Sunday, October 25, 2015

Join the 2016 Schoolhouse Review Crew!!!

Attention all homeschool bloggers!  If you blog regularly, homeschool at least one child, and enjoying sharing your opinions about curriculum with others, you may be just the kind of person to join the 2016 Schoolhouse Review Crew!  This is the final week to apply, so don’t delay!  Click the graphic below.

2016 Crew Application Banners

It’s really a great way to try out new products with your kids without the expense of finding out what works for each child, and you can give back to the homeschooling community by sharing your honest feedback on the products you try.  I’ve been on the Crew since 2012, and it’s been a wonderful, enriching, and fulfilling experience for my family.  And it doesn’t have to be a long-term commitment…Crew members choose whether or not to re-apply each year.  So give it a try and see if it’s right for your family!

Good luck!

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

REVIEW: Skin Clear Cream, Manuka Honey Propolis Soap, and Emu Oil Shampoo and Emu Oil Leave-In Conditioner by Koru Naturals

I was very happy to find out I would get to try out more products from Koru Naturals.  I reviewed their Skin Clear Cream, Manuka Honey Propolis Soap, and the Emu Oil Shampoo and Emu Oil Leave-In Conditioner set.



Koru Naturals offers a vast array of all-natural health and beauty products.  I reviewed the Emu Oil and Pure Lanolin Lip Balm earlier this year, and I absolutely loved them.  This time, I used:

Skin Clear Cream:  a 4 oz. jar of moisturizing cream that is very effective for acne-prone skin, but also as a day/night moisturizer; contains raw, unpasteurized Manuka honey, pure steam-distilled Manuka Oil, and other botanical ingredients.  Available for $19.20.

Manuka Honey Propolis Soap:  a 4.93 oz. bar soap with intense moisturizing and skin protective properties; contains Manuka Honey and Propolis from bee hives.  Available for $7.90.

Emu Oil Shampoo and Emu Oil Leave-In Conditioner:  an 8 oz. bottle of shampoo and a 4 oz. bottle of leave-in conditioner spray that provide protection for damaged hair with key ingredients like emu oil, keratin, white tea extract, and others.  Available for $17.10 for the set.



When I received these products, I got started right away with putting them to work.  I should mention first that I have very sensitive skin.  Because of that, I’ve always been limited to the kinds of soaps that I can cleanse with in the bath.  The list of soaps I can use if fairly limited, because they cause intense itching in sensitive areas.  I’ve had this sensitivity since I was a kid, so I try to stick with natural soaps without a lot of chemical ingredients, and soaps that provide moisturizer for my skin without artificial scents if I can help it.  Often, I end up with plain glycerin soaps or those with botanicals like real lavender in them.  So since that’s my situation, I was a bit nervous to try another new soap.  Enter the Manuka Honey Propolis Soap.

Let me say that I was pleasantly surprised that I had NO itching at all for the entire review period, and I used this soap for daily cleansing in the bath.  I was so happy!  In addition to not having any irritation from the soap, it was a wonderful soap to use.  It had such a creamy texture and lathered up easily with a thick, creamy foam on my washcloth.  It felt great on my skin!  And the smell is just amazing…it has the intense smell of pure honey.  I loved it!  This one is definitely a keeper for me.  And I would say that after about 6 weeks of daily use, I am probably about halfway through the bar.  That’s pretty great for a bar that lathers up so well.

The next order of business was the Emu Oil Shampoo & Emu Oil Leave-In Conditioner set.  My hair is very long right now because I haven’t had it cut at all for over a year and a half.  That equals lots of damage from split ends.  It’s also naturally wavy, and it has a tendency to get frizzy from the blow dryer.  I generally have to use a very thick, heavy conditioner to control the frizzies, so I wasn’t sure how well this would work for me.  But to my surprise again, both products were wonderful! 

