Sunday, August 28, 2011

Vacation Days 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15

Sunday, July 24, 2011: (our 18th wedding anniversary) Today we woke up a bit earlier than we really needed to because I think we were all excited about the cruise! We got ready and ate breakfast at the hotel and decided to leave for the cruise terminal. We arrived there within about 20 minutes and immediately checked our luggage at the curb. Then we headed inside the terminal. The paperwork that we had to complete was pretty minimal since I did a lot of it online. The check-in process was then really easy and all we had to do was to wait for them to call our boarding number so we could get on the ship! It seemed we waited maybe an hour or so before we finally got to get on. They announced our family name just like they did 3 years ago and we were finally on the Disney Dream! The first thing we did was met up with the Talberts and then headed to Enchanted Garden for a buffet lunch which was of course really yummy! We then just kind of roamed around the ship for awhile checking things out before we came to our stateroom at about 2pm. The room is very similar to the last cruise except instead of a veranda, we have a large porthole. Bruce and I went to a shopping speech presentation during the afternoon (about 40 minutes long) while the girls swam with the Talbert girls. We all had to do the mandatory evacuation drill at 3:45pm and then we went to the Sail Away Party after that. It was very hot at the party. Many of the characters were there. We came back to the room and got ready for dinner, which was at Animator’s Palate. We all met our servers whose names are Brito (from Portugal) and Dejan (from Serbia). The head server’s name is Boolah (from South Africa). Dinner was very good and this time, Crush from “Finding Nemo” comes and talks to different guests on the interactive screens on the walls throughout dinner. After dinner, we went to look around in the 3 gift shops and then went to the nightly show which tonight was a comedian. He was very funny. After his show, we went to a family game show and then decided to go swimming and try out the Aqua Duck water coaster. We rode it twice and then got in the hot tub on deck 11. Eventually we were all hungry so we got pizza from Luigi’s pizzeria (all 4 Franks and all 4 Talberts). Ginger (Vincent) Potter and her husband Greg were on deck as well and joined us. We got back to the room at like 1:00am and went to bed.

