The Long Break

So I came back to my blog because a friend was talking about starting up her own blog and I wanted to share mine with her.  It has been over a year since I last posted.  A lot has happened.  We moved…again!  But this time it was a local move because we were able to do something that we had never done before.  We bought a house!  Fifteen years and 4 kids later and we now have a home of our own!IMG_0413

It was a grueling search and you really don’t realize just how much paperwork you are going to have to fill out when you apply for a mortgage and then sign at closing!  But it was an awesome experience last year.

We have also been able to find a church home too and are plugging in more this year.  Two of our boys have the privilege to be able to go to the camp gatherings for their age group.  They are SO excited!  It has been rough for them since we moved and they are still opening up to their group and trying to make friends.

Our oldest son is going to be in high school this year.  I am SO not ready for that.  Thankfully, I am not alone on this journey.  There are many of my friends who are homeschooling their children through high school and I can always call my mom, who homeschooled my sister and I through high school.  Also, just one of the tools in my arsenal is a 4-year planner from The Well Planned Day.  It helps you plan out the high school years.  This is something that I am looking forward to using with him.  He is currently working on writing a book.  He loves to read and play minecraft when his studies are done.

Our second son will be entering the 4th grade and has expressed his desire to get back in to Karate or Tae-kwon-do.  We had to stop TKD when we moved from Pennsylvania 2 years ago and it is something he really enjoyed and misses.  Hopefully we can get him back into that program.

Our third son will be working on a modified kindergarten/1st grade.  Our suspicions were confirmed that he had some sensory issues and he was diagnosed with Sensory Processing Disorder.  So now we have several days where we go to Occupational and Speech therapy.  His occupational therapist has integrated music therapy in his sessions which has helped him a lot.  My goal is to get a listening system for us at home, but since it is considered an alternative therapy, insurance doesn’t cover it.  This is frustrating because having him use it just a couple more times a week would solidify the benefits he receives at OT during the week.

Our daughter will be doing pre-k/k activities, plus sitting in with our family classes during the day.  She loves to do what her brothers do during school and insists on “school time”.  She loves to dance and play with her dolls and all things girly.  That said, she also plays with her brothers and their toys.  From Lego’s to action figures, she is all about playing with them.  She rough houses with them and when they try to get her, she goes back full force!  She love them so much and they love her too.  I foresee an interesting time when she wants to go on a date.  Daddy is one thing, but she has 3 older brothers who are VERY protective of their baby sister.

This year is Darren’s and mine 15th Anniversary.  I’m not sure what we plan on doing to celebrate, but we want to do something for this year.  We have been blessed during our 15 years.  It has taken a lot of work too. Two job layoffs, 1 cross-country move, 1 local move (basically 2 moves happened in 1 year), 4 children and a lot of fun/crazy times.  Keeping God first has been the key to making it through every challenge brought our way.  I am thankful that God brought me a man who loved the Lord.

I am really looking forward to this year.  So many great things have happened and continue to happen for our family.  The past couple of years have been full of changes and challenges, but God has brought us through them all.  It may often seem like there is so much darkness around us, but without it we can’t see the light.

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Welcome to 2015!

Wow!  2014 was quite the ride for us!  As the title of this blog states, Life’s Amazing Adventures!  We certainly had many this year.

From moving across the country to hospital visits, surgeries, adjusting to a new area, making new friends and finally meeting some friends from online, the year has been FULL of adventure!

To start 2014 we found out the status of Darren’s job was changing and he had to look for other employment.  Searching in our home state of Pennsylvania was turning up nothing and so we made the decision to look outside of PA.  Another division of the same company Darren works for is based in Oklahoma and they liked what they saw in his resume and went through the interview process which led to a new job.  This meant a move 1000+ miles from where we were living!  Talk about an adventure!  We packed up our family of 6 and moved across the country to what is called “Green Country”.  Tulsa, Oklahoma is our new home!

