This Just In ...

Click on the images on the right sidebar to see what the kids are up to!

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Broken and Bruised

** Update: I got a call from Kyndal's doctor today. Her x-ray came back showing a possible fracture or other issue in her C1/C2 and they recommended a CT scan of it. Her doctor said to cancel the appointment we have with the osteopathic physician because no one can touch her back until she sees a back surgeon. It's possible it will end up not being anything serious, but just in case she has restricted her to no activity beyond walking until we see the surgeon. Oh dear.

Yesterday I took Kyndal to the doctor to have her back x-rayed as a result of her car accident on May 3rd.

She has been having a great deal of pain located on her upper spine. Within seconds of touching her shoulders and back, her doctor told her that she has severe whiplash. She explained to us that your back is naturally curved when looking at it from the side view. Kyndal has been having severe muscle spasms around her spine for almost two months that have caused her spine, especially in her neck, to straighten out stiff. She said her situation is "chronic" and she will need treatment, at least for the next month or so.

She put her on a high dosage anti-inflammatory for the next 20 days and referred us to an osteopathic physician who specializes in musculoskeletal disorders. Hopefully this is as serious as it is and can be taken care of with a couple of months of treatment, but I guess we will see.

Here's the weird thing.

Last September Kyndal had been complaining of this bump on her inner left knee. It was very painful to the touch. While we were getting Brynne's school shots, our doctor looked at her knee. It was very sharp and pointy, so she sent her down for an x-ray. We never got the results from it, and never received a bill even. I called the office a couple of times to check on it but never got a call back. Time just went on and we just quit calling, I guess. While we were there yesterday I asked about it. Her doctor didn't have the report in her file at all. She told me to ask about it when we had her back x-rayed.

When we got home yesterday I got a call from her doctor. She wants us to have the knee x-rayed again because, apparently, back in September the x-ray showed some kind of fracture in Kyndal's knee!

And all this time we thought she was being a hypocrondriac!

I guess not.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Nicole's Daybook

Outside my window... Super sunny and, I suspect, hot! Had a good soaking rain on Sunday and yesterday was a tad cooler.

I am thinking... about Dawson's school year coming up and the plans for it.

I am thankful ... that I am given the opportunity to be home with my children in the summer (and at all times) to watch them grow and learn and have fun.

I am wearing... my pjs still. I didn't get in my run this morning because I have pulled my neck and upper back somehow so I didn't want to aggravate it.

I am wondering... what will become of Rick's department at work if business doesn't pick up. I'm not worried, really, just wondering what the future holds.

I am creating... balloon flip flops for Brynne and a shadow box of Rick's OSU stuff (still) and now adding a redo of my bedroom sitting bench to my list. Hoping to work on some of it today.

I am going... to try to clean my floors today, finish the laundry and clean the bathrooms.

I am reading... Rise and Shine by Anna Quindlen.

I am hoping... that the pain in Kyndal's back is something minor.

On my mind... is unfinished projects and housework. I really need to get on top of things so I can feel like I can relax!

From the learning rooms... emphasis on being Courteous and continuing responsibility of morning chores.

Noticing that ... Dawson is such an awesome kid when he decides to be helpful, do what he's supposed to do and be responsible. Yesterday was a great day with him!

From the kitchen... I smell my real Kona coffee.

Around the house... house cleaning just needs to be done. Summer means fun activities which means I'm not here to do my housework and it gets dirty fast!

One of my favorite things... is the quiet of the morning from the time I get back from my run to when the first person gets up.

A few plans for the rest of the week... Today I have to take Kyndal to the doctor to have her back x-rayed. She's been having a lot of pain in one of her vertebrae and we are worried it's injured from her car accident last month. Then we are stopping by Lowe's to pick up a refrigerator box so the kids can make a space ship to play in. On Thursday Kyndal has an orthodondist appointment. On Friday we will go to Big Splash. We don't have any plans for Saturday, yet, but on Sunday we are celebrating the 4th by going to a pool party at one of our neighbors'.

From my picture journal.

Our little babies {Quincy, Buck and Chloe} trapped in their new fenced yard, on a hot summer day (thus the tongues wagging). I was tending to my garden, and they wanted me!

Read other daybooks at The Simple Woman's Daybook.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Menu Plan Monday

In Redbook magazine, the cover person (usually a celebrity) fills in the blank on a white t-shirt that says, "I love my ________ life." I've often thought about what I would write in that blank.

This week in Beth Moore's online Bible study of the book of Ruth, her small group question was to describe your life, as it is right now, in one word. (I'm not doing the study ... wish I was ... but I do follow her blog.) Again that got me thinking about what my life is like.

