Sunday, December 30, 2007

Not a New Years Resloution, just a list that happens to be written around the time of the new year

I really don't care for new year's resolutions because I never can keep them. I end up forgetting about them because I get too busy or I just flat out give up. This new year I am going to make a list of things I would like to accomplish during the next 12 months and if I don't I am going to cut myself some slack and not beat myself up about it. I like making lists and I especially like marking things off my list. I figure if I write this list out on my blog maybe I am less likely to forget about them plus I know some of you readers will hand out a hefty dose of accountability.

Ok, I will admit that I am one of "those" people who resolve to lose weight every year. And I fail. So I started Sept. of 2007 instead of setting myself for failure in January and I did great for the first time in my life. I lost 20 pounds very slowly and got healthy. I was working out 5-6 times a week, had a ton of energy and I felt great. I remember laughing (inside my head of course) last January when all the new years resolution people joined the YMCA. It was so busy that you had to wait in line for a treadmill. By Feb. the majority of those people had quit and there were no more lines. I did great until our cruise. I got comfortable, I did still go to the Y but not with the same intensity as before. I started drinking coke again and the rest is history. I have gained 10 pounds back. It just kind of snuck up on me. I know better so now I have to make the decision again to get back on the horse so to speak.

So here I go again.
Here is my list, short and sweet:
1. Exercise 5 times a week. Lose inches, some pounds would be nice, eat healthy.
2. Enjoy my children even when they are testing me.
3. Contact a lawyer and make a will and trust.
4. Drink more water each day.
5. Spend time in the Word each day!!
6. Finish FAITH. (A class I have been dreading to take for years at church. You learn how to evangelize. You go out and share the gospel. I know, I know it is such a privilege to do this but I am scared. Jarrett and I both are taking the class.)

Ok, that is mine, let's hear what's on your list.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

I am adding this article to my blog for my benefit, so I can refer to it. Recently, Nathan's pediatrician and his therapist told us that Nathan most likely has aspergers, which is is a very mild form of autism that primarily affects social skills. I won't get into all the nitty gritty details but I will say that to us it is no big deal. It is just another bump in the road. We found a great social skills group that meets weekly and we started back in Occupational therapy and Pragmatic speech therapy. Our biggest deal is trying to figure out the best placement as far as school goes for next year. We are earnestly praying and seeking wisdom on this matter. It is a decision that we do not take lightly and we know that God will direct us, He always has. We are going to Nathan's developmental ped. in a couple of weeks and we will be interested to hear what he has to say. He has always said that Nathan is socially quirky but he doesn't have aspergers. It really doesn't matter unless we put him in school so that he can receive the services that he needs. If we homeschool we just get him the help he needs and it doesn't particularly matter what he is labeled as.

Socialization and Children with Asperger Syndrome


Anybody who has been homeschooling more than twenty minutes knows that the most popular probing question from the masses is: "And what about socialization?"

This is an especially bothersome question for families affected by Asperger Syndrome who want to homeschool. Since lack of social skills is one of the hallmarks of the child with AS, people naturally assume that keeping a child home instead of exposing him to the social climate of school will just worsen the situation.

The reverse is true, in my opinion, for the following reasons:

1. School has people, but that doesn't make it social. In fact, it is usually fairly anti-social since kids can be very cruel and bullies seem to be an ever-present part of the school experience. What is social about exposing our children to daily torment? Nothing. Children with Asperger Syndrome are natural targets for bullies and the situation frequently results in a tantrum, depression or violence, all of which could have been prevented by avoiding this "social" atmosphere.

2. Homeschooling does not mean denying social experiences. To the uninitiated, homeschooling conjures a picture of cloistering your child at home all the time. For most homeschoolers, nothing could be further from the truth. There are trips to the library and the park, gatherings with other homeschoolers, and lessons and clubs that tie in with the child's interests. And, we still live in neighborhoods, still have extended family and friends, church and other social obligations. Homeschooling does not mean restricted movement but rather greater flexibility.

3. Social experiences tend to be more positive when done through home education. As homeschooling parents, we can monitor social gatherings to keep them positive. That is, we can pick and choose the activities, watch for bullies and intervene, head off other kinds of trouble, and teach our children with spontaneous social lessons "in the moment," (or make a note to discuss things later). In short, we are on deck. Finally and perhaps most importantly, we can steer our children gently homeward before sensory overload undermines the whole event. In school, our kids do not get the luxury of this kind of protection or customized teaching. It's usually a case of "sink or swim." Our kids tend to do more sinking than swimming.

4. Homeschoolers may get more social opportunities out of their day. When we homeschooled, my son was in the comfort zone of his home surroundings for mornings of academic work, and that still left him with some energy in the afternoons and evenings to try other things. Parks department classes, bowling league, swimming lessons, and Boy Scouts were just some of the things he tried. When we stopped homeschooling and put him into a regular school, however, these fell away. He was too burned out from the school day to do anything else, and quit all outside activities. Although he'd wanted to try public school and did fine academically, the tradeoff was that he gained some very negative social experiences and lost some very positive ones.

5. The idea that our kids need the classroom experience of having positive role models around them every day is suspect. It's true that positive role models are better than negative ones, but just placing our kids alongside peer-age so-called normal kids does not mean that they will intuitively pick up on proper behavior. In fact, their condition of Asperger Syndrome means they will NOT pick things up intuitively. Things like social graces, body language and speech pragmatics must be consciously, deliberately, and specifically taught, bit by bit. Unless the child has a one-to-one aide to provide full-time tutelage in these things and allow ample rehearsal time, not many social skills will be picked up. Contrast that with the home environment, where the parent does have the time and patience to teach these things and can provide a safe place for rehearsing them.

6. Finally, we need to measure by a different yardstick. Our kids with Asperger Syndrome do not typically need or want the same level of social interaction than their neurologically typical peers do. Not everyone wants to be surrounded by others all day long, have large parties, or a dozen friends. Many of us (self included) cherish solitude, are happiest in our own company and function better with fewer social interactions. This is not abnormal, only different, and it should be honored. It is far better to have a little interaction and look forward to more another day, than to have too much interaction and suffer devastating consequences.

In short, parents can rest easy that their home education program is probably doing more for their child's socialization than a public school counterpart could. The only dark side, and there is a dark side, is that our children will probably never be totally at ease in social situations and will always have a few challenges, no matter what we do. Asperger Syndrome is, after all, a lifelong condition. And because of that, there will always be someone ready to proclaim why our child seems socially inept. "It must be because he was homeschooled!" they will cluelessly proclaim. Sometimes, you just can't win.

Copyright 2002 Lise Pyles

Monday, December 17, 2007

Winter Blast '07






I haven't posted in a while so I will fill you all in on what has been going on around the Short house.

We are finally thawing out here in Oklahoma. We were hit with a terrible ice storm last week. The power was out from Sunday through Wednesday night at our house. Sadly, there are still a bunch of people without power. We stayed cuddled up by the fire until bedtime each night then slept under a ton of blankets. I am thankful that I am not a pioneer woman. I was not cut out for living in the dark. We would go to bed at 8pm because there was nothing to do. We popped popcorn on the gas stove and played sorry but we had a hard time telling the difference between green and blue. During the days the kids and I hung out with my parents or my sweet friend Lisa, who took us in and fed us and let me take a shower. We lost part of our bradford pear tree and our oak in the front yard now looks like a Charlie Brown tree. The minamal damage we had was nothing compared to what others have suffered. It is an amazing sight to see those old trees just snapped in half because of an inch of ice.

Nathan celebrated his 7th birthday during the ice storm. We had to change plans because "chuckie cheese" was out of power. He was a great sport about having to make a change and he had a great time. I can't believe he is 7! TIme is flying by.

My sweet precious Mamma Bear passed away on Dec. 13. She was 92 years old and had lived a long fruitful life. We will all miss her tremondously but we have a peace that she is with her heavenly father. There is going to be a memorial service for her in Valdosta, Georgia in January. I am going to fly down there with my sister, Kim.

Next, in the news: My mom just found out she is having heart surgery on Friday. Apparently, she had suffered a heart attack and never knew it. Please remember her in your prayers, this has been a hard week for her with the loss of her mom and her health.

I have being seeing a dermatologist for the past 2 months because of some strange bumps on my head and face and a suspicious mole on my tummy. So today, I go to get stitches out of my stomach and a cyst off my face and I had to bring both kids with me because they had eye doctor appts. right afterward. Nathan gave a play by play of everything the dr. was doing, "Mom, they are sticking a needle in you. Does that hurt? It looks like a fish hook mommy. Ohh, there is blood. Don't worry mom, the Lord is with you!" He kept telling me the last part over and over in the most sweet and tender way. It totally melted my heart and I was trying not to laugh so my nose wouldn't get cut. I have a single stitch hanging out by the side of my nose. Can you imagine how attractive it looks. Several people at the YMCA tonight, were like, "you have something next to your nose." Jarrett just kept telling them it was a buger. Nice.

