Craving Dole Whip

Disney & museum obsessed, homeschooling mom of 3, parenting to focus on experiences, not possessions. Sharing Disney tips, educational adventures and a few reviews. Constantly craving Dole Whip.


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The Dutch Apple Dinner Theater in Lancaster, PA–Experience Adventure 31 of 100

For holidays and birthdays, my family and I typically forgo traditional gifts.  No chocolate bunny on Easter.  No huge red heart on Valentine’s Day.  We focus on gifting educational items (books, kits, crafts, DVD’s) and experiences everyone can enjoy (tickets to a lecture, concert, museum).

In celebration of Valentine’s Day 2018, I bought my family tickets to see Ring Of Fire at the Dutch Apple Dinner Theater in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.

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The Dutch Apple Dinner Theater features Broadway-worthy productions and performances, enjoyable concerts and fun children’s shows.  As a popular, live entertainment establishment, the Dutch Apple Dinner Theater captivates audiences of all ages, sharing a love of music and talent for more than 30 years in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.

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Venue doors opened at 6:00 pm for dinner and the program began at 7:30 pm.  We visited on a Friday evening, with a prime rib buffet offered before the show, which was included in our ticket price.  The buffet featured traditional American, (what I would call home-cook’n) style food, with a decent salad bar and a variety of homemade desserts.  For those interested,  The Dutch Apple also offers a full service bar.

Tables, assigned by the tickets purchased, designate seats for dinner and the show.  My family enjoyed meeting and sharing our ‘section A’ table with a friendly, older couple.  Most tables seat 4, our table sat 8, but I also saw a few smaller tables with only 2 chairs and some floating 6 toppers.

The friendly servers and staff were attentive and personable, consistently checking if drinks needed refills, which is always appreciated and often overlooked in a buffet-dining situation.

About 7: 15 pm, the buffet closed and the tables were quickly and efficiently cleared and cleaned to prepare for the beginning of the show.

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The production of Ring of Fire chronicles the extraordinary and challenging life of legendary singer Johnny Cash through entertaining musical theater.  The talent, the music, the performance and the professionalism blew us away!  WOW! 

Every scene captivated the audience with a phenomenal cast of über talented  performers who joyfully danced and played multiple instruments while singing over 30 Johnny Cash songs.  The show created an engaging timeline of the musician’s troubled life with stand out, brilliant performances by Emily Woods and Candice Lively.

Act 1 focused on Johnny Cash’s boyhood years, Opry and fame, with Act 2 showcasing the dark years, redemption and celebration.

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The level of talent and entertainment found at the Dutch Apple was extraordinary and charming–live theater at its BEST!

Put The Dutch Apple Dinner Theater on your “Must-Do in Lancaster” list!  

Celebrating their 32nd season, future shows for 2018 include Showboat, Grease, The Wizard of Oz, Swing, Sister Act and A Christmas Carol.  I wish we could stay in Pennsylvania long enough to see all of these performances!

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We hope to visit again soon to enjoy at least one more production.  🙂

**The Dutch Apple Dinner Theater will also feature 6 concerts and 5 children’s shows during the 2018 season.

The Dutch Apple  Dinner Theater is owned by the Prather family and is located at 510 Centerville Road, Lancaster, Pennsylvania, 17601.  For more information, call 717-898-1900 or visit their website (and purchase tickets!) at www.DutchApple.com

Ticket prices vary by type and performance day.  See ticket pricing below:

Tuesday & Wednesday: $59 per person

6:00 Dinner and 7:30 Show

Thursday–Served Dinner: $61 per person

5:30 Dinner and 7:30 Show

Friday & Saturday–Prime Rib Buffet: $65 per person

6:00 Dinner and 7:30 Show

Sunday: $59 per person

5:30 Dinner and 7:00 Show

Matinees: $55 per person

11:45am Lunch and 1:15pm Show

Students 13-18: $29 per student

All performances for dinner and show

Children 12 and under: $25 per child

All performances for dinner and show

Show Only Tickets: $40 for adults

Show Only Tickets: $22 for children

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For other fun things to do while in Lancaster, click on these links!

Lancaster Sweet Shoppe

Lancaster Central Market

Burning Bridge Antiques

 

 

 

 

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The Birth Of A Homeschool Guru

I wrote 3 very long (sorry!) and candid “flashback” postings last year, detailing the process of the beginning of my family’s unique journey. This week, I re-shared those honest posts and got a TON of traffic and feedback. Thank you everyone!

