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Friday, July 31, 2009

Three

When Mrs. Angela tagged me for this meme on Facebook, it triggered something in my head. I realized that I think I have done it before. However, being lazy like I am lately, I decided to forgo the search through my blog archives, and just do it again!

So, without further ado, my three things:

Three names I go by
1. Brittney
2. Baby Bear (by my parents,)
3. Batata (potato in Arabic. I thought it was a funny word when Ian was studying Arabic. Now that's his pet name for me.)

Three jobs I have had in my life
1. Nanny
2. Teacher
3. Maid

Three places I have lived
1. Oviedo, Florida
2. Gainesville, Florida
3. Winter Park, Florida

Three favorite drinks
1. Publ1x Sweet Tea
2. An Arnold Palmer (black brewed tea with a shot of lemonade, sweetened,)
3. Diet Caffeine Free C0ke with Grenadine

Three TV shows that I watch
1. The Office
2. 24 (I'm finishing season 5!)
3. Gilmore Girls

Three places I have been
1. Amman, Jordan
2. London, England
3. Normandy, France

People that text me regularly
1. Heather (my big sis!)
2. Courtney W
3. My momma

Three of my favorite foods
1. Banana Dream Cake (from To0Jay's)
2. French Toast
3. Cantelope

Three Things I am looking forward to
1. Figuring out what we are going to do for the next year.
2. Becoming Parents (eventually)
3. Moving to the Middle East

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Tree

I am a tree.
The harsh wind blows
And sweeps away my leaves and breaks my branches.
Gone are the fruits of my labor, and yet still,
I am a tree.

I am a tree.
The bitter air traps all life
Deep, deep, inside of me,
But I have hope because there IS still life, and,
I am a tree.

I am a tree.
From wells I can not describe spring
Forth new life and hope, and joy,
And now I can breathe.
I am a tree.

I am a tree.
Sunshine and blessings of new strong branches
Fill my heart with joy.
Despite the promise of more winters,
I can see the growth, therefore,
I am a tree.

*I don't claim to be a poet, but I thought I would record the thoughts that have been going through my head during this new trying period of our lives. Despite the pain, sorrow, disappointment, and anxiety, I know that the Lord is in control, and that I will learn and grow through this experience.*

James 1:2-3
"Count it all joy, my brothers, when you face trials and temptations, because the testing of your faith develops perseverance."

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

At a Loss For Words

(and yet I have a lot to say.)

Yesterday, we got our dreaded phone call.

Actually, to be more correct, it wasn't dreaded at all, because we totally didn't suspect it.

The Company, that we are moving overseas with, told us to wait an additional 6 months. We were shocked.

And by shocked I mean I cried for almost 6 hours straight.

I might have gotten a little melodramatic calling out to my husband "What are we going to do?!" between sobs, but, it comes with the territory.

Basically, the company (an NPO,) is short on funds due to donors not giving their norm during the recession, so they put a complete hiring freeze for the rest of 2009. We had no idea this was even possible, and we were told we were a a Shoo-in because of how high priority our position was.

The most hard to understand part was that we now only have 9 months until we have to be at training, and that is not enough time to be a teacher (usually 10 month contracts,) but just enough time to drive us completely insane if we stayed with our parents.

Please pray as my sweet Ian scrambles to find a job and provide for us during this confusing time.

Once he has a job, which will most certainly mean a move to another city/state, we will be looking for an apartment and having to unpack some of our things that are already packed and crated for international shipping.

I know God will provide, but our human questions are always "but what and when?"

Saturday, July 25, 2009

IF- Teaching Reading

Teaching Reading (2-5 years of age, depending on your child)

I'm a big advocate for early reading. My mom taught my sister and I to read before entering kindergarten, and it didn't hinder us at all. We might have been a little bored while Johnny was learning to read "See Spot Run," and we were onto The Boxcar Children, but beyond that, we were perfectly normal, if not gifted and talented.

So, once your child has shown interest in reading and books, and you have done some of the "prep work" from Pre Reading, moving on to reading should be a breeze (haha, well, at least not terribly difficult.)

I recommend Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons, by Engelmann, which is a scripted book that will have your child reading at a second grade level in 100 lessons! That is just incredible! 100 lessons/days later, and your child will be able to read and decode phonetically what alot of children can't do in the fourth grade!


You need about 20 minutes per lesson, the entire lesson is scripted so you do not have to prepare before hand, and you do not need any other materials! (wonderful when compared with most other programs that want you to virtually start a homeschool just to teach reading!)

Remember, the small motor skills that are necessary for writing usually develop much later than their necessary skills for learning to read. Please do not hold your child back from learning to read because they can not hold a pencil or cut straight. That will come with time.

On the other hand, once you have started your child on reading, don't forget to work with your child on their small motor skills. Coloring, cutting, lacing beads on a string, placing small objects (beans, rice,) into a cup or bowl with a spoon, will help these skills develop naturally.

Or, if you are like me, check out some great new materials, by Mead, which includes "Color Bound," a coloring book with raised lines so that your child knows when to "stay between the lines." (so cool!) They also have a litany of products for Early Writing skills!

