7.28.2014

Gracefully made

Once upon a time, not so very long ago, there lived a mostly sweet 4-year old who dreamed of being a rock star and whose parents decided to defy genetics and enroll her in a dance class.

the perfect pose for the girl I call "my philosopher"

While I have videos of her dancing, I'm not able to transfer any of my videos onto the computer.  So, take my word for it that she is ADORABLE!  She is graceful and poised... and typically a tad silly.

Overall, she LOVED dancing, even though she often wanted to skip dance class.  However, once she arrived and entered the room of mirrors, she would jump, twirl, curtsy, smile and stare.

Her teacher was a friend of mine, so once again, Hazel had the benefit of knowing her teacher well and feeling comfortable.  What a gift!

If I looked like this, I would stare too!



I must admit, that by the time the recital came around, the DANCE MOM in me began to roar it's ugly head.  It really bothered me that she didn't know the routines (but neither did the rest of the girls).  Practicing once a week for 9 months just didn't cut it.  So, I learned the routines and began practicing them at home.  It helped a lot, but next time, I'll do that MUCH earlier so that her knowledge and confidence are ready.

During her shows, she literally sparkled!  The big stage, bright lights and full auditorium didn't phase her in the least!  I was super nervous, but she was merely excited.  She did a great job, sometimes even leading her class in the right steps!

Here are her professional group photos.  She had a really nice, small class and enjoyed these "friends" (though in true preschool form, never learned their names!)...and I enjoyed getting to know their parents as we watched each week through the 2-way mirror.



Until the girls have a strong opinion, I'm alternating them between dance and gymnastics.  This year Heidi is old enough to join in on the fun!  She has waited patiently (often by dancing in the hallway of the dance studio in her ballet shoes) and I can't wait to see what amazing things the girls will do this year!

Regardless, I know there will be no shortage of adoring fans :)


7.27.2014

Summer Projects

We are at the tail end of one of those blissful summer weekends in which there are no steadfast plans, errands to run, reasons to do anything other than what you want to do.  In theory, all weekends are like this, but in reality, they are rare gems.

We watched a rocket launch and visited with friends, organized a few more small areas in the home, did a yard work, read a book in the hammock (THIS ONE WAS ME), watched a parade, shopped, cooked healthy dinners, laughed with our kids, etc.  In fact today I actually said "This is one of those days that seems to have extra hours!".  I've had time to worship, clean, play, read, do a craft project, visit, cook, and now blog!

Jake spent the day taming his gardens.  We took this year off from gardening since he was out of time between work and school and the yard has been a tad embarrassing.  Now, even though we aren't getting ready to harvest anything, at least it is tame and it is easy to imagine the gorgeous gardens that will be there again one day.

As I write, the girls are enjoying some parade candy and watching Aladdin.  I'm anxious to get back to my book, but wanted to squeeze in a little blogging time since there is so much that I want to post on here.  Jake is organizing his clothes (we've all had massive closet/dresser/etc reorganizations this summer) while waiting on friends to arrive and help lift the girls playhouse INTO A TREE.  Did I mention that it is POURING?  Thunder, lightening, torrential down pours, flood warnings, etc!

Yet, he thinks his comrades are still going to show up and lift the house into the platform he's built in the trees.  I'm a tad doubtful... and yet I've come to believe that most things are possible with Jake.

LIKE THIS PROBLEM:

This antenna has been attached to the roof of our house for a LOOOONG time.  It isn't something we use, but was not a priority to remove.  That is until a storm this spring ripped 3/4 of it from our roof.  Somehow it didn't break the window beneath- which would have been quite the horrid wake up call that it was past time to tackle this problem.

I INSISTED we hire someone to do this because this part of the house is 3 stories from the ground.  In true martial harmony, Jake ignored me and one day I found him like this (above).

Luckily, rock climbers are versatile and he had quite the system to safe guard himself.  Using more rock climber knowledge, I was able to assist the antenna down using a friction belay and the problem was solved.  Well, the antenna problem was solved.  The "how to get Jake off the roof" problem was what he had been waiting for!  Sigh...


And that my friends is what happens when you marry a Kosker.  Another project tackled, another eye roll from a wife, another happy homesteader.

