Craving Dole Whip

Disney & museum obsessed, homeschooling mom of 3, parenting to focus on experiences, not possessions. Sharing Disney tips, educational adventures and a few reviews. Constantly craving Dole Whip.


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George’s Furniture–Experience Adventure 2 of 100

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For our 2nd experience adventure in our attempt to complete 100 while in the great state of Pennsylvania, the girls and I visited George’s Furniture in Lancaster County.  Just like most activities, I found information about George’s by accident, while conducting one of my all-consuming Google searches of things to do in Pennsylvania…and oh, what a happy, happy accident!

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George’s Furniture is a second-generation and family-owned business located in Marietta, Pennsylvania.  Though George Martin founded the business in 1970, he unfortunately passed away several years ago and now his oldest daughter and her husband lead the company of talented craftsmen.

My daughters and I drove about an hour from Carlisle–in questionable winter weather–to tour and see this magical workshop–and it was worth it!  I love nothing more than learning about people turning a passion and talent into a business that provides other humans with handcrafted, one-of-a-kind treasures!

Located on a picture-perfect farm, outside of the historic village of Maytown, the showroom, museum and workshop offer free guided tours Monday-Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. (according to the brochure).  The sign near the front door offers tours on Saturday and until 5:00 p.m.  I would go with the brochure to be safe or just call ahead.

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All furniture and pieces created by George’s craftsmen are made the old fashioned way and thoughtfully built to last for generations to come.  They work with kiln-dried hardwoods like oak, cherry, walnut and hard maple.  Almost all wood is acquired from local, in-state suppliers and sometimes customers even provide raw materials for custom pieces.

Our guide, Anthony, started working for Mr. Martin in the 1980’s, and most of the artisans have been there for 20+ years.  Each piece of furniture is made by hand–and each piece is made by only ONE person!

**Fun Fact:  The artist always signs the finished creation.  So AWESOME!

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Every piece of furniture is signed by the artist that built it.

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Particleboard and veneers are NEVER used.  Drawer bottoms and cabinet backs are all solid wood and quite honestly, even more beautiful than some of the exteriors!

 

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Inside a chest of drawers

 

 

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The back of a cabinet

Hardware, inserts, braces, and bars are meticulously added and used to strengthen pieces, such as dining room table leafs.

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George’s Furniture workshop is clean and organized and smells delicious–a cozy combination of wild, winter forest trees, crackling campfire, and an old-school wood burning kit.  I was in heaven and could have stayed in the workshop for hours.

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Anthony walked us through the workshop, pointing out different pieces of furniture actively being made by two craftsmen.  He showed my daugthers several machines:  a few saws, a large sander and a lathe.  No computers here!  Spindles, legs and finials are calibrated and carved by hand.

**Fun Fact:  Furniture from George’s is NOT sold in any stores!  They only sell directly to the customer.

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The tour taught us about the process of making furniture and how George’s craftsmen take extra steps to create heirloom-quality pieces.  They build dining room tables and chairs, desks, rocking chairs, coffee and end tables, hutches, mirrors, night stands, beds and dressers, buffets, jewelry boxes, bookcases and so much more!  Every single item is handcrafted in solid hardwood.  Everything is VERY heavy!

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**Fun Fact:  George Martin created a rocking chair design that cannot fall backwards.  For real–I tried it!  The chair was also the smoothest rocker I have ever sat in or touched.  This style rocker is still being made by his craftsmen.

The tour also includes time in the showroom, which is full of finished pieces, and a walk-through, museum-like area displaying a timeline of the company and some of George’s first creations.

If you find yourself in Lancaster County, I highly recommend a stop at George’s Furniture.

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George’s Furniture is located at 9 Reichs Church Road, Marietta, PA, 17547.  For more information, visit www.georgesfurniturepa.com or call 1-800-799-1685.

The tour is FREE, with a very small suggested donation.

PS–If you are Anthony (our tour guide) thank you for helping me with my car–and for not laughing too hard.  🙂

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Wondering why my daughters and I are in Pennsylvania?  Read all about our 6 month sabbatical here!

Check out what we did for the 1st of our 100 adventure experiences here!