There are other great reading systems out there, but remember to look for one that teaches your child phonics, and not just sight words. You child should be able to recognize a list of Sight words (google Dolche or Frye list,) but this comes secondary to learning how to decode.

Also, remember those leveled readers? Stock up on them! They are awesome for this reading stage because the learning child will feel like they have conquered a mountain, and most of these books introduce new vocabulary throughout. Better than a long story book that feels like you will never complete it!

Friday, July 24, 2009

IF- Pre Reading

I'm going through some education ideas (mostly for myself to remember years down the road,) and have broken it down into sections/milestones. Check out the Infancy to Early Toddler Years

Pre Reading

Please, do me and all of your grown up friends a favor....Toss out the battery operated toys. They are not necessary. 1-2 per kid. Tops. I'm dead serious. Nothing is more annoying and brain stunting than a red monster doing the hokey pokey.

Instead.....check out toys that make "classic," toys, aka toys that help your child and are non annoying. I love Melissa and Doug toys, especially for this 2-4 year age. They are so sturdy and will last for years!

Also, Target carries the Parenting line of toys or a new favorite website ChildTrek (for all of you "go organic," moms.)

When you are looking for books for this age group, I am a big fan of Leveled Readers due to their short length (usually 20-30 pages,) and fun illustrations. They usually run 3-4 dollars a piece (cheap, cheap, CHEAP!) and can be found at almost any store, bookstore, or not. At a bookstore, however, they can usually be found on a spinning rack, and come in character books (think, Fancy Nancy, Spongebob, etc,) or plain stories. They also come in nonfiction ones, which is amazing.

One of the biggest prereading things to remember, is that it's not just reading skills they should be developing. Don't forget about the math! I, personally, loathe math, so if it happens to fall off the back of the truck of responsibilities, I won't feel bad at all. Unfortunately, my husband stinks at math also, so our child is in trouble already.


One of my favorite items to use are Math Counters. You can find them at any educational store, but some of my favorite come from Lakeshore Learning (here.)


When you are shopping for them, look for a set in plane old primary colors, with the details of the objects not painted different colors (it will be too confusing, trust me.) It is also best if you can have big and small of the same objects, (ie Big dog, little dog,) but make sure that the one objects comes in a variety of color (red dog, blue dog, green dog.)

So, once you have these (about 15-25 per can, but it's worth it,) start by having your child sort all of the items by color. . This is also a great way to work on small motor skills. Once they are done sorting by color, have them sort by shape, size (big/little,) put them into pairs, groups of four, or have them make a pattern with them. You can also pick up a pair of child tweezers (like for a science experiment,) or use a spoon, and have them use this instead of just their hands. Seriously, these things each almost everything they need to know before entering kindergarten (except shapes perhaps, since "dog," isn't really a standard figure.)

Puzzles, too, should be focused on and around at this prereading skills (because isn't learning to read just decoding a big puzzle? It's methodical, but it is a puzzle.)

Remember, this whole phase is all about the play time! Keep everything in a game like fashion, and you will be almost certain to keep their attention. Read, play, work, with an intention of sneaking in little snippets of lessons here and there.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

IF

(warning, this post is incredibly long, but has been 3 weeks in the making. Please proceed with caution. And patience. And a sense of humor.)

**Edit** I have taken the post and split it into 4 parts/posts.

I've been thinking lately about the big IF's. What would I do if.... How would I prepare If.....?

And we all know that I don't have a child.

(no duh, right? I wouldn't have the time to write this incredibly long post if I did!)

But I do have a lot of opinions on educational materials and experiences and I believe they are well researched and have credentials.

AND, I do have over 8 years of education experience and over 10 years of early childhood experience. I worked as a preschool teacher in high school, planning lessons, learning as I went, and got my certification in 11th grade.

On top of all that, I was nannying for a (then) first and fourth grader, which included about 1-2 hours of tutoring 4 days a week. I continued that for the next 7 years! They are so grown up now, (Starting 9th and 12th this Fall,) but I loved the experience of working with them for so long!

On top of THAT (everything kind of overlapped,) I was getting my Elementary Education degree, babysitting like a storm, then graduated and "taught" 3rd grade for a little bit. Now, I am tutoring a 1st, 4th, and 6th grader, and it has gotten my "teacher" mind wheels turning, about what I would do, and why. I have been researching, reading, and discussing, to find out what works, what works best, and why it all works.

So, not having a child (yet,) hasn't stopped me from digging deep and figuring out some basic ideas. I thought I would write them down here to remember for years down the road.

Or, you know, just to laugh at when I have three kids and don't have a minute of time for any of this.

But if we are playing the hypothetical game, indulge me.

So, IF we had a child, here are my opinions on educational ideas and materials that would be MUST Haves (for us anyways.)

In Infancy to Early Toddler Years

I am in no way saying that your child needs to be a genius by the age of 14 months (though wouldn't that be cool?!) but I do think that being active in your child's brain development is essential. While teaching we would get to see some pretty interesting surveys and studies that were done that looked into the connection with academic success and parental involvement. In case you didn't know....it has a very high correlation.

