Monday, December 29, 2008

Christmas is Over

I have loved every minute of Christmas.

Our celebrating started the weekend before Christmas with Haley and Austin coming home for the weekend. Bryan and I had a wonderful family Christmas with all of our girls (and Austin). And, we met the new addition to the family for the first time. Puppy Carley spent the weekend with us, too! She is just as sweet as Haley says she is. She was very well behaved, and I think she enjoyed her visit. Our cat was totally freaked out, but we kept any major confrontations from happening. It just took Scooter a day or two after Carley left to get over the shock of being temporarily dethroned.

We traveled to Blairsville on Christmas Eve and stayed until last night. Five whole days of continuous eating. We were all waddling when we got home! We have never been so stuffed! It was a real blessing having such wonderful home-cooked food, but it was definitely time to come home. Any more time in Blairsville and we probably would have exploded. But, visits with the family are always special. Each and every Christmas is memorable, and I know how truly blessed our family really is!

For those that might have been expecting a Christmas card from the Plott's, I apologize. The Christmas cards just didn't materialize this year. With the year we have had, my heart simply was not in to writing the traditional family Christmas letter. Sorry, friends. No Christmas pictures, either. I will definitely try to do better next year.

It was actually nice to get back to routine today. Bryan and I worked while Hannah and Hadrian enjoyed another day of vacation!

Thanks, family, for a wonderful, wonderful, Christmas! As fast as the years fly by now, hopefully we will recuperate before we get to do it all again. Maybe my food will be digested by then! : )

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Ready or Not, Christmas is Here!

Christmas is coming sooner than I will be ready at our house! We are celebrating Christmas on Saturday, the 20th. It is so hard to make the rounds and see everyone in such a short amount of time that we have decided to celebrate early. I am really excited that all of our family will be together for the weekend. (We will be meeting puppy Carley for the first time as she makes her first visit to our house!) And, we will have the whole weekend to hang out and chill! Fun!

Last year, Haley and Austin came home. We opened presents. We packed the car and left for Blairsville. It was just way too rushed. And, though we love our time in Blairsville, it seems that we have been cheated out of our own family time at home. So, this year, we are trying the "early Christmas" thing. I think we will all like this better. It will be special time at our house just for us. But, the problem with celebrating early is that I have to be ready early! So, I am frantically trying to finish shopping, wrapping, cleaning, decorating, etc. for the "early event!" Ready or not, here it comes! : )

Haley and Hannah are finished with their classes! Yippee! I am so relieved that another semester is over. I know Haley is busy in Byron getting ready for Christmas. It is so nice to talk to her without the subject of school coming up. I know she is loving it! She had forgotten what it felt like to be free!

Hannah has been so busy with her volunteer work that we barely saw her for days after she finished classes. She has been wrapping gifts outside of WalMart in the freezing cold, staying up all night serving pancakes to students at UGA while they studied for exams, gathering gifts for a needy child, and cooking and serving meals to the homeless in downtown Atlanta. This kid never stops. And, once she finally found some free time, she started wrapping my gifts and helping me with things at home! It is so nice to have her home. I miss Haley being home on a regular basis, but I know she has her own life to attend to. Obviously, this just makes her visits even more special!

Hadrian starts final exams tomorrow through Friday. She is ready to be done with school, but she is really excited about the idea of "early Christmas!" I think her friends are a bit envious that she gets to open her gifts a few days early. What a wonderful reward for getting through those final exams!

I have to mention some wonderful news that we received about Hadrian. She made it to the next round - the state level of competition for the Governors Honors Program. Wow! The competition is so strong in Gwinnett County that we are amazed that she advanced out of the regional level. The Governors Honors Coordinator at Grayson High School spoke to Hadrian today and told her that the judges were extremely impressed. Double Wow! So, on to state competition we go! We will keep you posted, but either way it goes, it is an amazing accomplishment for our baby girl.

Well, considering all I have to get done in a short amount of time, I better quit blogging and start "doing!"