The shampoo was not at all what I expected.  It was thin…almost watery in texture.  I always shampoo my hair twice and then condition it once, and I wash it every other day, so I wasn’t sure how long the small bottle would last.  I applied the shampoo the first time, and I was shocked that it didn’t feel at all like any shampoo I’d used.  It didn’t lather up at all on the first application, and I wasn’t sure it was cleaning my hair at all.  But when I applied it the second time, it lathered up beautifully, which showed me that the first application had indeed effectively removed all of my hair spray residue.  I was duly impressed!  And it didn’t seem like it took a lot of shampoo, either, even though I did two applications. 

It seemed strange to me to get out of the tub without putting conditioner in my hair, but I followed the directions and applied the sprayable conditioner to my damp hair afterwards.  I was careful to apply it most to the ends of my hair where there was the most damage, but also working it into my scalp, as well.  I was amazed at how soft it made my hair feel right away!  It gave it a silky sort of texture, and it smelled great.  Once my hair dried and it continued to have that soft texture, I was hooked!  It was not frizzy, either, and I didn’t have to have that heavy conditioner feeling I was used to.  Now I was my hair every other day, but that conditioner continued to make my hair look great until I washed it again.  Impressive!  Can I just say that I love this stuff?  To my surprise, both bottles are only about halfway gone after about 6 weeks of use every other day.  And just this weekend, someone I see regularly asked me if I was doing something different with my hair, because she thought it looked so pretty and noticeably different.  I said no, I haven’t done anything except let it grow out and use these incredible natural hair products!  That was pretty cool!

The final product to try out was the Skin Clear Cream.  While this product’s main purpose is to help clear up acne-prone skin, it can also be used as a day/night moisturizer.  Note, though, that it should only be used by those age 12 and up.  I don’t have a big problem with acne all the time since I’m in my 40’s, but I do periodically have breakouts on my face in conjunction with PMS.  When I opened the jar, I noticed there’s an inner plastic lid and a small plastic paddle applicator.  Right away, I noticed the very pleasant, clean-smelling scent of the cream.  It’s fairly thick but very easily spreadable, and I appreciated the inclusion of the applicator so you don’t contaminate the contents with your hands.  For this reason, I kept the clear inner lid and applicator inside, just as they were when I first opened the jar.  I began using this mainly for spot treatment in the most vulnerable areas of my face…on my chin, my nose, and at my temples.  I did notice that my acne seemed to clear up more quickly than usual, even when not using my usual acne treatment medication.  So by the time my next PMS cycle came around, I had begun using the cream in those same areas as a daily prevention, and low and behold, I didn’t even break out at all!  Now that’s something!  And I have gotten so I really enjoy that clean, fresh smell of it on my face when I go to bed.  I’ve only been using it at night, but it does recommend that you use it twice daily.

Now my teenage son, Hayden, is another story.  He is 16, so he has much more intense breakouts, not only on his face, but largely on the backs of his shoulders, arms, and back.  Those areas had really gotten to be more of an issue for him than his face.  So I talked him into trying this out after his shower at night.  He reluctantly let me apply it on his arms, back, and shoulders, and wow!  We were both amazed that right away, you could see that by the next morning, the redness and inflammation of the breakout had really subsided.  And with subsequent applications, we saw even more improvement.  Not only did the large breakouts begin to clear up in a hurry, but the worst of it didn’t even return!  He had only smaller and far less irritated breakouts.  He noticed such a difference, in fact, that he started coming to get the jar and was using it all on his own!  He was very pleased with the results, and I was absolutely amazed at the improvement!  The difference was clearly visible, and I can see that this is a product we’ll continue to use in the future.  In addition, I can hardly tell that we’ve used any of the cream, even after 6 weeks of steady use by two people, because just a tiny bit of it truly goes a long, long way.  This jar will last us for a long time!  And of course, I would much rather we be using this natural product than a bunch of chemical products that contain harsh ingredients like salicylic acid.  No thank you!

