Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Cupcake Doodle Finalist.. spread the word!!

As you all know, I love art and I draw alot! I entered a contest about two weeks ago at Carved Creations for a doodle pendant. Well, I just found out that I'm a FINALIST with 5 others. The winner with the most likes on facebook will get their doodle created on the pendant for free as well as have it created for others to buy! Ahhh... I'm so excited!! So, if you all wouldn't mind going to this link right HERE and liking the image... I would so GREATLY appreciate it!!!! Thank you!!


Here is what it looks like. Gotta love those cupcakes.. :) 





Tuesday, January 29, 2013

15 by 15.. enjoying life now.

If you were asked, "what is the place you want to see more than anything in this world?" or "what is it that you want to learn to do above all else", What would you say, where would you go, or what would you do? Chris and I have a list of things we want to see, things we want to experience, and so many places we want to go. It's kind of like a 15 before 15. There are 15 things on the list that we would so love to mark off before 15 years of marriage. I'm sure I could fit so much more on there but I know I can't do it all.... even though I would try. :)

People ask us, "why the rush to do so much, you have your whole life".... And this is where my reasoning comes in. What is your whole life? Is it 3 years old and dying from cancer, is it 18 or 23 and dying in the war, or is it 98 and living well beyond so many others? .... your WHOLE life. We are NOT promised tomorrow or the next minute. We are NOT promised to live to see our retirement checks nor are we promised to see our kids grow up. The Lord does not promise us any of this but He does promise us a life in Heaven of nothing but pure happiness for all eternity. When He calls us home though... that's totally and completely up to Him.

When Montana was diagnosed with leukemia at 2.5 years old, my ENTIRE life changed and so did the way I viewed it. We had no idea what the outcome was going to be and I remember sitting there thinking.. I have so much I want him to experience, to see, and to do. It was then that my husband I decided we were not going to wait and plan and save for the future... we aren't promised to see it anyway. Our motto... live life with no regrets. Then on Aug. 19, 2009 my life was changed to ways I could never imagine. My brother died while fighting the war in Afghanistan. We had plans together. We were going to go to Colorado when he got back and create such great memories. In the end, it's the memories you remember and not the "things". And yet again, my husband and I decided that the experiences and the memories are what we value most about life and our family. Obviously, we can't do it all and we have to save for trips but when the opportunity arrises, we go! Almost every trip we have done has been on a whim and more times than not, we probably "shouldn't" have gone. But you know what?... we did it, the kids had a great time, we laughed, we played, we created more wonderful memories with our children and that is what we find to be most important. My kids are here TODAY so we're going to enjoy them NOW! Not after we have saved for their colleges and weddings and cars and new houses and all those other materialistic things. We are going to do it like my brother did and "Just Live the Dream"!

I'm sure there are many who don't agree with us and then there are many who do. Everyone chooses to live their lives differently and I guess that's why it's called "your life". Chris and I have just decided we are going to actually live ours now and not later after saving and saving and saving.

Here is our list of 15 by 15

1. visit the Moab Desert in Utah
2. take the kids to Colorado during summer
3. visit Paris, France 
4. visit Venice, Italy
5. go snorkeling on the Napli Coast in Hawaii
6. learn to snowbaord
7. take the kids rafting
8. take the kids to slide rock in North Carolina
9. have our entire family run the St. Jude 8k
10. travel the U.S in an RV
11. teach the kids to surf
12. take the kids to Maine
13. teach all three kids to swim well
14. swim under a waterfall
15. see the Northern Lights

DREAM: Bora Bora, Bali, or Australia... I will definitely go to that side. :) 

So why wait if you have dreams and things you want to conquer? We say... take the kids, pack em up and get out there to enjoy this life that God gave you NOW!



Sunday, January 27, 2013

We are crossovers in the learning world.

It's official and I'm going to share it with you all. We... are an unschooling/roadschooling family. There, I've said it. I've known this for a while but just haven't shared it with everyone we know. What is unschooling? What is roadschooling?  Unschooling is known to be an interest driven, child-led, natural, organic, or self- directed way of learning. You don't learn the traditional way by having text books, tests and things of the such. You learn by what interests you and seek out the information you are wanting to learn. Roadschooling, is basically learning while on the go. Some people live in RV's and teach their children while they travel (my dream) while others may move from place to place ! I consider us to be the crossovers... a little bit of both. We are not traditional in the way we school the kids and if I had it my way we would never be home but rather on the road and learning along the way.  Finances and my husbands job of course, don't allow that at the moment but we don't let it stop us from taking our kids to as many places as possible to learn, see, and experience this little thing called life. There is no right or wrong way to learn. If you are living life... you are always learning.