This was probably our biggest adventure by far.  We have adjusted to a new time zone which now makes traveling east to visit family a bit more fun with the time change.  The temperature difference has been quiet interesting as well.  I think this past summer we saw a high of 106 degrees. Apparently though that is lower than the “normal high” here of approximately 110-120 degrees.  Yikes!  So far the winter has been pretty normal to what we were used to in Pennsylvania. As long as we don’t hit -20 degrees I think we will be ok.

We are continuing homeschooling as well and are trying to figure out the best routine for our family.  Josef still has speech therapy 1x a week so that day we typically do light school work.  Of course I am still adjusting to learning styles and trying to find curriculum that allows for the various styles our children utilize for learning.

Jonathan turned 12 last year and of course I know moving and leaving the church you grew up in is a hard thing.  I was 14 when my parents made the decision to move back to Gatlinburg and switch churches.  It was hard.  I only hope that we can guide him well over the next crucial years (well they are all crucial) and guide him the way that God wants him to go.

Jordan is 7 and growing like crazy.  He amazes me with all that he is learning and how quickly too!  He is very active and has really enjoyed learning the game of Minecraft.  We have to be careful of this as it tends to draw him in.  Limits must be set to keep him from spending so much time on the computer.

Josef is 4 (though will be 5 in 13 days).  Switching speech therapists midstream was difficult.  He really liked Miss Brittany and I knew it would be hard for him to switch.  Broke my heart when we had to say goodbye the last time.  I could tell he was sad. Though I don’t know who was more sad, Josef or myself.  He is doing well with Mrs. Erin.  I am applying the things she suggests into our “school” time for him.  I can’t believe my baby boy is growing so fast.

Cordelia is 2 and going on 13.  She is the little mother hen.  It is so funny because she will come right after me and say the same correction in the same tone as I do.  I try not to laugh, but it is hard not to.  She is so observant and learns things so fast!  She especially loves the kitchen and going in there to get my pots, pans and measuring utensils and then proceed to make her own little meals and such.  Having a girl is such a change from the 3 boys.  I welcome it with open arms.  Life is an adventure!

To add to this adventurous year, I went into the hospital over halloween weekend.  I had been dealing with pain in my lower right side for a few days then the nausea and lack of appetite kicked in on day five.  I went to the urgent care which sent me for a CT scan to see if I had appendicitis.  Fortunately I did NOT have appendicitis.  However, I did have EXTREMELY low hemoglobin, iron and red blood cell count.  This required an overnight stay that turned into 3 nights in total.  Lots of tests were run, lots of questions asked, 4 units of blood transfused and 3 units of iron infused.  I had no idea how dangerously low these counts were and just how much they affected my body.  We also had to figure out the source of the blood loss that caused these numbers to be so low.  Ultimately it came from bleeding that I didn’t get taken care of sooner.  A dangerous situation to be sure.  The root cause required out-patient surgery and is completed.  I am now on the road to recovery.

So this year has been full of ups, downs, changes, emergencies and such.  Definitely a year of adventure in the life of our family.  Praying that this upcoming year is full of adventures here in Tulsa.  Discovering our new home town, making new friends and visiting friends who are already here, learning about life in the west and hopefully some good thunderstorms will come our way.  🙂

Why it’s best to Price Match!

So, we bought a Brother Laser Printer last year.  One of our most expensive purchases in a while, but it has been well worth it.  Nearly 2000 pages printed in black in and I am about 3/4’s of the way through the color toner cartridges.  It survived a 1000+ mile move from Pennsylvania to Oklahoma as well!  So I would definitely recommend Brother as a brand for laser printers.  We have the MFC-9130CW.

Now we ran out of toner about 2 weeks ago and as you might guess, this does not bode well for the homeschool family.  We use our printer almost daily!  From worksheets, to reading guides,, activities to business things our printer is used a lot!

Today we went to Staples to pick up a new toner cartridge.  Well, I get there and the cartridge is $85.99.  OUCH!!  I knew they were pricey but didn’t realize that they were THAT pricey!  There was a sign the aisle about price matching guarantee which included Amazon (it has to be SOLD and SHIPPED from Amazon for this to work!).  I whipped out my iPhone and used the Amazon app to scan the barcode for my toner.  Prices as low as $49.99 new!  The first offer wasn’t Amazon.  Bummer!  But the second price was for Amazon, $56.29!  SCORE!  Almost $30 dollars LESS than what Staples was charging!  I couldn’t believe it.