I truly feel privileged to have had the opportunity to use all of these wonderful products!  And now my so is a believer, too.  Their effectiveness is unquestionable in my book, and they smell great and feel wonderful on our skin and hair.  I would recommend all of them to anyone!  I continue to fall in love with this company’s products.

See what other Crew members have to say about these and other great products from Koru Naturals by clicking the banner below.

Monday, October 19, 2015

REVIEW: The Fun Spanish by Brookdale House


Haylee was really interested in taking a look at The Fun Spanish by Brookdale House.



The Fun Spanish is a fun and creative workbook that teaches elementary students to build their Spanish vocabulary, learn prepositions, how to conjugate verbs, as well as the fundamental structure of Spanish sentences.  All this is done through entertaining phrases and sentences mixed with demonstrating their understanding through drawing.

This program is based on the principles of Charlotte Mason and teaches students one Spanish phrase at a time.  It uses everyday vocabulary words that are common in the life of a child.  It introduces an average of 5 new words daily and has the student manipulate them through copying, illustrating, and memorizing.

You can take a look at a sample lesson and see how funny it can be!  The humor and silliness of it attracts kids and keeps them engaged while they slowly build their vocabulary and sentence structure.

This workbook is available as a printable e-book for just $14.95, or as a printed book for just $19.95.



Haylee was already doing another Spanish program for our homeschool, but when the opportunity to try out Fun Spanish came along, she jumped at the chance to do it once she saw that there was going to be drawing involved!  She’s the little artist in the family, so I knew this would be right up her alley.

DSCF4417I should start by telling you how this program is laid out.   I received the e-book version, so the first thing I did was print out the entire workbook and spiral bind it with a laminated cover.  I made it pink to make Haylee happy.  She likes things with color.

In the front of the workbook, there’s an introduction that explains the concept behind the program.  Then there are some helpful suggestions for memorization and a quick review of pronunciation and grammar rules.  There’s also a suggested schedule based on whether you want the course to last one semester or a full year.  There are a total of 17 lessons, so you can either complete one lesson per week or spread each lesson over two weeks by inserting extra review between each model of the lesson. 

Each lesson contains 5 mini-lessons, and the first 4 of those consists of a 2-page spread of verb conjugation, vocabulary, and translation practice that includes drawing an illustration of the sentence you’ve translated.

Haylee sat down the very first night and just went to town with this workbook!  I could hardly get her to stop.  She said DSCF4418it was so much fun that she wanted to keep going!  I decided to let her take the lead on it and go at her own pace, as long as she didn’t stop in the middle of a model. 

In the verb conjugation exercise, she was given examples of how to conjugate a particular verb, showing it in both English and Spanish, and then she had to copy the underlined portion on the lines in the workbook for practice.

In the vocabulary exercise, she was given an average of 7-9 vocabulary words with their translations that she would need to practice and memorize.

In the translation practice, she was given an English sentence and had to orally translate it into Spanish.  I also had her write it down in Spanish underneath so she could practice speaking it properly. 

Then in the model, she had to copy a Spanish sentence onto the lines in the workbook and then draw an illustration that showed the meaning of the sentence.  Here, I also chose to have her translate it into English in writing.

One thing I know about my children…everything they learn is more memorable if there’s some kind of fun factor involved.  In this case, the illustrations that Haylee gets to create are that fun factor for her.  Just look at how much fun she’s having here!

 DSCF4419 DSCF4420 DSCF4421

In the photos above, you can see that she illustrated the sentence “I am a big cat with long green legs.”  Then it was “He is an orange rat with eight hairs.”  Then came “She is a pink bear with three ears.”  Lastly, she translated and illustrated “We are friends.  We are playing in the garden.”  That last one was a good choice of sentences because it demonstrated both the state of being and the temporary condition of “we are” in Spanish used in context.  So while the sentences are sometimes very humorous and the drawing is fun, the lessons being conveyed are worthwhile and memorable in this context.