Ian and I have talked about things that we expect to do with our (future) children and it includes the following (pretty common sense) list:

-Music, music, MUSIC! And not just classical or lullabies either (though I might just be the biggest classical music fan out there. That and big band music. Mrs. Angela once called me an old soul...I think she's right.) There is this sweet Led Zeppelin lullaby collection by "Rockabye Baby!" that we will definitely be utilizing. (the music is a little kerplunky and xylaphoney, but it does it's job.) Have different types of music for different times of the day. We might have a set of cd's by our cd player ready to go for a day, or have a playlist designed to go for different times of the day. I've already been accumulating my set for years now, and one day I'll share with you what we love for kids.

-Books! Read as much as possible. Not only does it exposure your child to a myriad of vocabularies, (please don't only read baby books.....that does not help,) but it teaches your child that there are certain times we sit quietly, even while we want to do other things. Make sure you point to the words as you go, use good pacing, and use intonation, all of which are reading skills we develop. And have babyproof books that can be played with ie: Board books and Tub books.

-Songs- And no, this isn't the same as "Music." I mean the little songs you sing to your child throughout the day. You know.... ABC's, Twinkle Twinkle, He's Got the Whole World In His Hands, The French National Anthem....

what?!

You don't sing the French National Anthem to your child? How strange.

I did.

To a child I rocked asleep 3 nights a week for her first two years of life.

Then she started singing it. Her parents thought she was a French speaking prodigy until I cleared the situation up.

Too bad the anthem is so brutally grotesque. What? You've never read the French National Anthem? Oh sheez. Okay, read HERE. Enjoy.

What? So sue me. I didn't think she'd pick up on it! It's not like I acted it out or anything. She was sleeping.

Ehem. Anyways. My point is that songs are really great for teaching before your child seems able to learn. So crack out those old "Schoolhouse Rocks" songs and get ready for a two year investment of very annoying songs.

-Toys (you'll hear my rant on battery run toys later.) For now, stick to simple "baby toys." And I mean SIMPLE people! Stacking, sorting, nesting, or music making toys, are all in the route to go with. Brands like Lamaze or websites like FatBrainToys or GrowingTreeToys all have the "classic," type of toys we should be looking for.

See? I told you this as much for me, as for you! I now have a list of toys, companies, and ideas that I can refer to one day down the road. I'm very excited about the rest of the posts in this series. Any other suggestions for this age group?








Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Strokes

I made a little discovery today.

(that seems to be happening alot lately. Maybe I am in an introspective place.)

But this one is embarrassing and not very enlightening.

Well. It was enlightening to me.

I was walking into the house from my car, after just finishing working out at the gym.

And, as usual, I was having a little conversation with myself. It went something like this:

Self- "I love rowing. It's so much fun! Plus, the rowing machine has the best view of CNN and I can just laugh and laugh and laugh at how racism has really turned the corner in America (ha.ha. Anyone know what I am talking about?)

Plus, I am low to the ground so that creepy old man who stands in the middle of the free weights checking out the women on the elliptical machine can't see me. I love rowing! You can really think while you are doing it and you don't have to concentrate on not...you know....falling on your face!

Hmmm, I wonder why they are always empty. Are they athletically insignificant? I always seem to go away sore and tired. I wonder if it is just an undiscovered exercise wonder.

Eh. Oh well. Different strokes for different folks."

***

And this is when it happened. You see. All my life I have assumed that this phrase was talking about painting. You know. Painting strokes. And I always thought that it just meant some people like to do long fluid painting strokes, others like short quick strokes like pointellism.

For serious.

*****

(back to talking to myself.)

Self: Hmmm. Different Strokes for Different Folks. OH.MY.GOSH! It isn't talking about painting! It's talking about swimming.

Different Strokes! AHHHH! Backstroke, Freestyle, Breastroke, Butterfly....not to mention Medley relays!!!

******

Did I mention that I was a competive swimmer for 7 years?
And that I then taught swimming instruction for a summer at a camp?
And that one of the standard greetings for when you are getting to know a new swimmer is asking them what their stroke is?

I felt really dumb.
And I still do while telling this story.

Am I right though? Is that phrase talking about swimming strokes? I could be SO wrong on this again!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Regressing

I think I have made a little discovery.

I'm kind of embarrassed of it though.

I think I have been regressing a bit.

And by "a bit,"

I mean a whole honking lot.

And by regressing, I mean, I had learned that basic household chores should be accomplished on a daily basis, and I now no longer have the will power to do them.

I don't think it is a permanent regression however. I believe it is temporary. I believe it has to do with my amount of motivation....you know, while living at my in-laws.

Three months ago, we lived in our own place and I did all of the cooking, cleaning, straightening, laundry, ironing without even a hiccup.

Now, I live here. Which means that if I don't do something.....they will. Ha! So I haven't been cleaning the bathroom (like I probably should,) or helping out in the kitchen (like I probably should,) all because I don't really want to clean up after people that aren't my husband. (and my brother in law and parent in laws are definitely not my husband.)

*sigh*

It will be a whole other story when we move to TN in four weeks, and we have a bathroom all to ourselves, and I am sure my help cooking will be fully accepted.

For now, who cares if my bed doesn't get made?

Or my counters not scrubbed?

Or if my poor, adorable husband has to wear wrinkly dress shirts to church?

Not I. That's for sure.

Monday, July 20, 2009

My Man

My Man is gone for a night or two.

