Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Catching up {life lately}

Life has been a little crazy this last week and has kept me away from the blog.  But here's a little of what we've been up to lately:

Our kids participate in Colorado's Options program on Fridays.  The Options program is a program for homeschoolers through the public school system.  It is a pretty cool program and we have really enjoyed being a part of it.

This past Friday our two younger children, who are in 2nd and 4th grades, had a science fair.  We did the experiments and made the presentation boards at home.  Then on Friday, David and I were able to be a part of their presentations.  It was their first times doing anything like this, and they both did a really good job.  But they were so nervous!

Abby's science fair project was about bubbles.  Which do you think would fall the ground the fastest...large bubbles or small bubbles?

(The answer is the small bubbles fall to the ground the fastest.)

Evan made a solar oven and we (sort of) made some s'mores in it.  We did his experiment outside on a sunny, warm day; however, I think his oven will yield better results when it is a little hotter here in Colorado.

After their day at Options, we headed over to the mall to see the art work of two of our kids.  All of our children take art classes at Options.  And two of them had their artwork chosen for an art show in the mall.

We had Bryce's collage masterpiece called "Truck Trash" which is very appropriate considering most of this trash came from his truck. 

And Abby's teacher entered her cute, little turtle sculpture. 

Friday nights are usually our family nights around here.  So we ate some pizza and watched a few movies.   These three really wanted to have a camp out in the living room. So...

Then the next morning we awoke to snow which fell all day on Saturday...

and it snowed most of the day on Sunday too.  I'm not sure how many inches we got, but it was somewhere between a foot to a foot & a half.  The little dug out path is what we have to do for our dog once the snow gets too high for him to walk through.  

This Louisiana girl still struggles to get used to snow in April (and May)!  I don't mind the snow during the winter months, but by spring, I am over it!  However, it is Colorado, so we deal with it.  Summer will be worth it!

 We pretty much kept ourselves inside all day long on Saturday except for the kiddos who ran out here and there to play.  I went down to the basement area and did a little crafting and took a super long nap that afternoon.  Snow days make me sleepy like rainy days do!

Monday began another week of school for us.  We're in the home stretch now with only three and a half weeks left. We can do it!

I hope your week is going well and that you're getting to enjoy some nice spring weather in your neck of the woods! 

Thursday, April 14, 2016

{Colorado Adventures} Mt. Falcon

We never really thought we'd live around mountains.  Being born in the deep south with its hot summers and densely thick woods, we always thought we'd be there.  If we could chose another place to live besides the woods and the country, we'd choose the beach.  (I think we like the hot weather!)

But 20 months ago, God led us here to the mountainous region of Colorado.  We actually live on the high plains side of the Denver metro, but the mountains are about a 30 to 45 minute drive away.  Well, the 7,000ish feet above sea level mountains are.  If we want to get to one of the 14ers (14,000+ feet above sea level) we need to drive over an hour.  Those high mountains are worth the drive!

There are things we enjoy about the mountains.  For one, the aspen trees.  That's all I need to say...the aspens.  Man, they are gorgeous.  People laugh about others for driving to see trees.  They say this makes one "old".  Well, I think the aspens would even change the minds of the cynics.  However, the aspens are only truly spectacular in the fall.

A lot of people enjoy going to the mountains for the snow skiing.  For our family, that's not an option.  Skiing is an expensive hobby.  Then multiply that times thank you.

But we really do enjoy the hiking found here in Colorado.  When the weather is nice, we try to make it somewhere to hike at least once a month.  Even in the middle of the snowy winter, there are some really nice days where we can make a drive to a place to hike.

Recently, we made a drive to a very close mountain in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains.  Mt. Falcon is a little over 7,000 feet above sea level and only about a 30 minute drive from our house.  {Shown above are the Red Rocks which are easily seen from Mt. Falcon.}

Loaded up with snacks and drinks on a beautiful Sunday afternoon, we began the trek up the mountain.  Boy, the trip up is tough those first ten minutes as we all adjust to the altitude changes.  But after a few minutes, our bodies get used to the oxygen level differences and our breathing becomes more regular.  (Well, this if for the older ones of us.  Not sure if it affects the little ones this way so much.  But I did take some solace in the fact that even our active 16 year old son was breathing a little heavily at first.)

