Saturday, August 16, 2014

RoadSide Attractions in Topeka

My friend, Tonya, from has blogged about roadside attractions many times and I'll admit, I never really noticed them until she brought them into the marvelous light. And I see them from a mile away. If I know I'm going to be taking a road trip I may do a little research to enhance my travels.
Recently, the family and I took a road trip back to my husband's home state of Kansas. He has taken us there once but this time I wanted to see a few attractions that we didn't see that first time around.  As we were leaving the Farmers Market (another must see if you are in Topeka) we drove by this giant wren. He was not on my list of things to see so he was an added bonus to the trip.

The Wren
 (info taken from
Topeka, Kansas - WREN Statue
The wren sat atop radio station WREN, Topeka (second radio station in Topeka) since 1947 before being installed at its present location in 1993. It was constructed of wire mesh and concrete by an unknown artist sometime during the 1930s when the station was then located in Lawrence, Kansas. Former Governor and 1936 Presidential candidate Alf Landon purchased the station in 1952.
It has become a local landmark and was purchased by The group Historic Topeka after initially having been sold to a developer and scheduled to be moved to Branson, Missouri. It was restored by Buck Thomas, who also repainted it.
SW 12th St., Topeka, KS
In the median divider between SW 12th St., SW Huntoon St., and SW Topeka Blvd, at Huntoon Park, in a former fountain.

The Green Monster

The Back View
Here is another "attraction" that we drove by but was not on my to-see list. I had no idea we would be seeing quiet a few attractions just driving around the capital city of Topeka. This one is sort of famous's so ugly... and there was a murder there in 2011. No, we did not go inside nor did we stay around too long.

The Fire Hydrant Garden WAS on my To-See List

The Fire Hydrant Garden was a lot of fun. Oh sure, it was neat to see the different hydrants but the neighborhood in which you will find this unique garden was not quiet what you might expect. I was scared and wondering if perhaps I should have been packing (and I'm not talking about my bags - even though that might not have been a bad idea).  Mike just kept saying, "Wow, this neighborhood sure has changed."  He asked me how I found this place. But he was not as surprised about the Fire Hydrant Garden as he was our next stop.


Turns out that Mr. Ron is as much as an attraction as his Truckhenge. He is a very lively character who has had to take on the local city government a few times over his Truckhenge. If you want to know the whole story you will just need to stop by. Call first so they can give you the grand tour because I promise you - You have never seen anything like it nor will you ever meet folks like Mr. Ron and his wife. 
The kids really enjoyed the school bus. Mr. Ron throws some parties and concerts on his property. He allows the participants to express themselves in any way they see fit, this includes spraying the vehicle carcasses with paint. He wanted us to leave our mark, too, but the tour went kind of long and we were hungry. 

 I think this bus was my favorite. Mr. Ron has several works of "art" on his property. It's really fun listening to how he came up with the titles. For example he has several truck bumpers laying up next to a fence that he called his: Bumper crop.
I don't care much for what the hood says but the fact that the truck is positioned this way is neat. Mr. Ron stated that the city told him to "pick up his trucks" so he did. 
WARNING: If you do visit with small children just know that Mr. Ron has very colorful language. Come to think of it - You need to know that, also. 

These were just a few roadside attractions that we visited and I must say that I enjoyed the adventure. I love when road trips are so full of experiences and not just the same ole, same ole; drive on the interstate, get gas, on interstate, get gas, eat.....It is more fun to take the road less traveled and meet some of America's most unique people.

Friday, August 1, 2014

It's THAT Time of Year Again

I LOVE this time of year!!

I love the fresh start of a new school year. 
 Buying curriculum always makes me happy and makes me giddy about a new school year. BUT this year I didn't have to buy much so what is a homeschool mom to do? I needed something to "go through the motions" of getting ready for the upcoming school year.

Ahh Haa!! I'll go through what we already have and start planning. Once I pulled out the kids' Duct taped, recycled Ramen Noodle boxes filled with curriculum and loose leaf paper all crinkled and falling out of the sides I realized we needed a better way to organize our assignments.

It needed to be orderly, at their level (as opposed to being on the very top shelf) and it needed to be colorful!! So, I bought these neon colored file crates and neon file folders.They each picked out their own color. That's it! All the school supplies we'll need for this year.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Our Dyslexia Story

"Look mom, I spelled Love!" 

When my son first called me over to see the word he had just spelled I was tickled that he even tried to spell anything. He was seven years old at the time and his sister had just been diagnosed as a 'mild dis-phonic dyslexic'. I knew very little about dyslexia and being completely honest, I felt that it was just another label to stick on a child. 
My daughter began therapy but it was extremely expensive. I thought that I just needed to have her read more. Her fluency was not where I felt it should have been but I kept saying, "She'll be fine. She take off one of these days."  And she did, too. I had stopped pressuring her. She's a reader now. 

