Craving Dole Whip

Disney & museum obsessed, homeschooling mom of 3, parenting to focus on experiences, not possessions. Sharing Disney tips, educational adventures and 'been-there-done-that' reviews. Constantly craving Dole Whip.


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Morian Hall of Paleontology at the Houston Museum of Natural Science

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Ranked as one of the most-visited museums in North America, The Houston Museum of Natural Science (HMNS) showcases a plethora of traveling educational exhibits and features an impressive assembly of permanent collections, worthy of topping any must-see lists for Houston, Texas.

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Permanent exhibitions include a comprehensive Farish Hall of Texas Wildlife, an extraordinary Hall of Ancient Egypt and the stunning Cullen Hall of Gems and Minerals, just to name a few.

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With 30,000 square feet of modern, clean lines, chalky white alcoves and chronological classifications, The Morian Hall of Paleontology houses the extraordinary and one of the most monumental permanent collections found inside the HMNS.

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World-renowned paleontologist and author, Robert T. Bakker, Ph.D., curates the substantial exhibit.  The collection walks visitors through prehistoric eras and human evolution, presenting predators and prey in active, natural poses.

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450 exquisite fossils and authentic replicas narrate the story of the flora and fauna that dominated our Earth for 200 million years.

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Descriptive and informative labels, comprehensive explanations and epoch timelines guide museum visitors through thought-provoking and educational displays.

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Several realistic-looking representations portray early humanoids and Neanderthals.

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The Morian Hall of Paleontology at the Houston Museum of Natural Science presents a thorough and breathtaking view into a prehistoric and extinct world brimming with unusual biology, enormous dinosaurs, massive tress and an ever-changing environment.

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Put this museum and specifically, the Morian Hall of Paleontology, on your “Things to do in Houston” list.

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The Houston Museum of Natural Science is located at 5555 Hermann Park Drive, Houston, Texas, 77030.

Hours of operation:

Monday-Sunday 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

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Ticket pricing for all permanent exhibits and collections:

Adults–$25

Children ages 3-11–$15

Seniors ages 62+–$15

College students with ID–$15

Military with ID–$8

Members are always free.

Parking is available in the museum parking garage.

Parking for non-members–$20

Parking for members–$5

Discounts, Groupons and CityPass cards are sometimes available.

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Dining options while at the museum:

McDonald’s is in the museum’s Grand Entry Hall and several restaurants exist within walking distance.  I recommend the MFA Café, located inside the Museum of Fine Arts, just a few blocks from the Museum of Natural Science.

Visit www.hmns.org or call 713-639-4629 to purchase tickets and for more information.

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Do you love museums?

Click here to read about my favorite museum in Oklahoma.

Click here to read about the Salvador Dali museum in Florida.

Traveling to Houston soon?  Check out Cirque du Soleil’s Kurios, currently performing in Houston, Texas.  Click here to read a full review of the amazing show!

 

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44 years and 1 day

Yesterday, I turned 44 years and one day old.  I wrote a blog post (read it here!) all about my birthday and what my actual day looked liked, but I woke up this morning with more to share.  So, what did 44 years and 1 day bring?

On Thursday, I woke up at 6:30 a.m. as a 44 year and 1 day old woman.  Constantly, for the last 24 years and 21 days, at least one person calls me “mom”, meaning I happily put my desires on the back burner…a deliberate, daily action for more than half my life.

So, I’m up at 6:30 a.m. to begin my day because Tuesdays and Thursdays are college days.  Not for me…I graduated with a Bachelors of Fine Arts in 1997.  Tu/Th means college classes for my 11 and 13-year-old daughters.  Read 5 reasons why we homeschool here.

In true modern-life fashion, the first thing I reach for in the morning is my phone.  About 3 months ago, I finally started to flip my ringer off at night.  Since my son left for college in 2011, I worry about him constantly and always keep the phone on my nightstand, ringer on full-blast.  Now that the ringer is off at night, I check the phone first thing, just incase.  Full disclosure:  He graduated from college in 2015 and I still have my phone on vibrate (just incase).  Baby steps, people.  Baby steps.

I typically spend 10 ish minutes looking through Facebook, maybe Twitter, and seldomly Instagram.  Come on, I am 44.  Facebook is my jam.

A friend sent me a Facebook message asking about the mesh laundry baskets we use to protect, raise and house our monarch caterpillars.  I wanted to verbally describe the containers, but felt a picture would be better.  In my pj’s and clunky old-lady Vionic house-shoes (plantar fasciitis, remember?), I went to the garage to grab an empty habitat for an outdoor photo shoot.  I took the pic, put the basket back into the garage and stepped down onto the drive way.

