Monday, September 29, 2014

American Heritage Girls Flag Ceremony

Rachel has anxiously been waiting for this year when she could finally join American Heritage Girls.  She is excited to be a Pathfinder in AHG and can't wait for all of the fun projects she will be doing over the next several months.  She also likes that I volunteered to be one of the two Pathfinder leaders this year.

American Heritage Girls is an amazing character development program for girls ages 5-18.  Their mission is "Building women of integrity through service to God, family, community and country."   Each week the girls work on projects within their group as well as service projects throughout the year.  

Nicholas is involved in a very similar group for boys called Trail Life USA.  We were fortunate to be one of the founding members of a local group called C3D (which stands for Christ-Centered Character Development) that hosts both the Trail Life and AHG troops together at the same time each week.  It's nice having both kids involved in their own adventure troops yet together as part of a larger group.  It certainly makes it easier on Stuart and me to only have to take them to one place each week!

Tonight Rachel was invited to participate in the C3D opening and closing flag ceremony.  She was assigned to hold the words of the AHG Creed and she was so excited!  You can't see her here but she is in the line ready to walk to the front of the room for the opening ceremony.

American Hertiage Girls and Trail Life USA opening ceremony

Here's a quick video of her part as she holds up the AHG Creed:


She was so proud to be a part of the ceremony!



The American Heritage Girl Creed:

As an American Heritage Girl, I promise to be:
Compassionate,
Helpful,
Honest,
Loyal,
Perseverant,
Pure,
Resourceful,
Respectful,
Responsible, 
Reverent.


In the Pathfinder meeting, Rachel learned about Fanny Crosby, a girl who lost her vision as a baby yet grew up to write 9000 poems and hymns.  She didn't let blindness stop her from doing great things.  

To get a better understanding of what it means to be blind, Rachel had to change a baby doll's clothes while being blindfolded.  She loved it!

Blindness activity for kids

As a Pathfinder, Rachel will earn beads that she collects on a necklace for attendance at weekly meetings, memorizing scripture verses, and service projects.  She is excited to experience all of the fun projects planned out for her first year in AHG.

Make Your Own Essential Oil Blends and Stay Well This Winter

Essential oils are the liquid life that flows through plants.  They contain the "essence" of the plant's properties.  God created plants to help Man by creating some with components that can soothe our spirits while others are more invigorating to us.  Some plants have historically been used for their anti-bacterial qualities while other may help skin heal more quickly.  Each type of plant has different properties and therefore each essential oil distilled from different plants will have different properties as well.

With winter coming up, I've done some research on different types of essential oils that might be able to help the body fight off sickness.  It is important for me to state that I have not paid a professional laboratory or doctor to verify how well these work to ward off illness (although I do have a homeschool science project in mind now!).  However, I will share with you what I've learned about oils and how they have historically been used.


One of the most interesting blends of essential oils that is all over the internet is one that supposedly kept a band of robbers from catching the plague as they stole from those who had died of the plague in the 15th century.  The robbers were spice traders and would rub these particular spices on their body and they continued their stealing for years without getting sick.

There are various forms of this essential oil blend on the internet but the one I find most often is this:

40 drops Clove Essential Oil
35 drops Lemon Essential Oil
20 drops Cinnamon Essential Oil
15 drops Eucalyptus Essential Oil
10 drops of Rosemary Essential Oil

Here are some of the historical uses of each essential oil as found in The Complete Book of Essential Oils and Aromatherapy: Over 600 Natural, Non-Toxic and Fragrant Recipes to Create Health — Beauty — a Safe Home Environment by Valerie Ann Worwood.  I have had this book forever and it is my "go-to" guide for essential oils.



Clove -  antibacterial, antiseptic, analgesic, toothache, digestive problems, muscular disorders, sterilization of surgical tools.
Lemon - water purifier, scurvy, antiseptic, antibacterial, tension headaches, insect bites, stimulates digestion,
Eucalyptus - chest problems, colic, cools the body, anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, diuretic, analgesic, deodorizing, insect repellent, sunburn.
Rosemary - stimulant, antiseptic, arthritis, headaches, coughs, flu, migraines, diabetes.

While I do not believe in using essential oils internally, I have found wonderful benefits in diffusing the oils in the air.  I fill up my diffuser with distilled or filtered water then add 5 drops of this essential oil blend and let it run.  The diffuser sends a light mist of the essential oil into the air where we breathe it in and maybe even let it mist our skin.  The blend smells wonderful and hopefully it will help to fight off germies that we might come in contact.

Note: This post does contain an Amazon affiliate link.  If you buy the aromatherapy book that I recommend, I will get a very small percentage of the purchase which helps to pay for this site.  However, using this affiliate link does not change your price for the purchase in any way.  Thanks for supporting Savor the Days!

