Sunday, April 27, 2014

Weekly Wrap-Up – April 13th-19th

Welcome to Spring Break, Burgess style!  It’s so nice to have Hayden home with us…it’s just like the old days!  We should have been away on vacation this week, but everything seemed to be working against us this year. 

We couldn’t go in October as we normally do, because Hayden was in school.  So we had planned to go during Spring Break.  When we went to make our reservation, someone beat us to the punch for our usual mountain cabin.  We were offered another cabin on the same mountainside, but it didn’t have laundry facilities.  Then my mom got sick, so we decided to hold off in case we could go see her during this week.  But she passed away about 3 weeks ago, so we were gonna just go ahead and go to the alternate cabin…until someone quit at hubby’s work and was leaving this week.  That mean no vacation at all.  Bummer.  But rest assured that the kids and I were determined to get out and have a great time.

Here are some highlights of what we managed to do this week.


I had purchased some Groupons for an annual membership to Hunt Club Farm in Virginia Beach.  We’ve been there *so* many times on homeschool group field trips, but we’ve never done an annual membership before.  We decided to go ahead and cash in the certificates for our passes while the weather was warm so we could spend some time in the sun enjoying the animals.


The kids absolutely LOVE the chicken pen.  It’s their favorite thing to do there.  I laid out on a bench in the sun (wearing sunblock, of course) to relax while the kids did their thing, and a turkey came along and started pecking at the beads on my sandals!  I thought it was one of the kids at first, and it startled me when I opened my eyes and saw two turkeys stalking me!  LOL


Afterwards, we went to McDonald’s nearby for some vanilla soft-serve ice cream cones.  Our favorite treat on a warm day!


The kids decided to sit and relax and cool off with their ice cream while I ran into the thrift store next door, where they joined me once they finished their ice cream.


The next day, we went to the movies to see The Lego Movie.  It was raining, and we got wet for nothing, because there was a long line, and we got to the window only to be told it was sold out.  Bummer!  We went home and purchased tickets online for a later showing at another theater after my doctor’s appointment that afternoon.  Despite paying the extra fees to purchase our tickets in advance, we arrived at the theater to be told it was sold out.  What?!?  The same thing happened to another family.  It was all a big mistake, and by the time they figured that out, they offered us to go in…20 minutes after the movie had started!  We were both hot about the whole thing.  I had driven to another city and had gone out twice in the same day to see the movie, not to mention having paid extra convenience fees to guarantee my tickets.  We both complained, and the manager refunded our ticket prices…minus the convenience fees!  ARGH! 

I was hoppin’ mad by then, and so was the other lady.  We ended up with 6 free movie passes, free entry for the following day to see the movie with reserved seats of our choice, and a $20 gift card.  That’s what I’m talkin’ ‘bout!

In the end, the movie was awesome, and I’m so glad we finally got to see it the following day.  But that whole day was a total waste.  Too bad.


After we finally saw the movie, we made a trip over to the Peninsula for a day of fun.  We headed over to the Virginia Air & Space Center first.  The traveling exhibit was all about space with interactive elements about cool stuff like comets, meteors, and the like.  The kids had a great time!


We had signed up for the free summer bowling program, and I had paid $25 for an adult pass, but when we arrived at the bowling alley, they said they didn’t have any lanes available.  Bummer!  The kids were disappointed, but there wasn’t anything we could do about it, so went went to Ollie’s to do some shopping and kill time until the circus.

We met Steve at the Hampton Coliseum for the opening night performance of the Ringling Brothers’ Barnum & Bailey Circus, which had a “Legends” theme this year.  We try to go every year.  We made it out for the pre-show fun, too.


We had a great time, and Steve thought it was one of the better performances we’ve seen.  The lion tamer was especially good this year.  He had actual hands-on contact with the lions, tigers, and leopards giving them kisses and snuggles.  It was super cool!


