A Saturday Morning at Cowtown

We only have one membership to a museum any more.  The children have outgrown the zoo and Exploration Place; they aren’t really interested in the Museum of World Treasures unless they go with their cousins/grandparents either so we recently renewed our membership to Cowtown, the historical living museum here in Wichita.

My daughter adores Cowtown. She spent many  hours in various Girl Scout camps learning about the history and the life of a prairie girl. For her birthday last year she specifically requested that we go to Cowtown. With the warmer spring weather upon us and a long weekend last weekend, it seemed the perfect time to visit again.

It was a bit windy – which threw my allergies into high gear – but we had an enjoyable time. We saw some new things, fed some chickens hot dog buns (given to us by a volunteer worker), saw part of a gun show, and rode in the covered wagon. Here are a few pics of our fun morning!

Right outside the main doors before heading out to the buildings.

Right outside the main doors before heading out to the buildings.

Me and my gal!

Me and my gal!

Getting nowhere fast!

Getting nowhere fast!

Attack of the chickens! Jocelyn called one of them Raoul.

Attack of the chickens! Jocelyn called one of them Raoul.

Pucker up!

Pucker up!

Silly pair!

Silly pair!

Driving the wagon!

Driving the wagon!

Jailbirds!

Jailbirds!

More jailbirds!

More jailbirds!

 

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Bonus – Snow Days!

A partial view of the front steps of my house. You can't see the bottom step at all due to the snow!

A partial view of the front and steps to my house. It didn’t accumulate on the bench but you can’t see the bottom step at all due to the snow!

What would you do if you were given the gift of extra days off from work due to the weather? I was hoping for one – yes, just one – but ended up with three.  I had a great time catching up on my to-do list. The children? Not so much. They didn’t want to go outside (too cold and actually the wind chill the 2nd day was not safe) and electronics dominated their days.

Day 1:

  • a minimum of 3 hours catching up on grading with several cups of hot green tea. That was rewarding enough- just getting caught up!
  • made 2 wheat beer breads from Tastefully Simple mixes and a double batch of oatmeal chocolate chip cookies for the children.
  • went through younger son’s closet to find clothes that he didn’t like/wear any more for either a consignment sale or for the garage sale this spring
  • did son’s taxes so he could get his refund – still need to do the state 😦
  • organized basement and cleared off one bookshelf for oldest son who was voluntarily cleaning and reorganizing his room.
  • shoveled the driveway – 6″ minimum of it with some drifting. At least we can get the cars out now!
  • organized the laundry room cabinet, wiped down the units, made new dust rags from old t-shirts.
  • read an old Eating Clean magazine looking for ideas for new recipes

Day 2:

  • slept in – yay!
  • made a batch of banana muffins with the last 2 bananas I had in my freezer (a first for me – usually I clean them out during summer!)
  • made a from scratch brownie recipe for the children
  • taped off and primed the vanity in the upstairs bath
  • posted 3 items on Ebay
  • painted the first coat on the vanity in the upstairs bath
  • did some touch up painting in the same bathroom
  • painted the master bath door to get ride of the scratched off paint from my parents’ dog that passed away 2 years ago (yeah, I know that should have been done a loooonnnnggg time ago. . . )
  • ran 4 1/2 miles on the basement treadmill
  • watched one of my favorite shows, Modern Family, while knitting a new scarf project
  • read my new Runner’s World magazine before bed

Day 3:

  • slept in again! I could definitely get used to getting up at 8 am as opposed to 5:45 am!
  • painted second coat on the vanity in the upstairs bath
  • organized linen closet and added more things to the sale pile
My wonderfully organized linen closet!

My wonderfully organized linen closet!

  • completed 2 loads of laundry (washed, dried AND put away)
  • ventured out on the roads to go to Lowe’s so I can get the towel rack for the bathroom as well as knobs for the painted vanity
  • also went to Michael’s for more yarn for my knitting projects
  • also went to Walmart for a photo I had delivered there to go in my new Keystone frame as well as pick up some more fruit
  • painted the vanity AGAIN including the doors AGAIN
  • lined the vanity and the drawers with new liner – love the red!
  • took Buddy to Lillie’s house to play in the snow. He loves play dates with my Mum & Dad’s dog!
  • went to a Girl Scout cookie meeting – yes! Cookies!! We can start selling Saturday, February 8th!
The painted vanity without the doors. Can you see the red liner? Still have to put up the towel holder and knobs. VERY pleased!

The painted vanity without the doors. Can you see the red liner? Still have to put up the towel holder and knobs. VERY pleased!

I have accomplished a lot these past few days while the snow was a-blowin’ and the temperatures droppin’. It feels good to have gotten something accomplished and I’m more than ready to go back to work again . . . even if it is just for a day before the weekend!!

 

Reflections Of Another Year Gone By

 

This chocolate bottle is part of the chocolate village in the Lodge at Keystone.

This chocolate bottle is part of the chocolate village in the Lodge at Keystone.

This past week while I’ve been frolicking in the Rocky Mountains I’ve been reflecting on this past year. It’s been an eventful year with milestones reached by my own children, the end of a challenging classroom, and health issues not only with myself but to others in and out of the family.