The last part of each lesson is a 2-page review.  It includes both a verb conjugation review and a vocabulary review.  Students are allowed to look back at the lesson for help if needed, so there’s no pressure involved…it’s a review, not a test.  The final portion of the review is a fifth model that has the student read and review all of the Spanish sentences learned in the other 4 models in the lesson, and then they must attempt to translate one or more of them into English on the lines provided in the workbook.  The answers to all of the translation work are located on the back of the review exercises for the student’s convenience in checking their own work. 

Haylee really enjoyed the exercises.  She did a great job of translating, too.  She’s not the kind of student who ordinarily does more than the bare minimum that’s required for school, but I noticed that in model 5 of the review pages, she actually translated ALL of the sentences given by her own choice.  That’s a sure indication in my book that she really, really enjoyed the lessons!

I felt like there was just enough repetition of the phrases and sentences to help the student commit them to memory without becoming boring and overly repetitive.  If it had, Haylee would have been the first one to let me know!  She continues to be excited about this program and looks forward to doing the lessons in addition to what she was already doing for school.  She thinks of it as fun exercises rather than a learning activity, but she’s definitely learning as she goes along.  She declared she liked it better than what she was already doing! 

I really like that this program is not overly simplified the way a lot of elementary Spanish workbooks tend to be.  There’s real verb conjugation and sentence construction in this program, and I haven’t found a lot of elementary programs that include that.  Yet at the same time, it’s given in small, digestible chunks that aren’t too much for kids to digest at once.  And they are given in the context of really fun and entertaining lessons.

I’ve actually never seen another Spanish workbook that’s set up this way.  It seems to be unique in that way from my experience.  I did notice that the first page of the e-book says “Level 1” underneath the title.  I don’t know for sure, but I certainly am hopeful that this implies there might be future levels for older students.  If there are, I would certainly be interested in continuing this program for Haylee now that she has begun middle school.  It’s definitely a good fit for her learning style and gives her just the right motivation to work through the lessons.

Take a look at what other Crew members have to say about this and many other products from Brookdale House by clicking the banner below.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Cool New Product

So I was out shopping at BJ’s this week, and I started looking through the gift section they’ve set up for the holidays.  You just never know what neat new gadgets you might find there, so I always like to browse it while the selection is still good.  Well, low and behold, I stumbled upon the coolest little kitchen device called the Perfect Bake.  Basically, it is a digital kitchen scale that attaches to your iOS or Android device (I’d be using it with my iPad) and gets paired with the free app called Perfect Bake.  The kit also comes with a stand for your tablet, a set of color-coded bowls, and an oven thermometer.

The gist of it is that the app provides you with awesome recipes for baked goods, and the digital scale helps you measure the ingredients by weight in real time on your tablet screen, telling you when to stop adding each ingredient.  Because it measures by weight, it’s more accurate than using measuring cups and spoons.  And because it allows you to add ingredients directly to the bowl on the scale, there’s less cleanup. 

Not only that, but it shows you each step of the process, one step at a time, even including built-in timers where necessary for mixing and baking, and that makes it super simple for even kids to use on their own. 

Other neat features are the ability to scale any recipe.  So if your kid’s class has 28 students, rendering a boxed cake mix useless to you, you can tell it you want to bake the recipe for 28 cupcakes, and it will scale it for you automatically.  Everything can be made from scratch.  Bye-bye baking mixes!  And from what I’ve read of the reviews, you get bakery-quality goodies every single time!  You can also add your own recipes to the app, though I’ve read that’s a bit complicated.  And you know how you often end up with cupcakes that are various sizes?  Well, with Perfect Bake, you set the cupcake pan right onto the scale, and it tells you when you’ve got the right amount of batter in each and every well of the pan!  How cool is that?!?