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Well…I sort of “stepped down”.  The clunky house-shoe on my right foot slipped off as I stepped down from the garage doorway.  I twisted my ankle and fell directly on my rear, jarring my spine from my tailbone to my skull on the not-so-shock-absorbent concrete.  Of course, I used my left hand to brace myself, which in reality, only added to the list of injuries.  I laid on the driveway for a few minutes, accessing all damage, and laughing/crying at my old lady self…so thankful we live in the country, where neighbors are few and far between.

Besides my pride and ego, the other injuries are minor, mostly bruising and sore muscles.

Gingerly, I returned to the house, made oatmeal and negotiated two peace treaties between the conflicting ideals of my two daughters–at least I was not naked this time.  It’s a miracle.

On April 21, my family made the excruciating decision to help our beloved 13 year-old family dog cross the rainbow bridge.  A cloud of sadness and emptiness lingers over our house and hearts these days.  It has been tough on everyone.  For me, added misery stems from her absence in my daily routines.

Having a dog is like having another child.  Her needs always came before my own.  If she needed to go out and I needed to pee, I always took her first.  In fact, most mornings, I walked her outside before I barely opened my eyes and I always served her breakfast before I fed my children or myself.

As I was getting dressed, her absence overwhelmed me and I cried.  Cried in the shower, cried brushing my teeth, cried until it was time to leave for school.  I miss her.

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Part of my daily routine is calling my husband while I drive to the first college campus.  (My girls take classes at two different campuses this semester.) (And, since you might not know me personally, I use my car’s Bluetooth just to be safe.  I never speed and I never text while driving.)  I am a rule follower.

The phone call is a quick opportunity to check in with my man while my daughters are plugged in and watching a DVD in the car.  Movies create a much-needed quick escape for my girls from their very active brains.  What do they watch?  Well…let me just say, my daughters display an eclectic taste when it comes to films.  I am going to walk out to my car (slowly and carefully) and take a pic of the movies just for your viewing pleasure.  Here you go:

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Yes, all of these movies are currently in my car and yes, we spend a lot of money on DVD’s.  Someone should set up a GoFundMe account.

So, back to the chitty-chat with my husband.  He always asks about my morning first–even if I protest and ask about his day, he refuses to answer until I share my stuff.  I gave an overview of everyone’s morning emotions and a recap of my graceful, old lady fall and waited for his summation.

He starts by causally mentioning his name made the Colonel promotion list–a SUPER big deal.  We have waited AND waited AND waited for this amazing news.  As I am giddy with excitement and congratulations, I bounce in my driver’s seat (as much as humanly possible) and proceed to twerk my neck and back even more than the morning’s tumble on the concrete.  Damn this 44 year and 1 day old body.

Seriously, my husband is so humble.  Green Berets are called “The Quiet Professionals” for a reason.  He is a rock star, but he keeps it a secret.

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LOL.  I am just kidding.  That is not my husband.  This is a picture of my daughter at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.  I wanted to throw a little Disney love into this post.  Who needs more Disney in their life?  This girl.  Yes, me.  Duh.

THIS is my man, leaving for deployment in 2010.

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He is an amazing soldier and an amazing husband.

If I made the rank of Colonel, it would be the first thing I blurted out when I answered a call.  But, not my husband…he is always more concerned and interested in what I have going on in my world.  I am a lucky gal.

First college stop every Tuesday and Thursday is yoga class for my 11 year-old.  I am happy to report it is not an easy, blow-off course.  Though the focus is yoga and health, the professor spends a lot of time lecturing about yoga philosophy, morals, ethics, and practices.  My daughter continues to learn about Hindi culture, vegetarianism and historical traditions.

During yoga, my 13 year-old and I sit at tables outside of the classroom–she works on geometry, French or marine biology while I answer emails, make calls or write blog posts for you guys.  After yoga, my daughter changes into regular clothing and we drive to the next campus.

Yesterday, however, she realized she forgot her regular bra and reacted with a full, emotional meltdown in the women’s restroom.  Have you read about my life with profoundly gifted kids?  Click here.

I calmly suggested the sports bra was sufficient, but she shot that down pretty quick.  Next, I offered a switch–she could wear my bra and I would gladly wear the sports bra…anything to minimize her anxiety.  Apparently, the thought of wearing her mom’s bra was mortifying enough to make the wearing of the sports bra acceptable.  That is a parenting win, my friends.

