Cheap Flights to Europe!

Norwegian Airlines is promoting their new direct flights to Ireland, Northern Ireland and Scotland by passing on the savings!

While unfortunately the really really great deals are now sold out, you can still pick up a great bargain on a flight from Newburgh, NY (SWF), Providence/Boston (PVD), or Connecticut (BDL) to get an affordable trip.

I just booked a 2 week trip to Edinburgh for over the Thanksgiving break with my husband and 4 kids for only $434 per person! That included checked bags, in-flight meals, and reserved seats! If you can find a better price out there I want you to come back and tell me about it!

I’m looking forward to lots of great photos, and exploring some new places and sharing the experience with my kids.

I don’t get any kind of kickbacks for recommending this airline, I just thought I would pass along the word so others can benefit.

Cleaning today!

After moving, and then the holidays, I find myself overwhelmed with clutter and deferred maintenance here around our new house. So to help me get back on track, I am following the baby steps over at Flylady.net to start reorganizing my life. Although her method is not a perfect fit, and does seem really really slow at times, having a well thought out framework to follow does wonders for keeping my wandering mind on track. I take what I can, and change it a little to suit our situation.

You can read more about her tips here:

http://www.flylady.net

 

 

Recycling plastic shopping bags

I recently found a way to re-use old plastic grocery bags to re-fluff your old bean bag chairs. By pulling them into a rope-like shape, then cutting them into chunks, they make little fluffy balls that work nicely as stuffing material.

 

It takes a while and a lot of bags to make a difference, but since they are free, and we happen to have a ton of them laying around, it is much better than having them wind up in the landfill.

Here is the patient: Kiddo #3’s favorite chair which is badly in need of additional stuffing.

Here is the bag full of chopped up other bags before we dumped it into the chair.

It took a little work to get the zipper open. This chair has two zippers facing opposite directions so that nothing spills out accidentally. An old bread twist tie made a handle for the zipper pull.

This is what came inside the chair. I left it all in and just added to it.

Here is what it looked like after dumping in the new stuff. I zipped it back up and it is slightly better now.

Wakulla Springs

Sunday afternoon was absolutely beautiful, and just warm enough to feel inviting, but not nearly hot enough to feel smothering.

The kids and I have been wanting a bike ride for a while, so we invited a couple of friends and rode our bikes down to Wakulla Springs State Park. If you ever get the chance, you should go by and check it out. It’s a great little off the beaten path sort of place where you can still feel the old Florida. There is a stately old lodge there where you can spend the night if you are coming in from out of town. You can make reservations if you like here at this link: https://www.floridastateparks.org/park/Wakulla-Springs.

The kids all jumped in the water and enjoyed a cold swim for a while, while I watched the hawks circle and swoop overhead. After everyone got to chilly to swim anymore, we headed over to the playground to dry off.

All in all it was a much needed break from the daily grind. Nature is good for the soul!

Wakulla Springs

 

 

Trump for Führer 2016. 

While my news feed fills up with rabid reporters shredding Melania Trump for lifting a few sentences from Michelle Obama’s speech, I honestly must admit that it almost feels as though we have all sighed with relief to have something so petty and less terrifying to worry about than the idea of the madman who has bought the republican nomination actually having the power of the office of President of the United States. 

For just one minute I would like to point out, that when Hitler took power in Germany, Germany was not a superpower. In fact Germany was a country crippled by the destruction WW1, and the Treaty of Versailles. In fact, Germany had been stripped of its colonies, occupied by foreign military forces for most of the preceding decade, and forced to pay reparations for its role in WW1. 

Imagine for just one second, the horror that might’ve ensued if, instead of rising to power in an economically repressed and sanctioned country, that man had managed to seduce a nation of much greater stature. Perhaps one with one of the largest military forces in the world. One like the United States. 

Every election year that I can remember, fans of both sides claim that the opposing candidate is Satan incarnate, and that his election could mean the end of the world as we know it. I’m not one who usually buys into such extremist attitudes, and I’m certainly not  a person gullible enough to take campaign speeches or news clips alone at face value, nor am I one who regularly cries that the sky is falling. This year is different though. This is the first candidate who seriously concerns me. 