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Today, I looked through those entries and decided to tell the rest of the story.

So…here you go! Better grab some coffee and a muffin. (Or tea and some Milk Duds!)

This is going to take a minute.

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After my two daughters took the full scale IQ tests, we FINALLY knew the reasons for our extreme home-life. My girls NEEDED to learn.

NOW.

It isn’t like we never taught them stuff before. We ALWAYS read to our children. Offered workbooks in the summer, bought all of the “Little Einstein” videos and music CD’s, encouraged a “tinkering” mindset., limited time in front of the TV, etc. The problem was…the environment, the offerings, the access, the amount and the pace…It was just not enough…

As I mentioned before, over-excitabilities come with the gifted territory–even more pronounced and severe in the profoundly gifted individual. I have two of those living in my house and they experience our world in a way that is foreign and strange to me–and that will never EVER change.

How did I even start to bridge the obvious gap?

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I started where most desperate parents begin–looking and searching for the “right” academic fit for my kids (specifically my youngest daughter). The psychologist who administered the full scale IQ tests suggested a visit to an unique school in Houston–a school designed to accommodate the varying and accelerated needs of gifted children.

Wasting no time, I immediately made the appointment for a tour. My youngest daughter skipped her public school kindergarten to experience one day at the gifted school. That afternoon, the head of the gifted school pulled me into his office. Of course, I felt that all-to-familiar fear that my daughter’s behavior somehow tarnished her visit.

Nope. Wrong again, hyper-vigilant mom.

I am wrong a lot.

Let me tell you, it is SUPER difficult to be the dumbest person in your own home. And… I am not just saying that so everyone messages me and tells me that I am smart, too. Nope. It is a proven fact that I fall to the bottom of the intelligence totem pole in this family. I have the scores to prove it. LOL.

Anyway, the head of school proceeded to show me a few scores from other enrolled students. By this time in my journey, I only knew a few things about the gifted world. But, I DID know enough to understand our interaction and to deduce what he was trying to explain without making it too obvious. This “gifted” school could not help my daughter.

A super quickie tutorial:

Human intelligence exists on a bell curve–yep–just like the one you wished your college professor put into place for each exam.

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About 95% of the world’s population operates within the range of 70 to 130. 100 is considered an average IQ.

***Please understand that several intelligence tests only evaluate certain traits–and each test has a different score ceiling. For example, one test might not allow testers to achieve anything higher than 150. Another test might go as high as 200. So, the IQ number itself is not as important as the percentage. The percentage ceiling for any test is 99.9%. But, for simplicity, I am using this number scenario.

125 to 130 is the typical threshold for a public school gifted program. The average score accepted by Mensa is between 130 and 132–Again, it depends on which test was taken. A score in this range represents about 4% of our population and the same can be said of the opposite side of the bell curve–about 4% of our population falls beneath an IQ of 70.

As the bell curve travels further from the middle (or average), the percentages get smaller and smaller…until you reach the super far left or super far right. Once IQ range hits 145, the percentage is already hovering around .1% of the world’s population. That is a very small number of people.

My two daughters fall in that tiny .1% because they both scored in the 99.9% on a full-scale test.

So…when that man at the gifted school in Houston showed me the scores of other enrolled students, it was his not-so-obvious way to “tell” me that my daughter would not find her people at his school. She received an official acceptance into the establishment, but there were no “.1%-ers” there.

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I left his office and cried the super ugly cry in my car for about an hour.

And cried on and off again for several more days.

Here is where this post gets real people. Real and honest and hard to admit…

Like allllllllllll people, I tend to form opinions about topics that I have little to no actual or direct experience or knowledge. It is a not-so-popular thing to admit, but we ALL do it. **Everyone has an opinion about the military, but the percentage of soldiers and their families in the general population is actually quite small. Do you have an opinion about teen pregnancy??? How many of you have gone through that? Everyone has an opinion about divorce…but not everyone has suffered through the devastation of a cheating spouse.

Everyone has an opinion about everything. It is just the way the human brain works.

So, along those lines…I formed an opinion about homeschooling. I had VERY LITTLE personal experience with educational options outside of the public school system. My son attended a traditional school, K-12, and I was an art teacher for 7 years–all public school background. I saw students pulled from school by angry parents and then witnessed the same (and exhausted) parents return those students several months later–usually to the determent of that child.

