Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Hawaii 2019

In June, I had the incredible opportunity to go back to China with my dad, step mom and sister. I was able to go with my dad in 2002 when they adopted my sister, which was an amazing opportunity, especially for a 15 year old. I was thrilled when the opportunity to go back started being discussed a couple of years ago!
The first trip to China was obviously focused on all things adoption, which was wonderful, but this time it was a mix of adoption related things and touring around China. 
Flying is not my step mom's preferred mode of transportation, so to break it up a little bit she scheduled a stop in Hawaii on the way there and back (darn, right?) to get a break from flying for a few days and experience beautiful Hawaii!
But, backing up a little bit, I first had to fly to Houston for my sister's high school graduation, which just happened to be scheduled for the day before we left for Hawaii (thank goodness for perfect timing...just one day later and we would've been in a pickle)! So on a Friday evening, I kissed my little family goodbye for the next 12 days and was off to Texas. 
Saturday was graduation day! So, so, so hard to believe. My sister was my sons' age when I graduated from high school, and now here she is. I could go on and on about this, but I'll just say it's incredibly hard to believe how fast her childhood went by. 
Yay, Lili!!!

Sunday morning, we were up to finish packing and head off to the airport. We flew from Houston-LA, had a few hour layover there, and then finished the 5-6 hour flight to Kauai. We got into Kauai just as the sun was setting, and we were all pretty spent. We got checked into our hotel and walked a few blocks down to a little local place for dinner. One thing I didn't know about Hawaii is that everything is pretty open air (at least all the restaurants we ate at while we were there were) and I remember that first night being SO HOT. 

Monday morning we got some breakfast and did some exploring of the area we were in (including a VERY sweaty walk to the car rental place) and then my sister and I headed across the street to the beach. 


That afternoon we wandered a little further away from where we were staying and we stopped at a local farmer's market. This was so neat and there were fruits I had never even heard of! A lot of the vendors were giving us samples of all of this yummy & juicy fruits. The avocados were ENORMOUS, there were fresh baked goods with ingredients all grown on the island, and it was just a cute little quaint deal they had going on. 


We weren't there for too long before we continued on our way to another little beach town (that of course now I can't remember the name of) that our concierge had recommended. The beach itself was very rocky, but beautiful and the town was very cute with shops and people everywhere. We stayed on the beach for about an hour and there was a sea turtle out on the beach the entire time! It didn't appear to be injured and the life guards weren't doing anything to try to help it besides make sure people kept a distance from it, so I assume this was normal. It was really cool to see a giant sea turtle up close like this, and I was able to face time the kids right before they went to bed to show them! 

I guess I didn't take any pictures for the rest of that day, but after the beach we headed over to a little square in that same town, had dinner at a Thai place, did a little shopping and saw a hulu show which was so beautiful. I really love Hawaiian culture. All of the locals are so welcoming and joyful. 

Tuesday in Hawaii, we had breakfast at another local place recommended by the concierge and it was very obvious we were about the only tourists in there! Then we settled in for a drive to Hanalei Bay. Holy smokes, the drive was incredible. Mountains and oceans and forests and cute little beach towns...we saw it all. It felt like we kind of just came to the end of the road and there was Hanalei Bay. We walked the beach for quite a long time and it just kept going and going. The water was so clear and the waves were rolling in beautifully. Of course the photos don't do it justice.


We went over to town and did some shopping & got shave ice. The shave ice has macadamia nut ice cream in the bottom & all the ingredients are house made and it was just so creamy and good! 

On the way back, we took some detours to find waterfalls, and they did not disappoint. We didn't do any hiking to get to them, so these were just ones you could see from the road, but they were so pretty. 


After our 2 detours, we headed back for some rest, dinner, and to get cleaned up and pack for our big travel day. We had dinner and drinks by the ocean and it was so peaceful & a great way to end our time in Hawaii! (Well, they were going back on the way home, but I wasn't....more about that in the next post.)

I decided to break this post into 2 parts because it's already getting long, so the next post will have all the details of our time in China! 

Monday, October 28, 2019

May 2019 Recap

May is always a good month around here! The weather is generally really nice, and there are so many fun things happening to wrap up the school year!

We had some really great last few days of school...




The girls had a music performance (which my pictures didn't turn out good because of the dark lighting) and an art show after the concert!


We started adventuring outdoors!

We got to go to a free baseball game, courtesy of my husband's work. The weather was PERFECT! So glad we went then, instead of in July!

My middle lost her first tooth!!!

