Thursday, May 30, 2013

5-Year Anniversary Getaway!

Last weekend Daniel and I traveled to Heber Springs, Arkansas for our 5-year anniversary trip and a much needed kid-free (long) weekend. We are extremely blessed to have our parents in town to watch our girls while we take a break from being parents. 

We stayed in a super cute Bed and Breakfast called The Abbe House Inn. Daniel found it online while we were deciding where to go a few months ago. We originally wanted to go to Hot Springs and stay in a Bed and Breakfast but they were really high in price. He shopped around (love my frugal man) and found The Abbe House. We couldn't have been more pleased with our stay there. We stayed Thursday night through Sunday morning. The family that owns the inn were very friendly! We had a yummy breakfast each morning and one of the owners is a chef and if you let him know ahead of time and he's available, he'll cook dinner for you. We asked him if he'd cook for us Saturday night and he did. If you're looking for a quiet place to travel, a little sight seeing, some hiking and good food, head to Heber Springs and stay at The Abbe House. We highly suggest it!

We took quite a few pictures, I hope you enjoy them!


We ate at Chuck's Diner our first night (we consulted Trip Advisor for restaurants) and it was our favorite place!
We both had steak and fries and splurged all weekend and got dessert each night. 

Deep fried cheesecake with cherry topping (from Chuck's Diner). This dessert was amazing!




We hiked each morning in Heber Springs. Since it's close to Greers Ferry Lake there are quite a few trails to hike and if you like fishing, there's plenty of that too. Here are some pictures of our hikes.
Greers Ferry Dam

Collins Creek
This was our favorite trail! It was beautiful trail, an easy walk and fresh spring water along the way.
This is also my favorite picture. I think I took this before we even started our hike.


The next few pictures are continued from Collins Creek.






Here's a picture of the inn we stayed in. There's a couple larger suites downstairs with porch access but most of the rooms are on the second floor. One of the owners and his wife live on the third floor.


On Saturday we hiked Sugarloaf Mountain. They had 3 available trails to hike and we decided to do all three. The first one was up the mountainside and it was fairly steep. Thankfully, it wasn't too long. The next two were a longer but much easier to walk. The other two also had a hidden lake that was pretty.

Up Sugarloaf Mountain

Hidden Lake

While we enjoyed some nice hikes we also splurged and got cupcakes Friday and Saturday afternoon. There was a local shop that had all kind of goodies and a little cupcake shop inside. Oh man, it was so good! We are glad we stopped in Friday and went back Saturday. It was so worth it. We had a vanilla, chocolate "mess," strawberry lemonade, and a chocolate peanut butter. They were great!

Strawberry Lemonade

Chocolate Peanut Butter
Well, that's our trip! We had a restful weekend and surprisingly talked very little about our children. It was a much needed getaway and we're thankful we could get away.

Monday, May 27, 2013

A Post of Pictures

Playing with Daddy's hat. Playing outside. Horseshoes with Uncle AJ. And taking Daddy's picture. We've had a nice weekend. Back to normal tomorrow.

-D

Thursday, May 16, 2013

I'm an Introvert

I've long considered myself a somewhat shy and quiet person.

But I've finally figured out I'm an introverted person. Maybe that is shy or quiet to some. But I've come to find out it's so much more than that.

I used to struggle with that word, "introvert." I'd hear it and think negative about it. I didn't want that label. I thought it meant I was dark and pessimistic. But I feel I'm quite the opposite. I feel like I have a happy disposition and think positive, most of the time. Life and the world around me get the best of me some days. I think that's normal.

I love people. I love being around them, talking to them, getting to know them. But then, after awhile, I'm ready to retreat to a quiet place. I don't thrive on being the center of attention or feel like I need to be around people all the time. That's just not me and never has been.

I like the quiet. I like to snuggle up and read a book good or watch a movie. I like to write and I best express myself through writing, not talking. You could even say I hide behind my writing. I'm okay with that. It's my comfort zone.

When I was younger I used to tell my parents, jokingly, "I'm not a loner, I just like being alone." I wasn't a loner, I had plenty of friends, was involved in sports, etc., but I did like being alone. I don't think there's anything wrong with that either.

A few weeks ago I was reading one of my favorite blogs, Simple Homeschool, and she was writing on introverts. (Read it here). It spoke to me and I realized I'm an introvert. Since then, I've thought about the post on occasion and realized it's not a bad thing. It just is. It's who I am. And I need to embrace it.

"Introverts are not backwards, insecure, or unsociable. We simply fuel ourselves through thoughts, ideas, and time alone. When tanked up and ready to go, we can enjoy people time as much as anyone else. But when we have nothing but people time, our reserves begin to dwindle, which leads to burnout." -Jamie Martin, blogs at Simple Homeschool and Steady Mom

When I read that it was a total wake up call. I finally realized, came to grips and was okay with being an "introvert." I was finally okay with the label. Like she said, it's not a bad thing. It's important to know who you are, how you thrive.