Another great thing about it is the pantry feature.  You can apparently tell it what kinds of baking ingredients you have in the house already and how much of them you have, and then you can have the app tell you recipes you could make using only the things you have on hand so there’s not running to the store for missing ingredients!  I think that’s super handy, because that happens to me a lot…I get a fancy to bake something on some rainy afternoon, only to find I don’t have what I need, and I don’t want to go out.  Bummer! 

It looks as though this item came out just in time for the holidays in 2014, and it was $70 at that time.  But at BJ’s this week, I saw it for only $40.  And on Amazon, it was $41 and some change.  Not bad!  I know Holden, who is 7, would absolutely love this.  He loves to be in the kitchen and cook stuff.  He’s always the one I end up buying cooking classes for at Christmas time.  If he could do it all on his own without my hovering in the background overseeing things, I know he’d be proud to be able to say he made something all on his own.  And I see lots of uses for it for myself, as well.  It could be a fun thing to do together with the kids, as everyone could get involved.  I’ve just got to have this thing!

I sent a link to it to Steve with the hint that it would make a great Christmas gift for us this year.  We shall see.  I’m not sure I can wait that long, though!  I hear it’s got great holiday recipes for Thanksgiving and Christmas, so I’m probably going to end up with it before much longer.  I’m not sure I can help myself.  I love kitchen gadgets!

What do you think of it?  Have you tried it out for yourself?  I’d love to hear your feedback.  Most of the reviews I’ve read online are very positive.  I think it would be right up our alley.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

REVIEW: Living Waters: Intelligent Design in the Oceans of the Earth by


I was really looking forward to reviewing Living Waters: Intelligent Design in the Oceans of the Earth by



Living Waters Intelligent Design DVD Design of LifeThis film is a sequel to the recent films Flight and Metamorphosis and explores the concept of intelligent design in the rivers and oceans of Earth. 

From dolphins to sea turtles and salmon to whales, this provocative film gives compelling evidence to contradict Darwinian evolution and support the presence of intelligent design in the miraculous characteristics of these unique and amazing creatures.

Take a look at a 3-minute trailer to get a taste of this stunning documentary film. 

Living Waters is approximately 68 minutes in length and is available on DVD for just $13.99.




Considering that 70% of the earth is covered by water, and half of the earth’s animal species live there, it’s no surprise that the awesomeness of God’s creation is demonstrated so clearly in so many of the ocean’s amazing creatures.

This wonderful film, which I enjoyed immensely, breaks down many of the intricacies and intelligence in the “oh-so-perfect” design of dolphins, sea turtles, salmon, and whales.  There was so much to learn here, and the film makes a great case for why natural selection and evolution cannot be solely responsible for the qualities these species possess. 

The documentary begins by asking a key question:  How do we account for the origin, diversity, and complexity of life on earth?  Scientists generally attribute this to either scientific materialism (the foundation of Darwinian evolution) or creation science.  Most biologists favor that the origins of all life began in the ocean and then eventually diversified even into humans.  If this concept leaves you scratching your head, you’re not alone!  Dolphins are a great example of why that degree of evolution just isn’t feasible.  Let’s talk about that now, and then I’ll leave the rest a mystery for you to unfold when you view this stunning film for yourself!

General Ability
The greatest concentration of dolphins is found off the coast of California, and they can swim up to 30 mph.  They have a powerful tail with up to 5 times the forward thrust of an Olympic swimmer!  They have a streamlined body, and they shed their skin daily to remove barnacles that would otherwise impede their swimming. 

Communication and Echo-Location
Dolphins whistle in order to communicate with one another, and they use clicks to locate their food using echo-location.  They have the most efficient sonar system on earth, either natural or man-made.  Dolphins use phonic lips and pressurized air to create sounds.  They recycle their inhaled air so that they can continue to echo-locate and avoid taking another breath for nearly 10 minutes!  They can hone in on a single fish in a large school and follow it until it is caught, even if that fish leaps out of the water.  Speed, texture, and shape of prey are determined by this echo-location.  A dolphin could even find a small fish if it were buried up to 3-6 inches in the ocean floor! 