I lectured friends about the downsides to homeschooling. (sorry Kim!) I made faces when homeschooling was mentioned in conversations. I was not a fan. Not a supporter. No way. Nopers. Just no.

Be careful what you joke about and be SUPER careful when you form opinions about topics you have no direct, personal experience…it will come back to bite you in the self-righteous butt.

I speak from experience.

Life sure is funny sometimes, right?

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Faced with no viable educational options for our youngest daughter, I started researching ‘homeschool’. (YIKES!) Watch me swallow this huge pill.

By the end of my daughter’s kindergarten year, I knew I was going to educate her at home. I contacted every homeschooling parent I knew (which was only 3 at that time!) and I asked a million silly questions–I didn’t know what I didn’t know, you know?!? 🙂

I bought books and read anything I could find on home education and parenting gifted individuals. I wanted to know about the various learning styles and differentiating curriculum. I poured over studies about academic acceleration and extreme academic acceleration–highlighting, underlining and dog-earing everything I found relevant.

If I was going to be solely responsible for educating my daughter, I wanted to do it right.

And, homeschooling offered the freedom for my daughter to pursue specialized interests–like American Sign Language and chemistry–when she was 6 years old.

My next mission was to find someone willing to teach her those things–because I knew NOTHING about those subjects. It did not take me long to realize that our “homeschool” would not take place at home. My daughter did not need ME to teach her–she needed me to become an expert researcher and fierce advocate for extreme acceleration.

My journey was just beginning.

I will write more soon, friends. 🙂

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If you missed it, read about my family in these flashback postings:

Flashback 1

Flashback 2

Flashback 3

Why do we homeschool? Read the top 5 reasons here!

5 surprises about my life with profoundly gifted children–read this.


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BIG changes! BIG adventures!

It has certainly been awhile since I have had anything worthy of posting in this blog.  I spent the last summer and fall semester shuttling my daughters back and forth to college and taekwondo, with not much time for anything else.

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Hurricane Harvey left behind complete devastation in Houston and the surrounding areas, but we were fortunate enough to only have flooding on our land and no damage to our home.  We were, however, in the beginning stages of some home renovations, so that put a kink in the scheduling logistics.

The extensive time I willingly dedicate to my children’s schedules and our extreme way of life is always time well spent, but the last 6 months drained my reserves and left my heart aching for an escape.

That crazy season has finally come to an end (for now) and a new adventure is on the snowy, and very chilly horizon!  My husband was offered and snagged one of the last available in-residency spots at the Army War College.  (He was enrolled in the online program when he received the call.)

My husband is super cool.

Located in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, the Army War College is a masters degree program for senior military leaders and International Fellow students and is a year long commitment.

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My awesome husband moved to PA and entered the Army War College in the summer of 2017, while I stayed behind and continued homeschooling and supporting our daughters.  The girls were already registered for fall college classes in Texas and we decided to stick to that commitment.

–Cue the time for home renovations, Harvey survival-mode and a stressed-out momma lifestyle.

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So, now that the fall semester, Christmas and New Years fun are all in the past, what is next for our extraordinary family?

I am glad you asked.

My daughters and I decided to join my husband in Carlisle for a 6 month sabbatical–an educational journey like no workbook or classroom can provide!

Our goal is to participate in 100 educational experiences–visiting museums, monuments, classes, tours, festivals and all kind of events.

That’s right.  I said 100.  

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It might be a lofty goal, but guess what?!?  We have nothing but time–time and an intense desire to accumulate knowledge.

OH!  And did I mention, there will be a Walt Disney World vacation thrown in the mix, too?  Well, of course there will!  DUH!  Would you expect anything less from me?!?

So…hold on tight my friends–we are taking you along for the ride!  I plan to blog about ALL 100 of our excursions and adventures and you get to experience the evolution of our homeschooling journey as it unfolds.

Stay tuned!  We are just getting started!

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If you aren’t familiar with my family, feel free to read about our extraordinary journey here.  And here.  And here.

 

 

 


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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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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.

 

rc11

 

 

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

freddy6

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 12 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 12-year-old once powered through four years of math in 6 months and began her college career at age 10, she struggles to remember to capitalize the first letter of a sentence.  For real.

My 14-year-old won the public school (when she was 8) and homeschool spelling bee and read on a post college level at age 6, 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.  My youngest daughter is a 75 year old man trapped in a 12 year old girl’s body.

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 (and social interactions) 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

 

How did I become a homeschooling momma?  Read this.