We drove to the next college campus, where my 13 year-old takes Acting I and my 11 year-old attends two different ASL classes.  I create a home base–what I call our “nest”–and I sit there for the next 9 hours while my daughters come and go to the rest of their classes.  I read, watch entirely too many Netflix shows and I do research for this blog.  Yea Wi-Fi.

On campus, the Deaf and ASL interpreting college students were interacting with visiting Deaf junior high students.  One of the professors introduced my daughter and the students asked a lot of questions.  She confidently signed and communicated with several of the kids, which was exciting because these students were her age.  That NEVER happens.

One fascinating facet of Deaf culture is sign names.  A Deaf person MUST give the sign name to a hearing person.  Until a sign name is given, names are finger-spelled using the ASL alphabet.  My daughter has studied American Sign Language for 6 years and has waited 6 years, hoping someday to receive her sign name from a Deaf individual.

The sign name is an act of acceptance into the Deaf culture.

I was writing a blog post when my daughter RAN up to our nest, all out of breath, and almost cried as she told me that a Deaf student bestowed her a sign name.  It was the best day of her life!

Through happy tears, I watched my daughter walk into her Visual and Gestural Communications class with a sign name.  It was like she was a new person.

For Christmas, I gave my daughters tickets to see Alton Brown Live:  Eat Your Science.  When I purchased the tickets, we thought my husband would be in Qatar, so I only bought three.  Life is funny sometimes, right?  Plans change constantly around here.

So, we skipped my 11 year-old’s last class (Yes, she told the professor in advance.) and we met my husband for dinner before the show.  My husband loves Alton Brown and since he is not in Qatar, I gave him the chance to take our daughters on a date.  I REALLY wanted to go, but I was thrilled to give up my ticket for my awesome husband.

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Alton Brown is so cool, isn’t he?

After dinner, my husband took our daughters to see Alton Brown Live and I started the long drive home.  I made a last minute decision to visit my fabulous sister because Google Maps sent me right by her house.

I love spending quality time with my sister, my nephew and one of my nieces.  (The other one was out for the evening…bummer!)

They gave me some super awesome birthday presents, like this Haunted Mansion (my all-time favorite Disney ride!!!) plate.

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And, I got this adorable dress to wear during my next Walt Disney World vacation!

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I am sooooooo excited!!!

Last May, I was diagnosed with skin cancer.  Ugh.  Too many years using baby oil in the sun and too many trips to the tanning bed in my teens and 20’s…use sunscreen my friends.

Anyway, I had some fun basal cell carcinoma removed from my shoulder and the scar is YUCK-Y.  I call it “my third nipple”, which my husband hates, but I think it’s funny–it is a sick way of coping…

My 4 year old nephew (He is the love of my life!) told me to take off my jacket, revealing my shoulder because I was wearing a tank top underneath.  He immediately started asking questions about my scar and poking it with his finger.  He said it looked like gum and I could not stop laughing.

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I guess calling it “gum” is better than “my third nipple”.  lol.

This is my nephew.  I could look at his precious face all day long.

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It was dark by the time I arrived home and I immediately felt the absence of our Pepper Dog.  Last night marked the first time I was home alone without her.  The house was too quiet and too empty.  I could not stop thinking about her.

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I decided a melatonin made the best nighttime snack and I snuggled into bed, watching a few episodes of “Scrubs”.

At 11:30 p.m., my husband (a new Colonel) and daughters (one with a sign name) finally came through the door, exhausted from a long day of school and Alton Brown.

I feel asleep with sore muscles and tight joints from the morning’s fall, but I have this chunk of gum on my shoulder and it kind of makes me laugh.

Here’s to being 44 years and 1 day old.


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What Does 44 Look Like?

So…yesterday was my 44th birthday.  Quite honestly, I can NOT believe I just typed that sentence.  It’s a bit surreal.  In some ways, I totally feel every bit of 44.  At other times, I sit in complete amazement at how quickly my 20’s and 30’s faded.

Each year represents an evolving season and 44 looks different on different people.  What does turning 44 look like for me?

Well…for my actual birth DAY, my super thoughtful, youngest daughter (age 11) made (from scratch) vegan and gluten-free pancakes and chocolate dipped strawberries for breakfast in bed.  The pancakes were inedible (for real), but the strawberries were super fresh and juicy.  She knew the pancakes missed the mark, so thankfully, I was off the hook.

My two daughters got dressed and I took a shower.  I handled 3 separate sister-sibling arguments before I put on clothing.  Everyone sees me naked.  Yea 44.

I took my middle child to the orthodontist to get a poky wire clipped.  Our monthly payment for braces costs more than my husband’s car payment.  And, the payment plan continues for 28 months.  Yea 44.