Reading her post was almost a relief. I'd go days with no alone time and wonder why I felt so drained, so emotionally spent, angry, frustrated and just plain tired. I'd get short with the girls and act a way I didn't like. I'd apologize to them but I wouldn't feel much better. Then I realized, I never had any "refuel" time. My tank was empty.

My solution has been to take some alone time, to make it happen. During nap time (thank goodness for those!), I can refuel. I read, blog, start dinner, lay on the couch or work in the yard. I find peace in the everyday things. I thrive on the simplicity of life and it doesn't get much simpler than lying on the couch!

There are some days when the girls flat knock me on my booty! (Can I get an "Amen?!") When Daniel gets home I retreat upstairs for 30 minutes. Sometimes I read and other times I just lay in bed and stare at the ceiling. After 30 minutes I can come down and be a better person, wife and mother to my crew. Taking time isn't always easy but I know when I need it. I can feel it coming. I know myself so I watch my cues and take care of it before it takes care of me.

To all you "introverts" out there, it's okay to be an introvert! Figure out what works best for you and let it work for you, not against you. Embrace who you are. Find your quiet place, refuel and recharge. Learn your cues and know when you need some time to yourself. Take 30 minutes and escape. What helps you recharge? Reading one chapter of a book, weeding your flower beds, washing dishes, baking? Find it and do it.

Are you and introvert or an extrovert? How do you handle the "label?"

Monday, May 13, 2013

I forget how much i love dollar tree

I always forget how much I love the Dollar Tree! I go months and months not stepping into the place then think I need a couple things from there, go and realize how much I love it. 

Yes, some of it is junky. But I'm not talking about that stuff. I'm talking gift bags, craft items and even sunglasses.

I popped in there last week to pick up a frame to frame a craft the girls made for Mother's Day. I knew they'd have the frame I'd need and for only $1, of course. But then I started cruising the aisles. I'd forgotten how great some of their stuff could be. It's hit or miss, for sure, but you can find some great stuff and at a great price. 

Here's the loot I came home with:
2 pack of white glue for crafting (usually $2 at other places)
2- 8.5x11 inch frames (for the girls craft to their "Cookie" and "Gigi" for Mother's Day)
1-5x7 frame for our wedding invitation (I've only wanted to frame it and hang it in our room for 5 years)
20 pack of foam for crafting
2-24 pack cupcake tins with cute little American flags (I'm forever baking and taking it with me somewhere)
2 reusable shopping bags to put our Mother's Day gifts in
2 Mother's Day cards that are super cute (they'd be $3.50 anywhere else)
1 pair of sunglasses (I'm forever losing or breaking mine, why pay more than a buck for them?)

I came home with more than I wanted. But a lot of it is leaving our home and the others will be used by the girls to make their craft items. And the sunglasses stay in the car. So there you have it!

Have you checked out a local Dollar Tree or other dollar store lately?


Saturday, May 11, 2013

Carcassonne [Board Game Review]

Hi-ho, it's your old friend Daniel again, back with another board game review for those who want to look beyond the realm of rolling dice or spinning spinners. Today, I take a look at the game that introduced all of us to the world of meeples. This game with a strange-looking title was one of the first ones I bought.

Carcassonne, at its core, is a relatively simple. The goal of the game is to to score the most points through laying tiles on the table and placing your meeples on the tiles. From the picture on the right (from geekdo.com), the tiles have towns, roads, abbeys, and pastures. Carcassonne is kind of like a puzzle in that when you place a tile, you must match up the borders with each other (i.e. town-town, road-road, pasture-pasture). Once you place a tile, you can choose to place a meeple on the tile you just played - on the town, on a road, on an abbey, or laying down in the pasture. I won't go through all of the rules here, but when you complete a town, road, or abbey, you score a certain number of points. Here is an excerpt of a review I wrote on another site. It sums up my thoughts still. (Note: I wrote this when Nyla was 5 months old.)


What do we enjoy about Carcassonne?
*Game Length - Anytime you can knock out a game in no more than 45 minutes is excellent. Especially in our case. Our little 5-month old girl is not too keen on taking long naps, meaning that any game lasting longer than an hour or hour and a half will have a third player make it to the table - her. This is a great game to play during her naps or at night before we ourselves crash for the night.

*Set-up - Clear off table; place tiles in bag; get scoring track out; pass out the meeples. That's pretty much it. My wife doesn't care about clean up, since I always do that.

*Rules - Other than the farmer scoring system, which was a little confusing at first, the rules for this game are simple and easy to understand/teach. Lay a tile and place a meeple on that tile if no one has claimed that feature. Score and remove the meeple when the feature is finished (except for those farmers).