Monday, July 25, 2011: Bruce got up this morning and went to breakfast with Patrick (Vincent) at Cabanas at about 7:30am. The girls and I slept until like 9:00 and then went to breakfast there as well. We docked today at Disney’s private island, Castaway Cay. We got off the ship about 10:30 and headed to the family beach. We had snorkel equipment rented and when we finally got into the water, it felt wonderful! We snorkeled in the large lagoon and saw many many fish as well as “buried treasure” that Disney has planted there. The most exciting thing that Brittany and I found was a sunken status of Minnie Mouse! We went to lunch and met up with Patrick and family. After lunch, the girls chose to go to the kid’s area and then back to the ship to swim in the pools. Bruce and I rode bikes for about 30-45 minutes around the island. We went to an observation tower where you could look out and see most of the island. Once we were done with that, Bruce headed back to the ship and I decided to go to the waterslide area and try the slides. Disney has 2 waterslides build right into the lagoon on the island which use salt water. You get dumped out of the slide right into the ocean! I did the slides 3 times and then went to the 2nd family beach. I tried to find some shells because I had found many cute little ones here in 2008. I think Disney has brought in more sand since then because there were hardly any of the broken shells/rocks/etc. there now…..just mostly sand.  Oh well! I headed back to the ship at about 3:15 and once I got there, I headed to the pool area. I found Brittany and Bailey and took some pictures of them on the slides. Then I came back to the room to get ready. Bruce played bingo this afternoon but didn’t win anything. Dinner tonight was in the Enchanted Garden and it was again nice. Tonight our entire group sat together (there are 17 of us) and it was fun. After dinner, Bruce and I went to the evening show (Villains, which was not all that great in my opinion) while the girls went to their respective social areas. We met again at 9:30 for another family game show and then Bruce and I went to a couple’s game show. The girls went to one of the theaters and watched the movie “Prom.” It is now just after midnight and we are all tired and going to sleep!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011: Today Bruce got up and went to breakfast with Patrick again at 7:30. When he came back, he went back to bed! Haha! The girls and I didn’t get up until like 9:30am. We went to breakfast at about 10:15 and Bruce came with us although he didn’t eat anything. We had tickets to go to an Atlantis shore excursion which began at 11:15am. We met in the Walt Disney Theater and were eventually shipped via bus to the Atlantis Resort. The place is absolutely huge! I seriously don’t know if I would want to stay there because it is so commercialized and just sprawling! I wouldn’t be able to find my way around. The Yacht/Beach Club at Walt Disney World was big enough for me. Anyway, while there, we mainly visited the various aquariums. We saw a lot of species of fish and sea animals. The tour lasted about 45 minutes and when it was finished, Bruce and I spent maybe 30 minutes in the Atlantis casino while the girls waited for us in the lobby area. We then took the bus back downtown near the cruise terminal and found our way to the shops along Bay Street. Bruce bought a hat and a magnet. I bought 2 bracelets and the girls each bought a bracelet. We also got ice cream there. We returned to the ship at about 3:30pm. Bailey went to an activity in her club and Brittany set out to find Courtney and eventually swam for a little while. Bruce and I went to the quick-service counter and got a little snack and then came back to the room for awhile. I ironed one of his shirts (for tomorrow) and he went swimming for a little while. We went to dinner at 5:45 in the same restaurant as last night but with a different menu tonight. After dinner, Rick & Kim and Bruce & I went to an 80’s music trivia challenge which was fun. We earned 44 out of a possible 50 points! When that was over, all 4 of us got our picture taken by 2 of the photographers on the ship. Then the girls went off for a little while and Bruce and I roamed around the ship checking out some of the areas we had not yet seen. We all met on 11 deck at 10:30 for a Pirate/fireworks show which was pretty neat! Disney Cruise Line is the only one authorized to shoot off fireworks at sea. They also are able to show Disney movies on the ship which are currently being shown in theaters (because they actually OWN these movies!). After the fireworks show, there was a late night buffet which we visited. They had tacos, ham, turkey legs, fruit, and desserts. You certainly do not lose any weight on a cruise! The girls once again went off to do some of their activities with the Talbert girls. Bruce and I returned to the room and got ready for bed. Tonight, Courtney is spending the night in our room with Brittany and Bailey is staying in the Talbert’s room with Cami. Today was a really good and fun day!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011: Today Bruce again went to breakfast with Patrick at 7:30 while we girls slept! I didn’t go to breakfast today because Bruce and I had reservations to eat brunch at Palo at 11:00. We got dressed in our “dress up” clothes for this meal. It was very good. We first got to choose from many selections of “appetizers” and this was buffet-style. I tried caviar for the first time! I wasn’t really impressed! But anyway, then we chose our main course. I had veal and Bruce had chicken parmesan. The desserts were also buffet-style and all of them were wonderful! They were tiny so you could try lots of them. I especially liked the chocolate pudding stuff in a little cup and the little fruit tart. We were there for about 1.5 hours. We then returned to the room and changed into more comfortable clothes. I went to the pool area for awhile and at 3:00, we met the girls at the miniature golf course on deck 12. It is a really cute little course with lots of large icons (kind of reminds me of the All-Star resorts at Walt Disney World). We then went to a shuffleboard tournament on deck 4. There were only 4 teams total and 2 of them were Frank family people! Haha! Brittany and I ended up winning the tournament and later tonight, a little Mickey-shaped trophy with the Disney Cruise Line logo showed up in our room! I am very excited about that! Dinner tonight was at the Royal Palace, which is themed like Disney princesses. Everything we had was good as usual. After dinner, we got our family pictures taken by a couple different photographers in the atrium and then attended the Golden Mickeys show. The show was really good. The comedian who performed the show on the first night did another shorter show tonight in the adult area of the ship. Again, he was hilarious and we ended up buying one of his CD’s. We ended the evening getting little appetizers and sitting out on deck 12 with Rick and Kim. The girls swam from 10-12 while watching “Up” on the big screen above the pool. We all came back to the room and went to bed at about 12:30 or so.

Thursday, July 28, 2011: Bruce met Patrick for the last time this morning for breakfast. We slept until about 9:00 and then got ready for the 2nd Castaway Cay day. We all got off the ship around 9:45 – 10:00 and Courtney was with us too. We got our picture taken with Donald Duck in front of the Castaway Cay post office and also mailed a postcard home so we can see how long it takes to get there. We rode the tram and the girls all got off at the first stop so they could go to the family beach. Bruce and I went on to Serenity Bay, the adult beach. While there, we got some floats and went out in the ocean. The area is very shallow until you get out further and there are a lot of conch shells but they are pretty much all broken and have a lot of other “stuff” growing on them. We did see one nice big sand dollar but it was brown and I wasn’t sure if I should take it or not so I left it. We looked for little shells and found some tiny cute ones! We stayed there about an hour or so and then headed back to the family area. We met the girls for lunch at Cookies BBQ about 12:30. Patrick and his family were there too so we talked to them for awhile. We ate with the Talberts as well. After lunch, Bruce headed back to the ship while I went with our girls and the Talbert girls to the family beach. We “looked for treasure” by digging out hands into the sand under the water and bringing up whatever we could. We used a float and put the stuff on the top of it and then fingered through it looking for perfect tiny little shells. We found more of them than I thought we would. It was fun. Courtney and I came back to the ship at about 3:00. Brittany, Bailey, and Cami came back later. Bruce and I went to the show “Believe” in the Walt Disney Theater at 4:00. It was good but I liked the one from the previous night better. We went to dinner tonight at Animator’s Palate again. We didn’t have the Crush interaction that we did the first night but tonight the servers all lined up for us and one of the entertainment staff members came in and we got to appreciate our dinner servers. The chefs also came into the dining room and we applauded them. After dinner, we came back to the room and got our luggage ready to put into the hallway. Everything you put into the hallway gets delivered to the cruise terminal for you and is ready to go in the morning when we dock. We kept a few bags to carry off ourselves in the morning. We went to the “See Ya Real Soon” farewell in the atrium at 10:15 but it wasn’t as good as the one on the Wonder in 2008. To end the night, Bruce and I went with the Talberts to the comedian again. He had all different material tonight and he is great! While we saw the comedian, the girls swam for the last time and watched “Up” on the outside screen by the pool. We went to bed shortly after midnight.