When we "sit down" to school the kids it's usually to read and do some math. I use the term "sit down" lightly because I don't feel that my kids have to sit to learn. I don't need them to read the science books over and over when nature is right out the back door. Instead, we go to parks, museums, the woods, the computer, watch movies, etc. They learn everyday and they learn in a very hands on environment. We have memberships to aquariums, museums and zoos and the kids partake in many homeschool day activities when they are offered. Just last week they went to the Virginia Aquarium Homeschool day and learned about many extinct fish while watching IMAX. This week they will attend the Virginia Living Museum Homeschool day and take a class called "The Stars above Jamestown" at the planetarium as well as visit the many exhibits they will have. It's not like they aren't involved or they aren't learning. We just don't use a set curriculum. If they want the answers to something, they will find the way to figure it out just like you or I would.

Have you ever thought about just how much a child can learn with their own will to explore? Montana has been his own teacher on many levels. He comes to me alot asking questions on numerous subjects. He's very interested in geography, maps, flags and loves to travel. He remembers so much because of his hands on experience. How often do children get to experience things outside of the text books? He's been to Austria, Germany, the Domincan Republic, 26 states with two of those being Hawaii and Alaska. He can tell you what he saw in the Dominican Republic and was able to experience their way of life. It's important to my husband and I that our children are "learning" life. They need to know that everyone is unique and a gift from God. If my kids learn anything from life, I want it to be that everyone is different, we are all human and no one is any better than anyone else. They can't learn to love and give unless they experience and see it for themselves. When they are truly out there living and learning what they see and experience, that's when they are retaining the most knowledge and creating their life long memories. Those are the moments that can't be taken away.

We do alot together as a family, which is also an important factor in the way we school our kids. We go on bike rides, swim at the beach, go camping, play at the river and travel. And every one of those activities is a learning experience. For example, the beach.. they learn about rip tides, jellyfish, or learn an activity such as bodyboarding. When camping, they learn how to start a fire and what burns or doesn't burn, they learn how to cook, set up tents or even get a chance at whittling. Every single thing they do, they learn. It's just a matter of how you go about it. I like that my kids are getting to learn in a fun, loving and hands on environment. Not only that, I get to spend more time with them during the years that are so important and I get to create so many wonderful memories. Even though there are some hard and very difficult days, I'll never regret this time with them. The world is their playground and we are just helping them to explore it.

*handy dandy iphone at the Virginia Aquarium





Here are some the places we have seen and some of the things we have experienced while homeschooling. There truly is no limit to what you can explore and learn. Every situation, every place and every day gives us the opportunity to teach and share with our kids.






Thursday, January 24, 2013

itsy bitsy snow fall.

A week ago we received about a whole whopping 1/4 inch of snow. My kids went to bed hoping, thinking, and praying that when they woke up, there would be snow on the ground. Low and behold, there was just enough for them to play in for a few minutes before the sun came up. So at 7:30 a.m my kids bundled up and headed out. The snow wasn't really even snow. It was more of an ice that was hard and rough and had to be hit in order to pick up. But, they didn't care. Nope, nope, nope... they had snow!!!! By about noon, it was all gone and this was what we had remaining of their experience. I'm happy that they were excited. After all, it's the little things that count, right? However, my husband was a little dissapointed to not see them play in their itsy bitsy snowfall.  He is the "snow" person but he had to pull duty and I said I would take pictures.  

And as I write this now... we have the possibility of another snow that could hit us tonight. Guess we will see what tomorrow brings. 







Tuesday, January 22, 2013

December iphoneography.

December was a VERY busy month for us. So much so that poor little January seems to not be bringing in any excitement. But that's a good thing. It's giving me time to get caught up on so much stuff and homeschool Montana more in different areas. December brought lots of good memories and some that the kids will never forget. :) They were able to meet "Dusty" our Elf on the Shelf, he drew on their faces while they slept, we played at the Great Wolf Lodge, went to Wreaths Across America, made all sorts of Christmas goodies, went to Christmas Town at Busch Gardens, did three fundraising efforts for St. Jude, celebrated Jesus' birth, Papa and Gigi came to visit, celebrated my 9 yr anniv. with my amazing husband, and of course Santa came. wow!! Lots of fun things went down in December. We are looking forward to 2013 and the numerous memories that will be created! 




Sunday, January 20, 2013

Bow creations.