A persons attitudes, and actions are worth much more than their words. But the problem with Donald Trump is that even his own words reflect his bigotry, disregard for law, and his egocentricity. His actions serve only to amplify these terrible flaws. He is a prime example of an abusive narcissist who revels in conflict. I believe that his success is largely due to the grandiose nature of his absurdity. His suggestions are too fantastical for most people to take them seriously. So instead, people downplay him in their own minds. They believe what they want to believe instead of what is right in front of their eyes. 

Growing up

This past week, I experienced having all four of my kids go to play checkers at Cracker Barrel without my assistance (at the same time), my oldest daughter got her hair colored blue, my two youngest still want me to push them on the swings at the park, and I saw a pretty Cardinal sitting on an old fence post in my old hometown. We are still looking for a place to live in Tallahassee. Fortunately, Talladega is still home, and we have our farm here to stay in in the meanwhile: 

Stay hydrated kids. The south gets hot in the summer. Heat stroke is no joke. 

Swimming in Appalachee Bay at Shell Point 

Shell Point beach Wakulla County Park

A Pygmy rattlesnake on the levee trail at St. Marks lighthouse.

Wakulla Springs at the boil.

St Marks Lighthouse 

Always keep your sunroof drains clean. Otherwise you might get stuck driving through a storm and wind up like this. 

Bubbles at the McWane Science Center in Birmingham, AL.

Feel what it’s like to be in hurricane winds at the McWane Center. Thanks to my Daddy-o for taking us. 

Lift yourself up via pulleys at McWane Center.

Build an arch. Don’t let it fall!

My tired, hardworking Daddy-o taking a break with my sweet girls. 

City Market Buffet in Pell City, AL. First time we ever tried it. Kiddo #4 says “they have a chocolate GEYSER!!!!!” 

My view from our table watching all four of my kiddos play checkers together while I get a rare, quiet moment with their dad. 

It’s COLD in the grocery store!

Playground!!!! Big springs park in Springville, AL. 

Pretty trees by the creek and a bird that I failed to catch in the photo on our walk back to the salon. 

Kiddo#3 swinging 

Kiddo #2 spinning around 


Kiddo #1 and her new hair. My wonderful aunt Jenny Ryan made this happen for us at her salon, HBI in Springville. 

Friday we went camping. 

      This cool little place tucked away in the mountains of eastern North Carolina called Bryson city has been a summer favorite of my husbands family since he was a child. Every summer the clear icy waters of Deep Creek start calling his name and so we come up here every other year or so and go camping.

      This year we brought with us our four kids and camped at the National park in a tent and some hammocks for two nights. After a day of wandering the shops in nearby Bryson City and setting up camp we made dinner over the campfire.

       The next day we rented some inner tubes and hiked about a mile up the mountain to ride down the river. We stopped for a picnic lunch after the first ride and then hiked up and did it again. We made a short trip into Cherokee and saw the outdoor drama “Unto These Hills” later that evening. The kids really loved seeing it, and I loved seeing them learn about history.  

    

The beginning in the middle.

It is hard to believe that it is already nearly the end of June. This summer has flown by faster than the cars at Daytona. Finding the time to write has been tough. 

Our journey started in Ormond beach on the 8th of June. We travelled from Ormond beach to Tallahassee, FL where we spent 2 days meeting inspectors for our next home there. 

Then we left there and drove to Talladega where we have enjoyed the seclusion, time with family, and learned to live without cell service or wifi for 10 days. Cell service problem is solved now, but wifi we will have to live without. We’ve tried out the new splash pad that was built in nearby Pell City this year, the new drive in Coyote Theater in Leeds (sadly, all of our favorite theaters here have closed in the last year, but this new one isn’t half bad), and the new Pell City library. We planted some tomatoes, zucchini and sweet peppers next to the grapevines around my porch, and mowed lots and lots of grass. Now that we have the majority of our belongings moved and the farm cleaned up and the cobwebs swept out, it’s time to move on a little; to get out of our box and go some places. 