For me the word would be STRUCTURED. I love my structured life!

I know that some people don't operate well under it, and that it may even push my family to the point of insanity at times. But, honestly, I catch myself smiling when I am doing those every day mundane structured life kinds of things. I can't help it. It's what makes me tick. (Now, it can get to a point of going overboard, and I have worked hard over the past year to work on keeping it within balance.)

Ten years ago, this coming December, I quit work to stay home full time and take care of my family. Because of that, and the loss of my income, some dramatic changes had to be made. And, of course, I started in the area of groceries. That month I started using a separate calendar to plan our meals. I remember Rick laughing at me because I had a meal calendar. Well, who's laughing now?? It has certainly been a lifesaver in helping me budget our grocery money and not waste food. (In fact, Rick creates my calendar for me and even has a designated spot on it for me to put our daily menu. He loves me. I love him.)

I say all this to say that after almost a decade of planning meals, I still love the structure of it and the sense of control it gives me. It makes me smile.

Here is our structured meal plan for this week ...

Monday ~ Easy parmesan chicken, homegrown tomato salad

Tuesday ~ Beef kabobs, veggies and rice, homegrown green beans

Wednesday ~ FFY

Thursday ~ Tacos

Friday ~ Hot ham and cheese sandwiches, salad and chips

Saturday ~ Chicken quesadillas

Sunday ~ Celebrating July 4th at a neighbor's pool party. Having barbeque, and I'm bringing party potatoes, blue cheese bites and lemonade pie.

Now, on to the question for you. Fill in the blank, "I love my ___________ life." Go on, leave me a one word comment with your word. Do it, come on, even if you're not a regular commenter! Come on, it will make me smile!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

The Cruise Itself

I've given you the blow-by-blow of everything we did in Hawaii.

But I haven't really talked as much about the cruise itself. I've had people ask me if I would recommend it.

I have gone on seven cruises in the past 20 years {wow .. the first one was 20 years ago!} Not a whole lot has changed out in the open seas. I've cruised on four different cruise lines, one of which no longer exists. Here would be my advice:

If you are taking your kids on a cruise, go on Carnival (preferably The Conquest.) The rooms are larger, the food is fine, the adult shows are mediocre, but the kids' programs are excellent. There is a good time to be had by all! {I've also heard that Disney is the absolute way to go!)

If you are going on a cruise with your spouse only, definitely go on a Royal Caribbean. The ships are nice, the food is typically excellent, the service is great and the adult shows are a little better. It's an overall nice, romantic cruise.

If you are going on a cruise where you will be exhausted the entire time you are back on the ship, then (and only then) go on a Norwegian {Freestyle} cruise.

As you read from our posts about the cruise, the time difference was a bear. That, coupled with all of the activity we did during the day, had us going to bed sometimes as early as 7:30 p.m. The nighttime entertainment was useless, and it's a good thing because there wasn't hardly any of it. On the other cruise lines there is a very active Cruise Director who you see and hear from all the time. If I would have tripped and fell on our Cruise Director on this cruise, I wouldn't have known it. Norwegian (or NCL) didn't have a show staff of dancers, singers, etc. So, when they had an event they literally pulled wait and bar staff in to do it. Not too entertaining.

We heard from our zipline tour guide that the cruise we were on, on The Pride of America, is known by the locals as the cruise of "newlyweds or nearly dead." So true! I've never seen so many old people in my life! You had to be very patient in the buffet areas. Oh my!

And speaking of food, on other cruise lines the majority of the wait and bar staff and room stewards are from another country. They work on the ships for months at a time, mostly working for tips, and send that money home to their families in poor countries. So, they work really, really hard at providing you with individual service to get maximum tips. Not so on The Pride of America. It was staffed primarily by college aged kids who were trying to figure out (or didn't care yet) what to do with their lives. They were working their 5 months on to make enough money to travel on their 5 weeks off. With NCL it is "Freestyle Dining" which means you don't sit at the same table with the same waiter for every meal. Someone different is waiting on you all the time. So, your tips just go into a pot and are divided evenly among everyone. There is no incentive to go above and beyond and, believe me, they didn't.

All of this being said, none of this concerned us on this cruise. We were using the ship as a floating hotel with free food. And I thought it was a really neat ship! It had an Americana theme, instead of European, which was cool. There was no casino, which thrilled us. We were so exhausted at night that we didn't want to do anything but eat quickly somewhere and go to bed anyway. The food in the Aloha Cafe was sure adequate for that! I had a philosophy: If I wasn't planning it or cooking it or cleaning it up, it was perfect for me! If I didn't like what I was eating, I just put that plate away and went and got something else .. usually dessert!