Friday, December 5, 2008

Watch Out for Falling Prices

Wow! I just passed the QT and gas is under $1.50 a gallon. Wasn't it just a short couple of months ago that we were paying over $4 a gallon? Were we not just waiting in gas lines here in Atlanta and didn't care how much we paid as long as we found some gas?! Did we not all think that once gas hit $4.00 a gallon that there would be no turning back?

I have to say that this is a bright spot in my world right now. With everything going wrong with our economy, who would have guessed that gas prices would turn out to be the best thing happening? It is amazing how things can turn around in such a short amount of time. Once the prices started to drop, we would give reports at night about who had seen gas for what price? Each day, the prices have fallen lower and lower! And, they seem to still be falling! I can actually fill up my car without feeling depressed! Hallelujah!

While on the subject of the economy, I have become a fanatic about searching the web and finding great deals and freebies. I didn't know so many deals were available online. I have printed out numerous coupons and have searched daily deals, etc. to do my Christmas shopping.

I will share a couple of things I have found over the past couple of days:

Arby's - Free Regular Roast Beef w/any purchase
Posted 2 days, 22 hours ago
Although we didn't find this deal in time for lunch today, there's still 12 more days to enjoy it. Take this printable coupon to participating Arby's restaurants to receive a free Regular Roast Beef sandwich with any purchase. Valid through 12/14/2008

Office Depot - $10 off $30 in-store purchase coupon
Posted 3 days, 3 hours ago
Stop by your local Office Depot armed with this printable coupon to save $10 on orders of $30 or more. It's valid on most office supplies, and furniture. It won't work on include gift cards, tech or electronic products, postage stamps, and HP ink and toner. Expires 12/08/2008.

New: HP Smart Buy 2-Button Laser Mouse for $4 profit after rebate + free shipping offers the HP Smart Buy 2-Button Laser Mouse, model no. GW405AT, for $16.26 with free shipping. This $20 mail-in rebate yields a net profit of $3.74. That's one of the best mice deals we've seen.

Barnes & Noble retail stores have several printable coupons available. For instance, get a free cookie with beverage purchase via this printable coupon.

New: coupon: Free sample gift set with $30 purchase + free shipping
As part of its 10 Days of Happiness Event, now offers a free sample gift set with any $30 purchase via coupon code "TRIO". With free shipping, that's one of the best deals we've seen from Clinique in recent weeks. The set includes a Repairwear Intensive Night Cream (0.21-oz.), All About Eyes Rich (0.17-oz.), and Superbalm Moisturizing Gloss (0.17-oz.). Deal ends today.

Papa John's Pizza offers a free medium cheese pizza when you sign up for its email list. While not as good as the Facebook-based coupon which expired last month, it's still among the best discounts we've seen from this merchant. Deal expires January 7.

Now, on to personal stuff. All of my girls are winding down their semesters, and we are all a bit stressed with tests, finishing projects, etc.

And, No Shave November is over and done with! : )

Good Luck to our Grayson Rams Football Team tonight as they play Peachtree Ridge in the state semi-finals. Look for Hadrian on TV! (she will be at the game)

Until the next blog . . .

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

My Soccer Coaches

Well, I was afraid of this . . . long periods of time between blogs. We have been very busy at the Plott house.

This past weekend was really special because I had all of my girls home together. Haley came home for the weekend, and she brought her friend, Michelle. They are both in the education program. So, they do homework together, and they cry together, and they just spend lots of time together. Well, we all love Michelle. She blends right in. It was very nice to meet her, and I now call her Magnificent Michelle. Bryan was deer hunting, so it was nothing but girls at our house.

Haley was hired (meaning she gets paid! woo hoo!) back in the spring to coach in the academy program at Central Georgia Soccer Association. She went through the tryout process, picked her teams, did summer camps, and has worked with these girls all fall. I know she has taken these duties very seriously and has worked really hard. Well, she brought a team to the Forsyth Fusion tournament over the weekend, and they did well by coming in second place! This was their first tournament, and Haley was SO proud of her team. If you click on Haley's blog, you can see a picture of her sweet little team.

