Tuesday, November 22, 2016

1st Day of School ~ 2016 ~

It's Thanksgiving in 2 days so of course I'm just now blogging about the 1st day of school!  That sounds about right with how busy we are!  I remember when they were babies and toddlers I used to think that when they were big kids I'd get a break.  I was so wrong.  It's just a totally different kind of busy.  And it requires more brain power on my part too so for some reason that just seems to make it more draining.  Now I can't just take them outside to play and put some random toys out and they'll keep themselves busy.  Now I have to plan social outings and be responsible for all of their schooling (homeschooling is hard work!) and they no longer are content to just take a walk with mom and play with toys.  Now they need friends, and games, and electronics (constantly trying to negotiate on time limits too) and they need to go to this event and this youth group thing and this co-op thing and school is hard now.  They have to think and write and math has fractions and decimals and word problems that take more than 2 steps and oh my gosh, the drama.  Sorry for that tangent, but yes, school started a while ago now and for all my complaining it's actually going quite well!  We still love homeschooling and the kids are busier than ever.  I cannot believe they are in 5th and 7th grade! 7th grade!  Just let that sink in.  I only have like 5 years left until my sweet girl will be graduating.  I can't even think about it right now.  It's insane.  

School this year consists of our homeschool co-op on Mondays where the kids take fun classes like Acrylic Art, Let's Vote!, Creative Dance and Ark Encounter.  It's momma's day off from teaching too so it's great for all of us.  My girl has discovered a love for dance and she's also taking a ballroom dance class on Saturdays.  I can't wait to see her recitals, both are coming up soon!  The rest of the week we do our homeschooling and they are both doing great.  They really are getting quite independent and that does make things easier for me.  We also pared down our classes this year and are focusing more on the basics.  I think last year we tried to cram a little too many extracurricular type subjects in and it ultimately just led to burnout and made our school days way too long.  I know all too well that high school is coming quickly so we are trying to enjoy our easier days and really get all of the fundamentals down before that time comes.  I'm so thankful to have lots of homeschool moms whose kids are just older than mine to go to for advice about things.  They've assured me I should not stress about high school quite yet, but enjoy these middle school years with time for field trips and reading for fun and time outdoors.   

I took some photos of the kids on their first day of school.  I remember that my girl was so not in the mood for photos and was acting the perfect part of a seventh grade girl that day.  I still got lots of good shots though and actually waiting to post them has made me appreciate them more.  Here are my favorites!  

He's got the smolder down. :)

She had been begging to dye her hair blue for the longest time and our sweet friend came over and helped me do it the day before these photos were taken.  It looked very cool and was a bunch of different shades of blue and purple.  It washed out so quickly though!  

She was really not in the mood for the 7 fingers shot.  And I really wanted a pic of the 2 of them together so they had to be ridiculous and all I got were silly ones.  Oh well, it's the real them!

By the end of our little shoot everyone was in a good mood.  I love this shot of her eyes!  They are such a pretty blue!

My favorite part of every first day of school post...the collages!  How cute was she?!

She's changed so much yet she's still the same. :)

Oh, my sweet boy, he was so little! I like seeing how his teeth have changed. 

He's looking so grown up too!

Friday, November 4, 2016

Summer Days

Although I felt like half of our summer was taken up with travelling, we were still able to cram in lots of fun days, and lots of lazy days.  It helps that we homeschool and I refused to start back to school at the beginning of August which is when the schools were starting around here. I'm old fashioned and we started the day after Labor Day, which is when we started when I was a kid.  We did a lot of the usual summer things like beach days (still kinda weird that that's our normal!), thunderstorm days spent in our jammies watching movies, and running errands, and just enjoying less stress without all of our normal school year commitments.  We made a summer bucket list at the beginning of the summer and while we didn't even come close to checking off everything, we did do a few fun things from the list like going to see Finding Dory, eating macarons, riding Cobra's Curse and painting my girl's desk.  We will have to make a list next summer and see if we can do any better!  I hardly took my big camera out at all this summer after our travels, so I'm really thankful for my iPhone even though I hate it at times because it's so addicting and I'm always threatening to get rid of it for an old school flip phone! I do appreciate the ease of taking photos when I'm out and about though.  I'm still figuring out how I'd deal with my Instagram addiction if I didn't have a smart phone.  Anyway, we had a pretty great summer and I took a bunch of photos to remember it by, so here you go! 

