Forty Something Parents

The Ins & Outs of Parenting

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Field Trip: The Grand Children’s Festival

–Fun…FREE Activities For Home School (or Traditionally Schooled) Kids–

In my last post, I wrote briefly about this past weekend…when we attended the Children’s Festival down in the Strand District.  It’s a really fun time for kids of all ages, and very family friendly.  Best of all, the festival is FREE!  And even though this was our first year to attend, we certainly don’t plan on it being our last.

In the meantime — I wanted to share some of the fun moments from this past festival.  The numerous booths and activities were enough to keep us busy for the entire weekend; though the event is only for one day.

The learning experiences that Nixi was able to be a party to, I feel, will stay with her for years to come.  As for me…?  I realized I’m absolutely no good at hoola-hooping, but I  can still do the Lemon Twist; or an updated version of the old classic jumping toy I used to love as a kid.  It was great to show my husband and child, that this middle-aged Mamma can still ‘cut-a-rug’.  I look back on it, and I have to laugh.  –As I feel I’ll do…for years to come.

*Forever Young*

*Being Young-at-Heart*

*Remaining Active Over 40*

 

 

 

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Homeschooling — The Freedom to Learn

As our daughter Nixi began to approach school age, my husband and I figured we’d go the traditional route and enroll her in school.  Until one day, as I sat with my 3 1/2 year-old in the office of her prospective preschool, I realized that it somehow felt all wrong.  The principal came-across as cold and unfeeling, not the least bit warm in her interaction with my child.  It alarmed me to rethink it all.  That was the day we began our journey into homeschooling; casually, without even realizing it at first.

I remember the school calling me up on the phone, questioning me as-to-why I had not sent in my daughter’s enrollment papers.  I quickly told the school administrator that I had decided to keep my daughter home for another year.  I was not sending her to their school.  She clearly did not approve of my decision, but…since it really wasn’t any of her business, I did not succumb to her prying.  It all turned around for us that day, and I started ordering books on homeschooling and un-schooling.  I was intrigued by it all: the idea of keeping our daughter home to learn in a non-traditional way.  I felt passionate about helping my daughter develop a deeper love of learning than most kids are allowed to reach in public schools; though there are exceptions in every case scenario…I must admit.

Two years later, I can’t say it hasn’t been a challenge to do things differently this time around, but I can say…it has been quite an adventure!  Being a late-in-life homeschooling mom is someplace I never thought I would be at this age.  And…I must admit, homeschooling isn’t for everyone.  Even I have my days when I wonder if we are doing the right thing…schooling our 5 year old in a non-traditional way.  I worry she might be lonely at times…for other kids her age.  I worry she might get really sick of my company; me being her constant companion, teacher, mother, friend.

Then I see her with other kids, with other people, and I realize she doesn’t have one ounce of trouble blending into any situation.  She is a very outgoing child.  She makes friends where ever we go.  I watch her just being a kid, while many of the other ‘traditionally educated’ kids stand back and seem almost fearful of being free…being kids.

It’s times like this when I realize the freedom and room to grow…to learn, we are giving her by teaching her in such a relaxed environment.  Because she has developed a love of learning (especially reading) on her own, I feel she will not tire of it as she grows older, and into more difficult curriculum.  She will already have-come to associate learning with freedom and no stress; unlike kids in traditional learning situations.

As a child, I remember liking kindergarten–recess especially–and that’s about it.  I found school terribly confining and boring, stressful and traumatic at other times.  The constant need to fit-in and be accepted was a real drain from my creativity and concentration; my entire ability to learn.  And even though I did finally get through school, I cannot look back on it all and say it was a good experience.  In fact, it was the opposite.

The old saying “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink”, stays constant in my reminder-to-self when I do have my weak moments of doubt.  I remember how, even though I sat in the classroom physically, I was not there mentally.  So the teacher was teaching, but my thoughts were a million miles away…wishing I could be anywhere but there in school.  This is something I never want my daughter to experience: that desperate need to escape, feeling like you are in a prison-of-sorts.  In my  memories of school, from K to 12, that’s exactly what I felt 99% of the time.

