How Are You 4?!

How are you 4?! For every tear I cry over how quickly time passes us by, there’s a happy tear right behind it for the excitement I feel for the next day & the upcoming years… How many memories we’ll make & how I know every day from here on out has purpose bc you’re in it! Your mommy & daddy are so proud of the kind, smart, confident, beautiful little ladies you are.
Just a few ways you’re growing up as we’ve hit FOUR:
  • Dressing yourselves completely – Kara Rose, you often say to me, “Mommy, please leave the room while we change, so we can introduce ourselves when we’re all ready.” (You slowly walk out like a princess or tip-toe out like a ballerina and we “Ooooo” and “Aaaahhhh” over the very creative nicely put right? choices you’ve made)
  • Cleaning up your room – Zoe, you specifically love to make your room look like ‘artwork’ rearranging your toys & animals every night before bed so it looks just right… You actually consider it punishment if we tell you it’s too late to do your room.
  • Letting the dog in & out and help feed him.
  • Getting your own silverware out of the drawer – again, Zo, you love to set the table for everyone & make it look pretty (seeing a pattern)?
  • Basically don’t want me to help you do anything, washing you in the bath (insert the Scrubba Dubba Dance), brushing your teeth (although I must), picking out any part of your outfit at any point (pjs, play clothes, church & school clothes)

 

Current favorites: Color purple, all fruit, animals, playing soccer, break-dancing, reading, mommy cuddles, watching TV/movies, telling your sister what to do.
Kara Rose: Your kind, nurturing heart – you love to make sure everyone is cared for & cry if you think you hurt someone’s feelings or accidentally hurt your sister. However, you’re so smart that you also love to correct people (even adults) and you take the leadership role in every scenario, but you’re already the kind of leader I want to be because every time someone needs to step up & be the bigger person, it’s always you. You already have incredible work ethic & are extremely tenacious. You tell me you love me SO MOOOUUCH every chance you get and promise no matter how grown up you get, you’ll always be my angel. I pray you always remember that taking the high road & being kind is the best way to live life, even though it’s a tough path, my sensitive one.
Current favorites: Color pink, taking pictures, flowers & butterflies, ballet, drawing, taking care of baby dolls, your sister.

 

Zoe: You’re so wild & rough, yet you want to know just the right way to hold and care for your baby dolls. You’re so hard on yourself & get mad if you don’t get something right the first time. You hold my face in your hands and tell me I’m beautiful. Every night in bed, you whisper secrets in my ear and usually you say “I will always love you.” or “You are God’s little princess.” You live life with abandon, my nature-loving, free-spirit – I pray that you hold onto every ounce of it.
Most of all, you’re truly best friends and love each other and everyone around you.  I think you’ve got the “Love God & love your neighbor” thing down – don’t lose it, it’s a tough world out there. You both already know that God loves you & Jesus is your best friend – that’s all you need to remember… and that Mommy loves you bigger than the whole world.
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10 Things I Want You to Know that I Can’t Teach You

The things I want to teach them during these years I’ve been given to raise them are countless. I actually have a pretty extensive list, but… priorities… and they’re 3 (almost 4 but I don’t want to hear that) and if I tried to write it all down, I’d never hit publish! So here are just 10 I’d like to focus on now, because it’s just never too early to raise them in truth. These crucial things, I can’t teach them – knowledge that will only come as a result of life experiences, creating a faith community around them, and doing my best to be their example. I won’t always do it right, but this is my hope and prayer…

 

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My precious girls, please know that:

* You are perfect and loved, not because of anything you’ve done, but because you were made that way.

* You can’t control how people treat you, but you can control how you react to it.

* You are amazing! There is no one like you. No one!

* True happiness is found in love – giving & receiving love, not things. Although, love can hurt, things will leave you empty.

* Bravery doesn’t mean doing something scary – it means standing up for yourself & for others.  Listening to your own voice over your peers and doing what you feel is right, for you.

* Failure is nothing to fear. If you let it, failure can show you how resilient you are and give you the chance to star in your very own comeback story.

* Being happy or not is up to you.

* If you’re going to take a big risk and bet on anything, bet on yourself.

* Your identity isn’t found in anyone or anything – through Christ, alone, you have been made whole.

* I love you.  You don’t have to do anything to deserve it – I just do, with all my heart.

