Thursday, October 29, 2015

Hot Spot Helpers!

Happy Thursday! Do you have a spot in your home that is just a magnet for clutter? A hot spot for all the day's junk? Ours is the living room coffee table, it has become the place to just drop everything and go. Sometimes the junk gets so out of control I just let it sit for another day and then it looks like this. I knew I finally had to do something about it and went through my home looking for empty baskets, clutter catchers as I like to call them!
This was not a job that I wanted to buy new supplies for, I just hunted and gathered and grabbed ones that I would need for this and then promptly tucked the others away for another day. I didn't care if they matched or not, this was not something that would be left out when we had company around or even daily.
I decided a basket system is the best way to control clutter in this room! 1 basket holds office supplies and the like, 1 basket holds school books and papers related to school and the floor basket under the table holds anything else that does NOT belong in the living room. Every evening these baskets are emptied in their proper places and then brought back upstairs empty. 3 children and 3 baskets puts each child with a basket, so I can tell if someone is not putting away the stuff or just tossing it in another place. After about 2 weeks of this process, it has been working out really well and the best part? They always know where stuff is! Imagine that.
Enjoy every minute my friends!
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Wednesday, October 28, 2015

We Did It!

Hello my friends!! I fell off the face of the earth after accomplishing a trip that was not only full of many miles, but so many more smiles! We were in the car for hours upon hours, sleeping on streets and awed by amazing sites but nothing came close to beating the time spent together as a family! THIS trip right here is a HUGE reason as to why we homeschool. My kids are learning about life hands on and are not confined by walls of a classroom. I mentioned how we learn on the road in a 5-part series HERE, I also plan on blogging more in depth on how we studied and learned on this trip.
Our plan was simple and yet complex. We had 2 weeks to hit up 7 states, another country and many cities. Our goal was to see the Pope and have fun. We prepared ourselves and the kids that plans don't always go accordingly and the main point of the trip was to be flexible and have fun. Little did we know that not only would we hit up everything on our goal and plan list but we would do so much more!!
For thousands of miles on the road, I needed a backpack of energy drinks ready for any moment! I drank these non stop the entire trip as it was all about go-go-go!!!
Each state had a lesson plan with it and the kids had studied before we left, I would also question them on the road to each state and once in each state we would discuss things in more depth. There were no major stops in Indiana, aside from picking up Amish jams and a delicious lunch. This state is so close, that we have often gone here for day trips to Amish Acres, Indianapolis and the like, that we realized it was not necessary to make a full day of it. Math includes keeping in mind how many miles we have driven, how many more to go, how many miles per gallon we are getting and how much we are spending on gas.
Woohoo, it's OHIO!!! The main goal here had originally be Cedar Point, but when researching the trip, we were about 2 weeks too late for their day to day openings and they were only open on the weekends. Unfortunately for us that put a damper on a big plan, but we will hit it up another time. We then planned on making it a Magi Quest trip (which I have mentioned we LOVE!!)  so we booked a suite at the Great Wolf and headed for some water park and wizard play! Unfortunately although we had an absolute blast, this was a stop where we did not get enough for our money. We were on a road trip with a final destination and this was only a stop, which meant we couldn't suck 2 full days out it like we normally do for a Great Wolf trip!
The place was ours alone and the kids didn't want to leave, I too almost forgot that we had other plans for our trip and did not need to stop here! These resorts are just too expensive for a quick stop, they need to be ones where you check in as early as they allow and stay long after dark the day of check out.
Then the excitement begins to build once again when we see the welcome to PA sign...but of course it quickly fades as this seems to be the world's LARGEST STATE!! (of course driving to Disney World, that is how I feel about Georgia!) We stop many times for leg stretching, checking out national parks and eating but the car fun goes on! No electronics are allowed in our car rides and we all took turns reading to one another, chatting, singing, listening to books on tape and quizzing each other!
We finally made it to our home for a little over a week and the view from the roof top deck was incredible! Our family members from out of the country had not arrived yet, nor had the people flying in from Chicago, so it was time to explore! We loved every minute of our time in Philadelphia and truly found it a city of friendliness, kindness and so much more!

Our Pope days were intense, we had 2 full days of Pope possible sightings and we were ready for him! We all walked a bit over 2 miles from our temporary home to where the Pope was to be giving mass on Sunday. We left at 4 a.m. on Saturday and did not return until almost 11 p.m. on Sunday. Yes, we were on the streets of Philadelphia for over 24 hours and it was well worth it! Our group of 12 all had our wishes come true and we all made great friends with perfect strangers! Even the kids made friends that they e-mail with daily!