After the orthodontist, I drove to a podiatrist appointment, where I learned a severe case of plantar fasciitis and a large bone spur is causing my constant and excruciating heel pain.  Awesome.  Yea 44.

My girls read Harry Potter books in the waiting room while I was in the examination and x-ray room for over an hour.

Side note:  As a homeschooling momma, my daughters go everywhere with me–haircuts, errands, gynecologist, mammograms, dentist, podiatrist, etc., etc.  I am NEVER alone.  Christmas shopping would be non-existent without Amazon.  Click here to read 5 reasons why we homeschool.

As for the Harry Potter reading:  My girls are VERY late to the Harry Potter craze.  At 11 and 13, they show absolutely no interest.  The 11 year old HATES fiction and thinks it is silly to read something that is not true.

But, after our most recent Disney vacation, my husband and I decided a trip to Universal Studios would not happen until their brother’s old Harry Potter books were cracked open…hence, the new-found interest.  That’s a parenting win, folks.  Yea 44.

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The podiatrist wanted to administer a steroid injection in my heel.  I asked about the pain involved with the procedure, the steroids, and alternative solutions.  (I don’t like excessive meds or chemicals in my body.)

She asked if I had children.  I said, “Yes, three.”  She then proceeded to tell me that if I could endure childbirth, I could endure the needle in my foot.

NOPE…Not interested in going through the same level of pain as childbirth (or anything compared to such) on my birthday.  Plus, it’s a no-go on the steroids.  I declined the injection.

I don’t think the doctor was very happy.

But, I no longer make decisions based on what other people think.  Yea 44.

I walked out of the doctor’s office and took my two daughters to lunch.

We chose a quaint, but popular tearoom because of the delicious, fluffy homemade bread and fantastic desserts.  (It was my birthday, after all.)  Plus, the restaurant is less than a mile from the podiatrist and my daughters love the food.

I ordered a salad with blue cheese dressing on the side (a BIG treat for me).  It was utterly divine.  I also ate a super yummy veggie sandwich with spinach, avocado and sprouts.  For dessert, I chose warm peach cobbler a la mode.  Cobbler of any kind is my fav.  DELICIOUS.

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My daughters and I stopped at Marshall’s and did a little shopping because my son’s girlfriend is graduating from law school in May and we need dresses.  A cute bag and a few tops made it home…but we were unsuccessful in the dress department.  My 13 year old daughter said I was too old to wear the one possibility.  Awesome.  Yea 44.

Once we returned home, my girls started school, while I worked on laundry.  A sweet friend sent me a reminder text–she needed something I stored in our safe.  Two days before, I stuck a reminder sticky note on my mirror, but I forgot, of course–soooooo thankful for friends and reminder texts.  Yea 44.

As I dug in the safe, I came across my most prized possession.

In 1998, I took my son to the mall to get pictures taken–that’s what we did back in the day–long before beautiful outdoor location family photographers and cell phones with fancy cameras existed.

While I chose the pictures I wanted to purchase, my son (age 5) was getting restless.  From my purse, I hurriedly gave him a random receipt and a pen so he could doodle and be occupied for a minute.  He handed me this:

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“I love you Mommy so much that I want to squ (squeeze) the juice out of you.”

(He ran out of room for the E-E-Z-E.  lol.)

This piece of paper is my favorite thing.  Swaddled within a tiny pocket in my wallet for many years, I eventually placed it in a plastic baggie and tucked it inside a fireproof container.  A burglar would certainly be disappointed with the contents of our safe since it is full of memories and photographs.  Not money.  Like not a dime.  Yea 44.

The contents of that safe represent what we value as a family–ultrasound videos, pregnancy journals, thousands of photographs of our children, military medals and awards, birth certificates and our marriage license–our family treasures.  Yea 44.

Click here to read everything about my unusual family.

After reminiscing for an hour or so, I returned to the mountain of laundry.

I watched “Scrubs” on Netflix and drank some unsweet iced tea (my fav) as I sat on the bed and tackled the clothing.  Yea 44.

My sweet husband came home from work a little early with my favorite tofu spring rolls from my fav Vietnamese restaurant, a ton of fresh berries (my fav) and a box of Milk Duds (my fav candy).  My stomach was already “iffy” from the dairy indulgence at lunch and I didn’t want to add to the madness, so I skipped the candy.  Yea 44.

My birthday gift this year, you ask?  A ton of milkweed plants.  My daughters and I are passionately involved in providing food and habitats for the monarch butterfly migration through south Texas and my awesome husband bought all of this for our garden.  He is the best.