He needed some serious male bonding time with his BFF Sam, so he is up in Gville for a night or two.

Funny how we spent the first 2.5 years of our relationship living in separate states/countries, but being apart 24 hours now makes me miss him like crazy.

Me? I'm spending some female bonding time with a bowl of Black Jack Cherry Frozen Yogurt and going to sleep early.

Oh yes.

And I will be missing my man greatly.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Blogging Book Goal- Book #20

Oi. Vey.

This book has taken me almost 2 months to read, and it is only 140 pages!

Seriously.

As you might have noticed, I have been reading alot of Mr. Lewis' books during this year long reading goal project, because I think it is important to expose yourself to many of the classic literary works that are out there. Too often we read only "bestsellers," and fad books, and forget to go back to the staples of literature. I chose C.S. Lewis this year to focus in on because of how many of his books are considered "classics," (over 10 of his books are, including The Chronicles of Narnia.)

So, when I borrowed this book from my friend Sam, to read over the summer, I had no idea how hard it would be to get through. Not that it wasn't beautifully and eloquently written, but because I do not have a mind for philosophy.

Sure, use a well phrased analogy, and I'll run with it, but use a well phrased analogy for over 20 pages and you will probably lose me.

This book discusses the four types of love that there are, how they apply to us, and how they can be corrupted.

I will have to read this book 3 more times in order to have a full grasp of its contents...but even then....

Ian (my husband,) read this book a couple of years ago and found a quote in it that really touched him. He bought a pillowcase, and a fabric marker, and wrote the quote on it for me as a Christmas present....

Years later, at our wedding reception, we had that quote, a favorite Bible verse, and other trivia printed on plate decoration for our guests to read and learn more about us.

"Need-love says of a woman "I cannot live without her";
Gift-love longs to give her happiness, comfort, protection — if possible, wealth;
Appreciative love gazes and holds its breath and is silent, rejoices that such a wonder should exist even if not for him, will not be wholly dejected by losing her, would rather have it so than never to have seen her at all."
-C.S. Lewis (The Four Loves)

Friday, July 17, 2009

Where We Are

I took these pictures the first week of June, right after we moved in with my in-laws with the summer! However, with my computer's monumental power shortage, I had not quite figured out a way to get them onto a computer, so, now that I have.....

Bring on the pictures!


The view from the door into our room...


Our window and my mini desk, complete with broken laptop, pens, and summer reading collection. Oh yes, and our make shift trash box on the right.



An Armour (which also happens to be a very hard word to say.)
Ian's summer reading collection, a wooden boat to cove the dorkiest of books, and his bowl, snatched from the kitchen to hold his keys/wallet/receipts/ etc.
The dresser. I haven't had a dresser in almost ten years, so this is quite the treat. Only, I only have one drawer. And it's the bottom one. Sad.

More summer reading books. Those pretty blue ones we ordered at a steal of a price for 19.99!
Found an old frame in his parents' closet. Had a cute wedding picture. Instantly personalize our room! Also, my pretty blue bowl for my keys/chap-sticks/hair ties.
In between the dresser and the armoire, in the corner of the room, might just be my best discover yet....2 laundry baskets. One for darks, the other for lights. No sorting come laundry time! It's amazing.

Our bed and nightstand, with a starbucks shaken lemonade (an arnold palmer,) and my favorite Aveeno lotion that I use before bed.Inside the armoire....our tv, wii, board games, dusting supplies (for some reason the whole room gets a thick layer of dust in 4 days flat,) and collection of "hurricane" candles, aka candles I didn't want to throw away in the move.

Our closet. Ian gets the top middle bar and I get all the rest. haha.

Our sink area. We share the bathroom with Ian's younger bedroom so we are grateful for a double sink!

Not in our room, but in the front office, my favorite reading area! The chair is blissfully comfortable and the lighting is always so nice. The madonna and baby picture freaks me out, but I am getting used to it!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Building

a Bear that is.

Tonight was Clara's 6th birthday party! Ian and I tagged along because the birthday girl herself asked us to make an appearance (though I really think she just wanted some more loot and not a pair of grown ups at her party. haha)

They had the party at Build A Bear and all of the girls had a great time (and Zachy too!)

Ian and I had just gotten back from a day trip to the beach, so we were pretty wiped out/starving, so our game plan was to watch her open presents and take pictures.

Well the picture idea was pretty much nixed. I totally forgot how little kids crowd around the birthday child while opening presents! When I was little, I couldn't handle that. I remember it having to be orderly and everyone out of my space/area or I would have a melt down. I probably still would today!

We did get one cute pictures of the birthday girl and us! Clara lovingly refers to Mr. Ian as 'the man in the yellow shorts,' (from the first time they met him 2 years ago!) or Young Master Ian, which I have yet to figure out if that comes from Star Wars or Ian's southern roots, haha.
Happy 6th Birthday sweet girl! You are loved so much by us!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Maybe, Just Maybe,

I am a little OCD.

Not clinically or anything, but my love of all things symmetrical can get a little carried away sometime.

Don't you think?

On another note....

Please pray, because Ian and I need to sell our cars ASAP! We knew we needed to sell one of our cars before moving, but we have just recently decided that it would be wisest to sell them both.