So, there is my recommendation on cruise ships.

As far as this particular cruise to Hawaii? Other than upping my Dramamine intake that one night, I wouldn't have changed anything about it. I am also glad we chose to go to Hawaii this first time on a cruise. If we would have just chosen an island to fly to, I'm afraid we would have chosen Honolulu and then would have been severaly disappointed! Now we know exactly where we would like to go back, if we ever do that.

We saw some of the most amazing things on the islands, did some of the most amazing activities and surprised each other with what we could do! I love to travel with Rick because we are extremely compatible! We always have a good time (except when we lose hundreds of dollars or drop our camera in the water). But, it seriously was a vacation of a lifetime!

And I have told Rick that I want to go to my death bed not knowing how much we ended up spending!

I hope he thought it was worth every penny. I sure did!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Some Unsolicited Reviews

I have been invited to do book reviews in the past. But, my history with reading is this: I get in the mood and read several novels in a row, non-stop, ignoring all else in my life. Then one day I'm not in the mood to read anymore and it might be months or longer before I get back in the mood. So, that doesn't work too good when you are asked to review a new book. So I have declined the invites.

Well, I've been in the mood to read. In three weeks I have read three novels. One was okay, but two I have read have been excellent and worthy of recommendation!

I have read every one of Kristin Hannah's books. I love her style of writing and the women she writes about. This book was completely different from her norm! It still had the deep female characters I love. But, it had a flavor of historical fiction thrown in, chronicling the maniacal undertakings of Stalin in World War II. I completely recommend this book. I cried in the end, on the airplane home from Hawaii. Great book!

This is Anna Quindlen's brand new book. I haven't read any of her books before, although I have another one ready to read. Her style of writing is completely different, all in 1st person with mostly narrative instead of dialogue. At first I didn't like it. But before I knew it I was reading away and finished the book in two days. I could completely relate with the main character, Mary Beth and actually learned something from her every day life and the tragedy that takes place in it. Another very good book!

I'm also not one to sit and watch movies. We rent them all the time and I never get around to watching them. And I always think I want to go to the movies to see something, and then never get around to it. (Are you getting the idea, yet, that I have a hard time sitting still?)

But, in the last week we have seen two movies that have also been excellent and worthy of recommendation!

First of all grab your tissue box before you sit down to watch this one! It is based on a true story and actually occurred in Japan in 1925. If you have a beloved bigger dog, like we do in Crusoe, this movie will affect you in some profound ways. When it was over we were all tear-streaked and hugging all over Crusoe. I think you prepare yourself somewhat for one of your pets passing. But, have you ever thought about what your pet goes through if you, his master and best friend, dies? Wonderful movie for the whole family, if you can stand the sadness.

And I already mentioned in my Father's Day post how good this movie is. The Pixar group has done it again. After some flops, in my opinion, with Wall-E and Ratitoulle, they came back to what works and made it work again ... with Andy, Woody, Buzz, Jessie and the rest of the gang. It was an emotional ride and had Rick and I in tears (and really wanting to sob outloud)! Was it because we were sentimental about Andy growing up? Or are we really so attached to the toys that it broke our hearts to see them given away by Andy to another child (although the child really was lovely). Again, I think it made us stop and consider what our beloved toys go through when we move along in our lives without them. Yeah, I know, I know, they are inanimate objects with no feelings. But, are they????

Have you read any recommendation-worthy books this summer, or seen any movies we shouldn't miss?

Friday, June 25, 2010

A Lesson in Being COURTEOUS

This morning Eli, Brynne and I ran into town to go to the water playground at the Y. We got there before 10:00 a.m. in hopes that it wouldn't be too crowded.

On the way there I heard Eli and Brynne telling each other that they loved each other. When I looked back, they were holding hands.

We got to the water playground and literally only stayed about 30 minutes. I was appalled at the brats that were there, and more appalled at the mothers sitting on the sidelines watching and not saying anything to their own kids. I was up and down every couple of seconds because Brynne was crying about getting sprayed in the face (on purpose) or Eli was crying because the kids wouldn't give him a turn spraying the red squirter (the only one).

I wanted to yell, "Excuse me ... can I have your attention? If you are a child hogging the squirter, STOP IT! If you are a child deliberately spraying the squirter into the faces of little girls or of others asking you to stop, STOP IT! If you are a little girl running on the slick cement, STOP IT! If you are one of their mothers, get off your butt and take care of your child!!!!"

Oh, I was irritated! And Eli and Brynne were ready to go home. Sad that we can't even enjoy a public place for an hour or so on a hot day.