So I picked up my cartridge and a few other things I needed and headed to the checkout lane.  I informed the clerk that I had a price match using Amazon for the cartridge and showed her the screen on my phone.  We then had to wait for a supervisor who then verified it was sold from and shipped by Amazon (very important to know this!).  I was honestly only expecting the price match which was a difference of $29.70.  But their price match is 110%, not just 100% (which is really cool!).  So my TOTAL discount off the cartridge was $32.67 and made the cartridge $53.32!

It really pays to have a smart phone with the Amazon App!  Saved me more than thirty dollars today because of that.  We also used it when we bought the printer from Best Buy which saved us more than $100 by searching for it on Amazon.  And Best Buy does have the same policy which is the item has to be sold and shipped from Amazon.

Here is my Receipt to show the guarantee!

I hope this little tip has been helpful to you!  It certainly has been for us.  As a family of 6 with one income it really helps to save wherever we can.

Beth

My Grandy

Oh how the years go by.  17 years ago in August, my grandfather passed away.  He was 75 years young.  I remember the events that led up to his passing like it was yesterday.

But first let me tell you about my Grandy.  He was a teddy bear.  He was loving, kind, caring, would sing to us, had a servants heart and loved his family dearly.  I remember spending holidays, birthdays, summer breaks and who knows how many more occasions over the years at his and my grandmother’s house.  We were always spending time with them.  Of course the fact that they were only 2 hours away helped things.  Though it seemed like 2 hours was FOREVER to get there as a kid.

Grandy was an avid photographer.  He photographed EVERY single occasion.  Easter, birthdays, Christmas, births, and just enjoyed taking photo’s of our family.  I remember him setting the timer and it not always going off causing us to laugh and then he would go try to figure out what was going on and then the flash and camera would go off.  This resulted in more laughter from the family group.  But we wouldn’t have it any other way.  Those were our memories.  He loved his family and wanted to capture that for himself.

He also loved birthday celebrations.  He and Grammy would show up and we would run to greet them.  We would have a family meal together and then enjoy cake, ice cream and presents.  And we would also get the “birthday spanking”.  This was a tradition where you got a tap on the bottom for each year you were alive.  All family members participated in this.  They would often skip numbers and do things like saying “One to grow on” or “One to get married on” to make the event last longer.  Of course this was only done by our family as they knew to only tap our bums.  Though occasionally my sister and I would get each other really good.  Sibling love!

Grandy and Grammy had a small garden in their back yard.  They grew green beans, blackberry vines, tomatoes, and several other vegetables.  My grandmother would can the green beans.  She would also make sweet pickles which I lovingly called “pillsies”.  She also made relish and strawberry jam.  My sister and I would go help them in the garden and also in the prep for canning.  We had so much fun with them.

Then in 1994, Grandy had a stroke.  It was so hard to see the man I had loved all my life be so frail, weak and vulnerable.  He went from the teddy bear to a shell of who he used to be.  Granted some of those changes were necessary due to dietary reasons and he lost a good deal of weight due to that, but it was hard for me to not see him as the big teddy bear I grew up with.  But at least we had him with us.

Fast-forward 3 years to 1997.  Grandy had another stroke, though I don’t remember this one being quite as severe.  But still not good.  While he was in the hospital the doctors found some swelling of his lymph nodes.  They did tests to determine what was going on and found that he had cancer.  So the doctors said he needed to have his lymph nodes removed and also a lung as it had spread to his right lung.  Off to surgery he went.  When he came out they told us he had to have his right lung and half of his left lung removed.  I had no clue you could survive on one lung.

Things seemed to be going well for his recovery.  I remember he had to do this breathing machine to see what his lung capacity and strength were.  I thought that was SO cool at the time.  So I went back with my family to our home.  Then we got the call that no one wants to hear.  He had caught pneumonia.  Pneumonia with only 1/2 a lung and recovery from surgery.  Things weren’t looking good.