7.21.2014

Lutherlyn Family Camp :: The Perfect Vacation!



I had to take a few weeks off before writing this post to fully reflect on why our week at Lutherlyn's Family Camp was the PERFECT vacation.  Spoiler Alert:  After reading this, you will be racing me to sign-up for Family Camp next year.  GO AHEAD... that's precisely what I want to happen.  I'll even offer to camp in a tent for the week if all the cabins get filled (I believe there were 5 empty cabins this summer... that's not very many!).

First a little background:  I was a camper at Lutherlyn for 5 years, summer camp counselor for 3 years and full-time staff for 2 years.  My husband was a camper there for probably 10 years and counselor there for 1 year.  We met there, we fell in love there, we've baptized our children there, we've made the majority of our "lifetime" friends there, my sister worked there, I met my brother-in-law there...  This place is HUGE for us.  It is the greatest place on the planet (though I might be a tad biased).

When I worked there, I could never understand why families would come there for vacation.  It's a place for KIDS, yet a huge amount of family campers are adults without kids.  WHY WOULD THEY DO THAT?  Even for families with kids, I didn't get the appeal.  Hey, if you live in paradise, you become immune to it, right?

Despite my history of not understanding the allure of Family Camp, this past winter I had, what my husband has deemed "MY BEST IDEA EVER"!  "Jake, why don't we go to Family Camp this year?".  The subcontext that we both immediately understood was:

  • Let's go to an all-inclusive resort where 70+ highly trained college students (they have a rigorous 2 weeks of staff training, WAY more than any other camp I've ever heard of) will entertain, teach, engage our children for part of the day while we do ADULT THINGS.
  • Let's go on a vacation where we don't have to cook or wash dishes.
  • Let's go on a vacation where we never get into our car to go anywhere.
  • Let's go on a vacation where the day is packed with awesome activities that we can chose from, without ever shelling out money for these activities.
  • Let's go to a place that attracts interesting people so we can engage in meaningful conversations while our kids do whatever they want to do on this safe, beautiful 600 acre property.
  • Let's go on a vacation with some of our favorite people (granted, this was an advantage for us... but even if you don't know anyone there, you will quickly meet people who you "click" with... there's something in the water there that makes this happen!).
THE COST:
I tend to think anything that isn't free or less than $10 is expensive.  It blows Jake's mind that I can look at any restaurant menu and feel aghast at the prices.  It's a gift.  So, let's cover this part first because for this family, this is always the first obstacle discussed.  In fact, we hadn't gone on a week long vacation with our kids EVER!

Here is what it cost my family of four (click here to see your family scenario costs):
  • Cabin= $258.  Now when I say "cabin", I mean gorgeous wooden cabin with large porch, six beds, nice bathroom, carpet and plenty of plugs for the multitude of fans, clocks, etc I travel with.
  • Adult program and meals= $284 x 2 = $568
  • Kid program and meals= $125 x 2 = $250
  • TOTAL = $1076
Ok, that is a hard pill to swallow!  But, that works out to about $180 a day (Sunday dinner through Saturday breakfast)... or $60 per meal... or

$15 per person per meal!?!?!  WAIT ONE GOSH DARN MINUTE!  For $15 per person, I can feed my family GOURMET food without lifting a finger, stay in gorgeous clean cabins, have programming for all interests and ages, get perks like swimming lessons, high ropes course, pony rides, parade with candy, have s'more roasts and dessert buffets, etc FOR NO EXTRA CHARGE?!?

Speaking of meals, camp has come a LONG way from the 5 years I was on staff.  They have a head chef who specializes in delicious foods and fascinating flavors.  I wish I had more pics, but my saliva almost ruined my camera:
Salad bar at every meal and a delicious turkey dinner!