We brought blankets, food, clothes, scarves, gloves and even had cardboard to keep our bottoms warm, but the kids just seemed to drop wherever! We got a place right in front of the gate and were ready for the long haul! We had school work and games and coloring books, reading books, music and instruments! We were ready for anything! That day and night we saw the Pope 4 times and so close we could have reached out and touched him! I have yet to download those photos, but I will! It was so amazing, I would have been happy to leave then. Tears streamed down the faces of my children, our family members and my husband had a smile pasted on his face that was so big as he said it was the coolest thing he had ever encountered. My planning had paid off, we were in a great location 
The concerts that evening were amazing! Aretha Franklin, The Philadelphia Orchestra, Andrea Bocceli, Juanes and so many more. Listening to music and speakers and then the Pope again under the stars, with the ones that I love made it all seem so surreal, almost as though it were a dream! The day of the mass dawned and we saw the Pope 2 more times...this was beyond amazing! We were still front row for communion and seeing the Mass along with the Pope, this was a trip that would forever be ingrained in our memories. We were interviewed for 2 news channels and a newspaper!
My phone ran out of battery within hours of being there, and I only had 1 battery backup. I had to conserve but the shots I got with my camera are much better than the cell anyway, yet this one is pretty good!
All along the front lines were state troopers all weekend just standing at attention and they were so friendly that my kids got to know a few of them very well! At the end of it all, when it was time for the city to clean up, they took off their badges and handed them to all of my kids! WHAT A SOUVENIR of a trip so memorable already. Yes, this was a trip for the ages! We had accomplished our main goal, the whole reason for the trip! It was time to go home happy!! Oh wait...nope!
Exploring Philadelphia was amazing, so much to see and do and the history was so rich, it made for it's very own history unit! We visited museums, monuments, the mint, Ben Franklin's final resting place, Independence Hall...We saw the Liberty Bell, had a scavenger hunt, went to some great conferences, took bus tours and met some fantastic people. Yes, Philadelphia was already a favorite city of mine, but it became even more so. We would love to go back, but our travel calendar is full through 2019 and then we begin a new chapter of our lives, learning to travel without all our children!
This was a hard goodbye to say, but we saw it all, we did so much and we enjoyed our time together as a family. Before leaving we woke up early to go up the Rocky steps, see the LOVE statue and kiss Philadelphia good bye, the rest of our trip was waiting!
2 full days in Manhattan left me feeling as though I was never missing anything. Yes, there are so many people that feel the exact opposite way, but well...not us. We absolutely adored our time with Lady Liberty and when our transatlantic cruise docks in New York, we plan on seeing her again, but for now, this was more than enough! We walked, we ate, we drove (AUGHHH!!!), we travelled by boat, subway, taxi and even car...we took in so many sites and learned more about their rich history. We learned about my husband's family as we explored Ellis Island and learned all about endurance as we climbed to the top of the crown at the Statue of Liberty. We ate giant pretzels, explored Coney Island, dipped our toes in the water of Atlantic City...yes there was so much to do and not enough time to do it all. Selfies in Central Park, TV shots in Times Square, window shopping on 5th Avenue, shedding tears at the 9/11 memorial, staring in awe at the top of the Empire State building and shivering on the Staten Island ferry...yes there is plenty to do but it was time head out again!  

Still in New York it was time for another dream to come true! Niagara Falls and the Maid of the Mist! This was the most fun we had ever had, we laughed as the water hit us in the face and we snuggled in close together as the wind blew and we were soaked! The view was amazing and the people so friendly. We sat and stared for hours, we took hundreds of photos and captured many memories. What a site to behold! Our room for the night was in Canada, so it was time to cross the border!

The site was even more majestic and there was even more to do on the Canadian side. This was the most expensive part of the entire trip, even more so than Manhattan but it was well worth it! For us, this was our once in a lifetime location, no desire to go back but who knows if one day our grand kids will head here and their parents can tell them all about this trip!
2 days in Canada and it was time to head through Canada to explore and see and visit and then Michigan was here! Welcome back to the USA! This part of the trip was bittersweet as it was the last part of our trip that we would spend the night in, which meant it was all coming to a close, but now was not the time to get sentimental, ti was time to ENJOY! Frankenmuth, here we come!

This small Bavarian village is one of our favorite locations that we spend Thanksgiving in every other year, including next month! This time around we spent 2 days shopping, eating, swimming and discussing what all we would do in November. Yes, this was the end of our trip, but it was the very beginning of our travel stories and memory books!
Not at all...enjoy every minute my friends!


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