Since moving has demanded much more attention than I had anticipated this summer, requiring an unplanned trip back down to central Florida to finish up last details, our epic road trip had been abbreviated into a smaller trip to the mountains, with a larger trip in the works for next summer. 

This finds me packing for a medium weight car (tent) camping trip which begins with a plane ride tomorrow. 
Packing to leave Ormond Beach

The sunset on the road 

Lunch at Poseys in Panacea, FL. SO GOOD! This is a great little hometown place you have got to go if you ever find yourself around south of Tallahassee. Their fried pickles are some of the best I’ve ever had. 

The light show at Cascades park in Tallahassee is a great way to spend an evening and doesn’t cost a dime. 

Last day of school. My kids have moxy.  

She handed lemons to random people in the hallway, and ate cheesecake pudding from a mayo jar at lunch. 

Go Kart racing on Friday nights at the short track in Talladega is free to watch and fun. 

Epic Road Trip 2016

national-lampoons-vacation-chevy-chase

Today, the kids and I voted in favor of an adventure of epic proportions. We shall explore the wonders of our continent this summer. In the words of Gandalf:

“You’ve been sitting quietly for far too long. Tell me, when did doilies and your mother’s dishes become so important to you? I remember a young hobbit who was always running off in search of Elves, in the woods. He’d stay out late, come home, after dark, trailing mud and twigs and fireflies. A young hobbit who would’ve liked nothing better than to find out what was beyond the borders of the Shire. The world is not in your books and maps. It’s out there.”

I have discovered 14 new gray hairs on my head this year. My youngest daughter has nearly completed the 1st grade. This wonderful life does not wait for us to be ready for it. It runs and begs for us to catch up.

So therefore we shall have, as my brother says, “A summer in the good old Griswold family station wagon!”.

Selfishness 

Occasionally I am completely surprised by the amount of people who seem to be entirely self absorbed. How is it that in only one day, such a large percentage of my own small world could conduct themselves in a manner so apathetic towards their fellow humans?

From the kids who don’t want to get out of bed, or lend a pair of socks, or be on time for the sake of the one who has a field trip, to the woman in the hallway who feels it necessary to make me later than I already am by standing in my path and demanding to know who I am, and which apartment I live in so that she can report me for having a well-behaved dog who happens to be over the weight limit, or the Professor who arbitrarily dislikes and belittles all of my essays, even though she admits that I am a good writer, and that I have done everything that she has asked of me. The completely obnoxious woman in front of me in the checkout line won’t stop yelling at her husband, and yet apologizes to ME by saying “I just sort of take over wherever I’m at.” That manager who wants my family to move every 3 years so that my husband can “fix” all of the broken offices rather than recruiting more new bright minds to fill those gaps. The plethora of television writers who seem to think that showcasing teenagers who are not only physically violent toward each other, but abhorrently rude is somehow comedy. Presidential candidates who blatantly encourage their fans to objectify women, hate other races, and discriminate against other religions. Those sort of things are not ok. It isn’t ok for us to treat each other that way. It isn’t ok for us to laugh about it. Saying that this is a load of hooey does not make me a wet blanket, or a prude, or a goody two shoes. Heck, most days I am lucky if I can even find both of my shoes. This is a humbly admitted truth, not a self righteous judgement.

Even on those kind of days though, there are those moments where one kid gives her sister the last piece of toast and says “I can get something else later, and my son spends his field trip spending money on a mothers day gift for me, and when some homeless guy at Aldi asks if he can return my grocery cart for me to earn the $0.25 deposit to buy food. That is when I realize that the amount of tenacity, courage, love, and kindness in this world makes the rotteness seem like a chihuahua inside a fence barking at a Great Pyrenees on the other side. The things that make me smile are like flashlights in a dark room. No matter how great the darkness, it is powerless against the smallest light.

The point I’m trying to make is that I really love this life. I am blessed. I am unworthy of the massive amounts of love I have been gifted with. I want to give some of it back so that the world will be an even bright place than I found it. Even if all I can do is to smile sometimes, that smile is one brighter spot than there was before.