It’s been over a year since I was laid off from my job as a fire hydrant technician and the year+ has had a lot of ups and downs.

On the last day of August 2009, we left Little Rock, Arkansas following my layoff. We left the camper that was home to us for almost a year and a half and drove to Houston, Texas to stay with Mandi’s grandparents while we figured out what to do.

After 5 months of looking for work, I finally landed a low end job as a security officer in Houston.  Three weeks later, Mandi was offered a job in Austin with her old company in New England.  We decided her job was the better option and moved out of her grandparents house and found a place in Austin.  Fortunately, I was able to land another security job in Austin pretty quickly (within 2 weeks) and have been doing that since.

All 3 kids are now in school and we’re settling in to our new home area.

I am continuing to look for an upgrade in work and am working towards an HVAC certification. There seems to be plenty of opportunities in that field here in the Austin area, so hopefully something will pan out in the coming months.

We’re looking forward to another holiday season and hope you all have a blessed Thanksgiving, Christmas and 2011.

-J

Hi everyone in Blog Land –

I’m just writing to give everyone an update.  We really haven’t been doing very much lately, or taking very many pictures.  John has been working like normal.  He’s been having to work Saturdays to make up for rain days, etc., so our weekends have been very short.

We are still here in Little Rock, and we should be here for another 2-3  weeks.  We really don’t know where we’ll be sent next, but we will let you know when we find out.

We’ve been going to a great church that we found.  The kids love it, and so that is really important to us.  Get this – I read in a brochure (after we decided to try it out) that it was the church that former President Clinton was a member of.  It is weird for me to think that he could’ve been a member of a church that goes against some things that he supported in office, but the church is a Biblical based, Bible truth teaching church. Anyway, this last week, they had a free babysitting night, so John and I got to go on a long overdue date!  It was our first one since our anniversary in May.  We had a nice time.  What a great ministry to offer parents!

I’ve been working like crazy to get school stuff ready for the kids.  Lauren and Brady will be in Pre-K this year, and I found a monthly curriculum for Preschoolers that someone posted online.  It seemed pretty complete, so I’ve been finding pages and crafts to teach them the things on that curriculum.  We will focus on letter recognition, learning how to write their names, and more basics.  I will do school with them M-W-F and Holden will be on a 5-day schedule.  Last year, Holden’s school curriculum was given to us, and it was the type that already had it all spelled out – what to do on each day, what page in the books to read and work on, etc.  This year, his curriculum looks much more interesting and exciting for him, which is a big bonus!  But, on the flip side, it doesn’t give me any help as to what to do when.  They give you examples of how many weeks, and then I’ve been dividing the entire book by days and weeks of the year.  I have a pretty good lesson plan for everyday of this school year all planned out, including activities to go along with what he will be learning.  I know that if the kids were in a regular school, they would be doing holiday crafts, etc. so I try to incorporate all of that into our year as well.

I guess that’s it for now!  I will try to post another blog with some pictures soon.

Hope you are all enjoying your summer!

~M

A few weeks ago, we were looking for an inexpensive outing on a Saturday.  One of the things that I had read about on our “10 Free Things to do in Little Rock” list was to visit The Peabody Hotel in Little Rock.  They have a twice daily duck parade.  The ducks come down the elevator in the morning, and walk down a red carpet to their fountain, where they spend the day eating and swimming around.  All of this takes place right in the hotel’s front lobby!

Here they are, coming down the red carpet.

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You could tell they were professionals!  They raced past us and up the steps to the fountain.

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Here they are swimming around enjoying their breakfast.

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This is something that has been done for a long time here, and at the other two Peabody Hotels in the US.  I just can’t remember the history of it right now!  A fun experience for us all! :)

~M

Nobody gives a darn!  :)  Okay, so I knew our second Name that Movie contest was tricky, but I can’t believe we didn’t get any guesses!  The mill location that we went to was in the opening credits of Gone With The Wind.  Like I said in a previous post, it was only in the opening credits for about 8 seconds, but it was there, none the less!

After our trip to the fish hatchery was kind of a bust, I wanted to go to one more FREE (are you seeing a theme here?!?) tourist location.  Boy, am I glad we did!

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The Old Mill park was a magical, lovely place!  There is the old mill building, which can be entered and explored.  There is also all kinds of bridges and little ponds and benches to sit on – it is great!

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Going into the mill

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The two large bridges

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Here are more pictures of the kids and beautiful grounds!

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If any of you are ever in Little Rock, I highly recommend this stop.  Tour-guide Mandi says you won’t be disappointed! :)

~M

One day last week while John was working, I decided to take the kids to a fish hatchery.  The Joe Hogan State Fish Hatchery is one of the largest warm water fish hatcheries in the country.  They grow and have an output of 7 million fish each year – that’s a lot of fish!  There was a visitor’s center where you could take a self guided tour and then walk through the fish ponds.

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Inside the visitor’s center:

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Holden got to hold some kind of skull and they got to touch a snake skin.

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Holden was inspecting a catfish.

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This is a face only a mother could love!

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Here is Lauren making friends with a beaver.

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Outside, this is the wildlife we saw: One squished frog, one squished tiny turtle, one large turtle that was sunning itself until it saw us and then splashed down into the water quickly, and lots of little turtle heads poking out of the water.  It was really warm on this day, and since Lauren cried the ENTIRE time that she was hot and wanted to go home, we didn’t stay long!

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In my opinion, this hatchery was kind of lacking as a fun destination for tourists.  We didn’t see any other people at all, the entire time we were there, so there was no one to ask questions, etc. to.

Oh well, at least it was free!

~M

On the 4th of July, while John was working, I took the kids to the William J. Clinton Presidential Center.  It was free on that day, and I try to take advantage of savings like that.  As with many of the other places we tour through, I would have loved to have stopped to read more of the exhibits, but the kids don’t allow much for that, so I take what I can get!

Here are the pictures from that day – this is the only picture I got with our camera before it died – I had to take the others with my cell phone.

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These are a re-creation of the President Clinton’s (or “President Clints” as Holden calls him) Oval Office and Cabinet Meeting room.

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Here is a picture of Clinton’s presidential limo.

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I had a few more pictures, but somehow they didn’t get saved on my cellphone!

I am so glad that we are able to see all of these places that are a part of our history.

~M

Last Sunday we got rained out at the Arkansas Travelers minor league game before the game even started. They rescheduled the game for the next evening as part of a doubleheader. Both games would be just 7 innings, which was kind of nice for our kids’ first game. We could’ve stayed for the second game but that would have made for a long night.

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The seats we had were the same from the previous night, but because the park was only about 1/2 full, when we went to the concession stand after the 2nd inning we never went back to our seats. We moved about 4 or 5 sections closer to home plate from our original seats.

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Holden called the players’ dugouts their ‘hideout’ and once when a runner was about to steal 2nd, I told Holden to watch close because he was gonna steal a base. Holden looked at me and said, “He’s gonna take it up out of the ground?”

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The game ended up going into extra innings, go figure! Only 1 inning though and it was the first game in my life that I’ve seen played 8 innings and be done.

This picture is of first baseman Chad Tracy, the only big leaguer I recognized.

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After the game the kids were allowed to run around the bases. Brady was so fast it was hilarious!

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We had a great time and I’m looking forward to our next minor league game.

-J

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