THE ACTIVITIES:
Here was a basic day for us:
Daily Schedule and coloring fun
8:30 breakfast
Kid Bible study music into, parachute games, Adult Bible Study
9:15-11:45 take the kids to their camp counselors for their age group activities and Bible study.  I don't seem to have saved their daily schedule, but they learned A TON of songs, had a simple Bible Study played games, etc.
9:30-11:45 Jake and I head to one of the Adult Bible studies and engage in meaningful dialogue about the state of our world, the climate, our responsibilities, etc.  Jake is not interested in the Bible, yet he loves having discussions with the Director, Pastor Randy because well, we talk about REALLY IMPORTANT STUFF!
11:45-12:15 Swimming lessons
12:30 LUNCH 
1:30 Head to the cabin for rest time.  This is when we often had a babysitter (counselors available FREE OF CHARGE) so that we could do adult things like crafts or the high ropes course (granted, a friend of ours asked to be in the adjoining cabin so that she could be my kids camp Grandma for the week.  Spoiled much?  THANKS LESLIE!)
3:00 pool, explore nature center, fish, craft cabin, pony rides, parachute games, etc
5:15 DINNER 
6:00 Group activity (one night this was a talent show, one night this was minute to win it games, one night was "Christmas in July" activities, one night was SQUARE DANCING, etc)
7:15 Preschool Campfire (only offered on select nights)
8:00 Camp style worship (if we could stay up that late!)
9:00 BED (for the kids)
9:30 PARTY ON OUR PORCH with old and new friends

Hello Joe Ice breaker song, Hazel on climbing net (note: this activity is for 7th grade and older, we brought special gear and made special arrangements.  This is not available for others (ie non-Koskers), Heidi lounging on the creek hike, Hazel at swimming lessons, posing in front of the sign for the first week of camp (this was taken on July 4th), Jake and Hazel at the square dance, the FACE DIP challenge on the creek hike, by the end of the week Heidi was EXHAUSTED :)

Phew, that was one busy day!  Notice how we NEVER got into our car?  It was awesome!  My kids actually smiled for the entire week!  Plus, since it's such a safe place, they could be FREE.  After each meal, Hazel's favorite thing was to leave our table and RUN OUTSIDE where she would play with other kids.  Can you imagine simply letting your children leave your table while on vacation and running free?  Yes, they had boundaries for how far they could go, but I didn't have to worry.... there were always staff and guests near and handfuls of other kids doing the same thing.  It was so awesome for her growing sense of autonomy and self confidence!

THE PEOPLE:
Lutherlyn has the uncanny ability of attracting interesting people.  Sit next to anyone and you will find yourself deep in a great conversation.  While the majority of people there are Lutheran, certainly not everyone is and diversity is the spice of life... so the more diverse, the better!  All worships and Bible Studies are optional, I know quite a few people who attend neither and that is ok.
The majority of people who attended all week.  In case you're playing "Where's Waldo Kosker":  We are at the bottom right.

Okay, I can't resist ONE MORE COLLAGE!  I call this one "Favorite moments":
clockwise:  Hazel sang "I'm A Little Tea Cup" for the talent show...she got a standing ovation, super cute kids at a camp worship, one of the "free play" times after dinner (they found our dear friends TyManda and were playing duck duck goose.  RUN Heidi RUUUN!), more parachute games, floating candles during Friday night worship (Amanda and Hazel got to do this together with our "family" cross), Hazel riding Susie- her FAVORITE horse!


So, who is joining us at Lutherlyn's Family Camp next year?

7.13.2014

Hazel's Preschool Graduation

May I present...

On May 20th (ahem, I am quite behind on many posts!), I had the privilege of watching a self confident, sweet, joyful girl join her Preschool class for their graduation program.

She learned SO many things this year!  The first time she blew me away this year was when all of a sudden (like in October), she was able to recite the ENTIRE LORD'S PRAYER!  It never occurred to me that a 4 year old could learn such a long and difficult passage!  Throughout the year, she LOVED going to "school".  We are so blessed that our church houses a wonderful preschool program.  Hazel's first formal learning experience was in a place where she was completely comfortable and her teachers were familiar faces.  IDEAL!

Most of what Hazel would discuss with me were the nuances of social interactions.  She loved making new friends and playing with these friends, but she had (has) A LOT to learn about giving friends space and picking up on their cues.  However, she is like a flower, attracting a beautiful array of butterflies around her.  She is getting really good at setting boundaries on how people are allowed to treat her ("friends don't treat each other that way") and has learned that sometimes friends say hurtful things, but if you forgive them and talk to them, you usually still have a wonderful friendship.