The next day, the kids weren’t getting along that great, and everybody was a big cranky.  I was super tired, having gotten to bed at midnight, only to be awakened by an erroneous phone call from the city at 2 AM, so I wasn’t really in the mood to go out, either.  So we decided to rest for a day and just hang out at home.  It wasn’t so bad. 

Fro our final weekday of fun, we tried again to go to Hampton to do the free bowling at SpareTimes.  But fate was against us once again…there was an 8.5-mile backup at the Hampton Roads Bridge Tunnel, and we weren’t really moving at all.  After sitting there for a bit, we decided to detour to downtown Norfolk to visit Nauticus instead.  The kids had a great time and enjoyed a number of new exhibits since we visited there last, and we even got to see a 3-D fighter pilot movie in the theater there.


We almost closed the place down, so we decided to skip exploring the Battleship Wisconsin and head home since Steve had gotten off work early.  On the way home, I stopped and bought a beautiful potted plant, card, and balloon for my best friend, who had returned home from surgery the day before.  After dropping that off, we headed home for pizza and a movie night at home.


At home, we stuffed ourselves with pizza and then made a bed on the floor in the living room so we could cuddle up and watch a horror movie we’d gotten from Netflix that Hayden really wanted to see.  It was called “The Reaping.”


That was one spooky movie!  Not too bad, actually.  Surprising, since most horror movies tend to be a bit corny and have horrible acting.  That was fun!  We did just a bit of screaming!  Smile


On Saturday, it was pouring down with rain again and was really cold and dreary out.  Sad smile  I had gotten some cookbooks from the library with some promising recipes in them, so I decided to make us some Reuben Sandwiches for lunch.


It was a lightened-up recipe, and it was actually quite good!  Even little 6-year old Holden actually ate the whole sandwich!  We loved it.  Yum!  A Reuben has always been my personal favorite sandwich.  The homemade sauce was very good, and I will definitely be making this again!  I even used fat-free mayo in the sauce.


Saturday night, Steve and I decided to go out for a rare date night.  We went to Cinema CafĂ© with 2 of the free passes and the gift card I got earlier this week for free dinner & a movie.  We went to see Non-Stop with Liam Neeson.


That pretty much sums up our week full of fun!  We didn’t get to do all of the things we’d planned to do.  We never got to go bowling, and we didn’t ever make it out to Portsmouth for the Children’s Museum or the bouncy place out there.  But we definitely got to do a lot of stuff, and we had a great time.  Hayden goes back to school on Monday, but my homeschooled crew is still off this week for an extended spring break.  Haylee has to take her California Achievement Test early in the week, but once that is done, we’ll be free to enjoy some more time off, though we’ll be restricted by the times of day that we have to take Hayden to school and pick him up again.

Have a great week!

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Weekly Wrap-Up – April 6th-12th

I’d like to start off by saying that I’m so very thankful to have a few very close friends who always lend their support when it’s needed.  There’s something to be said for a sure and steady support from people you love who love you right back.  I am blessed.  Thank you.



That being said, I’d also like to thank some special people who very thoughtfully sent or brought me flowers over the last week to express their condolences on the loss of my mom.  Gerbera daisies are my favorite flower on the planet.  Their sunshiny little faces always make me smile, and Bob and Bunny Mallard came by my house unexpectedly on Monday evening and brought me this beautiful bouquet.  Thank you so much for brightening my day!




Then my doorbell rang one afternoon, and I received a delivery of this really special rock garden from Aaron and Patty Burleson with a really beautiful message attached that really touched my heart.  I love live plants, because their cheer doesn’t fade so quickly.  It also made a beautiful centerpiece on my breakfast bar!  Thank you so much for thinking of me.  It really means a lot.  I would also like to thank the many members of their Church of Christ congregation in California who showered me with cards, both when my mom was sick and after she passed.  I am so very touched at the kindness of strangers.  It restores my faith in good people.  Thank you!