 The higher we got on Mt. Falcon, the more snow there was.  I could see where snow shoes and some hiking sticks (whatever they are called) would be very useful.  When we started the descent on the snowy path, it became super easy to slip around and slide down.  One of the kids had a stick and they let me use it to keep me from just sliding down the mountain.  (Because I did  lose footing twice and landed in snow!)

 There was a point on the mountain where the wind was so strong as it came through a valley.  You could lean into it and it would hold your body up.  I even got some video of the girls leaning into it.  It was some mighty strong wind.

If you go hiking, you need to take a few things with you.  Water, for sure.  And enough water for everyone and  some energizing snacks.  We had accidentally left our snacks in the van down below, and at some point I really needed a little boost of energy.  One expends a lot of energy hiking at these levels, especially going up hill.  I was kicking myself for leaving those snacks in the van!

Also, be sure to dress in layers.  We always dress for warm and colder weather on the hike. Make sure you wear appropriate shoes.  Some of my kiddos learned that the hard way on this trip.  If they had just listened to Mom.

One of the coolest things about the hike on Mt. Falcon was that we could see the city of Denver from the mountain. 

We want to head back to Mt. Falcon for another hike soon.  But this time we will enter another entrance because there are some ruins of a house that was built before one of the world wars.  It's fun to explore those ruins.

I know as long as we are in Colorado that we will take advantage of the hiking here and soaking in a climate that is very different from what we have known most of our lives. 

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

What's happening over on the other blog {planners, essential oils, books, and gardens}

Good morning!

 I wanted to share what's going on over at my other blog, simply & truly {home}, just in case some of it might sound interesting to you.

I wrote about gardening in Colorado.  Even though I've been gardening for a good portion of my life, making the move from zone 8 to zone 5 has thrown me for a loop!  I'm having to relearn everything I've ever learned about gardening in order to grow things in this new climate.  I do realize this post only appeals to those in maybe one of these might be more helpful to you:

I've also written about using planners to run your household.  What's funny is that the day I wrote this post, I had made a planning mistake with an appointment!  That cracks me up!  However, I have been bitten by the pretty planner bug.  And they do help me keep all of my ducks in a row...most of the time.

We've been using essential oils for about a year now.  I shared our top five favorites oils for diffusing.

And you know how I love books!  Here are the books I read in the months of February and March!

That's it for today.  I'll be back tomorrow to share about one of our Colorado adventures!

Happy Tuesday!  I hope you have a great day!

Monday, April 11, 2016

Denver Museum of Nature & Science {field trip}

Last Monday, David had taken the day off from work because we had an afternoon appointment.  ( I need to point out that the appointment didn't actually happen on that day either, because I had written the event down on the wrong day in my planner.  And after I wrote this post about planners too.  I thought that was pretty funny to write a post about planning and then make a planning mistake! But oops too!)

Since David was off, he took the younger four kids on a field trip to the Denver Museum of Nature and Science.  The first time we visited the museum, we bought the membership pass because a pass costs about the same as one visit for a family our size.  It's nice to go back over the year and not have to pay again because we have a pass! 

What did I do while they were gone?  I had a teacher work day!  That was nice too.

David and the kids started with a picnic at the city park by the museum.  It was a beautiful spring day in the Denver Metro too!

They fed the geese.  And from what I understand the geese freaked Abby out just a bit.  I wish I had a picture of her standing on the park bench.

After David and the kids had soaked up the sunshine and eaten their fill, they headed over to the museum.

The museum has some incredible dinosaur skeletons in the prehistoric exhibit.  They also have this very strange looking creature.  Every time we visit, we must walk through this part before we go to the new exhibits.

We thought it was funny that the kids found information about Avery Island which is in Louisiana.   (I actually visited Avery Island a very, very long time ago.  Avery Island is where they make Tobasco, and I went with a group to tour the Tobasco plant.  It was very cool...and spicy!  Literally, the air was spicy from all the peppers.  Even though we toured the gardens at Avery Island in the rain, they were beautiful too!  But this was at least 20+ years ago.  I have no idea how they look now.)

And this is a Louisiana swamp.

The kids also decided to wrestle a very long snake.

And they did a little adventurous rock climbing too!

 David and the kids had a fun day!  I love when we can throw in a field trip and take a break from the routine during the school year!

Monday, April 4, 2016

Blog updates {and a new blog}

Good morning!  So if you've been around here for a while, you know I've made a few blog moves here and there. 