Perhaps my PROUDEST MAMA MOMENT was when we received a Thank You note after her graduation from one of her teachers (we gave them flower seeds and chalkboard pots), her teacher wrote:

  "She really is a special little girl and her self confidence and independence will serve her well as she goes forward.  She's also a nice little girl, willing to include others anytime- great attitude and not all that common!" (underline in original)

WOW!  I could not have asked for a better end result to her first year of education!  We are SO proud of this little girl and honored to be her parents.

Her favorite activity in school is coloring pictures and her coloring has matured in leaps and bounds over the year.  She can consistently spell her name, though sometimes she jumbles a letter or two and she can name almost all of the capital letters correctly.  Truth be told, I really eased off forcing these skills at home once my research taught me that forcing young kids to drill writing/reading skills doesn't improve their skills long term, but often does create a distaste for learning and reading.

One of the coolest things has been watching her family portaits (and name) evolve:


I LOVE how insignificant she made Heidi in this one!  Art = Honesty :)
current:
any day now we are going to all start getting ARMS!  It's an exciting life we lead :)


All in all, Hazel "graduated" with all the skills we had hoped for:  confidence when facing new tasks, growing social skills, understanding school expectations and letter recognition.  I never imagined her changing so much in such a short time... sniff sniff...



Additionally, after A LOT of discussion and hand wringing, we've decided to send Hazel to a second year of PreK.  If she had not been born 5 weeks early, she would not be eligible for Kindergarten this fall.  She was, so she is... but we're opting for another year of childhood rather than an earlier year of adulthood.  Following?  Plus, these days Kindergarten is INTENSE!  All day, rigorous, awesome, but chock full of reading, writing, arithmetic.  Since we have the option, we're choosing to give her another year full of imagination, free play, NAPS and small intimate groups of friends.  We are sending her to a different Preschool that is in a school building and more days & hours per week.  A perfect stepping stone (we hope!).

4.26.2014

One {precious} year ago!

The other night Jake and I attended a looong awards banquet (where he was recognized for earning 2 of the 10 nursing scholarships!  SO PROUD!) and I found myself cleaning out my phone and looking at old text messages (yes, very bad manners, but it was so looong!).  There are so many texts that I just can't erase and reread them about once every 6 months.

Well, I found this one...from exactly one year ago today.  It simultaneously made me very happy and incredibly sad.


One year ago, mom snapped this photo to share the joy of their new return to normalcy.  My baby girls snuggled close to their Junko to hear Chicka Chicka Boom Boom.  All of us feeling confident that our year of horror was over and the best was yet to come.

What a precious NORMAL moment.  What a precious FLEETING moment.  IF we knew then what we know now...

As I write this, I see my selfishness.  The year of horror was over for those that love my dad, but he was still living in intense discomfort with more limitations than he would ever have agreed to.  However, he had survived and we had him physically present.  We had much to be thankful for and much to hope for.

While I would have done anything to change the outcome, I know now what my dad knew during his last week of life...that his year of horror was finally ending and the best was truly coming for him.

I yearn for that level of faith and acceptance of my own death when the time is near.

4.20.2014

Happy Easter!



Happy Easter from "a princess and a cowboy"!  Such a joy filled day with our sweethearts!  The day starter with new pjs from the Easter bunny, difficult hunts for Easter baskets, baskets filled with goodies, frozen tee shirts, new books and games.  Hazel immediately decided to make a card for Llama and on her own accord, picked a card that looked like one of Junko's shirts and drew a family picture inside....with the Junko head holding a tiny baby Hazel.

The miracle of the season is not lost on these two... Though I find this the most difficult religious holiday to explain!

Hope your day is full of thoughtfulness...and perhaps a tad too much sugar!

Exhibit A:


3.29.2014

Heidi's 3rd Birthday Party!

YOU ARE INVITED...

the only criteria listed by Heidi:  penguins, orange, "Kenzie, Kayla, Jillian, Olivia, Raeggie".  Could this girl be any more perfect, those are awesome criteria!  Fun, easy theme and the daughters of a handful of my dearest friends (aka, my women's circle).