Yup, it's official. Thanks to a good friend, I now create bows and have my very own shop on Etsy! I never thought I would be doing this but here I am stitching, cutting, glueing and creating. I'm excited to see where this will take me, but above all I'm so thankful for Aprill's (Buttercup Boutique) help in everything I have done. She does AMAZING work and I feel blessed that she is teaching me all that she knows. Now that I've got the hang of some of these pieces, I can make them a bit quicker. Like anything else that deals with creating, I like how what you make kind of describes your personality. I've always been drawn to everything bright and vibrant and that already shows. :)  You can feel free to check out my mini shop HERE!! I have some pretty neat ideas coming up soon and hopefully in the next few weeks. 


                              http://www.etsy.com/shop/jessoatbowtique



Wednesday, January 16, 2013

my so called life: a 52 week project

I've decided to partake in a 52 week project. That's one image a week of my child or children being who they are and being completely natural. Nothing is posed or thought out in advance. There isn't a plan or a set time. It's just called life. Some weeks there will be themes or words to guide the image but other than that it will be what it is. I'm looking forward to seeing the 52 images come the last week of December. I will be keeping a list of the images on this post which can be viewed to the right side of the site on the tab - 52 weeks. I hope you all enjoy. 


WEEK 1 : CONCENTRATE



WEEK 2 : THIS MAKES ME LAUGH



WEEK 3: IF WE COULD FREEZE TIME



 
    WEEK 4: SHARING




      WEEK 5: SHOW ME THE LIGHT



Tuesday, January 15, 2013

a story in the woods.

This past May I went to Germany and Austria with some of my family to shoot a wedding for my german cousin. It was such an amazing trip and my husband fell in love with the european lifestyle. We would love to go back and hopefully we do soon. In the meantime, while we were there I found these super cute dresses known as "dirndls" for the girls. I used to have one when I was little and was really wanting my girls to have one. Such a cute little buy. :) 

Well, I have also been trying to get a session done with the girls wearing them. It just never happened until a few days ago when we did it last second. The weather here has been super foggy lately and there is a unique wooded spot on the way to our house... I thought it would be perfect. So, I changed the girls, grabbed my old little basket from when I was a child and some play food for their pretend picnic. They loved every bit of it. I'm so happy my girls like taking photos. It makes my life so much easier. :) The only thing missing were some capes. That would have been awesome but I don't have any and so such is life. Still loving the photos though. :) 










Monday, January 14, 2013

Everyday should be a party.

This past weekend my kids went to a birthday party for some friends. Their little girl was turning 3 and we were there to help her celebrate. These little, cute, squishy, adorable kids of ours are growing up and most of us think.. way too fast.

Little miss L is in love with the disney princesses just like my girls. There can never be too many frills, tutus, glitter and pink... never! Of course my girls were in heaven and wanted to help her open up all the presents. Everything she received were gifts that my girls are also gaga over. It was cute. The boys on the other hand were just ready to go outside and run around. Boys will always be boys and that's not always a bad thing. They had a great time together and no one wanted to leave when the time came. I'll let the photos show you the amount of fun they had! Happy Birthday again little miss L.













Friday, January 11, 2013

Washington DC field trip

One of the cool things about homeschooling and probably one of the greatest, is the ability to just go. We aren't tied down by school hours which gives us the possiblity to go more places. My family and I really enjoy getting in the car and just going. The idea of going to new places and experience life is what makes this family tick. Even my kids have the travel bug. On some days that's good and others it's a struggle. In order to travel, it takes money and my kids haven't quite grasped that concept yet. :)

Yesterday we took the kids to Washington DC to go visit some of the museums. We parked by the river and walked by the WWII monument, the Washington Monument, saw the White House, and over to the Natural History Museum. We spent a few hours in that museum before going and spending some time in the American History Museum. The kids had a good time, learned some interesting facts, received some hands on experience and were able to take in some sight seeing. You could spend a day in pretty much both of those museums if you have never been before. They are about three levels and jammed packed with all kinds of knowledge, history and facts. It could take you forever to read absolutely everything. We've been several times so we take the kids to what they like and then try for something we haven't done yet. They had fun and overall, not bad for a day of school.

Of course, we can't forget that no trip to DC is complete without a visit to my amazing brother. We love visiting him and though others may not understand that want, it's something we like to do. I'm so glad my kids are growing up knowing that Arlington National Cemetery is filled with so many heroes who once served our nation and that they know that freedom isn't free. That's not something you see everyday in the classroom.