Friday, January 30, 2015

First Solo and Ensemble Performance

Trombone success for my son!

This evening was his very first ever Solo and Ensemble competition. He and his partner, Kevin, played Doodle All the Way, and might I say, he did a pretty good job.

He got some great feedback from the judge. He told the boys that he was aware that they started off a bit rocky, but corrected themselves, and did much better on the second part. He told them that they came prepared, had a good ear for music, and were on their way to being successful band members. He wanted the boys to work on putting more air through the trombone to make the sound stronger and more consistent. Good note.

I was concerned at first, because Caleb came home with a cut lip from an unfortunate locker-meets-face situation. Playing the trombone with a fat lip is pretty difficult. But he never complained, felt very confident, and was proud of his performance. He finds out the results on Monday.

His progress continues to make me so proud. I really want to try to focus on the positives and meet him right where he is today. That's difficult to do with Autism because I can really see the difference in him and his peers. But right where he is awesome!!!

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Monster Jam!

Back in the day, our oldest son, Caleb used to be OBSESSED with Monster Jam. Like more than obsessed. Is there anything more than obsessed?

He was first introduced to Monster Jam when he was about 3 years old. This was when we noticed something was seriously different about this kid. He would spend hours and hours outside drawing monster trucks with chalk, labeling them, and writing out the driver's names. That's right, folks. At 3! He knew every truck, every driver's name, and you absolutely couldn't say that Dennis Anderson drove Monster Mutt or something ridiculous like that. You were not allowed to match the wrong driver with the wrong car. You would be super sorry for that!

Que this mom thinking my child was some kind of weirdo/genius combo. It turns out, he is Autistic, so that makes a lot of sense.

Anyway, I say all that just to let you know that he was into it hard core from about 3 to about 9. We went to all the Monster Jam shows that came to Houston. We even took our family vacation to Las Vegas the year he turned 7 because Monster Jam World Finals was on his birthday there that year. We met all the drivers. It was so worth it.

He has kind of let that go over the past 3 or 4 years. But this's back.

We got some great seats and took the boys to see Monster Jam at NRG Stadium last weekend.

We had fun, but didn't know any of the trucks. They were all new. Wait, I take that back. We knew Gravedigger and Monster Mutt Dalmation. It was sad not to see Max D, Superman, TMNT, Escalade, El Toro Loco, Avenger, and all the others we had grown so accustomed to.

But we had fun. These kids were happy, and we had some family fun time.

Monday, January 19, 2015

The ultimate let down...

This week at college was Welcome Week.

They had several things planned to welcome back students, some of which, my fellow nursing students and I were excited to try.

Tuesday was free ice cream sundaes from 11-1pm. We got out of class for lunch at noon and a group of us raced to main campus to snag a bit of ice cream.

Empty table, ratty table cloth, and a spoon was all that was left at the ice cream table.

It was a long walk back.

Wednesday was free pancake breakfast. We were in! Here's the kicker. They were serving breakfast at 9am....and we were in simulation lab at 9. There was no way we could be late or miss it. No pancakes for you!

Thursday was supposed to be free frito pies and hot dogs from 11-2pm. A group of about 11 of us run out of simulation lab, super excited to get something warm and free. Remember...poor college hopes of being able to participate in SOMETHING for the week?!

We finally arrive...sign says that it costs $3.75!!!! Not to mention that we all had been planning on this for the week...we didn't have cash...we didn't bring our lunches...AND THEY WERE OUT!!!!! AT NOON!!!! How were they planning to keep serving until 2pm when they were sold out at 12?

This is what some angry and disappointed nursing students look like.

It was so funny the look on everyone's faces that I had to take a picture.

Needless to say, we were unable to participate all week long. Sad face!

Fall Semester Awards for Elementary School

Jansen finally had his Fall semester awards ceremony this week. Might I say, I am super proud of my monkey!

This is the first semester in a long while that he has gotten A/B Honor Roll. He was so proud of himself because he has worked so hard. He also got Perfect Attendance, which he has gotten every semester but 1 while he was sick for last day of school in Kindergarten at Christmas. Dang!

While we were there, his teacher showed us some of his writing for the year. His left handed chicken scratch is really improving!

Love this boy!

Monday, January 12, 2015

Nursing school semester #3 begins

And today was my first day back.

It's my last semester in these tacky khaki scrubs!!! YIPEE!!!

Our schedule is so weird. Nursing school schedule is unlike any other college schedule. I am taking a moment to get used to it.

This semester I am taking Mental Health and Med-Surg. Schedule is as follows:

Monday- Simulation lab 0800-1600

Tuesday- Med Surg 0800-1200
              Mental Health 1300-1600



We are tying up some loose ends the first few weeks of school, taking a dosage exam, and practicing all our skills before they will let us run wild at clinicals. I kid...our professors will be breathing down our necks at clinicals so it's ok.

Nervous excitement. That's how I describe it. So, I'm not sure how much I time I will have. Maybe more than last semester since we were at school every day. It seems like we will be there less, but I am just not sure yet. Anyway, here's to another semester. May the 16 weeks move swiftly and be full of experiences!

Friday, January 9, 2015

Last days of the cruise

The final few days at sea, returning to Texas, was spent casually playing games, eating, and just enjoying the final moments of our vacation.