FIRST THINGS FIRST:
Thoroughly inspired by working side-by-side with Krista, a school psych/ running mate who paints her nails in creative patterns weekly, I tackled our fingernails before I even figured out our party menu!  My nails are the tuxedo shirts with one orange polkadot, Heidi's are under mine with the reverse pattern (her nails are purposely out of focus...layer painting a toddler's nails was not my brightest & best parenting idea.  Jake had to leave his studies to come to Heidi's aid, reminding me that yelling at her wasn't really in the spirit of the occassion!).  

The middle photo are  my nails (I might be a convert, having rebelled against painted fingernails since 11th grade) and my friend, Andrea's.  She had no idea that I had painted my nails and showed up SHOWING ME UP!  Good thing I love her too much to unfriend her (her black & white outfit was cuter than mine too!  FRIENDS, yeesh ;)

The last picture is Andrea's daughter, Olivia.  Gorgeous all the way around, I was especially thrilled with how well she coordinated with the straws :)

THE GIRL:

I had to struggle to wake her up from her nap at 5:15!?!  She did NOT want to put on her party clothes.  However, as soon as she got downstairs and saw the tablescape and presents, she turned into the sweetest & most hyper almost-3-year-old you've ever seen!

I could not be more in love,

neither could her sister.

(I decorated their shirts and yes, I am proud!)

THE DECOR:
I'll post inspiration links and tutorials on Lazy Green Mama another day.  For now, some brief descriptions (mostly since this is our family journal).  

FROM LEFT:  Penguin Poppers (painted solo cups with balloon popper hats) & Penguin Eggs (marshmallows); goldfish crackers; olive penguins; orange dreamsicle birthday cake & orange poppyseed bundt cake; guest gifts of black & white bracelets; pizza cones for the kids (not pictured, strombolis from a local pizza shop, salad, shrimp cocktail & the beverage buffet).  Not pictured, black balloons that Jake turned into penguins, white & orange ballons; pin the baby on the penguin (which we didn't end up playing)

THE GIFTS:

While her guests were mainly not quite age appropriate (you might notice that they're mostly 10-12 year olds), it was brilliant!  They entertained while the adults ate and chatted and then took care of helping Heidi with opening her gifts while still being young enough to then PLAY with her and the new gifts!  

Ever a sucker for a theme, we gave Heidi a penguin book, a penguin with baby doll and that adorable penguin costume (which is actually a hand-me-down from my friend who made that awesome skirt.)

THE FESTIVITIES:
We dug out both Pictionary and Pictionary Jr. which ended up being a BLAST!  Even Hazel, Heidi and Raegan got in on it- Hazel made letters while Regs and Heidi drew whatever the heck they wanted (and agreed with our guesses once the timer went off).  

Bottom left pictures:  Mackenzie popping some "eggs" at someone; Makayla giving Heidi a dose of her own medicine... Heidi brought the TOY gun out at the beginning of the party and started to shoot her guests... while we do allow gun playing, we don't aim at people, however this is what Heidi wanted and I gave Makalya the AOK to indulge Heidi.... She's weird, but wonderful!

SO THERE YOU HAVE IT,
Heidi's 3rd birthday party!  It was our best yet (*I say that after every birthday)!  Fun for all and Heidi L.O.V.E.D. it!  We had the party on a Friday night because that's when the "big kids" were available.  However, as a now working mom, that sure did make my Friday a tad stressful.  Thankfully most of the decor was done in advance and using easy foods was one of my most brilliant party ideas :)

I can't believe 3 years have passed since her birth.  Tomorrow I will share my thoughts on simply THE GIRL.  For tonight, I will tiptoe into her bedroom, kiss her soft cheek and sweaty neck.  When she sleeps, I still see my baby.  When she wakes, she will be my smart, funny, loud, fiercely independent, dare devil 3 year-old.  I am richly blessed.

2.15.2014

HEADLINE: Sisters Caught Reading In Bed!

While I don't have memories of toddlerhood or playing with my sister for days on end, as country girls, we were certainly each other's best friends and only playmate.