I got the pathology report back on the mole on my stomach and it was severly dysplastic which he told me is on its way to skin cancer. Scary. I feel very thankful to the Lord for taking care of this and getting it off of me. I will have to be checked every year now because of this bad mole and we have a family history of melanoma. It has left a terrible scar and every time I look at that I will be reminded of why I should be more careful in the sun. I rarely use sun screen and I think I look better when I am tan. No more, just get used to really pale Kathy. It is not worth dying over a stupid mole or a temporary tan! My plea is for all of you to get all of your body checked out and get anything wierd off of you. It is such a deadly cancer yet it is so preventable and treatable if caught early. Thank you Stephanie for insisting I see a dermatologist, even though it took me a year to do so. You may have saved my life.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Nathanism's

We were just reading a story about Jesus's birth, we saw a picture of the wise men. I asked Nathan if he knew what they brought to baby Jesus, he said, "Yeah, Gold, Frankincense and Merchandise."

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Sweet Fruit

Ok, the sweetest thing happened today that I must share with my bloggin family, plus I would like to preserve it in blog history so one day I can share with Nathan. My kids love to open mail so I usually give them the junk mail to open. They get so excited to open the junk mail You would think they just won a million dollars. So Nathan opened a piece of mail from the John 3:16 mission. He read it and got real serious and said, "Mom it is an emergency there are hungry, hurting, homeless people in Tulsa." He ran to his room, emptied his bank, and put the money in the envelope to send back to the mission. He wanted more money so he asked me for it. I told him we would match whatever he donated. So then he had the idea that he would call Grammy and Grampy and ask if he could do work for them so he could give more money. How sweet is that??? If only we were so eager to help the needy. I love seeing the Fruit Nathan is bearing.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Short Family News

I love this time of the year; the sights, the sounds, the smells, the great Christmas movies on TV, the music,the holiday cheer, Black Friday, spending lots of time with the family etc. I love every bit of it!!! We have had our tree and lights up for over a week now. Jarrett was determined to not hang lights in freezing cold weather this year so he put them up last week when it was 75 degrees out. Good thing, because now it is freezing. Speaking of black Friday, I picked up my friend at 3:45 am and we hit the stores. We got some great deals and had a fun time laughing at all the other crazies who were out. We shopped until 2 in the afternoon. I am still exhausted but it was worth it!

Also in the Short Family news, we got new carpet and took the house off the market. Two days after we took the house off the market we got a call from a young couple who looked at our house and they really want to buy it. But not until next summer. So if we decide to move again we are going to call them.

We love the new carpet and feel blessed to have been able to put it in. It makes us feel like we have a new house plus Jarrett really likes to see the vacuum marks. Gracie barfed on it last night, DO YOU PEOPLE SEE WHY I LOVE HER SO!! (I will admit that I did buy her a Christmas gift so there may be an ounce of love for her somewhere inside of me)

I hope everyone had a yummy Thanksgiving.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Nathan-isms

Nathan and I were snuggled up reading our book again today and he stops me and says,"Mom you are getting pregnant." I said,"oh...what do you mean?" "Mom, it is just a polite way of saying your getting fat."

Nice, uh??

I guess I need to start watching what I eat again.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Gravity

Today Nathan and I were reading a book and a lamb died in the book so the topic of death came up. As the conversation went on he told me that he didn't want to leave the gravity of planet earth. I told him not to worry that there was gravity in heaven. I love the way he thinks.....

Thursday, November 1, 2007

About Me

Ok, so a friend of mine encouraged me to do this, make a list of 100 things about myself. So here goes:

1. I wear the same earrings everyday, and pretty much have for 3 years.
2. I started dating Jarrett when I was 17.
3. I have to cross my legs when I sneeze.
4. I vacuum everyday.
5. I love my back scratched!
6. I love my arm scratched.
7. I adore my children.
8. I love playing with my children.
9. I love seeing life through Nathan and Madelyn's eyes.
10. I have to have some quiet time everyday. I send the kids to their rooms for quiet play time for about 30 minutes a day. Ahh, it is sweet time.
11. I love watching movies and eating popcorn.
12. I appreciate my parents so much more now that I have kids.
13. I couldn't live without my cell phone.
14. I am opinionated.
15. I was on the debate team in high school. I know, dorky! I am pretty sure I am the only one who didn't become a lawyer.
16. In 7th and 8th grade I wanted to be an astronaut. I even decorated my bedroom with space pictures. (some of you are probably shocked that you are friends with me)
17. Jarrett cleans up all the puke in our house. Even mine.
18. I am a planner!
19. I am a list maker.
20. I love Beth Moore Bible Studies. She makes things clear for me.
21. I was 10 when my baby brother was born. I have 2 older sis's and one younger sis. My Family is one of the most important things to me.
22. I was born in New Jersey then moved to New York.
23. I love the East coast but I am glad that I didn't grow up there. I would have probably ended up a liberal.
24. I love to travel. I especially love cruises and the Caribbean.
25. I want to go to Alaska some day.
26. I loved going to the beach in Florida with my family as a kid.
27. I am addicted to pepsi and coke. It doesn't matter which. Usually Mexican restaurants have good pepsi.
28. I am not a good cook.
29. I wish I was a good cook.
30. I love Jesus with all my heart!
31. I love hanging out with my girlfriends and laughing until I almost pee in my pants.
32. I love reading, although I rarely get a chance to.
33. I like playing board games and cards.
34. I enjoy being a stay at home mom.
35. I love classical music. Cannon in D is my favorite.
36. I love homeschooling and being my children's teacher. Don't get me wrong, it is hard work, some days I wonder if I am doing a good/adequate job. Some days I fantasize about what it would be like to send my kids to school.
37. I think Shrek, especially the first one, is absolutely hilarious.
38. I like being in control of the remote. Ok, I admit it, I just like being in control period.
39. I never feel like I have enough time.
40. I like Danielle Steele Movies.
41. I think my husband is cute. I think he is amazing.
42. I hate ironing!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
43. Fall is my all time favorite time of year.
44. I like to swim.
45. When I was in middle school I cleaned old Lady's houses.
46. I applied to work at Braums when I turned 16 but they didn't hire me.
47. But Mazzios did hire me.
48. I also worked for a dentist in the summers during high school.
49. My dad got me a job at a gyno/infertility dr. the summer after my senior year in high school. I worked there for 5 years.
50. I am moody.
51. If we could afford it I would have a personal trainer all the time.
52. I have finally learned to like exercising.
53. I am not an animal lover, I tried to be, but I am just not one. The shedding drives me CRAZY!!! I didn't bother me as much before we had kids. I end up being the one who has to clean the dog hair off the furniture, big up the poop, take her to the vet, buy the dog food, give her baths and chase her when she runs away.
54. I have to shave my legs everyday. I am so hairy.
55. Speaking of that some day I am getting laser hair removal. Anybody want to come?
56. Nobody told me you should wax your eyebrows until after my wedding. Mom always told me not to touch them because they looked like Brooke Shields' brows.
57. I want to learn how to play the piano someday.
58. I am really bad when it comes to fashion.
59. I used to get a sinus infection every month.
60. I love looking at open houses. HGTV is one of my favorite channels.
61. I sing along to the radio when I am driving.
62. I cause at least 2 house fires per month in the kitchen while cooking. The baked potato catching fire in the microwave was the worst. It smelled for weeks.
63. The happiest days of my life were the days we adopted our children and the day Nathan accepted Christ into his heart. And of course the day I married Jarrett.
64 The saddest day was the day I watched my sister's son pass away. Every detail will be etched in my memory forever.
65. I love pizza, I could eat it every day.
66. I used to be an extremely picker eater. I am better now thanks to Jarrett. I now can eat more than just ketchup on my hamburger.
67. I get to sing Nathan a song every night before he falls asleep. He doesn't care that I can't sing. He even calls me from his grandparents house to have me sing it for him. How sweet is that.
68. I love the snow! I love watching snow fall. It is so peaceful.
69. Cheese Doritos and a pepsi are a perfect snack.
70. I am indecisive
71. I really like helping people
72. I secretly like playing Guitar hero with my husband after the kids go to bed at night.
73. My guilty pleasure: The Bachelor on Monday nights
74. I usually don't order an entree at a Mexican restaurant because I eat so many chips and tortillas
75. I wish I knew how to sew.
76. I think stay at home moms should earn a salary.
77. I won a tv at my high school graduation party. I still have it, it is in the kids playroom.

78. The best decision I ever made was asking Jesus into my heart in 5th grade.
79. I love decorating for Christmas, it is one of my favorite holidays, however I like having it all put away on Dec. 26th.
80. My family had the best Christmas' when I was a kid. Great memories.
81. I love baking Christmas cookies. (Can you tell what I have I my mind? I bought a new tree today and I am ready to put it up but it is only Nov. 6th.)
82. I like to water ski.
83. I love getting mani's and pedi's, I just don't get to do very often.
84. I wish I had a "Lupe" to help me around the house with cooking and cleaning.
85. I have the weirdest and quirkiest things wrong with me. For example, I have to get my esphogas stretched every couple of months, I had toe surgery in 5th grade, and just today I had a cyst removed from my head.
86. I wish I could remember people's birthdays better.
87. I can't stand the sound of smacking gum.
88. Captain Crunch berries rock!!!!!!!!!
89. I can't believe I have a sister that is turning 40 next week.
90. Watching my kids sleep is the best!
91. I slept with my blankie until high school.
92. My favorite show is "Greys"
93. I rearrange furniture and nick knacks a lot
94. I think Jarrett should be able to complete home improvement projects in 30 minutes like they do on HGTV. For some reason it never seems to happen that way around here.
95. Am I done yet? This is getting really hard.
96. I would love to go out shopping everyday and max out the credits cards, but since financial peace at church, I feel guilty if I spend an unbudgeted dime.
97. Sometimes I will get dressed to go work out, and decided that ordering a pizza and watching tv sounds like a better idea.
98. I have no depth perception. I either park almost in my laundry room or park way on my husbands side of the garage.
99. I am good at starting things but not good at finishing them. But I think I am going to finish this. Yeah!
100. Now you all know more than you ever wanted to about me. Thanks for reading!