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Why I Don’t Correct The Kraze when They ‘Get It Wrong’

The Kraze (KR&Z) has this incredible ability to come to a conclusion and boldly proclaim it, with zero self doubt… as do most children their age.  I wrote last year about some of the funny things they were saying at the time (I need to write another because I don’t want to forget these cute thoughts & full stories they now share with us).  But this is different… I’m talking about the incredible capacity for innovation children have.

 

Here are a few of my favorite examples from the Kraze themselves:

  • When singing along to the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse song, they sing “M-I-C-K-E-Y I love you, you see” (when the words are: “M-o-u-s-e”)
  • “Almost fun it is to ride in a one horse somethin’ slay – hey!” (Jingle Bells)
  • Patty-cake, patty-cake… Bake me a cake, trac-tor sand (as fast as you can)
  • *My favorite Calvin Harris/Rhiana: “This is What You Came For” – Kara Rose sings at the top of her lungs “…this is whatcha get!” (instead of “…but she’s lookin’ at”) – listen t the song again, you’ll hear it!

My absolute favorite: Sir Ken Robinson’s example: When his son was a young boy, he was in a Nativity play. When the 3 wise men came out with their gifts, the 1st boy said, “I bring you gold”, 2nd boy, “I bring you myrrh”, and the 3rd boy said, “Frank sent this”.  Baahahaha! I chuckle out loud ev-er-y time I think about this!

They don’t double-triple check themselves to make sure it’s right before they’ll give it go.

I’m so impressed by their creativity and ability to think on their feet, that I don’t dare correct them.
– Just the other day, at breakfast, Zoe saw a mural on the wall & said, “Look at that cool fish!”  After a few seconds, I could absolutely see how she saw a fish when she looked at it, but it was actually an old coffee spigot.  She doesn’t know what a spigot is, so I didn’t tell her any different. What an imagination she has to look at something she’s never seen before and make out an image of something more familiar to her!      – Kara Rose believes she is the best reader in the world, when in fact she has an amazing auditory memory & can recite full books (like several), word for word as she turns the pages.  She might miss a word or even leave a line out sometimes, but when she looks up at me after each page, she’s going to get a smile, thumbs up or ‘way to go’ regardless… And she’ll tell you, “Reading is one of my favorite things to do… I’m so good at it!”
Now understand me here, I won’t let them call a circle a square or something red that is in fact yellow, but with these harmless instances, they’ll figure it out one day… for now, I’m more worried about maintaining their confidence & fostering that creativity than ‘getting it right all the time’.

Having a picnic in the park and Kara Rose suddenly exclaims, “Look! God made an elephant out of the clouds!!” You know, when you take a second to look at it, you see it too!

The point…

Kids will take a chance – if they don’t know, they’ll at least try – they’re not frightened of being wrong. We stigmatize mistakes & we run our education systems where mistakes are the worst thing you can make… *We’re educating people out of their creative capacities. I’m not saying being wrong is the same as being creative, but if you’re not prepared to be wrong, you’ll never come up with anything original.

*Creativity: the process of having original ideas that have value

My brother and I were having the ‘education path’ discussion, regarding our children, although we view education for our children quite differently (and that is perfectly fine! See next to last paragraph).    He goes on to tell me that his son’s school is counting their students answers wrong, even when the answer is right, only because the child didn’t get TO that answer the ‘correct’ way… since, I’ve found they’re among the majority doing this.  Are you kidding me?  Since when did school believe they had the right to tell children HOW to think?!  America’s educational system is simply based on conformity, which is the antitheses of creativity and innovation – it’s a system that was originally created to meet the needs of industrialism, but *education is not a mechanic system, it’s a human system.Picasso said, “All children are born artists. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.”  Did you know, almost all children from the ages of 3-7 test in the 90th percentile for creativity?! BUT every year after that, it dramatically declines.  We focus on educating only children’s minds & really only one side.  Academic ability dominates our view of intelligence. The consequence is highly talented, brilliant people think they’re not because what they were good at wasn’t valued or was completely stigmatized.

Story time…

A little girl, in the 1930’s, was ‘having trouble in school’.  The school wrote to her parents saying she had a learning disorder because she couldn’t be still & focus, so her mother took her to a doctor. After she spoke to him about their issues and the doctor evaluated her, he said “Gillian isn’t sick, she’s a dancer.” The mother put her in a dance school & the little girl said it was full of people just like her, people who had to move to think. In this day, someone would have put her on medication & told her to calm down.  Now, you may know of her – Gillian Lynne, the choreographer of the longest running Broadway show in history, Cats.

