Tuesday, November 30, 2010

On why we chose (or didn't really) Preschool Homeschool

I haven't blogged about it much yet, but this year we decided to homeschool Zoelle for preschool. I'll be honest and say that I had mixed feelings about it to begin with. For one, Zoelle and I have very similar personalities and I was afraid she would fight me to do her work. Secondly, Chris and I have noticed a trend in homeschooling kids. They either are way ahead of their peers, or way behind. If you are the former, you tend to have the typical "nerdy homeschooler" reputation (not that it is bad). The latter, is something we do not want to happen at all! Being that homeschooling is something that most already look negatively upon, I did not want to attribute to the negative by having my child be one who falls behind. Thus if we homeschool, I will strive to have my child be at least average, if not ahead.

So when we started researching what we would do we had to weigh the pros and cons. I have my degree in Elementary Education thus it only seems natural that I should teach. We also looked at our local private schools and public schools. We are not a "Christian school only" type of family, nor are we just going to send our kids to public school without thought. I see nothing wrong with either of our choices in the area we live.

So why homeschool? I'm not sure we came up with a concrete answer. It's not because we are Christians, or want to keep Zoelle home longer (although I'm sure those things attributed to it). Rather, it just felt right this year. We decided to take it on a year by year basis. We agreed that for this year, we will homeschool her. She is three afterall. Had we sent her to preschool at either a local Christian school or public school, her schooling would have only been a few days of week anyway. At this age, school is geared more towards social interaction, than actual learning.

Speaking of social interaction, Zoelle gets plenty of that during the week. On Sundays she goes to church in which she participates in Sunday School and nursery with other kids her age. Every other Tuesday I go to a bible study, so she once again gets to interact with other kids. We have play dates! We also go to storytime at the library every Thursday. Anyone who knows my Zoelle knows that social interaction is no problem for this chica!

So how are we liking it (both her and I)? Which curriculum are we using?

I'll answer those questions and any others you have in a separate post to come soon!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Loving Life

I'm just loving life right now!

Yes that is a knife in Meridian's hand. Don't worry I was supervising her the whole time!

Seriously, these three make me smile and laugh constantly!

Yes she really does smile this big all the time!

Of course, we have our moments and our days,

Zoelle recently packed up a shoe box for Operation Christmas Child She and I both had a blast and I'd recommend it!

but I am totally basking in being mama to these three precious jewels!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Blog Anniversary Winner

I typically don't announce the winner of my contests but being this was my blog anniversary giveaway, I wanted to announce it. Before I do though I want to say that I appreciate the feedback each of you shared. I hope to implement some of what was shared. Of course, some I can't or won't change, but I am doing my best to listen to the voice of my readers while staying true to myself at the same time. One thing I was surprised about was that so many of you want me to do book reviews. I love to read, so I will definitely look more into that!

Without further adieu, the winner of my one year blog anniversary is #27: brightleigh #7

She has been contacted and has 24 hours to get back to me.

Update: I never heard back from brightleigh, and I even gave her a few extra days of waiting just in case with I'll pick a new winner in the morning when I'm not so tired!

Update #2: A new winner has been picked and emailed. Congrats to #7!

Thanks everyone and I look forward to this next year of blogging with you!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving! From my family to yours, I hope your day is filled with blessings and thanks!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Mmm...Strawberry Goodness

Looking for a fun dessert to bring to a holiday party? May I present you with these?

Want the recipe? Even those these babies look complicated, they are simple and probably took us 20 minutes to make.

Strawberries, Raspberries, really any berry that you want!
1 brick of cream cheese softened
1/3 cup of sugar
Cool Whip
Chocolate Chips

Hollow out the inside of the Strawberries. I use this or something close to it from Pampered Chef. Mix together the cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Then slowly fold in Cool Whip. Pipe the mixture into/or on your fruit. I used a zip loc bag with a hole in the corner. Finish up by melting your chocolate chips (I create my own double boiler on the stove) and then drizzle, or pipe (but careful it's hot) over the fruit!

That's it! It's a light (meaning not going to stuff you full) dessert that is easy to make, tastes delicious and I'd like to believe somewhat good for me. You know with all that fruit! :) Enjoy!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

I did it! Ran my first 5K!

Last night the reality of what I was about to do hit me full force. I Vanessa, a formally non-runner, was about to run my first 5K. 5K! 3.1 miles! Wow! What was I thinking? I don't think I was! And so the butterfly flutters in my tummy started, yet I was also excited to get out there and run.

I woke up in a panic at 8:15 this morning and quickly realized that Chris had shut off my alarm clock in his sleepy haze. I'm immune to alarm clocks, but that is a different post altogether. I had to help get all three girls ready, eat some breakfast, and get ready myself. It started at 9:30 a.m. I got there at 9:15 a.m. Next time I run a 5K, I plan on being on time. Running a bit late, left me a bit nervous.