Hazel and Heidi have such a beautiful relationship!  Do they fight, OH YES.  But mostly, they play, love, laugh, share.  They each think that the other is her "best friend" and I often catch them showing each other love.

The other night, a very sleepy mommy and very busy daddy hurried them off to bed.  Typically we have one fall asleep in our bed, but this night I was so tired that I wanted my bed!  So, we read them each a book, tucked them in, gave a few reminders/threats and closed the door.

From my room, I could hear them talking, but ignored it hoping it would quickly end.

It didn't.

Finally, I struggled out of bed (granted it was barely 8:30) and opened the door intent on giving them quite the lecture.

This is what I found:

Heidi had walked across the room and climbed into Hazel's bed.  Hazel was "reading" her stories.

MELTS MY HEART!

This particular night, they looked up with guilty faces and were quite surprised when I immediately closed the door.  I grabbed my iPad (the most convenient way to take and upload pics these days) and reopened the door to snap this pic.

What's a strict mama to do?

Well, they didn't get a lecture, but I did separate them, give very strict orders about lights staying off and bodies staying in bed.

They obliged me with falling quickly asleep.  Phew!

As for books, I have been enjoying more and more reading time with the girls.  Often while Jake is either cooking or cleaning up from dinner, I'll gather the girls in my arm chair and we dig in to a pile.

This week my school librarian has been putting a ton of great books on the staff "give away" table.  Our district has closed many satellite schools over the years (small rural schools) and she has duplicate/triplicates of some books.  While I try not to be a hog, I couldn't help but pick out a few!

Our favorite one...that is read multiple times a day:
(photo is affiliate link)

Emma Dilemma:  Big Sister Poems by Kristine O'Connell George.  Hazel canNOT get enough of this book which very accurately describes the joys and hardships of being a big sister (though I don't think my big sister could relate AT ALL!  I NEVER copied everything she did nor explored her bedroom nor ruined her new markers...oh, I still shudder when I use markers worried that I'll press too hard and make my sister mad!).

PLUS, it's POETRY!  Earlier this year at my school, Dr. Mary Bigler presented at my school about the importance of reading to our kids.  She talked about reading fiction, nonfiction AND poetry!  Now, I am a fiction type of girl.  Nonfiction is left to dad.  Poetry is left to the scholars...but our house seems rather void of those ;)  While I don't dislike poetry, I'm not drawn to it and never think to purchase it!

Emma Dilemma isn't cutesy or rhyme-y.  But it's lyrical and fun and WE LOVE IT!

So there you have it, my thoughts about the blessings of sisters AND a book recommendation!

See here for an earlier post where I recommend another book for sisters.

DO YOU HAVE A FAVORITE POETRY BOOK FOR KIDS?

2.08.2014

Trip of a lifetime. Puerto Vallarta, Mexico!



Last week Jake and I got to travel to the Hard Rock Resort in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico compliments of Thrive Life.
man do we look WHITE!  I got a slight burn the first day and we lathered on sun screen every minute after!  Long term health & beauty :)


We are truly grateful to Thrive for letting us earn this trip.  Only 30 consultants were able to qualify and it blows me away that I was one of them.  I am definitely not the most successful consultant, but I did a few things right and scored this trip... A free vacation just for eating better and sharing it with my friends, really?

30 trip winners plus guest, executive team & consultants who bought into the trip.

For Jake and I have to have a vacation, just the two of us, without the worry of finances was a great blessing at this point in our lives.  We needed to have fun being a couple, I needed to rest and rejuvenated, we needed time to miss our children... We spent much of the plane ride home looking at pictures of the kids, by that point missing them had become painful!

While I struggled the entire 5 days with letting go of the need to have a schedule, we did vacation in a way that is very foreign to us!  We are not resort people, but really appreciated the comforts of a resort.  Ordering whatever, whenever was so freeing!  At the Asian restaurant, we finished our main courses and ordered a new batch, just to try more foods!  At every meal, my goal was to try new and different foods/ flavors/ drinks.  It was so wonderful to not worry about the price!  Champagne delivered to our room, why not.  Ice cream cones at 11am, sure!  While I didn't stuff myself silly or drink myself to oblivion, I certainly never felt hungry during the entire trip!  