Her brother on the other hand didn't progress so well. I was slow to do any academics with him until he turned 7 and even then I was very relaxed. I'm really glad I was. However, when he couldn't remember the sounds of letters he learned yesterday or last week. I thought something was odd. I also thought he was just being ornery and didn't want to learn. I knew he was smart. He was so smart in fact that he seemed to memorize poems before his older sister did (without me prodding him). 
As a matter of fact, he would play while I did a bulk of my daughter's school with her in the next room. He was always close, even while in the next room, and he listened to everything. Later in the day or following weeks he would ask me questions about what I had taught sister. He was intrigued by the evaporation process. Of course, he didn't use the words 'evaporation process' but he described it as if he were a little scientist and had been paying attention. 

When it came time for handwriting my little guy had pretty neat penmanship.  However, he may copy two perfect letters and then completely turn the letter around or upside down. For example: d or b or p or q. And tears would flow when I pointed that out to him. He didn't see it as a goof, he literally thought he was making the letter correctly every time.
Then we started on sight words. Oh how fun are those. He knew them one minute and not the next. I just couldn't make sense of it. I can not tell you how many times I must have said, "We just went over this." 

THEN there came a time when we put the kids in public school. (Oh joy) This child cried and cried and cried- every night for about 7 months he cried. He cried over his homework. Oh! I remember the horror. I hated it. I dreaded homework time. He begged me, "MAMA!! I wanna be homeschooled again."  Crazy thing was, he came home with a book everyday and could read it!! Did you hear me? I said the boy could read it!  How was that possible?  So, I decided to go to the school and find out how this was possible. I sat in on reading time. Oh yes I did. They read that book so many times that my smart child just memorized it. He would bring that book home and read it so fast. I decided one time to take the words from the reader and write them on flash cards. Then I showed them to him and he could NOT tell me what they were. Hello, People!! We have an issue.
I even brought up the idea that my son may be dyslexic to his teacher. After all, if anyone should know about a reading issue, surely she would. She was a veteran teacher and well liked by everyone I talked to. So when I brought that up she was quick to tell me that he was fine and showed no signs of dyslexia. I will tell you that I knew better. I knew my son. I knew his struggles. Thing is, at the time, I was too busy dealing with life to really look into it. 

I owned two books about Dyslexia and I began to educate myself. As I began to read, I realized I was reading a book not only about son but about myself. I would talk to my husband about it and he said that the book described him to a T, also. Oh, Huston, we have a problem. 

Time went on and we homeschooled again. I was still frustrated because public school did nothing for my soon-to-be- diagnosed Dyslexic son. Not that I expected them to. But my daughter improved quiet a bit. So all was not lost.

The day finally came when I asked for my son to be tested for a learning disability. He was tested for ADHD. I loved the results of that and the reaction of the tester's face as he read the results. "Um, He definitely has focus," stated the examiner. "He only missed one."   Out of a 20 minute computerized test, my son sat still and focused enough to hit the control when needed. They tested his IQ. The tester stated that he was superior intelligent. That's ABOVE average by the way. HOWEVER, a big FAT HOWEVER, they tested him academically. He didn't score so highly. When you take the two scores and combine....blah, blah, blah........"So, Mrs. Ihne, we are looking at a learning disability for sure."  

Anti-Pharmaceutical plug here:
Since you can not give a person medication for Dyslexia - doctors, testing examiners and the such are hesitant to give a Dyslexia diagnosis. There is no reward or compensation for giving such a diagnosis.  

So having said that, my son was given the diagnosis of  'disorder of the written word'.  As a mom who had just educated herself on dyslexia by reading two books on the topic, I knew enough to know he really meant Dyslexia.  

My first call after that visit was to my Speech Therapist friend who confirmed that yes, 'disorder of the written word' is in fact the same thing as dyslexia.  Turns out though dyslexia is so much more than just a disorder of the written word, more than flip flopping letters or writing letters and words backwards. It is a language processing disorder and also effects comprehension. (Oh, now that explains a lot!) 

I took a 35 hour Orton-Gillingham class that has taught me so much more about dyslexia and how to teach my son. OG is a multi-sensory approach to learning to read. It is great for dyslexics but also for any struggling reader because of it's hands on approach. The student is using their auditory, visual and tactile senses to learn. And hey, who couldn't benefit from that?? 

My son has progressed so much through our O-G lessons. He loves to write and illustrate his own stories. He even enjoys reading now. I highly recommend an Orton-GIllingham trained interventionist to help your struggling reader. I happen to be one so if you need my services just send me a message. 

There is so much more to share on the topic of dyslexia so I shall share more information in future posts.