If you know anyone who is looking for a GREAT used car, pass on our information and get us in touch. We have a 2001 Honda Accord (more details to come,) and a 2003 Mazda Protege (with 55,000 miles)

Another post, all about the cars will be coming soon. If you don't know anyone, please pray that God will provide a generous buyer within the next 3-4 weeks!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Preview

This week is pretty packed for me. And by packed, I mean I have more than 2 things to do in an entire week, which thrills me.

Monday (which is today,) includes a giant family trip to the Universal theme parks. My in-laws' year pass expires in a week, so they wanted to get in one more trip in with Ian, myself, and Ian's brother, Andrew.

I'm pretty excited to go with the family, but things have been pretty tense with the brother in law lately (for everybody, not just me,) so I'm a little nervous about that. Sometimes he just likes to sleep, so maybe he'll sleep in and not come. Is that bad, that I think that is a good solution to avoiding a stressful encounter? Hmmm.

I'm taking my camera with me in an attempt to jump start my love affair with my camera again. It'll probably won't be until Christmas when I get a new one, so I need to "love the one I am with," for now.

Outfits are carefully formulated for a day in the park. I wanted to wear one of my Loft sundresses, so that I would be kept cool, but I knew that my legs would be chaffing like crazy, so I figured out a pair of bike shorts could be worn under them without any noticeable differences! Also, I have learned from my last trip and will not be wearing my pretty tan and silver sandals, and will be wearing my (clunkier and chunkier,) Reefs, because they are amazingly comfortable and don't friction* me as much.

*I am not entirely sure friction is a verb, but I couldn't figure out the appropriate one, so, oh well.

Tuesday includes tutoring for the Vargas, and that's about it. lol. I'm trying to set up breakfast/coffee with some people this week, so that may be on the agenda.

Tutoring is going great, thank you for asking. The Latin part is difficult because, I, um, don't know Latin, so it requires alot of prep time on my part to make sure I understand the pronunciation of everything. The girls' reading is improving too, and I will be assessing their reading level this week to see exactly where we are.

Wednesday is a day of girl shenanigans. Breakfast and shopping with Mrs. Angela to start the day off! (window shopping that is.....our bank account has quickly dwindled to nothing and that nothing must last for another two months!) Our weekly girl's night will be, um, somewhere. We've turned into quite the planning procrastinators lately, but that is alright, because we all know girls' night WILL be held, we just don't know where and what we'll be eating, lol.

Thursday is beach day! Wahoo! I am very/semi excited. What? It comes in waves. We'll have to leave around 2 ish (which is perfectly fine, because you are usually right on the edge of severe sunburn at that point,) because Clara Vargas is having a birthday party! She asked me and "young master Ian," to make an appearance at her party, but told us not to mess with her during the actual party activity. Apparently that means "just bring me a present at gift time and I'll share my cake with you." We will gladly oblige.

Friday is more tutoring, which got pushed back from Thursday because of said birthday party.

And, in case you were wondering, Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince comes out this week, and I am very excited about that.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Honest Scrap

Kristen, over at A Journey Through the Waiting Game nominated me for a blog award about two weeks ago, and I forgot all about it!
Part of the stipulation on this award, is that I need to tell you ten things that you may not know about me, so, here I go!

1. I hate ice chewing. And not just the sound of ice actually being chewed, but the sound of an empty cup/glass filled with ice being repeatedly raised to get a few pieces of ice in a mouth. It is like nails on a chalkboard to me. Too bad Ian is a chronic ice chewer! We're working on it though, me not being so annoyed, and him not being so annoying! haha.

2. I am a rule follower, to the T. I am literally terrified of getting in trouble and will avoid so at all costs. I walk in crosswalks only when the lighted man says to "walk." I order off of menus in the exact wording that it says, so that I will be following the restaurant's rules, and I never EVER ask for sides to be substituted. The following picture is a great example. I was in Jordan, visiting Ian, and we went to a museum that had pieces of the Dead Sea Scroll. Ian wanted a picture of it, but we were in a "no camera," zone. He took a picture anyway. I, was near tears.



3. I don't like mushrooms. Period.

4. I can, and often do, drink an obscene amount of milk per day. Probably at least half a gallon. Too bad the Middle East doesn't have "American," style milk, and instead have this microwaved stuff that can sit out on your shelf. What is that? I am thinking this might be my biggest "culture shock," area.

5. I played basketball in the second grade, and was one of two girls on the team. I loved it. That is, until my Dad, in his desire for me to score, yelled from the sidelines one time, and I was done. I'm pretty sure I cried for the rest of the game, lol.

6. I am not a cat person. (sorry!) but they really freak me out. I can be around them, but if I had a choice, I wouldn't. I love dogs. Except not my in-laws dogs. They are gross.

7. When I am tired, I repeatedly rub my nose on something soft, like a pillow, blanket, or jacket, if it is in my hands.

8. I have a deep affection for McDonald's Double Cheeseburgers, sans pickles. And in the Middle East.... they deliver! Wahoo! (I am going to be a giant. I have accepted it.)

