Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Top Ten Tuesday: "... nobody sees a flower ..."

"Still – in a way – nobody sees a flower – really – 
it is so small – we haven’t time – and to see takes time, 
like to have a friend takes time."
-Georgia O'Keeffe

Ten Things I Realized Last Week

1. I cannot get all my planning done in one week.  I tried starting on History Odyssey while SC was at piano lessons, but I needed more space to spread out than the tiny bench afforded.  Also, I didn't have my computer handy, so I couldn't look up all the reading recommendations to figure out what is going to work for us.  No wonder so many homeschool moms spend all summer creating their next year's plans.

2. The tiny planner/calendar I bought is not going to fit everything I need to write down.  Even if I write small (which is fairly difficult for me), I still am needing more than one line per subject to make sure I have everything I need to know in the planner.  I have since created an excel spreadsheet that is modeled after the Sonlight lesson plans, but have yet to actually put any plans into this spreadsheet. 

3. We aren't going to really be able to start school until October 8.  This realization came as I looked at the calendar at piano lessons and tried to see how I would arrange the weekly lessons into the three sessions I have planned in my original schedule (two long on Mon/Wed, one short on Fri to finish up anything we need to).  Part of the problem is reflected in number one, that I cannot get everything planned in a week like I thought, and part of the problem is reflected in number eight, that we will be out of town for the next two weekends and SC will be spending that time with her grandparents.  Yay that homeschooling allows this manipulation.

4. I checked out more books from the library than I can read before I have to return them.  If you remember from a few weeks ago, I made a list of books that I wanted to read this year as I learn about the various styles of education.  Well, genius me decided that I should just check them all out at once!  Also, I got two young adult novels that recently came out that I want to read as well.  So, now most of my library books are due and I have barely even started on the pile.  Maybe after I send them back I will plan better to space them out over the course of the year.

5. I haven't read anything since AC came home from his last trip.  This may somewhat contribute to number four, but I also haven't read anything fun and relaxing.  Usually when he is gone I will put SC to bed and then turn on the tv for background noise while I read "fun" books.  Now that he is back, I try to spend as much time as possible with him in the evenings. 

6. SC has no emotional attachment to anything, including AC and I.  Due to this, typical discipline is not working.  I mean that you can explain to her that her behavior will exclude her from an activity, or that her toys will be donated to children who will take better care of them, or that she will miss out seeing AC come home or participating with me or AC in some activity due to her behavior, and none of this changes her behavior.  When we follow through with these explanations, like actually taking toys away, putting her to bed before AC gets home, or missing an activity, she gets upset, but only for a few minutes, and then she is over it and the behavior does not change.

7. I really need to quit having cheat meals with dairy or wheat because I feel miserable.  I do really well for a while sticking to eating Paleo, but sometimes I just really want a milkshake or a hamburger with a bun, and then I get into a rut where I eat them all the time.  Then it manifests into other things, like the amazing Dunkin Donuts Vanilla Chai Latte or breaded items like onion rings and chicken fried steak, and my allergies are back and I am rushing to the bathroom after every meal.  I love eating cleanly, just meat, fruits and veggies, and I don't know why I talk myself into needing these "treats" that make me feel so poorly.

8. We are going to be out of town for the next two weekends.  Also, these are both "long" weekends, as I leave Friday to head five hours south (see number nine), and then leave next Thursday to go to San Francisco with AC for a brief weekend trip.  This means we have a lot to do to get ready this week (including getting the house in order) so that we can be gone.

9. I am nervous about being a bridesmaid.  I have never been a bridesmaid before, and having only participated in my wedding (where there were no attendants, just AC and I), I don't know what to expect.  I also have to drive about five hours on Friday to get there for the rehearsal, and then drive five hours back on Sunday, all by myself because AC is leaving Saturday for a work trip.  I have never driven that long before alone, so I guess I am nervous about that too.

10. I think the creators of the advertising for Assassins Creed III have missed their target audience, because I am totally enamored with the commercials I have seen and really want to get this game.  Problem is, I don't really play video games, nor have the time to play something as complex as this one.  AC said maybe I should start with the free demo.

Top Ten Tuesday at Many Little Blessings

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Thankful Thursday: "You can never get a cup of tea large enough ..."

