Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Homeschool Conventions - How To!

A couple weeks ago my older girls and I attended a large homeschool convention. I've been attending this convention for the past 6 years. So I thought, while it's all fresh in my mind, I'd share how I plan for and make the most of my time at, a homeschool convention.

The first year I attended, Lexie and Ashlyn were 6 and Little Bit was a couple of months old. At that point I very intentionally decided to not stress about "doing it all". I went and wandered the vendor hall and attended seminars, but mostly just got a good feel for it all. I strongly recommend taking this approach your first year. The convention I attend now offers free registration to parents of preschoolers the first year, how awesome is that!

Now we'll talk about how I do things now.

Starting a couple months before our convention, which for us, conveniently is right about the time when it feels like winter will NEVER end and we NEED something interesting to be thinking about and looking forward to, we start talking about next year's curriculum choices. We school year round so there's not a "next year" per se, but still, since one of the awesome things about homeschool conventions is getting to actually SEE curriculum options, flip through books, and sometimes find good deals on things, that determines when we plan out the next year.

We look at where we are in our current books, how much longer will we be using them? Do we want to continue with the next level, if that's an option, or switch things up? What isn't working that we need to scrap and try something new? . . . Now that Lexie and Ashlyn are older they are actively involved in choosing their own curriculum. They research options on their own. They ask their friends. Then we look at things together and narrow the options.

Once we know our "plan" for the next year, or perhaps have 2 or 3 options we need to look at in person to get a better feel. I make up our vendor hall list.

What do we want to look at?
What specific questions should we ask vendors?
What are the best online prices for things we know we want to buy?
For vendors whose booths we'll be stopping by, what are the prices on their website (to compare to their prices at the convention), and what are their shipping policies? (if there's no discount, in price or shipping, involved in buying at the convention it's much more convenient to have curriculum delivered to my door than to carry it around a huge convention center).

I also look at the vendor hall map, provided on the convention website, and list the vendors, with my questions for them, in the order that I'm going to visit them.

Once information about the speakers is available on the convention website, we peruse that as well.
Ashlyn and Lexie's first convention

I start by marking all the seminars that look interesting.

Then I go back through and note which ones will probably be just as good to listen to later on an mp3. Part of that comes with knowing the speakers if they're repeat speakers. If I know a speaker rarely using visual aids and/or their "hand out" (which our convention provides in .pdf format on the website) is actually just a copy of their powerpoint, then I know that's a speaker that I can enjoy later, by purchasing the mp3 download of their seminar. If I know a speaker uses lots of visual aids that aren't in their handout, that gets higher priority for attending in person.

Now that my older girls come with me, I also take into consideration things they will enjoy, or not enjoy. I'll admit, this year we attended several seminars by a speaker who, while I enjoy listening to, I don't learn tons from AND who rarely uses visual aids, so I could easily have purchased the mp3 of those seminars. BUT I knew him to be humorous and figured, correctly, that my girls would enjoy his seminars. Part of attending the convention with my daughters is bonding time with them, so that was a factor to consider as well.

For us, there's another consideration. Our convention runs Friday and Saturday. Our religious beliefs include keeping Saturday as Sabbath. Because it's a Christian convention, many of the seminar topics are religious in nature and I have never felt that we shouldn't attend on Sabbath. However, because we view Sabbath as a day of rest, it's not a day I choose to go shopping on. That means that we schedule our time at the convention to make sure we get all shopping done on Friday, and we plan to attend seminars all day on Sabbath.  It also sometimes influences which seminars I choose. On Friday, in addition to choosing shopping over seminars as needed to make sure we finish all our shopping, I also tend to choose seminars that give me practical information/advice about homeschooling. Things like how to keep records for high school and such. On Sabbath I'm looking for rest and renewal. That's my day to sit back and enjoy seminars on creation science, or different learning styles (which I find fascinating).

In planning out our Friday schedule, I usually plan to spend the first hour or so in the vendor hall. That gives us time to visit most, if not all, of the vendors on our list to look for specific things at. We might also get to browse through other booths that catch our eyes. During this shopping time I write down prices, other products that catch my eye, etc. By the time the next seminar is ready to start, I usually have prices that I want to compare, and things I want to look up on my phone. So I plan on attending a seminar in that time slot. It lets us set down and rest, and because I multi-task well, I am able to do my reviewing of notes, looking up additional information online, etc. during that seminar. For the rest of the morning I plan to alternate between seminars and vendor hall time, so that I can continue this approach of gathering information in the vendor hall, then sitting down in a seminar to do further research etc. For Friday afternoon it's harder to predict. So, I tentatively choose a seminar for each time slot but pre-warn the girls that if we still have shopping to do that will take precedence.

