3/18/17

Family, Friends, and Growing Pains







Our Spring Break was earlier than I think most of the country's, so it was tough trying to get back into a routine while seeing everyone else's vacation photos.  We got really lucky though, that my cousin's kiddos were on Spring Break this past week and came to visit my aunt and uncle who live near us.  On Tuesday, we were able to get the kiddos together for some time at Urban Air Trampoline Park, and then we had fun swimming at our house and had a cookout.  The boys adore the girls, so we were so happy to get to spend time with them.


I took Eli clothes shopping on Thursday because he said his shoes were getting a big snug.  My child has jumped from size 10 to size 12 in men's shoes, and we had to basically buy him an entire new wardrobe.  He is only 13, but he's nearly 5'8" and wears a size 32 length in pants.  INSANE!  He's definitely been hitting some major growth spurts.

Last night...Friday, Norman and I had a bit of an insane day, so we relieved our frustrations by whacking golf balls at Top Golf with some friends of ours.  The food was really good, as well as the company :), and I actually hit the ball, so I call the evening a complete success.  I can definitely feel it in my shoulders today!

  

I am super excited for this upcoming weekend...I am meeting a friend for a girls weekend at the Houston Rodeo, and we are going to see Brad Paisley!  It's my first time trying out AirBnB, so I'll be sure to take lots of photos.  I'm also struggling to find any cowboy boots that I actually like, which should be a crime in Texas, but my goal is to find them before Wednesday.

That's about all for now.  We are staying super busy and just looking forward to summer.  I think I write that every post, but seriously...we are so over this school year already.  I'm not ready for storm season though.  This has already been a crazy storm season, and we haven't even started it yet.  Between being hit by the tornado on Christmas Day and getting stuck in a tornado warning/town shut down when we were on our Spring Break in Branson, MO, I am dreading what may happen once we actually get into the busy spring storm season.  I guess I'll just say my prayers and cross my fingers and toes that I've met the quota for this lifetime.

I'll post rodeo/concert photos next week!  Have a great rest of your weekend peeps!  XOXO

3/11/17

Spring Break 2017




Spring Break for our school district came earlier than most other districts, so when we decided to take a last minute trip to Branson, MO, it was easy to book our trip.  Branson gets sort of a bad name...a lot of people think it's only for the over 50 crowd, but that couldn't be further from the truth.  It's one of our favorite places to visit, and since it's only a 7 hour drive, it's an easy trip for us to make.

We did a lot of relaxing in our condo and enjoyed eating at some really fun places.  We got to see an amazing show called Moses at the Sight and Sound Theatre.  The sets were amazing...they blew a lot of actual broadway show sets that I have seen out of the water.  From a flying angel to animals running around the theatre...it was absolutely amazing. Go to YouTube and look up a trailer to the show; it will be running another 8 months or so, and it is so worth the trip to go check it out. 
              

We also got to visit a really hands on zoo, which was pretty amazing.  We all got to feed alligators, sea turtles, and sharks, and even better than that, we got to get into an enclosure with Dingos and play with them for about 20 minutes!  They were super sweet, and the smallest one loved to be carried around, which Chase just ate up.  He carried him around like a baby pretty much the whole time we were in there.  



We also visited the Butterfly Palace.  I have been wanting to visit there for a very long time, and it did not disappoint.  They give you a vial of nectar that attracts the butterflies to you, and they literally swarm around you.  Chase was adamant that we absolutely had to go, and I'm so glad we did.  






And of course a vacation isn't a vacation if you don't eat at some amazing places.  Our two favorite places in Branson to eat are Pasghettis and Cakes-n-Creams 50's Diner.

So that about sums up our week!  We love to travel and expose the boys to new adventures.  I am not sure if it's the military life part of me, but I get cabin fever and need to get out and explore. I also think it's super important for the boys to grow up knowing that there is more to life than what is in their hometown.  I am really looking forward to our summer travels; at least we are on the downhill slide to summer.  I think I can, I think I can...