Yep.  I'm the queen of blog moves.  However, I believe these are my last moves for quite some time! That's the plan any way!

I have decided to come back to this blog and use it as a place to journal about our family, our adventures, and my random thoughts. 

But I've also decided to have a blog that has more of a focus.  The focus of that blog will be all about home. 

I'll be writing about:

  • home and family 
  • homeschooling
  • garden & hobbies (I wanted to say homesteading, but since we aren't at that point yet, I didn't feel I needed to use that as it could be misleading.  But if you've been around my blogs for a while, you know this is a dream of mine and David's.)
  • frugal living & finances 
  • faith
  • and other random things as they fit into home & family life

My purpose for starting that new blog is two fold.  One, I need to kick a few of these areas into shape in our home life.  Some of them are flying along nicely, but other areas are in need of some reform.  So the blog will be written from a been there/done that point of view AND a here now/doing that point of view. 

Two, I want to share what I've learned and what I'm learning with others who may be in similar areas of life.  I'm hoping it will be a place of inspiration and encouragement for others. 

So I hope you'll stay here with me, and I hope you'll join me over on the new blog too.  I plan to keep the two connected so that it will be easy to move between the two blogs.  That has not been done yet, but it is on my to-do list!

Thank you to those who have stuck with me through all of these changes and given me space to write my thoughts.  And thank you to those who read the words I write.  I write because I find it fun to put my thoughts down and to illustrate them with photos.  But it's even more fun knowing someone reads your words.  Thank you for allowing me that opportunity!

I hope to see you over on my new space on the web!  I'm excited about the plans I have for that blog!

Have you heard of Influnester? {and the Treat VoxBox}

Have you heard of Influenester?  A few months back I saw where a friend of mine was posting about some products and using a hashtag for Influenester.  And being the nosy person I am, I decided to check it out.

I found out that Influenester will send you items to try out and review on social media.  I thought it sounded like fun so I signed up!

I received my first box that had some really yummy treats in it such as Popchips, Werther's Chewy Candies, a healthy snack bar, a coupon for a free guacamole, and a coupon for a free bag of sweet potato fries.  It was a great box!  I didn't do super great on getting it out on social media, so I figured that they wouldn't pick me for another box.

However, they just sent a new box to me called the Treat VoxBox!

Here's a look at what's in it:

(Just to let you know...I am sent these items free of charge for review purposes only.  These are truly my thoughts. I enjoy getting to try out new items so I'm sharing my experiences with you all.  Perhaps you would like to sign up too!  You can go here to apply. And that is not an affiliate link.  Just sharing with you because I think this is fun!)

So the first thing I pulled out and tried was the Hills Bros. Cappuccino K-cups.  Oh my goodness!  The salted caramel cappuccino was so delicious!  Emma, my oldest daughter tried the french vanilla which she enjoyed also.  I've tried other cappuccino mixes for the Keurig made by other companies, and the artificial sweetener was not so great.  But these were sweetened just right!

I've not tried the drink mixes yet, but since I like a sweet afternoon cup of coffee, I'm sure it won't be much longer before I do!  And because English Toffee, y'all!  Yum!

There were also these teas by Yogi that I haven't tried yet.  I sometimes reach for a hot tea when I'm just not feeling like an afternoon cup of coffee.  And they're good for the skin too!  A win in my book!

One of my kids already tried to sneak the Yum-V's probiotic chews. (Guess they thought I wouldn't notice.)  Since they taste like chocolate, I bet they'll think they're just eating candy.  I'll have to post a picture to Instagram documenting their reactions. 

There was also a coupon for one free Country Crock Spread.  I have to be honest, I don't use margarine much here.  But I'm going to try it out since I've got a coupon for a free one.  Maybe I'll make these oatmeal chocolate chips cookies I've been craving with the margarine sticks instead of buying the spread.

 I have battled dry skin since moving to Colorado, so I was glad to try out the Weleda Pomegranate Regenerating Hand Cream.  I'm very particular about hand creams because I need them to actually work, and I don't want my hands to feel weird after I use them.  The Weleda Hand Cream fit my high expectations for hand creams and lotions.

So that's what was in my Treat VoxBox from Influenester!  If you want to learn more about signing up with Influnester, just follow the link.  I don't receive anything from you signing up, I just want to share!

I received these products complimentary from Influenester for testing purposes.  