I so highly recommend cruising. I cannot wait to go again, but with our new financial plan, we have to gain a lot of Fun Points this year to be able to book the trip we want over New Year's.

Here are a few miscellaneous pictures of the children, the boat, the spa, and just a few other things I wanted to take pictures of.

Nassau, The Bahamas: Day 5

Happy New Year!!!!

Our family spent New Year's day in gorgeous Nassau, The Bahamas.

Upon arrival, we found out that the city was essentially closed for business until noon during their Junkanoo Festival celebrating New Year's Day. That really wasn't an issue for us, because we had a private island excursion planned for that day.

The four of us waited on the pier for about 20 minutes as everyone that would be participating in the excursion with us got off the boat, since we would be having to take a transfer boat to the island. It was a chance to take some pictures around the port, and to stare wishfully at the Disney Wonder parked along side us.

First of all...the boat ride was packed, but it was a beautiful day, the island music was blaring, and we were in paradise. There was NOTHING to complain about.

The tour guide gave us a really cool review of the history of the island and surrounding islands during our 20 minute boat ride.

Once on Balmoral Island, we were greeted by dolphins and sting rays, just hanging out by the pier. It was so cool!

We had our own cabana...well...because we are super white. We burn in the sun, and then just turn white again. So, our max out in the sun is about 2 hours, with a TON of sunscreen on.

It was simply gorgeous! Our cabana was filled with drinks and snacks and it overlooked a lovely salt water pool lined with palm trees. We were right next to a group of bathrooms (thank the Lord!) and we were just 20 feet or so from the white sand beaches.

My friends, the water was icy. Freezing!!!!

The kids spent their time swimming in the pool and on the beach treasure hunting.

Josh and I spent our time with a few drinks, relaxing in the sun, chatting about how amazing this trip has been.

It was probably my favorite day of the trip. We all vacation in different ways, but this gave each of us a chance to do what we wanted. We ended the trip all taking a nap in our cabana until the transfer boat came to get us.

When we got back on the boat and took our showers, the 4 of us stood out on our balcony and watched the other ships leave the port before us. It was just perfect!

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Freeport, Grand Bahama Islands: Day 4

Upon arrival in Freeport, we were told that there isn't much to do at the port, so Carnival strongly advised booking some type of excursion. Good thing we picked one a few weeks before.

We chose the Jeep Adventure. Let me tell you, it was an adventure.

We took a couple of quick pictures in the port, which was being renovated, and our group loaded into an air conditioned bus.

It was actually quite nice. We got a really cool tour on the way to the place where they store the jeeps. The thing that threw us off a little bit was the fact that in the Bahamas, they drive on the left side of the road. We had to be prepared.

We arrived, and all the jeeps were lined up. Tony, our tour guide, told us to pick a jeep and buckle up. It was so hot and all the jeeps were topless, so we quickly busted out the sunscreen for us totally pale Americans. A woman came by each jeep to take our lunch order and assured us that in a couple of hours, we would be stopping in the Garden of the Groves to eat.

Can you guess which jeep was ours? Hint: it's the purple one.

Each jeep had a CB radio in it that our tour guide communicated with us on. We all got in a row, got on the left side of the road, said a prayer, and took off.

They took us to Millionaire's Row, where people owned real estate on both sides of the road. On the left, you owned a home that backed up to the ocean, and on the right, you owned a home that backed up to a canal. Weird!

We drove around through the Lucaya Market, making sure that we stayed on the left side of the road through all the round-a-bouts. Josh busted out with "Look kids, Big Ben, Parliament!" It was hilarious!

We drove through the Palm Forest and learned that there were only 4 types of non-poisonous snakes and raccoons on the island.

We drove to a beautiful, isolated beach on the southern side of the island.

We drove out on a rocky jetty that was about a car and a half wide and ended at a place called Chloe's Point. One of the members of our tour walked out into the water and found a huge starfish! The water looked like it had been filled with various colors of blue and green food coloring. It was just too gorgeous for words. I sat on a rock and just zoned for like 5 straight minutes, trying to burn the beauty into my mind forever.

Then we finally made it to the Garden of the Groves, starving, thirsty, and hot. We saw birds, flowers, waterfalls, just beauty that was indescribable. Jansen found a lady in a hut selling conch shells and he just had to buy one. He also used his money to buy his Nana a lovely little beaded necklace that he thought she would like because, "it's a gift from the heart."

We finished up our tour on a really crowded beach. Honestly, at that point, we were all done with the tour. It had been like over 5 hours, and we were just ready to take showers. We sat on a bench watching people make conch salad the whole time we spent at the beach. It was still good.

On the way back, it started sprinkling just the slightest bit as we got back into the bus.

We got back on the boat really quickly again, and showered immediately as we had reservations for dinner at Cucina del Capitano on the boat.

This is what the kids did the whole time....

That night was also New Year's Eve. Neither one of my kids have been able to stay up for this in years past, so they were very intent on going to the party in the lobby. Carnival was planning a balloon drop at midnight. It was well worth it!

It was another day for me to sit on the balcony with my ipod and just thank God for blessings. I simply cannot believe that there are places that exist on this earth that are stunning to the point of tears. I love that time on the ship. Just me, the ocean, my thoughts, and some music. It truly is a blessing!