Wednesday, May 1, 2013
With the end of preschool comes a new adventure, Kindergarten! As I mentioned before, we have decided to homeschool. This is a decision that we have been thinking, praying, and debating about for five years. I never thought I would homeschool. In fact, when she was first born, we were adamant that we wouldn't. But from our research and meeting with other homeschool families, we have found that many of those stereotypes simply aren't true.
I don't want anyone to think that we are only homeschooling so we can keep visiting Walt Disney World. We do travel a lot, but rarely is it simply for a vacation. Out of the four trips to the Disney Destinations that we currently have planned for this calendar year, only one of them is only for a vacation. All of the rest of them have business meetings tied to them. Chet travels even more often for speaking, and, we are blessed when we get to travel with him to those engagements. We have never liked the idea of always leaving our children behind while we travel to the necessary engagements. We want to be able to experience these things together as a family.
Hannah has already learned so much from our travels already. At five years old, she has already been to one of the Smithsonian Museums in Washington D.C.; learned how to make chocolate in Hershey, PA; made friends with a dolphin; has stood under the Gateway Arch in Saint Louis; learned about trains in Baltimore; and has made countless friends of all ages all across the country. Later this year we are traveling on a cruise through the Panama Canal and will visit the Grand Canyon. These experiences aren't the same when just read in text book. Here at home, the zoo, museums, aquariums, parks are all available as well. We are excited about the possibilities!
Another reason we are homeschooling is that simply put, our family is different. Right now, most of Hannah's friends think her dad is cool. Most have grown up with him around and don't see him as any different. We do not think that will always be the case especially in the public school setting. Hannah is our little tender-heart. She loves everybody and doesn't do well with confrontation, teasing, and bullying. We know that we can't always protect and shelter her from everything, but in these early years, we can teach her to stand up for herself, learn the value of self-worth, and help her see why some people act the way they do. Someday, she will be out in "reality," but that does not have to be today when she doesn't have all of the tools that she needs to be prepared for it.
Socialization will not be an issue. We have already found a local homeschool group in our neighborhood that is full of kids around Hannah's age. Hannah is currently involved in gymnastics and will continue next year. She has also expressed interest in piano and ballet. She is getting to an age where she can participate in more activities and church. She rarely meets a stranger when we travel with Chet to his speaking engagements and on our vacations.
I have no doubt Hannah will excel academically. She has always been very bright and we will continue to teach her just like we have these last five years. We like the idea of tailoring her studies and lessons to her interests, learning style, and needs to make them even more meaningful. We are currently picking out the curriculum plans that we want to use and I already picked up a book that talks about how to create lessons around Walt Disney World! :)
This is certainly not all of the reasons that we have decided to homeschool, but just the ones that may be more specific to our family. There are many other reasons that are common among other homeschool families. Homeschooling is what we have chosen for our family. It is works best for us at the moment, but we have not made a lifetime commitment either. We will take a year at a time and reevaluate as necessary. We are all excited about what the next year will bring!
Thursday, March 21, 2013
One year old! What a fast, amazing year it has been! Here are the things I want to remember about our little Livi-lu at one year old:
New thing we learned today: she does NOT like sitting on the grass!
This girl is all about the food right now. At her doctor, the one year old "just so you know" sheet said that she might have a decrease in appetite during this time. They were clearly not talking about Olivia! She has perfected the art of begging, is trying to say "bite," and is not happy if someone else has food and she does not. The only food she has ever turned down is green peas. We quit her bottle cold turkey because she wouldn't take a cup as long as the bottle was a possibility. Olivia loves her cup now and is drinking regular milk instead of formula (Yeah! Smaller grocery bills!).
Olivia may be our quiet one out in public, but she is a chatterbox at home. She "talks" quite a bit and is beginning to put syllables and consonant sounds together to make "words." I love listening to her babble right now because it sounds like she is trying to talk just like the rest of us, just in her own language. She definitely has something to say about everything that is going on, whether she likes it or not.
In the picture below, she is trying to do the motions to "Itsy, Bitsy, Spider." She just started doing them in the last week. She loves music just like her big sister and loves when we sing to her. Her other favorite songs are: "Jesus Loves Me," "it's a small world," and "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star."
