Friday, May 7, 2021

Weekly Wrap Up - More Firsts

Friday evening, Olivia got a call to begin her first "foal watch".  What this means is that the mare is showing signs of preparing to deliver, enough so that you think it's going to happen.  Horses rarely deliver during the day, so foal watch is a night thing.  You check them every hour or so for changes.  Actual delivery takes 30 minutes or less.  Even with checking every hour, you could still miss it if the mare has her timing worked out.  Interestingly enough, mares can stop labor if they feel it's not the right environment.   I dropped Olivia and her sleeping bag off around 9pm.  We had crazy high winds, and the temperatures dropped really low overnight, so the watchers slept in the tack room to keep warm, and rotated hourly checks.

Saturday morning I picked Olivia up at 5:15am from foal watch.  We went to farms #1 and #2 for the morning shift, and then she came home to nap until the 12:30 shift.  She did her usual 4-7pm shift, then came home to rest before heading back to night #2 of foal watch.  It was warmer, and the mare had made more progress during the day, but this was not the night for a birth either.

Sunday morning I picked Olivia up again at 5:15am and took her to farm #1.  We got home around 7:15am and she went back to sleep.  I let her skip church and sleep until time to go back to her 12:30 shift. The evening was slow, and everyone got to get some down time.  Olivia went back for night #3 of foal watch around 8:30pm.

Monday morning I picked Olivia up at 5:15am and took her to an extra shift at farm #1.  Then we ran by the house so she could change and freshen up before heading to the HR department at her new job.  She is now officially working in the equestrian for the college whose scholarship she declined.  Once she finished her paper work, she was off to the college equestrian center to meet her co-workers and start her first day on the job.  Lindsey had an extra day of babysitting for one of her families, but didn't need to be there until 11:30am.  She had all of her school work done super early, and had time to chill before going to work.  Olivia got home around 2:30 and took a nap before going back to foal watch for the fourth consecutive night.

Tuesday morning Olivia got home from foal watch around 6:30am, changed and was back at her new job at the equestrian center at 7:30am.  Lindsey had her long nanny day from 7:30-4:30, Tom dropped her off while I was getting Olivia to work.  I spent the day working on laundry and researching used vehicles for sale in the area.  In the evening, we skipped jiu-jitsu and went to a special guest speaker service at our church.  From there we were off to drop Olivia at foal watch and then head for home.

Wednesday morning, I picked Olivia up at 5:30am and took her to farm #2 for the morning shift.  Then it was home for a quick freshen up/breakfast and then off to the equestrian center by 9am.  Lindsey worked 10:30-1:30.  Projects around the house kept me busy between drop off/pick up rotation.  Lindsey and I dropped Olivia off for foal watch at about 8:15pm.  We swung by the ballet studio to pick up payments (I'm still the bookkeeper there after all the years), then it was home for a couple of hours of processing payments and doing paperwork before I was done for the day.

Thursday morning, when I got up at 5am, I had a text from Olivia saying that the foal had been born around 4:10am.   I went to pick her up a little early (so I could see the baby).  She was so excited! She got to be there start to finish with the birth and got to help with everything.   The labor/delivery itself was about 20 minutes start to finish.  His official name, on paper name, is "In the Nick of Time" and he will be called Nicholas.

We were still home in time for Olivia to get changed and freshened up, grab a frozen waffle and get to work by 7:30am.  After all that excitement, I dropped Lindsey off at work, did the ballet bank run and then went to get groceries.  Laundry and picking everyone up wrapped up my afternoon.  Jiu-jitsu wrapped up the evening.  Olivia was very happy to get to sleep in her own bed, and I slept much better knowing she was home for the night.

Friday morning Olivia went to farm #2 at 7am and worked until a little after 8.  Then it was off to the equestrian center for the day.  Lindsey got called to babysit, so we ended up taking her charge with us to the orthodontist.  She was happy to hear that her braces come off next visit.  The rest of my days was house work, dropping Lindsey off for work, picking everyone back up and fixing dinner.

