Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Tourist Trap

Clint took a day of vacation last Thursday and we had a family day in New Orleans!  Our last visit to the aquarium was with my Dad, and he has been gone nearly five years.  It was past time for another visit! It is rather pricey, but it makes for a nice indoor outing to beat the heat. I thought that going mid-week would be better than a busy weekend.  Well, I thought wrong.  Everywhere we turned, there were campers on field trips.  Hundreds of them in large groups.  We tried waiting off to the side for the group to pass, but they just kept coming and coming - wow.  I know we are all there for the same reason - to enjoy the aquarium - but maneuvering around such large groups was not fun at all.  Even nine year old Veronica went on a rant about how the counselors weren't doing a very good job and were very rude since they had bumped into her numerous times and didn't say 'excuse me' or anything.  We still enjoyed our visit and eventually the crowd thinned out somewhat.

View from the parking garage

After we were done at the aquarium, we walked over to the "Tourist Trap"  aka the Riverwalk Outlet Mall.  We hadn't been there in years either.  It used to be a regular mall, but now it's an "outlet" mall.  The cruise terminal is nearby, so it seems geared toward luring the tourists in.  There are a lot of regular stores but there's nothing discounted about their prices.  There is a lot of tourist geared merchandise - New Orleans clothing, nick-nacks, spices, Mardi Gras themed stuff, and food items.  I admit it is fun looking through all the junk stores and even the kids like looking at the souvenir type stuff.  I saw this in several stores:

The highest price?  $8.  (I've seen it higher than that down at the French Market - another Tourist Trap!! ) You can find this at Wal-mart for three bucks or so...

Of course we fell into said Tourist Trap and had to stop at the real Cafe Du Monde for a treat.  You can't go to New Orleans and pass up beignets and coffee!

On our way back towards the aquarium, we stopped for a bit to sit by the Mississippi River to watch the ships pass.  It was breezy so the heat wasn't all that bad.

There's the river

Not sure why Val is making that grumpy face!

Selfie by the Mississippi

Our final stop was the IMAX theater right next to the aquarium.  I had been here only once before and it was so long ago I don't even remember what I watched.  We saw "Secret Ocean" in 3D.  All the campers seemed to have gone back to where they came from and the theater was nearly empty.

After the film, it was time to head for home.  Lucky us hit I-10 in the middle of 5:00pm traffic!  Actually it wasn't so bad.  Traffic was moving and we didn't hit any gridlock spots.  We made it home with in a couple of hours time.  It was a fun day with the kids --  hopefully it won't be so long before we make it back for a day trip to The City.

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Monday, June 13, 2016

What's Shakin'??

This past weekend was our dance recital!!!

Friday night was our dressed rehearsal.  I'd practiced on their hair a few times to be sure I had it right.   I am SO not a hairstylist.  Putting Veronica's long, stick straight, super soft hair in a bun is quite a task.  Valerie's hair is more than halfway down her back, thick, and super heavy.  I have tried all sorts of bun makers and they just slide right out or have too much hair left sticking out.  THIS baby was so easy and it held up great - Thank you YouTube!

It's a lot of prep work getting ready for these things. Costumes, shoes, accessories....  The kids work so hard and it's a big deal and you can't forget anything!  It is so fun getting Valerie and Veronica all dressed up, though.  Hair, make up, and glitter galore!!  You should see the glitter in my house.... oh boy.

This was Valerie's 8th year of dancing, and she's in tap, ballet, and hip hop.  It's Veronica's 7th year, and she's in tap and ballet.  Our dance school is really small and I like it that way.  It keeps things simple - no fighting over tickets, no big crowds, and everybody knows everybody.  The biggest class is hip hop, and all of the others have under ten students.  Recitals are every other year, so next year is our off year.  Recitals are awesome, but it is nice to have a break.

This year's recital was great!!  The theme was "What's Shakin" and it was all 80s music.  I missed quite a bit of it running to and from backstage.  Luckily Valerie can change mostly by herself.  I just need to help her with hairpieces.  Veronica managed pretty good by herself this time also.  As us dance moms know, it's exhausting but we had a great day!!  

Shhhh - we're not supposed to take pics or video during the recital, but we did anyway!  I'm very proud of my dancing girls.....

And here's their tap videos:

Val's hip hop was to "Thriller."  She's one of the smallest and youngest in the class and keeps up really well with the older girls.

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Wednesday, June 08, 2016

Wordless Wednesday ~ landscaping

Landscaping progress: 

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Wednesday, June 01, 2016

Wordless Wednesday ~ You know it's hot....

when the cats are asking for a shower to cool off....


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Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Summer fun!!

Last week we had a bit of severe weather roll through.  The lightening was like strobe lights, constantly flashing!!  It was very weird.  It was like a mini-hurricane with the heavy rain and strong winds.  Thankfully it didn't last long, but it was long enough to do this:

The trampoline that Santa managed to hide seven years ago has reached the end of it's life.  I'd been waiting for this to happen.  Every time we had strong winds, I'd watch half expecting it to fly away.  The frame was bent and actually snapped in one rusty spot. It was getting to where it wasn't exactly safe anymore, so perhaps this prevented an accident.   At least it didn't fly into the fence or damage anything else.  I guess we got our money's worth.  The kids sure had a blast on it.  They would go through trampoline phases where they were obsessed with it daily to it being invisible for months.  Valerie thought it's demise was funny but Veronica cried.  I doubt we replace it because as Clint said -- it's one less thing he has to move when he cuts the grass!!


