Saturday, May 31, 2014

Photo Friday 2014 ~ Week 22

This week was so busy and full of fun with friends that I completely forgot to do my Photo Friday post yesterday!  My girl had 2 sleepovers with her 2 besties and they had so much fun.  We spent lots of time hanging on the beach with our friends as well, which is always a good thing in my opinion.  We went to Ft. Desoto where the kids got to explore the fort as well as have a picnic and play at the beach.  There was a fun little inlet/lagoon that they played in and caught little crabs.  We could barely get the kids to leave they loved it so much!  I got caught in two major downpours this week, so I guess the daily rains are back.  I don't really mind and I actually kinda like watching the crazy monsoon like rain we get long as I don't get caught outside in it!  All in all it was a fabulous week and it was so wonderful having friends here!  Who wants to visit next??  Hmm??  I took a bunch of photos with my phone, but not so many with my real camera.  I still have a few to share though.  Here are my favorites of the week.

My girl with her buddies.  They are so funny together.  Totally reminds me of me and their mom when we were kids.  I love that.

An iphone shot.  Where our friends were staying there was this pier and it was so perfect for photos!  The kids loved climbing on it too.

This is my friend's gorgeous oldest daughter.  I was totally obsessed with her perfect beach hair this week.  Why can't my hair look like that?!  I took photos of all six of her kids and I'll try to share some in a different post because I haven't had time to edit them yet.

Hope you have a great weekend!  Might head to the beach...nope, not sick of it yet...not ever. :)

Friday, May 23, 2014

Photo Friday 2014 ~ Week 21

 My mom has been in town this week so we've been busy helping her fix up her new house.  I didn't have much opportunity for photos other than some shots with my phone.  When we pulled into the parking lot last night I tried to get some shots of the gorgeous Jacaranda tree in our parking lot.  I didn't love any of them since I still haven't mastered how to use the iPhone camera in tricky lighting situations.  So I took my big camera back out to try again.  I still don't think this does it justice.  It's an enormous tree and it is so fragrant and beautiful.  I wish I had taken a photo a couple weeks ago when it was all purple blooms and no leaves yet.  Guess I'll have to try again next year!  And people who think we don't have seasons here are so wrong.  There are some of the most amazing flowering trees here in the spring that I have ever seen in my life!

The parking lot is littered with the falling blooms and it is so pretty with a carpet of purple.

I like how these landed in a little bunch.

This last pic is totally unrelated to the tree.  My girl is on a sleepover with her Grandmama and he had to Facetime her to ask her advice about something this morning.  I love that they are best friends. :)

Speaking of best friends...mine is coming in from Ohio tomorrow!!  I am SO excited to see her and spend some time on the beach catching up.  It also doesn't hurt that our daughters are best friends too!  How blessed are we?!

Friday, May 16, 2014

Photo Friday 2014 ~ Weeks 19 & 20

I missed a week posting my Photo Friday because we went to Panama City Beach last weekend.  I know, we live at the beach, but we went to a different beach for vacation...weird, right?  Well, we go there every year and I booked our condo before I even knew we'd be moving to Florida.  Then when the time came around to decide if we should go or cancel we decided to go anyway because my mom and my grandpa were going to be there and we really wanted to see them.  This was also before my mom bought a house here and we realized she'd be coming and bringing my grandpa here one week later.  I thought about cancelling a bunch of times, but the kids had their hearts set on going, and we needed a little getaway so we decided to just go.  One thing I really like about going to the beach while also living near a beach is that we didn't have the same pressure to get it all in.  Like, "We must go to the beach every day from sunup to sundown because we won't be here again for an entire year!"  That feeling never happened!  It was kinda nice.  Much more relaxing.  Plus we didn't have to drive to the beach with all of our stuff, it was just right outside our door.  We probably won't be taking that trip again in the future, but I'm glad we did it one last time.  I wanted to do a photo shoot with my kids while we were there and they were pretty cooperative (some bribery helped!) and I got a bunch that I love.  I also did a photo shoot with my daughter the week before at Clearwater Beach for her 10 year photos.  So, I have favorites from both weeks to share.  I actually have tons more from both sessions but I think I will do a separate post because otherwise it would be photo overload for sure!

I posted a couple of favorites from this shoot to Facebook already, but I love this too.  I love this dress!  I like that the Clearwater pics look so different from the Panama City Beach ones.  They are really different beaches.  Clearwater has the sand dunes and the lifeguard chairs that I love.

She was in a much more serious mood this day.  I love that she is wearing my necklace from when I was a little girl.  So vintage now!

The next beach where I got shots of both of them.  Love his toothless grin!

This was one of the last shots I took that night and you can tell because her hair had gotten so windblown.  I actually love it though.

I spent a lot of time during the shoot trying to get them to stop being so silly.  Then the silly shots end up being my favorites.  Figures, right?!

They are so cheesy!

From the beginning before the windblown look.  My pretty girl.