The dolphin’s sonar system is made up of making sounds, transmitting them, receiving the echoes, and processing that information into an image of what lies ahead.  That’s pretty amazing!  This system is so perfect that it’s difficult to believe it came from natural selection.  All of the parts of that system are needed for the dolphin to glean the information needed for its survival.  Evolution and natural selection have no foresight into what a species will need in the future.  Only intelligence and mindfulness can make that prediction. 

Other featured animals
Sea turtles undergo an amazing journey of migration that boggles the mind, allowing them to return to their original hatching grounds after as much as 25 years! 

Salmon go on a long journey and encounter great obstacles but are able to return to their spawning grounds even 3 years later, literally recalling the smells of the plants in the water where they were first hatched.  And this journey requires them to biologically adapt between fresh- and salt-water. 

Humpback whales have the most complex vocalizations in the world, and although the male’s reproductive organs are internal, it has a unique internal cooling system that allows it to reproduce successfully. 

In conclusion
It takes over 100 million years to achieve just two cooperative mutations, and yet all of these animals have such complex systems that must exist in a perfect fashion in order for the species to survive. 

When all of this is taken into consideration, how realistic is it to rely on random genetic changes and unguided natural selection to arrive at the same solution in so many species?  It becomes clear that only an intelligent agent could predict the characteristics needed and apply them over and over again where necessary.  The designs of these animals are too efficient and too optimum to have been brought together by a haphazard mechanism.  They require the planning, foresight, and global architecture that only an intelligent design can bring about.  Living things are clearly not random assemblages.

If you really observe nature with an open mind, you can see unmistakable design everywhere you look.

I was really impressed by this beautiful film, and I learned so much about these amazing creatures of the ocean.  If I hadn’t started out already believing in creation science, I would’ve had a hard time making a case against it after watching this well-presented documentary.  I hope you’ll share it with your whole family!

Check out what other Crew members have to say about this and other great films from by clicking the banner below.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

More Upcoming Food FREEBIES

7-Eleven® | 7Rewards℠

FREE hot coffee from 10/12-10/18.

7RewardsSM FREE Coffee Week is coming. Celebrate with us from October 12‑18 and get (1) ANY SIZE hot coffee for FREE each day!
Check the Scan & Save section of your app for the offer and come in and scan every day for your free cup.
Want instant popularity? Be sure to tell your friends to download the app—their free cups will be waiting too!
Add 7Rewards FREE Coffee Week to your
calendar and set a reminder that it's time to come in and get yours.

Offer valid once per day per customer 10/12–10/18. Program only available to members of the 7RewardsSM Program and available only at participating 7-Eleven® Stores, excluding Hawaii. Go to the 7‑Eleven Mobile App for additional terms and conditions of 7RewardsSM.


On Monday, October 12th, you have a chance to win a FREE Domino’s medium two-topping handmade pan pizza.  Register an account ahead of time so you are logged in and ready to click the link when it goes live.  Here’s the announcement:


We're activating the #DomiNoNo one last time in 2015 in honor of the seven no-hitters this year!
Be sure to come back at 3 p.m. ET on 10/12/15, when the first 27,000 account users will receive a code valid for a free Domino's medium two-topping Handmade Pan Pizza.
Carryout only. Only one promotion code per user. Code must be redeemed online. See terms and conditions for full details.


Wear your costume to Krispy Kreme on Halloween, October 31st, and get a FREE doughnut of your choice!  Yum!


How great is that?!?  It’s another great week full of edible freebie announcements.  The weather here in coastal Virginia has really cooled off, and it finally feels like fall.  I’m especially looking forward to enjoying some of 7-11’s delicious pumpkin spice latte this week, on the house!  Yum!

