Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Back to School 2015!

We started school the day after Labor Day this year.  That's when I remember starting school and even though most of the kids around here start mid August I was totally not ready yet.  The kids weren't either.  My boy wanted to wait until after his birthday, but we started off right before that with a short, easy week to ease us into things.  Every year I become a more relaxed homeschooling mom.  I wish I would've chilled out a little more when we first started but I was in a totally different mindset then.  Plus, I think it just takes time to let go of the traditional model of school and gain confidence in doing your own thing.  This year we joined a co-op that meets on Mondays.  We are loving it so far.  I love it because I get to drop the kids off and do my own thing for a few hours.  It is so refreshing!  I still sometimes feel guilty for just going off and having fun without my kids (and I make a point to not go home and do housework) but I think I'm getting over it. :)  The kids like co-op too.  One of my girl's best friends is in all her classes and my boy has made a new friend as well.  My girl is taking Drama, Astronomy, and Pinterest Cooking.  My boy is taking Sherlock Homeschooler, Astronomy, and Fun with Science, where they do an experiment every week, his favorite thing!  The rest of our week is filled with more traditional classes that we do on our own.  We got rid of our homeschool room this year when we rearranged our condo so that my girl could have her own room.  So far it hasn't been an issue at all and we don't even miss it.  We do school in the floor most of the time anyway and as soon as it cools down a little more we'll be on the balcony too.  I can't wait!  I took photos to commemorate the first day of school, of course, so here are some favorites!  

I seriously cannot believe I have a 4th and 6th grader.  My babies are so grown up!  My girl did the chalk art for me.  We just grabbed those frames off our kitchen wall. 

Love these two spunky cuties!

The collage.  It's tradition. :)

Seems like the time has really been flying lately.  My girl is in middle school and she goes to Youth Group at our church.  My boy isn't really 'little' anymore either.  I feel like I'm gonna blink and they're going to be graduating.  I know from talking to other moms who've been there that that's exactly what is going to happen I just wish it weren't happening so soon!  I'm so thankful to get to teach these two and spend my days with them.  I was just tempted to type, "I'm so lucky", but really, it's not luck.  It's a choice we made in faith that this is what God wanted for our family.  He's been faithful to us in our choice and if you ever feel like it might be something God wants for your family, I'd love to answer any questions you have about homeschooling.  It is HARD, but it is so very WORTH IT.   

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Asheville Getaway

We had so much fun during the two days we spent in Asheville this summer.  I really wanted to visit there because I'd really never been there even though we normally vacation in the Smokeys about an hour from there.  I had also been wanting to take my husband to the Biltmore House ever since we went to the Hurst Castle in California.  I knew since he loves history he would love the Biltmore House.  I had been there way back when I was in high school and remember loving it.  After looking it up and finding out that kids under 16 were free this summer I decided we should definitely go.  My mom wanted to visit too since she hadn't been since that high school trip and we were able to use her military discount too.  We drove over from Bryson City and stopped in Waynesville for lunch on the way.  It was just a nice leisurely day.  We checked into our hotel and then we just set out to explore downtown Asheville.  It's a really fun city with a ton of restaurants and bars.  They have like more breweries than anywhere in America or something like that!  My husband appreciated that.  We stopped for drinks at one of the places and the kids got Shirley Temples which they thought was super fun.  All the restaurants have great outdoor areas so I'm glad we went when it was warm outside.  We went to a bunch of cute shops too.  The next day we explored the Biltmore House which was just as beautiful as I remembered.  We got there as it was opening and we had lunch at a cafe in the Carriage House and I got a Christmas ornament for my souvenir (that's tradition).  We walked through the gardens and then as our bus driver took us back to our car she took us on a little scenic tour and we noticed a waterfall that I didn't know was there.  We drove back by it in our car and got out and explored a bit. It was such a wonderful day and it was a perfect vacation activity.  We ended the night with dinner back in downtown Asheville before we headed to the airport for home.  I love that we were able to tack that trip onto our Ohio trip.  I had a great time and I cannot wait to go visit there again!  Here are some favorite iPhone shots from our trip!

Can you spot my kids in this one?  They look so tiny next to the massive house!

My girl's souvenir was a tiny terrarium necklace.  That shopping center had beautiful architecture.

My girl showing off her origami skills at dinner.

What a fun couple of days we had!  Now I need to figure out where we are going to go next!

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Smokey Mountain Summer Fun

When we were planning our trip to Ohio this summer I was determined to somehow combine it with an actual family vacation for us.  We hadn't had an actual vacation as opposed to a trip visiting family in over a year...not that that isn't fun visiting family, it is, but I just wanted us to be away from home and doing what we wanted and relaxing a bit.  So after many many variables clicked into place we were able to plan a trip to the Smokies.  The kids and I were already in Ohio and my mom was already planning on driving to the Smokies the week after we left so she agreed to drive down a few days early and be our chauffuer.  On our way down there we picked up my husband from the airport in Knoxville since he was able to get a cheap flight into there.  His flight got delayed so it put us off schedule, but overall it was fine. We had just a couple days to enjoy in Bryson City where my grandparents vacation home is, and then we were off to Asheville for a couple days and we flew home from there.