One peak experience of the trip was the group excursion to extreme zip lining.  I regrettably admit that the experience didn't give me the adrenaline rush I was hoping for.  I suppose my hours and hours spent high in a tree running a zip line at Camp Lutherlyn changed my perspective on fear of heights/ zipping through the canopy.  The best part was the Superman which caused a faint glimmer of adrenaline as I watched others zip while lying on their stomachs, way over the trees, for 1000m.  However, once the zip started, it brought a feeling of utter peace.  At one point, I looked to my right and noticed a hawk gliding at the same height.  Very cool!

source

My favorite part of the trip was when we took a 30 minute taxi ride to downtown Puerto Vallarta.  Regrettably, we only had about 2 hours to spend on the boardwalk, but it is a beautiful place!  Lovely boardwalk peppered with cooper statues and interesting people.  Streets full of colorful vendors and gardens tucked into every nook and cranny.  The buildings are mostly covered in white stucco, trimmed in vibrant colors.  Truly lovely!  In the future, I'll make sure to spend more time in the city!



The non destination highlight was making friendships with other thrive life consultants.  I had never met my mentor and spending time with her and her husband was simply a blast!  We made other lifelong friends with other couples, discovered that the executives are down to earth, lovely people and left feeling so connected and proud of our work with Thrive Life.
While 3 of these pictures were taken on the same night, it appears that I opted for horizontal stripes almost every day!  Also featured in these photos:  dinner with Misty & Cory Marsh (my mentor) and poolside drinks with Holly Cooley (the only other "east coast" consultant on the trip).  As for goofball Jake, most of the pictures speak for themselves... in the lower left, he is having a very happy moment holding a newly hatched turtle before it's released into the ocean, in the top right he is trying on a mask that I very much regret not purchasing ;) 


Heading to warm, breezy Mexico during a frigid February (it was negative 10 degrees when we left!) was such a perfect way to refresh the mind and body!  Perhaps we' get to do it again someday???

1.18.2014

Preschool Picasso

One of these things is not like the other, one of these things just doesn't belong...

Guess which reindeer was made by MY DAUGHTER?  Ok, I made it easy... I put a ribbon on it.  I couldn't resist!  To say that we are incredibly proud of this preschool art project would be an understatement.  In fact, my husband and I made a point to stand in the preschool hallway on multiple Sundays (she happens to attend a preschool which resides in our church) and point it out to people.  My mother dubbed her "the Picasso of Preschool" and we wanted to yell it from the rooftops!

Now, I am not an expert on art or how child development and art intersect, but I am an expert on creativity (and awesomeness).  I just want to yell "NOBODY PUTS BABY IN A CORNER!"  every time I look at these (that quote is from Dirty Dancing which has nothing to do with this blog post except that my baby is daring and unique and creative...and awesome).

If I could rid the world of cookie cutter art projects/ Oriental Trading prefab garbage/ teaching kids there is only one right way, I would!  Fortunately, Hazel seems to know this without my having to teach it...or maybe I did?

One of our favorite books is Willow by Brennan-Nelson.  I discovered it in a list of recommended books for independent young girls.  It is truly fabulous.  Willow doesn't paint red apples on green trees, as much as the teacher tries to force her to.  In the end, Willow changes her school and it is a much happier, creative, unique world.

  (affiliate link, please purchase through this link so I can have a penny and reward my artist with new paints)

Whether because of this book or because of her own idea of what this reindeer should look like, Hazel broke away from the mould!  These art projects were displayed in the hallway.  She is the first, the others lined up after her like the most boring parade in existence.  I don't mean to demean the work of the other 4-year-olds.  They did a great job replicating the teacher's example.  But man-oh-man am I excited to see where my independent spirit ends up!




post note:  I assume that many people would react quite opposite to discover their child's art project looks drastically different from the rest of the group.  I think God knew what he was doing when he gave Hazel and I (and her father who grinned ear-to-ear when he saw the line-up) to each other.

Also, I must admit to giving in to prefab art projects many times and my kids love them... Though my mom always "tsks" and mumbles about creativity.

Also, this isn't meant to be a critique of their preschool art projects, they are always adorable and let creativity like this happen!