Anyway, on the way to Walmart I was thinking that these issues are all a matter of being Courteous, or not being Courteous. Very few people teach their kids that anymore. Who are we kidding, very few adults are that way anymore. We all want to be first, want to be in charge, want it all to ourselves.

As I was thinking this I heard Brynne say, "Eli, why did you give me this water?" (He had handed her the water bottle we had brought.) He said, "Because I thought you would want a drink."

Ahhhh ... I smiled. And I took this opportunity to discuss with them what being Courteous means. We discussed the many examples we had experienced just this morning. I told them how proud I am of them being kind to each other and considering each other's needs and wants. We talked about examples of being Courteous and not being Courteous when we are with each other and when we are at Big Splash and when we are playing with friends.

The following verse came to my mind:

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.
~ Philippians 2:3

When I got home I wrote this verse on our drawing pad we keep on an easel in our kitchen (where I usually keep Bible verses or other thoughts for us to remember).

I am going to have us memorize this verse and concentrate on putting it into practice this next month, or until another lesson comes along that we need to concentrate on.

I once heard it put like this, and this might be something easy for the kids to practice:

Never try to be first.

That's a good lesson for all of us.

Rick Rocks ~ Because He Continues to Build His Portfolio

When we first got married, Rick decided that he wanted to get his Oklahoma PE (Professional Engineer) Stamp before we started having anymore children.

First he had to take and pass a preliminary exam. Then he started studying for the PE and he studied for several, several months. It reminded me of when I took the Bar Exam. It was no easy task.

Of course, he passed and got his Oklahoma PE. That's a big deal for an engineer! I was so proud of him!

While we were on vacation he received notification that he received his Texas PE stamp. Again, awesome!!!

Some states will not allow you to get your PE in their state unless you have taken certain classes in college, which is ludicrous! Rick has years of hands-on experience that no class can possibly teach. He has been very frustrated by that. So, he was so happy to get his Texas stamp and is going to work to get more states, I believe.

It only makes him more marketable in the engineering field. This is not only a benefit to him or whatever company he is working for, but is a benefit to our family as well. And I appreciate his hard work!

Congratulations babe!!!

Rick Rocks ~ Because he continues to build his portfolio!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

All Good Things Must Come to an End ~ Hawaii Day 8

And it was time to go home.

Our flight wasn't until 5:30 p.m. so we slept in, checked out of our hotel at 11:00 a.m., and then went to Pearl Harbor.

I love history. As a kid, I hated it! But visiting historical sites is almost one of my favorite things to do with Rick. I honestly knew very little about Pearl Harbor. We watched a documentary while we were there, and just walked around. We didn't purchase any of the tickets to go on any of the memorials. Honestly, it kind of creeped me out that the USS Arizona Memorial sits atop the real Arizona that is sunk and containing the corpses of those who were trapped in it.

But it is a sight to see. And, it made me decide that Dawson and I will study a piece of American History at all times during this next school year. I think we'll start with Pearl Harbor.

We had an overnight flight back to the mainland. We had upgraded to First Class so that we could sleep peacefully. They fed us like royalty, seriously, and then we settled down to go to sleep. Except that the flight attendants allowed a soldier heading to Afghanistan to get wasted on the flight and he kept everybody awake. I plan to send a complaint to American Airlines.

We were exhausted when we got to Dallas, and slept the whole flight to Kansas City. When we arrived we still had an hour and a half drive back to my parents. The kids were so excited to see us!! (And so was my mom!)

This was also Rick's 40th birthday. We made him blow out the candles on his cake before he had a two hour nap. Then he loaded up to drive the four hours home, because he had to work the next day. He took Kyndal and Chloe, Dawson and Crusoe, and Brynne. (After all that crying she ditched me without a second thought so that she could get home to Quincy and Buck.) Eli and I stayed the night and drove back to Oklahoma on Tuesday.

And our vacation was over ....

I hope you have enjoyed your Tour de Hawaii this week. It's been fun to relive it! Now, though, it's time to get to the business of being a SAHM with kids home for summer break. Hope you are having a great summer so far!

Honolulu {not so} Heaven ~ Hawaii Day 7

We did all of the things in Oahu that we planned to do in my previous post.

We rented our car in Honolulu and decided to drive up to the famous North Shore to see if we could see some surfers on the big waves. It didn't take us long to see that we did not like Oahu, especially after we had just come from such a beautiful island as Kauai!

{Plus, it was here that we started getting phone calls from a sobbing 6 and 4 year old begging us to come home. They had done so well most of the week, but starting Friday Brynne started really getting upset about us being gone. I guess she was so inconsolable that night that my mom had to give her some Benadryl to calm her down to go to sleep. We tried to explain that we would be home on Monday (it was now Saturday), but they didn't like that answer. That put a real damper on my day.}

The island of Oahu is very overpopulated and crowded and slummy! It did not have an islandy feel at all, even though the ocean was just steps away from the houses. It had tons of high rise apartments that just looked gross. It had a bad vibe.