This week we will be getting the boys together with my cousin's kiddos, and I am really excited about that.  I'm so glad to see the kids cultivating relationships with family and growing up with cousins the way I did.  My cousin Chad was like a brother to me during my childhood, so it's really awesome to me that my kiddos get to grow up with theirs.  

Ciao peeps!  Hope you are having a great weekend and have a fantastic upcoming week!


3/5/17

Spring Fever!



Spring fever has definitely hit our home with a vengeance.  Our Spring Break is this week, and up until today we hadn't made any plans.  Usually I am a planner...and when it comes to summer vacation plans, we have those covered and ready to go.  But this week?  I totally dropped the ball there.

My parents came down this weekend, and we got to go to First Monday in Canton, TX. I hadn't been since I was a little girl, but my parents go pretty frequently so we decided to tag along with them this weekend.  You can literally find everything you could ever want there, and it would take days to see it all.  The saving grace for us was that anything I saw that I wanted was big (quilt ladders, huge farm signs, etc), and I just didn't want to carry it around or haul it back to the truck and then make the long trek back.  I did kind of want one of these...


      

Norman would have been less than thrilled, though, so I kept walking.

My parents did have some luck though.  They recently bought an Appaloosa horse named Scooter, and he needed a small saddle for the grandkids.  My brother and I are so blessed to have such loving grandparents, that they would buy another horse that has such a sweet and mellow disposition just for the kiddos.  They managed to find a beautiful saddle at a great price, so even though my mom didn't find the other thing she was looking for, at least they found a saddle for Scooter. I have a feeling we will be going more regularly now that I have had a taste of what I can find there.  It's like a home/yard decor wonderland.

So anyway, once my parents left, and I was staring at a week of Spring Break with no plans made, I started to panic.  I refuse to let my kiddos sit around, and the idea of a stay-cation was not my idea of fun, so I booked us a quick 4 night trip to Branson, MO.  We are going to see the show Moses at the Sight & Sound Theatre, go to the Castle of Chaos, see the Promised Land Zoo, maybe do the Butterfly Palace, and Dixie Stampede.  I just wanted to run away with the kids for a bit, so it should give us a little reprieve from the daily grind.

We had been saving our timeshare points for an overseas trip this summer, but we decided that Norman and I needed a get away sans kids, so that changed things.  We decided to go to Williamsburg, VA and Washington D.C. with the kids the 4th of July week for a family vacation, and then in August, Norman and I are going to the Sandals Resort on Great Exuma Island.  This is the island in the Bahamas where you can swim with the pigs!!! I am so excited you have no idea.  It has been a few years since we've done an all-inclusive trip just the two of us, so we are pretty stoked.  Mom and Dad are super sweet to take the kiddos for us and let us have this time to ourselves.

Finally...FINALLY we feel like we are settled.  It only took two and a half years...nearly three since retirement, but Norman is secure in his job, he likes it, and we are happy in our home and neighborhood.  The only thing I want to change at some point is that I want to build on some land...The city is wearing on me, like I mentioned in a previous post...but I love that Chase has friends in and out of the house all the time and that we have good friends on our street to hang out with.  Plus the thought of having to change churches...again...practically makes me want to break out in hives, so I think we will be here for at least a couple of years (unless something happens where a property comes up that we can't pass on).  We shall see.  It's something that I'm constantly keeping an eye out for, looking forward to, and dreading all at the same time.  Another move...ugh.  But land...yea! :) Yes, I'm very conflicted lol.

ELI UPDATE

Eli is continuing to detox...not much has changed there.  I thought I would write a bit about the supplements and mineral compounds that he is on to help flush the toxins out of his system.  He is on 7 total.  They are:  Min-Chexe-PoiseTrace Minerals B-12Organically Bound MineralsZinc Liver ChelateAdrenal Desiccated, and last but not least, Ashwagandha.  All of them except the Ashwagandha work to restore and repair the body at the cellular level. Each name is a link to an info sheet in case you are curious what each does.  These sheets are pretty basic as far as the info they provide, but if you wish, you can do your own research to find out if any of these supplements may be helpful to you.  The Ashwagandha is something that we added because it does a lot to help with brain tissue repair as well as provide a sense of calm and peace when he gets frustrated or overwhelmed.  We just ordered 4 more bottles, and I am putting the whole family on it.  For those of you who were aware of the tumble I took down my stairs when we lived in San Antonio, I believe this is something that will help.  I still have trouble recalling some words once in a while, and my speaking isn't as fluent as it used to be.  Maybe this supplement can help.  Who knows.