Friday, July 29, 2011: We had to get up early this morning (6:00) so we could be at breakfast at 6:45. This was the last time we saw our servers. We took a group picture with the Talberts and then sadly, we left the ship. Boo-hoo! We went to fetch our luggage and had a very nice worker there who helped us get it all to our car. Once at the car, I tried to find the Disney tickets and could not. We looked everywhere we thought they could be to no avail. I began to stress since we all have several days left and we were going there today to meet Kaitlin & Adam. Once in the car, I called Disney and told them what was going on. They told me that once we got to the park today, we need to tell someone at the ticket window about this & they should be able to help us. We got to the Magic Kingdom around 10:30am and the whole ticket situation worked out. With our credit card #, they were able to look everything up and issue new tickets to us. Thank God! We met Kaitlin, Adam, his dad, and his cousin outside the theater and began our day together. We did a lot of things today: Space Mountain twice, Buzz Lightyear, TTA, Monsters Inc Laugh Floor, Pooh ride, Snow White’s Scary Adventure, Mickey’s Philharmagic, Peter Pan’s Flight, Splash Mountain, and Pirates of the Caribbean. We got Dole Whips as a snack early in the day, ate lunch at the Plaza Restaurant, and had ice cream just before the parade later at night. We watched the Main Street Electrical Parade at 9:00pm, shopped in the Emporium, and left the park just before Wishes got over. We drove for about 1 hour and stopped at a Sleep Inn somewhere on the turnpike. We were all dead tired and went to bed ASAP!

Saturday, July 30, 2011: The hotel had a breakfast (no meat or eggs) so we ate there this morning. We left maybe around 10:00 Florida time and after stopping for gas, began driving home. The drive was pretty uneventful except for traffic on the south side of Atlanta. We kind of poked along, stopping whenever someone needed to go to the bathroom or we needed gas of course. We had a late lunch at a Chic-Fil-A somewhere in southern Georgia and a Ryan’s Steakhouse in the very northern part of Georgia. We were in touch with Kaitlin and Adam (and his dad and cousin) most of the way home and we all chose to stay at the same hotel, which was a Super 8 about 20 miles on our side of Chattanooga. We got adjoining rooms and played cards for awhile since the pool closed 10 minutes after we got there. We again went to bed around midnight.

Sunday, July 31, 2011: We didn’t get up today until about 9:00am. Again, we took our time getting home. We had breakfast at Shoney’s by our hotel and dinner at Krieger’s in Mt. Vernon. We arrived home about 6:15pm.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Vacation Days 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7