9. I love, love, LOVE children's books. I could spend all of our (nonexistent,) income on children's books for our future children. Or, ya know, just for me. On a sidenote, yesterday at babysitting, 5 year old Clara asked me when Mr. Ian and I would have kids, and I replied "oh, I don't know." Then she asked me what I would name them, and I asked her if she had any suggestions. Oh did she. I believe the best one was Esmerelda, lol. And she told us to have five kids.

10. When I was swimming alot, in high school, we would do exercises called hypoxics, in order to decrease the amount of oxygen we needed, and to increase our body's efficiency with air. Basically, it was "holding your breath drills." I would practice in class, when the clock was in front of me, and I got really good! Over a minute and a half of holding my breath, and not passing out, haha.

That's it! Ya'll are more informed about my quirks then you ever thought necessary!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Waterparks for Dummies

I thought I would let you in, on some tools of the trade, about attending a waterpark.

Now, you might be asking yourself, "Why would there be things to learn about attending a waterpark? It's easy, pay to get in, ride the rides, and have fun!"

Alas, my friend, you are sorely mistaken.

Having grown up in the land of the tan and the home of the tourist watchers, aka Central Florida, I have become a semi expert on what you should do, and how you should act in tourist riddled situations.

So here, for your education and enjoyment, are a few "Water Parks for Dummies," guidelines.

1. Arrive early. Yes, you are probably going to said water park on your day off, or on a vacation, so you may be tempted to sleep in, but trust me, the stampede that awaits you if you wait until 10 am, is nearly unbearable. So, get up early, get out of the house early, and arrive early.

2. Arrive Fed. Nothing astonished me more, than when we walked through the gates of the park at 9:15 am and I heard my mother-in-law say "I'm hungry! What can we get to eat?" Believe it or not folks, theme and water parks do no usually specialize in breakfast foods. And the foods that they do carry in the morning, are usually things that you don't want popping out in the form of your distended belly. Please eat before coming.

3. Arrive prepared. Yes, prepared, and no, I am not a boy scout. You should arrive in a bathing suit that will stay in place, no matter what type of water currents come your way. I'm not usually one to say "wear your one piece!" but if there was ever a day to break out your tankini instead of the bikini, now is the day. No one likes to be, or see for that matter, the woman whose outfit was just not enough to keep her covered. And please, for pete's sake, wear shoes into the park. I shudder when I think about that British family who marched through the parking lot, and around the parks, including into the bathrooms, ALL DAY without shoes on. Disgusting. I'm not saying take your shoes on rides with you, but have them in the park at least!

4. Scope it out. No, this is not a reconnaissance mission, but it is imperative that the place you deposit your bag, towels, and sun protection goods be in a prime spot. Look for a spot that is fully covered from the sun and possible rain storms. Do no accept a "partially shaded," spot, because in midday, when the sun is out in full force, you will think "Where the heck is my partial shade?" Also, observe the people around you, in case of a kleptomaniac. No one likes sticky fingers. Also, certain cultures are not the best to sit around, especially if you are wanting some peace and quiet while resting in your full shaded lounge chair. I'm just saying, that's all.

5. Hit the most popular rides first. That's right, I am suggesting you ride the slides that are all the rage, at 10 am in the morning, and not waiting until later in the day. This is because of the fact that the line will get longer and longer throughout the day, and, say, if you do not want to be waiting 60 minutes in the blazing sun around midday for a 32.4 second ride, please follow my directions. You'll thank me for it, I promise.

6. Respect the Space. Personal Space, that is. Remember that no one wants your sweaty, drenched self saddling up against them and pushing forward as if to get closer to the front of the line. It's not going to get you any where people! Back off!

....

Sorry, I get very heated over this topic. In case you are like me, and you always make sure not to plaster yourself onto the people in front of you,, here are a couple of proactive measures to keep Pushy MckPusherson off of you.
- Give dirty looks. This is just the preliminary measure, but for most children, it works/scares them to death.
- Use the elbows. Place hands on hips with elbows protruding outwards, one facing the culprit. This should guarantee you at least 10 inches of personal space, unless you have freakishly short arms.
-Adjust your stance. If the elbows don't work, add in your legs. NO, I don NOT mean to kick them. I mean, as you take a step forward in line, do not bring your feet together, leave your legs in a V-shape with your feet apart. It's not the best choice, because you have to stand semi awkwardly, but with a particularly pushy visitor it might help send the message of "this is my space."
- Use the side rails. Especially with kids who aren't necessarily trying to rub up against you, but who are just so excited they seem to be bumping into you as they try to simultaneously get in front of you, simply extend your arms to both arm rails in the queue. This blocks them from bothering you. I am so dead serious here people.
- Finally, it is my suggestion to prepare for a worse case scenario before you come to a waterpark. Memorize this phrase "Please, do NOT touch me," in at least 5 different foreign languages. I recommend Spanish, Portuguese, French, German, and Chinese. I actually have said it, in English, to a Spanish speaking 12 year old, who insisted on putting her whole arm on top of mine on the hand rail, and though she didn't understand the words, she still got the meaning.