About five years ago someone on Facebook was giving away a pool.  They had just moved in and the pool was left behind by the previous owners, and they did not want it.  It happened to be just a few streets over, so Clint hurried over there, took it down and we got a free pool!!  We already had one, but this one was much bigger at 18' x 48".  We also had a great heavy duty pump that was given to us years ago also, so Clint rigged it up to make it work with the pool's connections.

Our free pool

We definitely got our "money's worth" out of that pool.  We are not sure how old it is, but it held up for four summers.  Last year it was iffy, but it made it.  We dragged out the liner last weekend, and it was starting to crack in a few places, so we decided not to chance it ripping.  We went pool shopping instead!

We ended up with this:

It's 20' x 48" and we bought the salt water system as well.  In the long run, it should save us time and money not having to keep up with the chemicals.  I have to say the salt water is so much nicer!!

Our backyard is far from picture perfect.  Little by little we've been working to make it nicer and a comfortable place to hang out.  I spied these pallet planters online last year and have wanted to do them ever since.  They add a touch of color and were so easy to do!  We made four of them and lined them up along the back fence.

Gizmo had to check them out too

We cleared all the junk off the back porch and I added pretty pots to brighten things up.  Maybe we'll get some tiki torches and citronella candles so we can hang out in the pool in the evenings.  Hopefully it will all come together so we'll have a nice outdoor space to enjoy all summer!

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Friday, May 20, 2016

Hello, summer!!

Another school year has come to an end.  This past week was busy with end of the year activities.  Wednesday morning Valerie had an award ceremony!  She got an honor roll trophy and a top scholar certificate.  Once again, there were so few fifth graders receiving awards.  You have to wonder if adjusting to middle school is that hard for some, or is it common core throwing them off?  Or is my kid just that smart?!?

Wednesday evening Valerie had her spring band concert!!  She has worked very hard in learning to play clarinet.  She practiced almost every night and learned how to read music fairly easily.  I'm amazed at how good they all sound for only being first year band students.  We are going to look into getting Val a better clarinet for next year.  We bought a good starter instrument, but she has had a few problems with it.  As much as she loves band, it's worth getting her something a bit better.

Thursday, it was Veronica's turn for awards!  We arrived super early so we could get a front row seat.  The school has grown much too small for the number of students, so if you want a good spot, you have to show up over an hour early for everything.  Roni got a trophy for being on the "A" Principal's list all year and a Literary Achievement certificate.

And today, Friday, was the LAST DAY OF SCHOOL!!!  I probably have the only kids who are sad.  Both girls were literally in tears.  Val plopped face down in her bed all teary-eyed.  Veronica ran off the bus sobbing.  They love school so much and are always so sad to see the year come to and end.  I am sad too because it means they are growing up, but I am also looking forward to a break.  I had gifts and cookie cake, so that cheered them up pretty fast.

Now it's on to SUMMER FUN!!  As fast as the year flew by, I know summer will go by even faster.  This is the first summer that neither daughter is going to camp.  They have gone somewhere since they were very small, so staying home all summer with no set schedule will be a new adventure.  Hopefully this mom can keep the boredom away!!

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Friday, May 13, 2016

Beta Club!!

A few weeks ago, Valerie came running off the bus with a paper in her hand.  I knew it was something for me, because she hand carries home anything of importance so that she doesn't forget to give it to me.

It was an invitation for her to join National Junior Beta Club at school!!  Wow, my smart girl!!   Of course I filled out the paperwork and sent it in right away.  I know nothing about Beta, except that it's for smart kids who make the grades.

Last night was the induction ceremony.  I have to say I was very surprised to find that there were only eight fifth graders invited.  There were only nine new members total.  There's probably over a thousand students in the entire school and that was it for Beta Club inductees.  Wow --  I know my Val Gal definitely earned her spot but I had no idea so few would be invited to join Beta.  She's one of the best of the best! Valerie's reading teacher had such nice things to say.  She commented that Val and one of her friends were the two smartest fifth graders and that she had her eye on them!

I'm SO proud of my girl!!

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Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Disney Photopass Pictures

I just got my Disney Photopass pictures!  It took a little longer than normal because I joined what is called a share, where the cost is split between several families.  Instead of it being $150, it was only $25.  The downside is having to wait until everyone's trip is over to get your photos!  We took full advantage of the photographers and after editing, I ended up with over 400 pictures.  Next I will get them printed in a hard bound photo book and I always get a Christmas ornament made.

We asked one of the photographers to re-create a picture from our 2013 trip:




This was a new one but a similar theme, lol

Too funny, right?  Anyway, I won't bombard you with a hundred pics so here's just a few of my favorites!

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