Happy Fall Festival!!




The kids had a blast at our church's fall festival. They went on pony rides, train rides, inflatables, played carnival games and ate good food. Afterwards Jarrett took them trick or treating around the neighborhood. They got way too much candy!!
They both wanted to dress up in exactly what they did last year. Who am I to argue?

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

I love my kids

I love my kids.
I love my kids.
I love my kids.


They both wrote their names along with other graffitti on the back of my leather seats and the grab bar in front of their seats in the mini van. It won't come off the bars. So, if we are still driving this car in 10 years you will know why. Who would want to buy a van that has NATHAN and MADELYN written all over. Better yet, maybe we should make the mini van be their first car when they start driving.

Someday we will laugh about this, right????

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

out of the mouth of babes

I forgot to mention that during Sunday school prayer request time, Nathan asked if his class would pray for his mom's drinking habit. Nice huh??? I tried to explain that he meant Pepsi, not amaretto sours.

Prodigy

I just had to share what happened tonight after dinner. I usually never have the TV on during dinner but for some reason I did tonight. After we were through eating Nathan and I cuddled up on the couch to watch "Wheel of Fortune." Nathan has never seen this show before and he was absolutely fascinated by it. When it comes time for the final round three letters pop up on the screen and he screams out "MICROSCOPE" He was right. He started jumping up and down saying that he was the champion and that he would win the $40,000 prize. We didn't have the heart to tell him that Pat Sajack would not be sending him a check.
Mom: "Nathan, that was amazing! How did you know that?"
Nathan: "Because I am smart mom and you are my teacher."

He sure knows how to butter me up. That just earned him another year of homeschooling.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Deceptivily Delicious

So my sweet mother in law bought Jessica Seinfeild's new cook book that was featured on Oprah in attempts to get Nathan to eat veggies. Nathan has not eaten a fruit or vegetable since he ate baby food and even then he didn't much care for it. I read the cookbook and got really excited about hiding veggies in the kids food. Yesterday I stocked up on vegetables at the store, I have to admit that I bought veggies that I had never bought before. I never found the chick peas though. Does anyone out there know what those are??

The basis of this cookbook is that you steam and puree veggies and then hide them in their food. Last night after the kiddos were asleep the pureeing began. I steamed,chopped and blended veggies for 2 hours. Next I scooped them into baggies and put them in the freezer. Then I prepared sweet potato pancakes for this morning.

The deception begins....

I cooked the pancakes and then the kids actually ate them. I can not believe Nathan ate sweet potatoes. After his second bite he said, "Mom these taste like pineapples." I was like, "Umm, Nathan how on earth would you know what pineapple taste like, you have never eaten one?" So he dropped it and continued eating!! Yea, this is actually working.


Lunch: Sprinkled the organic peanut butter with flax seed mill. They ate again with no complaints!! Granted, they had ice cream sandwiches for desert but I can only win one battle at a time.


Dinner: I made homemade chicken nuggets with whole wheat bread crumbs, spices, flax seed, and the broccoli puree. The broccoli was hidden by the bread crumb mixture. Jarrett walks in from work and sneaks a deviled egg just like he always does when I make deviled eggs but what he didn't know is that it was made with the cauliflower puree. I didn't dare tell him. The look on his face was priceless. He started gagging and ran to the sink and spit it out. Guess you shouldn't mess with a man's favorite food. I will admit they were NASTY! The nuggets were great though and again the kids ate them. Nathan ate more veggies today than he has in 5 years and he didn't even know it. I never knew cooking could be so much fun!

Sunday, October 14, 2007

On the Hunt



The first pic is of all the cousins on Kathy's side. The new baby is Carson.
Madelyn went to a princess make over party last night. She loved the makeup!

Well, the new buzz around the Short house is that we are moving. We are going to put our house up for sale this week by owner so we are working like busy little beavers trying to get the house in order. I know, I know this isn't the best time of year to be doing this however there are several reasons why we must. I won't get into them now though. Jarrett and I thought we had a new neighborhood all picked out but come to find out (When we viewed the plat) that behind the beautiful trees that would have been in our back yard there is a rail road. We aren't thinking that is such a good idea now. So we are back to square one. We found a floor plan that we really like and that would suit our family, now it is finding a neighborhood that we can afford to build it in. We have drug the kids all around trying to find "the One" They really have been good sports about it but every time we get in the car they say "Here we go again!"

Househunting is really fun with a four and six year old, here are some of my observations:

A. They like to run whenever they enter a home. (Lukily we are looking at new construction so they aren't damaging some poor homeowners belongings)

B. They love to scream at the top of their lungs just to hear themselves echo.

C. They head to the stairs first and run up and down them. (Stairs are their only request in a new home)

D. They love to slam all the doors.

E. Did I mention scream and run around????

F. They can find any sharp, metal or dangerous thing left in the house by the construction workers.

G. They like to jump in the dust piles, pick up dirty cigarettes,and half drank cups.

H. They love all the wood, bricks, and dirt in the yards. Who needs toys when you have that to play with.

I. They aren't concerned with the details like which color granite there is or will the furniture fit, they just love the fact that the house has stairs.

We desire the house that God has for us. We are trusting that he will lead us to the right one. I am so glad that we serve such a great and awesome God who cares even about the littlest details about our lives. We are specifically praying for great neighbors and for playmates for Nathan and Madelyn. We don't have a lot of neighborhood kids here and we desire that for them.

Today is my Dad's 66th b-day! Happy birthday pops! For his birthday my sister, Karen, called to tell him she is pregnant!! Her kids are 14 and 10! SURPRISE!!!!!! Our family is having a population explosion. There is something with the age of 38 in my family. Kris was 38 and not planning on another baby, now Karen is 38 and was not planning another baby. I think I will get on birth control when I am 38. Thank goodness that isn't for another 10 years or so.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

www.conorbootheandgirls.blogspot.com

My friend Traci and my cousin in law both sent me this link. You all need to check it out and grab some Kleenex. It is so touching and try to read back in this ladies blog.

MIA

Sorry I have been MIA lately. We are just adjusting to our new school year schedule and I just haven't really had any free time lately. I started a new Beth Moore Bible study a couple of weeks ago and I have a lot of homework, which I LOVE!!! It just takes time to do, but I have to say it is well worth it. I am learning so much about our truly amazing God. We also have started Coop classes which take up our Fridays. Nathan is doing great, we frequently find him in his room surrounded by books just reading. It is so exciting to see him reach this milestone. When he was a baby I would pray that he be able to learn and have a normal life. The doctors weren't very encouraging in those early days so let me just tell you that we are filled with joy to see him not only learning but loving to learn. God made me a promise a long time ago that Nathan would be a mighty man of God. So we are trusting him daily for that promise and we are so blessed to see Nathan turning his heart to the Lord. Madelyn is doing well also. She loves Yellow Balloon Preschool and is actually walking into class without crying. Ok, well I need to get her to preschool. I hope everyone has a great day! ~K

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Sister's of the Skillet

Me and my 3 good friends get together every month (at least we try to, but it usually more like every couple of months) and cook a bunch of meals at once. We call ourselves Sisters of the Skillet. We are even thinking of getting aprons with our name put on it....

I know you may be thinking we are dorky but we have a ball doing it and no matter what something always funny happens. Like today for example, Sherri was cutting meat with a brand new electric knife, I was making a marinade for Kabobs and Lisa was cooking her homemade chicken noodle soup. Lisa kept spilling things and making a mess which is very unlike her. She was cooking the soup in a giant stock pot and after 30 minutes or so she made the comment that it is taking forever to boil. I had started feeling light headed and was having trouble following my recipe for Kabobs. I smelled something weird but I thought it was Sherri's new electric knife making a funny smell. After Lisa's comment about the soup not boiling Sherri notices that there is no flame under the pot. You gotta it, the gas was going, but no flame. Lisa immediately turned off the gas, I rounded up the kids, and we all went outside to the fresh air. When I walked back into the house a few minutes later the house had the strongest smell of gas that I have ever smelt. We were shocked that we hadn't smelt it while we were in there. We opened up the windows and doors and let the house air out. We were afraid the house might blow up if we tried to turn the burner back on so we waited a while to resume cooking.

Lisa was the brave one and turned the gas stove back on and I am happy to say that we didn't blow up. So the sister's of the skillet is still in business. Last spring when we cooked at my house we almost got blown away by a tornado, no lie.... so yet again the good Lord saved us.