I only got to see her team play one game because I still have mom duties with Hadrian. But, it was so fun seeing Haley as coach instead of player. My how time flies. Hannah has been volunteer coaching this past year as well at Blue Springs Soccer Association. She coached a U6 team in the spring, and she had a U8 team this past fall. How cute are they!

I have to say that watching my girls coach is such a pleasure. They have transitioned from soccer players into responsible, organized, and talented coaches with great ease. I could not be more proud of my soccer coaches!! Haley and Hannah both earned their National License D certification over the summer. This was really hard work, and you have to perform extremely well to get the national certification as opposed to being state certified.

It is just so amazing how soccer has been and still is such a huge part of my girls' lives. Haley and Hannah still play on adult leagues, and of course, Hadrian is still playing club and high school soccer. And, Hannah and Hadrian have been refereeing this past fall season. So, they are earning soccer related money, as well.

It is a beautiful game! : )

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Honor Societies

Our middle child, the red head (as she is so affectionately known), has been getting all kinds of letters and post cards in the mail recently from different honor societies. Since I have collected a small stack of these, I wasn't sure what to do with them. Should she join? Should she not? Which ones should she join? Of course, they all want money, so we can't join all of these. And, since I was never a member of honor societies, I do not know anything about these. Well, thank goodness for the internet. I embarked on a little journey to research college honor societies and hopefully to learn more about these. The only thing I knew was that they all have such words as "Kappa," "Delta," "Alpha," "Sigma," etc. in their names. What does this mean?? I am feeling really stupid about all of this.

Well, lucky for me, I found the Association of College Honor Societies website. Apparently, this is the "honor societies for dummies" handbook. If the honor society isn't recognized by these people, then it apparently isn't good. The ACHS is the certifying agency and only promotes the credible honor societies. Thank goodness I found this! It answered all of my questions! And, we surely don't want to join a society that doesn't carry any clout - especially since they are taking our money to join! So, now I have the information I need to know which mail to throw in the trash.

As I said, this is all new to me. Hannah certainly isn't following in her parents footsteps on this one. No one ever invited her dad nor me to join their honor society. We were just average students. Nothing special. We thought just getting through our classes was special enough.

But, when you have a 4.0 grade point average, people suddenly take notice and want you to join their elite group with other high achievers. Hannah was recently chosen to be in the Honors Program at Georgia State. They showered her with GSU goodies, and now she gets special treatment while taking her classes - like early registration, special services, etc. Well, while we are ever so proud of how hard Hannah works, she is the exception at our house. None of the rest of us have the same drive for perfection as she does.

Hannah is just like her Aunt Joy. My sister, Joy, has these same qualities. It is funny how genetics work. Joy and Hannah - two peas in a pod. And, they even share the same numerical birthday - they both were born on the 4th day of their month. So, I claim that Joy's daughter, Sarah (my favorite niece on the planet), is just like me. Becky and Sarah - two peas in a pod. And, yes, we share the same numerical birthday, as well. We were both born on the 27th day of the month. So, there!!

All kidding aside, I am very proud of all of the academic accomplishments of Hannah and Joy. Joy just completed her Specialist degree (6th year) this past summer and will graduate soon. And, yes, she graduated with a 4.0. Like I said, two peas in a pod. : )

Sunday, November 9, 2008

No Shave November Week 2

No Shave November is progressing nicely. Hadrian makes me feel the results on her legs on a daily basis. Ugh!

We have had a very busy week, and I have had trouble finding time to blog. And, I really haven't had any revelations about something to write about. I think I will just resort to giving an update on the girls.

Haley has been SO busy with her education classes. She has never been as stressed as she has been this semester. Friday, she went with a group of fellow students to a teachers conference in Savannah for the weekend. I know this was a nice break from the routine, but it took her whole weekend.