Pre-recital rehearsals were in full force for the month!

We celebrated Mother's Day with church, a cozy day at home and a yummy dinner cooked by my husband and the kids!






We finished up our school year-Kindergarten & 1st grade in the books!



The boys had an adorable end of the year preschool program!

We had dance pictures (seriously, how adorable?!)

We took a road trip to Nebraska over Memorial Day for my niece's 6th birthday! She had a party at The Amazing Pizza Machine which is like Chuck E. Cheese on steroids (but seriously) and my kids LOVE it.


My husband spent a good chunk of the month working on putting stairs on our deck, which I have no in progress photos of, but it was a ton of work and time! He also got kind of seriously injured which I do have some gnarly pictures of, but I'll spare you ;) 

The boys finished up their 3/4 year old preschool year and their 2nd and last year in that program! Bittersweet.

We had an end of the year picnic for our homeschool classes and celebrated the retirement of the incredible woman who had been leading that program for decades!

We ate many, many meals out on the deck before it got too hot and too buggy!

And we wrapped up the month with our first fire pit date night of the season.

May was a busy, full, fun month! 

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Homeschool Day in the Life

This year (2019-2020) we have made more of an effort to actually start school around the same time each day (9:00), which most days means I have to wake at least one of my kids up in order for them to get breakfast eaten and some morning "chores" done before we begin school. This is the first year I've cared what time we start (years past we have always just started when everyone was up and ready) and it has helped a lot with routine! However, this day does not reflect that. I did let some kids sleep in this day because they have had a busy few days, so we got started around 10 instead. But this is what a normal homeschool morning looks like for us this year! My girls are in 1st and 2nd grade, and my boys are 4 years old. (All of our curriculum for this year can be found in this post...I'm not going to link them all here!) 

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

9:15- Breakfast. After breakfast the kids get going on their morning checklists, which have things like unloading the dishwasher, making beds, getting dressed, brushing teeth, etc. This helps them get themselves and the house ready for the day. They can do most of this on their own (I do everyone's hair and my boys need help brushing their teeth and getting shirts down). They can generally get everything done in about 20 minutes.

9:45-While the kids are finishing up their check lists, I remember that I need to get the slow cooker going for dinner because we have dance tonight, so I get that ready, then clean up the kitchen after breakfast once the dishwasher is unloaded and everyone is out of the kitchen. 

10:05- Finally starting school. We start with Bible. Today is our "lesson" day for the week which is the day where we really dig into the Bible for more insight on the answer to that week's catechism question. This week the question is "What does the law of God require?" We do the lesson, read in the Bible together, and have a short discussion answering some questions that came up as we read and talked. 

10:30- Science! We are rotating history & science this year and are currently on a science unit about pumpkins that has been a lot of fun. Today's plan is to make this "look inside a pumpkin" craft. I don't do a lot of crafts in my homeschool because I don't love them, I don't like the mess, and my kids all get crafts/art at school so I don't feel the need to. So this isn't the norm for us, but it was part of the unit and I decided it would be fun, and it would be good for me to stretch myself ;)

 During this time I am bouncing around from kid to kid helping with cutting & gluing where need be, and giving instructions. I feel like I do more than half the work (which is why I don't love crafts at this age), but the finished products are cute and the kids all learned a little more about pumpkins so it was worth it! 

11:00- Read Aloud & Handwriting. We are reading Little House in the Big Woods right now. Read aloud time is pretty short today because we need to get moving since we started late. We read about a chapter while the girls work on handwriting. My boys are playing at this point. 

11:15- Language Arts. My oldest sets a 20 minute timer for reading time, and her brother joins her, so she is reading aloud to him, which is fine with me. She'll also work on spelling independently.

 I work with my middle during this time on her spelling, sight words, phonics (takes 5-10 minutes total for all of those....just quick review) and then move onto her course book. It is a fairly short lesson today with mostly reading and she's a very fast reader so we fly through it pretty easily. 

11:40- We swap. They don't always finish up at the same time, but it's usually pretty close. So now my middle is working on her independent reading and spelling, and I'm working with my oldest on spelling, sight words, phonics & course book (same lesson). 

12:05- My oldest moves on to math while my middle is just finishing up her last bit of spelling. Math is on the computer this year, so they watch the lesson on their own, and ask if they need my help during questions. Sometimes I sit with them if I know it's a harder concept. Today, I have a phone call at 1:00 so I need to get lunch going early, so I head upstairs to fix lunch for myself and the girls (the boys eat at school). 

