Friday, December 12, 2014

Life Change

Since moving to NC over a year ago, I haven’t worked outside of the home at all. 

Before our move, I was a math tutor for YEARS.  I began tutoring when T was a baby and continued at least 2 times a week until our move to NC.

Sometimes I forget that I used to work two nights a week.  Many times it feels strange to have “nothing to do” in the evenings.

But I have to admit that I love it.

LOVE.

For me, it is a gift to be home with my kids all day AND have the evenings to make dinner, talk on the phone, play games with the kids, watch a show, or go for a run.  It feels so restful compared with running out the door as my husband ran in the door.  I feel fortunate that this is now our situation.

There are definitely financial tradeoffs and sometimes I miss that extra money to buy the cognac riding boots and gray skinny jeans that are on my list some extras.  I admit that many times I want to lazily grab lunch out with the kids more than I should and I miss that extra cash.

But for this season of my life, I am happy with the tradeoff.  I know I will find some way to get those boots save some cash in the budget for little treats and I also know that I can live without gray jeans some of it. 

I appreciate the gift of work for the season that it felt necessary.  Right now, I appreciate the break.  Admittedly, I talk about finding some ways to make extra income in the future and what I want to do “when I grow up”.  I have no clue what next year or the next five years will hold in terms of finances and needs, but for now, I am grateful for this season of our family life.

(The irony of this is that I wrote it about 2 months ago.  Right now I have had a few tutoring doors peek open, though I am not convinced it is time to step through them.  But, I am considering it.  It was nice to read this again before publishing it to remind myself what I am giving up if I open that door again!  Either way, I am grateful for the last 1.5 years (and possibly more) of a break from work!)

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Our last vacation day

Our last day was a lovely day of rest with our friends.

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The plan was to tour downtown Franklin.  On the way, we did the “fan” thing and drove by Toby Mac’s house, which was located in the downtown area of Franklin.

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Then we took a walking tour of downtown.

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We grabbed lunch at a local place and it was fabulous.

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This was the only picture I had of Jehan and I enjoying our lunch and nothing I could do to it improved the shot, but it is all I got, so there.

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Some folks look adorable no matter when you take the picture and no matter the angle.

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We spent the next few hours at a local playground.  We had a great time.  We brought along an extra kiddo with our family.

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Our family had a fantastic time!  These kiddos are such fun and I will enjoy this memory of Nashville for a long time.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

The World’s Largest Cave and a Fancy Hotel

So, back to Nashville

While in Nashville, we decided to drive to Kentucky and tour the world’s LARGEST cave!  With 400 miles of surveyed passageways, Mammoth Cave is over twice as long as the second-longest cave system, located in Mexico.

Not knowing how the kids would handle this cave adventure, we went with the “user friendly” Frozen Niagara tour.  This particular tour was only about 1.25 hours, part of which was the bus ride to the entrance.  Another reason we choose it?  It was also the “prettiest” tour.

Mammoth Cave is not a “show” cave with lots of stalactites and stalagmites.  This is due to a sandstone layer in the geology of the cave.  The sandstone prevents 06-IMG_3498much water from getting through to the cave below, and hence, causes a pretty inactive cave in most sections.   An inactive cave doesn’t have much showy stuff.  It is just a fantastic hole underground through the rocks, but somewhat ugly.

The Frozen Niagara section is the only active cave section because it lacks a sandstone layer.  Water is actively dripping in sections and formations are all over.  We thought the kids would enjoy this section of cave for its showiness.

 

So off we went into the cave…

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I loved watching my kids raise their hands to make comments and ask questions.  The boys were really excited about the cave.  C (age 5) raised his hand to share that this was his “first cave ever”, so the guide effectively turned that into a transition into having the real cave experience…

and he promptly turned off all of the lights in the cave.

DARK.  DARK.  Like, I put my hand in front of my face and could not see it at all sort of darkness.  Crazy dark.

Once the lights came back on, we all felt much better.

Until…our guide showed us the critters on the ceiling of the cave that weren’t visible to us until he shown his flashlight on them.

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Cave crickets.  Quiet and still little things.  But do not put your hand up for balance on the ceiling of the cave.  YUCK!

