Friday, March 27, 2015

Fun at the Beach and Knott's Berry Farm 2015!

What an amazing, fun time we had in California!  We took my family and some of our best friends came along with us in our 15 passenger van.  We stayed in the Knott's Berry Farm hotel with connecting rooms for four days. 

The first day we go there we wanted to check out the Santa Monica Beach.  That is definitely a fun beach if you are okay with the crowds.  It wasn't too bad being it was such a popular beach.  Maybe the summer would be worse?  On the pier there are so many options of fun.  You pick from tons of restaurants, my husband's fave was Bubba Gump Shrimp.  There are rides.  Being that the next day we were gonna hit up Knott's Berry Farm, we decided to just go on the ferris wheel and check out the sun setting on the ocean.  Was gorgeous!!!  That is definitely a very FUN beach!

Kyle and Ryan
Kyle (11)
Chaz (14)

Caleb (5)
We had saved up and prepaid for almost all our vacation before we got there.  The hotel and the tickets to Knott's Berry Farm included.  Another option we had when purchasing tickets was add meal bands and souvenir cups.  I was a tad worried buying the meal bands in advance.  What if it wasn't worth it?  Meal bands are $34 each and give you access to 6 restaurants in the amusement park.  Each ones has meals you can pick from AND you can eat every hour and a half!  One meal at Knott's Berry Farm can be anywhere from $10-15 so that band is definitely worth it.  In fact, we only got it for the kids that were gonna run around the park riding rides without us.  The ones that were with us, we only got the band for every other kid. The meals were so big it was easy to share.  Best money spent for food ever. The cups were worth it as well as you get free refills allllll day for that one day.  We refilled a lot and they even make it to where you can hang the cups from a stroller.  I didn't need to even use the cup holders.  Being I was 35 weeks pregnant with baby Jaxon, I could ride any of the rides.  The older kids ran everywhere while Charles and I stayed in the Snoopy area with the younger ones.  I had no idea they would make it so fun and have so many options of neat things to ride.  Even our 2 year old Juliet was able to do a lot!  Yep, my suspicions are confirmed.  My wild 2 year old isn't afraid of anything and would ride anything that was allowed for her.  She laughed her head off on every ride. We waited till we could get discounts so it was $305 for my family of 9 for the day.  Way cheaper than our last visit to Disneyland and faster, shorter lines. 



Our third day we went to Seal Beach.  It was so neat seeing the military ships way off in the distance.  That's partly why I wanted to go.  I think every time we go to a beach, we like to try a different one.  This was new!  The kids were able to see seals, starfish, and other fun sea stuff.  The day was warm and this time we weren't freezing with sweaters!  I was so worried we'd get a foggy or rainy day.  It's hard to plan in advance because you never know how the weather is gonna be.  It was great!  It was an amazing day and we didn't plan anything else as we just wanted it to be all about our time together at the beach.  Sigh.  It was great!!!
Ivy (9)

Ryan (13) holding dead stingray

See full album HERE!!!

Monday, March 09, 2015

Homeschool/Unschool vs. Public School

Lately, I've being giving homeschooling/unschooling a lot of thought.  I hate this battle that goes on inside of me every single day.  My biggest desire is to meet a family that maybe does a little of both but is further ahead of me.  We do some of both.  We do structured Math and Language Arts.  We only do American history and and we only do Science if interested and we learn often through experiences.  We're leaning towards interest led learning for the kids that know what they want to do.  

It would be nice if I could be super confident in our choices.  All I can do is look at my own experiences growing up in the public school system.  I absolutely loved school before 4th grade.  Kindergarten was amazing as it was mostly learning through play.  We had naptimes, a dollhouse, legos, books, toys, reading time.  It was fun and a great introduction to learning.  Only when we hit 1st grade then it got serious about reading and numbers.  What I learned in 1st grade, kids are now learning day one of Kindergarten.  There is no easy transition.  I will never forget the shock on my firstborn's face as I led him into his kindergarten classroom.  Blank, white walls and not a toy to be seen.  He looked out of place and ready to bolt.  He HATED his first day and I didn't blame him.