We weren't impressed with the North Shore, so just kept on driving.

We were headed to our hotel to get checked in.

Then we happened upon this sweet gem ... The Dole Plantation!

This place was really cool, and almost the highlight of our time on Oahu. I didn't know that pineapples grew like that!

I guess I never really thought about it. There were miles and miles and miles of fields of pineapples.

We didn't pay to do the train ride or the tours or anything, just walked around and took in the beauty of the plantation and the sweet smells!

We bought some pineapple treats and got on the road to get checked into our hotel. We stayed at The Lotus at Diamond Head, right on Waikiki Beach. This was our room.

And this was the view from our 4th floor balcony.

Diamond Head

Waikiki Beach

Since we had a view of Diamond Head we opted out of doing the whole hiking to the top thing. Instead we walked down to the beach for a bit ... very Baywatch! {Rick spent his time watching the girls with their booties hanging out their "bathing suits" .. and I use that term loosely.}

Then it was time to get ready for the Luau. We went to Paradise Cove. I spent a lot of time researching luaus because I didn't want to go to one that was too cheesy. They are all a bit cheesy and commercialized. But, Paradise Cove was located right on the ocean, so it was beautiful!

While we waited for dinner and the show, they had lots of things you could do, for donations, to keep you busy.

I made a bracelet out of bamboo leaves, plumeria and lotus flowers, and we got temporary tattoos drawn on us by some hunky Hawaiian.

Then it was time to eat, and for the show to start. The food was pretty good, more like a Vegas buffet, but whatever. It was filling and the pork was yummy! The show was entertaining enough for us.

Was it worth the money? Oh, I don't know. But, if you are in Hawaii you have to go to a luau. It would be un-Hawaiian if you didn't. I'm glad we did it. And this made the money all worth it ...

We planned to go for a walk on the beach after we got back. But, honestly, it just didn't seem safe. So, we opted for bed instead.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Take Time to Relax ~ Hawaii Day 6

Our time on the cruise ship was coming to a close. In fact, it was our last day. We were still in Kauai, and were leaving port at 2:00 p.m.

Rick and I got up that morning and ate breakfast. But, instead of running on the ship we decided to walk back to Kalapaki Beach and walk around the Marriott. It was a nice walk, and the hotel was exquisite! If we ever come back to Hawaii, we will fly straight to Kauai, stay at this hotel and explore the island. Absolutely gorgeous!

We boarded the ship and had some lunch. Then I went to the pool to lay out and Rick went back to the room and watched a movie.

Then we went for our one hour massages. This was the first time I had ever had a real therapeutic spa massage. It was amazing!

After getting so relaxed, we had no choice but to head back to a pool chair. The problem was that they were all taken! We did finally find a couple on the top level, in the shade, facing Kauai. Oh, poor us! We just had the perfect spot to view the Na'Pali Coast as we went by it!!!

That's my foot.

The Na'Pali Coast can only be viewed by air or sea, or you can walk the miles and miles of trails to get to it. It is stunning!

This huge group of people had come to this secluded area by boats and were camping in this cave-like area on the beach. Doesn't that look fun?? Makes camping and canoeing at some Missouri river seem pitiful!

We went to the Aloha Cafe for a casual dinner. And here is an ironic story. As we were eating, an older gentleman walked by wearing a golf shirt with the logo from our local golf club. Rick golfs there often. We stopped the man and realized that he is the father of a couple our age who we know very well! We used to go to church with them and have been to their house a couple of times. Kyndal cheered competitively with his grand-daughter when she was younger. They were also with this man's brother and sister-in-law, and Kyndal is in the same grade as one of their grandsons, and we have known them since they were little. Isn't that funny?? Small world! This also happened to us a few years ago when we took our older two on a cruise. We were on a beach in Grand Cayman and someone yelled Kyndal's name. It was the secretary from her school who was on a cruise on another cruiseline. Crazy!

After all of this, we went back to the room. I crawled in bed and Rick packed up our room. You might think it rude of me to relax while he did all the work. But, honestly, it's one of his favorite things to do ... get us organized and packed. He is an engineer. Packing, for him, is a science. (And rightfully so since our suitcases were exactly the weight limit when we got to the airport.) You should see how I pack!

Other than breakfast and disembarkment the next morning, this concluded our cruise of the Hawaiian Islands.

But, we still had a day and a half in Honolulu.