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My 13 year old daughter participated in a scheduled, 1.5 hour-long web meeting with her college French professor from 6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.. so we planned to stay home.

I put on my comfy PJ’s, finished the laundry and ate my spring rolls while sitting in bed and catching up with my husband’s daily events.  We binge-watched several more ‘Scrubs” episodes until it was time to call it a night.  Yea 44.

Throughout the day, I received sooooooooooooo many texts, calls, and Facebook birthday messages!  I felt like the luckiest woman on Earth.  The BEST day to be on social media is always your birthday, right?!?

I even opened my “real” mailbox to find a birthday card from one of my most treasured, lifelong friends–we met in 3rd grade.  How very lucky I am to still have her in my life!  Yea 44.

As I was closing my eyes to finally rest, I noticed an unfamiliar glow of light coming from the classroom.

Side note:  Our 11 year old sleeps on the floor of our homeschool classroom–it’s been 2 years now.  Yes, she has a bedroom and yes, she has a delightful bed and yes, she chooses to sleep on the hardwood floor.  Click here to read about my life with profoundly gifted children.

From my side of the bed, I can always see her little pile of blankets.   I asked her where the light was coming from and she said she was reading Harry Potter with a book light.  (This is the daughter that believes there is no benefit to reading fiction.)

She wanted to know what happens next in the story.

I smiled and told her she could read for as long as she wanted.  Then, I fell asleep.

Yea 44.

 

 


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Why Is Disney World So Important To My Family?

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Obviously, we love Walt Disney World.  I know I mentioned that my parents took me and my sisters there countless times.  And, I will admit, in the beginning of my own parenting journey, I took my children to Disney purely for the memories and nostalgia factor.

But, somewhere between 2011 and 2014, our family Disney vacations began to evolve and our time in the theme parks started to represent something even more powerful than pure entertainment.

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50’s Prime Time is my youngest daughter’s favorite restaurant because she loves the history and culture of the 1940’s and 1950’s. 

 

It is as simple as this:

My profoundly gifted daughters can be themselves at Disney.

 

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My youngest, driving like a crazy person

 

They can act their chronological age and their mental age at the exact same time, without constantly being self conscious.

And, Disney has become our escape…An escape from our extreme lives.

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Day-to-day, my daughters have to exist in an extreme dichotomy of situations and they constantly have to choose which “version” of themselves to represent.

There is the college student version:  Responsible.  Mature.  Studious.  Goal oriented.  Attentive.  Serious.

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And, then there are the little girl versions…who still enjoy playing with Barbie dolls, sleep with stuffed animals and splash about in swimming pools.

A child-like calmness washes over my daughters when they step onto Main Street, USA.  Instead of college students, they are innocent children ready to tackle Splash Mountain!

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It is a surprising, odd and interesting phenomenon.

The simple joys of Walt Disney World rejuvenate their spirits and relaxes their chaotic brains.  Honestly, it does the exact same thing for me.

My family can enjoy a 5 hour, 10 course dinner at Victoria and Albert’s, learn about hydroponic farming during the Behind The Seeds Tour, study marine life for hours at the Epcot aquarium and giggle uncontrollably while spinning the tea cups inside Magic Kingdom…All in one day, if we choose.

Disney is the perfect balance of everything my family needs.

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Victoria and Albert’s.  December.  2016.

 

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The joy of the tea cups!

 

 

It is freeing and playful.  It is educational, historical and cultural.  It is beautiful and majestic.

There is no other place like it.

 

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Do you want to learn how to plan a Walt Disney World vacation like a pro?  Click here.

Confused about the Disney dining plan?  Click here.

For a list of all character dining meals available at Walt Disney World, click here.

 

 

 


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5 BIG Surprises About My Life With Profoundly Gifted Children

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5 THINGS THAT MIGHT SURPRISE YOU ABOUT MY LIFE WITH EXTRAORDINARY CHILDREN:

1.  We cry A LOT in this house.

A few years ago, the wind swirled the air like a crazy late September hurricane.  In the car-rider line at school, I opened the door to let my daughter out and her science review sheet flew into the oncoming traffic.  I tried to catch the flying paper, but the wind won…and it was quickly out of eyesight.  She knew the material–we studied every night for at least a week.  But, my oldest daughter possesses a strong attachment to THINGS.  To most EVERY thing.  She cares DEEPLY and she cries INTENSELY.  She cries for the homeless.  She cries for orphans.  She cries for shelter animals.  She cries when people cheat.  She cries when something breaks.  And yes…she cries for review sheets…for 25 minutes…sobbing…in the school parking lot…completely devastated.