 

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The Pennsylvania Farm Show–Experience Adventure 1 of 100

WOW!  As luck would have it, the 102nd Pennsylvania Farm Show began just 4 days after we moved to Pennsylvania.  As soon as I heard about this event, I knew it was going to be the first experience in our attempt to enjoy 100 adventures!

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102nd Pennsylvania Farm Show

The Pennsylvania Farm Show is the nation’s LARGEST indoor agricultural expo.  If you are from Houston, think about a farm-themed Nutcracker Market–add live animals, contests, and competitions–and then multiple the size by 200.  That *might* actually be accurate math.

Consisting of 24 indoor acres, housed in 11 buildings and including 3 arenas, the Farm Show represents just a tiny slice of the Pennsylvania farming industry.  There are 10,000 competitive exhibits, 6,000 animals and 300 commercial exhibits, as well as an enormous food court serviced by 2,000 volunteers.

**Super cool extra fact:  The first Pennsylvania Farm Show was held in 1917.

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Honestly, it would take me a month to write about all of the amazing events, animals, booths, shops, snacks, and people we encountered, so I will highlight just a few of our favorites.

The 2018 Historical Maker Scavenger Hunt immediately caught my homeschooling momma’s eyes.  Replicas of actual Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission historical markers are placed around the enormous Farm Show complex.  Readable text on the markers provide information relating to agriculture and rural heritage.

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2018 Historical Marker Scavenger Hunt

**Super cool extra fact:  There are 2,000 authentic markers throughout the state of Pennsylvania.  We hope to find some! 

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Replica of a PHMC Historical Marker

Several booths are dedicated to the unwanted spreading and impact of the Spotted Lanternfly.  Native to China, India and Vietnam, this insect attacks grapes, fruit trees and pines.  The insects first invaded the United States just 4 short years ago.  Last year, only 5 Pennsylvania counties found infestations.  This year, 13 counties are aggressively fighting the invasive species.

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The Spotted Lanternfly was first discovered in 2014, in Berks County, Pennsylvania.

The vegetables!  The gourds!  The mushrooms!  The fruit!  Seriously, what can I say about the breathtaking beauty of these gifts from Pennsylvania farms?

Just look at the pictures!

 

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With 6,000 animals, the Pennsylvania Farm Show’s livestock exhibits rival the world’s most popular zoos.  Countless isles display hundreds of diverse varieties and species.  We enjoyed seeing and learning about unique hens, roosters, ducks, rabbits, cows, sheep, and alpacas.  My youngest daughter milked a mechanical cow and was allowed to pet a rabbit and a black angus.

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Almost all of the food vendors offer delicious samples.  We tasted creamy dips, spicy BBQ sauces, hot garlic pickles, sweet dessert pies, rich maple syrups, sour fruit drinks, mustards, ghee, cinnamon nuts, warm pretzels, and marinated chicken.  The best part of our indulgence of these mouth-watering samples was the fact that every vendor represents a Pennsylvania farm and local business.

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While we made our way around the sample offerings, I met many interesting, friendly and passionate people.  One woman makes stroopie, a Dutch cinnamon waffle cookie with caramel syrup hand-spread between two wafers.  The Stroopie Co. empowers and provides meaningful employment to refugees resettling in Pennsylvania.  We plan to visit where the cookies are made and hopefully take a tour of the Lancaster Sweet Shoppe.

***Added:  After the Farm Show, I emailed the owner of The Stroopie Co. and she graciously invited me and my daughters to visit and learn all about the social enterprise at The Lancaster Sweet Shoppe. Read all about that amazing experience (our #7 adventure!) by clicking here!

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Spoonably Sweet is another interesting booth.  The chef told us how she “invented” her creation by accident, while trying to make something else.  I LOVE happy (and DELICIOUS) accidents!  Spoonable cookie dough can be used as a dessert topping, a pastry spread or eaten directly with a spoon!  She creates vegan options, too!  Um…yes, please!

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Last, but not least, there is a butter sculpture.  That’s right.

BUTTER.

SOLID BUTTER.

Everyone should experience butter artwork.