When we got back from Ohio, my little sister was in town to visit with my adorable niece.  We had some fun beach days with her.  She loved the sand!

She adores my girl and wants to do everything she does.  She was copying her and reading a book while my girl read a book.  And I just love that they are 9 years apart which is exactly how far apart my sisters and I are.  It is so fun to watch them together and think that was just how we were!

No, we didn't get a hamster, but we did pet sit for our friends while they were on vacation.  It was so fun having little Pinchki in our house for the week!  My kids both adored her, and I'm not gonna lie, I kinda liked her too.  Taking her picture was so hard because she's so twitchy and fast!  

Another beach day when we were chased away by storms.  I love the wind blowing her hair.

You could see a bunch of different rain clouds out over the water.  It was very cool. I took this panoramic shot and love how I got them all in one shot!

We went to this crazy art installation at Amalie Arena (where the Tampa Bay Lightning hockey team plays) called The Beach.  It was basically millions of little plastic balls you could swim in and they made it look like a modern all white beach with a pier.  It was fun!

We spent an evening at the driving range brushing up on our swings.  We haven't gotten the kids back into lessons, but my boy is still a golf lover so maybe this spring we will.

My girl got some new reading glasses and she spent most of her free time this summer reading.  We both read the Miss Peregrine's book and so we went to the see the movie together with friends.  The book is always better though, and it was true of that story as well!  The bottom right photo is the first day of their homeschool co-op.  It did start in August, but we didn't officially start our school until after Labor Day.

I'm sad that summer is over but I'm glad we live in Florida where it is eternal summer!  I can enjoy my favorite season all year, but too bad we can't have no school all year!

Monday, October 24, 2016

A Few Days of Ohio Summer

While we were in town for summer camp we stayed a few days before and a few days after to visit with friends and family.  My girl always meets up with her old friend from kindergarten who she's managed to stay in touch with all this time.  And my boy, of course, tries to pack in as much time with his cousin as possible.  It's amazing they don't get on each other's nerves with so much togetherness, but they get along really well.  We got to see their cousins on my husband's side of the family too, including the ones who live in Texas and were in town the same time as we were.  I met up for lunch with one of my high school besties to see her sweet little girl and see her baby bump as she's expecting again.  I got to see my sweet little nieces and take their photos, and I did a couple other photo shoots while I was there including one with my cousin's little girl.  I met up for drinks with one dear friend and lunch with another, so I really do feel like I got to see almost everyone I wanted to in that short space of time that was jam packed!  Here are a few pics of our Ohio fun!  

When you try to get a pic of all the grandkids for your mom and the toddlers decide to hate life at that very moment and refuse to look at you.  Oh well!

They are all so cute!  They all get along too even though there are five years between the two oldest and four years between the next.

I love my niece's teeth.  I called her the little vampire that week.  I think she's lost more teeth now though, so I'll have to get new pics next time I see her.

Us Florida peeps aren't used to pool water that doesn't feel like bath water in summer.  It was way too cold for me!

My friend's toddler took a liking to my boy.  He was not a fan and it was so funny.

These two had a great time together at King's Island's water park!

All the cousins from the other side of the family.  We had a great day at King's Island with all of them.  My poor boy is totally outnumbered!

We met some friends at Panera on our morning out of town.  Some other friends also just happened to be there!  How fun!  I used to babysit them and her oldest and my boy are the same age so I needed a new photo of those two together.  They kept saying how my nephew was missing though because I used to babysit all three of them.

Road trip!  I took this on the way there but on the way back I didn't have my mom to help me drive so I wasn't taking pics.  We took 2 days to get home.  It was totally exhausting, but Ohio was fun!

I'm so glad we got to catch up with old friends and drive by all our old stomping grounds.  I miss Ohio sometimes, but spending time there in the summer is the perfect cure.  

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Summer Camp

I was ready to skip summer camp this year.  I told my kids we probably weren't going because I hadn't booked our flights soon enough and the prices were too high and I wasn't going to drive to Ohio by myself with no other adult to help me drive.  Plus, it was so close after our California trip I was exhausted thinking about going away again.  They took it pretty well, but I still felt bad.  Even though they were acting like it was no big deal, I knew that they would have a great time if they went and I really wanted them to have the camp experience.  It would be the first year for my boy to go and it would be the last year for my girl to be a junior camper (next year she'll be considered a senior camper and they get to stay up later).  