Olivia has the funniest sense of humor. This may not be so cute later on... when I call her to me, there are times where she shakes her head no and crawls off laughing in the other direction. She loves teasing us and does so quite a bit! She loves making silly noises and faces, anything to get a laugh.
Olivia loves to explore and is constantly getting into things. One of her favorite things to do is to pull all of the kid dishes off the shelf. She is always looking to "escape" from the living room and visit Dad in the office while he is working. He, of course, loves it but is not so thrilled when she helps him type emails or write code for the website. She still has no fear and is always looking for ways to be higher by climbing onto furniture. Her favorite place to sit is inside an old red wagon that now hold extra pillows and books in the living room. She pulls all of the pillows out and climbs right in!
Love this sweet smile! She is still a Mama's girl, but she loves her daddy and big sister so much! I love watching her interact with each. Hannah can get her laughing and squealing like no other. She loves to cuddle in her Daddy's lap. She is still my sweet little cuddle bug!
Happy Birthday! Love you sweet girl!
Monday, March 18, 2013
What an exciting weekend! We celebrated Hannah's fifth birthday and Olivia's first!
We had such a great time celebrating with our families.
We had such a great time celebrating with our families.
We are very proud of Hannah. We were talking in the car one day about how we are so blessed to have all that we do. After talking a bit, I brought up the idea of not asking for presents for her birthday. Instead, we asked our family to help us buy goats for families in the Philippines. She questioned it at first as you might expect a five year old to do, but the more we talked, the more excited she became to help others. We raised enough money to buy three goats! She and her dad sat down yesterday and "ordered" them.
Hannah picked the theme, Sofia the First, Disney's newest little princess. Everything was pink and purple, even the rented bounce house Mamaw and Granddad surprised her with that morning. We were blessed to have such a beautiful day to celebrate in my parents' backyard.
Fun in the bounce house... Hannah convinced Uncle Jonathan and Granddad to join her!
Nana and Olivia
We even had a little ball pit for the babies!
The wind was a little crazy but we did finally get the candles to light. Hannah still won't let anyone sing "Happy Birthday" to her, but we did get to sing to Olivia.
The princess in her throne.
She loved her cupcake and kept it smushed against her chest so no one would take it!
She devoured every bit of it!
She devoured every bit of it!
We headed to the Dallas Arboretum this week with some friends. I thought it would be a perfect place to grab some new pictures of the girls together. The arboretum was beautiful, the weather was beautiful, but, the girls were not thrilled with the idea. This was the one of two shots that I managed to grab that day. We'll try again later!
Sunday, March 10, 2013
Wow! Five years old. That makes her sound so old! Here are some things I want to remember about our big five year old:
Hannah is Miss Independent! She is all about doing things herself and, even more so, doing it her way. This week, we had to work on that even five year olds still have to listen to their mom and dad. She decided to test out, "But, I'm five," when she was corrected. Of course, she will do anything to help out others. She loves helping around the house and we even created a chore chart so she can see what needs to be done, but still do them in her own time. Her favorite things are dusting and sweeping. She gets so excited when they pop up on the board.
Hannah is very excited to be starting Kindergarten in the fall. She is even more excited that we will still get to travel and see the world since we have decided to homeschool (more on that big decision later). Hannah is always very eager to learn. She is already reading and writing basic words (and some not so basic). She loves to skip count, spell, and is very inquisitive about the world around her. Hannah started gymnastics this year and is doing very well. I love to watch how proud she is when she finally accomplishes a specific trick. She can't wait to try new things and is already asking about learning to play piano and take ballet.
Hannah loves to travel and can't wait for our next big adventure, no matter where it takes us. She gets stir crazy just like we do. She loves meeting new people, exploring new places, and just taking it all in. She rarely meets a stranger and will talk to anybody about almost anything! Her favorite, of course, is still, Walt Disney World or any of the Disney Destinations. She is finally getting a little braver and will try some of the bigger rides like Splash Mountain and Big Thunder Mountain, but they are still not really her favorite.