My older brother was 3 grades ahead of me & I was practically writing his literature papers for him before I even got to high school, so he would help me with math & science.  Who do you think got into an Ivy League school & who barely got into college at all because I could. not. take. a standardizeda synonym for conformity test for the life of me?!  After taking a ‘gap year’, I decided to attend a fine arts college where I graduated summa cum laude with a 4.0. It wasn’t until I went to an ‘alternative college’ that I realized my own potential.

 

 

My little girl who has to move to think

School is about to start in a couple weeks and I am so freaking excited this year because we’ve found a school, here in our new city, whose philosophies match our beliefs on education.  I’ve been told more than once, “If you don’t like the system, maybe you should homeschool them.  Education is standard for a reason – they can’t individualize it for every child.” Well, well, well, if we didn’t find a school that believes in individualized education as a top priority. They believe children should be children, not sitting quietly in desks for hours.  They believe in self-paced learning. And believe it or not, they also aren’t so worried about every answer being 100% correct, as long as they can see that the child is processing the information and demonstrating their knowledge in a way that shows progression and understanding.

Guys, I have twins. They are. not. the. same. especially when it comes to how they learn or what they’re interested in. This is where my passion for this subject matter was born! What is right for my children, may not be for yours OR crazy thought, what is right for one of your children, may not be right for the other! You are your child’s parent.  Trust your instinct. Decide what matters to you most and get involved.  Don’t just take things for face value. And stand up for what you believe in.  Every child has a dream & our job to protect it. In fact, I think Katrina Kennison basically sums up my feelings about this: “One of the greatest challenges I’ve faced as a mother-especially in these anxious, winner-takes-all times-is the need to resist the urge to accept someone else’s definition of success and to try to figure out, instead, what really is best for my own children, what unique combination of structure and freedom, nurturing and challenge, education and exploration, each of them needs in order to grow and bloom.”

 

What it really boils down to

is not my beliefs about education, but my beliefs about humans…  We need to use the gift of human imagination wisely. The only way we’ll flourish in the future “is by seeing our children for the hope that they are*”.  Our task is to educate their WHOLE being so they can face the future – though we may not see the future, they WILL & our job is to help them make something of it.

*Ken Robinson: TED Talk

 

 

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Insight on Our Trip to Disney: Turning Three

It’s always been a dream of mine to take my children to Disney World (I never went as a child). With the combination of ‘free under 3’ when I’m used to paying double for everything & their love for all things Mickey & Friends and princesses, we decided this was the best time for their first trip, and if I may say so, it was the perfect time. There is a fairly small window between being old enough to know the characters & being able to handle the exhaustion excitement and being young enough to truly believe & be wowed by all the magic, which was the best part to witness.  You’ll see…
Warning: extremely photo heavy post – and this is actually highly paired down!
If you want tips and details on how we planned our trip, head over here.  
To see behind the magic of it all…
We drove in on a Saturday night, after their birthday party, so we decided to stay our first night in The Castle Hotel (much less expensive than staying on property, yet a seriously great start to our trip) It looks like a white castle & all the staff referred to The Kraze as ‘Princess’ the entire time, what more could you want?!
We slept in to recover from our road trip and party madness the day before… ate breakfast by the pool, opened a few presents from Grammy & Pops & got a good nap in before heading to Disney.

Day 1: Epcot (half day)

Walking into our first park, the cool touristy mom, with my camera and map ready game face on!

*Tip: I totally recommend making a stroller sign to hang on the handle bars so you can easily spot yours in the sea of strollers.

We decided Epcot would be the perfect park to start off with just a half-day, as there really isn’t much for their age group here, but in my opinion, the best way to set the tone for the trip.  Starting with a meet & greet with Mickey & his friends was absolutely perfect. 
I mean just look at this beaming smile!

Day 2: Animal Kingdom all day

You might notice a theme throughout: Kara Rose is being held in almost all the character photos.  She absolutely loved them… until they got close. Then she would hide behind us.  She’ll literally tell you, “I’m just a little bashful.”  That’s ok my little girl, you own it!

Zoe’s little thumbs in the corner of this pic…
My best attempt at getting a photo of our shirts I made.

Not surprisingly, she favored the rides, and would say “Higher!” “Faster!”


And this is how they felt about me taking their picture by the end of the day… and by that, I mean after lunch.

After nap (yes, we got naps in every day!)…

Look at that brave girl going to Baloo all on her own…
King Louie really wants a hug from you too…
Aaaaannnnd… she ran, but was happy to pose for the picture as long as someone held her!