It's been a long week ya'll, and I'm tired!   Have a great weekend!

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Monday, May 3, 2021

Eww...You Homeschool? (Book Review)

Today, I'm sharing my review of the book Eww...You Homeschool? (Help for Successful Homeschooling, by author and homeschool mom Steffanie Williams.   Our paths crossed somewhere back in 2008-2010ish in our local homeschool support group, and here we are years later crossing again, she as a writer and I as a reviewer.  It really is a small world.

Steffanie is a homeschool mom, turned author.   She wrote this book to share some of the things she learned over the years, and to help families who are new to homeschooling.  As we've seen in this past year, homeschooling is a rapidly growing niche (whether by choice or as a last resort).  The title is funny, because "Eww" used to be the general populations view of homeschooling, but after the debacle of the 2020/2021 public school years, I think that's changed drastically.

This is a paperback book, and a relatively short read at 100 pages that include 9 chapters.   It's a quick read, but one that you can, and should, go back and reread and pick up helpful nuggets.  Some of the information give is Virginia specific, such as explaining the homeschool statutes for the state and pointing the reader towards HEAV (Home Educators Association of Virginia).  If, unlike the author, you don't live in Virginia it will give you an idea of "Hey, I bet my state has....." and then you can Google it.

One thing this book doesn't do is come across like "it's homeschool or nothing".  The author expresses her original apprehension at the idea of homeschooling, her concerns throughout the years and how homeschooling was an excellent choice for her family.   She shares personal stories and insight, curriculum names and gives the reader suggestions on scheduling and organization as well.

As more people look into homeschooling, this is a good resource and a great encouragement.  Every single, successful homeschooler was once new and overwhelmed.  You're not alone, just in a different part of your journey. Let someone who has walked the path before help to light your way, or at least point you towards your goal.

The author is a Christian, and her book does reflect that both directly and indirectly.  There are some scripture references throughout as well, but it's not "preachy".  I, of course, like that about the book, but just throwing it out there for my secular readers.  There is enough "non-Christian" content to still be useful to those who want to gloss over those areas.

Disclaimer:  I was given a free copy of this book for review purposes only.  I was not compensated in any way for my review, nor was I asked/required to give a positive review.

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Friday, April 30, 2021

Weekly Wrap Up - Two Weeks in One

As I said last week, we went out of town on a family vacation combining our 20th wedding anniversary and Olivia's 18th birthday celebration.  We left around 8:30am Monday, and traveled to the Sevierville/Pigeon Forge/Gatlinburg area of Tennessee for the week.  On our way, I spotted a huge Bass Pro Shop, so we made a pit stop for Tom and Olivia's sake.

We rented a great house through AirBNB just outside of Sevierville.  We arrived mid-afternoon and we stopped at Knife World on the way into the area.  Olivia was in heaven.  Lindsey, not so much.  We found our house and spent the evening settling in, getting dinner in town and then going to the grocery store to pick up breakfast items and snacks for the week.

Tuesday morning we headed out to the Cherokee Trading Post and spent quite a lot of time there checking out their wares.  I think this was the kid's favorite part of the trip.  We had a gift card to Olive Garden, and used that for a lovely sit down lunch.  Following lunch we went to the Titanic Museum.  This was a really well done museum.  We were all given boarding passes, of real passengers/staff, and we were able to find info on some of them along the tour.  At the end, we checked our boarding passes against the survivors list to find out which of us had survived and who had perished.   Lindsey, ironically was given the card of a woman traveling with her two sons.  The mother survived, the sons did not.  Olivia and I both survived as well.  Tom's boarding pass was one of the violin players, and he perished as well.  Some of the interactive displays are still on hiatus because of the pandemic, but overall things were operating pretty much as normal.  The grand staircase replica was so elegant.  The exhibit of the locked gate with water rushing down the stairwell was very sobering.   We weren't allowed to take photos inside, but I did get this cool photo from the parking lot of the front of the "ship".