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I wish my writing skills flowed with lightning speed so I could tell you everything about the Pennsylvania Farm Show.  Hopefully, this little blog post will offer a tiny taste of an amazing experience that is available year after year, if you ever find yourself in the great state of Pennsylvania.

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The Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex and Expo Center is located in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, off of Exit 67 of Interstate 81.

Admission is FREE, but parking is $15 per vehicle.  Bring cash.

The 102nd Pennsylvania Farm Show runs January 6-13, 2018.

Plan to visit the 103rd show–January 5-12, 2019.

For more information, visit www.farmshow.pa.gov

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Other cool things to do in Pennsylvania?

Check out the Lancaster Central Market–the oldest farmers market in the country!  Read about it here!

Learn how to twist pretzels at the first commercial pretzel bakery–Julius Sturgis!  Read about it here!

Traveling to Virginia soon?

Check out the Edgar Allan Poe Museum!  Click here!

And, visit the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, too!  Click here!

 


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BIG changes! BIG adventures!

It has certainly been awhile since I have had anything worthy of posting in this blog.  I spent the last summer and fall semester shuttling my daughters back and forth to college and taekwondo, with not much time for anything else.

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Hurricane Harvey left behind complete devastation in Houston and the surrounding areas, but we were fortunate enough to only have flooding on our land and no damage to our home.  We were, however, in the beginning stages of some home renovations, so that put a kink in the scheduling logistics.

The extensive time I willingly dedicate to my children’s schedules and our extreme way of life is always time well spent, but the last 6 months drained my reserves and left my heart aching for an escape.

That crazy season has finally come to an end (for now) and a new adventure is on the snowy, and very chilly horizon!  My husband was offered and snagged one of the last available in-residency spots at the Army War College.  (He was enrolled in the online program when he received the call.)

My husband is super cool.

Located in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, the Army War College is a masters degree program for senior military leaders and International Fellow students and is a year long commitment.

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My awesome husband moved to PA and entered the Army War College in the summer of 2017, while I stayed behind and continued homeschooling and supporting our daughters.  The girls were already registered for fall college classes in Texas and we decided to stick to that commitment.

–Cue the time for home renovations, Harvey survival-mode and a stressed-out momma lifestyle.

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So, now that the fall semester, Christmas and New Years fun are all in the past, what is next for our extraordinary family?

I am glad you asked.

My daughters and I decided to join my husband in Carlisle for a 6 month sabbatical–an educational journey like no workbook or classroom can provide!

Our goal is to participate in 100 educational experiences–visiting museums, monuments, classes, tours, festivals and all kind of events.

That’s right.  I said 100.  

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It might be a lofty goal, but guess what?!?  We have nothing but time–time and an intense desire to accumulate knowledge.

OH!  And did I mention, there will be a Walt Disney World vacation thrown in the mix, too?  Well, of course there will!  DUH!  Would you expect anything less from me?!?

So…hold on tight my friends–we are taking you along for the ride!  I plan to blog about ALL 100 of our excursions and adventures and you get to experience the evolution of our homeschooling journey as it unfolds.

Stay tuned!  We are just getting started!

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If you aren’t familiar with my family, feel free to read about our extraordinary journey here.  And here.  And here.

 

 

 


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Morian Hall of Paleontology at the Houston Museum of Natural Science

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Ranked as one of the most-visited museums in North America, The Houston Museum of Natural Science (HMNS) showcases a plethora of traveling educational exhibits and features an impressive assembly of permanent collections, worthy of topping any must-see lists for Houston, Texas.

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Permanent exhibitions include a comprehensive Farish Hall of Texas Wildlife, an extraordinary Hall of Ancient Egypt and the stunning Cullen Hall of Gems and Minerals, just to name a few.

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With 30,000 square feet of modern, clean lines, chalky white alcoves and chronological classifications, The Morian Hall of Paleontology houses the extraordinary and one of the most monumental permanent collections found inside the HMNS.

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World-renowned paleontologist and author, Robert T. Bakker, Ph.D., curates the substantial exhibit.  The collection walks visitors through prehistoric eras and human evolution, presenting predators and prey in active, natural poses.

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450 exquisite fossils and authentic replicas narrate the story of the flora and fauna that dominated our Earth for 200 million years.

