state in our division and won our conference.  Last week we played the first round of the playoffs and won big.  The kids were so excited and looked forward to game two.  This week, in round two, we played a team that we had faced and beaten three times previously.  This match up, however, would not go as well.  The Bulldogs scored early and we kept looking for our big break....that one big play where our running back would break away to the outside and run untouched down the field for the score.  It wasn't to be, however.  We played hard, both offensively and defensively, but never were able to get to the outside or score.  We went into the half still down by a touchdown.  The second half came and slowly went and still, no one scored...not the Bulldogs again, but also not the Chargers.  At the four minute warning we knew we were in trouble. You could see the strain on the players' faces.  They wanted this so bad....but it was slipping through their hands like sand.  They did everything they could do....everything that their little nine year old bodies would allow them, but this time, we came up short.

As my husband, the head coach, gathered them together after the game there were lots of tears.  Tough little boys with eye black smeared on their dirty faces, devastated by the loss.  My son was crushed and his sobs were heartbreaking to hear.  My husband said all the right things and let them know he was proud of them.  The parents cheered for them.  We handed out trophies....but still their little hearts were broken.

And then we moved on.  We went out to our decorated cars and caravaned to the Lake, our team's home, and we had fun.  The boys went out with a football and played pickup ball.  The parents cooked and talked and then we all had burgers and dogs and cupcakes and chips.  It was quieter than it would have been had we experienced a victory, but there were smiles instead of tears and they learned that no matter what, life goes on.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Last Monday Just Us

Today is the last Monday of just Dakota and I.  Next Monday my 2 1/2 year old granddaughter and my 6 week old granddaughter will be here from 8:30 to 4:30 and the following Monday, 23 month old Brooke will join them.  We will have lots of fun and find a new normal, but while I plan to enjoy these three little girls completely and totally, I also know there will be much more chaos and tears and shrieks of joy and shrieks of anger lol.  Newborns cry.  Two year olds cry and throw tantrums.  But they also give the best snuggles and say the cutest things.

Dakota and I got in a great Monday.  He did his morning work and then had a complete Social Studies lesson from Time for Kids on The Battle For Bats.  He read the magazine, did the work pages that went with it, watched a video off the website and took a quiz.  He started a new book called A Dog on the Titanic in preparation for our Titanic unit that will start tomorrow and run for about 2 weeks.  We will be using the I Survived series for our Literature and the lesson plans that go along with that.  We will be doing some research about the history and the people, as well.  I am not sure, however, that I want him watching the movie, mainly because the ending is just so haunting to me.

Dakota was yawning and complaining of being tired so we headed out for a "power walk" around the light rail and down the trail.  We saw a ground hog who saw us too late to avoid us and had to scurry about trying to find a way to hide.  It was pretty funny.  As we crossed the light rail tracks to come back there were deer bones everywhere from a little doe that met her fate recently.  We found rib bones, pelvis bones, jaw bones with teeth still intact and lots of vertebrae hooked onto the spinal column.  We could even piece them together some to see where the spinal cord would have gone.  Of course all the soft parts were gone, food for other woodland animals.  We did pick them up and examine them and they provided a great impromptu hands on science lesson.  After coming and home and washing up, Dakota had much more energy. He did his pretest for Spelling and did a lesson in Math before lunch and then we both took a break to have grilled cheese and soup on this very chilly day before getting back to work.

The afternoon had us going back over his journal entry to correct punctuation and capitalization and underline and circle nouns, verbs and adjectives.  We then started a new book called Punctuation Made Easy that I think we are both going to like alot.  We started the text and workbook portion of our new Energy unit in Science and kinetic and potential energy were really captivating to my little son.  When we finished there, we did chapter 24 of Story of the World, Volume 1, learning about how Sparta and Athens took on the Persians for a war, including the epic Battle of Marathon.  We also did the timeline and mapwork to go along with that.  To finish, we re-read half of the Greek Myth pages from his last co-op class two weeks ago (before the Halloween party) and answered some of the review questions his teacher had sent us.

Now it's a Monday evening, one of my favorites.  Dad is at college and the boys and I are relaxing at home.  I will get to read and watch some TV tonight.  I so miss my computer being wireless (due to a burned out adapter) but at least I can plan at the table and feel free to read when I am in my chair.

Tomorrow my husband has said he will take the day off.  Hopefully he sleeps in and we get a good morning in because when he's home it's much more difficult to get Dakota's attention.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

All Hallow's Eve

Koda and I had a productive day today, the last day before Halloween.  We did all the regular schoolwork, did a biography on Brad Paisley and listened in on my oldest son's new radio show, featuring that country music artist, that Brian is doing from Towson.  After lunch Dakota couldn't wait to read the rest of Haunted Castle on Hallow's Eve (Magic Tree House) and as promised, it was one of her best books.  In the beginning, the sorcerer, Merlin, writes his message to Jack and Annie on a leaf so after reading the rest of the book and answering the comprehension questions, we went outside and got our own big leaves and Dakota wrote messages on them.  Then we took them downstairs and laminated them so they would keep for awhile.  He even wrote a message to his brother on one, telling him how proud he was of his radio show.