Monday, July 18, 2011: The alarm went off at 7:30 this morning. We got up and got showered and then went to the lobby for a hot breakfast, which was really good! We headed towards Orlando and made it to our Disney hotel (Port Orleans Riverside) to check in by 1:00pm. We are staying in the mansion section, in the Magnolia building. We all went to the main swimming pool and spent about 1.5 hours there. There is a small water slide there and the pool is pretty big. We then came back to the room and changed and headed back to the main building. We got a card for the game room and bought just a couple little things at the gift shop before heading to the Polynesian Hotel and a restaurant called O’Hana there for dinner. The meal consisted of food brought to your table family style. We had bread, salad, Asian-style dumplings, chicken wings, chicken breast chunks, lo mein, broccoli & snap peas, steak, pork, and shrimp. All the meat was brought to the table on skewers and then served to you according to how much you wanted. The dessert was pineapple bread pudding with ice cream and banana sauce over it. Bruce and I enjoyed the meal. Brittany was mostly OK with it too but Bailey didn’t eat a whole lot. After dinner, we looked around in the gift shop of the hotel and then headed to the Polynesian beach. We found a hammock which we all took turns sharing while the rest of us sat in lounge chairs. We watched the water parade first and eventually saw the fireworks (“Wishes”) from the Magic Kingdom. We were also able to see Tinkerbell fly from the castle! We then came back to our hotel and are now heading to bed.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011: We got up today at 7:00am and got ready to go to the parks. Bruce and the girls ate some breakfast in the room. We first went to Disney’s Hollywood Studios. There, we waited for rope drop and then headed straight to Toy Story Midway Mania, which we got fastpasses for and also rode stand-by. Then we headed to Rock n Roller Coaster but the line was too long so we decided to get some cupcakes for a snack from the Starring Roles Café. We then rode Tower of Terror, went back to Toy Story and rode it again, and finally rode Rock n Roller Coaster. This was Brittany’s first time riding it and she liked it. Finally, we went to the 12:30 showing of American Idol. This was my first time seeing it. We left the Studios and headed to Epcot. Once there, we were all hungry so we ate lunch at the Electric Umbrella inside Innoventions. Then we went to Test Track and rode the single rider line. Next was Captain EO, which I thought was really dumb. We tried to ride Soarin’ but the fastpasses were all gone and the stand-by line was always over 1.5 hours. We did go to the Seas and rode the Nemo and Friends ride as well as going to the Turtle Talk with Crush show. We went back to Test Track and rode it again and then headed to World Showcase. We rode the boat ride in Mexico and then ate dinner at the Biergarten in Germany. I really liked the meal there. It included a lot of things I liked. We didn’t stay in the World Showcase for very long after dinner and headed back to future world. We again rode Test Track (this time in the dark, which was cool) and finally went on Spaceship Earth. By the time we left the park our feet were killing us. We are now back in our room and ready for bed!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011: Today I took the “Keys To The Kingdom” Tour at the Magic Kingdom while Bruce and the girls went to Typhoon Lagoon. I got up at 7:00 and went to the bus stop at 8:00. I got to go into the Magic Kingdom before the other park guests! My tour began at 9:00 and lasted for 5 hours. We heard a lot of little tidbits about all kinds of things at the MK like names on the windows, hidden Mickeys, sounds, foliage, external facades, things behind the scenes, cast member costumes, and we got to go into the utilidors under the park! We also got to ride Jungle Cruise, Pirates of the Caribbean, and Haunted Mansion without waiting in line! We all ate lunch together at Columbia Harbor House, which was included in the cost of the tour. I really enjoyed it! After the tour ended, I spent some time in the MK by myself. I tried to ride Astro Orbiter but the line was too long. I got a chocolate chip cookie sandwich at Sleepy Hollow and after I had eaten it, I watched the Hall of Presidents show, which always makes me cry! I love it. I then got a spot on the street and watched the afternoon parade. I rode the Liberty Belle, which I had never done before and then proceeded to the front of the park to watch the flag retreat (another new thing for me). I shopped a little in the emporium before heading over to the Polynesian to meet Bruce and the girls for dinner at Kona Café. This meal was really good and included steak. The desserts were really good too! After dinner, we returned to our hotel and watched YeHa Bob in the River Roost in our main building. He was hilarious! We watched from 8:30 until about 10:30 when we returned to our room for the night.

Thursday, July 21, 2011: Today was the most strenuous day so far as far as heat and sore feet are concerned. We began the day at Animal Kingdom and rode Expedition Everest, Dinosaur, and saw the show “It’s Tough To Be A Bug.” We also played a couple of games in DinoLand USA. We left there about 12:00 or so and went to the Polynesian to eat at the quick-service place there called Captain Cook’s. Next up was the Magic Kingdom. We got there just before 2:00 and went to Space Mountain to get fastpasses. We then rode the Tomorrowland Transit Authority and Carousel of Progress. Then we headed across the park and waited about 45 minutes to go on Splash Mountain. We grabbed some fastpasses for Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, went to the Country Bear Jamboree show, grabbed some sodas, rode the train, and went back to Big Thunder Mountain. By now it was time for dinner which was at 6:10 at the Liberty Tree Tavern in Liberty Square. It consisted of Thanksgiving-type food and was good. After dinner, we headed back to Tomorrowland. Bruce and Bailey rode Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin while Brittany and I rode Astro Orbiter. Then we all went on Space Mountain. We then headed to Fantasyland (first time in that land this trip!) and rode Peter Pan’s Flight. We came back around to Main Street USA and watched the new show where they put pictures on the castle. We also watched the beginning of Wishes and saw Tinkerbell fly from the castle. Brittany and Bailey bought a few souvenirs from the Emporium and then we headed out of the park to the busses. We are now back at our hotel and are definitely ready for bed. We will all sleep good tonight!