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Descriptive and informative labels, comprehensive explanations and epoch timelines guide museum visitors through thought-provoking and educational displays.

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Several realistic-looking representations portray early humanoids and Neanderthals.

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The Morian Hall of Paleontology at the Houston Museum of Natural Science presents a thorough and breathtaking view into a prehistoric and extinct world brimming with unusual biology, enormous dinosaurs, massive tress and an ever-changing environment.

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Put this museum and specifically, the Morian Hall of Paleontology, on your “Things to do in Houston” list.

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The Houston Museum of Natural Science is located at 5555 Hermann Park Drive, Houston, Texas, 77030.

Hours of operation:

Monday-Sunday 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

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Ticket pricing for all permanent exhibits and collections:

Adults–$25

Children ages 3-11–$15

Seniors ages 62+–$15

College students with ID–$15

Military with ID–$8

Members are always free.

Parking is available in the museum parking garage.

Parking for non-members–$20

Parking for members–$5

Discounts, Groupons and CityPass cards are sometimes available.

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Dining options while at the museum:

McDonald’s is in the museum’s Grand Entry Hall and several restaurants exist within walking distance.  I recommend the MFA Café, located inside the Museum of Fine Arts, just a few blocks from the Museum of Natural Science.

Visit www.hmns.org or call 713-639-4629 to purchase tickets and for more information.

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Do you love museums?

Click here to read about my favorite museum in Oklahoma.

Click here to read about the Salvador Dali museum in Florida.

Traveling to Houston soon?  Check out Cirque du Soleil’s Kurios, currently performing in Houston, Texas.  Click here to read a full review of the amazing show!

 


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44 years and 1 day

Yesterday, I turned 44 years and one day old.  I wrote a blog post (read it here!) all about my birthday and what my actual day looked liked, but I woke up this morning with more to share.  So, what did 44 years and 1 day bring?

On Thursday, I woke up at 6:30 a.m. as a 44 year and 1 day old woman.  Constantly, for the last 24 years and 21 days, at least one person calls me “mom”, meaning I happily put my desires on the back burner…a deliberate, daily action for more than half my life.

So, I’m up at 6:30 a.m. to begin my day because Tuesdays and Thursdays are college days.  Not for me…I graduated with a Bachelors of Fine Arts in 1997.  Tu/Th means college classes for my 11 and 13-year-old daughters.  Read 5 reasons why we homeschool here.

In true modern-life fashion, the first thing I reach for in the morning is my phone.  About 3 months ago, I finally started to flip my ringer off at night.  Since my son left for college in 2011, I worry about him constantly and always keep the phone on my nightstand, ringer on full-blast.  Now that the ringer is off at night, I check the phone first thing, just incase.  Full disclosure:  He graduated from college in 2015 and I still have my phone on vibrate (just incase).  Baby steps, people.  Baby steps.

I typically spend 10 ish minutes looking through Facebook, maybe Twitter, and seldomly Instagram.  Come on, I am 44.  Facebook is my jam.

A friend sent me a Facebook message asking about the mesh laundry baskets we use to protect, raise and house our monarch caterpillars.  I wanted to verbally describe the containers, but felt a picture would be better.  In my pj’s and clunky old-lady Vionic house-shoes (plantar fasciitis, remember?), I went to the garage to grab an empty habitat for an outdoor photo shoot.  I took the pic, put the basket back into the garage and stepped down onto the drive way.

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Well…I sort of “stepped down”.  The clunky house-shoe on my right foot slipped off as I stepped down from the garage doorway.  I twisted my ankle and fell directly on my rear, jarring my spine from my tailbone to my skull on the not-so-shock-absorbent concrete.  Of course, I used my left hand to brace myself, which in reality, only added to the list of injuries.  I laid on the driveway for a few minutes, accessing all damage, and laughing/crying at my old lady self…so thankful we live in the country, where neighbors are few and far between.

Besides my pride and ego, the other injuries are minor, mostly bruising and sore muscles.

Gingerly, I returned to the house, made oatmeal and negotiated two peace treaties between the conflicting ideals of my two daughters–at least I was not naked this time.  It’s a miracle.