Enjoy your goodies, and good luck in the Domino’s Pizza giveaway!

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Virginia State Fair 2015

We had a great time at the Virginia State Fair this week!  Too bad it rained both days, and continuously the second day.  But we didn’t let that stop us!

We headed up to the Days Inn in Ruthers Glen, VA as soon as the church potluck was over.  We were hoping to swing through Richmond on the way and visit the Virginia State Science Museum again like we did last year, but there were flashing signs all over I-64 indicating that there was a bicycle race in downtown Richmond causing delays.  So in the interest of avoiding any more traffic issues than the ones we’d already encountered up to that point, we decided to forgo the museum experience this time and just get on to our destination.  20150927_165839

We got checked in and still had enough time to do a little adventuring.  Hayden and I decided to go find a grocery store and pick up a few things.  But as soon as we got up the road, we realized we were just a few blocks from a Russell Stover Outlet!  We couldn’t resist, and we managed to get there about 30 minutes before they closed.  Woo-hoo!

I didn’t even know Russell Stover made so many kinds of chocolates.  It was remarkable!  We weren’t really seeing any deals, though, until we came out on the last aisle and found a big floor display and unmarked “Bloopers” boxes.  We hit the jackpot!  These 3-lb. boxes of random ly assorted chocolates were only $13 each!  We threw caution to the wind and selected what we thought might be a lucky box.  When we got to the van and took off the lid, our m20150927_173746ouths gaped open!  It was a veritable cornucopia of mixed chocolates…a chocolate mountain, if you will!  They were just thrown into the box in a giant heap, full to the top!  There was every kind of chocolate you could imagine…molasses chews, peanut butter filled, truffles (my fave), raspberry filled, coconut, and many more.  It was amazing!

We got on the highway and realized we were going to be many miles from the nearest grocery store.  We were out there a bit…right off the interstate, but not close to much.  And worse, we missed our exit and had to go another 13 miles to the next one!  We re-routed and found a Family Dollar.  We decided to check it out and pick up most of what we needed there…along with some things to do for the kids…and an adventure in a truck ride-on outside! LOLFB_IMG_1443396528038

Then we headed into the Food Lion next door and got some milk and fruit and headed back to the Days Inn with our goodies.  Needless to say, everyone was excited about all of that chocolate!  We spotted a Denny’s just across the street, so we went over there for dinner before we settled down for the night.

The next morning, we had an okay free hot breakfast of scrambled eggs, toast, and sausage or bacon with juice.  There was also cereal and typical continental breakfast foods, but the hot breakfast was a nice touch, even though it wasn’t the best.  It filled us up and kept 20150928_105632us from having to eat a lot at the fair.

We spent Monday walking around the fair just taking in the exhibits.  Most of the shows were the same as last year, so we didn’t repeat anything we’d done before.  It gave us more time to enjoy some of the competitions and exhibits this time around.  Fun!  I saw a pumpkin that was over 1,300 pounds…a new state record!  And I saw a watermelon that was 168 pounds!  Man, I’d love to try to eat that thing!  And of course, we stopped in at the candy store to buy nearly $50 worth of candy! I know, we’re crazy, right?  I might as well make our dental appointments in advance.  LOL .  We sat down to watch a super cool show called The Breakers.  But it started pouring down with rain, so they had to stop the show just after it started because of the dangers of the slippery stage.  Too bad!  We hoped to catch it again the next day.

I ran across a children’s jewelry booth there, and I decided to buy Haylee a beautiful sterling silver ruby birthstone ring.  They packaged it in a beautiful gift box!  It was only $10, and she absolutely loved it.  She must have thanked me a dozen times on the trip.  It looks so pretty on her little hand.