And then a couple of days later when I was out, my neighbor and dear, dear friend, Valentyna Wheeler, brought me some beautiful, incredibly fragrant daffodils from her yard that smelled so good, they literally filled my kitchen with their beautiful scent for days!  I had just the right vase to put them in, and I got to enjoy them so much all week long.  Thank you for thinking of me!




And I’d also like to thank my very dear friend, Barbara Sgueglia, who surprised me the day after my mom passed away with a delivery from Edible Arrangements.  We’ve never had one of those before, and it was so delicious!  We polished it off before the day was over.  What a thoughtful treat!  Thank you!




This week started out so rough!  Hayden got up on Monday morning throwing up and running to the bathroom with diarrhea, and he ended up having to miss school, ruining his perfect attendance this year.  It was such a shame, but it couldn’t be helped.  I felt so bad for him.  Fortunately, though, with lots of rest, he was feeling more like himself by evening.  I kept him on a bland diet, and by Tuesday morning, he was back to normal and headed off to school. 

By Monday night, I knew I was in trouble.  My stomach had felt a little irritated all day.  By the time I ate dinner, though, I really wished I hadn’t.  It hit me hard.  I was up all night with nausea.  I awoke every hour with shakes and sweats and nausea, my heart racing, despite having gone to bed shivering cold.  I had awful diarrhea.  I kept myself from throwing up by laying on my right side all night long until the nausea passed.  I’d have given anything to have NOT eaten dinner.  Anyway, it was all I could do to get myself up and drive Hayden to school on Tuesday morning and make it back to the bathroom in time.  I spent most of the day in bed.  I only sipped water, and I didn’t eat a thing the whole day until dinner time when I forced myself to have a banana.  I had a splitting headache all day long, and every part of my body ached.  It was definitely a flu of some kind.  I kept taking Tylenol for the pain and napped as much as I could.


By the time Wednesday morning rolled around, I felt SO much better.  I ate breakfast, and I got the kids out for their field trip to the Young People’s Concert given by the Virginia Symphony Orchestra.


We had several of our friends there, and a great time was had by all!  I didn’t eat lunch, but I had some dinner.  I wasn’t completely over it, but I definitely felt better.  I was thankful for that!


By Thursday, I felt like a million bucks!  I spent the day catching the kids up on their school work.  We were so behind!  I actually ate three meals that day, and I was feeling more like my usual self.

Then on Friday, I was at 110%!  I had tons of errands to run, and my house was in shambles!  While running errands, I still fit in some fun for the kids.  I had to go to the Farmer’s Market to pick out my vegetable plants for the garden, so we went into the local Creamery there and shared a fresh strawberry milkshake.  What a treat!  The kids loved that.  Then we did some more errands and stopped in for a late lunch at their favorite restaurant, Mi Casita!  We were enjoying a nice lunch, and then Holden started playing with a fork in his mouth.  He yanked it out, and out came his loose tooth with it, dropping right into his hand!  He’s been trying to get that tooth out for weeks, as the permanent tooth already poked through behind it.  He was so excited…his first lost tooth!


It didn’t even bleed, which was great, ‘cause I didn’t want our nice lunch out to turn into a traumatic experience for him!  He couldn’t wait to tell his big brother about it when we went to pick him up from school.  He was so tired that night from all of our running around that he asked ME to put it under his pillow, and he proceeded to fall asleep in MY bed for the night!  Smile

When he slipped out at dawn to run into his room to look for the tooth fairy’s gift under the pillow, I stirred awake in a panic that I’d fallen asleep myself and hadn’t put the $5 bill under his pillow (woops!), so I ran in and told him to look INSIDE his pillow case, as I deftly slipped my hand inside and left the bill behind.  He found it, and the disaster was averted!  Shew!  Score one for the tooth fairy! 

