Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The Grand Harbor Resort

Before Christmas we'd talked about taking a mini-vacation during Zach's 'free' time off of work during Christmas break. I'd looked online for a few things to do but it wasn't until after Christmas that we decided to go ahead and do SOMETHING. So, here we are in Dubuque, Iowa at the Grand Harbor Resort & indoor waterpark! We arrived yesterday and will leave tomorrow. A nice little bit of time away from home! I have to tell you that the pictures make the place look way nicer than what it is. It isn't the worst I've seen, but certainly not as nice as the pictures. We're in a Double Junior Suite (or something like that) and to me it just doesn't look like how the pictures show it! I guess resorts have that issue though. So many families probably come and go out of this place. It was the same way years ago at a resort we stayed at in Myrtle Beach.

Right now Zach and the three older kids are down playing. Abby has been really, really, REALLY fussy! I think she's getting a couple of more teeth. It's really getting on my nerves, especially when I had a headache earlier and all I wanted was some quiet! And all she wanted was me, yet she'd get me and then not want me! Here I'm trying to wean her, and I'm not really sure how to go about it, and all she wants is the boob. Grrr. So I'm hoping with the quiet she'll take a nice nap and I'll get some peace. I also hope they're down there for awhile. I went down with Hannah for awhile, as I hadn't gotten to go on the slides and really wanted to try them. My monthly 'friend' decided to come a few days ago so I haven't been able to enjoy everything as much as I wanted. Anyway, go figure that Abby was fine when I was gone but as soon as I walk in the door she is whining like crazy.

I totally didn't mind not going on the slides, it was so fun walking around with Abby. I just held her hand and had her dictate where we went and it was fun to see her explore! She'd stomp in the water, try to avoid the spraying water and then eventually went and stuck her face right in it! They have a little 1 ft. kiddie 'pool' so we splashed in there for awhile. It was so fun to see her fascination with it all! It was also cute when the kids were getting ready to go down a bit ago how Abby grabbed her suit and was carrying it around! She wanted to go play too! But I opted to keep her up here. She needs the rest and for some reason that place gives me a headache (I'm getting another one). Not sure if its all the chaos, the chlorine or a combination.

Well, I'm sure I had more I was going to say but stinker girl isn't being as cooperative as I would've liked and I really want to read more of my book. Please pray for safe travels for us tomorrow. It's been snowing today so I hope the roads are good for our 3 hr trek home!

Oh, one other thing...there's a restaurant attached to the hotel. Which meant no continental breakfast. Breakfast almost cost as much as dinner last night at Tony Roma's. The food was alright, not the best and not the worst and the service was terrible. We opted to no longer eat there while we're here!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Celebrate Jesus

We had a very good Christmas. It was so relaxing. Hannah awoke about 5 and came into my room. I made her lay in bed with us. She was whispering how she woke at 3 but went back to bed. I couldn't sleep well that night either, but not because of 'Santa' but because the rain was slamming against our bedroom windows. She also told me she thought she heard Santa's boots on the kitchen floor! Ok? It's crazy. We tell our kid's there's no Santa and yet they still 'believe' in him. I don't even write 'from Santa' on the presents, but Mom & Dad and yet they still talk about Santa. Oh well. I don't care, I know it's fun to 'believe' as a kid, but we do continue to tell them there's no such thing.

Anyway, Abby finally starting stirring after 6:30 and by that time Gabe was in our bed too so we got up. I know the kids were very excited. They all went by the tree and were grabbing at gifts that had their name on them and so Abby went over and grabbed a box so that she could have something to open too :) It sure didn't take the kids long to dig into and open those gifts! Even Abby was having fun. She wanted her toys out of their boxes right away! She sure loves her toys- a 'singing' purse, a mailbox, a phone, some baby dolls, a laptop. Hannah had kept asking about this one gift that had been in my closet and then was under the tree for awhile. She wanted to know whose it was but I never would tell her. Finally she found out it was hers. I had double wrapped it. She was so excited to get the American Doll bed she'd really wanted (thanks Nanny). It sure is a cute bed!