We finished the day with history, which tied in with our Greek Myths class.  We read the story of Zeus, Aphrodite and the golden apple and I was happy to see that Dakota has picked up so well on these myths.  I have always loved them myself.  Now it's off to Walmart for some last minute costume things and then work for mommy and down time for Koda before dinner and practice tonight.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Music Takes You Back

Today I felt the need to declutter....fall cleaning I suppose you'd call it.  I found my old LP's and some of my favorite old CD's and I dusted off the player my kids gave me a few years ago and put on Barry Manilow.  Barry KNEW me back in the day.  He sang to my teenage heart.  His love songs swept me through heartache and teen dreams and his sad songs would see a melancholy young girl with tears in her eyes, singing along, petting her poodle, Kandi, and hugging a stuffed Pooh.

The power of music is so strong now, just as it was then.  "I can't smile without you..." used to mean I missed my first love, a beautiful blond haired, blue eyed Michael.  Or maybe it was tough and scrappy Kenny.  Or Rodney.  Or Ed.  I thought my heart was breaking then, but now I know, as a forty eight year old woman, that I had no idea what heartache really was.  I thought I was in love over and over, but now I have my husband of twenty four years and again, I had no idea.  I dreamed of the children I would have, the husband I would share my life with, the house with the picket fence, the dog in the backyard.

So I am singing away, lost in my memories, vacuuming my livingroom.  My nine year old, the last of my four children, is bouncing a basketball out in the backyard (with the dogs, but no picket fence).  I try to block it out.  I am fifteen in my little yellow and white bedroom at 3610 Lilac Ave.....  and the phone rings and it's my twenty year old telling me he's on his way home from college....   Ok.  Drive safe, son. Back to Barry......   posters on the wall of Leif Garrett, Scott Baio....  wait, I have to give this book I just found to my daughter.....the 28 year old and oh, I have to text my 25 year old daughter about her doctor's visit.  

So I sit down to write in my blog so I can capture the remnants of my teenage angst.  I pull open my laptop and go to my blog....and there on the cover is my absolutely stunning 2 1/2 year old granddaughter.....which reminds me of my brand new second granddaughter....

Ah, so I am not fifteen, but forty eight.  I am not in my yellow and white bedroom, but my comfy, warm rancher that I share with my husband, two sons and two dogs and a cat (and two fish, but who's counting).  One daughter is working, one is on maternity leave.   I don't have a picket fence, but I do have a loving husband.  I didn't fulfill all the dreams I had as a child, but I captured so many more I didn't know about.

"Mom, are you gonna come and see my basketball moves...?"  That's Dakota.  He needs me.  Time to turn off the music and save it for another day.  It was nice to drift back in time and remember who I was, but reality calls and I am a blessed woman with a good life.  And for that I am thankful.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Monday Funday

Today was an absolutely wonderful Monday for me.  My husband was home most of the day working on his college paper and my son and I had a fun day of homeschooling.  Usually when dad is home there is rebellion and chaos from Dakota, but today was so nice.

We started out the day with spelling and then climbed in our recliners to read The Magic Treehouse Haunted Castle on Hallow's Eve.  Dakota doesn't like to read very much, so we were partner reading and when we finished the four chapters alloted for today he asked for one more!  Love that and of course I said YES!  Then he did some comprehension questions and chose one of the three challenges I had for him related to the book.  He decided to make a diorama of a haunted castle and he went into his room to watch his Halloween movie, Hotel Transylvania, while he worked.  After the movie, he had a Monster Math packet to do that went along with the movie and then we learned about bats for Science and did our History for today, learning about Athens.  We did some mapping and also a Venn Diagram for Sparta and Athens to compare and contrast the lifestyles.

When we were finished with our schoolwork, Dakota got to carve one of his pumpkins.  He was a much better help this year, although watching him work with a very sharp paring knife gave me heart failures!  He handled himself well, however, and came out with a great jack o' lantern he is proud of.

At 7:03 tonight, he and I went outside together and watched the International Space Station cross right overhead.  He thought this was extremely cool and we also used the app on my IPhone to find other constellations in the sky.  I love that he was receptive to a little spur of the minute education and fun.

We are now ready to Kindle together in bed.  Something we always look forward to.  I wish all Mondays would run this smoothly.  Maybe then I wouldn't usually dread them so!

Friday, October 25, 2013


Today is Friday!  Hooray!  We got a late start after a somewhat lazy morning, but Dakota and I had a good homeschooling day.  We started our new energy unit in Science with a Disney Energy video that features lots of cool rides and talks about the energy it takes to move them.  He read some, did his math, played on and took 3 spelling tests.  He is doing well with spelling so we took the words he got wrong on 3 pretests and made up one unit to use next week.  We read his Halloween edition of National Geographic for kids, commenting on the fun pictures and articles and doing the MadLib together.  We learned about the Spartans in Story of the World and promised each other that we would make homemade applesauce tomorrow afternoon.  For art we made a monster door...super easy and very cute!  I think we will make this a yearly tradition!

