Thursday, February 26, 2015

An upside down building and worms in your food....

Monday was such a fun day for us! Fun, but very, very loooooooooooong!

Note to self (and anyone reading who might be mistaken on this little factoid): When you usually wake up fairly early, this will not change on vacation. It doesn't matter what time you go to sleep, where you are, or how much you are supposed to be taking a break. You will still wake up at 5 am. 

Monday started with a trip to the most amazing, most FUN indoor museum! In fact, this one beats Ripley's hands down, if you ask me. 

We couldn't have picked a better kick start to our week. The best part was that among all the fun features were some education experiences, and even some fun introductions to different types of art!

I'll try my best to let the pictures do a lot of the talking.

The first room had some great science and history in it! In the picture above, Hoss is exploring what creates lightning. If you look in the background, you can also a display about the Titanic. On the left side, they have a tank that you can immerse your hand/arm in to feel just how cold the waters were when the ship sank. To the right is a set of three different 'stairways' that show the elevation changes as the Titanic sank, and how hard it was to stay the more the ship inverted. 

This next set of pictures, still on the first level, is from a really cool display about pulley systems, and how the more you have, the easier it is. It was a three sided structure with a metal seat on each side. It showed first hand how, the more pulleys you had attached to the top of the rope, the easier it was to pull yourself up. This was actually one of their favorite things to do on the first level (and throughout the entire museum).

LM and Bug on the way down. Bug loved to get herself up as high as she could go and then take the relaxing, albeit short, ride back down. 

Buddy loved the huge touch-action screen where you could play a variety of games that all consisted of throwing an assortment of balls at the screen to complete it. He probably would have stayed there the entire time if I had let him. 

These fuzzy  blurbs are LM and Miss Priss, jumping in the basketball bounce-a-round. The point was to try and throw the basketball in to the goal on the other side of the bounce-a-round, over the air filled wall. Another fun favorite :) .

LM really enjoyed looking at this time span computer, which showed random acts going through the motions. For example, the one above was showing how ocean-floor plants flower, but she went through the plant cycle, a wave, a glass filling, etc. Really cool :)

Up Benjamin Franklin's face to the  next level...

The stairwell was covered in portraits of famous scientists and non-traditional art.

The second level started to the left with huge bubble wands and juice to make some really great bubbles. I thought they would be totally entranced by them, but they were a little hard for little arms to work. The lady on this floor was very good at showing the kids all the fun stuff, though. 

This bathroom is the weirdest thing I've ever seen. When you go in, the glass is see-through, but as soon as you lock the door it activates the glass and it fogs completely. I did NOT use this bathroom, but Bug did. I bet you can't tell that someone is actually in there right now!

Bug and Buddy  boy had fun riding on the snowboarding and motorcycle rides. 

This cool contraption was a roller-coaster simulator. Miss Priss went in exactly once, said she liked it but would never do it again. LM had the same reaction, but Hoss - I had to pull him off of it with the help of the workers who keep a 3 ride streak limit :). So after going three times in a row, I managed to get him to take a break until after lunch. Such a daredevil.... He does NOT get that from  me, I promise you!

Buddy also really liked the shadow air hockey. He likes the game anyway, but all you had to do to make the electronic puck move was to wave your hand. So while playing, he was also getting a good look at shadows in motion and how to control your own shadow. 

This was the coolest thing. I'm sure you've probably seen smaller, hand held versions of this, where you push the plastic pins from one side to make an impression that comes out 3-D on the other. This one was life-sized, which made for some really funny pictures. Bug liked this a LOT and we saw a lot of her. In the picture above is her face, and below is one of the kid's arm and hand. LM got really detailed with it - at one point, I saw an Egyptian princess, and some good impressions of famous sculpture art coming out. Whatever she could twist her body to do. 

Hoss on a bed of nails.

They also had flight simulators (above) and this fun floor keyboard (below).

There was a TON on the 2nd level, too much to picture. It was like that throughout the entire museum, honestly.

Moving up to the third and final level:

There was a feature on space to start off with. Buddy Boy thought it was fun to lay in the space capsule and look around. What you can't see in the picture is the screen above his head, talking about the different parts of the capsule. There were computers full of different space trivia games, this fun EVA suit to pose with, and some sort of game that Hoss really loved - something about space flight, but I didn't get a good look at it.

Miss Priss :) 

And LM - showing her true colors :) 

Finally, the icing on the cake (so to speak):

The 36 foot high climbing ropes course!
This took a lot of bravery from some of my kiddos, and several times to try and get their courage up, but they all loved it! Except for Buddy Boy - he wasn't big enough. And he would probably have gone the farthest on it :)
These pictures are the best I could get - the rest were blurry or very hard to tell just who was climbing where. I think Hoss made it the highest before having to turn around and come back. They all made it higher than I ever would have - there is a reason why I am not in any of these pictures!

As for the worms in your food - we went to McDonalds for lunch. The kids thought this was as amazing as going to WonderWorks. I never, ever, ever take them to McDonalds. I told them there was worms in the food, but apparently they don't care. Yet. What I loved is that we were able to leave for lunch, then return with our tickets to play another hour or so. I think we spent about 5 hours, give or take, playing, exploring, and eating. We were able to go with one of my dearest friends and her children, which made it all the more fun!

Buddy Boy was almost too exhausted, yet never slept on the way back. This was Monday evening, we had been in FL exactly 2 days time, and they were itching to get their feet in the sand. So, despite the cool weather and the fact that we are so close to the time zone (hence, the sun sets about an hour earlier than you'd think it should), we took off and spent 15-20 minutes at the beach before heading back in for the night.