It was bittersweet, of course, because this is my LAST baby to lose his FIRST tooth.  Sad smile  I know all you moms out there can relate (sniff, sniff).  But he’s so darn cute with his missing tooth.  Winking smile

I came home, dug up my flower bed and turned over the dirt, dug up some perennials a friend shared with me from her yard, got my lawnmower running and mowed the back yard, and did a marathon cleaning of my house!  Whew!  I made major progress, and I was on fire with energy!  It was so good to be well again, and so good to have a sunshiny day to enjoy.  Welcome spring!


On Saturday, we went off to baseball games early in the morning.  It was such a gorgeous day!  I had to take Holden and leave right after his game so I could go pick up our Kids’ Box from One Harvest Ministries.  There was some really good stuff in our order this month!  Check this out:


A bag of sausages and pancakes on sticks, a bag of steak fingers, a bag of breaded chicken tenderloins, a bag of chicken nuggets, a bag of a natural cinnamon toast crunch cereal, a box of 2 Schwan’s Southwest Panini sandwiches, 4 Bob Evans breakfast sandwiches, 2 Power Ups sandwiches, a box of Tyson mini chicken sandwiches, a jar of peanut butter, and a box of granola bars.  All for $30.50, including the processing fee.  That was a lot of food!  The kids will love it for some variety.


We’re now officially on our spring break!  Yay!  Hayden is out for spring break, too, so we’re hoping to have a fun-filled week of activities OUTSIDE of the house!  Bring it on!  It’s supposed to rain a couple of days and be a bit cooler, too, but I won’t let that stop us…I’ve got a list of museums and places the kids want to go, and we’ll plan accordingly.  Have a great week!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

REVIEW: DVD Combo Pack - Produce and DVD Combo Pack - Swimmers of the Sea by Curiosity Quest

We were so very fortunate to have a chance to review the DVD Combo Pack – Produce and DVD Combo Pack – Swimmers of the Sea by Curiosity Quest!



The DVD Combo Pack – Produce is a collection of three episodes that discuss how some familiar everyday foods go from the farm to the table.  You’ll learn how mushrooms, cranberries, and oranges are grown, harvested, and packaged for consumers all over the world!

Each 30-minute episode will take you out in the fields where the journey begins and take you through the entire process of preparation, growth, harvest, processing, and packing. 

You can purchase this combo pack for just $24.95.


The DVD Combo Pack – Swimmers of the Sea is a collection of three episodes that give you a look at the life of the penguin, the life cycle of the Alaskan salmon, and an intimate view of sea turtles.

Each 30-minute episode will give you up-close insight into the amazing world in which these creatures live and the challenges they each face to survive.

You can purchase this combo pack for just $24.95.

These combo packs are recommended for kids ages 7-14.



The DVD Combo Pack – Produce included 3 separate episodes chronicling the processes by which mushrooms, cranberries, and oranges are all grown, harvested, and packaged for consumers.  There was so much interesting information in these episodes that we could barely resist the urge to watch them all in one sitting, despite how late it was when we started!  I took lots of notes and kept thinking to myself that you could easily have your child write a paper on what they’d learned by watching, because these videos are absolutely packed with fascinating facts you have probably never heard before!  Even for me as an adult, I learned so much from these shows!  I’m going to talk about each episode individually to give you an idea of just how meaty these episodes really are.

The first episode we watched was about mushrooms.  It started by taking us to a large mushroom farm.  We learned that mushrooms are not a vegetable but a fungus.  That was news to my 9-year old (and confirmation of why she won’t eat them!).  The farmer said people mostly consume white or portabella mushrooms, and those were the ones featured in this episode.  Mushrooms grow from spores, which are too small to be seen.  You might wonder, then, how a mushroom farmer plants something he can’t see.  Farmers grow them from spawn, which is a fungus on top of a rye grass seed.  Once the rye grass seed has been inoculated by those mushroom spores, they can be planted to grow the mushrooms.  Makes sense, right?  I’ll bet you didn’t know that.  It was news to me!

