Thursday, June 30, 2016

Books that I read for fun in June

Over the last year and a half, I started documenting the books that I read for fun (and not just for review purposes).  I have decided that I need to continue that as reading is important part of how I relax. Books that I read for fun are books that I have not been asked to review and that I have chosen to read, well because I like to read. In 2015, I read a total of 49 books! This year, 2016, I am aiming to read 52 books...

What did I read in JUNE?








Here are the books I read for fun in:

May 2016
March-April 2016
February 2016
January 2016
Books from 2015
Books from 2014


                                                 Have you read any good books lately?
Any series you would recommend? 

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

It's Blaze and a cookout!

Sunday after softball, Rebecca and I headed back out to my parents' house for a birthday cookout for my nephew Alex's 9th birthday. 



Alex has autism and is not very high functioning. He is a very special kid who shows his personality at times. He loves to be sprayed with water guns. He loves to give high fives and fist pumps. He has also learned how to blow kisses. 



His mom, my sister-in-law, said that Alex wanted a "Blaze and the Monster Machines" cake, but it had to be dairy free.



So, since I am the cake baker in the family and since I do what I can for my niece and nephews, that is what I did. I found a recipe for a no dairy cake and decorated it with Blaze. 

Joe and Frances (my brother and SIL, Alex's parents) had brought over burgers and hotdogs to grill for his party. They were expecting a lot of people. Unfortunately most did not show up which made my brother very mad and he did go into a profanity laced tirade about how people say they will be there and then don't show up and they don't seem to care about their nephew/grandson/great-grandson, etc. (He did this when he was alone with my mom and I and NOT around any of the kids) I completely understood where he was coming from and didn't blame him one bit. 

 

The cousins all had fun running around in the heat and playing with each other. 



Alex seemed to enjoy himself. We sang Happy birthday to him and he blew his candles out all by himself for the first time in his life. 



After opening presents, the kids all had a chance to hit a pinata that my parents had bought and filled with candy. They had a blast doing that. 










Just as Joe was packing his family up to leave, his in-laws decided to show up (3.5 hours LATE!) for the party. Joe had to be at work at 9PM, and wanted to go home and sleep for 2 hours before work, as he had just gotten off work at 7AM that morning.  As my dad said when everyone left..."Well, THAT was interesting." I completely agree. 

We stayed at my parent's until about 8PM then we headed home, where the kids got washed up and went to bed, exhausted from the party and the heat. 

Overall, it was a fun day! 

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Spring Softball 2016 is Over!



The last couple months have been consumed with Spring softball league for Rebecca. She once again played for the Mount Vernon Girls Softball League. This season she was in the 10U league. She played for Charlie's Body Shop.





It was an interesting season. Her coaches were okay. They knew the game, but really didn't have the personality needed to be head coaches. I respect that they are parent volunteers and this was their first head coaching job. However, they did not have control over the attitude of their daughter and they let several of the girls have bad attitudes that spread around and several of the girls had no respect for the coaches at all.




Rebecca had fun and that is what matters. She spent most of her time playing second base and the outfield. She really improved her hitting and watching the strike zone, although she still tended to swing at really high pitches.

Her team played some really great games and then there were some where they couldn't hit the ball at all. They weren't the best team in the league and they were not the worst either. They ended the regular season with a record of 4-7. I don't think that I ever saw her win. It seemed like every time Bill took her to her games and I stayed home with the boys, her team won. 

This past weekend was the end of season softball tournament. Rebecca had to play at 9AM on Saturday morning. They lost that game 5-3. Then they had to play at 3PM. Bill took her to that game and I stayed home with the boys as the heat index was over 95 degrees. And don't you know that they won. I tell you I am a bad luck charm. Since they won at 3, they had to play again at 6:30. They won that game as well, so they then had to play on Sunday morning. 




Going into Sunday, I took the boys to my parents' house (along with a birthday cake and pasta salad I had made for a birthday party later that day) and then came back to town to meet Bill at the ballpark for her game at 10:30AM. Well, they ended up losing that game so they were out of the tournament. 




So softball is all over for the Spring. Rebecca says she still loves the sport, so she is looking forward to playing again in the fall ball league. As for me, I get a break from going to the ball park for about a month! LOL

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Catholic Kidz Camp and Finding Dory

Thursday night Bill, Ben and I attended the end of the week musical presentation for the Catholic Kidz Camp that Rebecca and Jacob attended. It was a week long vacation Bible school put on by our church. This year the theme was "Parachute with the Angels and St. Catherine Laboure." 


The kids learned about various angels and the role they play in our salvation. They also made crafts, sang songs, played games and role-played in skits. 




Thursday night was the closing ceremony which included the kids performing (singing and dancing to) different songs that they learned throughout the week. 



Rebecca and Jacob both said that they had a blast and they are already looking forward to next year when Benjamin will be old enough to attend as well. 


On Friday afternoon, Bill and I surprised the kids by taking them to see the movie "Finding Dory" in the movie theater. Typically we do not take the kids to the movies as Benjamin was not old enough and we just didn't feel the kids movies that have come out in the past few years have been worthy of the money to go see them in the theater. However, this time, we felt that Benjamin was old enough and he LOVES the moving "Finding Nemo" so we felt this would be a good choice for a first movie experience for him. 