Thursday, March 31, 2016

That time we survived the sprizzard of 2016

A few months back, Colorado was predicted to receive a blizzard.  Well, you can imagine how us former Louisiana folks reacted to that!  I mean, if it snows even a little in Louisiana, the electricity goes out, the water goes out, and the roads become dangerous. Louisiana is not prepared for snow because they just don't need to be.  Snow is a rarity there, not something that happens quite a few times every year like it does here in Colorado. In Louisiana, we get prepared for impending snow.

So when our first Colorado blizzard was slated to occur, and being the Louisiana born & raised people we are, we made sure we had food and plenty of firewood.  Sure, we had been through quite a few snow storms since our move to Colorado, and we had not lost electricity or water yet; but this was a blizzard, y'all!  We made sure we were prepared for the worst.

However, the blizzard came and went, and it was just like any snow storm that we had had up to that point, perhaps with a little more wind than normal.

Then we had a second prediction of a blizzard, and the result of that blizzard was pretty much the same as the first.

So when the weather reports starting saying we were in for a third blizzard, we didn't really prepare.  We had food and water already.  We only had two pieces of wood though.   Our experience so far told us that this wouldn't be much different than what we had already seen.

On the morning of the spring blizzard (sprizzard), Dave and I were up early as he got ready to head out to work.  I was worried because I could tell that this blizzard was different from the others.  I didn't want him to leave, but Colorado rarely shuts anything down for snow, so off to work he went.

The wind was incredibly strong, and it was blowing snow all over the place!  It was blowing so hard that snow was sticking to the sides of the fences and houses. 

And the snow!  Every time I looked outside, the snow was higher and higher on our back porch.  I used the grill as a measuring stick to send pictures to my parents of the accumulations. It just kept getting higher and higher and higher.

I started to get a little worried too.  Dave had left for work that morning, and I wanted him to come home before it got to where he couldn't get home.  His normal morning commute to work is about 30 minutes.  That morning, his commute to work was an hour and a half!  Coloradans drive in the snow, but a morning commute in snow is very, very slow (especially a blizzard).

What was funny was that the dog would not go outside to take care of business.   He stood at the door and would just back away.  I even threw him out on the back stoop, but he high-tailed it right back in. 

So we got the great idea that we could take the dog out the front door where the snow was not as high as it was in the back.  I dressed myself up in everything I had to stay warm, put the dog on a leash and took him out front.  Did he take care of his business?  No way!  He just ran around here and there and everywhere, so I brought him back into the house with both of us wet from the driving snow.

When David got home, he dug a few trails in the backyard for Snowball, and he promptly ran out and finally took care of business!

Around lunchtime, David was allowed to go home as they realized that the blizzard was not going to slack up, and it was possible that people could quite possibly have trouble getting back home.  They had already decided a few people would need hotel rooms since it would be too hard for them to return home.

Since we live about eight miles from David's work, he began the journey home. Surely, he can make the eight mile drive!  Remember when I said the commute takes him about 30 minutes?  Well, the commute home was over two and half hours long!  And to top it off, he couldn't get the van close to our house because all of the inclined roads in the neighborhood kept the van from climbing hills to our house.  He actually parked a few roads over after he and our boys (the boys had walked to where he was in our neighborhood) dug the van out of the banked snow.

But do you know what I witnessed on that day of the sprizzard of 2016?  I saw community.  The people here in Colorado helped each other out.  It's not unusual to have your car go off road, or get stuck in a snow bank, or even stuck in an intersection during heavy snows.  It's also not unusual to have someone jump out of their car to give you a push or for someone to help dig your car out.  Yes, even in the blowing, cold snow, someone will lend a hand to a driver in need.  David and our guys were both on the giving and receiving end of help that day.

And when David and the guys finally got home, they were tired, soaking wet, and cold; but very happy to have witnessed a little community and help that day.  Because you truly start to feel more at home in a place when you connect with the people around you. 

So yes, we have survived our first ever blizzard.  It was a new adventure for us, which is something we've had a lot of since we've moved to Colorado!  But it is also something we will never forget as we experienced a new weather phenomenon and connected with our fellow Coloradans.

All pictures were taken during or after the blizzard.  (Fuzzy looking pictures are the blowing snow.)  We got about 15 or so inches of snow that day ( with snow banks over two feet), and we never lost electricity or water!

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