If you would like a copy of our recipes I am very sorry to report that all recipes remain a secret with the sisters.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

I just want to go home



Today Madelyn had a MRI on her brain. This was to show the doctors how her brain structure and function are and to check her pituitary gland and her optic nerve. She was diagnosed with optic nerve hypoplasia this summer that is why she needed to get glasses. It can affect a child's endocrine system so we saw an endocrinologist on Monday and they did a bunch of blood tests. We just found out that she needed to have the MRI this week so we did not have a long time to prepare her for it. This has been her year for medical issues. To get ready for the test we had to keep her up an hour late last night then wake her up 2 hours before she normally wakes which is 5am. She could not eat or drink. We had to be at the hospital at 9am to get the sedation started. For some reason I just thought that meant they would give her something to drink that would make her sleepy, I had no idea this would actually entail an IV, oxygen, heart monitors etc. No problem, no big deal, except that I had told her that they would NOT be poking on her. She was traumatized after Monday's appt. So now mom is a big fat liar. After they got the IV in (which was for fluid to show the contrast in the brain) the doctor told us they would try to do the MRI without sedation because there are less complications. We thought that was a great idea in theory but knowing our daughters temperament we knew this would not go over well.

Well, she surprised us. After she calmed down from the IV torture the nurse talked her into laying down and watching Scooby Doo on the video goggles and she let them strap her in and she went right into the machine. Twenty minutes into the MRI she panicked. She started shrieking and screaming "I want to go home!" Over and over and over again. They stopped the scan and over the next 30 minutes the doctor and 3 nurses plus the two of us tried to calm her down and convince her to go back in because she was almost done. The doctor then suggested that we just stop and come back next week and just start off with the sedation. He said at that point the sedation may not work because she was so agitated and her adrenalin was pumping, he gave it a 50/50 chance of working. We told him we would do what he wanted but we did not think it would go over well with her to bring her back next week. We decided it was worth it to go ahead and try.

They gave her some meds in her IV and it did not make her tired it just made her a really mean drunk. She was like a bucking bronco, her body was flying every where and she was slurring her words, she wasn't going to go down easily. She even tore out her IV! But once the second dose hit her she was out for the count. The nurses got her strapped back in, a new IV in place and she was on her way. After the test was over we were told we would have to stay another 3-4 hours while she slept her cocktail off. Well, once she was unstrapped from the table and Jarrett picked her up she started waking up. And I will just say this, she woke up the same way she fell asleep, she was a crazy woman, yelling, "I want to go home NOW!" We were worn out just trying to hold her and convince her that we would be going home soon. After another hour we finally got to take our sweet sleepy drunk girl home. She slept the whole way home and woke up as we pulling into the neighborhood and declared that she was ready for a Happy Meal. Are we surprised? Of course not.

Nathan just told me that he is in love with me and wants to marry me. He told me that this means that he has his brain on me and that he is watching out for me. I told him that mommy was already married and after he thought about that for a moment, he said oh so seriously," That's a big problem! I will just marry Maddie then." Oh to be six again!!!!

Monday, August 20, 2007

Our Second Week of Homeschool:Good Intentions Gone Bad


You know how when you start something you have good intentions to go at it 100% but then life just gets in the way and wrecks havoc on your well laid out plans, well that is how our week started. We never got to school today and that is ok, well handwriting got done and that is it. I really like structure and sticking to a schedule and a plan. However, one thing I am learning through homeschooling is that it is ok to be flexible and it is ok to let go. God is stretching me, that I know!

This being only our second week of school I think we should be sticking to a strict schedule so we can get into a good routine. On the other hand one of the many beauties of homeschooling is that we can be flexible and go with the flow.

Nathan spent the night with Grammy and Grampy last night so that I could take Maddie to an appointment with the pediatric endocinologist at 7:45 this morning. He had a great time working in their garden and working out in the basement with Grampy. He came home around 4pm and we did handwriting then he said he was tired. So I went with the flow and decided to just let it go today. I went to a homeschooling coop meeting tonight and got him signed up for a PE class that is every Friday (while Maddie is at preschool) and is taught by a YMCA guy. I think he will have fun and of course it will help the socialization thing. People, in general, always question homeschoolers about the lack of socialization yet I have discovered that there are tons of opportunities to socialize. We are going to a coop class every Friday afternoon for 2 hours, going on field trips every month (the first one is to the fire station in a couple of weeks), PE, Gymnastics, church on Sunday and Wednesday, etc. I think scheduling is going to be more of a problem than finding ways for Nathan and Madelyn to socialize with other kids.

Maddie's appointment went well. We still don't know anything but we should in 6 weeks. They took 5 tubes of her blood which was not fun. The nurse now has permanent hearing loss because of Madelyn's screaming. What made it worse is that she missed the vein and went digging to try to find it. Then she had to try the other arm. Madelyn was worn slick afterwards. Then we got to go to the bathroom and collect a UA from a 4 year old. Can we say FUN!! Next we tackled some shopping at Sams. After we got home we mowed the yard for Jarrett, painted pictures on the driveway, baked a coffee cake, did laundry, played doll house and fixed dinner. Jarrett and the kids power washed the back porch and the painted driveway while I was at the coop mtg. When I got home Maddie was sound asleep and Nathan was still up complaining that his ear hurt. I looked at it and it is draining puss and blood. Aren't you glad you are reading this? Poor baby. Guess we will be going to the doctor tomorrow. I guess school can wait until another day.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Short Christian Academy

Today was Nathan's first day of first grade at "Short Christian Academy" His teacher said he was a model student and got along well with the other students in his class, Gracie and Madelyn. He worked hard and got an entire weeks worth of reading lessons done in one day and four days of science done. He started listening to "Charlotte's Web" and even requested another chapter to be read before bed. His teacher is worn out but excited that the first day went well. Nathan's teacher was even surprised by her sweet husband with a bouquet of pink roses. By the way he wore a really cute outfit to this milestone event, his mickey mouse pajamas!!!

Sunday, August 5, 2007


What we ate this weekend.




Friday night: I made chicken marsalla for dinner then we went to bed

Saturday: We ate cinnamon rolls for breakfast, went shopping for tennis shoes for Jarrett and Nathan since it was tax free shopping, next we went to reasors to buy groceries at the 12 hour sale, then we headed to the lake. We ate ham sandwiches and chocolate chip coffee cake for lunch.
We swam and tubed and then I tried Salmon for the first time and yes I liked it. Can you believe it, something healthy?? Thank you Grammy and Grampy. Then we mowed the yard and went to bed again.

Sunday: We ate donuts for breakfast, can you tell we are on the sugar diet??? Then we taught our one year old Sunday School class. When we came home Jarrett declared war on all the bugs, wasps and other creepy crawlers at our house. The kids are too scared to play outside with the current situation. Two cans of wasp spray and a gallon of ortho bug be gone later Jarrett won and bugs lost. We then preceded to my parent's house where we enjoyed pizza, brick oven pizza I must add, then we swam the day away. After we were water logged we went back to church for a dinner of sub sandwiches and chips and attended a 3 hour meeting about Sunday school for the fall semester. Then they forced us to eat cake for a going away party for one of the children's ministers. How dare they! When we got home we cased the outside of the house for wasps and other bugs to see if Jarrett really won the battle. It seems he has.

So now that we ate our way through this weekend we are ready to declare war on ourselves and try to control our eating. At last for the next few hours as we sleep.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Ode to the Washing Machine

Well, we finally got all of our bags yesterday! Praise God! So now I am in laundry heaven. Can I get a shout out for front loading washing machines and dryers. They are great, so efficient and fast. It is the small things in life people, the small things that can bring me such joy. I really am thankful that both of our machines went Kaput in June so we could get these glorious modern creations. I got 2 weeks worth of laundry done in one day. However, I have clothes hanging all over my house drying, I didn't realize how many hang dry clothes we have until now. This afternoon I will conquer the ironing. I also have a huge bag to take to the cleaners. Isn't this blog so interesting now that I am back to the nitty gritty of life.

Monday, July 30, 2007

One down, five to GO!!!!!!

We got one garment bag today. It had the travel size charmin toliet paper in it that we never used, an extra coloring book, some hats, basically the useless stuff. Isn't that just swell!!!! I need my hair dryer and some clothes would be nice. There were some of our dress clothes in there as well, I was especially happy to get this Ann Taylor shrug that my sister lent me. Jarrett's mom and dad got 2 bags. We are holding out hope for the rest. We are suffering from some major jet lag. All four of us were up at 3:30 am today. We had all gone to bed before 7 pm. I have never felt like this before, it is a wierd feeling. One minute I will be fine and the next I feel like I am going to fall right over and go to sleep. Maybe I just have narcolpsy???

Sunday, July 29, 2007

We're Back!!!

Well we made it back to the good ole USA. I just love America and the people here! I feel like singing "God Bless America." Anybody want to join in? Yesterday was a very hard day. We are glad to be back although we miss our Disney magic. Ivan, can you get me some bacon please?

I forgot to clarify something, we made it but NONE of our luggage did. Nine pieces missing in action. They don't have a clue where it is. I think that mean Spaniard took it. Just kidding. So, no laundry today. We have no clothes, no hairdryer, no flat iron, no underwear, no socks, no souvenirs, no shoes (we took 22 pair, I am not sure how that happened), no toothbrushes, no nothing. Well, I have jet lag so I gotta go. Our jet lag is not too bad because of those cool No jet lag pills that Grammy had us take. Please pray that we get our luggage. Thanks! Jarrett will be adding pics later today. Thanks for joining us on our trip of a lifetime.