We cry a lot.

My youngest daughter, LOVES Elvis Presley and of course, she understands that he died years ago.  However, after watching a 4 hour documentary that ended with footage of his casket, my daughter was inconsolable.  Hyperventilating.  Crying out in pure pain and sorrow.  That session lasted a few hours.

Did I mention we cry a lot in this house?

I can think of at least 213 overly emotional stories.  The day my husband sold his car.  The day my oldest daughter learned she was too young to get married.  The time she sobbed because she didn’t know about the permits needed to build an orphanage.  A dead butterfly on the driveway…

Moments like this happen every day.  Several times a day.

I cry, too.  My children require a SUPER MOM…there is NO down time and I worry about my inability to meet their unique needs.  I am ordinary.  I am tired.

This extreme parenting is sometimes just too overwhelming.

Please understand…our house is NOT a sad house.  My girls are just intense.  Emotionally intense.  They FEEL things and experience life on a plane of intensity unfamiliar to my ordinary emotions.  It’s just the way it is.

2.  We still nap.

A big shocker to most outsiders is that my 11 year old desperately needs a daily nap and my life semi-revolves around that schedule as if she was still 3 months old.  That child barely sleeps at night.  Her mind races and spins and dances and wreaks havoc all over this family.  A mid-day nap is an essential part of her survival and ability to function.  On the weekends and during summer vacation, BOTH girls take naps.  Active brains need rest.

3.  We are on a time limit.

With all her 5 senses, my youngest absorbs and filters up to 200% more information than the average person.  I assume my other daughter falls somewhere on that spectrum as well.  That’s a lot of stimuli.  If we are in a visually stimulating, academically engaging environment, time is ALWAYS ticking.  They can only take in so much before the migraines begin.  One daughter gets overwhelmed.  The other gets grouchy.  AND, they shut down.  Time to go home!

A challenging environment with crowds, loud noises, weird smells, or extreme temperatures causes severe anxiety.   I try to stay ahead of the meltdowns and some days, I successfully read the signals.  Other days, I fall victim to the chaos and suffer the consequences right along with my daughters.

4.  We are lonely.

My girls do not receive many birthday party invites.  There are no playdates.  No sleepovers.  No phone calls from friends.  And yes, my daughters still play.

At this moment in time, my daughters PREFER to play with each other.  I think they feel more at ease and can be themselves without feeling odd or weird or different.

I am lonely, too.  There are very few people I can honestly talk to without sounding boastful.  Negative judgements, strong opinions and criticisms come next.  Everyone gets a fraction, a small segment of the truth.  And, my social calendar belongs to my children.  Their needs come first.

5.  School and academics are NOT always easy.

It is an assumption (an incorrect one) that gifted children need very little to be successful in school.  Though my 11-year-old has powered through four years of math in 6 months and is about to complete her second semester in college, she struggles to remember to capitalize the first letter of a sentence.

My 13-year-old won the school and homeschool spelling bee and reads on a post college level, but failed the district reading benchmark test back in the day because her concrete mind can not process inferences or assumptions.  She DOES NOT understand sarcasm, joking or teasing.  She is a black and white thinker.  Right or wrong.  When it comes to reading comprehension, if the answer is not stated in the reading passage, she is utterly LOST.

This brings me to the evil lurking behind a profoundly gifted label:  It is called Asynchronous Development.  And, I HATE it.

Asynchrony is the state of not being synchronized.  (Who came up with THAT definition?)

Essentially, it presents itself as uneven development in gifted kids.  Hence, the need to homeschool. We constantly remind ourselves (and others) that just because my daughters are advanced academically, it DOES NOT mean they are years ahead socially or emotionally…and certainly not physically.

Asynchrony is confusing and frustrating and challenging.  Both girls suffer and excel at the hands of their asynchronous development.  It makes traditional schooling and most learning situations very difficult.

So…

If given the opportunity, especially if presented on a particularly challenging day, I would probably change all of this…if I could. IF I could pick and choose WHICH aspects stayed and which ones disappeared, I would jump at the chance to lessen the burden for my daughters.  YES I WOULD–in a heartbeat!

BUT, the over excitabilities and asynchronous development are part of a package deal.  They all go hand-in-hand with the profoundly gifted diagnosis.  I don’t get to pick and choose…and neither do my girls.  It is part of who they are and my job is to teach them how to manage and cope with ALL aspects of their abilities.

We choose to embrace the positive AND the negative, for without one there is NO balance or appreciation for the other.

It IS what makes them extraordinary.