On Tuesday, we realized it was going to rain ALL DAY.  And there was a big storm coming into town, so it was only going to get worse as the day wore on.  We knew we’d have to cut this second day short, so we didFB_IMG_1443537508768 a good job of packing up, checking out of the motel, and getting to the fair as it opened.  We had bought all-day ride wristbands for this day and figured we’d better ride as much as we could as early as we could before they started shutting things down.  But the Midway didn’t open for an hour, so we went over and learned a bit about beavers and oysters from the Virginia State Parks tent, and then we caught an old western show that was pretty funny.  Then we hung around the  Midway until it opened and got our wristbands as fast as we could.  It was beginning to rain about this time, so we tried to go from one ride to another as quickly as possible.  Some things started to close right away, like the Ferris Wheel.  But somehow, between bursts of rain, we managed to actually ride more stuff than we did last year!  And they had a ride that went up a pole and dropped straight down super fast, much like the ride at Busch Gardens.  Hayden rode it with me once, and then Steve rode it with me.  I think that was the highlight of the day for me!  I LOVED it!  Haylee led us onto some ride with teacup-type seats that whipped us around in tight circles and made us nauseous.  I had to sit for a bit after t20151004_131355hat!  And Holden was big enough to ride the bumper cars this year, so we rode that a few times, too.  Everybody had such a wonderful time! 

And would you believe we bought MORE candy?!?  Everybody fell in love with something we’d randomly grabbed the day before, and we all wanted more.  It wasn’t any cheaper online, so I got about 1.5 pounds of it there (another $12!), having never seen it in a store before.  It was Twizzlers Caramel Apple filled.  The Twizzler itself is green apple flavored, and it has a soft caramel filling.  Delicious!  We  were totally hooked.  So yes, we spent about $60 on candy this year!  We must be out of our minds.  ha, ha.

We visited the beautiful pigeons…did you know some have curly hair?  They are gorgeous. We also saw baby chicks hatching, and little baby ducks playing in a pond with a slide.  So cute!  And we visited a big tent full of bunnies and guinea pigs.  The bunnies were so p20150929_131223retty!  Holden and I absolutely fell in love with this one particular cottontail bunny.  It was so gentle and sweet, and it let us pet it all we wanted.  It even licked Holden’s hand!  Finally, the rain was really downpouring, so we grabbed some food and made a run for the van at about 2 :30 to begin the trek home.

It rained the whole way back, and at times, there was minimal visibility.  Pretty much everyone fell asleep at some point on the way back except for me, of course!  We only passed one accident, which amazed me given the driving conditions, and we managed to make it home by 6 PM. 

The trip back seemed so much faster than the trip up there.  The dogs were absolutely frantic when we came in!  Teenie was crying and whining and carrying on like we’d left them forever!  Crazy dogs.  They’ve pretty much stuck to me like glue since we’ve been home. 

Unfortunately, Holden’s space maintainer fell out at the fair, so I had to get him an emergency appt. with his dentist to get it put back in on Friday.  I’m so glad they were able to squeeze us in at a different office!

Rain continued to fall every single day, as we prepared for a big storm front that stalled over our area, followed by the scare of a possible impact from Hurricane Joaquin, which had strengthened to a category 4 storm.  I even ordered a small gas-powered generator, just in case.  But luckily, it completely changed course and stayed far off the coast.  There was still a lot of flooding in the area, but nothing that affected us directly.  Now we’re just dealing with 40 mph gusts of wind, but the rain seems to be finally coming to an end, thank goodness!  It caused our soccer games to be canceled for the 2nd weekend in a row!  The kids were pretty bummed about that, but since we’ve all been sick for 2 weeks, I wasn’t sorry we got another day to rest!

I don’t know if we’ll make it to the fair next year or not, but it was good we went when we did.  They ended up closing the fair early at 7 PM on Thursday instead of Sunday night due to the threat of the hurricane.

All in all, it was a good trip, and it was nice to get away for a bit.  Steve was the only one not sick, but after being cooped up with all the rest of us sickies for 2 days in one room, Steve managed to come down with it shortly after we returned.  Bummer!

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