Tonight Dakota has football practice for 45 minutes and then we are going to Big Vanilla with some friends for a pool party Halloween style.  Tomorrow it's grocery shopping for me, then some work and decluttering and some homemade applesauce making, of course.  Sunday is our last regular season game for our 90lb Chargers.  We know we have the first seed in the playoffs, undefeated 7-0 right now, but this could be our toughest game, playing the AA County Rebels.  Ah, those dreaded Rebels!  Will we go 8-0 or will we face our first defeat?  Stay tuned ;-)

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Kindness Never Hurts

Lately I have been having alot of talks with my nine year old about kindness.  It seems that he lacked kindness at co-op last week and someone noticed and told me.  He was made to apologize, but it has brought up the fact that too many people in our life and in the world in general are just not kind.  And why not?  It never, ever hurts to be kind, but a lack of kindness can hurt someone deeply.  In my opinion, there is rarely if ever a reason to be downright rude and nasty to someone.  "Kill them with kindness" is more my style and I want my youngest son to practice what I preach.

I have three grown children and I am proud to say that they are all kind.  Each one of them can be trusted to say what's on their mind from time to time, but they are all well mannered, polite and kind adults.  My little son....well, he is the hot tempered one.  That is no excuse, however, to vent on someone else.

I have taken it upon myself, as a veteran home educator and parent, to use the cruelty, rudeness and lack or respect that seems to surround us so often and turn it into a life lesson.  Besides just talking about kindness, I try to mirror the way I want him to behave.  Today we chose to surprise a friend who had a tough time on her birthday last weekend.  Her family didn't remember and she is always such a giving, thoughtful person and really deserved some love.  Another friend and I hatched a plan and I let Dakota in on the secret.  He and I made a batch of "brownie cakes" (cupcakes made with brownie mix) and our other friend bought a flower and a balloon.  My oldest daughter brought the decorations and we hid them in a spare room at co-op today and after the classes were over we rounded up her kids and ours, hid them in the room and surprised her with an impromptu celebration.  She was touched and the kids were excited and I felt really, really good.  Dakota brought it up on our way to our next destination about how he felt this was such a kind thing to do.....yes!  Bingo!  You are getting it!

Our next stop was to my mother and stepfather's house.  It was my stepfather's birthday and my mother just had surgery two days ago and was home recuperating. Dakota and I baked my stepfather a pumpkin pie and placed a candle in it.  We surprised him with the pie and a song and then he and Dakota chatted and had pie while I curled up on the bed next to my mom for 30 minutes and had a nice, relaxed visit.  It was nothing fancy, but I think when we left, my mom felt a wee bit better for the company and my stepfather was tickled to have a pie for himself.

Today's lesson on kindness was easy.  It didn't take much time.  It didn't cost much money.  It DID have a positive impact on the lives of three very special people.  I am calling today a success, both for me and for my little man, who is watching every move I make as he walks his own path to adulthood.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Keeping it All Together

It is still incredibly busy around here, but I am trying to stay close to home to give myself a center from which to revolve. My computer is still down as far as wireless internet, so I am tethered to a small area with an ethernet cord, but at least I have it.  My mom had surgery yesterday and, because she is 81, I was pretty worried.  She is in excellent health, however, and breezed through it and is home already.

 We are in our last week of regular football practice before the playoffs, so that has stayed the same.  I have cut back a bit on homeschooling activities outside the house except for every other week Mine Craft Club at the library and our weekly Co-op.  Our pumpkin farm trip had to be cancelled due to lack of interest, but since we have been going every year and Dakota has pretty much outgrown this one anyway, he wasn't upset.  He has two big pumpkins already and that seems to be all he really needs.

Monday and Tuesday were good school days.   Tuesday we continued on with our books that we have been reading (The Witches and MTH Night of the Magicians), finishing the latter today.  We are continuing a slow go through ancient Greece in History and we have been working on his big study sheet for his Greek Mythology class he has at the cooperative.  Math is plugging along, as is spelling, and we finished our Matter unit in Science, beginning a new one on Energy on Friday of this week.  We started using for Health, beginning work on a Genetics, Growth and Development unit. We started with Fetal Development.  It's a little challenging, but it's a good overall introduction to the topic.

We always have our Time For Kids and National Geographic For Kids to balance things out and add some Social Studies to our week.  We need to get more music in, but we have been listening to fun Halloween music and watching music videos.  For Art yesterday, we made the newly popular milk jug ghosts and they turned out really cute.  They were easy and look fun out in the front of the house.