 

 mono1


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The Top 5 Reasons Why We Chose To Homeschool

By now, I hope you have read my 3 flashback posts.  This is going to be super confusing if you skipped those!

Click here to read part 1.

Click here to read part 2.

Click here to read part 3.

With my son away at college and armed with the new information about my two daughters, I started on a quest to find the best academic fit for my girls.  I Googled and read and emailed and contacted and toured and applied and did so many things…

Nothing was the right fit.

Enter HOMESCHOOL!

I won’t bore you with all of my thoughts, but homeschooling became the obvious option for our family.

This new adventure began in the fall of 2012 for my youngest daughter and in the fall of 2013, my other daughter joined us at home, too.

Hundreds of reasons came clearly into view once we researched what homeschooling is all about and once we started on this homeschooling journey, a million more became evident.

Here are the 5 BIG reasons we love homeschooling our profoundly gifted daughters:

 

1. Freedom to do education our way

Probably one of the most popular reasons to homeschool is the freedom our country gives parents to educate their children in a way that fits each unique family.

Yes, homeschooling is illegal in some countries, like Germany, and each state in the United States has its own laws to govern home education.

For my family, this freedom allows my daughters to both be enrolled in college and still study spelling, history and writing at home.  We have the freedom to learn 4 years of math in 6 months…and yes, that happened.

There isn’t a public or private school out there that can meet the asynchronous academic needs of my daughters, hence the need to homeschool in the first place.

We can educated as quickly or as slowly as needed.

And, we always educate for mastery, not completion.

Yes, my daughters are in college.  They started taking classes when they were 10 and 12.

 

2. Freedom of expression

I get it. My kids are unusual. I have working eyeballs and mommy friends and an active Facebook account…I see the way kids dress and the activities they enjoy doing with their friends.

My 12 year old runs her own charity and wants to open an orphanage.  She is a 2nd degree black belt, a master speller and is a reading machine.  The 11 year old loves Johnny Cash, Elvis, bones, primitive tools, dissections, oddities, conjoined twins and sign language. She wants to be a gynecologist.

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Not typical.

Got it.

My girls can be themselves without people constantly telling them how “weird” they appear…though it still happens once in awhile, the negativity does not consume them on a daily basis and I think it gives them each a chance to be comfortable in their originality and confident enough to withstand the occasional teasing.

3. Freedom to live anywhere

A year after we started our homeschooling journey, I realized we could live anywhere.  School district boundaries no longer decided where our home needed to be built.

We moved to 5.5 acres so our girls could run and play and dig and go on adventures and just be outside!

Nature tends to calm the anxiety and frustrations of our youngest daughter and it is a peaceful environment for all of us!

 

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4.  Freedom to explore interests

My oldest daughter loves marine biology.  My youngest daughter is passionate about American Sign Language.  Neither one of those subjects are taught in traditional public or private schools.

Homeschooling gives my girls the freedom to explore, study, research and enjoy whatever interests they choose to pursue–for as long as they wish.

It also gives me the freedom to pick and choose knowledgeable teachers to teach those different subjects.

 

5.  Freedom to travel and learn “in person”

Ok, let me just say this now–NO, we did not choose to homeschool because we can travel to Walt Disney World whenever we want (preferably when the crowd levels are low).

BUT, it is a delightful perk of homeschooling!  LOL!

Now that my daughters are both taking college classes, our travel options are not as open as they once were…however, my girls prefer to learn “in person”.

What does “in person” mean?

Hands on projects, experiencing academics–not just reading from a textbook.

We visit so many museums, experience so many cool adventures and focus on experiencing the learning process.  Just wait for those review posts to start popping up!

We never read about something in a textbook and take a test the next day.

My girls want to build and create and be active learners–and I love the challenge of discovering how to make that happen– homeschooling provides the option to do just that.

That is why I am obsessed with museums.  Click here to read a review of our favorite museum in Oklahoma!

 

So, now you know all about my little family.

I hope my honestly didn’t cause all of you to run for the hills.

 

 

 


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Flashback Posting Part 3

A few days ago, I came to the conclusion that some people might not know the history behind my family.  I think history is important.– Especially once I start blogging about museums and education adventures…you guys are going to wonder why all of that is so important to my family.

And, I was struggling…feeling disconnected from my blog…

My husband suggested I write about it all.  So, I am.

I wrote 2 other flashback postings to get you all caught up.  You should read #1 here and #2 here.  It will help.

Then I realized…I should have started at the VERY beginning.

Because, naturally, the best place to start is the beginning.  The ordinary beginning.  (Wishing this part was a little more exciting…sorry!)

I hope all of this background info isn’t too snoozer.