The film showed us how the farmer slowly breaks down regular hay by adding raw materials to it and keeping it moist with water.  As it decomposes in the sun, the hay gets darker and darker until it’s eventually black like soil.  The farmer uses a machine to rotate the hay in the big piles regularly and tests the internal temperature of the stacks.  When it reaches 173 degrees, the compost is ready to be spread into wooden trays where the spawn is planted.  Those trays are stacked on racks in a climate controlled environment that keeps the humidity and temperature just right for the mushrooms to grow.  In fact, they can adjust this climate in order to control how large the mushrooms can grow. 

Once some of the mushrooms are ready for harvesting, pickers are brought in to harvest them.  They only pick some of them, leaving room for smaller ones to continue to grow.  They trim the mushrooms as they pick them and drop them into four baskets, sorting them by their size.  Imperfect white mushrooms are separated out to be used for things like pizzas.  Believe it or not, each picker can harvest 104 lbs. of mushrooms per hour!  That’s a lot!  Then the sorted baskets are sent for packaging.

With portabellas, pickers thin out the smaller ones so that they grow much larger.  Portabellas grow very quickly, in a matter of just a a few days.  Portabellas have very thick, meaty centers, and they are sliced and packaged for consumers.  Ends and pieces of portabellas are separated out to be used for things like soups.

The next episode was all about cranberries.  The cranberry growing season begins in March-April, and they are harvested in September-November.  You’ll probably be surprised to find out that cranberries actually grow on vines in fields, much like other plants.  They are NOT grown in water!  However, each cranberry has four hollow chambers inside that cause them to float in water.  So farmers flood the fields at harvest time so the cranberries will float to the surface, making them easier to harvest.  A machine separates them from the vines and then they can be carefully collected. 

Not all cranberries are red.  In fact, many of them stay green.  While they taste the same either way, they are not as visually appealing when they are green, so when they are sent for processing, a machine separates out the green ones from the red ones.  Stray pieces of vine are also removed at this stage.  They all of the cranberries are carefully dried to prevent the growth of mold and mildew.  Once they are dried, they are placed in a cooler for storage.  As they are ordered by customers, they are removed from the cooler and bounced off a piece of wood.  If the berry bounces, it is good.  If it doesn’t bounce, it’s not as good.  The second grade berries and any small ones are generally used for cranberry juice.  Only the best are used for fresh cranberries.  Rejects are fed to wildlife.  They can be fed to chickens to keep them healthy.  Surprisingly, cranberries are an ingredient in over 1,000 food and beverage products!  They are cholesterol free, fat free, and full of antioxidants, making them good for heart health.

The fresh cranberries are packaged in bags, 8 per case, and sent to market.  Other cranberries that are used for Craisins and juices are harvested and processed in just an hour!  Tractors knock them off the vines, and then they are floated into a corner of the the field and collected.

The last episode on this disc was about oranges.  Oranges are picked by hand, because people are gentler than machines, and the growers don’t want bruising to occur on the fruit.  Bruising causes spoilage to occur over time.  Pickers can get as many as 500-800 oranges from one tree over the growing season!  The oranges may still be green when picked.

Navel orange trees bloom in the spring and are harvested in the winter.  Valencia orange trees bloom in the spring, as well, but are not harvested until the summer of the following year.  These oranges are used for juice. 

Growers run wind machines above the trees that blow the warmer air up high down towards the orchard to keep the fruit just a bit warmer and help prevent freezing.  These are used at night when the temperatures are in the 20’s and 30’s. 

After picking, the oranges are taken to the packing house for further processing.  They are treated with ethylene gas for a couple of days to accelerate ripening.  This is just like sticking bananas in a paper bag so the gas they emit will ripen them faster.  They are washed with chlorine and water to destroy fungus.  Then, under black lights, workers remove any oranges that have a yellow glow anywhere on them.  This reveals blemishes or injuries to the fruit that they might not otherwise notice.  Then the oranges are sprayed with bicarbonate water to remove the chlorine.  They are sprayed under high pressure to remove fungus.  Brushes underneath remove dust and dirt.  Foam rollers remove the water and help dry the oranges. 