So today, Wednesday, is one of my favorites because for the most part (and every other week) I don't have to leave the house.  After Mine Craft Club, which is 5 minutes away and gives me an hour of quiet library time while Dakota is in the club room, I can watch my shows, work on things here for school, declutter or do my PCA work.  I never look forward to Thursdays because of co-op, which is terrible, because I love it there.  I am just a hermit in training and would never leave the house if I didn't have to, especially this time of year.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Back to Homeschool Blogging

October is here and almost gone and I feel like I have missed most of it with the crazy goings on that we have experienced.  From the birth of our second granddaughter to Science Center days to a crazy contract at work, I have been a whirlwind....but it's time to refocus.

Today we eased back into our routine with a low stress approach.  We took the little girl we watch on Monday and Tuesday mornings to school and then went to Walmart and got a few groceries we needed, another huge pumpkin (at $2.97 it was a GREAT deal) and Dakota got to choose his Halloween night costume.  We came home and his sister, who is still on maternity leave, switched with me and took Dakota and Natalie to the park and I kept new baby Rebecca.  During the hour they were gone, Rebecca and I got a visit from MomMom and enjoyed some snuggles.  When Kris returned with the kids we did lunch and then it was time for Dakota to buckle down for some work.  He is NOT an afternoon worker, but we managed a fairly good three hours of "morning work", a spelling test from last week and a pre-test on this week's words, reading of his new book club book, Witches, by Roald Dahl, a math review lesson and his Harcourt Science workbook on physical and chemical changes.

After dinner and Daddy left for college classes, we decided to test out our knowledge of chemical changes and we followed the directions and made a pumpkin pie, seeing what heat did to the ingredients.  We filled out a scientific method sheet in our Science journal, deciding that our conclusion would be in the tasting of the pie.  It was delicious!

We were supposed to do an art craft tonight, but Dakota's friend from across the street came over and they jumped on the trampoline instead.  Now he is bathed and had his dessert and we are relaxing and waiting for Dad to come home and get his piece of pie.  Other than some normal contention from a little boy trying to worm his way out of schoolwork, it was a nice, normal Monday.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

She's here!

Time has gotten away from me again, but for good reason this time!  On September 30th at 10:01pm my daughter gave birth to my second granddaughter, Rebecca Leigh.  She weighed 7lbs, 5oz and was 20 1/2 inches long.  She had wide eyes, a head full of brown, soft hair and an incredibly pink color.

My daughter was induced in the morning, but Rebecca had other plans.  By evening, it was clear that things were not progressing as they should and by 9pm my daughter's doctor decided to take the next step and do a c-section.  It was scary for my daughter, but she handled it with grace.  I am surprised it didn't stress me more, but I guess after four of my own, I knew what she'd experience and thought she would be fine.

I knew the nurse on duty in the OB OR and she bent the rules so I could go back in recovery and wait for the birth.  I could see the doctor's and nurses' heads through the window in the door, but not my daughter or son in law.  As I waited anxiously, watching the clock, I was able to hear her first cry.  They cleaned her up and the nurse held her up for me to see.  After my son in law got to hold her and they put her against my daughter's face, they brought her to me and I got to hold my second granddaughter in my arms just minutes after her birth.  She was a gorgeous baby and she was wide awake and staring at me, just like she does now, two weeks after her birth. I held her and cooed to her and talked to her because I knew that my daughter had so wanted those first minutes to bond with her and couldn't, so I stepped in and did the best I could, telling Becca all about her mommy and how much she loved her.

They brought my daughter out and she was in a fog, not really with it, but we took the baby to her and let her try to hold her.  I told her I would be there with the baby til she went to sleep, but 2 hours later, my son in law and daughter were napping and baby Becca was still wide eyed!  She didn't cry, just looked all around.  After taking probably 100 pictures, I finally gave up about midnight and left her in the care of the nurses so I could get some sleep.

The next morning I went to get my older granddaughter, Natalie, and she and I, her Poppy and her Uncle Dakota went to the hospital to introduce the sisters to one another.  Natalie is only 2 years and 4 months so she was a little rough and impatient, but she claimed she loved her new sister and with some quick camera work, we were able to get a few great pictures for our memory books.  Uncle Koda was in love once again, smitten by the second baby girl he has become an uncle too.  The worst part of the day, though, was taking Natalie home with us.  She couldn't understand why Mommy couldn't come home and didn't want to leave and that poor baby sobbed and called for her mommy all the way down to the car.  I kept her with me at home for three days and we didn't go visit again.  It was just too hard on her.  She would play fine and then remember, I guess, and sob and sob and then get angry and kick and throw things.  I was very, very grateful to finally get to take her home, but with my daughter having surgery, she still needed help and I got over there every chance I could for the next week to help her and snuggle my precious little princess.  God has truly blessed me yet again.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

The First Week Of Autumn

This week the heat disappeared and cool mornings and evenings and glorious afternoons replaced it.  It has hovered in the low 70's with blue skies and clear air.  I have spent less time on the deck than I would have liked, but I have enjoyed my time at home very much.  Our truck was down again and we had three drivers and one car, so I was the odd man out, staying home every day but today, when my daughter took us to co-op.  I actually wish it could be this way every week.  I love my home and being here during the day.  I love homeschooling and working on the deck, hearing my granddaughter chatter as she plays, putting her down for a nap with a light blanket over her to keep off the chill.  My son has been working well and getting finished before 2, sometimes as early as noon, and this has been a welcome change.