Hannah had an accounting exam yesterday. All of the accounting students (around 1000) in Accounting I at Georgia State take the same exam at the same time. So, their exams are always on Saturday's. Hannah is always pulling all-nighters when she has an accounting exam. She finds them to be very hard, and the class average is never really good. Hannah has a study partner (Anna) for accounting and they always meet at the mall one day a week to do their homework together. This is really helpful.

Hadrian has had a busy week as usual. She made the JV basketball team at school, so she has had basketball practice every day. Yesterday, we went to the high school for "Meet the Rams." It was a fun day of meeting the teams and watching short scrimmage games. Hadrian went to a birthday party last night for a friend (Casey) from her soccer team. They went to a fancy smancy house at Lake Lanier and spent the night. She really enjoys hanging out with her soccer friends! '

Hadrian had an interview this week for the Governor's Honors Program. We were busy getting her resume ready and her clothes ready, etc. And, then I had to drive her to the interview early Wednesday morning and hang out for the whole morning until she finally got finished. We stopped at Frontera for lunch since she missed lunchtime at school (yummy). Hadrian has been stressed out about school as well. She so hates homework. She is just very unmotivated right now.

I will be glad when this semester is over for all of my kids! I am tired of them being in school. We all are very ready for a break. Thanksgiving is just around the corner - yippee!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

No Shave November

November has arrived!

I had the pleasure of driving to my mom and dad's house in Blairsville yesterday afternoon. Hadrian had a soccer game on the south side of Atlanta at noon, and we left from there to go to my dad's birthday party. I knew we would be a little bit late for the party, so we were trying to hurry. But, once I saw the beautiful fall leaves on the mountain, we just had to slow down. Even Hannah and Hadrian enjoyed looking at the leaves. Hadrian said she doesn't ever remember seeing the fall leaves on the mountain. And, I am immediately thinking of one more way I have allowed my children to be deprived because we are always just too busy. And, I honestly think she may be right! I can't remember driving through the mountains with her at the peak of leaf season! How sad!

But, for this day, we had the wonderful opportunity to enjoy the leaves. And, I suddenly turned into my dad. He always pointed out the beauty of nature (and made us look) when we were kids. And, I was doing the same thing to my kids. The red leaves were amazingly beautiful! So, I felt very blessed to experience this day with two of my girls, and it honestly relieved some of the stress that I have been feeling all week.

Now, to "No Shave November." My kids never fail to enlighten me. Hadrian explained to me that November is "No Shave November." This means that she and most of the kids at the high school do no shaving in November. And, I am thinking, "what the heck?!" Who came up with this wonderful idea?? I learned that this is kind of a universal concept and it is not just limited to her friends. And, yes, both girls and guys participate in this November experience. Where have I been? I have never heard of such a thing! But, now, I am thinking how cool Bryan has been all of these years. He has never shaved in November because he has always grown a beard in November for Thanksgiving week deer camp. Maybe he is actually the founder of the "No Shave November" ritual! And, to think that this idea has caught on and is actually being experienced by teens all over the planet! Amazing! : )

Monday, October 27, 2008

Being a New Blogger is Scary Stuff!

I have been thinking of starting a blog for a long time. My niece, Sarah, blogs regularly and our family and friends thoroughly enjoy her updates! And, while I enjoy reading other peoples blogs, I am thinking that no one could possibly be interested in reading mine! And the confusing part is that I am not so sure I want anyone to read my blogs! This is my life we are talking about! How much does one really want to share about their family life? It seems that it could be a bit overwhelming deciding what to say, how much to say, and when to say it. And, there is always the embarrassment factor while blogging about the kids. I can already hear the complaints about why I wrote such and such about them.

So, I have decided to just jump in and go for it. I am looking at this blog as a journal. I don't care if no one reads it, but on the other hand, I don't care if someone does read it. Hopefully, others can relate to the joys and sorrows that come with being a family. So, here I go with my first blog in "the plott thickens." And, as scary as it is to click on the "post" button, I am going to do it and not look back! : )