7. Control your offspring. If you can handle this one, no one will be using #6 against you or your children, I promise. But there are some scenarios that need considering. Please do no let your child streak at a waterpark. Please do not let your child scream bloody murder until he gets his ice cream. Please do not let your child dump a bucket of water on an unsuspecting sleeping man. It's just not nice. Also, a personal pet peeve of mine if your child is particularly precocious. Please do not let your child talk about the people in line around them. No one wants to hear what your five your thinks of their butt, or their hair, or their "weird bathing suit."

I have SO many other guidelines for you, but I figure this is enough enlightenment to last a month or so. (Also, if this post is well received, I am saving some points to do Theme Park for Dummies.)

I hope you enjoyed! And although I say all of this with a laugh spirit, I am dead serious, lol!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Blogging Book Goal- Book #19

I may be running a bit behind in my reading goal for the year.

But only a bit.

If all was going smoothly, I would have had 25 done by the end of June, but I did have the slump for almost 2 months where I was disinterested in reading, so the hope is, that that won't happen again.

I quickly finished this book, "The Scribe," by Francine Rivers, but then again, it is a 194 page novella, that is about 6 inches x 4 inches big.

I was interested in, first, on what exactly a novella was, so I thought we would dive deep into the world of Merriam-Webster Dictionary online, where they say a novella is:

"1 plural novelle : a story with a compact and pointed plot
2
plural usually novellas : a work of fiction intermediate in length and complexity between a short story and a novel."

So, there you go and now you know!

I have been a big fan of Francine Rivers for awhile now (um, hello? Redeeming Love or Mark of The Lion Series?) and became an even bigger fan when I explored her website and discovered what a real woman of God she was!

So I was very interested to see how she took a character like Silas, whom we know very little about, and turn it into a novella. (what a cool word.)

I think she did a great job with the story! The characters were intriguing (umm, Jesus and his disciples, haha,) and the plot was fascinating to hear it from a different perspective, other than the Bible. The trick with historical fiction books however, is discerning between what is fact and what is fiction. I spent a lot of time asking my brilliant husband questions and possibly scaring him into thinking that I believe everything Rivers wrote as fact, haha.

****
(Ian, who wrote Hebrews?

We don't know Brittney. Some conjuncture it was Paul, but since the style of Greek does not match up in Hebrews with his other books, it is thought to be not likely.

Oh. Well, Francine Rivers says it was Silas.

*perplexed look on Ian's face*

Umm, well, I have never heard THAT theory before, but I suppose it's possible.)

****
haha, that man cracks me up, I tell you.

So, really, as you read a historical fiction book, especially one dealing with the history of the Bible, I would strongly encourage you to do some research as you read. Keep a notepad for questions next to you, or, you know, just keep a really smart husband around. Whatever works.

The thing to remember, is that these authors aren't claiming these stories as whole truths. They would be the first to admit that you should do your own research and remember that this is a story (in fact, Rivers says almost the same thing in her "Dear Reader," section, which shows you that this is a good book!)

This book gave me alot to think about, especially since it paints the disciples in such a vivid picture. I often think of them as flat, 2-dimensional characters, but we forget that they were real people, with emotions and histories.

I can't wait to get my grubby hands on the rest of the series "The Sons of Encouragement, five men who quietly changed eternity." Also, I just discovered she has a series of called "Lineage of Grace, five women who played a key role in the lineage of Christ."

Awesome stuff people.

Now, I am off to finish a CS Lewis book that I have been working on since we moved here! (can you believe we have been living with my in-laws for almost a month and a half?! Me neither.)

Monday, July 6, 2009

Writer's Block

I've had Writer's Block as of late, and I haven't really figured out the cause or cure.

I have my suspicions, of course. Like maybe the cause is from the complete lack of anything noteworthy going on. And/or from the fact that I keep forgetting to take pictures of the events that are somewhat interesting, like our beach day on Friday, or our family outing to a Disney waterpark on Sunday, or a girls night to a local improv comedy club.

(I always bring my camera, but I seem to have lost interest in using it. That and the fact that since my computer is down, loading pictures on Ian's is a much more difficult and annoying process.)

The cure, I believe, is to get a more exciting life. And believe me, friend, I am working on it.

(I am also working on getting a new camera and some editing software, but patience is required, because those purchases are large, and means that we have to have some sort of income, which we have none of right now.)

And then, there are those funny moments, where I thing to myself "Self, this would be a GREAT blog post!" and then I sit down, and I realize that my post is two sentences long, and that is not so great.

For example. Today's "great," post would have read something like this.

My father in law just walked into the kitchen, where I was peacefully reading, to lament to me and tell me that his computer is infected with a virus. I made my best sympathy face, which is also covertly my "I don't know jack squat about virus' and how to stop them," face, and quickly scurried away to our bedroom so I wouldn't have to fake my knowledge. Then, it dawned on me that I use his computer, now that my computer has no power source, and I spent the next 3 hours pouting over the fact that I had not computer. Then, I spent the next 2 hours feeling guilty that I was so selfish. The computer is still broken.

The end.