This week we started delving into Ancient Greece.  We are reading the Magic Tree House Hour of the Olympics in Literature, doing Greek Myths and reading about Ancient Greece in Chapter 20 of Story of the World.  We are talking about matter in science, reviewing Rule 2 of the Essential 55 and we did the seven days of Creation, reading them from the primary Bible and doing 2 crafts to go with the story, a creation wheel and a decoupage Earth.  I am hoping that we are finally past the review in math and football is still our main physical education activity.

Today we had co-op and I had my son's group first.  We talked about the Autumnal Equinox and did a glyph and a word search.  Then I read them "Autumn Fires", a poem by Robert Louis Stevenson, and we talked about it and answered a few questions.  Then we learned about the pattern of the poem, which was ABCB.  We then did an acrostic for Autumn Bonfires and then the kids were given paper with room for illustrations and told to write their own fall poem and draw a picture to go with it.  Our last activity was a Hello, Goodbye paper as in Hello Pumpkins!  Goodbye Swimming!

Tomorrow we are doing our spelling test, independent reading, math and then diving into an Ancient Greece theme day.  We are going to read our myths book about Zeus, read some of the MTH book and then do some fun activities from a book I have on Ancient Greece.  I hope we can do a few crafts and maybe have time to watch Percy Jackson.

Next week will be a short week since my daughter is being induced at 6am Monday morning.  I am leaving work here for Dakota on Monday to do independently while his grandmother is here, but I am thinking we will go to see the new baby on Tuesday and I will be tired and I will have my two year old granddaughter for two days and she will be a bit out of sorts.  I am really looking forward to this second little granddaughter of mine.  The first  one has brought such joy to my life.  She is an ornery little devil, but a cuddle bug and a lovey and she brightens my every day.  I feel very blessed to be such a big part of her life.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

A Very Busy Couple of Days

Friday started out a very busy couple of days.  We had our annual field trip to the Anne Arundel County Fair Kids Day and enjoyed time with my granddaughter, Natalie and some homeschooling friends. Dakota, Natalie and friends enjoyed seeing the livestock, watching the pig and duck races and riding the rides.  I particularly enjoyed my granddaughter this year.  She was so much fun and really loved every minute.  She would say "Run, piggy, run!!" and when they ran back into the trailer after a race she would say "Oh no!  What wrong?".  Way too cute!  She and Dakota and I rode the merry go round at least four times.  She was terrified and clung tight, but loved it, asking for "more horsey!" each time it was over.  I got her a Dora blow up toy and we had lemonade and snacks and Dakota got to ride with his girlfriend and her sisters too.  It was over by noon, which really wasn't an issue for me at all.

Another exciting event this Friday was the news that the doctor would break my daughter's water on Friday, which would hopefully throw her into labor on her own and if not, he would induce the following Friday.  So baby Becca will be here very, very soon!  It's so exciting to think of a whole new little life being introduced into our family and I will have the honor of watching her come into the world, as I did her sister, holding my daughter's hand and crying.  How blessed I am to have two daughter, two sons and two granddaughters to love!

Saturday saw us heading to Edgewater for Dakota's noon football game.  He played very, very well, including helping on a tackle, and again we won, 25-0.  Our team is awesome this year and I am really enjoying having a friendship with the parents.

I had some plans for going through Natalie's baby things to get them ready for Rebecca that afternoon, but Dakota decided he wanted to try to learn to ride his new bike.  I took him up to the ballpark and we tried...and tried....and tried.  Epic fail.  He is NOT a natural at bike riding!  That evening after a late dinner, he and I watched Parental Guidance together again.  It's such a heartwarming moving and funny too, so we both enjoy it.

Sunday we had a slow morning, but since Dad and Brian were going to the Ravens game and MomMom is in Georgia, Dakota had to join me grocery shopping.  To make the idea more palatable, I let him spend his birthday money at Toys R Us and he got to buy two Lego Star Wars kits.  We went to ShopRite and I did really well with coupons and sales, especially considering I did not have a list or a circular.  I saved $39 in coupons alone and total savings with all the sales, specials and coupons combined was $143 and change.  I spent $240.  That's pretty darned good!  I also got back $7 in coupons good on my next order and a 10% off coupon on my receipt for my next entire order!!  Woo Hoo!!  Major score!