 
It was a fairly expensive afternoon-- tickets were $32 and Bill got the kids kiddie popcorn and drinks which were $20, so we spent a total of $52 for the experience. However, it was worth it in that the kids loved the movie and we will never get to have another first time at the movies with Ben or Jacob or Rebecca. It was also our first time to go to the movies as an entire family. 


Benjamin did great during the movie. He was mostly quiet and seemed enthralled with the movie. About 5 minutes before the movie was over, he wanted to get up and sit on my lap. But overall it was a great first movie experience for him. 



As for the movie itself, it was good. It is a sequel to "Finding Nemo" and focuses on the character of Dory who goes in search of her parents and family. Personally, I felt that the story was inspiring especially when you look at it as a fish who has to find coping mechanisms to deal with her handicap and who has to cross an entire ocean and more to find her parents along with the help of her friends. I was glad to see that they referred to the original movie and there enough inside jokes that parents would appreciate. Overall, I thought it was a really cute movie. I will definitely be adding it to our dvd collection when it comes out on dvd and I recommend going to see it in the movie theater if you can.  

What was the last movie you have seen in the theater?

Friday, June 17, 2016

Epaulette Sharks in our town and a rant


I signed my kids up for our library's summer reading program. Each week, they have an hour program featuring something different. The first week it was a singer, last week it was our local kid's science center, and this week was a presentation with the Newport Aquarium traveling shark exhibit. (Now if you know anything about my town, we are a few hours away from Covington, Kentucky where this aquarium is located.)



My kids got to enjoy the Newport Aquarium's Wave on Wheels Shark Encounter. They got to listen to a presentation about sharks from one of the employees and they learned things like how big the largest great white shark ever captured was (23 feet long), what sharks eat, why they bite humans, how humans have abused sharks and how to take care of sharks and animals in general. 

They also got to learn a bit about an Epaulette shark, which is native to Australia and is sometimes called the walking shark. 

 

After the presentation, the kids had a chance to go up and touch an Epaulette shark. 


Rebecca and Benjamin both touched a shark, while Jacob did not want to touch but preferred to look at it. Rebecca said it felt weird! LOL



I was glad that my kids had a good time because there was something annoying that happened. I will say that I was disappointed though in how the people running it handled things. There were several camp groups that came in that had 20-30 kids with them each and only 2-3 adults. The kids were very loud throughout the entire presentation and were beyond rude. The library staff that was on hand didn't say anything to these camp counselors or did nothing to try to keep the kids quiet. They also did not have a microphone for the Aquarium representative so that he basically had to shout his presentation, and even then you could barely hear him and we were sitting in the front row.  Says a lot about the rudeness of people and the lack of respect that is being taught to young people. These kids all were elementary age, with most of them looking like they were 3-5th grades, so 8-10 years old. I have run camps like that and I have been in school aged care programs and I have NEVER allowed the kids under my watch to behave like these kids did. Just disappointing. 

I won't let it ruin though the memory of Rebecca laughing as she was touching the shark and experiencing something that some people never get to experience. I just have to take the good and know that in my memories it will outweigh the bad. 

Have you ever touched a shark before?   

 

Monday, June 13, 2016

Wolf Run Regional Park

Yesterday morning we decided to take the kids to a new to us park in our area. We decided to check out "Wolf Run Regional Park," whose sign we had passed a few weeks ago as we were coming home from somewhere else. 

I had heard it was the dog park, however when looking online it appeared that yes it was a dog park, but there were many more acres that were trails and places for humans to hike as well. 

Man were we surprised!

When you pull in the parking lot, there is the fenced in area for the dog park to your left. To the right is a picnic table shelter area. And then there are hiking trails to the front. We ate lunch at the picnic tables and then set off to explore the trails. 



Looking at the map, we decided to walk the pond trail. It would lead us out to a pond.



The kids loved walking the path and they stopped to look at a spider and took notice of many butterflies in the area.




The pond area also had a picnic table and a fenced in dock area. The kids loved seeing all the fish in the pond. We also heard several frogs, but didn't see any. 




After leaving the pond area, we headed up the Overlook Trail. And when I say headed up, I mean U.P.! The path was very steep going up and Ben decided it would be easier to crawl up it. LOL. 



At the top, there was an overlook that was kind of disappointing as there were 3 trees blocking the view. I am sure in the fall, the view is pretty looking at all the different colors of leaves, but it was disappointing during our walk. 

After leaving the overlook, we headed back down the path toward the parking area. At one point, I started becoming overheated, but felt better after I got something to drink. The kids were also getting really silly at this point and being goofy! 

 

Overall the paths, at Wolf Run, were nicely maintained and it was quiet. There weren't very many people and we didn't pass anyone during our time on the different paths except just as we were starting and then as we were almost back. As we were coming back, Bill said he was glad that we were doing things like this with our kids as his parents never did anything like this and he grew up not liking being outside, but now he was enjoying sharing it with his kids.  We will definitely be returning sooner rather than later to this find in our area.

Do you like walking paths and being outside? Do your kids like being outside?    

F. A. Seiberling Nature Realm

After a great night's sleep at our hotel, we headed down to their free breakfast. The standard fare was offered... cereal, toast, eggs, ...