When I reviewed my blog post from January 2013 on some views for the new year, I realized I haven’t done too badly. Allow me, if you would, to recap.

1. Continue to build existing relationships. My very special teammates from my old days at another school are my BFFs. We get together once a month and hang out. They are my favorites nights of the entire month and we laugh so hard we cry.

2. Experience life. I’ve been doing so much better at letting things go and enjoying the moment. I’ve watched and actually enjoyed many soccer games, choir concerts and family events for what they are. We have gone to movies together. Played games together. Taken Buddy to the dog park if not as a family, then as a couple, and enjoyed our time together. Ahhhh.

3. Celebrate special events. Hmmm, other than birthday celebrations we didn’t do anything too special this year. In fact, we didn’t even manage our end-of-the-school-year ice cream social due to my parents being out of town and me breaking my foot.

4. Keep myself healthy with exercise. Well, that all came to a screeching halt as of April 28th when I slipped on a step and broke my foot. I was 1 week out from running my 2nd 1/2 marathon, too! Talk about frustrating!  After gaining weight from surgery and immobility for the summer, I am happy to announce that I am not only back running again, but have signed up for not only the 1/2 marathon in May but the FULL (gulp!) marathon in October.  Nothing like a Back-to-Back Challenge to keep you motivated. Yippee!!

5. Keep myself and the family healthy with proper eating. I have tried many new recipes this year to expand our palates and make our diets healthier. Although some are far from successful, there are others that are absolutely delicious and make their way to our regular dinner menus.

6. Financial obligations. In May my 403(b) was fully paid off, the Honda Odyssey fully paid off in October (10 months early!) and I only owe approximately $300 on my student loans. I’d still like more of a cushion in our savings account and that is what I want to focus on for 2014.

7. House projects. These have been quite plentiful this year! I’ve enjoyed working on the basement, wrote about our upstairs bathroom here, and will be posting shortly on my daughter’s room. Next up, finishing the upstairs bath and working on the downstairs bath. Maybe the kitchen for 2014? We’ll see!

8. Vacations.  Keystone was our vacation place of choice this year, not only in summer once I got my cast off but also in November for a quick weekend and this month, too. The hubby and I are going to discuss our plans for 2014 soon as he’d like to go to Dallas.

9. Volunteering. My treasurer duties with Cub Scouts ended when my youngest son finished Webelos II. I am still a Girl Scout and am currently helping my daughter’s troop with their Silver Award Project. Now that my foot is back to normal, the Humane Society will be back on our calendar, too. Hopefully I can resist the urge to come home with another furry friend!

So now what?

Not to cop-out on what I’ve already done, I really think I’ve got some more work to do on my current goals. They’re manageable, specific (not here but definitely in my calendar/agenda) and timely. I always tell my children to put away their techie gadgets and love the ones they’re withI want to continue to experience life FULLY, not take anything for granted, and love and appreciate the ones I’m with. Enough said, don’t you think?

*******************Happy New Year!****************************

Ice sculptures in Lakeside Village.

Ice sculptures in Lakeside Village.

A Snow Day — or 2, or 3 or 4!

WOW! Did I need that break! It started at the end of last week with 14+ inches being dumped on our fair city. My children were so excited for no school and my youngest son couldn’t wait to go out and play in it. Then the weekend came and although the snow was still around, at least the roads were just wet and we were able to get around. Good thing, too, as the next round was coming! Wesley’s team won their basketball game and Jocelyn sold lots of Girl Scout cookies at their booth. (She still has plenty to sell if you need any!) The lines at the stores were unbelievably long with shelves quite empty due to trucks not being able to get through.

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Wesley playing in our backyard on Snow Day #2.

With a few days at home, I was able to catch up with my ever-growing to do list. Sleep was my first priority though, and I was able to sleep in until 8 am most days (considering my alarm usually wakes me at 5 am, that’s a nice sleeping in!). After that I worked on getting all of my lesson plans and grading caught up, bookshelves moved and re-stacked in my craft/teacher room, house cleaned, kitchen floor and entry way floor scrubbed, laundry done, did some baking, prepped items for a consignment sale and garage sale for summer, and finally got around to painting the hallway downstairs.

School will be in session tomorrow and I will return with a renewed sense of purpose and less stressed due to an unplanned snow break. God knew what I needed!

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Snow Day #4 — The view from my back window of the deck and our backyard. You can’t see the swirling patterns in the drifted snow but you can see how the snow is stuck to the one side of the deck posts due to the fierce winds. My dog wouldn’t even go outside until I’d shoveled a path for him!

Bring it on, 2013!

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This picture was a part of the Chocolate Village in the Keystone Lodge.

I usually dread the beginning of a new year. I’m not sure exactly why. Maybe because it’s the end of a year. Maybe it’s because I didn’t feel I had accomplished enough. Regardless, 2012 had it’s share of challenges but I haven’t regretted anything which is definitely a good thing!