OR

Yesterday's amazing post would have read something like this:

Today, we were at Blizzard Beach, a Disney Waterpark, enjoying a day late 4th of July family day. As we lay in our chairs resting, I observed a family with three young children, under the age of 5, and one young girl, about 10-12 years old. The parents were off enjoying the park, and had left the kids under the not so watchful eye of their 22 year old aunt and her boyfriend. Joyous. The screaming 3 year old finally convinced his aunt to buy him a bucket full of ice cream (seriously folks, it's literally a bucket,) and I watched in horror as he gorged himself on a sundae, then threw it up....right in the middle of where people walk! His aunt was unfazed. Then, I continued to watch, as the same 3 year old got in a fight with his 10 year old sister over whether he needed to use the restroom or not. He got so upset while trying to convince her he didn't have to go, he barely noticed when he went....right on the sidewalk! Once again, the aunt was unfazed. I, on the other hand, was disgusted.

The End.

See? Aren't these great stories, in theory? But then you write them and you realize no one would want to read just that!

*sigh*

Only 9 weeks until we are hired and life starts to speed back up again.

Until then, I will keep you only mildly entertained and spend most of my day watching 24 and swimming laps.

I apologize for the inconvenience.

Friday, July 3, 2009

The Day Before...

The Fourth of July!

Today was a pretty eventful day, for Ian and I.

We were woken up early by my mother in law askin my brother in law why he had slept through his dentist appointment.

So, you know, Score!

But then it got better, as we headed to our favorite beach nearby for some good old fashioned fun in the sun. Cocoa Beach (home of the famous Ron Jon Surfshop) is the nearest beach for us Central Floridians, at about a 45 minute drive. The beach is clean, and can not be driven on, which makes it a real beach experience, instead of a party experience.

If I want to drive on some sand, I'd do that somewhere else. I promise you. But not on a beach. That's just strange.

Anyways. We spent 3-4 hours at the beach, and I only got minorly burnt. By tomorrow morning, I bet it will be mostly cleared up. I am trying to avoid burning, but with a UV index of 10, as it was today, there is only so much lather and reapplying a girl can do!

We stopped off for a traditional slurpee, and I got a caffeine free one (who knew?!) because my poor hubby can't have caffeine because he'll get migraines. I also got him a Diet Caffeine Free Coke, or DCFC as we refer to it, because that's how we roll.

A post beach shower and clean up, and off to babysitting for the night! I got them fed, and only flipped one plate of spaghetti into my lap (um, white pants,) while cleaning up. If you didn't know this before, dish washing soap is wonderful for getting out hard stains on clothes if applied right away. For Serious.

Then, we started playing the Brittney made game of "Monster," which is a hybrid mix of hide and go seek, and freeze tag, with an "it," or monster, tagging people and sending them to "jail," where they can only be released when someone not it tags them! The round is over when the monster has tagged and sent to jail all of the other players, or when they are too frustrated/tired. LOL. It happens.

Ian came by to see the kiddos (don't worry, the Vargas' are cool with that!) and Zachy was in heaven, because Mr. Ian is a god to him, because of the Galloway's vast amount of saved GI Joes. Boys and their toys.

We got Ian to play Monster with us for awhile, then I put down Zachy and Ian read him his transformers book. Next down was Clara, with a quick mini tutoring lesson in bed (ha! we will see progress, you'll see!) and Scrabble with the older girls, before Ian left.

I snuck in a quick Latin lesson and sent them off to bed with their head lamps to do their Latin homework, haha, as I cleaned up our dinner dishes and watched an episode of Clean Sweep.

Now I am home, and am about to snuggle into bed and watch one episode of 24.

One, I tell you! One!

(we all know I will be suckered into a second episode, don't we?)

And I am looking forward to tomorrow, though I don't really know what it will bring. I do, however, know that I am baking a Blueberry Muffin Cake with a Lemon Glaze (yum!) so there is always that to anticipate!

I hope ya'll have a wonderful 4th of July, spent remembering where our country came from, what it's founding purpose was, and Who our country should be focusing on!

God Bless!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Reality Check

I had one of those moments last night, when I realized all that was coming up in our lives.

I mean, I know about all of these changes, but it seems to hit me in waves at times. Am I sad to leave my parents and sister? Oh yes. It is so hard to imagine holidays and birthdays without them, and it's especially hard to imagine just our day to day living without them.

Am I excited about the adventure that is coming? Oh, yes. But it's mixed with a tinge of sadness. Don't ever let my excitement for our move rule out the fact that I am so sad to be leaving everyone. And just so you know, I never imagined this life. I always pictured getting a beautiful country home near my parents, raising our kids by them, and spending holidays with our ever growing family.

I never thought that I would be moving across the Atlantic Ocean to the Middle East, to a land where most of my family is terrified of visiting me. I put on a brave face and say "you'll visit right?" but I know that most people won't, and that breaks my heart a little.

I do, however, know that this is the right thing to do. This is where we should be moving, these are the people we should be amongst, the culture we should integrate with.

So, our timeline looks like this:

Currently: Living in FL with my in-laws and brother-in-law
Late August: Move to TN to be with my parents
Mid September: Quick trip to Jacksonville, FL, to be officially appointed for our job
Mid October: Move to Richmond, VA, to begin our two months of training for cultural and language acquisition
Mid December: Finish training, head to TN for Christmas, FL for New Years.
January 2nd ish- Move to the Middle East

So, if anyone wants to plan and adventurous vacation, start saving! Ya'll are all welcome to come out to Jordan to see us!