Return Trip From Hell



We woke up with a cheerful wake up call from Mickey Mouse, got ready, ate breakfast then made our way to the Rockin D bar at 6:30 am. There were a ton of people who had early flights so we would all be the first off the ship. This was the earliest they would allow us off. We found our luggage and got aboard the first motor coach that left the port. We were feeling pretty good by this point about getting to the airport in time. Our flight left at 9:20. Disney booked this flight for us so we figured they would allow us enough time to get through security, check in etc. Boy were we wrong!! The Barcelona airport sucks!!! There is just no other way to put it. As we walk in we witness the longest lines and the most unorganized way to do things ever. We are flying back on a Spanish airline called Iberia. It is kind of like Southwest where they don’t assign seats until you get there and they are the slowest workers ever. Instead of just standing in your airlines row you have to look at these giant screens and figure out what counter to go too. This would have been good to know ahead of time. We were in a line that said Departures Americana’s and figured that was the right one. Sometime later we realized we were in the wrong line. By this point it is so crowded that it was virtually impossible to move to another line, it was wall to wall people and all their luggage. Not to mention we had 2 very tired kids, one stroller, 10 pieces of luggage, 4 backpacks and 2 neck pouches, plus one stressed out Kathy.


These situations do not bring out the best in me; I was neither up for an adventure nor in the mood for one today. All the people plus all the announcements in Spanish and very rude people plus the chaos was sending me over the edge. WE STOOD IN OUR LINE FROM 7AM TO 9:15 AM This was just the first line to check in. People were panicking and the airport people were assuring us that we would get on. But guess what, after the family in front of us, who by the way we let cut in front of us, being the nice Christian folks we are, got their boarding passes, we walk up to the counter hand the guy our passports and e-tickets and he starts yelling at me!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! The nerve of him after we had been standing in line for over 2 hours.

He threw my passports back at me and yelled that this flight is closed. Oh, I was boiling and before I even realized it I was yelling right back at him. Not one of my finer moments. He had no empathy. He acted as if we had just walked into the airport 10 minutes before we were to leave. Grampy even raised his voice too. We asked what we were to do and he shooed us away. Oh, I will be making Disney aware of this (we did their air travel program, so they made all of our ressies) because I know that they are a company that has excellent customer service and they would never treat a person this way or want somebody they are working with to treat their customers this way.

I walked up to Iberias ticket sales counter and the man their told me to go back and stand in line. Are you kidding me, the line was longer than it was when we first got there. So, naturally frustrated beyond belief, worried that we would be stuck in this Gosh-awful airport, I started crying which in turn made Madelyn cry. I do have to say though, that our kids were fabulous during this whole ordeal. They stayed with us and never ran off and they rarely complained. I think they were as overwhelmed as the rest of us. Jarrett stepped up to the plate and went and explained our situation to another ticket sales man and he actually tried to help us despite the language barrier. He booked us on the next flight to Madrid and then hopefully we would meet up with our flight to Miami with only about 20 minutes to meet the connection.

This sounded good until they told us we needed to run to meet it, plus we still needed to go through security. So off we run and we don’t know where we are going. I am pushing Madelyn in a stroller while wearing flip flops, Jarrett is loaded down with our carryons, Nathan was doing his best to keep up, poor Grampy got stuck with one of his hanging bags in addition to his carryons because they accidentally put one of the bag tags on the same bag twice and they didn’t have time to fix it. We looked like crazy people running through this airport, reminded me of the Movie “Home Alone” We get to the security line and they let us to the front, but it was crazy and unorganized too. In all the confusion, Jarrett left his neck pouch there that had his wallet and our next round of tickets to Miami. He almost started crying at this point. We didn’t have time to go back and we were in hopes that his parents grabbed it since they were behind us since Grammy had to be searched. We are in a full out sprint trying to find Gate 50 and of course it is no organized pattern. I am yelling at people, “Excuse us, Pardon.” I know we looked like idiots and we felt like them too. Finally, we see gate 50. People this is not like Tulsa’s airport, it is huge and confusing. It probably wouldn’t have seemed so bad if we weren’t in such a hurry.

Grammy and Grampy catch up to us right as we found the gate and luckily they had grabbed Jarrett’s neck pouch. Thank you Jesus! We made this flight, stinky and soaked with sweat. Our seats, of course, were in the back of the plane. This was not good as far as our next flight was concerned. We arrive and once we are in Madrid we book it toward Gate U63 and guess what, it is at the other side of the airport. As we are running again, we spot that we have to go through the whole ordeal of security again. We wait in line, some of us patiently, others of us not so patiently, and head through. Madelyn had an all out melt down when they made her put her stuffed Minnie through the x-ray machine.

We run, another all out sprint, and finally make it to our gate as “LAST CALL” is flashing above it. We hand the ticket agent our tickets and she says they are no good. Seriously, are you kidding me?????????????????

She sees the shear look of terror on all 6 of our faces, she looks at her computer and sees a note that showed up about us. She said, “Don’t panic, you can go.” Thank you God, we are finally on our way to Miami and it is only 11 am Barcelona time. I am on the plane right now, it is crowded, there are none of those cool personal entertainment systems in the front of our seats so we are having to try to keep the kids entertained, we keep smelling cigarette smoke, babies are crying, toddlers are running up and down the aisle, and I realize people in Spain must not use deodorant, because I keep smelling B.O. Oh wait, that is me from all the running and stressing today. I don’t know if we will make it home tonight but even if we get stuck in Dallas or Miami it is better than being stuck in Spain.


PS This has been one of the most amazing trips ever despite today.

PSS Don’t ever ask me to go on the “Amazing Race”:

Thursday, July 26, 2007

VilleFranche


Wednesday, July 25, 2007


Wee, Wee, we made it to France today. We are in the port of VilleFranche, the gateway to the French Riviera. It is a picturesque port, the prettiest one we have been too. I can’t wait to show you all pictures. It was another tender day and we got an early start. When we got the information about excursions from Disney there was one from this port that Jarrett was interested in, a convertible car tour of the French Riviera. When online booking started it was sold out immediately. We never booked anything else in hopes that a spot would open up. When we arrived last week I checked with the excursion desk and low and behold a spot had opened up. We were so excited.

So us and four other couples meet and were ready to go when we got news that they needed to delay us 3 hours because the cars had not arrived yet but we would get a 10% discount. We had already dropped the kids off so we went and explored Villefranche by foot. It had the cutest little shops, cafes and bakeries. We bought a baguette and sat outside and ate it overlooking the bay. We also walked on the beach, which instead of sand had tiny little pebbles. There were all these old French men bathing in the water in their Speedos that were way too small. Jarrett enjoyed the scenery of the topless sun bathers at the beach. He wanted to take pictures but I wouldn’t let him.

After our romantic stroll in Villefranche we went back to the pier and waited for our cars to arrive. The vendor arrived but no convertibles. She said there had not been enough drivers to get all the cars to where we were so she came to take us to the cars in Monaco. She just happened to be an official tour guide so we got a private tour as well. We arrived in Monaco and got our cars and maps. Jarrett picked out a silver Alfa Rameo. The guy in charge of the cars told us to be extra careful because this was the most powerful car. The lady that had driven us to Monaco asked if we wanted to see Monte Carlo and of course we all said yes. She said she would drive us by there because it is very hard to navigate your way there if you have never been then she would leave us on our own. The four couples decided that we would all try to stick together.

The Monte Carlo was amazing, every kind of expensive car imaginable was parked outside like Bentleys, Ferraris, rolls Royce, lotus, etc. Jarrett and I were in the last car and we got separated from the group when a Bentley got in front of us to be valet parked. We were a little nervous because we didn’t have a clue where to go and the roads aren’t like they are in Tulsa. We made one French man mad right out side the casino when apparently we did something wrong. As he was yelling at us in French we spotted our group and caught back up. Our guide left us and now we were on our own to figure out the maps and streets. I will give you a little background info here.

Neither one of us know any French.
Usually I don’t do well in situations where we don’t know where we are going. (e.g. Palermo)
Remember, we are planners and not good at spontaneous stuff.
We usually obey Traffic laws.



This tour challenged us in all these ways, but we had a BLAST!!!! It was fun trying to maneuver our way through the crazy city streets. At first we were following the other cars in our group but right away one of them got separated. We decided at this point it was survival of the fittest. There was no turning back. The guide maps they gave us showed us several different routes and itineraries but they weren’t the clearest maps I have ever come across. So they didn’t help us much. Our goal was to get out of Monaco; because it was crazy, and head up to the Grand Corniche (a high road that goes around the mountains and follows the coast ) We wanted to visit the medieval town of Eze, Nice and Cannes. We somehow ended up at a toll road at the end of Monaco which is not where we were supposed to be at and it said no U turn but there was no other way out. So we did what any other stupid touristo would do. We booked it across the double lane highway on the side of a cliff and got going the right way. That was only the first of many traffic laws we broke. We finally found our way out of Monaco, the first turn that we were to take was labeled a hair pin turn. The map said to be extremely careful because this was the turn where Princess Grace died in a car crash. We were the only ones in our group who saw the road and turned, we don’t know where the others went but as it turns out they all got separated and everyone did their own thing. Once we made it to the top road overlooking the med. Sea we observed breathtaking views of the water and the beautiful architecture. Tina Turner and Elton John have villas up there along with lots of other famous people.