I remember trying to go back to work at my job while knowing the fact that things were not good, but I wanted a distraction.  I had been at work maybe 30 minutes when my dad called and said that they were taking Grandy off of life-support.  I couldn’t work then.  It was too much.  So my dad came and picked me up and took me home so I could say goodbye to my grandfather.

When I got home, we received a phone call from the hospital.  It was my mom (who had stayed with my grandmother) letting my sister and I know that it was time for us to say goodbye.  But what do you say to someone you love who will no longer be part of your life?  To a someone who has been there for you, loved you, cared for you, sang songs to you, laughed at the cartoons on TV with you?  What do you say?  I don’t remember who suggested it or if I thought of it on my own, but my sister and I wound up singing to Grandy.  We sang the song he would sing to us, “You are my Sunshine”.

It was the hardest thing I have ever had to do.  Singing that song brought back every time he had ever held us and sang to us.  He loved his family and we loved him.  This was the best way we could show it to him right now.  As we finished, we each said goodbye to him, knowing it was the last time he would ever hear our voice.

Shortly after midnight that night, my mom called my dad to let him know Grandy had gone on to be with the Lord.  I remember standing outside the door of their bedroom as he talked to my mom to calm her.  When he was done, I asked him if Grandy was gone and he said yes.  I told my dad good night and went to my room and cried myself to sleep.  It was a hard night for all of us.  I can’t even imagine how hard it was for her.

We laid him to rest next to my sister, Anna, in the cemetery near my grandparents house.  It was a very sad time for our family.

But I remember all the good times we had.  The fair, all holidays, birthdays, just because times, Grandy and myself hiding under the desk from the horses, him singing to me and my sister, the hugs, love, compassion that came from him.  He was a great man and is truly missed.

Today he would have been 92 years old.  I still miss him 17 years later.  He had such an impact in my life and on my family.  He will always be remembered.

If You Were Me book series by Carole P. Roman – Review

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About 2 weeks ago I was contacted to review 2 of Carole’s new titles in her “If You Were Me” series.  I was able to review for her last year as part of the Schoolhouse Review Crew.  If you would like to see that review, click here.

Carole has written several other books.  A series by the name of Captain No Beard, a book that was created out of her love for Yoga, and then the If You Were Me series that allows children to learn about different countries and cultures.  She really enjoys

We received the books If You Were Me and Lived in Russia and If You Were Me and Lived in Australia for the purpose of this review.

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Since it is now summer we typically do a light school work for math, English and reading.  These books fit in perfectly during our reading time.  Sometimes all of the kids are awake during this time period but sometimes it’s just my oldest 2.   We have 4 children.  Three boys, Jonathan, Jordan & Josef and 1 daughter, Cordelia.  They range in age from 12 to 2 years old.

We actually read these in the evening so that everyone could participate in the questions.  I really am grateful that the books have included pronunciation of words from that country.  Otherwise I would probably do a not so good job at the pronunciation.

At the end of each book I took the time to ask questions regarding what they had heard.  Whether it was some of the new words (again thankful for the pronunciations and definitions at the back) or asking about cities mentioned or other details the book provided.  The kids were able to recall a good bit of what was read.

I really like to have our oldest, Jonathan, copy a few of the new words and their definitions.  Then I have him work on memorizing them over the next 2 weeks.  For Jordan I work on about 2-3 words for memorizing definitions and copying down the word several times.

The books are probably on a 1-3 grade level and all of our children have enjoyed them.  They have had me pull out the first 4 books we got just so we could go through them again.  I am so glad that my children enjoy reading as a family and that they like to even bring out books we have read already.

You can go to Carole’s website and follow the links there to purchase her books.  I know I will be looking to get her other If You were Me books for our schooling. 

Welcome to OKLAHOMA!

Moving.  I moved 5 times in a 10 year period as a kid.  Thankfully it was all in the same county and in a 20 mile radius of where I grew up.  However things change when you move across state lines.

I first experienced a state to state move after I got married.  Tennessee Southern Belle moved to the Northern state of Pennsylvania. Now that was only me, myself and my bedroom.  But I still needed a large truck to move all my girly stuff!  LOL!

