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Friday, August 30, 2013

Little Woman

If you've never met Halle then you might wonder why I say Halle is a grownup trapped in a tween's body. Here's an example why. This week was our first week of homeschooling. Yesterday she didn't finish with her school work until late (around 9 pm) because we spent the whole morning doing music lessons. I then told her she needed to do the dishes. Her response, "ok. I'm going to hurry though because I still have to read my Bible for about thirty minutes." Turns out she has a read-the-bible-in-a-year goal and she's on day eight. I didn't know this and I didn't tell her to do it. She's been pacing and tracking herself all on her own. The fact that she's on day 8 is way better than I've ever done in my attempts to read the bible straight through. My mom chastises Halle because she thinks Halle is too serious and well-mannered, to a fault. She is convinced Halle doesn't have fun. She tells her, "You need to be bad every once in a while. It's ok. If your mom gets mad, then just blame me." Halle just says, "yes, ma'am." hahahaha!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Service Jar Week 6

"Let your light shine before men that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven."Matthew 5:16

Prayer walk:

This week we took a stroll around the neighborhood.  Arden and Jack were pulled along in the wagon. Halle and I took turns praying for neighbors as we passed their homes.  I've never prayer walked before, so I didn't know quite how to lead it or what the point was.  I mean, why not just pray for your neighbors from the comfort of your own chair?  However, after walking by a few houses I quickly saw the impact that a prayer walk can have on your prayers.  Passing the houses brought up thoughts about the neighbors that don't normally cross my mind, and that led me to pray for specifics.  For example, seeing Mr. Fowler's daughter working in the yard across the street reminded me to pray for Mr. Fowler in the nursing home.  Also for the daughter herself as she tries to maintain his yard and home.  Passing by the pool prompted a prayer for the swim team.   We passed the Guerrero's, Vowell's, Muse's, Gilley's and many other neighbors that we personally know.  Things came to mind to pray for that wouldn't have had we not prayer walked.  Some are trying to start a family, some are getting married, some are starting new jobs.  All things that could use prayer on their behalves.  We also saw unknown neighbors and others along the way.  Although we don't know their heart or situations, God does, so we said prayers specifically for them.  It was a good experience and I got to hear Halle pray aloud.

Along our walk Halle pointed out how dilapidated our yard looks in comparison to many others.  She's now nagging me to plant flowers and plants in our front yard to fill in our sparse flower beds.  ;/

Monday, August 26, 2013

The perfect imperfect first day

If I said our first day of school went off without a hitch I would be lying.  I'm not complaining.  Simply documenting the events of the day.  :)

My intention was to have our first day of school outside in our PJs.  And I wanted to get a picture of them with their signs.  Last night Arden slept in the clothes that she wore yesterday,  so this morning I made her go put ON her nightgown.  Ha!  We laid out a blanket with our books and computer.  Then it started to rain.
After I got my desired picture (which took many attempts because Jack kept pulling his sign off) we moved everything to our covered patio.  Arden started screaming at Jack because he was writing on her workbook.  

Jack doing school work, too.  This lasted about, oh, 5 seconds before he found something else to do.  Arden was working here but now only her headband is left behind.  She vacated the table because Jack was bothering her.  She went and sat with Halle. 

Then Jack fell down and busted his eye.  He was really dirty from playing outside all morning so I took him inside for a bath.  He had a dirty diaper.  Before I could wrap up the diaper and throw it away Rudi, our dog, took off with it leaving a trail of turds behind.  Which then made Arden get watery eyed and gag uncontrollably.  By the time I got to enjoy my cup of coffee it was cold and occupied by a fly.  I then HAD to go to the grocery store in the downpour because my fridge was echoing.  I'd put it off so long that we didn't even have a package of Ramen noodles to eat.  Halle ate a tomato for lunch.  Arden ate popcorn.  Jack ate a piece of cheese.    Oh, and I poked Halle in the eye which made her cry.