Totally in love with this shot of my boy!  He's always in action so this is appropriate.  :)

I will share more when I have time!  My mom's coming this weekend and then one of my dearest friends from Ohio is coming the next!  Yay!

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

My Favorite Homeschool Blogs

One thing about homeschooling that has been challenging for me is the feeling of isolation that can sometimes accompany it.  I went from being involved in my children's public schools and having the common bond with other mothers whose children also went there and we could vent our frustrations to one another and support one another.  When you begin homeschooling you might start to notice that it can be polarizing in many situations.  It can be a conversation starter or a conversation ending topic depending on who you are talking to.  Fortunately, most people are pretty open minded and just kind of go with it.  They might ask you a question or two, but generally they are pretty supporting.  I'm glad for that.  Especially here in Florida I feel we have a community that embraces parents doing what they feel is best and I haven't felt much judgement or negativity at all.

For all of the talk of socialization concerns when it comes to homeschooling, one of the hardest parts for me has been deciding what activities to say no to.  You could literally be out of your house doing something social every day of the week if you wanted to.  Even with all of that socializing it can still feel a little lonely at times.  I guess because every family does it just a little bit differently.  One thing that has helped me a bit when I start to feel doubt, or discontent, or I just need a word of encouragement is to read blogs.  And the funny thing is that some of them are written by women who I don't agree with half of the time, but they still encourage me all the same.  So I wanted to share some of them with you.  These blogs are not 'how to' types of blogs.  I don't really read those too much.  These are more 'why do' type of blogs.  They are looking at the big picture and that really speaks to me more than the type where they give you more specific homeschooling tips.

Here is my list in no particular order:

The Pioneer Woman Homeschooling
One thing I love about this blog is the Community Question series.  They take questions from the readers and then people answer them in the comments section.  This is a huge community of people, so you always get a vast variety of opinions which I like.

Clover Lane
This isn't even a homeschooling blog, but it encourages me anyway.  She sends her kids to Catholic School but one thing I love about her writing is that she never apologizes for her point of view.  She is very affirming to stay at home moms and I always feel uplifted after reading her posts.  Think 'vintage parenting'.  If you struggle with feeling like the only strict mom out there, the only one who doesn't let their 10 year old have Instagram or the only one who sets limits on electronics, then read her blog and you'll feel encouraged that you aren't alone.

Unschooling NYC
We aren't unschoolers, but a lot of the movement's theories about education intrigue me.  I stumbled upon this blog one day and it just spoke to me.  I like reading about her adventures homeschooling in New York City and her relaxed attitude inspires me to chill out when I start talking to myself in my head about how I'm not doing enough and the negativity starts getting me down.  What?  You don't talk to yourself? ;)

Penelope Trunk
Okay, a word of caution when reading Penelope...she can be very polarizing.  I don't agree with a lot of what she says (she tends to be a very black and white, all or nothing type of person) but I still enjoy reading her blog.  She is so firm in her convictions and I admire that.  She offends people left and right and doesn't bat an eye about it.  But the thing I really like about her is that she challenges me to think outside the box.  To look at the world in a different way than I normally would.  For that reason, I will continue to read...and honestly, the comments are sometimes like a car wreck that you just can't look away from...know what I mean?

Heather Sanders
Heather is a contributor to The Pioneer Woman's homeschooling blog.  Her own blog is an encouragement as well.  She is a more traditional homeschooler and I admire her organization and the way she shares about her curriculum choices and what has and hasn't worked for her.  She's honest and doesn't sugar coat the homeschooling experience.  I feel like she's that mom who's been there, done that who you can go to for advice and know you'll get good, honest feedback.  I really respect her choices and she's an excellent writer as well.

Hopefully some of these woman will encourage you as they have me!  Happy reading!

Friday, May 2, 2014

Photo Friday 2014 ~ Week 18

This week my kids went on a boat for the first time, and we saw alligators at the park but the only photos I have of either event were taken with my phone.  Which I'm okay with, because at least I have them, but I'm not okay with because I've gotten lazy about taking out my good camera.  I got it out this morning and was disappointed to see that once again I hadn't taken a single photo with it this week.  I'm going to try to be better next week.  The phone is great for silly stuff or stuff on the can see what I mean by clicking here to see my Instagram feed.  I really am glad I have it since I have been taking more photos than ever.  Sometimes it makes me realize how much more I can control with my real camera though.  And that's when I'll wish I had brought it.  Oh well, I'm sure I'll figure out a happy medium at some point.  It's a rainy day today so I tried my best to get creative with some pics to share today, but it was hard.  Here are my favorites.

Just a cute shot of my girl hanging out on the balcony.  I am grateful that we can at least go outside a little bit even when it's pouring down rain!

She was lifting him up here.  I actually hate when my kids try to carry each other around, but these smiles are priceless.