Friday, July 22, 2011: We used our last quick-service credits this morning and ate breakfast at the food court of our hotel. We loaded the car and checked out of Port Orleans. Our next stop was just a few miles up the road at Disney’s Beach Club Resort. When we pulled up here, people were waiting to help us out! I went inside and was whisked up to the 5th floor check-in concierge desk. Bruce and the girls unloaded the car along with help from the staff. Come to find out, we are on the top floor of the hotel which is the concierge floor. We did not register for this and when I asked why we were being given it, they told me that once in awhile when all the rooms are not full, they have some of the other people come to the top floor. I texted our travel agent and he humbly confessed to having had something to do with it and then said “Happy Anniversary!” The room is very nice with queen sized beds and a small balcony. We have lots of room in the bathroom area too as well as a flat-screen TV and fridge. The best part of being on this floor is that every time you get off of the elevator, the people at the concierge desk say “Welcome Home”…..just like they do to Disney Vacation Club members! AND… there is a little room right off of the 5th floor lobby area where we are allowed to go anytime for food. They have coffee very early in the morning, then breakfast items until 10am, then during lunchtime and the afternoon there are cookies, home-made chips with dip, yogurt covered pretzels, trail mix, and Swedish fish. From 5-7pm they have cheese & crackers, veggies & dip, 3 other kinds of appetizers, apples with caramel dip, bread, rolls, wine & beer. From 8-10pm there are a few little desserts, and from 11pm – 5am they have the pretzels, trail mix, and Swedish fish for people who come back from the parks need a midnight snack. They also have soda and water all day long. We feel very special! Once we checked in, we headed to the pool here, called Stormalong Bay. It is the best hotel pool I’ve EVER been to! There is a sand bottom throughout the entire pool and the depth ranges from 3.5 feet to 8 feet. There is a waterslide and a volleyball net as well as several small waterfalls. The pool is sprawling and HUGE! There is another pool next to it where there is a ton of sand and pails for kids to play, etc. It’s like a beach/pool combination. There is a snack/meal bar near the pool and a little counter that sells pool toys, sunscreen, etc. Beaches n Cream soda shop is located near the pool as well. One of the main reasons I wanted to stay here for 1 night is because of this pool. We spent time there this afternoon before coming inside to visit the concierge snack room. Bruce and I then took the boat over to the Boardwalk and looked around in some of the little shops there. When we came back, it began to rain so everyone had to get out of the pool. Bruce and the girls played some games in the gameroom while I came up to the room and took a shower. Bruce and I had dinner tonight at Cape May Café here in the Beach Club. It is a clam bake seafood buffet dinner. The girls ordered a pizza from room service and thought they were quite cool! We spent the rest of the evening in the room (only about 1.5 hours) watching TV, etc. Today was a really good/relaxing day!

Saturday, July 23, 2011: We checked out of the Beach Club this morning and went to Downtown Disney to shop a little. I got a silhouette of the girls made which matches the kind I had done of them in 2004 and 2008. We bought just a few things and Bruce and I had lunch at Earl of Sandwich. When we left Disney property, we went to a different souvenir store and then grabbed the girls some lunch from McDonald’s. We then headed east towards the coast. We checked in at our hotel (Hampton Inn in Titusville) and brought all our stuff to the room. I sorted laundry and headed to the laundry room here. We had 5 loads total. We spent the afternoon here. The girls swam while I did laundry and we then sorted everything and got all the luggage, etc. read for the cruise. We went to a Mexican restaurant for dinner and then drove over to Cocoa Beach just to check the place out. We went out on the beach and walked in the water for a little while. On the way home, we stopped at Wal-Mart. Once we got back to the room, we finished packing and getting ready for tomorrow. We are now headed to bed.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Vacation Day 1

Sunday, July 17, 2011: We pulled out of the driveway this morning at 4:09am. I drove first since Bruce had worked late at the homecoming last night. We did not stop until we were past Nashville, TN when we needed to buy gas and got breakfast at Shoney’s. Our next stop was someplace in Georgia where we needed to go to the bathroom and again, filled the tank although it was only ½ empty then. We stopped one more time in Georgia at a rest stop to use the restroom and then we reached the Florida state line at 4:45 our time, 5:45 theirs. The welcome center closed at 6:00 so we were just in time to get the free orange juice, which was really good! We also picked up some brochures while there. We drove until we reached Lake City, FL and stopped for dinner at Red Lobster. We also got a hotel room here at a Comfort Suites. Now we are just hanging out in the room and will go to bed a little later. This is the farthest we have ever driven on the first day of a Disney or Florida vacation! Yay!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

It Was A Rough Job!

Once again this year, Bruce and I were asked to be judges in our local BBQ contest called Jakey in June. This year, we judged on Saturday night in the Kids Q Competition, the "Anything But" (where the teams submit any meat dish except those judged on Sunday), desserts, and margaritas. I once again had the honor of judging the winning Kids Q hamburger and again this year, it was amazing! There were lots of good entries though and it was harder this year to judge than it was last year. Below are some of the pictures I took (with my phone so the quality is not very good) of the desserts and the meats. I did not taste all of these but those that I did were fabulous!

Bruce judged these.....

I judged had a peanut butter flavor.

This was my #1 dessert. They had a hint of coffee flavor to them and also a filling. They were really really good!

