Friday, May 31, 2013

Charleston-Part 2

     This past gymnastics meet was our first out- of- state meet. We were giddy about the location because Charleston is one of our favorite places and holds fond memories with our older kids and we were so excited to share it again with the little people. We were able to tour Boone Hall Plantation again after being there with our big kids almost 20 years ago (!!!).  Nature Girl and Blondie had just finished studying the  colonization of the southern states so they knew all about slavery, plantation life, crops, and emancipation. Mei Mei just turned cartwheels and handsprings all over the place.....and tolerated the tours. She'll catch on to our history fever one day!
     We also did a walking tour of Downtown Charleston and did the same in Historic Downtown Savannah. We hung out in the same park I went to as a little girl to feed the pigeons. Ahhhh....the memories of childhood with no pressures, worries or cares. We wanted these girlies to have the same. Enjoy the photos.....
They can't stand to be apart. A wadded up pile of awesome sisterhood.


Picking cotton!

Handwoven seagrass baskets like the slaves made.


Actual copies of records found on the property. Look closely at this and the following.

These are original slave quarters dating back to the 1700's. Amazingly restored. Each one housing two or more families in 325 sq. ft. 

The Gullah Lady storyteller sang-storied the lives of slaves. Unbelievable.

The girls met and loved Miss Jackie.

These brick slavehouses were closest to the big house so the 'upper-tier' slaves lived here. The field hands didn't have as nice accommodations.

Said this was her favorite day ever!

One of my fav pics ever of the girls. If you saw the movie The Notebook, it was filmed on this plantation. The river in the movie is the one behind the girls.


We walked Downtown Charleston to this crepe place. Yum. Perfect.

Monday, May 27, 2013

They Need A Skill--Regional AAU Gymnastics Meet Charleston-Part 1

     If you read here you may remember when both Mei Mei and Blondie made Team Florida's Regional AAU gymnastics team. This past weekend we traveled to "Chaaaallllssstttonnn" (said with drawl....) to compete in the Regional meet. Both the Doc and I were (are) exhausted from the last few weeks of work so the minute we got in the car with these 3 ladies our first thoughts were....."Now why in the heck are we doing this?" Well, it all goes back to one philosophy of child rearing that we have stuck to. They need a physical skill.
     We as parents firmly believe that our kiddos will be more successful and confident in their vocations and well, life later on if they learn a skill of discipline as a child. The children of today's generation rarely get up at the crack of dawn and work in the fields on the farm all day like generations past. Life has progressively gotten easier for the younger gang. Most kids today don't know what it is to really work getting your hands dirty, up at daybreak, working your fingers to the bone hard that requires concentration, discipline, and effort. We want our kids to have this work ethic, in fact, we require it of them. Because we don't live on a farm, once they are old enough, it's expected of our kids that they pick something that is theirs....that they call their own, as a skill/discipline... then they are required to work it as a commitment so they learn this focus and discipline. Although like all of us, they don't always like it when it becomes 'work', they are learning valuable skills that they will carry with them far beyond when the activity of their choosing is a distant memory. The discipline of work is what we parents are after here......not winning medals......not scoring huge......not being a child-centered family in all our activities. The goal is raising adults who are not afraid to tackle hard when it slaps them in the face as adults. Knowing a skill and being reasonably good at it gives them confidence (even if they don't know it at the time), as they press on through the treacherous waters of adolescence and young adulthood. Knowing a skill requires extreme focus in the midst of distractions which they will encounter the rest of their lives. Knowing a skill enables them to go into a job interview confidently because they aren't afraid of difficult....and they will have something on their resume to prove it. Knowing a skill enables them to go above and beyond the call of duty when their boss pushes up that deadline so they have to put in double the hours on a project. Knowing a skill keeps them from feeling entitled to things in life because they know the value of humble work. It's the way our family lives. We want our kids to know they can achieve far beyond what they consider their own limits.....have fun at it, and push themselves when something doesn't come easily at first. It's amazing to watch.
     We start off when they are little, watching them to determine what they are interested in, what their aptitudes are, and go from there. We introduce them to many different activities and let them pick and choose what they like and dislike. It's just as an important part of their education as Math is to us.....and no, when they are little we don't spend alot of money on it. ......mostly time. All 5 kids of ours are incredibly different and have surprised us with what they have chosen.....well most of them.
     This year Blondie and Mei Mei both tried dance (one loves it, the other doesn't but she had to stick with it because we committed (the hard part). We have a friend with a dance studio so this was a no brainer place to begin. They both also wanted to try competitive gymnastics. We knew early on that Mei Mei was going to be little and strong as an ox. She's very coordinated and gymnastics comes naturally for her. She has had to overcome attachment issues and extreme shyness so we decided competition would help her..... 1. talk to people (enough said) 2. not hide behind me so much ( I still have to peel her off me) and 3. she's just plain good at it and needs to use her God given talent. Blondie on the other hand was itching to try it too. We had a dilemma. When two sisters are in the same sport, how would they handle it when one does better than the other? Blondie is an expert runner but is very tall and has long legs. She's not necessarily built like a gymnast but then neither are alot of other gymnasts. She had never taken gymnastics and was older when she started this year. We talked through it and decided to let them both compete (at different levels....whew!)'s an awesome sport to learn work ethic, focus and that ever so needed discipline. 
     We are almost at the end of the season and they have had a spectacular year. We don't put pressure on them......we don't believe in 'Parent-coaching' them. We have a rule we repeat at each meet before they compete which I know alot of other parents share.....Do your best and have fun. It's that simple. Some meets they score really high on and others they don't. They encourage each other and because they are at different levels they don't really compete directly against each other. Right now Mei Mei is pretty tired from all the end of school stuff. She loves her gymnastics but just doesn't care if she scores high or not. We are ok with that. She's got the inborn talent and the mental part will come with time. We are so proud of her just getting out there.....talking to judges and people and having hundreds of people watch her as she does her routines. She's amazing and could have an incredible future ahead of her in gym if she chooses. We are taking it slow......for her mental health (and ours.....!) Blondie on the other hand has to work 3 times as hard as Mei Mei to do the same skills......and she's doing it! At the beginning of the year we had our doubts but we no longer have those! She has this inner drive that works and works at something until she gets it. It may take her longer but she perseveres. She in fact has scored as high if not higher than her sister in individual events and even won All Around at the State competition. We love how she sets goals then works until she achieves them. That's that 'work-ethic' thing we are going for. Blondie is also an exceptional artist which we are also encouraging her to develop. Win Win for Blondie......but it's not about the trophy's, medals or laurels for Mom and Dad. We parents are looking at the life 'big-picture' and what will help them in the long run.
     All this long winded post to say.....Charleston was worth it. Over 500 girls traveled from the SE Region to compete at the Charleston Convention Center. Mei Mei didn't score as high as she normally does. It will come. She's tired......we get it. She went out there and did her best for her little self. She still placed in each event but not nearly as high as normal. Blondie did spectacular actually tying for first on vault, rocked beam and floor  and then had a  mishap on bars. Normal stuff that they are learning how to handle at such a young age. We couldn't be prouder as they are learning their 'skill' that is becoming life-skills. Here is a pictorial recap of the Regional Meet from this weekend..... In part 2 I will post pics of fun stuff we did around town....because after is Chhhaaarrrrllleeessstttooonnn!
The tiniest got to hold the sign as the teams marched in state by state. Look who got the honor for the fantastic state of Florida!