*Simplicity - While we do own Puerto Rico, Agricola, and other "heavier" games, sometimes we just want a nice game without a lot of strategy. Not to say there is no strategy in Carcassonne, because there clearly is. But at times we just want a game where we can carry on a conversation without getting bogged down with strategy.

*Variability/Replayability - Every game will produce a different tile layout. We enjoy laying the tiles and watching Carcassonne come together. Taking a step back at the end of the game and seeing what we have created is pretty neat.

What do we not like?
There's not a lot we dislike. The random tile draws can be annoying sometimes, but there are variants floating around here that can help mitigate that somewhat. Not to say that the randomness takes away from our experience, but, when you're looking for that one tile to complete a big city, it can be frustrating.

Conclusion
I have Carcassonne rated as a 9. It's a game I will never turn down a play of and will suggest as a good opener/ender when my brother comes over for a game night. It is a game that we will pull out just about every week. It's simple, elegant, and fun. And selfishly, I hope that in years to come my daughter will want to enjoy Carcassonne with us as well. Just not for the next couple years though. I'd prefer not to make a trip to the hosptial to retrieve any ingested meeples!

So there you go. I have also added a few expansions to the game that we throw in from time to time. All of them change the game in a certain and don't add too much length to it. Carcassonne is a fun game that doesn't take long to play and is easy to pick up. Highly recommended!

-D

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Mother's Day Gift (Craft)

As we all know, hopefully that is, Sunday is Mother's Day. Since our mother's don't need anything but love anything from the girls, I decided to make a craft for them. It took me less than 10 minutes to do three of these and the girls cooperated really well.

Gather your supplies:
construction paper or a heavier weight paper
paint (I used acrylic b/c I had it and it washes easily)
paint brushes (foam and a small brush)
paper plate(s)
sharpie marker
document frame from the Dollar Tree (holds an 8.5 x 11 paper)
wet washcloth and a nearby sink for quick and easy cleanup

Ready, set, go:
Squirt some paint on a paper plate. (I used purple for Naomi and pink for Nyla, the flowers that is)
Using paint brush, paint your child's hand and press firmly onto paper. Repeat process if doing more than one picture. We did one hand at a time and one foot at a time.  I kept Naomi in her booster seat while I worked with Nyla.
After completing the hand and foot prints, run to the sink and wash hands and feet quickly. I kept a wet washcloth to wipe off the feet until we could get to the kitchen sink. 
Using a smaller paint brush I painted on the stem of the flower, creating the handprint flower and footprint leaves look. 
Let dry overnight. (Acrylic paint dries quickly but I didn't want it sticking to the inside of the glass is it wasn't completely dry).
Write a note on the paper in a sharpie pen, if desired. Make sure and date it!
Once dry, frame it!
Enjoy seeing the smiles on the mother's or grandmother's face. :)
Happy Mother's Day!

Shhh... don't tell I did these because our mom's haven't gotten them yet. ;)


One of the finished products: Naomi's hand and foot is on the left and Nyla's is on the right.
It's hard to tell who is who, they're about the same size!
I did make one for myself. :)

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Gratituesday: To the Zoo



I love having the Memphis Zoo 20 minutes from our home. We're able to pop over there for a couple hours each week, when it's nice, and spend some time seeing and talking about the animals. It's homeschool at it's best! We can see, hear, touch and discuss what we see. 

I love that my parents have continued to buy us a membership each Christmas. This "gift of experience" continues to give and give with each visit. I love seeing the girls grow and learn more about the animals each time. They love it there as much as I do. 

Enjoy some pictures from our visit today!


Nyla pet a sheep. Our sweet Nyla isn't one to try new things, though we encourage her often to do so.
She really surprised me today when she said she wanted to and then actually did.


Naomi's favorite animal right now is the Panda or "pana" as she calls it. 

Nyla still loves the zebra's. 

One of Nyla's favorites is Maliki the giraffe. Maliki was born in January and we're seeing her grow up. It's awesome.
Maliki is Nyla's "friend" according to Nyla. She's so sweet.


I just had to have a picture of her with her face in the hole. Naomi wanted to but she's a little too short. :)

Nyla first stood in front then I showed her how to stick her face in the hole so she could be a giraffe.

"Flaminingoes" as the girls call them.

Monday, May 6, 2013

I Don't Know

I don't know what to blog about these days. Do you have any suggestions? What do you want to see from me? I keep thinking I want to host a theme each month. For example, a month of all recipes, a month of parenting q and a (not that I'm an expert but I like hearing what others are doing), what I'm reading, organizing, marriage, book reviews, intentional living, etc. Thoughts?
I wouldn't post everyday but 2-4 times a week. I'd like some feedback. Please, do tell!!!

Cookies and Ice Cream

We definitely love our dessert around here! Mommy makes some good ones!