Fast-forward almost 13 years and 4 kids later.  A lot changed in those nearly 13 years.  We moved locally from the apartment to the house we lived in until April 7th.  12 years of memories with children, ranging from birthdays, Christmas, Easter, Thanksgiving, and just life happening.

I admit that having only 3 weeks to pack up 13 years of life is daunting.  Unfortunately some things did have to get left behind, but due to some understanding we will be able to go back in September and collect the last of our things.

The trip itself was challenging.  Darren drove the 26 foot truck the entire 1000+ mile journey.  Going through the mountains of WV and Ohio, then the flat lands of Indiana and Illinois and then the Ozarks in Missouri and NE Oklahoma was such a beautiful trip.  I followed Darren with our van and helped him navigate his way through traffic.  Challenging! 

We left at 9pm April 7th and arrived in Tulsa at 6pm April 9th.  I admit that tears fell as we drove through Pittsburgh that evening.  I never once thought we would leave the city, the place I had come to know as my home.  But circumstances happened in such a way that it worked pretty seamlessly.

So now we start a new chapter in our journey.  Life in the Midwest.  Life in a state that I only dreamed of visiting. 

I am so thankful for all of my family, friends and church family that helped us during these past few months and especially the past 4 weeks.  Thank you friends who watched our children so we could pack, thank you friends who came over and packed even on our last day in PA, thank you to the Men’s group from our church who came to load the big items in our truck on a Saturday morning, thank you to the family who came over on the last day to help us finish the truck and also watch the kids so we could load the truck.  We are so grateful to you all.

We are already missing everyone in PA.  The past 12+ years have been a blessing and everyone who came in to my life has made some sort of impact.  God bless you all!  Look forward to visiting my “other” home in the future!

Life is ALWAYS an Adventure!

We are MOVING!

Well, this is something that we weren’t quite expecting to happen this year. However, on January 15 my husband found out that because of the merger between the company and another that he was being let go.  Too many duplicate positions.  But he was being placed on a redeployment list (internal applications get looked at before external applications).

So Darren (hubby) started job hunting.  We made the decision to try and stay with the company if we could because they have great benefits, good pay and are pretty good to their employees overall.  Stuff just happens when mergers take place.  We just weren’t expecting it so soon.

We also made the decision to not limit our options and also look out of state.  The company has offices in Tulsa and Houston and Darren applied for jobs in both places.

We heard from Tulsa first at the end of February and he interviewed.  He felt the interview went well.  But we didn’t hear anything for nearly two weeks. 

March came and we didn’t hear anything.  Then Darren interviewed for a position here in Pittsburgh.  That too went well and we would know within a week because they really wanted to hire someone.   Or so they thought.  Also, they were re-hiring for his position as well…(go figure on that one) 

Eventually the Pennsylvania positions were pulled for reevaluation.  That same day Darren got a call about the job in Tulsa.  They wanted to hire him!  Well of course a 24 hour prayer time was needed.  Financially it would be a big hit and not necessarily something we were totally prepared for.  But God was prepared! 

God has been so faithful in providing things.  From the finances to housing and everything in between, He has been faithful.  These past 3 months have been so stressful but God has never left our side. 

We have been so blessed also with friends who live in the Tulsa area who have been so kind to go look at houses since we are in PA until the move.

I can’t leave out my PA friends (though some are more like family) & family.  Between watching our kids so we can pack, bringing us boxes, praying for us, providing a meal or just being there for us to talk to.  We are so blessed by our PA friends/family. 

Another group of people we will be missing is our Church family.  We started going to Riverside Community Church when our 2nd son was born.  They welcomed us with open arms and these past 7 years have been awesome.  Riverside is an extension of our family and we will miss everyone there.  The relationships made there will be missed greatly. 

So when might all this be happening?  We move April 7th as Darren has to be at his new job on the 14th. 

Pennsylvania will always hold a special place in our hearts.  It is where our 4 children have been born and raised.  My husband grew up here and brought me to his home.  The past 13 years have been an adventure and we are looking forward to our new adventure in Oklahoma!