Watching the Ravens game currently and getting ready to really go through my granddaughter's baby stuff this time.  I have lots of errands, work and planning yet to do today as tomorrow it's back to daycare, football practice and homeschooling.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

A Matter of Perspective

Yesterday I tried to teach my son about 9/11.  We have talked about the subject before and watched just small snippets of TV coverage specials in documentaries, but I am not ready to show him the human terror and carnage that is depicted.  He is nine, so he understands more now and we are reading the I Survived series currently, focusing on the 9/11 attack.  The memory for those who lived through it will never dull and even though my other three kids were not grown, with my older son only being eight at the time, they all remember the fear as the country virtually shut down as a result of the unknown.  What would happen next?  Were we safe?  Never before had our country ever feared outsiders.  Never before had war been on our soil.  Now we were afraid and we hugged our loved ones closed and dared to think...what if, and not in a good way.

My nine year old is a fairly empathetic person.  He feels bad for others when he sees them hurting or in pain, yet he seems to see 9/11 as "just another day".  Maybe I haven't let him watch enough coverage.  Maybe the fault lays in my protective nature, but I just don't feel he needs to be subjected to bodies falling out of 100 story buildings and people talking about the sound they made as they hit the ground.  

9/11 bonded our country in a way that anyone who didn't live through it will never really understand.  We are now raising a whole new generation who wasn't there, didn't feel the fear or see the endless coverage.  While I envy them that in a sense, I hope that we, as parents and educators, can help them to feel the patriotism and brotherhood that 9/11 brought to our country while allowing them the benefit of not having to say "I remember when...".

Thursday, September 5, 2013

First Two Days

Yesterday was our start of Dakota's third grade year and my thirteenth year of homeschooling.  It was the first year, however, that I didn't cram in work for the first several weeks....too much for any one child to do...then stress over not getting it done.  He started the morning in his pjs doing a Lego Star Wars kit he got for his birthday (art).  The we had an awesome day out on the deck, doing his new routine for morning work, playing addition math war and remembering how to write in cursive as we practiced our spelling words.  He did the first half of a getting to know his science text activity, a math review sheet and we read a book and did a close activity on Amelia Earhart.  He read a couple of back to school themed books, did half of a Meet Me packet and we were finished, including a 45 minute lunch bread, before 2:00.  Very, very nice.  PE was football practice from 5:30 to 8:00pm.

Today, Thursday, is the Baltimore Ravens opener and Dakota asked that we do some football themed learning.  He started the morning with another Lego kit that he got for his birthday and then we rocked out to Jock Jams and some good football music before settling in for morning work and a BrainPop movie on Amelia Earhart, which covered media and continued Social Studies. Spelling was a continuation of cursive handwriting practice as he wrote the second half of his list 2x each and did a definition paper.  He went to Wikipedia and did research on his favorite Raven player and filled out a graphic organizer called Biography of an Athlete.  We will transfer the information to report form tomorrow.  For Science he used another form to do an animal report wheel on the raven bird, finding out lots of facts and some very cool trivia about them.  He had a timeline of the Baltimore Colts/Baltimore Ravens history to look over and an article from the Baltimore Sun paper printed to read on Michael Ohr.  He is going to watch the Ravens/Broncos game tonight for a media tie in and this weekend, we will watch The Blind Side as a family.

Now it's almost 1pm and he is done for the day and able to play his games and enjoy himself.  My husband and I are going downtown to enjoy the kickoff festivities at the harbor, including a concert by an up and coming band we really like, Parmalee, and a major concert with a stage on the water by Keith Urban at 7:30.  After the kick off we will come home and watch the rest of the game.  Looking forward to some time alone with Brian and a nice dinner downtown.

My Baby's Nine

On Tuesday, September 3, 2013, my little man turned nine.  He officially went from being a "little kid" to a "tween" or "big kid" and he is the light of my life.  He has spunk, swag and plenty of sass, but I wouldn't trade him for anything in the world.  We celebrated all weekend, but on his special day (after a trip to New York and a big dinner the night before) we went to breakfast at Bob Evans, ordering extra bacon, and then to Walmart, where he used his birthday money to buy a video game and two Star Wars Lego kits.  After football that night, we had cupcakes for everyone.

While I am nervous about raising such a strong willed young man through his teenage years, I am also excited about all the fun times ahead.  My boy has a great sense of humor and a plan for the future and I look forward to going along for the ride.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

New York, New York!!

This weekend we had our first trip with my new travel company, Sun and Sports Travel.  We loaded a bus at 6:30am and were on our way by 6:35.  I had gone around the parking lot before boarding talking to the people I had previously only "known" through email and found them all to be kind and friendly.  Our trip down was uneventful.  We got to know a few of the people sitting closest to us and we all watched the Oriole's highlight video from last year.  Dakota and his friend Logan were the only children aboard, but they were well behaved and excited to get to the stadium.  As we got to New York there was a heavy downpour, but it had stopped by the time we parked the bus and everyone disembarked and headed over to Yankee Stadium.  We took pictures and walked around a bit and then the gates opened at 11am and we went inside.  We headed up to the Malibu Rooftop Deck for our luncheon and got to know a few more people while we munched on hot dogs, hamburgers and popcorn.  Everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves and came over to tell me what a good time they were having.  We walked around a bit and then settled in our seats for the game.