We went to a huge outlet mall and walked ourselves silly.  Roles were reversed for this and Lindsey was in heaven and Olivia was not enthused.   We were thoroughly exhausted by the end of the day, so we grabbed dinner at a fast food drive through and headed home to eat and veg on the sofas watching tv.

Wednesday, our plan was to spend the day at Dollywood.  The park is currently only open on M/W/F, so this was the only day that worked with our travel plans.  Unfortunately, we woke up to temperatures below 40 and heavy rain, and none of us liked the idea of spending a ridiculous amount of money to get into the park to be wet, cold and miserable all day.  We decided to head over to Gatlinburg for the day and spend the day there.  It was still cold and rainy, but we were in and out of places enough that we weren't miserable.  We ended up going to Blake Shelton's Ole Red restaurant for lunch.  There was live music, great food and a really fun atmosphere.  

We did lots of sight-seeing and boot shopping, and were once again pretty worn out by evening.  We went home to rest and then I did an online order from Chipotle for dinner.  Tom and I ran out to pick up dinner and some special desserts from the Chocolate Monkey for our official anniversary dinner.

Thursday morning we went to the Apple Barn & Cider Mill.  They have the best apple hand pies!  Once our tummies were filled up on pie (yes for breakfast) we headed over to the Christmas Place.   This has always been one of my favorite places to visit when traveling to the area.
We did a few more little stops along the way before heading to the house to rest and freshen up for the evening.  I booked tickets for us to go to the Biblical Times Dinner to see their production of Ruth.  While sitting in the lobby waiting to be seated, we realized that someone had not paid close attention to the music choice for the waiting area.  We jammed out to "Tequila" while waiting to go into the dinner theater.   After the show (and yummy meal).  We traveled over to the Island and walked around a bit, taking in the sights and light show.

Friday morning we packed up and headed home.  We were back in our own county before 2pm.  The dog was very happy to see us!  He was well cared for by friends, but you could tell he was very concerned about his people having gone missing.  It was a great trip, but it was truly good to be back home.

Saturday morning Olivia and I were back to the work routine at 5:30am.  She did all of her usual shifts, and I ran to the store to pick up groceries.  When I got home I worked on making food for Sunday's birthday celebration.

Sunday Olivia turned 18.  She'd asked for the day off from work so she could sleep in a bit. We went to church and then stopped on the way home from church to pick up her birthday cake (I ordered it the Sunday before we left for TN).  We had family and friends over for a late lunch at 2pm to celebrate.  At Olivia's request, I made homemade pork barbeque, macaroni salad and cole slaw.  It was a great day with family, lots of good conversation and laughter.

Monday was back to the current routine.  Lindsey only has 3 subjects left in school so she doubled up a great deal.  I took her for a driving lesson around 9am.   Once we were back we went out to shop for a pair of boots for Olivia.  We'd hoped to find a pair she liked (as well as affordable) on our trip for her birthday gift, but that didn't happen.  We were successful in our shopping endeavors here, so she officially has new cowboy boots.  We swung by the YMCA to pick up her new hire packet, and then went to Med Express to get her TB test for work.  Because she's 18 now, and because of covid restrictions, I wasn't even allowed to go in the building with her.  My credit card was welcomed with open arms though.

Tuesday Lindsey went back to work at her nanny job.  The weather was spectacular, and Olivia helped me work in the flower beds and gardens.  Her new hire info from the equestrian center came via email, so we worked on that.  Her start date there is May 3, and she's very excited.  We're still looking for a vehicle for her.  In the evening it was back to jiu-jitsu.

Wednesday both girls were back to their work schedules.  Lindsey got up early to do her school work before she left.  I had a lunch date with my friend Yvette, and then it was home for the evening.  Our mid-week church service always goes on hiatus from late April/early May through Labor Day, so I had nowhere to go.  I did have to run by the ballet studio after it closed to pick up the bookkeeping.