It was so very cold this morning. Colder than either Tara, my running partner, and I had ever run in. This morning my thermometer showed 16 degrees. Brrr!!! I added a few extra layers because of it.

Before I had time to even think, we were waiting at the start with over a hundred other racers. Then, with a blow of a whistle, we were off. Up until today I had been used to doing a 5 minute warm-up walk, then a 30 minute run, followed by at 5 minute cool-down walk. When Tara decided to start out running, I decided I would too.

It was different for me from the get-go to run with other people, and in such cold weather. While my body stayed warm and I never felt cold during the run, my muscles did. They literally felt stiff from the cold. I also felt the cold in my lungs. Trying to get a big breath left me, well breathless. No matter what I did, I couldn't get a big breath of air.

It wasn't very long into it that I looked down and saw my left shoe had come untied. So I stopped, with frozen fingers to re-tie it. I kept on for a bit more before my body screamed at me to walk a bit. I tried not to walk too much as I didn't want my body cooling down at all. I walked a bit, then ran a bit, walked, ran. Then when I rounded the corner at where I thought would be the half way mark, I decided to start running full time again.

It was at that point, that I saw my hubby and three little girls waiting for me and cheering me on right before a big hill. Hearing Zoelle's little voice yell, "Go mommy, go!" helped spur me on up the hill. Up over the hill I went and ran for quite a long ways. Somwhere at the top of that hill, my podcast marked that I was half way. I was thrilled because that meant I had gone farther than I ever had before on a practice run. It was when I came to the next hill that I decided in my mind I would walk. However, when I turned the corner to walk, there was my sister and little niece India spurring me on. They ran with me up over the hill and kept me going at a time in which I thought I would walk. I continued on my own until the next hill, in which I did walk. Once I got up it though, I knew I could run and run I did.

Note: This was taken before the run, but it shows my sister with India in her sling

Coming into the last stretch was a slight uphill run. I was tired, my muscles ached from the cold, and I honestly wanted to give up and walk it. It was my plan until again, there was my sister who was wearing India and ran along side me. I thought if she can do this with India on her, I can do this by myself.

When I turned the last corner and saw the finish line I said, "Thank the Lord"! I had intended to sprint toward the finish line, but my body was so stiff it just wouldn't, so I ran it in as Zoelle came along side me and ran too.

The lady at the finish shouted "37:01" and I felt relief. Joy. Pride. I, Vanessa, a former non-runner, had run the 5K. Faster than I ever thought I could do it. I didn't place obviously, but I also didn't finish last. Instead I was somewhere in the middle of the pack at 68. Outside of giving birth to Meridian naturally, I don't think I have ever been so happy or proud. Nine weeks of work paid off. It was well worth it!

My only regret was that I walked little sections of it at the beginning. If I could do it again, I would say that I wish I would have pushed a little harder and made myself run. However, I am not going to live with regret, but instead look forward to Spring in which I plan on running another 5K, in warm weather and improve my time by hopefully a little bit!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Blog Anniversary, A Big Thank You, and A Giveaway

One year ago today I began blogging. In some ways I can't believe it's only been a year. In other ways, I am shocked it has already been a year.

I started with the intention of sharing with friends and family my life and pictures of the girls. I never knew the bonds and friendships I would form blogging. It has been an amazing year! I've enjoyed sharing those stories and pictures. I've also appreciated your thoughts, comments, love, and help when I needed it. Thank you!

So today I celebrate my blogaversary by celebrating you! I want to give one of you a $50 Visa Gift Card. I wish I could give each and everyone of you who has read or commented a gift, but I obviously can't. However, one of the biggest joys in blogging for me has been to give something away. I love when I get that e-mail back exclaiming how you are so happy to win as you wanted such and such for a long time.

So this week I hope I can give with my words on here to each and everyone of you and one of you will be receiving a $50 Visa Gift Card.

To win it all you have to do is comment and tell me when you started reading my blog (even if it was today) and one thing you'd like me to change, or implement on my blog (this can be about posts or giveaways). Is there a topic you are dying me to write about? A review you'd like to read about? A giveaway you'd love me to host? A different way to enter giveaways? It can be anything and I promise to read each and everyone of your thoughts and try to change or implement them on here if I feel it is the direction I should go.

Please do me the favor of making sure you leave your e-mail address in the comment if it is not visible on your profile.

Thank you and here is to another year making more friends and memories!

Contest ends Tuesday, November 23, 2010 at 11:59 p.m. CST

Disclaimer: I am providing the winner of this post with a $50 gift card with money from my pocket. No compensation was given for this post. I just love you and want to thank you for being there for me this past year!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

My almost one and a half year old

It occurred to me the other day while looking back on my blog that I haven't talked lately about Meridian. She is soon to be one and a half. If I could, I'd stop time with her now as this is such a neat season in her life. But then I'm sure the next stage will be just as fun, just as memorable.