I also judged these beautiful little cakes! They were hollowed out at the bottom of the inside and filled with strawberries!

This plate was really good too! That is a lamb chop with 2 lumps of crab meat and mashed potatoes. The sauce on that plate was delicious!

This is a lobster pot pie! I got to judge this one! Yummy!

Prime rib which was like butter melting in your mouth!

Steak with bacon-wrapped asparagus. Also VERY good!

After everything else, we judged margaritas. I am not a margarita person and honestly, I took a very small sip of each one. The one I liked the best got voted out in the very first round. I think I liked it because it was the least like a margarita! It had a peachy flavor, was frozen, and tasted more like a daiquiri! Those are the kinds of drinks I like.....the fu-fu ones!

Friday, May 27, 2011

Some Recent Pictures

If you are my Facebook friend, you have probably seen these first 3 pictures. Captions are UNDER the pics:

B1 (on the left) and friends before their 8th grade formal

The entire group before 8th grade formal

B1 in her formal dress

B1 (in the middle) with a group of friends at 8th grade honor's night

Here, she is receiving an award (one of four) for algebra! Yay!!!!!

This is when she got one of the other awards. She received 4 altogether that night.

B2 and one of her best friends watching their sisters at honor's night

B1 and her Algebra teacher Ms. Mueller. She was a GREAT math teacher!

My babies on their last days of middle school and high school. Ahhh.....summer is upon us!

B1.....last day of middle school

B2.....last day of elementary school

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Life in a Small Town

Today is one of those days when I realize that life in a small town is wonderful. First, I slept in while my husband got up (not too early, but earlier than me) and headed to our local park (6 blocks away) to lead a meeting for the summer umpires for our local recreational baseball/softball program. Bruce officiates high school softball and baseball games and therefore, is very educated on rules, etc. He is the perfect person to be in charge of arranging umpires for the summer rec games. He not only serves on the baseball/softball board but also on our local park board and is sort the liaison between the two. He enjoys doing what he did with the young people this morning and that makes me happy.

Our daughters informed me that after they ate breakfast, they too were headed to the park (pretty much just to hang out and see what's going on there today). This is not a problem for me whatsoever since we live in a small town. The park is close, B1 has a cell phone, the girls have been lectured about safety and talking to strangers, etc. and they can just ride their bikes and be there in a few minutes.

After I ate breakfast, I received a phone call from Bruce asking me to run B1's softball bag to the park because her rec team (which she will play with when she isn't playing on her other team) was practicing and we didn't know about that. No problem.....not a big deal for me to run it out there since we are so close! I quickly brushed my teeth and got dressed and headed to the park. On the way, I drove past the home of a family I have known my whole life. The father was just standing outside by his garage, doing nothing much. He waved of course. We wave to everyone around here, whether we really "know" them or not. Then after I took the bag to B1, I drove back through town where I had some mail to drop in the mailbox outside the post office. Who was inside the post office but my father, who came out to say hello, dressed in his finest gardening clothes and lovely shoes! Ha! I went on down the street and passed a couple (parents of one of my very best friends) who walks together just about every morning. I waved at them. Then I went to the bank drive-thru where I was greeted with a "Hi Beth!" from someone I have probably known most of my life. I then headed back to the park to walk (we have a nice walking trail) and while doing so, was able to watch B2 play on the playground with a little boy who's father and Bruce have been friends since birth. This kind of stuff doesn't happen just anywhere!

Later when it was time to leave, it was really windy and B2 didn't want to ride her bike back home so we loaded it into the back end of my SUV, kept the hatchback up, and she held onto it from the back seat while I drove slowly to our house. No, not the safest thing to do, but a small town, just something that we DO do.

I haven't put a bit of make-up on yet today and we are soon headed to the neighboring town to purchase flowers to plant outside. I'm sure we will run into someone we know there as well!

Love, Love, Love life in my small town!

"Well I was born in a small town
And I live in a small town
Prob'ly die in a small town
Oh, those small communities

All my friends are so small town
My parents live in the same small town
My job is so small town
Provides little opportunity

Educated in a small town
Taught the fear of Jesus in a small town
Used to daydream in that small town
Another boring romantic that's me

But I've seen it all in a small town
Had myself a ball in a small town
Married an L.A. doll and brought her to this small town
Now she's small town just like me

No I cannot forget where it is that I come from
I cannot forget the people who love me
Yeah, I can be myself here in this small town
And people let me be just what I want to be

Got nothing against a big town
Still hayseed enough to say
Look who's in the big town
But my bed is in a small town
Oh, and that's good enough for me

Well I was born in a small town
And I can breath in a small town
Gonna die in this small town"

(Lyrics from the song "Small Town" by John Cougar fitting!)