The game was fairly uneventful at the start and by the fourth inning, we headed to the Yankee Museum to see what it held.  There was alot of great items to see including the World Series rings and trophies.  There were displays on Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig and Thurmon Munson.  They had baseballs signed by everyone that was ever a Yankee and a statue of Don Larson and Yogi Berra, who pitched and caught a perfect game.  My older son really enjoyed this, as it was right up his sports trivia loving alley!  We all got some great pictures and headed back to the game.

Just before the seventh inning started, my husband made a statement that this was going to be the inning that propelled the Orioles to the playoffs.  We laughed at him, but they started getting base hits!  My husband left and went to the bathroom and while he was gone, someone hit a home run! Then more hits and another home run!  We were now winning 7-3!!  Of course my oh-so-vain husband had to rub it in when he came dancing back up the aisle from the bathroom, but the small Oriole fan base was on their feet and cheering on our team.  We ended up winning the game and a bus full of happy people departed a few minutes ahead of schedule from the Bronx.

The ride home seemed a bit longer than the ride up, but we watched the Ravens Super Bowl video before stopping for food and a stretch at one of the rest stops on 95.  We got back to our park and ride at 9:15.  Everyone seemed satisfied and looking forward to our next trip and I went home and fell into bed, sleeping soundly after a great experience.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Weekend Warriors

This weekend we were again very busy.  We left the house at 11am for southern Maryland and arrived at Southern Middle School around 12:15.  Our 90lb Charger team had their first full scrimmage, complete with referees and a full field. We got warmed up and started at 1:00 and the other team ran the first play back for a touchdown.  Not good.  However, we came back with one of our own before long and then trounced all over them, winning 32-14.  It was a blast, cheering for the boys, and I was so proud of them.  My son in law was out there coaching with my husband and my daughter, granddaughter and I were on the sidelines cheering them on.  Love that it's a family thing.

Afterward, we went to dinner with our daughter and her family and our friends, the Webers, to the Rod and Reel in Chesapeake Beach.  It was a fancy restaurant and we surely weren't dressed for it, but the food was excellent and the boys (4 of them!) behaved well, as did my granddaughter, who is much more likely to act up at just two.  Our waitresses, however, were sorely lacking, but we just laughed it off and didn't let it ruin our good time.

To finish our adventure, our family and the Weber family went to the beach and walked along the water and played on the beach.  We didn't leave until almost 8pm and it was after 9pm before this tired family made it home.

Everyone slept in on Sunday and then I did some chores and then had to work for my company for a few hours.  We watched the Oriole game and enjoyed their big win and then I had to meet my daughter at the hospital for a tour of the maternity ward so we are prepared when baby Rebecca makes her appearance in a few weeks.  It was boring, but I am glad I could be there for my daughter.

Back home and a nice dinner followed, a walk with the boy and the dogs and a fairly early night.  Getting ready for a week at home preparing for the start of school next Wednesday.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Alternate Plans

Today we were all set to go to Chesapeake Beach Water Park to use our Groupon passes and I went online to look up directions and realized they are no longer open on weekdays since last Friday.  BUMMER!  We were all looking forward to it and the weather was hot and sunny and perfect for the lazy river.  So alternate plans were needed.  Since neither my daughter or I had much money, we opted to go downtown and use her membership at the Port Discovery Children's Museum.  This is not my favorite place in the world, but the kids can run around, get rid of energy and get out of the house, so off we went.

The trip wasn't anything extraordinary, but it did what it was intended to do and we left at 12:30 with two hungry, tired kids.  We got everyone fed and my daughter put my granddaughter in her room here for a nap and went home to get some things done.  I got some paperwork done and had a visit from my younger daughter.  Everyone left around five; my husband and son for football; myself and my daughter and granddaughter to take them home.  We dropped Keri off and I decided to have a Nana-Natalie date with my little sweetheart.  We stopped at the Wendy's close to her house for Frostys and sat and ate them together.  She is such a beautiful child and so animated and smart. I have missed having her every day this summer and look forward to our time together starting Friday.

I dropped Natalie off at her house and spent a few minutes watching her interact with my daughter.  She sure loves her mommy and it's incredibly rewarding to watch your daughter be a mother.  I love them both so very much.

Off to football for another night of practice.  I handed in my paperwork today, thank goodness, chatted with some mom friends I have made and watched my son in a scrimmage.  He is really improving and it's fun to watch him making such great strides.  I left there a few minutes ahead of them to come home and make a late dinner and then everyone crashed, exhausted from another long day.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Counting Down

Today is my next to the last day of summer daycamp and I am ready for it to be over.  By this time of the summer I am swearing I will never do this again each and every year.  I had my three regular campers, one little sister camper, my son and my granddaughter today.  I had little sleep last night.  I am grumpy and tired.  I don't want to do anything. Try telling six kids that!