Halle did manage to get in six hours of work today.  She worked diligently in her bedroom after it started pouring outside.  Arden gave Halle a sticker "for being a good girl." Brian came home and asked Halle how she liked the teachers, counselor, principal, and classmates.  Miraculously she approves of us.

Myrtle Beach- Part 2 Our Hotel

Myrtle Beach was better than we hoped.  It is definitely not somewhere you would want to honeymoon or retire, but if you are looking for a great family destination spot, Myrtle Beach is it!  It really was fun for the whole family.  The beach was excellent, and it was easy to just walk around to find places to eat or things to do.  If you needed to drive to get to a destination, then that was easy as well.  Most everything was within ten minutes from our hotel.  It is a tourist spot, so there's lots of activities and entertainment to choose from.

our hotel

We stayed at the Breakers Resort in Myrtle Beach.  The hotel was perfect for us!   There were five different towers in the resort, all with their own pools and hot tubs.  One of the towers had a workout room, something which we never made it to.  :) Our suite had two queens, a kitchen, and then a living room which had a sofa bed,  TV, coffee table, and eating table, and wall bed.   All in all our suite could sleep 8.  Worked out great.  The girls each had their own bed in the living area.  And Brian and I sprawled out in our own beds too!  We closed off an area for Jack to sleep between the closet, bed, and chair.  He hated the new sleeping arrangement at first, but became accustomed to it after a few nights and naps.
Jack asleep on his pallet
These are some of the little things that we appreciated about our hotel which made it nice for us.  1) The front desk had DVD kiosks (very similar to RedBox) and the DVDs were free.  They were older movies, but the kids still liked being able to go pick out a movie to watch.  2) Our car was easily accessible in a parking garage right across the street.  3) The elevators were quick.  (nothing like waiting on slow elevators with impatient kids) 4) There was also Starbucks located right across the street.  5) They honored our request by placing us on the 16th floor.  We wanted to be as high up as possible to get a nice panoramic view of the beach from our balcony.  The one thing that did irk us was the internet was not working properly in the hotel.  We made due with our phones, but we wanted to use our computers for searching the city's activities and booking reservations.

our balcony view of the pools and beach
The pool area was laid-back and unpretentious.  Our tower, the Paradise tower, was the newest and had the best pools.  We could technically go to any of the pools around the resort, but didn't want or need to since we had plenty right in front of us.  There were five different pools/hot tubs in our tower along with a lazy river.   Not far beyond the pools was the beach.  Adjacent to the pool area was a restaurant/bar in case we wanted to purchase drinks while swimming.  The pool area was lively and had a DJ during the day.  A lady sat by a pool and did hair wraps and french braids.  There were convenient "foot showers" at the pool gates if you were coming in from the beach.  Arden loved these!  Once we rolled Jack through the shower, stroller and all!  The atomosphere was great for us.  It was very family friendly.  I liked that there weren't a bunch of restrictions.  We could eat and drink by the pool, the kids could enjoy the hot tub too (one of the reasons why I say it isn't a place for honeymooners), and there weren't lifeguards blowing their whistles at your every move.  Sounds like it might be too wild and chaotic, but actually everyone was calm and the parents had their kids in check.  It wasn't overrun by wild children, but I also didn't feel like we were bothering anyone when our kids were splashing around.  I could dip my toes in the water while watching Jack at arms length splash around in the four inch deep baby pool, and sip on a margarita.  The girls could float the lazy river by themselves or run around the pirate ship splash area.  Brian could sit back and enjoy his beer.  It was great!  

Jack is super excited to get in the water

Jack running from Bran in the kiddie pool.  

The girls floating the lazy river
Hanging out in the hotel.  Arden is on the bed that pops down from the wall.  

Homeschool Starts!

Today we embark on our new adventure of homeschooling! I am super excited for the new year, all of the stuff they'll learn (and I'll relearn), the homeschool groups we've joined which will give us social opportunities, field trips, and more. I'm happy about the time we'll get to spend together. But I'm also scared to death!