They were being totally silly with their stuffed animals and trying to make them unlock my phone and play games.  They were so engrossed they didn't even care that there was a camera in their faces.  His gap toothed smile kills me.  I love it!

If you've followed my blog for awhile you know I'm obsessed with my daughter's profile.  And I love her long eyelashes too.  Lucky girl.

Saved my favorite for last.  I love the light in this and the way you can see his dimple.  Oh, and the adorableness of the missing teeth doesn't hurt either!

Have a great weekend!  And I'll be back next week with some more homeschooling posts, so check back!

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Why We Homeschool

I recently read a post by a good friend of mine explaining why they homeschool and I decided that it would be a good exercise for me to write something similar.  I have a bunch of reasons and sometimes it seems they change on a weekly basis, but there are a few main reasons that always stick.  First of all, let me just start with a brief history of how we got to the point of homeschooling.

My daughter went to public school through 2nd grade.  Her kindergarten and first grade teachers were both amazing and she had many little friends from wonderful families.  Overall, the first 2 years of school were a great experience.  In 2nd grade we started to experience a few minor complaints about the math curriculum and some little things about the other children's influence bothered me.  About halfway through the year we had some more issues with her math teacher (she had one teacher for math and another for everything else) and the way she handled certain things that just really rubbed me the wrong way.  That coupled with the curriculum issues really made us start to question whether it might be easier to just teach her at home.  Meanwhile, our son was having a fantastic year in kindergarten with a fabulous teacher.  However, he was starting to get bullied on the bus.  After talking to the principal about the issues and getting pretty much nowhere I really started to question whether public school was right for us. Just a disclaimer here:  I am in no way judging anyone who sends their children to public or private schools.  I believe that there are amazing teachers and caring administrators out there, however, this is just an account of our personal experiences and how we came to start out homeschooling journey.  I hope no one is offended by my words because that is certainly not my intention in writing this!

After we starting thinking about homeschooling as an actual viable option for us, it seems there was no lack of information or options about what to do.  That was completely overwhelming to me.  I had no idea where to start and I was terrified of ruining my children's futures and somehow scarring them for life!  It is a very daunting task to think about at first.  If you are in that stage of your journey, I will tell you that it will get easier and you will become confident and learn to chill out.  :)  It just takes time.  At the time we were thinking about homeschooling I had a few close friends who were already doing it, only they were all using completely different methods.  One used a virtual online school, one did Classical Conversations, and another was unschooling.  All of these are so vastly different methods of schooling and I took all of their advice to heart.  In the end, I decided that to begin our journey, the virtual school option is what felt most comfortable to me.  It is an online public school that you do at home.  So I really had a lot of support and all of the curriculum and materials were free and the lesson plans laid out.  It just seemed like the best of both worlds.  I couldn't possibly screw their education up when I had 'real' teachers backing me up and yet I could have my children home with me which I knew was what would be best for them emotionally and spiritually.

I think one of the hardest parts of deciding to begin homeschooling was telling everyone.  I was worried about what people would think.  Would they think we were weirdos?  Probably.  Would they talk about us behind our backs?  Probably.  Would they think that we were somehow thinking we were better than them by making this choice?  Maybe.  I have a lot of fear that other people will think I am judging them.  Probably stemming from my fear of others judging me.  And you know what?  It is all so ridiculous!  I am a grown woman who decided along with my husband after much prayer and consideration and research that this is the best choice for our family.  And I was worried about what other people thought?  That's just stupid.  And I sometimes still feel insecure about telling people.  Which is really stupid.  I guess I'm just a slow learner. :)  So, I'm working through some of my insecurities by putting this information out there in hopes that it will help one of you if you are struggling with something similar.

So, I guess after all that I didn't really tell you why we homeschool.  If I had to sum it up at this point I would have to say the main reason is that I want my children home with me.  I want them to learn about life not from a bunch of other children and one teacher who would spend more waking hours with them each day than I would, but from me.  I want them to have the best education possible for their unique personalities and abilities.  For now, I think the best option to accomplish that is for them to be home with me.  Will that change in the future?  Possibly.  One of the best pieces of advice I got when starting this journey was to take it one year at a time.  When you try to plan your child's entire education through high school all at one time, it can be pretty daunting.  When you try to plan just for third grade...entirely doable.

We are currently no longer using online schooling.  We are doing our own thing now which is an entire post in and of itself.  A story I'd be happy to tell if anyone is interested.  So let me know if you are. :)  And while I'm on the subject, let me know if you are interested in hearing more about our homeschooling days in general.  And if you are thinking about homeschooling and wondering if you are doing the right thing, the answer is yes.  Even if you think it sounds totally crazy and life changing and self sacrificing and you might go crazy spending every day with your kids all day every day...but you still can't stop thinking about it, yes.  Just stop obsessing about it and do it!  Says the mom who wishes someone had said that to me a couple years ago...and come to think of it, a bunch of people did.  :)  I'm really glad I listened to them.  


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