The boys were thrilled to get all sorts of different types of Lego's and Bionicle's! I didn't see them a whole lot as they were in the basement building their things. Josiah got a space police thing, a house and some Bionicle's. Gabe got Pirate Lego's, some K'Nex thing and some Bionicle's. Zach spoiled me with some Willow Tree figures. He got me one called Brothers with two boys together (Josiah & Gabe). He got me this little girl holding a balloon that he said is Abby and a girl with a book that he said is Hannah. It was thoughtful!

I took a nap with Abby on the couch, read and just relaxed all day. I made a later dinner of lasagna and then made Peanut Blossom cookies for Zach (they're his favorite and I'd been wanting to make them). That is one nice thing about not having people over for Christmas is you can just relax. I didn't really miss my family too much like I normally do! It was just wonderfully quiet and peaceful. Isn't that what Christmas should be? Too many people stress out about it!

I hope you all had a blessed Christmas also! Oh yeah, Christmas Eve we were supposed to go to church but the weather hadn't been too well so we decided to stay home. Good thing we did as it was cancelled anyway! We stayed home, sang some Christmas songs together and then on Christmas we read the Christmas story.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmastime is here!

I can't even remember when I last blogged. The kids got to open a gift on Sunday (they opened one from my mom). They opened all the ones from Zach's mom yesterday and we took them shopping with Christmas money they'd gotten where they bought some toys. These kids have already made out like bandits and it's not even Christmas! We let them open one a bit ago and they'll open another after dinner, which will be new Christmas pajamas that everyone got. Once Christmas is over I think they'll be disappointed that there are no other gifts to open! Spoiled kids!

Last night we had some neighbors over and we played a game I bought with some of my Christmas money (Apples to Apples). It's a pretty fun game. Hannah had us open the gifts she bought everybody this morning. She got Zach the new Indiana Jones movie, Abby an outfit, the boys Lego's and me a cross necklace. It came in a purple box that had a cross on it and it's got February birthstones and 'diamonds' on the cross. It was a birthstone necklace, which she doesn't know, but she said, "I got it for you because your favorite color is purple." I've been wearing it all day! It was so thoughtful and pretty! She used her own money to get all of us gifts!

We ordered pizza for dinner tonight. We were going to go to the Christmas Eve service at church but it's kinda drizzly/rainy out and I can just imagine it freezing and being slippery. I'd rather stay home and do something here. I think after our pizza we'll open the pj's, get baths, sing some songs, read the story of Jesus' birth and go to bed early. Last night the kids were up until 10:30 because of our company! They were so good though, but I can tell some of them are tired today!

It has been a very relaxing week. I got my baking done earlier in the week, and delivered to neighbors. We did a gingerbread house yesterday. I finished another Christmas book today and started a new one. Today Hannah and I made smoothies.

I wish you all a very Merry Christmas! I hope yours is as wonderful and relaxing as ours will be! Remember to celebrate the birth of Jesus!!!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

piggy piggy

Today was the first time I put piggies in Abby's hair! She sat still pretty well while I did it! I had to fix them a few times throughout the morning, her hair is so fine, but she looked so super cute! The reason she's crying here is that she didn't want a picture with her siblings. I dressed them all in their Christmas garb and they all looked so cute. There will be more pictures on my facebook whenever it lets me load them, but I thought I'd share this one here :)
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It's been awhile since pictures...

So I thought I'd show you some of what we've been up to in school. We learned about the Vikings the other day in history. One of Josiah's requests at the beginning of the year was to learn about them. I must admit I don't remember learning about them when I was a kid (I don't remember much of anything, especially history), but it was interesting. They got to make some Viking mask helmets and here are the boys sporting theirs. Hannah said it was too boy-ish and opted out of the project.