In the next month or so, I plan on having Chase undergo the same hair analysis test, and I figure he will end up taking some of these same supplements.  Truth be told, our whole family could benefit from them, so who knows...we may be overrun with supplements here soon.  But if the supplements get Eli off his actual medications...I am all for that.  The Ashwagandha has such a calming effect that Eli has started coming to me to ask for it if he feels that he is getting too hyper.  He's starting to self-regulate some, and that is really encouraging.

That's all for now...I'm sure I'll have plenty to write about once we are back from Branson and back into the swing of things.  At least we are on the downhill slide to summer. I am sooooo ready for that! Ciao peeps!

2/27/17

Sunday Blessings

Today we did something as a family that I've wanted to do for a long time...volunteer in downtown Dallas with the homeless community.  Our church goes one Sunday a month and helps with the church service in the inner city, and afterward we serve the community a hot meal.  I wanted to spend a few minutes writing about our experience there, because it is something that while we plan to continue doing and getting actively involved with, this first visit is one that I won't ever forget.

When we got there, we weren't sure what to expect. There were police in the parking lot to ensure the safety of our vehicles, and we were made aware that there was a "bouncer" of sorts standing at the back of the room if anyone got too rough.

There were a couple of things I wanted to point out to myself mainly...so I won't forget.  There was a woman sitting two rows in front of us.  She was wearing a hoodie with it up over her head...I never saw her face...but she had some kind of affliction that caused her to scratch her head a lot.  On her hands she wore the hospital socks that they give you...you know, the bright yellow and green kind with the traction on the bottoms of them?  I was watching her...just trying to absorb where we were, and understand the people we had come to worship with and serve...

Eli and Norman helped serve communion.  It was Eli's first time to do this, and I was super proud of him.  For him to do this in an unfamiliar place with people he did not know or understand and were probably even a little scary to him was a big deal.  But during the offering, in which not many people gave, because most were homeless and were there for the meal, the woman in the hoodie, with the socks on her hand gave a handful of change in the offering plate.

This may not make any sense to anyone reading this, but we usually worship in a nice building where everyone dresses nicely for service...they don't come in hungry...the kids are well dressed, and we have all had the luxuries of a morning shower, hot coffee or tea, and we slept in our warm comfy beds...all of that. On the way to service this morning, we were driving by places under the overpasses where homeless slept, and then to have them smile at us...welcome us in to their congregation...extend warmth to us when they have every reason to dislike us for the fact that our lives are "easy" and theirs are beyond hard...it's humbling.  It's even more humbling when you see someone with literally hospital socks on her hands giving the last of what she probably had, when I don't do that.  Who does do that?  Most of us budget...try to be responsible.  But she had nothing and gave what I assume is all she had.  I could be wrong.  But it was such a strong moment for me that I nearly burst into tears.  I can't explain it. But being in the presence of that group of people made me realize that I am abundantly blessed, and that we need to donate more to this particular ministry.  Norman and I have been discussing it for awhile, but today we just reaffirmed our commitment to this cause.

Eli and I will be doing this as part of his homeschooling humanities class, and we will do weekly shopping trips to try to build bags that we can give to the people when we serve next time.  One man had an extra pair of shoes in his car, and he ended up giving them to a man who needed new shoes.  This makes me look at shopping in a whole new light.  Next time I see something super on sale that we don't need but could easily afford, I am going to buy it.  I'm going to try to encourage the boys to constantly be thinking about what we can do for the people we met today.