"You can never get a cup of tea large enough 
or a book long enough to suit me."
- C. S. Lewis

Today I am hugely thankful for a nice hot cup of tea.  I seem to have developed a sore throat and sinus issues as the weather here in Texas has changed once again from cool and breezy back to hot and sultry.  So, I made myself a nice cup of peppermint tea this morning before taking SC to Mother's Day Out.  Here is picture of my tea shelf, so you can see how serious I am about tea.

The tea at the back is double stacked, and there is more back behind the snap-lock tubs.  I have tea from quite a few brands, including loose leaf from Teavana, Taylors of Harrogate, Tea Forte, Sterling Tea, and Rishi Tea.  I also have bagged tea from Stash, Republic of Tea, Twinings, and Celestial Seasonings.  

My all-time favorite tea is White Peach Wuyi Oolong from Stash.  My second favorite is Lady Gray from Twinings.  I prefer oolong tea over all others, and like green tea the least.  Black tea is okay if drinking iced, or, like with the Lady Grey, a blend that is not as strong.  AC prefers black tea, and Earl Grey specifically.  I am not a fan of the bergamot flavor, but we have found an Earl Grey with Lavender by Rishi that is delicious.  Herbal, ceylon and rooibos teas are all lumped in the middle, and I drink them according to my mood.

I do prefer loose leaf teas in general over the bagged variety because the flavors seem better to me, though I cannot describe it more specifically than that.  However, you will notice that both my two favorites I have in the bagged variety due to the ability to make them more quickly.

Though I am thankful for hot tea today, I also love iced tea and that has become my drink of choice over soda when I want something other than water.  I used to drink my tea sweetened, but now drink it all black (see my page on eating Paleo).  However, if I have a sore throat and allergies, nothing helps faster than local honey in my tea!

As always, any comments, advice or opinions are welcomed.  Let me know what your favorite teas are, and how you like to drink them.  Don't forget to see who else is thankful today by clicking through below!

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Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Top Ten Tuesday: "To take a photograph..."

"To take a photograph is to participate in another person’s ... mortality, vulnerability, mutability."
-Susan Sontag, On Photography

When SC was first born, I made a point to take pictures all the time, However, between finishing school, teaching for a year, and then going back to school to work on my masters degree, I got out of touch with the camera.  Her first year, I made a "yearbook" of sorts, and I love looking back at all the pictures and reminding myself what it was like when she was so tiny and helpless.  I have created a book for her second year, but we have not printed it yet.  However, that is where I stopped.  One of my goals this year is to create a book for each of year three (which will be fairly empty - that is the year I was teaching) and year four, and try to keep up to date on creating year five as we go along.  

So, I decided to focus my top ten this week on photographs, and specifically, ten photos I took this morning in less than ten minutes.  I should warn you, I took over fifty photographs in the ten-munute photo shoot we had in front of our house.  SC does not sit still or pose in any way, so I am hugely thankful we bought a legitimate camera when she was born, that keeps up with the speed that I "snap" pictures as she moves about.  Also, today is "Teddy Bear Picnic" day at SC's Mother's Day Out program, so our pictures feature a teddy bear (that used to be mine when I was SC's age!) and a flower that SC picked from the front of our neighbor's house.  The purple spots on her face are not bruising, but a failed attempted at removing the marker-drawn "freckles" she graced herself with last night.  

2. 3. 

4. 5. 

6. 7. 

8. 9. 


Any comments, advice or opinions are welcomed.  Don't forget to check out other "Top Ten Tuesday" posts here. 

Top Ten Tuesday at Many Little Blessings

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Thankful Thursday: "The curriculum is so much necessary raw material ..."

"The curriculum is so much necessary raw material, 
but warmth is the vital element for the growing plant and for the soul of the child."
-Carl Jung

This week, I am hugely thankful that our curriculum order arrived from Rainbow Resource.  Last week it was held due to one item on backorder.  Well, that one item did not arrive, but the rest of it did. So, next week I will be focusing on planning out our year and, hopefully, the week after that (September 24) we will have our first official day!  I guess that is a big plus for homeschooling - no need to stress that our supplies did not arrive on time, because we can just figure it out on our own timeline.

By the way, SC's favorite thing to come out of the box was ... the air packs and brown paper that kept everything from moving around during shipping.  Yay for simple pleasures.

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Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Top Ten Tuesday: "Children should be educated and instructed in the principles of freedom."

