Monday, October 27, 2014

2014 Pumpkin Patch

A beautiful evening at Hall's Pumpkin Patch.
I love that one of our family traditions is going to the pumpkin patch.  We have some great ones in the metroplex and we really enjoy Hall's Pumpkin Farm in our area.  Fox was in awe of all the pumpkins and kept pointing at everything.  Paisley is a pumpkin patch pro now and found some wonderful pumpkins for our stash.  I realized that I hadn't updated my phone lock screen since the pumpkin patch last year, so it was the perfect opportunity to snap some pics of the kids together.  Fall can officially begin!

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Boo at the Zoo

Boo at the Zoo - 2014

Halloween time is here (even though our Texas weather has not received the memo yet and is clinging to summer heat like nobody's business).  We were excited to meet up with Ali and Logan for Boo at the Zoo - I was impressed with the activities and whatnot last year and this trip was no exception. 

Paisley is four and has her own opinions these days.  I was well prepared that this Halloween would be the year of the princess (especially with Frozen being such a hit) and braced that she would join the throng of Elsa's and Anna's.  About a month ago, she announced other plans... she wanted to be something scary and requested a bat costume.  I thought the idea would fade once she saw the options displayed at the store. But nope - even after a walk through in the costume aisle in Target and a visit to a costume store, she held firm and I knew her vision was solid.  So a bat it was.  I loved that Paisley had such a classic choice and wanted Fox's costume to compliment it.  Fox has the cutest little toddler walk these days, so when I spotted a Frankenstein, I knew it would be the perfect choice.  Scary bat Paisley and Fox-enstein.

We arrived at the zoo and I was pleasantly surprised that it was easy to park and access.  Upon entering, we were greeted by a handler holding an alligator.  We lucked out because the alligator was just about to be put back and Paisley was able to get close before it disappeared. 

We then booked it back to the pavilions and Paisley used a chunk of her tickets playing carnival games.  She is too old for the tot area now, so it was new to see her among the "big" kids.  She did great and loved the game where she tossed a ring onto black cat tails.  Fox got out to play in the Little Gym area for tots for a bit before he became too uneasy with all the new faces.  I'm grateful that Paisley didn't complain about waiting on the edge of the play area while Fox stretched his legs.  His tolerance for the stroller varies, but snacks definitely helped him to be okay with being more a spectator. I'm excited for next year when he can participate more and have more fun.  After that, we stopped off in the craft area, where Logan and Paisley made silly monster hats. 

Paisley was really jazzed about seeing the bats since she was dressed as one.  She was all smiles before we entered the bat house, but sadly, they were not out.  She looked so bummed and deemed the situation "unacceptable" and was pretty upset.  Luckily, looking at some animals and some additional treat stations got her back on track. 

We finished up by checking out the tigers since Logan was dressed as a cute little tiger himself.  It was such a blast to go to Boo at the Zoo and we are officially ready for Halloween festivities!

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Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Anchor of Wisdom Homeschool

First week of PreK Homeschool

The first semester of the Anchor of Wisdom Homeschool has begun and we are officially four weeks in.  We gave our school a name to define our vision. 

Jeromy and I hope that our children will not only collect knowledge and facts through their academic shaping, but will rather cultivate wisdom that will serve as a strength when hard times come.  We want them to learn how to research and think and pray and ask.  Storms will come in their lives.  Trials will beat their sides and make them weary.  We believe that if they are armed with an education that encompasses their spiritual, emotional, intellectual, and physical facets, they will be anchored in wisdom to fulfill the path that God has for them. 

For this school year, my focus verse comes from James 3:17:

"But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy."

As we begin our homeschooling journey, this scripture provides a blueprint for the optimum environment to teach our children.  We will be learning a lot in the upcoming months (and years), so I want to focus on our foundation.  What types of qualities I need to work on as their at-home teacher.  Fortunately, I have the optimum example described in the verse to look to and will be relying on Him to give me continual guidance. 