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Pesto Meatballs

It's been awhile since I've done a post about food. I did a lot of cooking today so I thought it would be a good day for one of these types of posts. I had to prepare a salad to take to Easter dinner tomorrow. I made one called wonton salad, a recipe I got from a lady who was a student in a summer class I took a few years ago. It has only 4 ingredients: lettuce of your choice, chicken, red pepper, and crunched up baked wonton wrappers. The dressing is sweet and sour with sesame seeds in it. It's really a yummy salad and I am excited to eat it tomorrow as it has been awhile since I've had it. I didn't take any pictures of the salad.....maybe tomorrow.

I knew that I also wanted to make a new recipe I saw recently in a magazine. This one called for all ingredients which I had on hand except roasted red peppers and ricotta cheese. I checked online and found that I could substitute cottage cheese, cream cheese, or even sour cream for the ricotta. I had all 3 of those on hand so that was no big deal. I also had a jar of pimentoas on hand which would have worked in place of the red peppers. But.....I also had 2 red peppers in the fridge (because the salad above calls for 1-2 red peppers). I knew that I could try to make my own roasted red peppers with one of these, which is exactly what I did!

I went online and looked up how to roast a red pepper. I had read this in the past but never tried it so I forgot how to do it. They gave 3 options: on the grill (I wasn't planning to be outside in our awful rainy weather today), on a gas stove (which I don't have), or in the oven using the broiler. This was my method of choice. I basically had to keep an eye on the peppers and turn them every few minutes. When the skin turned black, I then pulled them out and put them in a bowl with an airtight lid for awhile to let the steam do its work. About 30 minutes later, I pulled that black skin off and then diced them. Voila! Roasted red peppers! How exciting! They tasted really good too!

Please excuse the crappy quality of the picture here. At this point, I didn't know I was going to blog about this and I took this picture with my phone simply to send to my foodie friend Katie! I knew she would be excited for me!

I've never made meatballs before! I know that sounds crazy but it's true. The thing that attracted me to these particular meatballs is that they are called "Pesto Meatballs." I love pesto!

Last summer, I had a basil plant on my front steps in a pot and it grew like crazy! I couldn't use all of the basil it was producing so every so often, I would pick a bunch of the leaves and make my own pesto. I froze it in an ice cube tray and now I have 2 bags of pesto cubes in my freezer (well, I only probably have 1 bag left by now). So when the recipe called for "prepared pesto," I have that on hand! Yay!

Look at all the yummy goodness that you can actually see in these meatballs.....the green specs are the pesto (basil), you can see onions, and of course my roasted red pepper!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Pictures From The Weekend

On Friday, I traveled with B2 to Memphis where we met the rest of her softball team. They played in a tournament there (actually in northern Mississippi, just south of Memphis) but didn't do so well. It was good experience though. Here is B2 at the plate when she is beginning her run to 1st base.

Here she is pitching.

I left Memphis around 4:40pm yesterday (Saturday) in order to be home for B1's Presentation Sunday today. Here she is this morning. I have a picture of her taken in this exact same spot back in 1999 on her first day of Sunday School, which honestly seems like last week. Today is one of her last. Sniff sniff.

Here she is in church giving her speech.

We are very proud of both of our daughters this weekend and always. We love you B1 and B2!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Midwest Weather

I took this picture out my classroom window this morning at about 7:35am. Yes, that is snow.....

I took this one at 8:00am (yes really).....

And this one was taken at 8:40 after the sun obviously moved.....

Gotta love our midwest weather!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

March is here!

The 3rd quarter at school ended yesterday! Spring is almost here! I love when the spring sports begin their practices and eventually their games.....that means the end is really near. I also like being able to get outside to go for walks, ride my bike, etc.

A tornado ripped through our area 2 weeks ago and in its path, tore the roof off of the home of the principal of my building. He, his wife, and their 4 sons (age 10 and under) were all OK but it really scared them I believe. There were several factors about the whole incident which just scream divine intervention. Today, I took a pan of lasagna, a pan of chicken tetrazzini, and 2 containers of taco soup (all home-made) to their temporary home. That's how I help people when I can; I cook!

My students at school raised $892.57 for lukemia and lymphoma. Actually, they didn't "raise" the money, they donated it! Seriously.....I set a goal of $6/student (some gave nothing and some gave over $50). With 128 students, our goal was $768 so we blew that away. Another teacher's classes ended up with almost $1200. We were second and the third place teacher had somewhere in the $300's. But the teacher who came up with $1200.....let's just say she did it using some "not so legal" practices. For example, apparantly, her students were allowed to drop some low scores on quizzes if they gave a certain amount of money. They were promised a field trip if they gave a certain amount of money (and our school CUT field trips at the end of last year). I made it be known that MY students gave from their hearts and they certainly DID NOT "buy" their grades in my classroom. RIDICULOUS! Anyway, because they met our goal, we are having a party on Monday, which is only a half day for them anyway so that is good. We are having buffalo chicken dip, chips, cookies, and Hawaiian punch.