It's funny how we moms always worry. I have a friend, Emily, who sent her oldest daughter, Hazel, to kindergarten last week. She was anxious the night before because she was worried the other kids would be mean, her daughter wouldn't be in dress code, etc. My friend, Jessica, has Cole who started pre-K. She was concerned about how Cole would adapt to his new environment after having the same sitter for the first four years of his life. My friend, Alicia, has a daughter the same age as Halle. She was a little nervous about her daughter entering the junior high world and being stripped of her innocence. And here I was, last night, at three in the morning, still awake, (I tried to go to bed at 10 pm) and thinking of all of the ways I was going to ruin my daughter's education.  A million questions were racing through my head.  Would I be competent enough to teach?  Would I have money, resources, and energy to give Halle a quality education?  Would Halle be lonely?  Would being with all three of my kids all the time while trying to homeschool drive me bonkers?  Would Halle find girls her age to build friendships with?  Will we be able to stay on task?  All of these questions and worries.  Ha!  Sometimes I think I have gotten way in over my head, but I know this is what we're supposed to be doing with Halle because we prayed extensively about it.

Thankfully the homeschool store is two miles from my house.  It has extensive resources and curricula.  A nice lady familiarized me with the store and helped me pick out curriculum for Halle.  So in case you were curious, we will be using Life Pac for Science and then maybe venture into Apologia.  We will be using Horizons for Math, WriteShop for Language Arts, and then Easy Peasy homeschool website for foreign language, history, and music.  I'm also going to focus on the Holocaust for history and have her read "Night" by holocaust survivor, Elie Wiesel (the holocaust intrigued me in junior high and I clearly remember this book).  For PE Halle will be doing rock climbing two hours a week and then working out at the Y with me.  We may also put her into year-round swimming.  For reading she will begin with Puddnhead Wilson by Mark Twain, a favorite of mine.  Arden has many many preschool workbooks and she is learning to read, add/subtract, and understanding basic geography.

We joined two homeschool groups: Champion Forest Christian Homeschoolers and Cypress Homeschool Association.  This will give us opportunities to do community service, mission projects, field trips,  history fair, science fair, and many other activities.

Two things that Brian requested for the "Hargrave Academy."  1) Halle reads a lot of classic literature and 2) we say prayer and the Pledge of Allegiance every morning.

Wish us luck!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Myrtle Beach Family Vacation - Part 1 On the Way

We had a blast!  This was a spontaneous vacation.  We chose Myrtle Beach because 1)it's ranked in the top five places for family vacations, 2) we found a great deal for our resort, and 3) it was someplace we'd never been.  I booked the hotel three days before our trip;  that's how spontaneous it was.

I was concerned about driving 18 hours with an 18 month and four year old, but they actually did really well on the cartrip.  As long as there were plenty of snacks, we were good!  The girls watched movies on the laptop and I packed plenty of car activities (coloring books, games.)  Oh, and they also played Yellow Car... for 1500 miles.
Halle coloring and Jack with Bear

Arden with Sweet Blankey

Our first stop was in Lafayette, LA for lunch.  We ate at Pat's Fisherman's Wharf, a very cajun restaurant on a bayou.  The waitress was really sweet and had a thick cajun accent.  I love listening to them talk!  We filled up on yummy fried seafood.  Halle really wanted to try frog legs, so we split a big variety platter that included them.
Halle with her frog leg
You've got CTU and Superman in one place.  I felt very safe.
Brian's road trip clothes are hysterical.  Honestly I didn't notice what he was wearing until we got out at the Mississippi rest area.  He's got his United States Counter Terrorist Unit (a made-up agency from his favorite TV series,  24) shirt on,  steel toe Docs, and his concealed gun.  With shorts.  Ha!