Also, for wondering minds, the first book I read on dyslexia was The Gift of Dyslexia by Ronald D. Davis. The second book title has slipped my mind, however there is a third book that I have read and it is simply amazing. It is Overcoming Dyslexia by Sally Shaywitz, M.D.

I also want to give credit where credit is due: My Orton-Gillingham training was provided by The APPLE Group for Dyslexia. You can find them at 

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Books, Anyone?

Once Upon a Time Books

This morning my husband and I had a few hours to ourselves so we planned BIG! That's right, he took me to a used-book warehouse in a neighboring town.  For years I have known about this book warehouse but it wasn't opened to the public. It is mainly an online book store. If you lived local you could go online, order your book and pick it up from the warehouse. But you were not allowed to go in and browse - UNTIL NOW!! 
That's right folks, now you can. There are a few restrictions. They have one enormous room in the back with what I call a 'free roam pass'. That just simply means you can take the books off the shelves, flip through the pages, sniff the pages (who doesn't do that?), sit in the floor and enjoy yourself.
Out on the main warehouse floor they have designated areas with large cardboard boxes filled to  overflowing. It is such a beautiful sight that I thought my eyes would cry. My fingers couldn't wait to get a hold of a book. They enjoy flipping the pages so my nostrils can smell the aroma as it floats up into my face.
Upon entering the doors of Once Upon a Time Books, in Springdale, you will be greeted by their friendly staff. They are eager to give you a tour and show you which books are up for grabs and which are not. Again, they are primarily an online store so if you mess books in certain areas you will mess their system up. THAT is highly frowned upon. DO NOT do that. It is not nice. Because afterall, if I order a book online from them - their system saying they have the book I am requesting- and then a few days later they send me an e-mail saying they can not find the book I requested - I will KNOW it was YOU! You who messed with the books in the restricted area. So please heed their wishes and browse only where they have allowed.
The books are cheap. Affordable. Lovely. Out-of-print. Rare. Collectable. Readable. 
Are children allowed? I will say yes. And one day I may stop in with my children. The staff is good to remind you in a friendly manner if you have stepped outside the approved browsing area. As a mom, I enjoyed going without my children. But I know they would have had a field day in those huge cardboard boxes of books.

If you are planning a trip to Once Upon a Time Books and need more information, they can be found at or you can call them at 479-306-9574. You can also find them on    Right now they are running a FREE BOOKS give away for the summer but you have to like them on Facebook. 

 I had just found some great Artist books for our artist study in the fall. I paid $1 each for 3 of the books and $2 each for 2 of the books on the artists. Some books I bought were a whooping $.75. How awesome is that!! 

Please Note: I was not compensated for the review of this establishment. It was my first time visiting and I had a very pleasant experience and wanted to share it with others.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

I Make Random Stops. Abruptly!

 I have a crazy eye for wildflowers. When I see them along side the road they just scream out to me, "Come back! Take a look!" I love to make random stops, abruptly, in  the middle of the road. I can even be on the interstate and just randomly pull over to take a look.

Wildflowers seem to be one way for God to say, "Oh taste and see that the Lord is good, blessed is the man who trusts in Him." Psalm 34:8  It seems to be that when I am going through something or just need to know that God is still there He throws a wildflower in my view. He knows I can't resist. And this day was no different.

There we were, driving down a rural road after a summer time down pour. And there it was. Just standing tall, beautiful, the prettiest shade of purple. I love purples. My wedding colors were purple and white. Purple is the color of royalty. I am royalty because I AM HIS! .....Where was I? Oh yes, on a rural road .....
                             I saw the purple and it was screaming at me!!! Everything else around it was green, all shades of green. The different shades of green made the different shades of purples STAND OUT and SCREAM at me!!  "COME and SHOOT ME!!", it said. I slammed on my breaks. All of us in the car were thrusted forward as if we had hit a brick wall. My kids, with their faces in their ipods, were oblivious to the glorious site I had just seen or else they might have known to brace themselves for another of mom's random stops. I quickly found a place to park my car safely off the road. I grabbed my phone and ran. Yes, I did. I ran. I ran because this was beautiful. God is beautiful, too. And He spoke to me in that moment saying, "My people need to run to me like this."
It was sprinkling and had just poured down a few minutes before we arrived. "Just don't fall, just don't fall", I was whispering to myself as I was running. What I didn't realize when I had driven by these wildflowers was that there was a small ditch I would have to jump over. I was able to jump over the ditch and shoot a few photos. They were gorgeous!!  I was in awe of the beauty of God's creation. Do you ever feel that way when you see something beautiful? I see God in everything. I see Him because I look for Him. He is there.
As I turned to head back to the car the ground felt different. I wasn't as cautious as I had been upon my approach to the ditch, even though I had been running. Now I had a new challenge, get back to the car before another down pour, the sprinkles were turning into a full rain. Cars were starting to come from nowhere. I could hear them. I just needed to get across the road. I approached the ditch and that was when it happened...
                                                    One foot slipped out from under me and down I went onto the side of the ditch, a very muddy ditch. I could hear the cars fast approaching and I needed to get up and get moving!! But I couldn't because I was too busy laughing. I was laughing so hard because I just knew my kids were going to be so embarrassed. They were in the car probably just in a panic over what they had witnessed. I was imagining them screaming out "Mom! Get up before people drive by and see you!! Gosh, you are so embarrassing! GET UP and COME ON!"  But that was not the case. Not at all.
Notice that the back of my shirt reads: "Happy, Happy, Happy" - and I could do nothing but laugh