As the oranges roll by, a machine takes photos of them and determines any off-color or odd shapes and ejects those oranges for juicing.  Then it sorts the oranges into categories of perfect, medium grade, and questionable.  Workers do additional visual sorting of the questionable ones to make a definitive determination as to their condition.  The good oranges become packed, the imperfect ones become juiced, and the bad ones become culled for cattle feed.  Then the good oranges are further sorted by machines by their size, and stickers are put on each fruit to be sent to stores.

The DVD Combo Pack – Swimmers of the Sea contained 3 episodes that taught us about Magellanic Penguins, Sea Turtles, and Alaskan Salmon.  I continued taking notes through each episode, and my notes literally ran off the bottom of each sheet of paper!  These videos are so packed with great information.  My 14-year old son joined us for some of these episodes, and even he really enjoyed them and learned some new information.

Magellanic penguins got their name because they were first discovered by Ferdinand Magellan.  These penguins don’t need ice and snow to survive.  They have 100 feathers per square inch!  Aquariums prepare their food with added vitamins to keep their feathers healthy.  These penguins weigh between 5.5 and 12 pounds.  They eat about 1/2 pound of food per day.  Once a year, they molt their feathers and re-grow new ones.  This requires a lot of energy, so they generally will eat more just before this molting process begins.  They like to eat herring and capelin fish. 

Their wings can be called flippers because they do not fly but swim underwater.  Birds that fly have hollow bones to make them light, but birds that swim instead have dense bones to support them in their swimming.  Penguins preen (or clean) their feathers regularly, and they help preen each other.  They have very short legs, which is what causes the typical waddling that comes to mind when you think of penguins. 

The females are smaller than the males.  Even in captivity, the penguins practice “porpoising,” which is a means of swimming they use to help evade predators in the wild.  They spend most of their lives in the ocean, but they can also rather awkwardly move about on land.  Penguins do not typically mate for life.

The next episode was about sea turtles.  Rehab centers rescue troubled or sick sea turtles of all kinds.  Green sea turtles are herbivores and eat sea grass.  Loggerhead turtles are carnivores and eat squid, lobster, and crabs.  Rescuers add catfish protein to their diets to help rehab the sick sea turtles. 

Sea turtles are cold-blooded and have a slow metabolism.  They have a beak like a bird rather than jaws.  The leatherback is the largest of the sea turtles and can weigh up to one ton! 

There are very few Kemp’s Ridley turtles left.  They only nest on two beaches in the world, so they are very protected.  Hawksbill sea turtles are critically endangered.

Baby sea turtles have a yolk sac on their backs, and that’s how they get nutrition when they’re in the eggs.  After hatching, they continue to get some nourishment from the yolk sac until it disappears.  Once it disappears, they are totally dependent upon their diet to survive.  When they hatch, they follow the light of the moon into the ocean.  Mother turtles will always return to the same beach in which they were hatched to nest their own eggs.  Turtles rarely lay eggs in captivity. 

Loggerhead sea turtles can crush a conch shell with their beak, so handlers have to be especially careful when feeding them or they could take off a human hand! 

Newly rescued turtles are kept in individual tanks so keepers can control their food and medicines as they are individually rehabbed.  Sea turtles can live 70-100 years!  They are the oldest kind of animal on earth, dating back to the days of the dinosaurs.  Sea turtles are protected by the government, so it is illegal to touch one, and even rehab centers have to get a special permit to be able to handle them so they can help them when they are sick.

Sea turtles are surprisingly able to swim at 35 mph!

The last episode on this disc is about Alaskan salmon.  Salmon find their way back to the same stream where they were born when its time to spawn.  There are 5 species in Alaska:  Pink, Sockeye, Chum, King, and Silver.  Most of America’s salmon come from Alaska.

The process of imprinting (learning where you come from) happens in the first five months of life, and they learn the scent of their stream so they can return at the end of their lives to spawn.  They spawn in fresh water and lay eggs in the gravel.  Different varieties like different types and sizes of rocks for spawning. 