Jarrett relaxed once we were out of the city and on these open roads. The car was a powerful stick shift and fortunately for me the roads were extremely curvy so he couldn’t let loose. He was itching so bad to have a straight open rode so he could drive fast. I felt like a movie star driving around in this car on a beautiful day in a beautiful car in my big straw hat in one of the most gorgeous places on earth. Will somebody pinch me please?? . Let me just say Jarrett looked hot driving this car. Is that ok to say in my blog???? You know what, it never bothered me that we didn’t really know where we were going and we didn’t have a plan. We were totally caught up in the moment.

We found the village of Eze which was extremely charming. We shopped in little shops that went up the side of a cliff which led to this old medieval village. It was really cool and once you reached the top you could see a panoramic view of the French Riviera. Next we made our way on some quiet roads with no traffic and eventually made it to Nice then somehow make to Eze again, then to Villefranche, then to Eze a third time. We gave up trying to get to Cannes and instead decided it was meant to be that we see Eze a lot. It was getting late and we were feeling the need to get the kids out of the kids club (what were we thinking), so we tried to get back to Villefranche. We could see it but we couldn’t get there. These streets are so tiny and hilly and have cars parked everywhere and let me remind you, we speak no French. We ended up in another part of Nice that we hadn’t seen yet and it was really pretty. Finally, we made it back to the port of Villefranche and delivered our car safe and sound. Come to find out another lady that was on our tour, the first one to get separated from the group, had an all out panic attack in Monaco because of the traffic and crazy streets. She told her husband just to driver her off a cliff. Crazy isn’t it.

The kiddos were happy to see us at 4pm. Aunt Jennifer got Madelyn out of the club for a little bit and took her and Ally swimming. She put them back in while they went on their tour called “Nice and Eze with Wine and Cheese”
Nicholas stayed in the club today with Nathan for a while. They learned all about Volcanoes and Crepes. They also had a lot of free time. When I picked up the kids I got Ally out as well and took them to our room. We let them order whatever they wanted from room service. They all sat on the couch and watched a Disney movie and ate. After that we rested and got ready for dinner. All we do is eat. We were the only ones at dinner for the first 30 minutes then everyone else showed up straight from their excursions. Grammy and Grampy went on an all day tour of Monaco, Eze and Nice. They had a great time. We all went to the show together. It was called “When Mickey Dreams” It was a Cirque D’ Solie type show. These shows are top notch. If you are thinking of doing a cruise I would highly recommend the Disney one, it definitely appeals to all ages. We would like to come back on one. I can’t believe it is almost over. We could stay longer, except I think the kids are getting spoiled. Ivan, our server cuts their food, puts their napkin in their lap, brings them non-stop drinks and their favorite desserts every night. There is chocolate on their pillows every night along with a towel animal. We asked Madelyn who was going to make her bed when we got home and she replayed “Flora, of course.” Oh, no sweetie, you will resume that chore. We went to the buffet one morning and Nathan just stood there saying we were not allowed to get our own food, Ivan needs to do that. Oh, boy it will be a reality check for them next week. We love you all, see you soon.

La Spezia


Tuesday, July 24, 2007

La Spezia, Italy


The kids were thrilled to go to the Oceaner’s Lab this morning while we left for Pisa. We woke up to cool weather, gray skies, and light rain. Very different than yesterdays 110 degree heat in Rome. Today we are doing our first “Disney Excursion.” We tendered to the port, which was gorgeous. There were beautiful mountains dotted with villas and a palm treed lined board walk. . We took an hour long motor coach ride to the town of Pisa. Grammy and Grampy were on this tour as well. Jennifer and Blake went on a 7 mile hiking trip to Cinque Terre.

We drove through Tuscany to get to Pisa. It was even prettier than I imagined, we saw some of the marble quarries that Michelangelo got his materials from. We arrived in Pisa with a million other tourists and made our way to the main square. The leaning tower was pretty cool to see, it really was leaning. We took the obligatory pictures of us holding up the tower. We also saw a beautiful cathedral and baptistery. Then we walked around looking at all the souvenirs. After the hour drive back to La Spezia we tendered back to the boat and retrieved the kids from the club. We then got back on the Tender boat so we could take the kids into the town. By now the clouds and rain had cleared and it was a beautiful day, and the temperature was very pleasant. The kids loved riding the boat. We found a park for them to run around in for a while then we walked along the pier and rode the tender boat again back to the ship. It was another great day! Busy, busy! We are starting to think we will need a vacation when we get home so we can get some rest. It has become a common occurrence for Madelyn to fall asleep while we are eating dinner. Bless her tired heart.

Rome


Monday, July 23, 2007


Rome, Italy

We had an early morning today. We grabbed a quick breakfast and headed off the ship to meet our private driver and guide. All ten of us were going out together today. I found a driver who would take us on “The Ultimate Rome Experience” meaning we would get to see a little bit of everything. We boarded a mini-bus after meeting Wana our guide and Mannie, our driver. I had requested a booster seat for Madelyn but instead they sent a baby car seat and she would have nothing to do with that. It was an hour drive from the port into Rome so Wana gave us a history lesson while we looked out the window at the beautiful countryside. However, I can honestly say I didn’t retain a thing she said. Her English wasn’t as good as Carmines’ and she talked really soft.

The first place we stopped at was a place to buy tickets to get into the Coliseum and use the potty’s. It was invaluable having a guide because she spoke to the ticket agent in Italian and got our tickets. This way we got to avoid the humongous line at the Coliseum ticket counter and were able to just walk right in. The toilet didn’t have a lid so you just had to straddle it and hope for the best. Not so hard if you are an adult but pretty difficult when you are four. Madelyn’s feet didn’t touch the ground, so I am holding her over this contraption and she is wiggling and saying she doesn’t have to go anymore. This would be one of our only bathroom breaks all day I tell her so she better go. She eventually gave in and humored Mommy.

We threatened the kids within an inch of their lives to not wander away from us. This is huge place and extremely busy in July. I seriously could not comprehend how many people were in Rome. It was the craziest thing. We were warned that the Gypsies, who picket pocket, were out in full force so be aware and watch your belongings. Between the stress of keeping the kids next to us every second, watching out for gypsies and the 110 degree heat I wouldn’t necessarily call what we had “The Ultimate Experience”

Don’t get me wrong, we loved seeing Rome and all the ancient buildings and learning the history behind it. It was just a little overwhelming. Nathan loved seeing the Coliseum and the guys dressed up like gladiators. We also saw the Forum, Trevi fountain (which was beautiful and we all threw coins in) the Parthenon, Vatican City, St. Peter’s Basilica, La Dolce Vita (this is where the rich and famous shop and hang out in little cafés) and a bunch of other historical sites that I can’t remember the names of. We were going to go into the Sistine Chapel but the line was several hours long and with the heat that was not going to work out. St. Peters Basilica was beautiful, full of amazing art. When we went to the Trevi fountain we stopped for lunch. We decided not to go to a sit down restaurant , instead we opted for a small pizzeria in a little shop in one of those narrow alley ways. We had really good coke and Pepsi and interesting Pizza. It definitely wasn’t Papa Johns. Next Wana took us to a great place to have gelato. (Gelato=ice cream) See, you are learning new things from this blog. It was so Yummy! We got Vanilla and grammy got chocolate chip. Nathan ate most of Grammies’ ice cream.

One thing that just amazed us about Rome is how old it is. Everywhere you turn is something historical. Nothing in the US is anywhere near as old. You could spend a lot of time there really learning and studying. If you ever go to Rome, go in the spring or fall when the weather is better and the crowds are thinner. The kids did great, nobody got lost and nothing got stolen. We are very thankful that the kids got to experience this ancient city and we will show them all the pictures as they are learning about it as they grow up. We got back to the port around 5pm and had a nice dinner and watched Ratouille on the big screen.


By the way, I think Jarrett and I have a least gained 1 pound per day. We are walking a ton but eating even more.

Sardinia


Sunday, July 22, 2007


Today we visited Olbia, Sardinia and we decided to skip it! It was beautiful but we needed a rest. So we slept in. Madelyn and I got up first and went to breakfast at Topsiders buffet and we ate outside overlooking the beautiful mountains. The boys woke up around 10, so they just started with lunch. They found Madelyn and I at the Mickey pool. I finally got some time to enjoy reading a book. Jarrett and Nathan explored the ship from deck 10 all the way down to deck 1. Nathan loved checking out everything and exploring.

The ship was quiet today as most people were off on excursions. Tomorrow is Rome which is going to be a long day so we really just wanted to take it easy today. We played ping pong together and Princess Monopoly. (they set out games in the promenade lounge) After lunch Madelyn and Daddy took a nap and Nathan went to the kids club. Mommy checked out Quiet Cove, the adults only pool area. I read and enjoyed the quiet. Our boat has 3 pools so it is never crowded. Later in the afternoon we swam in the Goofy pool and watched Nemo on the big screen. We got dressed up for semi-formal night, watched a fantastic magic show and spent some time hanging out on deck four as we left port. Jarrett’s mom and dad explored the town on their own today and Mary found a beautiful Tapestry. Jarrett’s sister and her family found a taxi to take them to the beach. We all had a wonderful Sunday.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Naples


Saturday, July 21, 2007

Private Driver to Southern Italy: 500 euros
Lunch overlooking the Med. Sea from atop a cliff: 150 euros
Private tour Guide of Pompeii: 100 euros
Having a plan: Priceless!!!