I was laughing so hard when I made it back to the car that my daughter asked, "Are you crying?" I said, "No, I fell. Did you not see me? It was funny!!" My son, in the back seat, has his face in his ipod and has no clue what he just missed.

"Kids, if you do not keep a close watch on your mother, how are you ever going to have any stories to tell?" 

Monday, May 26, 2014

Vacation in Our Own Back Yard

    School is out and Summer is IN!!
Oh how we love summer! I like getting creative and doing as much fun stuff as I can close to home. It saves time, money and gas. Not to mention the close relationships that the children and I build by just hanging out together. 
Last summer I took advantage of Pinterest for lots of inexpensive fun ideas, activities and recipes for snacks. We did several community service projects. And for a science kick we used and I had two very happy and entertained kids, who were learning all summer.
 This summer my focus is going to be centered around The Big Outdoors - Vacation in Our Own Back Yard. We will be exploring our beautiful state of Arkansas with a concentration near the Ozark Mountains and the Buffalo River area. We kicked it off very well by taking the eighty-something mile trek deep into the Ozark Mountains on Friday.
We went to Kings River Falls Natural Area with some friends from our homeschool group. We had an absolute blast!!  The water was frigid cold but yet not cold enough to keep the kids out. It's a place I think we will visit time and time again. The hike in is only 1.2 miles round trip. However, if it's a hot hot day in July, consider packing lightly. You can, will want to and should plan to bring a lunch, water shoes, water proof camera, sun screen, swimming suit and change of clothes. There are no restrooms. So prepare accordingly. 

We are in close proximity to many great swimming holes that will require no hiking.  That will please my children. They once loved hiking until we hiked Pinnacle Mountain in Little Rock. THAT was it. After that they were done with hiking. I just knew once we had reached the top of the mountain that the astonishing view would get their little legs and young lungs motivated for more - more big mountains. I was wrong. So wrong.
 When planning for Outdoor Adventures I always consult Tim Ernst's books. He has written quiet a few on the Arkansas Hiking Trails and Scenic areas. I highly recommend his books as he has written out very detailed driving instructions. (I am capable of using his books and arriving at a predetermined location without ever having to consult a GPS.) He also gives accurate trail descriptions and lots of other important information. I do recommend purchasing the newest edition. We have had many changes and additions to our trails.

Getting the kids out of doors is such a great way to keep them active both physically and mentally.  I don't have to tell you that our children spend too much time in front of a screen. And instead of preaching to my children all summer "Go outside and play" this mama is going to take them outside and play. Our kids love and need our involvement in play as much as any other time. Let's don't just send them outside, let's go with them! 


Thursday, May 22, 2014

Covered Bridge at Green Mountain in Alabama

(Above Picture: was taken when part of our adventurous life moved us to Alabama)

Welcome to my site. I am so glad you decided to stop by and check it out. I will tell you that I was extremely indecisive on a name for this blog. I have two others and coming up with their names was quiet easy but this one, not so much. 
I love life and I love the adventure that it is. I love meeting new people and traveling, even if it's the back roads of Arkansas's rural counties, that counts as a traveling adventure for sure.

In the south we have stories to tell. My grandpa was always telling stories. I remember pulling into the drive way, jumping out of the car and running past him on the porch. He would be sitting outside telling his stories and then all of his captive audience would burst into laughter. I would stop and go over to listen. I never knew the people he was talking about. I was just too young but I always remember him talking, telling stories. He made them sound so interesting. Or maybe it was the faces of those listening that made me think that he was telling an interesting story. Either way, as I look back on those gatherings with grandpa, I realized he had lived adventures. He just lived. He worked in his garden. He had adventures. He had neighbors that he knew. They talked. He had adventures. He was a farmer in the Arkansas Delta region. He had adventures. He was a husband, a dad, a grandpa and a great-grandpa. He had adventures. He drove an old beat up truck. He had adventures. He couldn't read. He had adventures. He lived. He just lived and the adventures came. Adventures come to us in our everyday lives.

Your adventures will be different from anyone else's. They are like finger prints. No two adventures are alike. Come along as I share my adventures and I hope you will share yours with me.

Life is one big Adventure!