On April 21, my family made the excruciating decision to help our beloved 13 year-old family dog cross the rainbow bridge.  A cloud of sadness and emptiness lingers over our house and hearts these days.  It has been tough on everyone.  For me, added misery stems from her absence in my daily routines.

Having a dog is like having another child.  Her needs always came before my own.  If she needed to go out and I needed to pee, I always took her first.  In fact, most mornings, I walked her outside before I barely opened my eyes and I always served her breakfast before I fed my children or myself.

As I was getting dressed, her absence overwhelmed me and I cried.  Cried in the shower, cried brushing my teeth, cried until it was time to leave for school.  I miss her.

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Part of my daily routine is calling my husband while I drive to the first college campus.  (My girls take classes at two different campuses this semester.) (And, since you might not know me personally, I use my car’s Bluetooth just to be safe.  I never speed and I never text while driving.)  I am a rule follower.

The phone call is a quick opportunity to check in with my man while my daughters are plugged in and watching a DVD in the car.  Movies create a much-needed quick escape for my girls from their very active brains.  What do they watch?  Well…let me just say, my daughters display an eclectic taste when it comes to films.  I am going to walk out to my car (slowly and carefully) and take a pic of the movies just for your viewing pleasure.  Here you go:

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Yes, all of these movies are currently in my car and yes, we spend a lot of money on DVD’s.  Someone should set up a GoFundMe account.

So, back to the chitty-chat with my husband.  He always asks about my morning first–even if I protest and ask about his day, he refuses to answer until I share my stuff.  I gave an overview of everyone’s morning emotions and a recap of my graceful, old lady fall and waited for his summation.

He starts by causally mentioning his name made the Colonel promotion list–a SUPER big deal.  We have waited AND waited AND waited for this amazing news.  As I am giddy with excitement and congratulations, I bounce in my driver’s seat (as much as humanly possible) and proceed to twerk my neck and back even more than the morning’s tumble on the concrete.  Damn this 44 year and 1 day old body.

Seriously, my husband is so humble.  Green Berets are called “The Quiet Professionals” for a reason.  He is a rock star, but he keeps it a secret.

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LOL.  I am just kidding.  That is not my husband.  This is a picture of my daughter at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.  I wanted to throw a little Disney love into this post.  Who needs more Disney in their life?  This girl.  Yes, me.  Duh.

THIS is my man, leaving for deployment in 2010.

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He is an amazing soldier and an amazing husband.

If I made the rank of Colonel, it would be the first thing I blurted out when I answered a call.  But, not my husband…he is always more concerned and interested in what I have going on in my world.  I am a lucky gal.

First college stop every Tuesday and Thursday is yoga class for my 11 year-old.  I am happy to report it is not an easy, blow-off course.  Though the focus is yoga and health, the professor spends a lot of time lecturing about yoga philosophy, morals, ethics, and practices.  My daughter continues to learn about Hindi culture, vegetarianism and historical traditions.

During yoga, my 13 year-old and I sit at tables outside of the classroom–she works on geometry, French or marine biology while I answer emails, make calls or write blog posts for you guys.  After yoga, my daughter changes into regular clothing and we drive to the next campus.

Yesterday, however, she realized she forgot her regular bra and reacted with a full, emotional meltdown in the women’s restroom.  Have you read about my life with profoundly gifted kids?  Click here.

I calmly suggested the sports bra was sufficient, but she shot that down pretty quick.  Next, I offered a switch–she could wear my bra and I would gladly wear the sports bra…anything to minimize her anxiety.  Apparently, the thought of wearing her mom’s bra was mortifying enough to make the wearing of the sports bra acceptable.  That is a parenting win, my friends.

We drove to the next college campus, where my 13 year-old takes Acting I and my 11 year-old attends two different ASL classes.  I create a home base–what I call our “nest”–and I sit there for the next 9 hours while my daughters come and go to the rest of their classes.  I read, watch entirely too many Netflix shows and I do research for this blog.  Yea Wi-Fi.

On campus, the Deaf and ASL interpreting college students were interacting with visiting Deaf junior high students.  One of the professors introduced my daughter and the students asked a lot of questions.  She confidently signed and communicated with several of the kids, which was exciting because these students were her age.  That NEVER happens.