There is so much need in our area...it can be overwhelming, and I know we can't make a difference for everybody.  But we can make a difference for somebody...for a few somebody's. And that's my goal.  Because today wasn't enough.  Some parts of today made me feel uneasy, but that is always the case when you step out of your comfort zone. I want to do more.  Eli and I need to make a plan on what we can do during the week to do more.  Today was a great starting point, and I hope that we can be a blessing in the future to those whom we met today.  


2/20/17

Chase's Birthday and an Eli Update!

Chase has had one long, drawn out birthday celebration this year due to scheduling conflicts, but he finally had his party this weekend.  It was something else; I don't believe I've ever entertained as many people in my home...or any other place for that matter, and it was extremely fun, but very, very tiring!  Phase 1 of his birthday included taking him and his best friend to Escape the Room Dallas.  We chose to do "The Dig", and it was so much fun!  We escaped with one minute to spare, and it is something I am definitely looking forward to doing again!  If you have never heard of these Escape Rooms, check them out; they are a great family bonding experience as well as a fun party thing to do for kiddos.  






Saturday we had his actual party, and we had 11 kiddos, plus their parents, plus my family (parents, aunt and uncle)...we had a full house, and it was a lot of fun!  I ordered food ahead of time, because there was no way I was going to cook snacks for that many people, and Chase designed his own birthday cake.  I was surprised he didn't want a generic super-hero cake, but he didn't.  Here are a few photos from the day.  I didn't get many pool pictures (yes, it was a pool party :)  We are in Texas after all, and with a heated pool and a 75 degree day, it made for perfect pool party weather).  With all the torpedoes flying, pool noodles being used as swords, and kids doing flips off the side, I was more concerned about making sure nobody died on my watch than I was getting good photos lol.  But I managed to get a couple photos with kids being still long enough that they weren't blurred.  But seriously...10+ kids in a pool...that is sorta stressful!  :)  So here are some photos from Chase's day.  

First they started with board games and X-box while people started showing up...



Then they started hitting the pool...



Then we had cake.  Here you get the idea of how many kids really were there :)



It was pretty hectic, but the best part, was that Nana and Papa were able to come down...



So all in all we had an awesome weekend.  Mom and dad left yesterday after church, and we ended our weekend by having dinner with our small group at our preachers house, which was amazing.  Being out at his house...a log cabin surrounded by chickens and cattle made me really homesick and determined to start digging into looking into finding property out in the country we can build on.  I swore I would never move again, but after being in such a residential area where you can practically touch your neighbors house by leaning out your window, I am feeling really claustrophobic.  My biggest concern is Chase.  He is so attached to his school and his friends, I am so hesitant to move him...again.  But I'll start looking, and who knows.  My goal is to move when he would be making the transition from grade school to middle school.  If he's truly against it, I could hold off for him, but I'm hoping the draw of being out in the country will really appeal to him as long as he knows he can keep in touch with his friends.  We shall see.  We are in no rush, and we are very happy here.  We live on the best street and have the best neighbors, so I am hesitant to leave that, but ultimately I am a country girl at heart, and I want to get back to that.  

I am just glad to be out of the military and have the flexibility to move when we want to and when it is right for us.  That's really all that matters.  

***Eli update***

We added Ashwagandha to the other mineral compounds he is taking to help with added peace and calm during this detox, because he really is starting to itch and be exceedingly frustrated with the uncomfortable feelings he has.  It really does seem to help, so we will just keep going.  Naps are critical for this healing process, and we are so blessed with friends and family who are so supportive and understanding as we deal with this.  I wish there were more studies on heavy metal toxicity...I think a bunch of kiddos who are diagnosed with autism (like Eli was for 9 years) really are dealing with the effects of heavy metal toxicity.  So far, I am realizing that not many doctors are interested in truly healing their patients because they want repeat customers...not healthy patients.  Big difference.  If you have an autistic child, I highly recommend doing the hair mineral test to see if metal toxicity could even be playing the slightest role in your child's developmental delays.  It's amazing what that test can show...and for less than $200, it is absolutely worth it.  I have heard of cases of children being nonverbal, and then once the metals were removed, these kiddos began to talk.  Amazing things.  