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Lunch in Gainesville at Sarah's on the Square

After our visit to the Frank Buck Zoo, we were hungry and thirsty so we headed over to the Square to a bite to eat.  We had never been to Sarah's on the Square so we thought we'd try something new.

Sarah's on the Square in Gainesville, TX

The restaurant is cozy and eclectic with a big fancy chandelier hanging over the bar and some giant kitchen utensils hanging down on the wall.   I love the mix and match feeling throughout.

Dining room at Sarah's on the Square in Gainesville

Nicholas tried a burger which was served on some delicious bread along with their homemade chips.

Burger and homemade chips at Sarah's on the Square

I tried their Chicken Spaghetti.  My mom made Chicken Spaghetti a few times when I was little and I never see it on menus so I just had to try it.  It was amazing!  Spaghetti in a rich creamy sauce with mushrooms and lots of cheese.  Yum!  Now I'm craving it again!

Amazing Chicken and Spaghetti at Sarah's on the Square

Stuart ordered a Reuben sandwich.  He wondered if it was really reuben meat or just ham.  I was disappointed to see that there wasn't a lot of meat on it.  But he let me try it and it did taste good.  But perhaps it isn't an authentic Reuben sandwich.

With our bellies full, we kicked back and rested for a moment before heading out on our next adventure.


Sarah's on the Square is located at 115 W. California Street in Gainesville, TX.  They are open for lunch Tuesday - Thursday and open for lunch and dinner on Friday and Saturday.  For information, please give them a call at 940-612-4782 or check out the Sarah's on the Square Facebook page.

Frank Buck Zoo in Gainesville

We set off this morning for a short little trip up to Gainesville to go to a Hamfest.  They have everything related to ham radios that a newly licensed ham operator might need.  We were pretty excited to go since we are trying to pick out a radio for the house and two radios for our cars.  Unfortunately, when we got there at 11:40 this morning, we learned that it was a really short Hamfest and they were already shutting down and packing up.  Oh no!  Stuart got a chance to talk with one of the big companies that was there selling new radio equipment.  I don't know that he really helped Stuart or if he just gave him more things to consider when picking out a radio, like there aren't enough choices already!  While Stuart was talking, the kids and I explored outside the building.  I found my little monkey up in a tree, of course!


We were disappointed that we didn't leave with a radio of some kind but since we were already in Gainesville, we decided to head on over to the Frank Buck Zoo.


The animal enclosures are right along the sidewalk and easy for little kids to look through.


We enjoyed watching the beautifully graceful flamingos.  The color of their feathers were just gorgeous.  Rachel enjoyed telling us how their color is caused by the special shrimp they eat.  You know what they say, "You are what you eat!".


The kids compared their arm length to various bird wing spans.


We found the turtle and tortoise home.  There were three of them in there and it took a while to find the little box turtle.


Here is a close up of Myrtle, the Desert Tortoise, as she snacks on some lettuce.


On to the goats!  This is my favorite part of the zoo.


There are two little vending machines here where you can purchase a handful of food pellets for 25 cents to feed the goats from your hand.


Rachel hesitated for just a moment then got right into feeding the goats that came up to the window.


Oh she was so excited to have these goats eat right out of her hand!


Nicholas was calm and just smiled as he fed them. 


He says he really enjoyed interacting with the goats.  


That is quite a change from when we first visited here in 2008 when he just wouldn't let them eat out of his hands.  I dug up that blog post so I can show him in the morning - http://www.nicholasfootprints.blogspot.com/2008/03/outing-in-gainesville.html 


The kids enjoyed peering out over the deck so see which animals were out in the open area today.  There were several animals but the kids enjoyed watching the zebras and giraffes the most.


Wait, that's not our little Nicholas monkey!  That's a real monkey.  A Saki Monkey to be exact.


Rachel posed for a few pics.  She was cute at first then she turned into a hungry giraffe in the second picture.  By the third picture, she thought it would be funny to pose with her shirt in the giraffe's face.  Artistically creative that one is.


The Frank Buck Zoo is located at 1000 W. California Street in Gainesville, TX.  They are open from 10:00 - 4:00 during the fall and winter.  Adults are $6.50 and children are $4.50.  For more information, please check out the Frank Buck Zoo webpage.

2014 Pepsico Night at Six Flags

It's that special time of year.....the annual Pepsico employee appreciation night at Six Flags Over Texas!

Nicholas brought along a good friend and we all went to dinner before going to the park.  We went to Simply Burgers which was our favorite burger place when we lived in Arlington.  Good memories and good food.

The boys were enjoying time together just talking.  I think they could have stayed there another hour but we reminded them of all the fun that awaited and they quickly finished their food.


Rachel was ready to go from the moment we got there.  She just wanted to get to Six Flags!