Even though we were only in Bryson for a couple days we still were able to cram in a bunch of fun.  We went tubing down Deep Creek which I had been wanting to do so badly because our kids are the perfect ages for it.  We haven't been there in the summer for a couple of years and it was great.  We got there and it had rained for days before so the water level in the creek was really high.  The first tube place we went to rent tubes from turned us away when they saw we had kids with us.  They said they wouldn't recommend us taking them down since the rapids were so fast.  It actually had me pretty scared and we weren't sure what to do.  We drove up to the park to check out the water for ourselves and while it was higher and faster than normal there were tons of kids in the water (lots of them younger than ours) and we decided to go ahead and see if another tube rental place would rent to us.  We found one across the street from the first one and they didn't have a problem at all.  We didn't go up as far as we normally would because of the high water, which was fine since who likes hiking all that way while carrying a huge tube anyway?!  We tied our tubes together and off we went!  It was all fine and fun until I got separated from everyone else and then got caught on a rock and flipped my tube!  The water was rushing so fast it was knocking me over and I could barely stand and hold onto my tube.  I was able to get back into it and I was fine, just shaken up and a little scraped.  I was so glad it happened to me and not one of the kids.  After that I was reluctant to go down again, but my husband and kids went a few more times and I went one last time after I rested a while.

Meanwhile, the kids found a box turtle and I was on turtle sitting duty since they wanted to keep him.  I've become a softie and was fine with keeping him while we were in the mountains and setting him free when we left.  My boy named him Turtie (ha, we kept reminding everyone to really pronounce that last 't' when we said it) and we took him back to the house and my boy put him in a box he had found in the laundry room.  Well, apparently that was my grandpa's favorite box?  Seriously, I can't make this stuff up...so my mom had taken the turtle out of that box and into a smaller one and he escaped.  We had some sad kiddos and now of course we will always have to joke about grandpa and his 'favorite box'!

While we were in Bryson we were able to cram in some shopping in town, a dinner out at the Fryemont Inn for my husband and I, and a sleepover for my girl with her cousin who lives across the road from where we stay.  The kids played in the creek and caught salamanders and crawdads.  We had a bonfire (okay, it was really just a fire in my cousin's fire pit, but bonfire just sounds so much nicer!) and roasted marshmallows too.  We had a great time!  I didn't take out my big camera once, so here are my favorite iPhone shots of our fun.

I'll be back soon to share about the Asheville portion of our trip!  I'm going back there in two weeks and these photos are totally getting me excited!

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Midwest Summer Days

When we go back to Ohio to visit now I have such conflicted feelings about it.  It doesn't feel like home anymore, but it's not like a real vacation either.  I love seeing family and friends and going to all the old places I miss, but then sometimes the memories and feelings flood over you all at once and make you miss it so much it hurts.  On the other hand, it's not home anymore and you can't wait to get back to your new home because you miss it so much.  Anyway, I'm not sure if I'm explaining well, but you get the idea of how conflicting it can be, right?  I still am glad to visit there when we get the chance.  While we were in town this summer we crammed a bit of fun into the time we had.  We went to Kings Island for a few hours when they had "Bring a Friend" night for only $15 a person.  We used to have season passes and we really, really miss that place, so I'm glad we were able to go.  We also just hung out at my brother's pool which is another thing we did in the summer when we lived there.  I forgot how cold the water is in pools in the summer up north!  I got to hang out with my husband's side of the family too and spend some time with my sweet nieces.  My other niece waited until we were in town to have her birthday party because she really wanted my girl to be there.  How sweet is that?  We saw my sisters and their sweet baby girls too.  We stayed with my brother so my boy was in heaven getting to hang out with his favorite person, my nephew, 24/7 and I enjoyed hanging out with my brother and my sister-in-law who is one of my best friends.  I miss my nieces and nephew so much so it was good to see them all while we were there.  My girl got to see all of her old friends too and I was so happy that it worked out that she could spend time with each of them.  We went to my cousin's farm in Indiana one day and got to see her miniature donkeys and peacocks which my animal loving daughter always enjoys.  I did a bunch of photo shoots while I was there but for the most part I just used my iPhone for personal photos.  I kinda wish I had busted out the big camera a little more, but at least I have these memories and that's all that really matters.  Here are some favorite photos from our midwest summer trip!

My kids with some of the their cousins.  I wanted to get a pic for my mother-in-law of all her grandkids.

Always have to get a pic of my boy with his 'hair twin'!

My mother-in-law's house was on the market while we were there (she has moved since then) and it was so weird to think that next time we visit she'll be in an entirely different place.

I had a Skyline lunch date with my sisters and this cutie pie.  She played with the salt the whole time and was such a little angel.  And of course I had to go to the Gap Outlet while I was there too.

My girl wants to live on a farm (in Florida) when she grows up so she was in heaven playing with the miniature donkeys.  They are so cute!  You can lead them around on a leash.  They are definitely stubborn though.

She enjoyed feeding them treats.

Anna and Olaf.  My cousin has a five year old daughter, can you tell? ;)

We got totally drenched at King's Island, but it cleared up and most of the people there had left so we were able to go on everything we wanted to with hardly any lines.  That's my girl's friend who she has known since kindergarten.  They met on the bus.  I'm so glad we've been able to stay in touch with her and her sweet family.  And I love my niece's pose in the bottom photo.  She's too cute!

We ran into another friend at the top of the Eiffel Tower!  I used to babysit her and my nephew so it was so fun to see those three together again.  

I love this photo of my boy!  He still talks about how his favorite ice cream is the blue kind from King's Island so I'm very happy that he was able to get it.  And it was even better than he remembered!

Looking at these photos again makes me miss Ohio so much!  Summer was always my favorite season there.  We'll be back next year!


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