Today we visited the port of Naples, Italy. This was the port that I personally was most looking forward to. Months ago as I was researching and learning about the different stops on our cruise I learned that Naples was the gateway to some of the most beautiful parts of Italy. Naples is a HUGE city but it is close to the most beautiful southern coastal towns in Italy. The cruise line offers all sorts of pre-arranged tours where you and about 50 other people drive in a motor coach to your destination and follow a tour guide who holds up a Mickey Mouse paddle so you can see them. Anyway, we choose to do our own thing so we could spend more time at the places that interested us and really learn about the places we were visiting. I found a private driver who would take me, Jarrett, Blake, Jennifer, and Nicholas (My bil, sil, and nephew) on a wonderful tour. Grammy and Grampy didn’t want to join in because they have all ready seen this part of Italy before. They stayed and got the kids to breakfast and the kids club then they went into Naples and explored. They also got wonderful couples massage today as a gift from all of us as a small token of appreciation for this amazing trip.


At 8am we met Carmine, our driver, out in front of our ship. (Now from this part on you must read in your best Italian accent) He was driving a very nice Mercedes Van. Carmine is a 26 year old Italian Man, need I say more????? The part of Naples we saw was very dirty and crowded but don’t worry we didn’t stay long, he drove us south toward Mt. Vesuvius. Mt. Vesuvius is a beautiful volcano that erupted in 79 AD and destroyed the famous town of Pompeii.

As Carmine drove us around he talked all about his country and his life in Italy. Very interesting! As we got further out of Naples the scenery got more and more beautiful. He stopped along side the road to let us take pictures. Unfortunately there was terrible haze because of the heat but the views were breathtaking none the less. By the way they drive crazy here too. Scooters weave in and out of traffic and the roads are very narrow. (Another reason I am glad we were not on a motor coach) People here are never in a hurry like in the states except when they are driving.

I could listen to an Italian Man speak all day long, their accents are captivating. Each time we would stop somewhere he would open the door for us, “Senora, let me help you.” (Accents people, accents) “Grazie, Grazie” “Let me take your picture, senora.” Ok, enough, I know.

We are heading toward a town called, Sorrento. It is town on the edge of a cliff overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. It is surrounded by olive trees and lemon trees and the most colorful flowers and bushes I have ever laid eyes on. OH MY GOSH, it is the most gorgeous place I have ever seen. No words can even remotely describe its beauty. Famous artists and writers live here because it so inspiring. If you ever get the opportunity to go to Italy this would be a must see place, you would not be disappointed. Carmine, took us to a place to shop. I bought some olive oil that was made in Sorrento. Currently, I have the Wal-Mart brand in my pantry. I have a feeling the stuff I bought will be better. Jennifer and I also got matching Italian leather purses. We shopped on this long narrow alley way where the people worked in their stores on the ground level and then lived above them. There was laundry hanging out on their terraces above and they all had beautiful iron balconies with the big oil lanterns (Lisa, like those ones we saw in Rosemary Beach last summer). There was a fish shop, fruit stands, clothing stores, cute little cafes, oil paintings etc. I found a beautiful oil painting that I wanted to get but it was 1200 euros. Way too expensive. We tried limoncello here, a lemon liquor. The lemons here are the size of basketballs. No lie!

After a while there, we headed through the mountains on windy roads to reach the Almafi coast. It is a breathtaking drive along the narrow coastal highway. When you look out the window you stare straight down into the med. Sea. We had a great time talking to Carmine about his country, I learned so much today. I really couldn’t believe that I was in this beautiful place. I just tried to soak every inch of it in. After driving along the Almafi Coast we ended up in Postinano, another gorgeous coastal town. George Clooney and Brad Pit hang out here. Part of the movie, “Under the Tuscan Sun” was filmed here. After shopping and paying $1 to use the potty Carmine took us up a road called “The Mamma Mia Road” to an authentic restaurant. He told us what Mamma cooks is what we will eat. As we were driving to the restaurant we saw a “touristo” who shouldn’t have been driving on this crazy street, she got too close to the side of the cliff and knocked off her Mercedes mirror. We were cracking up.

At lunch we had like a 20 course meal. There was so much food; Mamma must have been busy all morning. The homemade pasta was yummy. The dad grew all their own vegetables that are used at the restaurant. They even brought us home made wine. Our table looked over the entire town of Postinano and the Med. Sea. It was again, breathtaking. The atmosphere was worth every penny of the 125 euros lunch cost. They don’t tell you prices before hand, luckily they take MasterCard. At the end the meal they bring you more limoncello. Blake bought two bottles to take back to Texas. He wants to start a new trend. Ok, I just turned on the TV and low and behold what is playing, “Under the Tuscan Sun” and it is showing the part that was filmed where I just was today. Too cool! They even just showed limoncello.

Back to Blake, he was so excited about his limoncello purchase but he forgot to put in the van. He realized this partially down the hill and he told Carmine that he would run up the hill to get it. Carmine was saying, “No, No.” But Blake was already out the door and running back up the steep Mamma Mia road. As he did that we managed to block all the other cars behind us because there was no place for us to go. He about caused an international crisis.

We were on our way to visit Pompeii next. Carmine called ahead and hired a very good guide for us. (100euros, not cheap but well worth it!!) His name was Sasha, and we would have been lost there without him. Pompeii is HUGE, HOT and Dusty. A little background, when Mt. Vesuvius erupted in 79 AD the lava ran out to sea but the volcanic ash, and pumice, and sulfuric acid blew toward the town of Pompeii. It was buried under 25 feet of ash and pumice stone therefore preserving most of the town. In the 1800’s some archeologists started digging it out, they still are not done. How was your history lesson for today, class?

The first thing he did was take us to the “Pee Pee Rooms” I thought that was a funny thing to call bathrooms. He was able to take us away from all of the large groups and tell us about everything we saw. We learned so much from him. His dad has been a guide there for 45 years so he has learned from the best. His love for Pompeii was evident in the way he talked about the people and times there. He totally made history come alive and made this town real to me.


We spent 2 hours walking around Pompeii and now it was time to get back to the ship. First thing in the morning, Jarrett had mentioned to Carmine that we really wanted to try Pizza in Naples since it is the birthplace of Pizza but we knew at this point we did not have time to do that. We were a little bummed even though we were still full from the never ending lunch. Low and behold, when Carmine opened the door for us there were two boxes of piping hot Napoleon Pizza as a gift to us. What a great guy! This was just the icing on the cake for us. Needless to say, Carmine got a huge tip. He made this a wonderful day for all of us.

The kids had a great time in the kids club and Nathan even won 2 prizes during a Disney trivia game. We were all tired so after dinner and hanging out on deck watching the sun set I brought the kids back to the room and Jarrett went to see a showing of Pirates of the Caribbean #3. We miss you all, well kind of. Ha, ha!!

Tomorrow: Olbia, Sardinia

Friday, July 20, 2007

Adventures in Palmero


=Thoughts from Nathan:

I am going to blog tonight because I am wide awake because tonight I played at the Kids club. I asked to go there before I even got dessert at dinner. Mom and Dad said I must really love it there if I am willing to pass up ice cream. I got to play games outside on the back of the ship then I did the Flamingo Dance with cymbals. Then I watched Toy Story 2 until Dad picked me up. Tomorrow I am going to go back all day while my parents go tour southern Italy.

Today we made our first stop in Palermo, Sicily. It is a beautiful island with mountains and beaches. This was a do on our own day. So the big people decided that we should tackle the shopping in the city first before we headed to the beach. The city is very busy and filled with pickpocketers. Daddy almost got pick pocketed by a little girl but he was “being aware” and quickly moved his bag to the front of him. It was a super hero type move, actually. We walked up and down the same narrow side walk about 20 times, and I am not exaggerating. I about wore the tread off my crocs. I couldn’t figure out the point of all this aimless walking that the adults were doing, they never shopped, they just tried to get us across busy streets without getting run over by Vespas and cars. I even saw taxi drivers fighting with one another in the middle of the street. Mommy says that they don’t follow any kind of traffic laws here. Speaking of Mommy, this whole “experiencing Sicily” on our own thing wasn’t working real well for her. She was nervous, because of all the research she had done, that someone would try to steal something from us or that someone would steal us. Plus, she likes having a plan, and today there was NO PLAN!!!! Thus, creating confusion and disorientation, and a little bit of grumbling. Grampy kept reassuring Mommy that this was a fun way to experience the real Italian culture and it was an adventure. Mommy says she would like to save adventures for places where people speak English and she knows her way around.


After two hours of walking back and forth on the same street we finally found a bus station and got on the craziest bus ever. At first it wasn’t very crowded but the driver kept stopping and picking up more and more people. Some girl with hairy armpits came and sat on the same seat as me. The smell from all the stinky people was getting worse and worse. By the time we got to the beach there was about 500 people on a bus with 10 seats. Uncle Blake thought we were in Mexico. We were so excited to see the sand along with the other 10 million people that live in Sicily and decided to stay home from work today and go to the beach. I am sure the sand would have been beautiful if we could have seen it but there were people everywhere.