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We continued our hike to the “Frozen Niagara” section…

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It was beautiful!

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Then it was time to head out of the cave and back to the sunshine!

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On our way back to Franklin, we decided to stop in the northern part of Nashville to visit the Opryland Hotel.

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This is a fancy schmancy hotel located next to the Grand Ole Opry!  While we would have loved to catch a performance, we weren’t so sure the kids would enjoy it.  Instead, we spent some time touring around the hotel.

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It was great timing because the hotel was decorated for Christmas!

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We sat by the “river” for dinner, a delicious pizza and garlic knots.

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The whole place felt VERY reminiscent of Las Vegas to Eric and I.  Every hotel in Vegas is like this one.  We had some déjà vu feelings for sure!

The gardens were lovely!

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And we found a Poinsettia Tree that made us think of the one in the mall back in MD. 

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The outside was beautifully lit up as well.

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The Nativity scene on the way out was surrounded by beautifully lit trees.

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After a very full day, we were ready to head “home” to Jehan’s house.   We were so grateful to have a home to head back to with friends to play with, chat with and relax with.

Monday, December 1, 2014

PSA: Ebates

If you have not heard about Ebates, then lend me your “ear” for a moment.  This is the easiest money I have been able to make online.  (similar to swagbucks, but I find it a better deal for me)

Ebates is a site that gives you a percentage back on what you spend when online shopping.  It is VERY simple.

1.  Go to the ebates website

2.  Type in the store you want to search.

3.  Ebates will open a new tab for the store and you can shop till you drop.

4.  After your purchase is made, Ebates will add a percent of your total to your Ebates account and will mail you a check (or paypal you) the total in your account every few months.

THAT’S IT!!

Of course, if you are like me, you will go to your favorite store website and begin to shop.  Your shopping cart will be full and it will be time to check out when the thought will occur to you, “Oh no!  I didn’t go through ebates.”  At this moment:

1.  Close the tab for your store.

2.  Go to Ebates and reopen a tab for the store.

3.  Your shopping cart will STILL BE FULL and you can proceed with checkout through the tab opened via Ebates.

Voilà!

Thank me later when the bucks back begin to roll in. 

This has been the EASIEST money to make!!!  For example, on black Friday, the GAP was offering 12% back through Ebates.  TWELVE PERCENT!  The deals for Cyber Monday are great.  Go check them out and thank me later.

Of course, they also have a referral program, so you can earn even more cash by referring friends, so if you are new to ebates, then I thank you for signing up through my link.  THEN, set up your own and send ebates on to your friends and family. 

Later we shall return to our regularly scheduled blogging.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Nashville Adventure Science Center

The ASTC membership to your local science center is recognized as a membership to Science Centers all across the country!

We took advantage of this opportunity to visit the Adventure Science Center in Nashville for free!  (As a family of six, we REALLY like FREE!)

It was a smaller science center than our one in Durham, but there was plenty to do.  The center had a multi-story climbing, play area.  There were slides, stairs, play areas on each floor.  If you climbed to the very top (3 stories), then you were treated to a glass triangle room above the science center with a lovely view of Nashville.

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If you have little ones under 5, this play area would be an absolute nightmare.  Children can exit on multiple floors and in numerous ways. 

Thankfully, our children were old enough to “lose” for a bit and to find them again later.

Another section of the science center was focused on anatomy.  We had a great time in a laser shooting game shooting pathogens.  The kids explored various activities and learning stations.

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We found two ships with running water meant for dam and waterway building.  We all enjoyed this, including myself!

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Ambulance driving is always a hit!

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There was a section set up for kids to explore what it is like to be in a wheelchair.  There were three wheelchairs available with a ramp that went up and down around the outside of a basketball hoop. 

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There were plenty of fun places to explore.  We were also treated to a planetarium show as our science center doesn’t have a planetarium.

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Once we got back to the house, we were treated to another yummy dinner.  Then it was time to celebrate Eric’s birthday!  Tricia picked out candles that glowed in a variety of colors!  They were fun to say the least.

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Another great day of vacation!

 

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