Not until college, when I went voluntarily, was I excited about learning.  I cherished each and every moment I spent in my college classroom.  I loved just being a part of the experience that was higher learning.  I finished all my classes with flying colors, my first go-round in community college.  Later in life, when I was already a mom of two, I enrolled again in college.  Just like before, I loved being there.  It was what learning was supposed to be, in my eyes.  I blossomed in so many ways in my efforts towards my AA in English.  Not only did I maintain a 4.0 GPA, but I also ended up serving two years in student government, and contributing to the campus literary magazine.

These memories of ‘learning on purpose’ and loving it, are what keep me trying new…fun ways of teaching my daughter.  –Ways she does not even realize are lessons, because she has fun in her educational efforts.  It is true, kids are like sponges when it comes to learning.  Our little-one loves books, she loves reading, word games, numbers too.  It’s all fun for her; not a chore, an assignment load she cannot bear at such a young age.  I feel that kids are given too much burden when it comes to lessons and homework in the public school system.  It takes the fun out of learning.

As for our preschooler-turned-kindergartener, we hope to keep learning fun for her all through her school-aged years.  We choose to let her remain a child, without all the pressures of fitting-in and growing up too fast.  In an age of too much seriousness, stress, and pressures for children to grow up too soon, I feel Blessed that we can be here to guide our daughter.  I feel so-very fortunate that she can learn…for the love of learning.  After-all, living a full…abundant life (in my opinion) involves remaining forever young and seeing each and every thing around us as a lesson to be learned.  Learning is everywhere we go — the world is our playground.  We just have to be allowed to embrace it with an open mind…and open arms.

 

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Staycationing In Galveston

 

Father's Day Weekend -- Rain Forest Cafe' Jungle Water Ride

Father’s Day Weekend — Rain Forest Cafe’ Jungle Water Ride

 

Last Saturday was the usual work-day for Nico.  But for me and Baby?  It was Mother & Daughter fun in the sun day!  We spent all day, from around 10 a.m. ’til around 6 p.m., walking the Seawall (stinky seaweed and all), enjoying snow-cones and food truck Mexican food (was quite good!) along the shores of our new hometown — Galveston Island.

Then, when I was feeling quite heated and not so great, we ducked down to the beach and stayed ’til it was almost time for Hubby to get off work.  Baby met some new little friends from Ethiopia, who were visiting family in Houston.  The nice lady I talked with–the mother of Nixi’s playmate–was enjoying her trip to G-Town from her home in Washington D.C.  It was nice talking with her, and even better than that…Baby had someone to play with; since she’d been quite cranky for most of the day.  I think boredom sometimes gets the best of us all.

So we waded through the seaweed, attempting to enjoy the cool waters of the Gulf.  I have to admit, even though seaweed is great for the garden, it’s not so fun to feel brushing up all over you.  It’s a bit of a creep-out factor.  :  /  Needless to say, we’d had a very full day by the time we got home and Nico arrived.  But…we weren’t done yet!

Being-as it was Father’s Day weekend, we decided to shower (which actually did wake me up), and head out to eat at a local place on the seawall that I had been wanting to try….for years!  Tortuga’s Mexican Kitchen, dining beneath the palm thatched palapas…seeing the goings-on (crazy…at best) along the seawall, the margarita (no doubt) was a very enjoyable experience.  The service was very friendly, the food oh-so-tasty, and the cool ocean breeze and ‘entertainment’ (episodes of honking horns and road rage on Seawall Blvd, and drunk tourists on trolley bikes) was just what I needed to end a very packed day.