4th grade was a disaster for me as that's when the bullying started. There was so much peer pressure to be cool and if you cared too much about learning and getting ahead then you were a nerd.  If you didn't have the most expensive clothes then you were shunned and out of their circles.  Each grade on up got increasingly worse but one thing I really noticed was the older I got, the less the lessons made any real life sense.  High school was getting ridiculous to me.  Whatever happened to learning what we actually needed in life?  Every single time I ask a public school kid fresh into the summer break what they learned in History that year, they shrug their shoulders and say, "I don't know. I can't remember." 

A friend pointed out a really neat video going viral.  If you have a hard time understanding the words in the song he has them written out under the info of the song.

Don't Stay in School

Monday, March 02, 2015

Spiritual Heart Surgery- A Lesson on Hospitality

I miss my blog. It's where I went to put things in perspective for myself.  A lot of times I held back because of my blogger spies that frequently let me know they are watching me and making sure I don't say anything I shouldn't.  It got me in trouble before with people but I just don't care anymore. I have definitely changed my direction in life in this past year and it's been such an incredible change.  A very good change.  How could I not shout it from the rooftops what Jesus has been doing in my life?  It may not be the path they wanted but the only path I'm interested in walking God's.  Not man's.

Another reason I hadn't been blogging was because I had an extra family living with me and I had zero time.  There is no exaggeration there.  I would run nonstop from wake up till I fell in my bed.  I've been able to get my kids on a schedule since 2009 so it's not as hard.  They knew what to expect from day to day.  It's a whole different story taking in kids that aren't used to it.  I wasn't able to train my kids overnight so it wasn't easy to try to get it going with the new kids.  I felt like I was finally gaining some ground after they had been here for 4 months but by then they were gone.

You know how each mom is different?  There is a saying, "There is no perfect way to parent but a million ways to be a really good one."  I've finally learned a couple years ago that moms have to stop pushing their way onto each other.  Respect each other for our differences.  My friend and I wildly, wildly parented our kids differently.  Down to how we discipline our kids, bedtimes, habits, eating, cleaning, homeschool, etc.  Does it make her bad or me bad?  No.  It just means we had different ideas on how to raise our kids.  But being that we have our own habits and routines, it made the differences in the home tiring at times for her and I.  Often at night, I would just collapse in my bed completely exhausted.

I don't care how good of friends I am with anyone, living with someone is not easy.  Add kids to the mix and it's not easy.  Two moms in the house?  Just ask some polygamists.  They often have to work through the same issues.  Daily.  I only had to do it for four months.  By the time she moved out she was relieved and her kids were relieved.  We were relieved and my kids were.  I slept well for the first time in months.  It's just hard like that.  My house was quiet and stayed much, much cleaner.  She doesn't have to deal with Juliet and her getting into everything.  So we both appreciate things we otherwise might have taken for granted!  I greatly took for granted how hard I have worked on my kids on their routines and homeschool.  Having our days go back to what it was four months ago makes me really proud of all the years of hard work and training.  I've just been so encouraged by the entire experience.

Sometimes when we allow God to do a work through us, even if it's hard, in the end it was a huge lesson to be learned.  If we're not careful of our attitudes in the process and after, we'll lose the lesson that was meant to teach us and bless us.  Especially where there can be growth in our own hearts!!!  I had a terrible time with hospitality.  I've lost a ton of friends (maybe not real friends?) by switching churches.  That hurt and because of it I grew very withdrawn.  I wanted to just be with my family and not reach out anymore. A week before this family moved in I asked God to help me with hospitality.  Coincidence?  I don't know.  Maybe.  But I took it.  Was it for money?  No.  They paid rent but we still went in the negative from the extra supplies used, water, electricity, etc.  You know why I didn't mind?  Because it wasn't about the money.  I knew it was a work on my heart and I badly needed it.  It's almost as if my heart went into a major surgery that was badly needed.  It pushed me to my limits and taught me patience I thought I already had. I'm sure it did the same for my roommates!  The fact that a friendship can survive through such differences and never getting a break from each other is a wow factor for sure.  :D 

Maybe in the future I should stop running from tests just because I'm afraid it'll be hard work. I'm glad I didn't run from this one. It was hard but worth the journey. 

Don't just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good.
-Romans 12:9