So stinkin cute and widdle!


Having a great floor routine. Look at that confidence!

Love, love, love our coaches!! They are so encouraging!! Katie placed in every event this meet but not as high as she normally does. We are so happy she gets out there and does her best for that day!! This little bit of a girl has come so far!!

Team Florida.....Day 2. Blondie looking a wee bit nervous.

Giving her the 'Do your best and have fun' pep talk.

She scored great on this beam routine!

Our girl competing like a pro!


Blondie tied for FIRST in the whole SE Regional on Vault! Who would've thunk! She just started this gym thing last August!!

Mei Mei on bars.....always a challenge for her tiny frame. Look at the girls watching her. Ha!

She placed in almost all events today and even walked away with the 2nd place team plaque. So happy for her!!

Monday, May 13, 2013

Mother's Day 2013

Our Mother's Day celebration this year included ages from newborn to great-grandma's. Hats off to the Doc who along with J put this party together to honor all the Mom's! We love having a large family and get together as often as we can. We also love our pictures and take a lot of them. The Doc was busy serving everyone, so he didn't get out his big camera. My edited point and shoot one will have to suffice for pics of our day. Hope your Mother's Day was as wonderful as ours! Here's a glimpse into our day.....
Our 3 beauties! Mei Mei will be 8 years old next month and this dress is a size 4. Nature Girl on the other hand is 11 yrs. old, and 5'11/2". Vanilla Girl will prob be tallish too but the others are extreme. Makes shopping so fun (ha!)

Keeping em tired:) That's our family motto:)

The uncles and grandpa having their adult beverages of choice.

J and 6 week old Mollie. We heart them both!

They're a little sleep deprived these days. 

My Mom., grandma and great-grandma:)

Her Royal Highness, Caroline.

Mollie and Auntie Tanya.

The Doc's Mom. (She's a great-grandma too!)

Always food.

Sister in law Anne feeding the nephews.

Poor Baby Josh gets born into this.......

Her aunties dressed her in a combo of doll clothes and theirs. Fashion fail.

Kids table is always a blur of motion.

Tried to get a lovely pic of J and baby Mollie....then realized Mei Mei was pinned in behind the couch after a game of hide and I got this moment instead.

The belly as a table is always a right of passage in pregnancy.

The reasons I am called Mom and Mimi. Take 1.

Take 2.

Take 3.

Take 4.

Take 5.

Aww, forget it. Let's use this one instead:)

FINALLY he got to sit and cuddle our 3rd grand! Love this!!