Hannah still loves music and sings all day! She makes up songs about what she is currently doing even if she is just picking up her toys. When she sings actual songs, she does very well at matching the note progression and can even sing on pitch at times. Her music selection on her iPod randomly shuffles daily between Disney classics, contemporary Christian, (clean) pop music, and Broadway soundtracks. She definitely has a talent and we can't wait to see where it takes her in the future!
When she grows up, Hannah wants to be a ballerina and a cowgirl.
Hannah is a terrific big sister and loves Olivia so much! My favorite sound is to hear the girls laughing together. Olivia loves her big sister and is so excited when she sees her. Hannah likes to help Olivia practice walking and they have so much fun playing together.
Hannah is a very affectionate, loving person. She loves her family and friends! She is very passionate about everything and everyone around her. Everything right now is "the best ever!"
Happy Birthday, sweet girl! We love you so much!
Hannah turned five years old this week! We are having a combined birthday party for the girls with our families in a few weeks, but wanted to do something special on Hannah's big day. I had in mind a special dinner somewhere but Dad had bigger plans. Tuesday morning, we woke up and got ready for school just like we do every Tuesday morning. Except this time, the car was loaded with suitcases and Hannah's backpack contained books and activities for the car as well as a clue as to where we were going. We headed down to San Antonio to play for two days at Sea World!
She was so surprised when she figured it out and told us that it was the best birthday surprise ever! We had a wonderful two days. The week before Spring Break is an awesome time to be there. No crowds and beautiful weather!
So, having a fully charged battery camera doesn't really matter if you forget it both days in the hotel room. I am very thankful for my camera on my phone so I could document our special time!
We splurged a bit and got a room at this hotel. It was a beautiful, old building and our room had two balconies that overlooked the San Antonio RiverWalk.
We got to San Antonio just in time for dinner on the RiverWalk. The girls loved eating right on the river and we even got to watch a duck and her (almost brand new) baby ducklings swim around.
Checking out the view of the river.
We got to meet Shamu as soon as we arrived in Sea World the next day!
This is probably the highlight of our trip. Our first stop of the day was at the dolphin tank where you can purchase fish to feed them. Hannah was so excited to feed the dolphins until we actually paid for them and she saw what she had to give them. There was no way she was touching those things.
We stayed around a bit and got to watch the trainers work with the dolphins. One of the trainers brought his dolphin over close to us and offered to let Hannah feed it some ice that was in his fish bucket. Since that is much better than fish, she jumped at the chance and within a few minutes, was feeding all nine dolphins ice. Such an awesome experience! She talked about her "ice friend" for the rest of our trip!
Some of the education guides remembered Hannah preferred ice over fish and let her feed ice to the seals and sea lions, too! They weren't quite as excited about it as the dolphins but she still loved it!
Sea World is home to some old friends from Sesame Street!
Feeding the very friendly ducks.
Hannah loved getting to pet the dolphins, too!
Watching the Shamu show
Sunday, February 24, 2013
Eleven months old this week! Olivia is growing fast and we have started planning that big one year birthday party! Lots of new changes this month!
She is eating all table food, no more baby food for this girl! And, she is quite the little beggar, too! She is eating everything in sight. The only food she will not touch is peas. We can't get her to try any cups. I have tried several types and several different drinks off and on for months, but she is extremely attached to her bottle.
Olivia is standing alone. She can go from sitting to standing all by herself in the middle of the room. No help is needed from furniture. She thinks she is "so big" and claps her hands every time she does it! Olivia is also walking along furniture and can walk with someone holding her hands. It will be just a few short weeks until she takes off on her own! Then we are really in trouble! That is because this girl has no fear! She has no problem with throwing herself headfirst off of furniture. She tries to climb on and over everything, especially trying to get what she wants. She tries to climb out of her high chair and the grocery carts. She is our little daredevil and will be the one standing on her toes so she can ride the roller coasters at Walt Disney World!
She has started putting together a few syllables to make meaningful "words." Mama and Da-da are definitely said quite a bit. We hear "uh-oh" a lot! She will even say "ee" for Mickey and Minnie Mouse.
She is such a blessing to all of us and we love her so much!