But wait!  When she’s in her element (pretty much anything to do with singing & dancing), she’s as brave as they come.  She was actually IN the show and went around the entire stage on her own!! 
I cried I was so proud and happy for her! 
Again, no shocker, she favored the shows & Festival of the Lion King was probably our favorite.

He was thrilled I made us shirts!

Best attempt at getting them to both smile for the camera together before leaving Animal Kingdom.
*Tip: These bags were perfect for carrying their autograph books & pens!

Day 3 (AM): Hollywood Studios 

Anxiously awaiting her breakfast with Doc @Hollywood & Vine

A surprise dance party with her very favorite, Sophia!
This smile is what I was talking about. I mean Zoe = cloud 9!

Holding out her princess gown for Sophia
Sully & Mike Wazowski are consistent faves so we just couldn’t miss them while we were here!

Where else would we be with this level of excitement but the Frozen Sing-Along?!

How can I not include a pic of Daddy kissing one of his girls?!
Sometimes he’s just as difficult as the little ones!

Day 3 (PM): Magic Kingdom

Of ALL the things to do at Disney, the carousel was one of their favorites.

Cinderella’s Happily Ever After Dinner @ 1900 Park Fare

She was quite smitten with Prince Charming! Kara Rose was too “bashful”.

I mean the utter joy…
*Tip: If you’re celebrating a birthday, wear your birthday badge everywhere you go & you’ll get one of these – breakfast, lunch & dinner.
Her name means ‘life’ and she’s full of it. Her favorite person to make laugh is…
her sister – her biggest fan.
Day 4: Magic Kingdom all day
After 4 days and 1,000 pictures later, this was the best I could get… and it was only breakfast (which happened to be our favorite)
We had to carry that cupcake umbrella around with us the entire day (yes, even at breakfast they get cupcakes at Disney).

 Then Pluto came up and wanted a bite…
He just got it all over his nose, then thought my face would be a good place to wipe it off.

But was nice enough to clean it off for me… The Kraze definitely thought it was funny.

The Tea Cups were definitely a favorite – I lost count how many times we rode them.
I’ll just say, you only know how funny this is if you know my dad. I’ll also say, grandparents will do just about anything for their grandchildren, especially this Pops.
*Tip: The Birthday Badges got them in every show they wanted to be in.
We went to the pool back at our resort for lunch & fun before nap time, since we knew it would be a late night…
Dinner at Chef Mickey’s!
This is real life guys… bbq sauce on my elbow and didn’t even know it… or that Mickey was right behind me.
Zo obviously really enjoyed her gazillionth cupcake of the trip.
This was right before Wishes started at 9:45PM, and they were still going strong(-ish), thanks to all the continued excitement… and sugar from the cupcakes.

Day 5 (Last Day/Half Day): Magic Kingdom:

*Speaking of the birthday badge, Peter Pan noticed them from the stage & shouted Happy Birthday to them in the middle of the show!!
This was the best thing we just happened upon! 
You should actually schedule it in so you don’t miss it!
Tinkerbell had to have been our favorite character.  She really interacted with the girls and took a lot of time with them.

We ended our trip with a relaxing picnic on the lawn while the Festival of Fantasy Parade (in the background) went by.
There’s no way you’ll squeeze everything into one trip, which is really great because you leave feeling filled with happiness but plenty more to look forward to for next time… in a couple years. Whew!
The Kraze celebrating three at Disney see what I did there? was truly a dream come true for all of us!
For tips on planning your time in the parks (how we didn’t wait in a single line more than 10 minutes) & how to make the happiest place on earth even more magical, stay tuned for the next post!
?Do you have any special Disney memories or tips to share? Please let us know in the comments (I’m sure this won’t be our last trip)!



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Valentine’s Day Party with a Purpose: Sharing the Love

I happen to love Valentines Day.  I LOVE love and the reminder to set time aside to show those we love the most. Of course, it’s easy to show our children how much we love them, but are we teaching them how to love others?  There are two things that 3-5 year olds totally understand: 1) Superheros and 2) wanting to feel loved. I’m a sucker for the children in children’s hospitals and their parents, and it was easy to explain that there are children in hospitals that have real battles that they bravely fight every day, which makes them REAL Superheroes… and we want them to know they’re not alone & they are loved.  We’re so thankful to Henri’s Bakery for hosting us and their ah-maz-ing treats.  Keep scrolling to find out what they were and see all the love-ly details and a couple free downloads at the end!
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