Monday, September 29, 2008

Road Trip...

Sunday morning we rose at the crack of dawn, loaded up our Pilot, cruised over to Starbucks and the Bagel Bar and thus began our ascent up the coast of California. Our destination: Los Osos, California (a tiny town just west of San Luis Obispo and south of Morro Bay). It was a chance to introduce Maddie to Daddy's hometown and create more memories for the older three kids.

Our destination up the coast used to be Gramma and Poppa's house... first in Los Osos and then later in Paso Robles (wine country, just north of San Luis Obispo and filmed beautifully in the movie "Sideways"). Gramma and Poppa moved to Kentucky right after our family moved to Indiana which made this visit a little strange and unfamiliar. However, we booked a room with our Marriott rewards points (the best advantage to Larry having a job with travel) and have spent the last couple days exploring Larry's childhood stomping grounds.

Yesterday, we went to downtown San Luis. Then we hopped in the car and drove over to Morro Bay just as the typical wall of fog started rolling in off the ocean. We drove by Larry's high school, his first job (Burger King, if you were wondering) and marveled at the changes that had taken place since our last visit. When we arrived at the Embarcadero, we were surprised to find a music festival taking place and were serenaded by Sean Kingston singing "Beautiful Girls". We grabbed some fish and chips with clam chowder and then drove past Larry's childhood home in Los Osos.

Today we headed out to Montana de Oro, a beautiful beach with rugged cliffs and hidden caves. Later we drove down to Avila Beach and visited with the pelicans and sea lions. The kids loved hearing stories of Larry's childhood and being reminded of places they had been before.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Yes... The Baldwin Family is still alive and kicking...

I know it's been forever and ever since I updated my blog. Sorry about that. Life is still crazy and seems even crazier these days. The kids are all on fall intercession which, for those of you who are used to traditional school schedules, is the three week break during the fall for kids who attend "year-round" schools.

Yesterday we took a trip to Petco to trade some unused tickets for tomorrow night's game and went to the Animal Shelter to adopt a bunny for Emma. Emma has dubbed the bunny, Ella, and we pick her up on Saturday after she's had her...(clearing throat)... "surgery".
Today was a trip to the zoo with my mom and her students...then a doctor's appointment for Maddie and finally drama class for Landen. Whew... we're tired.
Tomorrow is the beach with my cousin, Lori, and her kids and then the Padre game with friends and family.
Here are some highlights from our zoo and Dr. visit today...

Landen and Mom

Hippos snuggling under water

Me with my buds in our diva glasses (Erica on left; Dana on right)

Maddie with her friend, Serena (Erica's daughter)

Friday, September 12, 2008

My baby girl...

Emma got baptized last Sunday by her Uncle Matt. She was baptized along with her cousin, Shaye, and fellow Crossroads member, Patty Mendez. It was a wonderful time of music and celebration. A reminder of the gospel and it's healing, redemptive power.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Soon End In Joy

Frankly, I needed to hear this tonight. As "Over the Rhine" would say... 'Lord, we need a new redemption song'. This was my gift tonight. Timing is everything. Many thanks to Charlie Lowell, Dan Haseltine, Matt Odmark, Stephen Mason.

Give to the wind your fear

Hope and be undismayed

God hears your sighs and counts your tears

God will lift up, He'll lift up your head

God will lift up, lift up your head

Leave to His sovereign sway

To choose and to command

Then shall we wandering on His way

Know how wise and how strong

How wise and how strong

How strong is His hand

Through waves and clouds and storms,

He gently clears the way

Wait 'cause in His time, so shall this night

Soon end in joy, soon end in joy

Soon end in joy, soon end in joy

God will lift up your head

Soon end in joy

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Shopping for Education

Anyone else out there remember the days of cutting labels off of Campbell's soup cans or the box tops off your cereal to take into school so that your class would win the pizza/ice cream/no homework party? Our pantry would be stocked with unlabeled cans of soup marked with a Sharpie from our "night-before-the-deadline" collection of as many labels as could fit into our backpacks.

These days, many of these school support programs have expanded to the Internet as well. I found that Box Tops for Education now has three ways for schools to earn up to $60,000 every year! You can earn cash for your school every time you 1) shop online at the Box Tops Marketplace, 2) shop for groceries and clip box tops or 3) order books online through the Box Tops Reading Room.

So, I tried it! I went to their website and registered to support Isaac and Emma's elementary school. From there I followed the link to their "Marketplace". Here's where it got good! There are more than 70 stores to choose from... and not some "no-name-can-I-trust-them-to-not-screw-me-over" stores. We're talking Target, Kohls, Limited Too (Hel-lo! Do your school clothes shopping AND get a donation for your school... Limited Too donates 5% of your purchase!), Hallmark, OfficeMax and The retailers donate anywhere from .5% to 8% depending on the retailer. So I clicked on Target, picked up some goodies and checked out. Simple as that.

The only issues I came across was having to register again once I reached the retailer's site. Reducing the amount of personal info you need to type to get through the whole transaction would have made it even easier. I also would have liked to see the "results" right away. According to the BoxTops website, it could take up to 8 weeks for the retailer to report back. But, nonetheless, I will be checking regularly to see those bucks add up.

I encourage you to try it out. It's a great way to earn items for your school that aren't covered with current funding.
*An extra bonus: The BoxTops for Education website has COUPONS for the General Mills products that have those coveted boxtops!