I've been surprised at how well things are going.  The issues I worried about the most aren't as big of a deal as I anticipated.  I really stressed about how to engage Paisley while keeping Fox happy.  And  I don't know how to describe it, but most days it works just fine.  I've had one rough day where things just weren't happening - Paisley wasn't focused and Fox was yelling.  We pushed through and still had a productive time when it all shook out.  I think even in a public school setting, most teachers would admit that there are just days where things are "off", so I'm not going to beat myself up too bad.

We don't have a strict schedule.  There is more so just a general order and we move on when things are accomplished.  Most school days start with my personal scripture study until the kids wake up, breakfast for everyone, general getting ready/dressed, a daily verse/discussion for Paisley (using the Verse by Verse app right now and we love it), and then we knock out Paisley's reading lesson (100 Easy Lessons) and math (Math U See) while she is fresh.  If we have time before lunch, we will start on our unit study activities (KONOS) and go until lunch.  During lunch, we usually watch a TED talk or two and discuss.  After lunch/nap, we will finish up any other unit study work and read books.  There is time for free play/music time in the afternoons before Jeromy gets home.  This is how things typically go on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays.  On Wednesdays, Paisley has dance and we just do what we can.  It is a lighter school work day for sure.  Fridays are reserved for either homeschool group activities or field trips/outings that tie into what we are learning.  I still want to do better about throwing in regular playdates on school afternoons after we finish our work. I've been hesitant to shake things up and have been focusing on our school day routine.  Now that we are finding our groove, adding in some extra friend time doesn't seem so intimidating. 

And we're off!
In addition to reading/math, we have studied:  attentiveness (our overall theme this semester), the parts of the ear and how it works, sound, and music/instruments.  For one activity, we made a giant ear and talked about each of the internal parts.  Paisley lit up with understanding when she saw that when one cookie sheet was struck with a toy hammer, she could feel the vibration with her hand on the other cookie sheet.  It was a simple concept, but it was cool to experience the "light bulb" moment with her; I'm genuinely excited about all the many more to come.  We have learned about the lives of Frideric Handel, Alexander Graham Bell, and Helen Keller.  The scriptural accounts of Samuel, Mary/Martha, and Christ have been woven into our studies as well. 

First week of PreK Homeschool First week of PreK Homeschool First week of PreK Homeschool

Homeschool has been awesome.  But like with anything, it isn't perfect, and I want to paint as realistic picture as possible.  I'm  currently restructuring my "free" time and figuring out how to get housework/errands done when the week is fully scheduled.  Between being engaged with lessons during the day and doing lesson prep/planning, I feel that laundry quickly backs up and floors are dirtier.  Fortunately, I have a supportive spouse who has acknowledged that he will need to be a more involved during the school year.  I'm having to relax my standards a bit until I become more efficient, and I know that things will also ease when Fox is more independent.  Our lack of getting out has left us feeling a bit isolated, but I think that will resolve in time as we become active in groups.  My own personal weaknesses have nowhere to hide these days, and I can see that I'll be stretching and developing my patience, empathy, etc.  I've already encountered others who assume I have amazing patience because we have decided to homeschool... nothing could be further from the truth.  But I know I will be given what I need and I will be refined in this process. 

We did some first day of school photos with Miss Paisley.  She is radiant and energetic and such a fun learner.  I feel so blessed to explore with her and look forward to documenting more adventures. 

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Tuesday, September 16, 2014

2014 Galveston Trip

August 2014 Galveston Trip

A recent tradition has started with Jeromy's family - on the last weekend before school starts, they go to Galveston to bid summer farewell and spend time together.  Last year, we had a new little person that we were all still adjusting to; this year, we were able to jump in on the fun. 

Janie found a wonderful beach house on the island (in Jamaica Beach).  It was quiet and the beach itself was not crowded at all (although all of the coast was suffering from an influx of yucky seaweed that had washed up).  I loved that the beach was sooooo close and that we could just walk a bit and boom!  We were there.  The layout of the house was accommodating and each family grouping got their own room. 