2012 Recap:  

  • Girl Scout leader to co-leader and merged with a new troop. Great move for the girls – and me! Letting go of some of my responsibilities was a big deal for me. I also let go of the being a coordinator for Box Tops and labels at the school
  • I’m still the Cub Scout treasurer. Last year, though, as Wesley will be advancing from Webelos II to Boy Scouts in March/April.
  • Moved schools and grade levels from 3rd back to 4th, my 1st building move since having started teaching. Scary, indeed, but love our new administration!
  • Ken took me on an Alaskan cruise to celebrate my 40th birthday and our 20th wedding anniversary in June. Great memories! Several trips to CO, too, not only for the snow but also to escape the KS heat.
  • Celebrated fun birthdays! My daughter officially became a teenager and my youngest son turned 10 – double digits. Where did those years go?!
  • Built some very special friendships that have continued even though we’re now spread all over. I wrote about it here.
  • Taxi driver between soccer practices/games, football practices/games, and cross country meets. Love watching my children participate in activities.
  • Went back to running with few issues with my knee – thank goodness! Ran my first 10-mile Turkey Trot and have continued to run.
  • Lost track of all of the books, magazines, etc. that I’ve read. I LOVE to read! Bonus? Book club!
  • Completed many projects around the house, inside and out.

2013 Plans:

  • Continue to build existing relationships. This isn’t just with my girlfriends but also family and other friends. 
  • Experience life. Even though it bothers me that the house isn’t perfect, laundry isn’t always finished and dust bunnies are in the corners, I need to let it go. Take Buddy to the dog park or for a walk. Enjoy the children’s activities. Plan family activities such as a game night or a movie night at home. Schedule a date night with my husband. Or even better yet, be more spontaneous!
  • Celebrate special events – or not. My oldest son will turn be 16 this year. Say what?! He’ll also be taking a trip abroad with his high school to Spain in May. How cool is that? That’s worth a celebration! Ten years ago we started a new tradition of an ice cream social on the last day of school. Why not start a new tradition or just celebrate being together?
  • Keep myself healthy with exercise. I’m back into running and am planning on running my 2nd 1/2 marathon in May. If all goes well with that race, I’ll run the full marathon (yes – the full 26.2 miles!) in October. I’d like to cross train as well with cycling and weights at the Y. I’ll have to schedule my training in order to accomplish this!
  • Keep myself (and the family!) healthy with proper eating. I don’t do too badly in this area as I haven’t had pop in nearly 3 years. Chocolate and sweets are my downfall as my willpower plummets and my body retaliates. I want to try new recipes but cook healthier on a budget. A challenge I’m sure since I don’t particularly like to cook and I don’t spend a lot of time in the kitchen!
  • I always have plans for cutting back on financial obligations (401b plan will be paid off in late May, nearly paid off my Odyssey, looking into loan forgiveness for my student loan which when that goes through my loan will be nearly paid off, and putting more into savings. After all, my oldest son is a sophomore in high school which means he’ll most likely be going to college in a couple of years!
  • Many house projects, starting with kitchen counters, finishing up the basement, deck staining, remodeling the downstairs bathroom and others!  Accomplishing things like this really makes me feel good since I’m a major list-maker and checking things off is exhilarating!
  • A vacation or two? I love Keystone so I’m sure I’ll end up there sometime this year! Nothing else is planned yet, although I’d like to go back to England with the family. Won’t be happening this year as that’ll be REALLY expensive!
  • Volunteer appropriately. I got in over my head in years past as I couldn’t say no. It got better last year when I went to special events only at the Humane Society, co-leader for Girl Scouts, kept up with Cub Scouts, dropped the school Box Top/labels coordinator, and limited blood donations. My children keep me busy enough with their activities without having to pile up all of this as well! Now I don’t feel guilty (or as guilty, I should say!) as I did before.

So, there you have it! I doubt it’s everything but it gives an insight on my thoughts from the past year and the upcoming year. It’s not unlike me to add to  what I’ve already been working on.

Big plans for 2013? Projects, concerns, goals? I’m sure I’m not the only one with a list like this!

my prairie girl

This was the third year that Jocelyn participated in the Girl Scout camp at Cowtown. This year she was a part of the Sunflower Society group of only just completed 6th graders. She adores taking on a character and living the life of a girl in the 1800’s.  I believe it’s a fabulous experience for her. This year she made a wheat doll, a strawberry pin cushion, had a tea party, did some sewing, and cooking.  Even though the temperatures were in the 100’s, she stayed cool enough in her traditional dress and fortunately some of the buildings were air conditioned. Her goal is to volunteer at the museum outside of the Girl Scouts and then help with the younger Girl Scouts at camp.

A picture of her picture from Cowtown.

my little prairie girl

Jocelyn participated in another year of Girl Scout camp this summer at our local living museum, Cowtown.  She thoroughly enjoys stepping back into the 1870’s Wichita time, taking on a character for a week of day camp.  On their final day, the girls put on a little social complete with songs, recitations, and dances.  She plans to put her quilt square in the Cowtown County Fair this fall, too.

Jocelyn with Girl Scout friend, Cortney.

Jocelyn with her cousin, Katie.

A picture of her picture!