"Children should be educated and instructed in the principles of freedom."
-John Adams, A Defence of the Constitutions of Government

Since today is "Patriot Day," I thought I would focus on ten things in American history that I think it is important for SC to know about.  However, this is me, and rather than simply focus on major things that everyone might expect to find on a top ten list of American history, I have decided instead to focus on ten lesser-known important American literary figures.

Top Ten Tuesday at Many Little Blessings

1. Anne Bradstreet:  While most of the so-called literature from the early colonial period consists of non-fiction works like letters, descriptions of land and indigenous peoples and lectures on morality, Anne Bradstreet spent what little free time she had writing beautiful poems, and was certainly the first American woman to have her work published.  She is one of my favorite poets, and though writing hundreds of years ago, much of her writing is still relevant today.  

2. Washington Irving: Considered by many America's first creator of literature, he wrote satirical works, short stories such as "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow," "Rip van Winkle," as well as many historical and biographical works meant for leisure reading.

3. Louisa May Alcott: This was a tough one to include, because most young girls read Alcott, but she is not really considered part of the "literary" cannon by most true American literary historians.  I think she is important because not only did she write from the perspective of a woman at a time when few women offered their perspective, but she wrote from the perspective of a young woman/child.  Her most well known works include Little Women and its sequels.

4. Henry James: Brother to the famed psychologist William James, Henry James wrote essays, novels, non-fiction and short stories, all in a variety of styles.  He is included on the list because he has written something for everyone, though I personally enjoyed The Turn of the Screw.

5. Kate Chopin: One of my favorite authors, Chopin wrote very little in her lifetime (especially compared to James), but what she did write was had a large impact on the early feminism movement around the turn of the 1900s.  Her novel The Awakening is incredible, and is very much an intimate look at the common struggles of marriage at that time.  She also wrote short stories, including "The Story of an Hour," also an intimate look at a marriage, but vastly different in how the story comes together.

6. Paul Laurence Dunbar: One of the first African-American poets, Dunbar is much less known than the later Harlem poets like Langston Hughes.  However, Dunbar left a lasting impression on those who followed, including Maya Angelou.  He wrote both in English, as well as what he called "Negro dialect," similar to the style author Mark Twain used when writing African-Americans.  The poem "We Wear the Mask" is one of his most well known. 

7. Ezra Pound: A poet most notably considered a "father" of modernism, whose influence helped guide and promote more well-known poets such as T.S. Eliot and Robert Frost.  My favorite poem by Pound is "In a Station of the Metro."

8. F. Scott Fitzgerald:  Yes, Fitzgerald is anything but lesser-known, but I have included him on the list because though many know of his The Great Gatsby, I highly prefer his short stories, like "Absolution," found in Babylon Revisited.  Personally, I think he is a better short story writer than novelist, and I think the short stories are worth the read.

9. John Ashbery:  Contemporary American poets are simply lesser-known in general because our society has pushed poetry to the back in favor of other forms of literature (or media, in all honesty).  Ashbery has won every major poetry award that can be won, and still keeps writing.  He was a finalist for the National Book Award for his 2005 work Where Shall I Wander, and is due to publish another poetry collection in December 2012 titled Quick Question.

10. John Green:  As the "young adult" genre of literature has quickly emerged through the past twenty or so years, John Green has shown himself to be the voice of this genre.  He has both won the Printz award, as well as received "honor" status, for his first two books respectively, Looking for Alaska and An Abundance of Katherines.

Any comments, advice or opinions are welcomed.  Don't forget to check out other "Top Ten Tuesday" posts here. 

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Friday, September 7, 2012

"The aim of education is wisdom ..."

"The aim of education is wisdom,
and each must have the chance
to become as wise as he can."
-Robert M. Hutchins

I finally finished reading "The Great Conversation" by Robert Hutchins, even though it took me a couple of weeks, cramming in a few pages here and there while I waited on SC at dance, gymnastics and piano lessons.  Unfortunately, by the end of the day my brain is only capable of comprehending "light" reading (like romance novels), where there is nothing to think about, argue with, and there is always a happy ending.

That being said, there is quite a bit of Hutchins' argument I agree with, and some I do not.  Some of what I disagree with I think has to do with my looking in hindsight from where we are now in history (especially with the massive development of technology to what it is today) versus what Hutchins could only guess at when he first wrote in the early 1950s.