As I am finally learning though, my plans aren't really my own, and God had other plans.  My mom decided to go to Ohio and offered to help me drive.  The camp director contacted me and let me know how much they wanted us there.  My mother in law had planned a day for us at Kings Island the day after camp ended and I didn't want to disappoint her by cancelling our trip.  So, to make a long story short, we went.  And I'm so glad we did.

Camp week is such a blessing.  I went as a counselor and I got to be with my bestie in the cabin with the oldest girls.  They were mostly Juniors and Seniors in high school or they had just graduated.  I had so much fun getting to know those girls.  I haven't really worked with older kids much seeing as my oldest is just 12, but they are awesome.  I loved it!  I hope I get the opportunity to do it again sometime. I feel like I was able to have some great conversations about real, meaningful things and they were so receptive to what I had to say.  

It was fun being able to see my kids having a great time too, but since I wasn't assigned to their age group I could kinda watch from afar unless they wanted to come find me.  My boy did come for hugs every day and to tell me all about whatever injustices he felt he was experiencing.  He didn't love every minute of camp, but there were a couple of older boys there who really made all the difference in his week.  One thing I love about our old church is the way the older kids look out for the younger ones and include them in things.  The ages really mix well and it doesn't feel like a high school vs middle school vs elementary mentality.  It is a wonderful thing to witness.  One highschooler saw my boy hanging out alone at free time and took him over to the game room and played with him and then took him to Candyland and bought him a ring pop.  To hear my boy tell it, it was like he won the lottery.  Another cool thing they do at camp is pair up the junior campers with a senior buddy.  They go to the little carnival that they put on together and that's usually the extent of it.  My boy's buddy totally went out of his way to hang out with him other times as well though.  It was so sweet and my son just thought this kid was the coolest, funniest person ever.  Those two boys seriously made his week and for that I am so thankful.  I'm glad he now has some nice, godly young men to look up to.  Now we just need to cultivate some relationships like that at our church in Florida.  My boy is going to student group this fall so I'm hoping that will help.  

My girl had fun too, she didn't really come see me too much though.  She was busy with her friends.  I missed getting to be with her age group in that sense because I feel like I really don't know what she did all week and didn't really get to know her new friends, but that's okay.  I know she likes not having her mom hovering around all the time.  I totally get that and I respect it.  

I was the camp photographer for the week so I had like thousands of photos to cull through.  I tried to just pull out some favorites of my kids and some of their friends.  Here is a super condensed photo version of our week!

Neither of my kids do the blob, but it's fun to watch.  That's the outside and inside of the lodge where the girls stay.  It's broken up into 'cabins' on the inside. 
Everyone passed the swim test and got to go in the deep end of the lake.  Whew!  They were so worried about this before camp!
One of the boys' cabins in the top pic.  The bottom is the lodge where some of the lucky few men get to stay and where the devotions for the counselors were held each morning before breakfast. 
You have to make quite a hike up the hill (I forgot how hilly Ohio is!) to get to the ropes course and the climbing wall.  I miss walking in the forest, it's so calming.
My boy did the wall but not the zip line.  My girl did both.  I think next year she will try to conquer the hard side of the wall.  That's one of her friends on it.
At the craft area.  The sight of my former near death experience.  They rebuilt it and it's much sturdier and more permanent now.
I love watching the kids do the giant slip and slide.  Dave always tortures the kids by spraying them.  My boy decided he didn't want to do it because he didn't want to hike up and down the hill to change into his swim trunks.  Oh well, that was the afternoon he hung out with the high school boy. 
All the juniors were just hanging out and watching while the seniors did the Steeplechase relay race.
My girl and her friends dressed up as Moses on Mt. Sinai for costume night.  That's my boy and his senior buddy playing foosball. 
The carnival prize table.  My boy won the most expensive prize, a remote control truck. That's my girl with her senior buddy.
The juniors do 'Anything Goes', a bunch of relay races.  They are so competitive and it's so fun to watch.
Love the reflection in the lake in this shot!
They ended with tug of war.  I love their faces in these pics!
Capture the flag.
All the junior campers together at the fire pit for a class.  I didn't get a pic of just the seniors. 
Proof I was there too!  And I am short, but I'm not that short...I think I was standing a step down from everyone else or something!  That's my cabin of girls on the top left.

I'm so, so glad we went to camp this year!  I hope we can go again next year.  In a way I'm kinda glad that our new church doesn't do a traditional camp or we'd be forced to choose between the two.


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