So the first two arrived at 7:30 and will not leave until 6:10.  Ugh.  The second arrived around 7:40 and will leave at 5:15.  Ugh.  The third arrived at 8:00 and will leave at 4:00, getting better.  My daughter will get off work shortly to come help with my granddaughter, but I am having a very early birthday dinner for my mother in law (because of football practice and my son's work) so instead of thinning out the crowds, we will have twelve people here at 4:00  Double UGH!

I let them play in Dakota's room this morning until 9:15 while Natalie and I sat on the deck.  I stepped on a push pin and it went in my heel and I yelled loudly twice.  I look and there is my granddaughter, crouched down by the outside table, silently crying with her little mouth wide open, no noise coming out and tears streaming down her cheeks.  I scared her to death!  She clung to my neck and sobbed and sobbed while I rocked her on the swing and crooned to her.  Poor kid!  Then I had to let her get her doctor's kit and make me all better.  Gotta love a two year old!

After feeding everyone, we packed some water bottles and headed out to the park.  The big kids all walked and I pushed Natalie in her favorite pink car.  They played well when we got to the playground and when there was a lull in the action I gave them a scavenger hunt sheet and they did that.  I ended up helping and they found a praying mantis and some other cool things.

After coming back and cooling off, they all had lunch and I put the baby to nap.  The bigger kids were loud and boisterous, so I sent them outside to jump on the trampoline.  When they came back, they went into Dakota's room for legos and I put The Smurfs on.  It's only 2:30, however, and they are starting to fight and I need to find them something else to do, but I am soooooooo tired myself and my daughters and mother in law will be here shortly and ....YAWN.  Did I mention I am very tired?

Sunday, August 18, 2013

A Weekend at the Beach

Saturday morning saw us leaving for Ocean City and excited to be leaving our hectic schedule behind.  Dakota, Brian and I made only one stop and it was to grab breakfast sandwiches at McDonalds.  We got snagged up briefly by the drawbridge, but arrived safe and sound around 11am.  We hit the beach and Dakota really enjoyed hanging out in the water with his Dad, being thrown around by the rough surf.  They both thought this was great fun and while I laughed like crazy at the two of them, I knew things must be rough when the lifeguards kept gathering people around and warning them of the dangers.  We took a break, got Thrashers french fries and hit the bathrooms and then spent another hour or so on the beach.  Around 2pm we got into our room and spent the next couple of hours relaxing and catching up on our computers.  Around 5, I took Dakota up to the beach and there were lots of kids playing in the pool the high tide had left on the beach so I let him go back up and get his swim trunks on and we went back to the surf.  Brian joined us and we had a really great walk along the beach while Dakota darted back and forth from the water to the sand in front of us.  Around 7:00 we headed back to our room, cleaned up and went up onto the boardwalk to eat.  We chose a nice little Italian restaurant called Piezano's and I don't know if the food was really good or we were starving, but there were no complaints here! I thought we would continue back down the boardwalk to the rides and games, but Dakota was wiped out and we went back to the room, got showers and watched the Oriole game.  We were all exhausted and the room was dark before 10.

Sunday dawned rainy and cool.  We took our time getting up and out.  We hit the boardwalk around 11 for Playland arcade games and another round of Thrashers french fries.  Afterward, we played 27 holes of putt putt golf in a misty rain, but it's one of our favorite family activities, so we put our hoods up and had a go at it.  It was fun and I only lost by 1!!  A new record!  My husband either cheats or he is really that good.

After relaxing in our rooms again for a few hours, we went for a nice dinner at J.R.'s Ribs, where we enjoyed good music and a tasty meal.  It was raining again when we left, but we took the chance and went over to Assateague.  The skies started to clear and we took a new path through the woods to the Radcliffe House.  It's something our family has always enjoyed doing and we saw many rabbits, caught a tiny frog to pet and let go and saw several deer, one up close.  We ended up far from our car, but it was a nice walk, even though our feet were soaked.  We rode through the front part of the island before heading back and got to see a herd of horses eating along the side of the road.  We are very fortunate to live in an area where we can visit the island and actually see wild horses.  They are beautiful and carefree and really don't care at all about the humans everywhere trying to take their picture.

We finished the night in grand fashion around 8:00, having Dairy Queen ice creams and watching music videos in the restaurant.  I had a chocolate and strawberry sundae that was to die for.  Now it's 8:45 and we are all freshly showered and watching baseball.  Brian and Dakota are playing their last vacation game of Stratego and I am enjoying a little quiet time in my bed next to the window where a heavenly breeze is blowing.  While I am ready to go home so I can be with my own stuff in my own house, I'll miss the beach and I am not looking forward to the laundry and PCA work and daycare that all awaits me the minute I walk in the door.