King salmon are the largest Pacific salmon and can be up to 100 pounds each! 

Salmon live for 3-5 years (up to 7 for Kind salmon).  They hatch in fresh water streams, but they live their lives in the ocean’s saltwater before returning to their original fresh water stream to spawn.  This is what it means to be anadromous. 

We have fish hatcheries to help ensure that wild salmon do not become depleted.  Netpen facilities help spread the salmon around so they return to multiple streams to spawn.  2-10% of those from hatcheries will return to spawn.  The rest are captured by commercial fisherman for human consumption.  After the salmon spawn, they die.  This is the end of their life cycle.  Each net pen structure can hold 3 million babies for 3 months before they are released.  Some salmon migrate as far as Japan before returning to spawn. 

King salmon have to be in fresh water for two years before they’re able to breathe saltwater.  They eat shrimp and krill and other fish.

As you can see, my kids and I learned SO much information on each of these topics.  The videos were interesting and engaging and kept our attention throughout.  The host is funny and even a little bit silly at times, but always very entertaining.  These episodes are highly educational, but they’re so fun that the kids didn’t even think of them as educational, and they looked forward to each new episode.  They could easily be used in a unit study or as a basis for a research paper.

I saw on the Curiosity Quest website that many of the episodes also air periodically on many PBS stations across the nation.  I would highly recommend that you check out the many available DVD’s on their website!

I also noticed that Curiosity Quest offers a homeschool subscription that includes two DVD’s a month and a curriculum to accompany it for either a monthly or an annual subscription price.

See what other Crew members had to say about these DVD Combo Packs from Curiosity Quest by clicking the banner below.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Weekly Wrap-Up–March 30th-April 5th

Following the death of my mom, there hasn’t been a whole lot going on around here.  My brother, Brady, flew back to Arkansas to see about settling mom’s estate.  He’s the executor of her will.  On Monday, the Ard Church of Christ gave a nice memorial service for my mom.  There were about 20 people in attendance.  My cousin, Leora, held a wake afterwards.  Mom was cremated, and her ashes were placed in an urn in her plot at Ard Cemetery beside my dad and my brother, Jimmy Ray, Jr., who died of pneumonia when he was 7.

I did a lot of crying this week.  Truth be told, I’ve really been mourning my mom for the last seven weeks, ever since her cancer diagnosis.  I think I’m about cried out.


On Friday, the weather was so nice, and we couldn’t wait to get out of the house and emerge from our winter caves to enjoy some spring sunshine!  We drove out to the Hampton Coliseum box office to get our tickets for opening night of the Ringling Brothers Barnum & Bailey Circus.  Then we shopped at the big Goodwill Outlet, one of only 2 in Virginia.  Then I took the kids to Rally’s for lunch.  We haven’t done that in a couple of years, and it was a real treat!  They have a new funnel cake, and we shared one of those, too.  Yum!  Then we decided to drop in at Blue Bird Gap Farm.


I have fond memories of going there as a child myself, and I have enjoyed taking my kids there over the years.  I was shocked to see that most of the animal exhibits have now been removed, and it’s really more of a small park or playground now than a farm.  That’s too bad.  The kids looked around in the antiques barn and spent some time on the playground, though.  Still fun for them!

Then we did some quick shopping at Ollie’s Bargain Outlet before heading back to Virginia Beach to pick Hayden up from school.  We arrived just as the bell rang, and then we got right back on the highway to head off to the Virginia Zoo in Norfolk!


As you can see, the kids had a great time and ended up in a cage where they belonged!  Smile  We even got ice cream on the way home.  After all, a day out with the kids wouldn’t be complete without ice cream!


Gosh, it sure was nice to get out and have some fun with the kids.  It was almost like a much-needed stress release.  These last couple of months have been pretty rough.  We had so much fun on Friday, though, that it really makes us look forward with anticipation to our spring break.  It won’t be long!