Thursday Lindsey had a long day at work.  She normally works 9:30-1:30, but they asked if she could stay until 3:30.  Just as I was picking her up from that job, the other family she works for texted to see if there was any way she could come right over and stay until 5:30.  I dropped her off and came home to finish laundry and work on dinner and wait for Lindsey to straggle in.  She was a bit tired, and frazzled when she got home.  Apparently the oldest sibling at the second house was in rare form.  Jiu-jitsu wrapped up the evening.

Friday morning, Olivia went to work earlier than usual, so she could go to the chiropractor with us.  The rest of the day will be filled with errands, dropping Lindsey at work and eventually heading over to a friend's house for Olivia's refresher on dog/house sitting for her upcoming work load.  

Have a great weekend!

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Friday, April 23, 2021

Weekly Wrap Up - 20 Years and Counting

Wednesday marked our 20th wedding anniversary, and we've been out of town celebrating.  Here's a photo from our wedding day.  This photo always makes me giggle wondering about what caused the very different expressions on our faces.

Have a great weekend, and I'll fill you in on our week later.

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Friday, April 16, 2021

Weekly Wrap Up - Winding Down

The weekend was exhausting on many levels.   I actually ended up going to bed around 7:30pm on Saturday evening and slept through until time to get up to take Olivia to work at 4:45am Sunday.  After the morning shift at the farm, we went to the first service at church.  I made Belgian waffles for breakfast, and then we all rested until time for Olivia to go back to the afternoon shift.  In the afternoon, I took the girls shopping and we picked up some fried chicken from the deli and continued to chill.

Monday was pretty low key.  Lindsey knocked out her school work early.  I worked on laundry, and then Olivia finished it up while I took Lindsey for another driving lesson.  Her driving has improved pretty quickly, and she's even been working on some backing up skills. 

I spent the better part of the day trying to find a way to contact an actual human being at DMV, since Olivia's driver's license never showed up.  You can't call or email, or just go to the DMV without an appointment.  You can however message them on Facebook and they'll send you a canned responses within 48 hours. 

I had some excess potatoes that I needed to use up, so I made a big pot of Baked Potato Soup with a crusty loaf of bread for dinner.

Tuesday morning Lindsey had to be at work at 7:30am.  Olivia had a job interview at 10am about 40 minutes south of us.  The company is a breeding farm for show ponies, miniature horses and even a few Friesians.  They do hunter/jumper, dressage and driving.  The facility is pretty nice, the owners are a bit...quirky.  It would be a great learning experience, but without having her own vehicle yet, it likely wouldn't work.   

After several canned responses from DMV, and my replies pointing out that what they were sending wasn't addressing the issue, I got another response telling me to provide a phone number where I could be reached.  Once I sent that in, the response came back that they would call me within 3 business days, but would only attempt to call twice, so "you need to have your phone with you at all times, and be available to speak when we call."  

I made the BEST homemade chicken enchiladas and rice for dinner.   Now that I'm writing my wrap up, I realize those would have made a great photo, sigh.  The girls wrapped up their evening with jiu-jitsu.

Wednesday morning Olivia worked the morning shift, then came home and had a virtual interview with the YMCA at 10:30am. She'll be returning to the YMCA's summer program as a lead counselor this year.  Lindsey worked 10:30-1:30 and had all of her school work done before going to work. 

The DMV called me late morning, and confirmed that yes, they did mail Olivia's license in March, without any way of tracking it.  They're issuing a 2nd license and we're hoping this one arrives within the 15 day window they mentioned. The evening wrapped up our last Wednesday night church class until the fall.

Thursday, before heading out to work, Lindsey finished her civics class for the year.  Now she's only left with grammar and literature to work on.   Olivia had another phone interview with the local college equestrian center, and scheduled an in person interview for Friday.  Jiu-jitsu wrapped up our evening.

Friday morning Olivia worked the early shift.  We all worked on cleaning house and washing bed linens and had that knocked out pretty quickly.  Lindsey worked her regular afternoon shift and Olivia had an interview mid-afternoon.  I'll update on that later.  We've got friends coming over later this evening for games and pizza, hopefully I'll take photos of that.

Have a great weekend!

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