A tower about halfway through the walkway to the beach entrance on base. The only drawback to going to the base area is that there is about a 3/4 mile (ish) walk out to get there. The plus side is that you are most likely to have it all to yourself. 

We didn't do much shell collecting Monday night, but Hoss found this shell that had a really neat cut in to it when he was able to clean it out (above). He also found a bit of snake skin (below) that he was excited to see, and had a bit too much fun trying to scare his sisters with.

This made for a very long, but very fun day! Note here that when you had a 4 year old, present a day like this to him, have him not take a nap, come home so exhausted that he barely eats and goes straight to bed - he might wake up at 5 am the next  morning not feeling well, acting as if he's sick, and need to take two or three hours to sleep and get some food in him before vacation mode is restored again. :) 

Tune in soon for Tuesday and Wednesday's update!

Tuesday, February 24, 2015


We spent two days on the road getting to where we were going. 

The statement, "I'm going to stop  overnight because I don't want to drive after dark." was blown out of the water on Friday since the trip took so long, but Saturday the drive couldn't have been better. 

We crossed the rest of the great state of Alabama (I see Tom Hanks (Forrest Gump) in my head every time I say that) and moved toward our destination. By about 3:30, we finally made it!

Through the streaked-with-travel-dirt windshield, you can see it there at the top :) 

We are now in the great state of FLORIDA!!!! Warmer weather, here we came!!!
Sort of....

We (my husband and I) were stationed here for the first 5 years of our marriage. When you are active duty military, you make a lot of friends that end up going a lot of places. Rarely do some ever have the chance to go back, or need to, because by the time they might have a vacation to go back to familiar places, everyone else has moved anyway. BUT - we do have friends here still, so close they'd almost be family - from the church we attended while we are here, so on top of the vacation fun, I was looking forward to seeing them. On top of that, this vacation was going to be a very new experience for my children, since we have never actually been on one. It also provided a great distraction and a good time passer. I have found that when facing and dealing with a separation due to my husband's work, it's best if we find a few big things to mark the passing of time. That way we can stay busy focusing on them instead of worrying over time we spend without him. 

At any rate, we made it in. There isn't a whole lot to show for our first two days. We got settled Saturday and I realized my children were suffering from road-trip PTSD. Not a real thing, you say? You stick your five children in a Ford F-150 truck, smashed like sardines with pillows, blankets, and yourself, then drive for a total of 18 hours in two days, with one solid meal a day and snacks the rest of the time. Let them out for exactly 30 minutes, then tell them to get back in. I promise you, you will not have to pull your hair out - they will do it for you!

We were able to relax Saturday evening, though, and Sunday we were able to go to the aforementioned church and see so many old faces (to me - newer faces to them) and it was a real blessing! I considered putting Monday's events in with this post, but Monday really deserves it's own day. So I'll leave you for now, and look forward to re-capping what Monday brought us. 

Happy vacationing!

Monday, February 23, 2015

Vacation - The Beginning.

In the  middle of all the busyness of our life, we are on VACATION!!!!

Blogging time has been non-existent lately, but since we are here and I have some free time on my hands, I thought I'd blog through our vacation. Why? Because I want to remember this week and a half for a very long time. I also thought it would be fun to see how much education can come in to play with a vacation. Keeping in mind, my children probably won't think of it as such, but I will know - and there, my friends, is the trick of homeschooling. Learning without borders, without realization of what is happening, just having fun!

Today I'll just share our trip with you. Not many pictures because, well - I was the one driving. Which, obviously, renders it impossible to take pictures. 

We packed up and left Friday morning and spent the next 12 hours making what should have been an 8 hour trip. We were stopping for the night in Alabama, staying with a family friend that I haven't seen in a very  long time (since LM was a baby, I believe).

 I think patience was the name of the game. The first half of that trip was full of stop-go-stop-go progress. Between road work and wrecks, we probably came to a complete stop on the interstate at least a half dozen times and kept a snail's pace for hours.

This was the first sign that our trip wasn't going to go the way I thought it might.... 

75 mph speed limit and I was excited to see the gauge hit 30. It was really that bad. 

And I'm just gonna tell you right now, these two pictures were taken all at the same time. In front, beside, and behind me. This is NOT my favorite place to be stalled on the interstate. My husband  would probably laugh where he there with me, but I am not a fan of these vehicle beasts, nor do I like being stuck beside them. 

In all truth, it probably added 2 - 2 1/2 hours to our trip. We also ran in to some not-so-fun weather going through Mississippi, and had the most interesting, wheel-gripping, white-knuckled ride through 1 1/2 hours of freezing rain. It didn't actually rain that entire time, but by the time temps dropped to 24 degrees, what had fallen had frozen over my wipers, antenna, and a great outline of my front windshield. I  kept the wipers going in an attempt to keep them warm enough to not freeze up completely until we were able to stop and knock the ice off. After that it was smooth sailing until our stop, thanks to good Mapquest directions and Google maps on my phone guiding me in!

We were able to stop for the night at the home of our dear friends, and I think by the time we settled in there I realized that not only had the trip gone in a very unexpected way, the Lord sure did move in amazing ways to protect us.

The traffic stand stills - they were caused by a Fed Ex truck wreck, and a couple vehicle-to-vehicle wrecks. We also saw where an 18 wheeler had jack-knifed on the interstate, and left it's cargo in the median. The same bad weather that froze my windshields also froze occasional places on the road, one of which we hit just right and would have wrecked ourselves had the Lord just pushed our truck straight fairly quickly and kept the car in the lane next to us just enough ahead to avoid collision.

God sure is good, and I can't wait to share more of our trip!

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