Still, we didn’t head for home.  Instead, Nico wanted to take Baby to Rainforest Cafe’…just a short distance down Seawall; so off we went to the place we’d been when Baby was too young to even remember.  Nico wanted to buy her a little toy, since the last time we’d passed by there, Baby had spotted the toy carney, and threw a great fit when we didn’t stop to win her one.  What she didn’t know, and couldn’t understand at her age, is that we had no money…at all.  That was why we had opted to go for a stroll along the ocean, just to break the monotony of being broke in a town with so much (things that cost….more than we had) to do.

Either way, Daddy made it up to Baby…and then some.  We even got to go on the Rainforest Jungle Water Ride (not sure if that’s the correct name for it?), which was so much fun!  We want to go again…as soon as we possibly can.  All in all, staying home for vacation isn’t so bad after all.  And, when the fun is all done, we can come home to our cozy little caravan abode.

Blessings to All, that you have a wonderful vacation…or staycation this year; wherever you may be.

.V..

GVR

 

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Beach Day For Our Little Sweetheart

Beach Day for Our Little Sweetheart

Writing & Wanderlust

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Okay…I’ll be the first to admit — Nico and I both forgot it was Valentine’s Day until we were headed down the street and saw a lady selling flower baskets on the sidewalk.  :  I  ‘Seems like things have been so busy lately, that we’ve even forgotten the day-of-week.  In a sense, remodeling and money woes have taken over our lives.  I know we’re not alone! 

When it comes to making ends meet, our ends are quite frazzled these days.  For this reason, it’s especially wonderful to escape to the beach with our little’n.  Of course, when we’re out on the East end of the island, Baby starts directing us towards one of her favorite parks: Nixi’s Pirate Play Park…as we refer to this particular playground. 

It’s a nice escape from the chaos of restoring our vintage caravan, no matter what day of the week.  Even though the wind was…

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A Pirate Ship Discovery

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Okay…so it’s been right under our feet practically the whole time we’ve been islanders — an adorable ‘fit for a fairy tale’ play park village just a few streets over from our little Caravan abode.  Nico set out one day with Baby in tow, pedaling down the road because we had one restless little toddler and Mom (that would be me) needed some much-needed time to herself.

A while later, here he comes down the road, and I could hear Baby protesting in the distance.  She was obviously not too happy about something.  So…he pulls into the driveway, and that’s when he began to tell me about the great play park discovery.  I guess this is what I get for going ‘straight there and straight back home’ when I’m out and about.  :  /

I guess I just couldn’t see the forest for the trees!  ‘Happens to me a lot.  :  )

A Pirate Kid’s Dream Come True!


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Finding Your Inner-Child…Late in Life

 

Who needs the Fountain of Youth when you have a Toddler and a positive attitude!  Feeling young, and staying young, is as easy as remembering your own childhood.  Here’s how I rediscovered my Inner Child…(click on pic or link for more).

Biking at Big Lagoon SRA, near Perdido Key, FL

Biking at Big Lagoon SRA, near Perdido Key, FL

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The Forever Optimist — A Family Beach Staycation

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We moved to the island last year…on a wing and a prayer; hoping we could make it work, blind to the struggles we would face.  Because of many financial hardships and our rather modest (to put it nicely) means, we’ve learned to become quite creative with how we entertain our toddler.  Free family fun is the norm for us; a very simplistic way of island life.  It has made us better people and parents…all-the-more.

Now, with the holidays behind us, we have welcomed our first new year as full-time Islanders.  And because we love the ocean and the beach so…we felt compelled to go shelling at one of our favorite family-friendly spots along the coast.   This particular stretch of Galveston Beach is a place we have come-to-call ‘Nixi’s Pirate Play Park’.  In our opinion, and Baby’s, it is the best little park on the island!  We highly recommend it to any visitor or local.

The first day of this new year might’ve been a bit dreary, but we didn’t mind!  To us, it was a mystical and adventurous family outing of treasure hunting and shelling along the big seashore: so many discoveries we made that day!  It was a time–a memory–of new beginnings and priceless moments that we pray 2014 will bring even more of…to our little tribe.

Blessings & .V.. to you and yours in this New Year…and always!

GVR