As you know, my boys are big Lego fans. They're always asking me to take pictures of their creations. This is an ambulance Josiah made last week. In the back part was a guy laying in there, where he was attached to his 'vacuum thing', which I explained must have been oxygen! Kids are so funny!
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Saturday, December 19, 2009

wine & cheese

So, today is Zach's birthday. Happy birthday to him. He had to go into work as they had commissioning. I thought he wanted to rent a movie but apparently there was nothing good at Redbox. I wanted the kids in bed at 8. When he was gone the boys were just little stinkers and I just wanted to relax with Zach and watch a movie. Well instead, here I sit in my freezing cold room with Abby sleeping next to me (although now she just sat up and farted) while he watches a movie with the kids (Star Trek). I'm so not a Trekkie. I know it's his birthday. I guess I should have sucked it up and watched it with him and maybe, just maybe I would have if the kids weren't going to also. So, I'm whining. Just because I can. So, I sit in my cold room on a Saturday night like a woman with no life. I should read or something, but nope...I be bored.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Unexpected Surprises

Last night we had small group. We were told to come, with a nice shirt on. I think the words "there may be pictures" was somewhere in those directions too! They said, feed and bring the kids but don't feed ourselves, that we're doing something special. I just assumed we'd all eat together while the kids played in the basement. Before we left Zach was like, "I'm not really in the mood to go" and I was thinking "Too bad buddy". We'd missed so much, with Thanksgiving, missing a week and our snowstorm. I missed our group!

We get to the M's house and start to get settled when they come by the door and tell Zach & I to keep our coats on. Huh? They handed us an envelope and told us to open it in the car. They did this with the other 3 couples also. Had us drop off our kids and go out! I did take Abby though, as she was rather fussy when we got there. I didn't want her to be a stinker for them! So, they had a pinata and presents for the kids. They also got to decorate ornaments. How sweet!!! I get in the car and open the envelope. There was a note saying how their business was blessed this year so that they wanted to do this for us. They said they wanted us to go to this restaurant downtown, a real nice one that they'd pick for a first date, one of their favorites. There was a gift card for said restaurant in the envelope with quite a good portion of money on it!

Can you say sweet? We just couldn't stop talking about how nice that was and how blessed we felt! It's so rare to find people who do such thoughtful things, you know? So, we follow the directions and get to the place. It just LOOKED expensive! Definitely not somewhere we'd ever choose on our own! I almost felt weird having Abby with us and hoped it was 'toddler friendly'. It smelled wonderful. The prices of the meals were outrageous! To quote Zach, "And I thought Olive Garden was expensive!" I decided I was going to get something I'd never normally get and ordered Three Cheese Beef Medallions. Zach got Alaskan Halibut. It was good food. I enjoyed my medallions until Zach took a bite, said it was good and that it reminded him of liver or cow tongue. I must say I lost my appeal for the food after that! LOL

Abby was very good, thankfully. We enjoyed our meal and had a good time talking. The only downfall? There were gays everywhere. The table next to us and the next two tables both had two gay couples. I even heard the guy next to us say something about Wednesday night being date night. YUCK! You could tell that even our waiter was gay. I just tried not to look that way and enjoy myself! I must say it was a huge blessing and we were just so thankful to the M's to bless us in such a way!

The kid's had a great time! They were very thankful for their presents. Sarah said my kid's were the only ones who said "Thank you" (sorry I had to brag about it). Hannah got this Disney Princess tea set that you paint. They all showed me their gifts at home and when she was showing me hers she said, "I could use this for my Barbies or something" (it is small). Later in the night I got to thinking about it. She's not at all into Disney Princesses anymore and yet she didn't say, "Eh, I don't like this" or anything like that. She tried to find the good out of her gift! I was so proud of her. She is looking forward to painting it later. She also got a movie that she looks forward to watching (The Prince and Me). Just had to brag about my kid's a bit. Ok, I must go and start school.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Christmas-y books

I've been reading Christmas-y books lately. It all started because we were going to read 'The Christmas Train' for our book club. If you want to read it, you can find a link to it under my reading list. It was a good book. It took me awhile to get into it but it sure had an unexpected twist that kept my attention!

I've also been reading Donna VanLiere's books, albeit out of order. I guess I didn't know there was an order when I picked up the first one. And a tearjerker it was. I had to finish the other one this morning before I began school. Another tearjerker, although it seemed familiar so I'm not sure if I read it a long time ago. And it didn't get me as much as the first one. Now I have another I'm about to dig into and then hopefully I'll get The Christmas Shoes one. We have that movie but haven't even watched it yet and I'd really like to read the book before watching the movie. I also have Karen Kingsbury's collection of Christmas books on my shelf. And a few other non-Christmas-y books. Not to mention a list of books people keep recommending to me. I need to make a list! Seems I won't be searching for something to read for quite awhile!