Nobody leaves me comments here, but you guys do email me, text me, and fb message me about my posts, which I love! Feel free to comment...I do love comments, and I love discussing any of your thoughts or answering your questions about what we are doing with Eli, the compounds he is on, etc.  Your support is much appreciated...more than you know!  Thanks sweet friends! 😊

2/15/17

Crazy Awesome Week

I was so stressed the beginning of the week, because we are having a swimming party for Chase and like 10 of his friends on Saturday, plus family and our adult friends...It's getting out of control.  The catering, the cleaning...the cleaning is what does me in every time.  But I am surprisingly hanging in there and haven't lost my marbles...yet.

Sunday Norman and I went on our Valentine's Day date after church...to the gun range!  :)  Yes, I cling to my religion and my guns...because I have faith God will keep the bad guys from breaking in, but I also have faith that I will stop the bad guys if they do somehow get in my home. We had never been to the local gun club, but we are getting a membership, and plan on going weekly...hear that Norman?  I wanna go weekly to shoot!

Today was Eli's art class, and he is almost done with his project for the month that they work on.  They are studying Wayne Thiebaud, and he is doing a huge picture using different mediums to paint  cupcakes, so it is really cool.  I'm glad I found this art school and that he gets art history as well as just having a great time doing something that he loves to do.

Tonight we hosted small group, and had a really uplifting time. We are really blessed by our little group.  I'm so thankful for this church, and for Misty once again being an instigator in me being there.  I really scrubbed the downstairs floors to ceiling, so I'm half done cleaning and ready for guests.  I love having company, but man it stresses me out!!  :)

Tomorrow's Constitution class got postponed until next week due to just hectic schedules, but I'm thankful for the extra down time before things get crazy this weekend.  I'm super thankful Norman has a four-day weekend, because if there ever was a time I needed help, it's now.

As a side note - we are making progress on diet changes with Eli.  We have had to be really specific about him eating certain things...for example, he has to eat one Brazil Nut a day.  How funny is that? Chase has hopped on board with that, but all I can say is that I'm thankful they only eat one per day because at like $6 a pound...holy smokes!  He also has accepted that he has to eat a handful of some kind of flash dried vegetable mix every day, that I actually like.  It has cucumbers, squash, zucchini sliced into chips, asparagus stalks and green beans...We have a local health food store that has the greatest selection of...well...health foods lol.  And tonight I was so proud of him for eating the baked squash and zucchini I fixed.  You have to understand that this kid has a gag reflex like you wouldn't believe.  If he doesn't like it, it typically gets thrown up.  Yes...gross.  He's even thrown up on the dentist trying to get the molds taken of his teeth before he got his braces put on.  So for him to recognize how important this is...it's huge for us.  He's trying, and it's not easy.

He is now into the second week of the first phase of detox, and we are surviving.  Just like I kept his medical blog when he was younger, I guess here I am doing it all over again.  I am thankful to have a place where I can get everything down and be able to look back and know what happened when.  We actually discussed Chelation Therapy, but it was determined to be too risky.  With that kind of therapy, the release of toxins might happen too fast, and that would not be a good situation for him. He's uncomfortable as it is...rushing things just for the sake of getting toxins out faster is not worth the damage it might cause in the process.

So that's how our week's going.  Being with friends and planning on Saturday's party is keeping us busy enough.  Too busy.  I have missed living in a close knit neighborhood like we had in base housing, but we found that here, and I love it.  And to my gift bomber...you know who you are ;) ...you just wait...We love you dearly, and we are going to gift bomb you back so hard when you least expect it. ROFL!  You just wait!!  XOXO

That's all for now...now for a little Netflix binging...Night peeps.