One fascinating facet of Deaf culture is sign names.  A Deaf person MUST give the sign name to a hearing person.  Until a sign name is given, names are finger-spelled using the ASL alphabet.  My daughter has studied American Sign Language for 6 years and has waited 6 years, hoping someday to receive her sign name from a Deaf individual.

The sign name is an act of acceptance into the Deaf culture.

I was writing a blog post when my daughter RAN up to our nest, all out of breath, and almost cried as she told me that a Deaf student bestowed her a sign name.  It was the best day of her life!

Through happy tears, I watched my daughter walk into her Visual and Gestural Communications class with a sign name.  It was like she was a new person.

For Christmas, I gave my daughters tickets to see Alton Brown Live:  Eat Your Science.  When I purchased the tickets, we thought my husband would be in Qatar, so I only bought three.  Life is funny sometimes, right?  Plans change constantly around here.

So, we skipped my 11 year-old’s last class (Yes, she told the professor in advance.) and we met my husband for dinner before the show.  My husband loves Alton Brown and since he is not in Qatar, I gave him the chance to take our daughters on a date.  I REALLY wanted to go, but I was thrilled to give up my ticket for my awesome husband.

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Alton Brown is so cool, isn’t he?

After dinner, my husband took our daughters to see Alton Brown Live and I started the long drive home.  I made a last minute decision to visit my fabulous sister because Google Maps sent me right by her house.

I love spending quality time with my sister, my nephew and one of my nieces.  (The other one was out for the evening…bummer!)

They gave me some super awesome birthday presents, like this Haunted Mansion (my all-time favorite Disney ride!!!) plate.

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And, I got this adorable dress to wear during my next Walt Disney World vacation!

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I am sooooooo excited!!!

Last May, I was diagnosed with skin cancer.  Ugh.  Too many years using baby oil in the sun and too many trips to the tanning bed in my teens and 20’s…use sunscreen my friends.

Anyway, I had some fun basal cell carcinoma removed from my shoulder and the scar is YUCK-Y.  I call it “my third nipple”, which my husband hates, but I think it’s funny–it is a sick way of coping…

My 4 year old nephew (He is the love of my life!) told me to take off my jacket, revealing my shoulder because I was wearing a tank top underneath.  He immediately started asking questions about my scar and poking it with his finger.  He said it looked like gum and I could not stop laughing.

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I guess calling it “gum” is better than “my third nipple”.  lol.

This is my nephew.  I could look at his precious face all day long.

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It was dark by the time I arrived home and I immediately felt the absence of our Pepper Dog.  Last night marked the first time I was home alone without her.  The house was too quiet and too empty.  I could not stop thinking about her.

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I decided a melatonin made the best nighttime snack and I snuggled into bed, watching a few episodes of “Scrubs”.

At 11:30 p.m., my husband (a new Colonel) and daughters (one with a sign name) finally came through the door, exhausted from a long day of school and Alton Brown.

I feel asleep with sore muscles and tight joints from the morning’s fall, but I have this chunk of gum on my shoulder and it kind of makes me laugh.

Here’s to being 44 years and 1 day old.


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What Does 44 Look Like?

So…yesterday was my 44th birthday.  Quite honestly, I can NOT believe I just typed that sentence.  It’s a bit surreal.  In some ways, I totally feel every bit of 44.  At other times, I sit in complete amazement at how quickly my 20’s and 30’s faded.

Each year represents an evolving season and 44 looks different on different people.  What does turning 44 look like for me?

Well…for my actual birth DAY, my super thoughtful, youngest daughter (age 11) made (from scratch) vegan and gluten-free pancakes and chocolate dipped strawberries for breakfast in bed.  The pancakes were inedible (for real), but the strawberries were super fresh and juicy.  She knew the pancakes missed the mark, so thankfully, I was off the hook.

My two daughters got dressed and I took a shower.  I handled 3 separate sister-sibling arguments before I put on clothing.  Everyone sees me naked.  Yea 44.

I took my middle child to the orthodontist to get a poky wire clipped.  Our monthly payment for braces costs more than my husband’s car payment.  And, the payment plan continues for 28 months.  Yea 44.