12:10-My middle gets done with language arts, and wants to get her math done (aka not wait for the desktop) so I let her do math upstairs on my laptop while I cook. I am making scrambled eggs, sausage, and toast. I decided that it always takes too long to fix for breakfast (we need fast & easy in the morning), so we've been having it for lunch sometimes instead. 

12:20- I'm done cooking and my oldest has just finished up math so she is playing with her brothers. I scarf my food and ask the girls if they want to eat, or wait until we get home. They both want to wait. My middle finishes up her math and then joins in on the playtime for a few minutes. 

12:30-My boys get ready to go to school. They go to the bathroom, grab their backpacks and coats, get their shoes on and load up in the van and we are off! 

12:45- We return home from dropping off the boys and the girls sit down to lunch while I prepare for my phone call. And that's our homeschool day! We skipped typing today since we were running behind, but they'll usually do that after math. We've really streamlined our schedule this year, I feel like. The girls are staying more on task, need less breaks, and we've figured out a schedule for subjects that flows better than years past, so it's working out great! Occasionally the girls are not finished up with their work by the time we need to leave to take the boys to school, and in that case they need to finish after we get home. I am usually cooking lunch at that time, so they'll bring it up to the dining room and work on whatever they're finishing (usually just math, but sometimes some reading too). That happens usually less than once per week, though. 

That's it! We spend the afternoon having some quiet time for the girls, I work on some things around the house after my phone call, and then onto dinner and dance! 

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

This or That: Fall Edition

If you were reading blogs a decade ago, you will remember that surveys used to be a common thing on blogs! They were so much fun, both for the reader and the blogger (at least for me)! My friend, Callie, posted this survey recently on her blog and I had a lot of fun reading her answers and wanted to fill it out on mine, too! 

This or That: Fall Edition!

Pumpkin spice latte or peppermint mocha?
Between the two, I would choose a peppermint mocha. I don't really care for the PSL (gasp!) or many pumpkin flavored drinks in general....please don't hate me. My absolute favorite fall drink though, is a caramel apple spice from Starbucks....SO GOOD!

Pumpkin bread or pumpkin pie?
I'd be inclined to choose pie. But I really only eat pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving. We really love pumpkin bars in our house!

Thanksgiving dinner or Thanksgiving leftovers?
Thanksgiving dinner 100%. I like some leftovers, but after about a day I start to get kind of sick of them. I really love Thanksgiving dinner though. After smelling the food cooking all day and finally getting to sit down and dig in, well, there's just no meal quite so satisfying and delicious! 

Candy corn or tootsie rolls? 
Neither of those would be candies I would choose, but if I have to pick between the two, I would go with tootsie rolls. I don't love candy corn. I'd much rather have a chocolate candy bar ;) 

Haunted house or pumpkin patch? 
Pumpkin patch! I definitely would have chosen haunted house from about ages 13-23 but I don't have much desire to set foot in one now! My oldest was actually asking me about haunted houses recently and I was explaining kind of what they are like and how she is definitely not old enough to go to one, and she asked me why I used to like them if they are so scary. I really don't know! I guess it was more about the fun of going with friends and doing something different, plus I'm sure there was a surge of adrenaline that was enjoyable. Now I'd much prefer a nice quiet night at home than being scared out of my mind!

Corn maze or hayride?
Hayride! Corn mazes can be fun but not with kids. I just lose them every time! 

Caramel apple or candy apple? 
Probably caramel. I don't know if I've ever had a true candy apple, but they sure look delicious!

Boots or scarves? 
This is another one of those where I would have always said scarves in the past but I think it would be boots for me now. I do still love a good scarf, I just don't wear them as much as I used to. In high school I wore them ALL.THE.TIME. Like seriously, all the time! I had gobs of scarves and would wear them pretty much daily in the fall/winter/early spring months. Probably honestly even wore some light ones in spring and summer. I really loved them! 

Holiday movies or holiday music? 
I think holiday movies! Though if we're going by my actual exposure to them, I hear way more Christmas music than I see Christmas movies, but there is just nothing like snuggling up on the couch with a mug of hot chocolate and the fire roaring, watching a Christmas movie. One of my favorite things to do in the Christmas season! 

Tire swings or jumping in leaves? 
I think I would rather swing on a tire swing. As a kid I probably would have chosen jumping in leaves! My kids love to jump in our leaf piles every year now and I love raking up a huge pile for them to go crazy with! So that's a fun memory for sure! 
{ugh, my babies!! Can't believe this was 3 years ago! They all look so tiny.}
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