On the day of arrival, Jeromy and I attended my Aunt Susan's funeral and Janie and Jeff graciously offered to take our kiddos to the coast, where we would meet up with them later.  I was kinda nervous that Paisley and Fox wouldn't travel so well; I was relieved to hear that they were amazing the whole way down and didn't make a fuss at all.  Jeromy and I met up with everyone that evening and got settled in.  Fox wasn't a fan of the pack and play, and that first night was a little rough.  But that was okay - the excitement of what was to come masked any sleepiness we would have had otherwise.

On Saturday morning, we went down to the beach for some family photos.  It was fun to get some updated shots of everyone.  After that, breakfast was made and it was time to play!  We went in the water for a bit and played in the waves.  Paisley wasn't so sure about it all but then warmed up to the idea.  She willingly let Brandon take her in a bit further and seemed to feel brave when he was close by.  Fox was really into it and I think it is so funny how "water baby" he has become.  Once the kids were done splashing, it was time to build a castle.  The girls started on a castle and the boys did one of their own (which consisted of digging down to the dark "sand" that seemed to have an odor to it...).  Everyone had a good time.  Fox ate a lot of sand.

Once the heat set in, we had lunch and then drove to ride on the ferry.  This ended up being our favorite part of the whole weekend.  You can drive onto the boat in your vehicle and as you ride across, you can get out and look at the water.  The Howards had the foresight to bring some bread and we all fed the seagulls off the back.  If you held the bread out long enough, a bird would take it directly from your hand!  This was great fun!  We also saw dolphins in the distance, which was really neat and was a hit with Paisley.  On the other side, we drove and saw a historical site.  On the way back, Jeromy and Paisley went up to the top of the ferry and got a kick out of waving to us below. 

No trip to Galveston is complete without a walk through Murdoch's.  Paisley found a toy dolphin to help her remember the trip and dubbed it "Ferry."  At the house, we enjoyed a feast of a dinner and then we took the kids on a night walk on the beach.  (Okay - so maybe that ended up being my favorite part of the trip.)  At night, the crabs are visible, and Ethan was so awesome at spotting/catching them for us to look at.  It was fun to watch them all scurry and bury themselves.  They are fast!  Paisley was terrified but also intrigued and I was proud that she pushed through uneasiness to try something new.

Sunday morning was all about packing up and heading home.  It was a fantastic trip, but much too short (as 'cations often are).  I was happy to recharge my soul a bit and have some fun.  Most people have a type of place that speaks to them.  For my mom, it is the mountains.  For Jeromy, it is a river.  For me, it is the coast.  I'm not necessarily a traditional "beach" person that loves laying out  to tan and playing volleyball or anything like that.  I just love the rhythm of the waves and imagining the world that lies beneath.  It's so intriguing to me.  Being at the spot where land and water meet is such a beautiful juxtaposition.  Paisley is already asking about going back to the beach and talks about it all the time (maybe she is a coast soul, too?). 

Below are some photos of our trip - click HERE for the whole album!

Week of 8/23 #latergram This house is amazing and the perfect venue to send off summer. Recharging our batteries and renewing our souls. #huzzah #misspaisleygrace #aboynamedfox August 2014 Galveston Trip August 2014 Galveston Trip August 2014 Galveston Trip August 2014 Galveston Trip August 2014 Galveston Trip August 2014 Galveston Trip August 2014 Galveston Trip August 2014 Galveston Trip August 2014 Galveston Trip August 2014 Galveston Trip August 2014 Galveston Trip August 2014 Galveston Trip August 2014 Galveston Trip August 2014 Galveston Trip Week of 8/23 August 2014 Galveston Trip Week of 8/23 Week of 8/23 Week of 8/23 Week of 8/23 Feeding the seagulls off the back of the ferry. We even saw dolphins! #misspaisleygrace Week of 8/23 Week of 8/23 Exploring a bit. #misspaisleygrace Had to stop in at Murdoch's! #misspaisleygrace Week of 8/23 Week of 8/23 August 2014 Galveston Trip