Many of Hutchins' predictions, in fact, have not turned out as he would have hoped.  One of the main arguments he makes is that an education through the liberal arts (a "liberal" education) was initially only received by those of the elite classes - people whom had both political power and leisure time.  Now, the masses have political power in that there is universal suffrage.  He also assumes that with the development of technology, more people will have more leisure time, since it will take less time to do his/her work.  Hutchins is nothing if not an optimist, striving for an ideal, and he failed to see what would become (and honestly, probably already was) the driving factor in American society: money.  Those with the most money are now able to buy the political power they need, rendering those without to be voters with no power.  When looking at the private sector, the people in charge are driven to acquire more wealth, which means that instead of more leisure time with which to acquire a liberal education, workers now work longer hours for less pay, or require multiple jobs in order to pay for necessities for their families.  Hutchins mentions that "whatever work there is should have as much meaning as possible" and that all "workmen should be artists," but a worker who goes from one minimum-wage job with no hope for advancement to another minimum-wage job with no hope for advancement, all to provide meager rations of food, clothes and a roof over his or her family is as far from an artist working a job filled with meaning as one could get.  Hutchins makes the assumption that this happens in other countries, and demands that the "statesman" should see to raising the standard of living, but it is happening here, and the "statesmen" are all to happy to turn a blind eye in return for a coin in their own pocket.  America has regressed in this area, and must find a way to get back on track.

 The advancement of technology has even gone so far (as Hutchins' correctly predicted) as making the world a much smaller place, but instead of creating a world society (as Hutchins thought might happen), American companies now are sending more and more jobs around the world, creating mass unemployment and sparking protests and riots from "educated" college graduates who have no place to work, artistically or otherwise.  Now, the "dream" every parent had for their child to get a college education seems worthless, and society is running full speed toward Hutchins' conclusion that the people's "uneducated political power is dangerous, and their uneducated leisure is degrading and will be dangerous."  Hutchins argues that society should constantly strive for the ideal, "that everybody should have the chance to have that education which will fit him for responsible democratic citizenship and which will develop his human powers to the fullest degree."  However, the society we live in now shuns education.  School (K-12) is a place where children are dumped, to keep them busy while the parents attempt to earn a living, or even to simply indulge in their own interests.  Curriculum is developed to teach to the most average student, and focuses on data, facts or skills, which can be tested through the use of a bubble-in answer form.  College is a place students go to "have experiences," including parties, sporting events, and making new friends, and eventually they must choose a major, but education in general does not interest them so they choose what they think will be the simplest path, with the least amount of work required.  Obviously this is a huge generalization, and there are many students in the upper-echelons of each and every college or university that strive toward educational excellence and wisdom, but most colleges in general are only interested in what brings them money, so their focus is also on the most average of students.  Hutchins points out that "one of the most remarkable features of American society is that the difference between the 'uneducated' and the 'educated' is so slight."  This is even more true today.  How do we reconcile what Hutchins says our society needs to be successful with where we are now?

I do agree with Hutchins' assessment that in order for democracy to work, the people need to be educated.  However, unlike Dorothy Sayers in "The Lost Tools of Learning," who specifically focuses on classical education for youth, Hutchins largely states that this education must be done after adulthood has begun, because a younger set of readers lacks the real experience required to comprehend what the great writers are saying.  He uses the example of Macbeth, by William Shakespeare, stating that a reading of the work in high school would only amount to mediocre comprehension, but a reading of the work as an adult, after having experienced marriage, would result in a much higher comprehension.  I have honestly found this to be true myself and cautioned an unmarried friend against reading Kate Chopin's The Awakening, because I felt that without the experience of marriage, much of the work would be lost to her.  However, as true as I believe this argument of Hutchins' to be, I am struggling to reconcile his belief that "every man and woman, from childhood to the grave" should receive a liberal education since he spent so much of his time arguing that young people would not understand what they are reading.  Add this to the fact that how America is now educating its young people has created adults that do not  "read great books and look at great pictures knowing very little of Plato or C├ęzanne, or of the influences which moulded the thought or art of these men, quite aware of their own ignorance, but in spite of it getting a lot out of what they read or see," but rather adults who relish simplistic books, simplistic or distasteful pictures, crude and lowbrow humor, music created by corporations rather than true artists, and visual media that combines the worst of these.  One of the things I loved about the Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins was how well it mimicked American society in this respect.  How do we educate in a way that leads young people to become adults who ARE "sensible," understand "the tradition in which we live," and are able to "communicate with others who live in the same tradition and to interpret our tradition to those who do not live in it?"  Hutchins concludes that "an educational system that aims at vocational training, or social adjustment, or technological advance is not likely to lead to the kind of maturity that the present crisis demands of the most powerful nation in the world."  Remember, this is sixty years ago, and if anything, the crisis has gotten worse.  But how do we actually create and implement said system, from where we are now?