We drove 12 hours that day to Atlanta, GA.  Brian booked a budget hotel by the Atlanta airport.  Having stayed at several Microtel Inns by Windham in the past, Brian thought he reserved a decent place.  NOT!!!  Oh my goodness, it was the WORST motel EVER!  I'm not hard to please and don't scare easily, but this place scared me.  There were shady people lurking around outside, saw one guy rolling a joint, the lock on our room didn't work, stunk, our TV didn't work, and the place just felt dirty.   If it hadn't been 10 pm, already paid for the room, and weren't extremely tired, we would have found another place to stay.  Seriously I would have felt cleaner tent camping in the woods.  We decided to just deal with it, hope our car didn't get broken into, and bolt in the morning.  It was the only hiccup on our trip, but a memorable one!

After another 6 hours of driving the next day we arrived at our hotel!!!

to be continued....

Monday, August 19, 2013

Service Jar Week 5

Not really from the service jar since we were on vacation, but they did do a kind act this week.  They gave up some of their ride tickets from the amusement park in Myrtle Beach.  They gave them to a couple of moms with kids.  I snapped a quick picture, trying not to be noticed, which is why the picture is so blurry.  

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Halle's 11th Birthday Week

Halle didn't have a party this year, but she still had lots of celebrating!

She had some pampering done.  She wanted a haircut with layers.

she looks so grown up!
We also got pedicures.
this was Arden's first time.  This girl picked yellow nail polish, of course.
all of our pampered toesies

And we went frogging, which you can read about here!
the toads that Halle wanted to keep as pets.  We ended up letting them go a few days later.

She had a couple of friends sleep over.  Auburn slept over earlier in the week, and then Jadyn spent Halle's actual birthday with her.  Halle and Jadyn got to go to Itz, swim, and go painting.

Jadyn and Halle stayed busy in my kitchen making everything from facial masks to candy.    These girls look like they have warts all over their face.  It's the oatmeal mask they made.
painting ceramics at Art Shop for Kids

swimming next door with Maggie.  A picture of all of the July birthday girls.
Halle requested chocolate chip pancakes AND blueberry pancakes for her birthday breakfast..  Here she is with a stack of each.

and for dinner she requested The Cheesecake Factory

Her present, a doggie!  He is a mini dachshund with a bit of chihuahua in him, so he shakes like a chihuahua!.  His name is Rudi ( a german name for a german dog.)  He is six months old, super sweet and laid back.

Rudi in his make-shift kennel until we got his real one.
Happy birthday Halle Monster!

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Shoeless and Tired

I've been running Halle around all summer for camps, sleepovers, practices, etc.  I enjoy it and try to stay on top of things, but with two other kids and a busy schedule, I put a lot of responsibility on her to keep track of her extracurriculars.  Basketball camp is the third camp this summer Halle has gone to (if you count VBS.)  The first day she left her tennis shoes in her dad's truck from the weekend triathlon.  Seeing that her foot is a size 9 and I'm a 6 1/2, my tennis shoes won't fit.  I rushed next door and grabbed a pair of Jessica's shoes so Halle could wear them.  She barely made it on time to the first day..

I told her to make sure that she got her shoes out of the truck that evening so she would have them for camp the following day.  She forgot.  She also overslept.  So she didn't go to camp on day 2.  I was irritated with her for not being responsible.  I said something along the lines of "I've paid for this camp, Halle, because you said you wanted to go.  You're wasting our money if you don't wake up on time and make sure you have all of your stuff ready to go!"

Well I guess I made her feel guilty because she brought me a 20 dollar bill out of her piggy bank to pay me for her missed day of camp!  I didn't tell her to do that.  And I didn't take it.  But I was glad to see that she was taking responsibility for her actions.

In my efforts to raise self-sufficient human beings, I'm glad that she realizes that mommy isn't going to constantly hold her hand.  

I told her that if she didn't wake up on time for Day 3 then I WAS going to take her money, though!  Ha!  She woke up extra early.  And had her shoes.  :)