After the orthodontist, I drove to a podiatrist appointment, where I learned a severe case of plantar fasciitis and a large bone spur is causing my constant and excruciating heel pain.  Awesome.  Yea 44.

My girls read Harry Potter books in the waiting room while I was in the examination and x-ray room for over an hour.

Side note:  As a homeschooling momma, my daughters go everywhere with me–haircuts, errands, gynecologist, mammograms, dentist, podiatrist, etc., etc.  I am NEVER alone.  Christmas shopping would be non-existent without Amazon.  Click here to read 5 reasons why we homeschool.

As for the Harry Potter reading:  My girls are VERY late to the Harry Potter craze.  At 11 and 13, they show absolutely no interest.  The 11 year old HATES fiction and thinks it is silly to read something that is not true.

But, after our most recent Disney vacation, my husband and I decided a trip to Universal Studios would not happen until their brother’s old Harry Potter books were cracked open…hence, the new-found interest.  That’s a parenting win, folks.  Yea 44.

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The podiatrist wanted to administer a steroid injection in my heel.  I asked about the pain involved with the procedure, the steroids, and alternative solutions.  (I don’t like excessive meds or chemicals in my body.)

She asked if I had children.  I said, “Yes, three.”  She then proceeded to tell me that if I could endure childbirth, I could endure the needle in my foot.

NOPE…Not interested in going through the same level of pain as childbirth (or anything compared to such) on my birthday.  Plus, it’s a no-go on the steroids.  I declined the injection.

I don’t think the doctor was very happy.

But, I no longer make decisions based on what other people think.  Yea 44.

I walked out of the doctor’s office and took my two daughters to lunch.

We chose a quaint, but popular tearoom because of the delicious, fluffy homemade bread and fantastic desserts.  (It was my birthday, after all.)  Plus, the restaurant is less than a mile from the podiatrist and my daughters love the food.

I ordered a salad with blue cheese dressing on the side (a BIG treat for me).  It was utterly divine.  I also ate a super yummy veggie sandwich with spinach, avocado and sprouts.  For dessert, I chose warm peach cobbler a la mode.  Cobbler of any kind is my fav.  DELICIOUS.

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My daughters and I stopped at Marshall’s and did a little shopping because my son’s girlfriend is graduating from law school in May and we need dresses.  A cute bag and a few tops made it home…but we were unsuccessful in the dress department.  My 13 year old daughter said I was too old to wear the one possibility.  Awesome.  Yea 44.

Once we returned home, my girls started school, while I worked on laundry.  A sweet friend sent me a reminder text–she needed something I stored in our safe.  Two days before, I stuck a reminder sticky note on my mirror, but I forgot, of course–soooooo thankful for friends and reminder texts.  Yea 44.

As I dug in the safe, I came across my most prized possession.

In 1998, I took my son to the mall to get pictures taken–that’s what we did back in the day–long before beautiful outdoor location family photographers and cell phones with fancy cameras existed.

While I chose the pictures I wanted to purchase, my son (age 5) was getting restless.  From my purse, I hurriedly gave him a random receipt and a pen so he could doodle and be occupied for a minute.  He handed me this:

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“I love you Mommy so much that I want to squ (squeeze) the juice out of you.”

(He ran out of room for the E-E-Z-E.  lol.)

This piece of paper is my favorite thing.  Swaddled within a tiny pocket in my wallet for many years, I eventually placed it in a plastic baggie and tucked it inside a fireproof container.  A burglar would certainly be disappointed with the contents of our safe since it is full of memories and photographs.  Not money.  Like not a dime.  Yea 44.

The contents of that safe represent what we value as a family–ultrasound videos, pregnancy journals, thousands of photographs of our children, military medals and awards, birth certificates and our marriage license–our family treasures.  Yea 44.

Click here to read everything about my unusual family.

After reminiscing for an hour or so, I returned to the mountain of laundry.

I watched “Scrubs” on Netflix and drank some unsweet iced tea (my fav) as I sat on the bed and tackled the clothing.  Yea 44.