Finally, the first chunk of the essay felt to me like an infomercial on these specific books rather than a treatise on a classical education and how to create "an education [system] that draws out our common humanity rather than our individuality."  In fact, he states that to leave these books unread means to remain purposely in ignorance, an "undeveloped" human being.  He constantly refers to "these books" or "this set of books," reminding the reader that it actually is an introduction to a set of books rather than a call to arms, the arms in question being "great books" in general.  He hopes that adults reading the introduction will then read the set of books, and though he makes some great points about the state of education in American society, he provides no relief for those who agree with him.  He also assumes that if only people could read his arguments for reading the set, people would see the error of the way they have been doing things - if only it were that easy.  

If anyone has any suggestions, advice or opinions about anything I have posted here, please comment!

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Thursday, September 6, 2012

Thankful Thursday: "... the child in pursuit of knowledge ..."

"What we want is to see the child in pursuit of knowledge, 
and not knowledge in pursuit of the child."

- George Bernard Shaw

This week, SC goes back to her bi-weekly "mother's day out" program at a local church.  I am hugely thankful for this program, and not just because it has allowed me time to myself twice a week.  

The program focuses both on academics and Christianity, and has honestly helped fill in the gaps for things I just would not have thought about teaching SC on my own.  For example, last year she came home singing a "days of the week" song, and later, a "months of the year" song.  It may seem obvious that a child needs to know these, but in the day-to-day of life, and even adding in the small amount of homeschooling we did last spring, it just didn't come up.  

The program has also afforded SC with various "field trips" that I could not have managed on my own, like bringing a petting zoo to the school, or the firemen or police officers coming and talking, plus the various dress-up days that give each child an opportunity to be creative within a theme (with mom's help, of course), and see how other children were creative.

This is the one part of our life now that I do not know how to fill if we make the decision to homeschool full time.  It is not just the social aspect, because SC does many activities like gymnastics, dance and piano, where she has the opportunity to be social and interact with other kids.  Honestly, I do not know if even public school can fill the gap that will be left when she "graduates" from this mother's day out program in May.  We have been hugely blessed by this program, and I am thankful that it is available for SC to attend.

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Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Top Ten Tuesday: "One half of knowing what you want ..."

"One half of knowing what you want 
is knowing what you must give up before you get it." 
- Sidney Howard

Over the weekend, I was planning on writing a review of "The Great Conversation" by Robert Hutchins, but life tends to happen and I am only half-way through reading the essay.  So, I decided to focus on some things I am looking forward to and goals for this year that are not really school/curriculum related.


1. Organizing/ Cleaning:  I am not very good at keeping house, and that is something I really want to change.  I love planning and organizing things like my pantry and the closets, but tend to make piles around the rest of the house, which makes it look quite cluttered.  It has recently been difficult to get SC to help clean up her room and playroom, and I think one of the reasons is because she sees the rest of the house so unkempt.  So, this year, I want to spend some time getting everything in order (even if we have to change our schedule for a few days), and then come up with a plan to keep it that way. 

2. Eating at home:  Ever since I spent a year teaching high school two years ago, we have really struggled to get back to eating at home most of the time.  Part of that has been due to SC being involved with activities in the evenings, then being tired from those activities, so we just do fast-food so she can get in bed at her normal bedtime (7pm).  Part of it has been due to problems with keeping the kitchen cleaned up, so even when I do plan to make dinner, I forget I have no space to do it, and we end up eating out.  This year, I want to try to eat at home 5 of 7 days a week.  That still leaves two days to eat out with family, or in case something comes up in the afternoon/evening and we need a quick solution.

3. 90% Paleo:  In conjunction with eating at home, I want us to be solidly eating paleo foods 90% of the time.  I am currently about 75% paleo on my own, and because I am less strict with SC, she is maybe 40% paleo.  AC is maybe 10% paleo, but his work schedule makes it difficult for him.  He travels a lot, and while it seems easy to just get meat and veggies at a restaurant, very often that option is not available.  He is stuck with room service, if it is offered, or whatever he can grab (usually fast-food) travelling to and from his client(s).  This year, I want to figure out a way to help AC eat paleo more of the time, and I want to be more strict with SC about the choices she makes when she has the option to choose.  Also, eating at home most of the time will help with this.