On another note I had to redecorate our tree today. First, it looked dumb to me and was bare in spots. Second, about 1/3 of our lights would sometimes not work. So last night when I was out I bought a strand. Well, they were too bright compared to the other lights on the tree on there wasn't enough of them. Then when I went to plug them in again half of the strand didn't work! SO, I packed up the kids and headed to Wally World! Bought four boxes of lights, just in case. Good thing too, because not all of those ones work! I was so irritated! Anyway, I got all the lights on and they're much brighter than our other ones were. I was able to fix the branches (I had Zach and the kids do the branches this year but I can see I need to stick to that task), and spread the ornaments out a bit more (again). We'll see how long before they're all clustered into one area!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

busy, busy

I guess I *do* have time to blog if I can facebook but it's so much easier to facebook! I only have a minute to blog now. First to say that we saw deer today on the way to the chiropractor in a field. My kids were surprised and Hannah exclaimed, "Mom, are those deer??? I didn't know there were deer in Iowa!" I'm not sure if she only thought there were deer in Michigan or what! Silly girl!

Speaking of the chiropractor, I asked if I can stop going once a week. Now that it's winter its just more difficult. He said he's seen improvement and that I should be able to go to every other week. YES! He also said he noticed this week was 'worse' and said maybe it was from something I did. I told him I shoveled, so I'm sure it was from that. No more shoveling for me as I don't want to mess my back up any more!

We went to the library. It is connected to one of the middle schools. I know how busy it is in that area at that time of day but normally don't get 'stuck' in it. I thought we'd venture to the Dollar Tree afterwards and boy did we get stuck in school traffic! It made me thankful that I homeschool and don't have to deal with 'messes' like that every day!

Ok, must go eat and run to the grocery store, read our book for small group tomorrow night, fold laundry from yesterday and put it away, give baths...the list is endless.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

snow day!

I guess I should blog about all the snow we got! It is just crazy! Last winter we got like no snow and I really didn't think we'd get much, even though they predicted this storm. Last year it seemed like they'd hype up some big storm but it never got real bad. Well baby, was this a storm! Wow! Blowing snow just everywhere! There was so much snow it was crazy! Yet in spots you see the bare ground because of the blowing! Huge drifts. We were all pretty amazed this morning and to be quite honest I wanted to have a snow day too. We did history and a spelling test and called it a day! Zach shoveled out there and then one of the neighbors was going up and down the street with a front-end loader! He cleared out most of the driveways, which was awesome! I may not *like* our *small* house (although I am thankful for it), but I sure do love our neighborhood!

Speaking of neighborhoods, my friend from MS messaged me on facebook last night. On our old street in military housing there were 5 cop cars, an ambulance and first responder (maybe a fire truck too, I don't remember). Apparently the neighbors said the couple had been fighting lately. Somebody said they thought they saw them come out with a body bag. Hmm...I wonder if I'll hear any more on that.

Everywhere we live we draw the 'record' weather (here we had record snow today) and it seems something freaky happens in a neighborhood. Our Ocean Springs house (you may remember me blogging about this at the time) they found a lady had committed suicide in a garage of a house she cleaned. It was a brand new house that was for sale. I remember walking by it and smelling something weird before she was discovered! In NC on the next street over some guy hung himself (in base housing). I can't recall what happened in ND but I'm sure there was something (maybe you can recall something Kim or Jamie). And I really hope nothing weird happens here!

Anyway, the kids loved the snow. I stayed indoors all day! I was rather lazy, but we're allowed some slack once in awhile, right?