Born and raised in Texas…I am the oldest of three girls, mom and dad are still married, and I will be 44 in April.   We traveled to Disneyland and Walt Disney World so many times that no one kept count!  (FUN!) 

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That’s me on the left, my sister on the right.

Pretty Ordinary.

I enjoyed public school in a small suburb of Houston and graduated in 1991.  Academic successes certainly did NOT fill my college applications.  I possessed leadership qualities, won a few art contests, led the dance drill team as the top officer.  Pretty ordinary stuff.

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NEVER been a math person.  Never really enjoyed reading…embarrassing to admit…I always picked up the Cliff Notes right before the book test.  I am super ordinary.

Study skills were a foreign concept until my senior year, when I joined a supportive study group and actually LEARNED how to study for a government test.  I greatly enjoyed the social aspects of high school and pushed the academic focus to the back burner, obviously.

Ready to start a new life and identity, I chose my college based on how far it was from home–without a campus visit or researching the majors offered.  I didn’t even know people visited colleges or that different degrees were attainable at different universities.

The first time I saw my college was the day I moved into my dorm.  Six days later, I met a guy and we started dating.  ORDINARY!  Two years after that, I was blessed with a surprise pregnancy and my son changed everything.

But, don’t assume anything…this is where MY real journey begins.

Four years later, I graduated from college with a Bachelor of Fine Arts, a focus in Studio Art and a K-12 all-level teaching certification and became an art teacher.

 

VERY short version of my ordinary life.  🙂

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WAS an ordinary, single mom with a son and a career as an art teacher.

My son…well he lined up his Matchbox cars by color and body design and the collection would stretch from his room to my bedroom in our tiny apartment.  He taught himself to read at age 3 and could understand simple algebra in Kindergarten.  He carried spiral notebooks full of handwritten math problems and would spend hours solving equations.

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He knew the bones of the human body, loved space and science.  He loved, loved, loved animals.  He was sensitive, thoughtful and compassionate.  He cried EVERY TIME we drove by a dead animal on the side of the road and he cared deeply about people in distress.  He liked super soft things…shirts, socks, and his special pillow.  He wore his cowboy boots everywhere…even to the pool.  And he was very funny and very clever.  My son was not ordinary and I supported him.

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He was my only priority.

I supplemented higher level academics at home because he asked for it and met with teachers all through his school career because I was his mom.  That was MY job.  I didn’t know what I didn’t know and I certainly NEVER even considered grade acceleration or testing.  I didn’t know that existed.

I was young.  I never lost sleep.

I was never overwhelmed with worry about the public school not meeting his needs.  I never obsessed about bullies.  I didn’t stress about his future. I never researched or read a book or joined a support group–never considered it.  I was just HIS mom and he was my world.   I thought my son was interesting, smart and well-adjusted.  (And, he is!)

Looking back, I believe his social skills and physical looks made his journey drama-free and enjoyable.  His over excitabilities are mild.   He is the lucky one.  My daughters certainly struggle more.

The boy IS smart…but he is also handsome.  And he is VERY athletic…football and rugby and anything else he can try!  And handsome.  And very social.  And handsome.  (Did I mention handsome?)

If I told you that he started taking college courses at age 15 or that he scored a perfect 800 on the math portion of the SAT or that he collects vintage video gaming systems, would you picture this guy?

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Probably not!  LOL!

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My son will be 24 in April.  He graduated from high school with 48 college credit hours and a TON of academic successes filled his college applications…as well as his work experience, sports history and volunteer hours.

Four years later, he graduated from one of the top colleges in the nation.

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Well-rounded, adjusted, happy AND very intelligent.  He makes my heart happy.

 

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And, that precious, little boy prepared me for the next challenge in my journey.

Like I mentioned in my flashback posts (read #1 here) and (read #2 here), my first daughter was born when my son was 11 and my second daughter came along 18 months later.

So, if you want me to do the math for you (which is funny because I can’t do math), my son left for college just a few days before my youngest daughter started Kindergarten!  LOL!

It was a little nutty back then.

But, by the end of that school year, we finally learned that both of my daughters were profoundly gifted.  The kind of “gifted” that usually isn’t successful in public school gifted programs.

Disclaimer part:  Since some of my readers do not know me personally, I will just let all of you know that we believe ALL children have gifts.  “Gifted” is just the term used to describe people with extraordinary abilities.  I do not believe my children were “gifted” something extra because they are more special than other children.  I didn’t come up with the term “gifted”, so don’t shoot the messenger.

And, incase some of you are wondering, my son chose not to be professionally tested.