2/10/17

Homeschool Life

First off, I want to say thank you for all the messages and support that we have gotten since Tuesday.  I was blown away by the facebook messages, text messages, and calls that I got regarding this new information on Eli. If you have come to the blog to read the medical update, please click here. I know that many of you have signed up for updates, so for future reference, I will include Eli's name in the post title so if you ONLY want to keep up with his progress, you can read those when you see them in your inbox and disregard the others.  I blog about everything on here, so it will be a mix of Eli and family stuff. 

I have been asked several times about homeschooling Eli.  The questions range from how does our day look, what curriculum do I use, and how do we like it. There are so many families out there contemplating making this major life change, so I wanted to take a minute to address some of the more common questions I get.  

First of all...state rules.  Every state is different, so you would need to look into your state's rules to see what you are required by law to do.  Please visit the HSLDA website.  We are super lucky in Texas to live in a very homeschool friendly state.  There are only two rules that we have to abide by in Texas, and those are that we must teach the required subjects of  math, reading, spelling and grammar, and a course in good citizenship.  I am also teaching history, biology, and penmanship as well as a Bible class. Eli is also enrolled in an art class where they work on one big project every week for the entire month, and they learn art history about a certain artist each month as well.  The second major rule is that you must use a "written curriculum".  From HSLDA's website, "The private school law as interpreted by the Texas Supreme Court requires that you use some form of written curriculum (online programs meet this requirement) and that you operate your homeschool in a “bona fide” manner."  

So what does our day to day schedule look like? Well, we are very flexible, and the timing of our days is pretty different depending on if we have doctors appointments or other appointments.  My goal isn't to fit school in between 8 and 3...my goal is to be flexible (my favorite word), and fit in what we need to study any time between waking up and going to bed.  That is the BIGGEST benefit to us...if Eli had a rough night of sleep, he can sleep in a bit, then we can get started when his brain is ready to learn.  If he needs a nap during the afternoon, he can take one.  If you read my previous post about his medical issues, he will begin to need more and more rest periods throughout the day, so homeschooling is perfect for this situation.  But, for you guys who want to actually see what material we cover, here is a week from my lesson plan book.  I do keep a very detailed lesson plan book as well as keep Eli's homework, quizzes and tests in binders, so that if we are ever audited, I have everything easily located and documented.  There should be no question as to what we are doing and how much ground we have covered.  

Here is a picture of one week out of my lesson plan book. You will see that we took the MLK holiday, and we did not do any school that day.  I am following the local school district's calendar since my youngest still attends public school.  You will also see that we took a two day break from math the end of the week because he finished up the math book he had been working on. Eli doubles and triples up his math daily, so I reward his persistence with a day or two break in between books.  





As far as curriculum goes, we use a bunch of different ones, and I piece-meal his education.  I am still very new to this, as we just started homeschooling on January 3rd, but so far, it's working for us.  For math, we use Life of Fred.  It's fantastic for kiddos who struggle with numbers in general, and Eli has gone from hating math to asking to do more lessons each day. That's why you see him doing three to four lessons per day. For the rest of the subjects, we loosely follow Easy Peasy.  I love EP, but I feel like sometimes they don't get deep enough into a subject, so I supplement with different teacher resources I find online.  For some of you looking for ways to supplement in all subject areas, I recommend Get WorksheetsIXL, and for Government/History, I highly recommend using the Constitution Center Website.  There are gobs of lesson plans, worksheets, kid friendly lessons and it is very popular in this house and with the friends whom I've shared it with.  

So that's all for today.  I need to get to grading Eli's homework before Chase gets home.  Another part about homeschooling that Eli and I both like is that we grade his papers together, and when he makes a mistake, we go over his thought process and then we correct it and make sure he understands where he went wrong and what he should do next time.  The one on one attention is exactly what he needs to thrive, and it's been such a huge blessing to our family.  

I never set out to be a homeschool mom...in fact I have tried it before and hated it.  But I have learned that it's all about having the right curriculum and the right support.  Now that I have found both, we are loving that we made this decision for our family, and see the growth already.  If you are on the fence and want to talk to someone about your concerns, leave me a comment.  I am more than happy to answer whatever questions you may have.  

XOXO,