We all stopped by the restrooms before we left.  There was a line for the men's bathroom so Stuart snuck into the women's bathroom.  Yep, he's a rebel like that.


Onward to the FUN!!!




Once we made it into the park, Stuart took the boys to ride the bigger rides while Rachel and I hung out in the little kid area.  Since the park is closed to the public so there are hardly any lines for the rides.  We rode the Merry-Go-Round six times in a row without ever having to get off!


There was a little haunted house set up in Looney Tunes land where Rachel was able to go trick-or-treating for candy!

The Looney Tunes area has been re-arranged since we were here last year.  There were some old familiar rides but also new ones like this updated version of the airplane ride that the kids have always enjoyed.


As always, there were stations of free Pepsico products scattered throughout the park.


 Yes, all the Frito Lay chips, Grandma's cookies, Pepsi, Gatorade, and Aquafina you could possibly want.


But no refreshments from "our friends in Atlanta" could be found.


It was fun having time with Rachel all to myself.  Usually I have both kids with me and Nicholas just naturally seems to take the lead.  But since he was off with Stuart, I was able to let Rachel choose the rides and let her take the lead for a change.  She even drove the antique cars herself using the foot pedals and steering at the same time.


Check out this cute video of Rachel below:

What happened to Rachel's feet?


Stuart sent me pictures throughout the night of the fun they were having.




We had a great time and stayed until they closed the park at midnight.  I thought for sure at least one of the kids would fall asleep on the ride back home but amazingly they all stayed awake talking about the exciting time they had.  

Friday, September 19, 2014

Using a Ham Radio License at the Plano Balloon Festival

I recently wrote down my Bucket List and have been very slowly working on goals that I would like to accomplish before I "kick the bucket".  One of those goals was to get my ham radio license.  My uncle has been into ham radios for as long as I've known him.  I can recall spending this night at his house when I was little and peeking into a little room he used as his "radio shack".  I was amazed at all of the cool equipment but had no idea what it was all about.

Years later my dad got his ham license and started telling me how he talked to people around the world and even astronauts on the International Space Station!  How cool is that??

But there is more to having a ham license that just chatting.  When Hurricane Katrina hit south Louisiana where my and my husband's family live, we were unable to reach most of our family members by phone for about a week because either the lines were down or they were just too congested.  However, with ham radios, we would have been able to keep in contact with them.  That would be so reassuring.  There are also many ways that local organizations can use volunteer ham radio operators in crisis situations such as search and rescue and medical assistance.

So I've had it on my bucket list for quite a while now to get my ham radio license.  After much cramming, I passed the ham radio technician exam on the first try!  I'm proud to say that my call sign is now KG5DPS.  Stuart also passed the technician exam and went on to pass the general exam as well.  His call sign is KG5DPT.  I love that our call signs are sequential!

We had a neat opportunity to use our new licenses at the Plano Balloon Festival.  They use ham radio operators on the field, in balloon chase crews, and to promote the event around the world to other ham operators.  We took on the last role and each of us helped to log contacts made about the balloon festival. The local ham radio club had a trailer set up at the event with two high frequency radio set ups and this is where we hung out for our 2 hour volunteer shift. 


As loggers, we would listen in to the conversation that the controller was having with a contact somewhere else.  We would fill out a form to show the person's name, location, call sign, and how well they could hear us from where they were.  We spoke to people across the country and even in Quebec and Montreal!


Anyone who makes contact with us during the event can receive a souvenir card from the event.  Stuart and I each got one of the cards to keep for ourselves.


Here is the trailer we worked in.  It was set up and managed by the McKinney Amateur Radio Club.  We are not members of that club but simply volunteered to help them out at the event.  We do plan to join a local ham club but we would need to find one a little bit closer to our home.


There were several antenna set up outside the trailer.  I'm still learning about these different arrangements.


This big antenna looks quite serious though!


While we chatted with the ham club, the kids made some friends.  Rachel and this little girl loved that they had the same Hello Kitty thermos :)


Nicholas helped the little girl's brother pass out small New Testament Bibles to anyone entering the festival that wanted one.  While he was standing around waiting to pass them out, he spend his time reading.  He loved that the Bibles were so small.  Nicholas and Rachel both got to keep one for themselves.


At the beginning of the festival, we got to watch one balloon set up and take off.  It was beautiful!


Unfortunately, the wind was picking up and the rest of the balloons decided to not take off.  Instead they went ahead and inflated and just stayed tethered to the ground.  Meanwhile, we walked around and visited with the dinner vendor and snack booths and had a great time.


Once it got dark, the balloon glows were amazing!  We haven't been to a balloon festival in many years so it was a real treat for all of us.  


It was especially a treat getting to do a little ham radio work with the McKinney radio club before the event!