My nephew was in a bad car accident about 2.5 weeks ago. He slid on black ice and flipped his truck. He was thrown from the vehicle and most of his injuries were to the bones in his face. He also fractured his hand and his jaw He spent many nights at Barnes Hospital in St. Louis and had surgery which lasted about 10 hours but is home now and recovering. We are thankful.

I have been doing an exercise class on Tuesdays and Thursdays after school. The Tuesday session focuses on toning and using light weights. The Thursday class involves more cardio. They are both great and make me leave basically panting but feeling really good about what I just did!

B1 met a new friend 2 weeks ago at a birthday party and they really hit it off. They have talked to each other (through texting) just about every day since and this weekend, her friend spent the night here last night while B1 went with her and her family to the St. Patrick's Day parade in St. Louis today and is spending the night at her house tonight.

Bruce, B2, and I are about to head out to Wal-Mart, dinner, and Aldi (my new favorite grocery store!).

Have a great weekend!

Monday, February 21, 2011


Once again, it's been quite awhile since I posted here. We are between sports now with the girls so there's been a lull. Well, there's NOT been a lull in activity though as they are both practicing for the next season: softball. And actually, B2's basketball season just ended on Saturday.

B1 has softball practice on Thursdays and Sundays and pitching lessons on Tuesdays and Sundays. B2 has softball practice on Wednesdays and Saturdays and also pitching lessons at the same time as B1. She is also still in gymnastics on Wednesdays and has been taking hitting lessons (she needs all the help she can get there!) on Wednesdays. Wednesdays are BUSY nights for her! LOL!

Since B2's basketball has wrapped up now and we are having a party for the end of the season, also on Wednesday night this week. The highlight will be a "Moms vs. the Girls" game. I might die. We will see!

I've been doing a "boot camp" class after school on Tuesdays, which is a weight and toning class. I like it. I am sore for the next few days but it's a good kind of sore, one where I know I earned it! There is also a class on Thursdays which is more of a cardio type of class. I decided to check it out last week. Wow! I had to jog, sprint, jump, and more. It was intense for me, but I know I burned some serious calories while there! I told one of the women there that I didn't know if I would be back and she convinced me to come back again. I felt like I was slowing down the women who were in better shape. She assured me that I was not and that everyone goes at their own pace and if they are ahead of me, they can loop back and go again. She is right; I will try again this week!

I think that the chances of yet one more snow day are narrowing, which is fine. I find that our family runs more smoothly when we have a routine in place. We also spend less money and I eat better and exercise more! I also obviously get more done at school with my students and we are already more than a week behind last year.

That's about it from here for now. I'll hopefully post again after Wednesday night, if I live through it! Haha!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Playing at the College Level!

Bruce coaches B2's 5th grade basketball team and he does a wonderful job with the girls (if I do say so myself). Sometimes I think some of the parents think he might get a bit more worked up than he needs to, but I know him and I know he really does care about every girl and wants to help them improve. He does all of the scheduling and our season this year has lasted from October into February. We have 3 Saturdays left and maybe a couple week night games before we are done. They played at halftime of the SIUE women's game a few weeks ago (I wasn't able to go because B1 had a game that night too) and this past Sunday, they played at halftime of the Saint Louis University women's game. They only played for about 8 minutes and B2 scored 4 points! Here are some pictures.

The 4th and 5th graders with the Billiken before they played.....

B2 is in the purple jersey on the left.



Running up court.....

Here are all of the 4th and 5th graders with 2 of their teachers. Mr. Eyrich was the honorary referee for them and Mrs. Schmitt was an honorary coach!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Snow and 1st Place!

We had a big snow storm here Wednesday night/Thursday morning. This was the most snow I can remember in a while. I recently told Bruce that when we were kids and got off of school because of snow, it was usually A LOT of snow. Our kids have been getting off for just a couple inches of snow here lately (don't get me wrong, being a teacher, I certainly am NOT complaining) but it's still not like it was when we were kids (wow, I sound old!). Well that changed this week. We got a pretty big one. When we woke up Thursday morning, it certainly was beautiful outside. I measured it with a ruler and it was just barely under 9 inches here.

Front yard

Trash can

Hot tub

Picnic table

Shinza LOVES it!

B2's basketball team won a tournament today. They actually played both yesterday and today and won all 3 of their games. They played really well against some pretty good teams. Bruce is their coach and we are very proud of all of the girls. It's fun to watch them and know how much they have all improved from 2 years ago.

Here is B2 shooting a free throw today. She made 1 of the 2 she shot.

This is the team (with B1 in the background watching as well as Coach Bruce and Coach Mike) waiting for their trophies.

Happy girls and coaches

B2 and her trophy