My sweet little, tomboy is still all boy. She loves to climb on top of her sisters and bounce. Yes, she even does this to Xiomara, thus Xiomara is very rarely left on the floor. She loves to climb on chairs, tables, stairs, and anything else she thinks she can as long as she can get one foot up. The only time we find her not being all boy is when she is pushing her stroller around the house, with a purse slung over her shoulder. Everytime I try and get a picture of it though, she stops what she is doing and tries to charm me. She always likes to make us laugh!

She likes to do everything her big sister does. When big sister draws, Meridian draws right next to her until she decides the crayon tastes good. Speaking of can this girl eat. Often she eats more than her big sister, mom, and dad put together. Yet, she is still a little below average on the charts.  She smothers her little sister in kisses. She has her own little language and will often sit on the floor "reading" a book going: "bla-la-la, bla-la-la". Even though she doesn't have a lot of words, she communicates very well through pointing and little sounds, and she also signs using signs she has learned from Baby Signing Time.

Lately she has been waking up a bit earlier from nap time than the other girls. Being that she doesn't want to be set down on her own, I hold her and pretty soon I find myself singing and dancing with her as she snuggles in close to me. I love that time. Secretly I look forward to it each day and try to figure out how we will dance today and to which song.

This morning though I realized that my favorite time with her is early in the morning when she wakes up and dad brings her to bed with me. She snuggles in close, her body curving around mine, and as she nurses I realize I don't have too many more mornings like this. She is growing, changing, not needing mom all the time anymore. Soon she will wean and I know the mornings of her coming to snuggle will be few and far between. So this morning while sneaking out of the room, I couldn't resist going and getting my camera, to get one last picture of her snuggled in my bed. So I can remember this moment in time and cherish my almost one and a half year old forever.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

5K Registered & Need Tips

Gulp....I just registered for my first 5K. I have butterflies in my tummy already. Can I really do this? Run 3.1 miles straight?

This picture was taken after our first 5 minute run that we thought we could never do!

Today I finished up Week 8 of From Couch to 5K and I have to say that I felt good. Good to have run for 28 minutes straight. Good to know that I have run for 8 weeks straight (except one week break of vacation, and one week break of bad weather).

I have no set time I want to master when I run. Instead, my plan is to just try and run the whole thing. I just want to be able to proudly say that I ran a 5K. I am a slow runner. I know that! As of now, I am going just 2 miles in 28 minutes. It's by no means fast, but I keep reminding myself that I just started running and to not worry about a time.

So now I need help from you, my blog readers. What are your tips for running a 5K? What should I wear (it's suppose to be around 32 degrees and maybe snow that day)? What should I eat before the race? Any other helpful tips?

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Shutterfly Giveaway

Remember when I wrote this post? Did you notice my disclaimer at the bottom of my post? I didn't write it to receive free Christmas cards for me. Nope, I did it for you, one of my blog readers! Since we do our Christmas cards in August, I wanted to give this chance to someone who will use this now.

I love Shutterfly and I am happy to be able to give one of you a code for 50 free folded or flat 5x7 stationery cards. Note: This code will expire December 31st, 2010.

I'm making it a simple, one entry way to enter. Simply tell me which card you would choose if you win. Please do me the favor of making sure you leave your e-mail address in the comment if it is not visible on your profile.

Have fun! I'm excited to see which ones you all like, and if the winner wants to show me the final outcome of his/her Christmas/Holiday cards, I'd love to see that too! :)

Contest ends Tuesday, November 16, 2010 at 11:59 p.m. CST

Congrats to #2-Melissa! So glad you found a card to fit all your family!! Enjoy! :)

Disclaimer: I was given a code for 50 free holiday cards for writing the above mentioned post. I am giving away my code so that is does not go to waste and so that one of you can enjoy it instead!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Happy 4 Months!

Happy 4 Months to the most delightful, happy little girl!

Your smile really is one in a million. I don't remember your big sisters having such a big smile (yet I'm sure they did). You are:

*quiet (yet you like to "talk")
*still smell like a new baby
*have lost all your hair, even the hair on the top of your head (can any other moms of bi-racial babies relate?)
*have the attention of everyone in our house, and you love it
*still tiny, but quite strong
*a good sleeper at night and taking much longer naps during the day
*still love to be swaddled (dad does a much better job than mom)
*a fast little nurser
*like to suck on your fingers

Until you were here, we didn't realize what was missing from our life. Life somehow seems more complete with you.

And we wouldn't have it any other way. Happy 4 Months!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Election Day

I voted today

and Zoelle came with me.

It brought back fond memories from when I was a child and went to go vote with my mom. It also gave me an opportunity to teach her a little about what voting is and why I vote.

Did you get out to vote? If you have children, do you take them with you to vote?