My sweet husband came home from work a little early with my favorite tofu spring rolls from my fav Vietnamese restaurant, a ton of fresh berries (my fav) and a box of Milk Duds (my fav candy).  My stomach was already “iffy” from the dairy indulgence at lunch and I didn’t want to add to the madness, so I skipped the candy.  Yea 44.

My birthday gift this year, you ask?  A ton of milkweed plants.  My daughters and I are passionately involved in providing food and habitats for the monarch butterfly migration through south Texas and my awesome husband bought all of this for our garden.  He is the best.

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My 13 year old daughter participated in a scheduled, 1.5 hour-long web meeting with her college French professor from 6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.. so we planned to stay home.

I put on my comfy PJ’s, finished the laundry and ate my spring rolls while sitting in bed and catching up with my husband’s daily events.  We binge-watched several more ‘Scrubs” episodes until it was time to call it a night.  Yea 44.

Throughout the day, I received sooooooooooooo many texts, calls, and Facebook birthday messages!  I felt like the luckiest woman on Earth.  The BEST day to be on social media is always your birthday, right?!?

I even opened my “real” mailbox to find a birthday card from one of my most treasured, lifelong friends–we met in 3rd grade.  How very lucky I am to still have her in my life!  Yea 44.

As I was closing my eyes to finally rest, I noticed an unfamiliar glow of light coming from the classroom.

Side note:  Our 11 year old sleeps on the floor of our homeschool classroom–it’s been 2 years now.  Yes, she has a bedroom and yes, she has a delightful bed and yes, she chooses to sleep on the hardwood floor.  Click here to read about my life with profoundly gifted children.

From my side of the bed, I can always see her little pile of blankets.   I asked her where the light was coming from and she said she was reading Harry Potter with a book light.  (This is the daughter that believes there is no benefit to reading fiction.)

She wanted to know what happens next in the story.

I smiled and told her she could read for as long as she wanted.  Then, I fell asleep.

Yea 44.

 

 


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Why Is Disney World So Important To My Family?

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Obviously, we love Walt Disney World.  I know I mentioned that my parents took me and my sisters there countless times.  And, I will admit, in the beginning of my own parenting journey, I took my children to Disney purely for the memories and nostalgia factor.

But, somewhere between 2011 and 2014, our family Disney vacations began to evolve and our time in the theme parks started to represent something even more powerful than pure entertainment.

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50’s Prime Time is my youngest daughter’s favorite restaurant because she loves the history and culture of the 1940’s and 1950’s. 

 

It is as simple as this:

My profoundly gifted daughters can be themselves at Disney.

 

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My youngest, driving like a crazy person

 

They can act their chronological age and their mental age at the exact same time, without constantly being self conscious.

And, Disney has become our escape…An escape from our extreme lives.

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Day-to-day, my daughters have to exist in an extreme dichotomy of situations and they constantly have to choose which “version” of themselves to represent.

There is the college student version:  Responsible.  Mature.  Studious.  Goal oriented.  Attentive.  Serious.

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And, then there are the little girl versions…who still enjoy playing with Barbie dolls, sleep with stuffed animals and splash about in swimming pools.

A child-like calmness washes over my daughters when they step onto Main Street, USA.  Instead of college students, they are innocent children ready to tackle Splash Mountain!

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It is a surprising, odd and interesting phenomenon.

The simple joys of Walt Disney World rejuvenate their spirits and relaxes their chaotic brains.  Honestly, it does the exact same thing for me.

My family can enjoy a 5 hour, 10 course dinner at Victoria and Albert’s, learn about hydroponic farming during the Behind The Seeds Tour, study marine life for hours at the Epcot aquarium and giggle uncontrollably while spinning the tea cups inside Magic Kingdom…All in one day, if we choose.

Disney is the perfect balance of everything my family needs.

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Victoria and Albert’s.  December.  2016.

 

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The joy of the tea cups!

 

 

It is freeing and playful.  It is educational, historical and cultural.  It is beautiful and majestic.

There is no other place like it.

 

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Do you want to learn how to plan a Walt Disney World vacation like a pro?  Click here.

Confused about the Disney dining plan?  Click here.

For a list of all character dining meals available at Walt Disney World, click here.