All of mommy’s frustrations left after her first glance of the gorgeous Mediterranean Sea. It was the most beautiful water mommy and daddy has ever seen. It was surrounded my really big mountains and cool looking houses. The water and our little patch of sand were fun to play in. We were not at a touristy beach; we were at the beach where all the locals hang out, another “authentic” experience. After an hour or so at Mondello Beach we decided it was time to eat. Mommy, Daddy, Grammy, Grampy, Madelyn and I decided we were better off trying our luck at eating on the ship versus finding a decent place to eat based on our prior “trying to find the bus station” adventure. My aunt and uncle were much braver than us and stayed in Mondello to eat.

We hopped on what we thought was the right bus to go back to the ship but the driver kicked us off and put us on another bus. My parents and grandparents totally looked like tourists, so the driver must have had sympathy for them when they got on the wrong bus. We had an uneventful drive back to Palermo and the bus wasn’t as crowded because every one was already at the beach.


When we got back to the Magic dad and I bee lined it to our stateroom because we were having sand in the swimsuit issues. Mom and Maddie set off for some drinks and time in the Mickey pool. At 5:00 we were in our room getting ready for dinner and we got to watch out of our giant circle window as we left the port of Palermo. It was so cool looking at all the boats and the island as we left.


Madelyn and Ally had fun meeting “Belle, Pocahontas, JoJo and Goliath, Daisy Duck and Goofy tonight. Madelyn has eagerly been awaiting her meeting with Daisy. Each character has a human escort to protect them from little kids, like my sister. Maddie saw Daisy from down a long hall and she bolted from my mom’s hand and headed to daisy like a bullet from a gun. The escort was behind Daisy and as he saw Maddie heading straight for Daisy he tried to jump in front of her but it was too late, my sister had her arms around Daisy and was hugging her like crazy.

After another wonderful dinner, where the beast and Belle did a dance, my parents went to a Magic show until Madelyn announced she was ready to go to sleep. By the way, I am being a nice big brother and letting Madelyn have the top bunk. I want to spare our neighbors her screaming tonight. Plus, I like cuddling up with mom and dad in the middle of the night. Ok, that is all for tonight. Tomorrow: Naples, will mommy survive????

Day at Sea


Thursday, July 19

Hello my sweet friends and family from the sunny Mediterranean. The weather is gorgeous, sunny and warm but not too hot!! The internet is very slow and very expensive so we probably won’t be able to add pictures at this point. Today was a sea day, and yes we made it to the character breakfast but it was ½ way over by the time we got there. The kid’s heads were falling over on the table during breakfast because they were so tired; it was 3am Oklahoma time. They tried to be excited to see the characters but it was hard. The characters danced around the room and the kids could go up and join in but Nathan, Nick, Madelyn and Ally just couldn’t do it. We should have just stayed in bed. Here is my advice if you are doing a med cruise, come in a day or two before hand so your bodies can adjust.

We were determined to stay up so we can adjust to the time change. We took the kids to the Mickey pool and slide first thing. They had a ball swimming and going down the slide all by them. Jarrett hung out in one of the black Mickey ears that are heated (not as hot as a hot tub, but warm enough) while he watched the kids slide down the slide. He laid down in it and stretched out because it is shallow and he was just relaxing and enjoying life until some 7 year old burst his bubble and told him he was too old to swim in Mickey’s ear and there was a pool for just grown ups.


After lunch we took the kids to the kids club for the first time. They were going to be making flubber. The only word to describe the Oceaners club is UNBELIEVABLE!!! This cruise is worth it just for the experiences they are having in there alone. We went to pick them up a couple of hours later and they didn’t want to leave. They were having a Hawaiian Dance party with Lilo and Stitch. Madelyn can officially hula dance now, it is the cutest thing. They will be spending a lot of time there I think. Jarrett and I went to work out and then we hung out at the pool while the kids were playing.

After mandatory naps (more for dad than for kids) we got all dressed up for Formal night and the Golden Mickey’s show. Jarrett and I ate at the adult only restaurant called Palo. It was fabulous. We had calamari, Filet Mignon, sorbet, pizza margarita, and to top it off the most delicious chocolate soufflé with vanilla bean and chocolate sauce. We ordered one to share but because it was so good we ordered another. Our tummies are already hanging over our pants and we haven’t even been here two days. We need to pace ourselves.

The Golden Mickey show was great! Nathan had the widest grin on his face the entire time. Nathan and Daddy hit the arcade afterwards and Madelyn and I stood in line for her to meet Cinderella and Minnie Mouse. She hugs everyone she meets and her eyes light up. I am so glad that she is the age she is on this trip. I thought she might be too young but she is doing great. Tomorrow is our first port, Palermo, Sicily.

Just an observation, but other cruises we have been on have been so crowded and lines for everything but we have not had that here. Disney really knows how to do things right, everything is so organized and well laid out. If you refer to previous posts you will know that I am a type A person and I really appreciate these kinds of things. They have so many fun things too do that it is hard to choose what to do.

Well, we are off to bed; Madelyn has the top bunk tonight so there were no tears on her part.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

We Made It!

We made it and thankfully so did all of our luggage. The flight to Spain went great. Nathan had a blast watching movies and playing games on his personal video entertainment system in the seat in front of him. He also slept the most of anyone. The flight wasn’t very full so we had room to spread out which was nice.

We were very excited to finally make it to the Disney Magic. Jarrett was the most excited to get to the room so he could unload his arms from all of the carryons he was burdened down with. He seriously looked like Clark Griswald from European vacation. He had a stroller, a small suitcase, a camera bag, a back pack plus a kid. He had to cart it around the cruise terminal while I did all the paper work.

The first character the kids saw was Mickey Mouse and Madelyn ran straight up to him and gave him a giant hug. It was the most adorable thing ever. She thinks they are all real.

The Magic is a very beautiful ship, it is a classic design on the outside and art deco on the inside. We love how it is decorated. It is very different from the Carnival ships we have been on in the past. It is not nearly as crowded and the service is unbelievable. Our room is on the second level, forward. So far it has been a nice quiet room and very smooth.

Day 1: We are having the time of our lives. After we arrived we ate lunch, explored the ship, unpacked and the kids took a much needed nap. Then we went to Animators Pallate for dinner. When you show up the walls are decorated with black and white animation drawings of everything Disney, as the night goes on it starts changing to color. We rotate dinner restaurants every night (but your servers come with you) so the next time we go, there will be a big show using the walls. After dinner we went to the “Welcome Aboard” show in the main theatre. The kids were amazed by everything they saw. I would compare it to a broadway show. Grammy spent more time watching the kid’s faces light up than she did watching the show. Isn’t that sweet?? After the show we went to the big sail away party outside. The crew got everyone dancing and our kids boogied down. It was getting late and Madelyn started having a meltdown and it just went down hill from there. So we stopped by Pinocchio’s Pizza got some food then headed back down to the room. The kids found their first towel creation and chocolates on the bed. They were very excited to get dressed in their new Mickey and Minnie Jammies for the first time. We thought putting them to bed would be a breeze since they were so tired. Boy were we wrong. Nathan started crying because he didn’t get to swim in the Mickey Pool and Maddie started crying because we let Nathan have the top bunk for the first night. Once they started they couldn’t stop, they were exhausted and so were we. There was not a single ounce of patience left in any part of us. We are six hours ahead of Oklahoma and our bodies are trying to adjust. I am not sure how we finally got them to bed but I know it wasn’t pretty. We slept alllll night and we probably could have slept all day as well, but Grampy called us at 9am to see where we were. We were supposed to be at Parrot Cay for breakfast with all of the characters at 9am.. Will we make it? Stay Tuned

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Day 1- A First for Madelyn



Greetings from Atlanta! We are hanging out in the international terminal at the airport, Nathan is playing with match box cars and Madelyn is coloring. Madelyn really enjoyed her first ever flight. She was awestruck by seeing the tops of trees and flying in the clouds. We sat in the very back of a very small plane, so our seats did not recline and we were right in front of the bathroom.
We didn't hear a peep from Nathan the whole flight, he was engrossed with his leapster that I confiscated over a month ago. Madelyn went from activity to activity, she about wore me out in the 2 hour flight. Wish us well on the 9.5 hour flight we have ahead of us. I think I am going to ask Jarrett to sit next to her and I can sit next to the quiet one. Let me put this in perspective for you, I did not even finish reading one US Weekly. But overall she did fabulous. We told the kids it was agaisnt the law to argue or whine on vacation. So far so good.
In the Tulsa airport this man stopped us and asked the kids if they liked the movie "Cars" Turns out he was the man who inspired the character "Mater" He was on his way to LA for an apperance on Jay Leno. Look for him tomorrow night.
You know my cruise books that I spent hours preparing, one got totally ruined when my water bottle leaked all over it. Jarrett and his dad are having a good time making fun of me. I AM NOT LAUGHING!!!
We just met some people that are on our next flight that are going to be on the Disney Magic. Oh, I love meeting new people. Ok, Gotta go chat.
Thank you Dad for helping get us all to the airport this morning.
Love ya all!