4. Church:  We absolutely love the church we go to.  However, we really struggle to get there on a regular basis.  In fact, we are lucky if we get there once a month for services.  Part of the reason is because the church we go to takes about 30 minutes to get to, and they only offer one service at 9am.  This means we all have to get up earlier than normal to get ready.  Part of the reason is because AC travels so much, Sunday is one of the few days we have with him, and we end up staying home, running errands, or visiting his or my parents instead.  This year, I really want us to get to church most of the time.  In fact, once we start going regularly, I would love for us to finally join the church, but going regularly and being active with our community group is the first step.

5. Christmas:  It has really been on my heart since SC was born that, as a family, we need to focus more on Christ and less on presents.  However, having a new child and loving to gift her and each other with things has turned our Christmas ritual into a monstrosity.  This past year was the first year we didn't have to take a break from opening presents, and only because SC just tore through them so fast, not because we cut back in any way.  I proposed to AC that this year, we really focus on the reason for Christmas, rather than the presents.  I proposed that we start making a big deal out of birthdays instead, and really turn Christmas into a birthday celebration for Jesus.  We could each receive only one present from the family, and fill our stockings with small things, and give the rest of our Christmas funds as gifts to Jesus through programs like Samaritan's Purse.  I even found a great Advent idea book to help get us started, instead of just the simple count-down and candy calendar that the stores sell.


6. New friends:  I recently connected with a woman who I went to high school with, but having graduated in a class of hundreds, we never knew each other then.  She recognized me at a local McDonalds (more than 40 miles from the area we both grew up in) as someone "she remembers passing in the hall."  We instantly hit it off.  She has a daughter about six months younger than SC, as well as a little boy who is about 18 months, and SC has really enjoyed spending time with them.  It has been fun to get to know her, and I am looking forward to spending more time in her company.  Also, she is probably going to start homeschooling when her daughter reaches school-age, so it will be great to share ideas with her.

7. Piano lessons:  I found a place that takes 4-year-olds for real piano lessons, and I am very pleased that I was able to get SC into the last place in the class.  It will be difficult to make the drive downtown on Thursday afternoons, but I am looking forward to SC taking lessons from someone trained in teaching piano to young kids.  She loves music so much, and already enjoys creating on our piano at home.  I cannot wait to see how taking these lessons fosters that love.

8. Seattle/ Portland:  We are hoping to take a trip this fall to the Seattle and Portland area, part of which will be a work trip for AC in Seattle, but SC and I will be able to travel down to Portland while he is working and visit my aunt, cousins and their kids, whom I have not seen since right before I got pregnant with SC, and SC has never met.  In the almost five years, SC was born to us, but my three cousins have had four babies I have never met, plus one of my cousins has remarried and also has a step-daughter.  So SC has five new cousins, plus the two older ones, she has never met.  I am very excited about this trip and getting to see this part of my extended family.

9. San Francisco:  Last year, when AC traveled to San Francisco for Oracle's OpenWorld, I tagged along at the end of the week/weekend so that we could have some adult/married time just for us.  I have discovered that having a quick trip like this helps invigorate our marriage, gives us time to go to places that SC just isn't old enough to go to yet (like cities that require a ton of walking!), and honestly makes us appreciate SC in a way that being with her daily doesn't allow for.  This year, I will be tagging along again for the end of the week and weekend, and I am really looking forward to it, especially since AC has been travelling so much these past few months.  It is only a few weeks away!

10. Ireland:  This is a totally unexpected trip that has come up in the past two weeks, but I am very excited about it.  A friend of mine recently sent me a Groupon link to a trip for a week to Ireland and asked it I wanted to accompany her.  I have only been out of the USA twice, and both times were to go skiing in Canada, so I am looking forward to traveling to Europe.  I am also very excited to travel with my friend, AB, because she and I have similar ideas about the types of things we want to do/see when we travel.  Finally, I am thrilled to have this trip to myself, to renew my love for AC and SC by spending time away from them, and to relax from the high-energy job of being a wife and mother.

Any comments, advice or opinions are welcomed.  Don't forget to check out other "Top Ten Tuesday" posts here. 
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