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

singing 'those' songs

I could keep singing, "Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow" and it will continue to do just that. We're supposed to get 10-14 inches by tomorrow morning! It's been snowing pretty much all day. The kids played in it yesterday and now already today. Zach came home from work early due to the weather. It doesn't even 'look' bad out my window but I know that doesn't mean the roads are good. I'm sure they're not. I don't remember hearing a snow plow go by at all yet today and its 3:30! And it has been snowing pretty much all day. I went out last night and shoveled. Every other house on my side of the street had their sidewalks shoveled off and I guess it's rather embarrassing not to have ours! So, I am paying for it today- I'm sore. That's it, I don't plan on doing too much of that job. That's a mans job! LOL I made my kiddos hot cocoa two days in a row and they're getting quite spoiled by that! I hope they don't expect it every time they play in the snow! Abby's been quite enthralled with it, the first night it started snowing she just kept moving the curtain and looking at it! Daisy isn't too afraid of it and actually was playing out there with the kids! She blends right in with that snow! lol I can't believe it's almost dinner time, I just want to curl up and relax on this snowy day.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

time to find a new one for sure

Remember my babysitter incident this past summer? Well, if not I guess that's better for you, but I remember it clear as day. Anyway, Zach and I were supposed to go out last night for a surprise birthday party for our neighbor. Called the sitter Thursday and she said she could watch the kids. Great. Got ready, was looking forward to going out for just a bit, and even better it was right down the road! When I went to get the sitter NOBODY WAS HOME!!! I was like, "What the heck!?!?!?" I was so mad! I didn't take my phone because I thought, "I'm going right down the road to get the sitter, I won't need my phone", not like it would have done any good anyway if nobody is home. The cell number I have for her doesn't work.

So, Zach began to play Wii with the kids and I waited to see if I would her from sitter, meanwhile leaving a message on their voicemail. Then I hopped onto facebook, saw my friend was on and asked what her daughter was up to. Turned out she could babysit! I did have to drive halfway across town but oh well. And by this point we'd missed the "Surprise" of the party, but oh well, I still wanted to go out for awhile!

As soon as Haley walked in Abby smiled at her, walked over to her and reached for her. Then she hugged her! WOW! Haley has only babysat ONE TIME! That sure encouraged me though, that Abby liked her so much. I almost feel like Haley's a better sitter anyway. She plays with the kids and spends time with them, whereas the other doesn't as much, it seems.

Anyway, we did make it to the party for awhile. It was nice to get out for awhile, hang out with our neighbors that we don't see too often. But, I'm on the lookout for new sitters. I need a sitter twice this coming week so let's hope I'm successful!

Oh yeah, when I had just gotten to the restaurant, my phone rang (a number I didn't know). It was the *sitter* apologizing and saying she was on her way to my house. I told her I already found another sitter and didn't need her. She may have a good explanation, I didn't' find out, but I've already given her a second chance. I'm done! I need somebody more reliable!

Wednesday, December 02, 2009


Zach really wants to go home for Christmas. Part of the idea appeals to me, but I'm not completely sold on it. I hate traveling in winter, especially where our family is! I'm not sure we'd have a place to stay, and to be honest the only place I'd want to stay is my mom's. I just want to be in my own home Christmas morning. I don't even know that I want to do a 'traditional' Christmas meal. Maybe I'll make lasagna or something instead? It'd be great to see family, sure, but I hate traveling here, there and everywhere to see them, and like I stated above...winter! I'd prefer to wait until the summer when the roads would be safer! We shall see though, what's in store! I also remember last year when Zach's dad was going to drive down for Christmas and at the last minute got a plane ticket due to the weather. I'd hate to 'plan' a trip home and then have to cancel because of the weather.

For some time I've been looking at The Great Wolf Lodge or some such thing, even before Zach's mentioning 'home' for Christmas. But boy, it is expensive! I remember some years ago we spontaneously went to Destin after Christmas while Zach was on break. That was so much fun! Sometimes those spontaneous trips are the best. I think our best trip yet was the the mountains in Tennessee and that too was spontaneous. So, I got to thinking, "What's to do in Iowa?" I thought maybe we could go the Minneapolis to the Mall of America but that doesn't really intrigue me right now. I could just go for a cabin on a lake. Then I thought of Lake Okoboji. Had never heard of it until I moved here. Now it seems I see it everywhere- sweatshirts, semi trucks, signs. So, I thought maybe we could get a little cabin there and just tuck away as a family for a couple of nights. Then as I search I see they have some awesome little resorts, at least one of which has an indoor water park. That would be fun! So, we'll see what we end up doing. I just know that I don't want to sit staring at one another for many days like we did over Thanksgiving. We sure had a relaxing Thanksgiving break, but it'd be nice to have something to do too!