Once I've determined which seminars we'll attend I look back over the list of interesting sounding seminars and make note of which ones I'd like to buy the mp3's for. In the past, our convention sold actual CDs of the seminars discounted during the convention, so I tried to purchase those (call me old fashioned, but since the main place I listen to audio stuff is in the car, I find it much easier to pop a CD in than to hook up my phone as an mp3 player to play through the car's speakers). This year the only option was mp3s, but they were discounted if purchased (online) the days of the convention, so I needed to know what I wanted. If I haven't heard a speaker before, I try to attend one of their seminars in person to get a feel for whether I will want to hear more of their seminars. And/or I purchase one of their Friday seminars to listen to on the drive home that night or to the convention the next morning. That way I don't purchase several seminars by a speaker only to discover that it's not a speaker I choose to listen to. Likewise, if I attend a seminar and find the speaker not to my liking, I may adjust our schedule to not include any more by that speaker.

I leave the last hour or so at the end of the day on Friday to go back around and make all our purchases (except things from used book sellers, those I buy when I find them since they won't be there later). Books get heavy very quickly! The first couple of years that I attended this convention it was in a different part of the convention complex that was all on one level. At that time, I used a rolling crate to carry my purchases, and the first year when I had Little Bit with me (in a sling), the rolling crate was also a great way to carry the diaper bag. The area where the convention is held now includes multiple sets of stairs, so because I rarely buy huge amounts of things at the convention, and in most cases can purchase them right before we head back to the car (and I have 2 helpers with me), I choose to just use a sturdy tote bag and not have to mess with a wheeled cart on stairs numerous times during the day.

The other thing to consider is food. Our convention is held at a venue that strictly prohibits outside food being brought in. The food options they sell are overpriced and not healthy, and extremely limited for vegetarians. BUT the parking lot is huge and so far I've opted to purchase the overpriced food at the venue rather than have to hike all the way back out to the car and eat a sack lunch in the car. I have to admit, I sometimes second guess that decision, especially now that the overpriced food is being purchased for 3 of us, not just one. So weigh your pros and cons in this area. If the venue allowed outside food, I would pack a variety of healthy, filling snacks that we could eat while attending seminars and not have to waste time or money eating lunch, so check the rules of the convention you'll be attending to see if that's an option for you.

And that's how we do homeschool conventions in our family.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Wrapping Up The Week of May 16

Is it really another week already?

We did a bunch of gardening this week. The first raised bed was close to ready for planting when the week started. We got dirt, and Ashlyn finished the bed up and got beets, onion and hot peppers planted.  We also got a good layer of ash in the second bed. Ashlyn wasn't sure if she wanted to bother planting anything in a second bed this summer but when my parents came on Wednesday they brought 4 tomato plants. Ashlyn had been planning to do 2 tomato plants, one each in two pots on the patio, but now with 4 we're working on setting up the second bed. So we did lots of burning of brush this week to get a good layer of ash in that second bed.

The night after Ashlyn got dirt in the first bed, something dug up a couple spots.  We're guessing it was a groundhog we've seen in the back yard. So, for the time being, Ashlyn arranged the tomato cages, laying down across the bed to protect it.

As already mentioned, my parents came on Wednesday. A family friend who was working nearby came over for dinner on Wednesday and we all spent a fun evening catching up. It was a late night for the kids, but well worth it, and bonus, the kids slept in at least a little bit on Thursday, compared to when they normally get up when Mama and Papa are here.

One of the things we got at the homeschool convention was a set of "learn to read" books that are based on nature, since Little Bit is such a nature lover. As I suspected, she's loving them, and yes, learning to read them. To help make sure she's learning the words, and not just memorizing the text based on pictures, we got bright pink index cards and we're making flash cards as she learns new words. We've been doing fun things with the flash cards like having her jump from word to word as she says them, and making new, often silly, sentences with all the words. During music lessons she spread out the cards all over the floor and was looking for specific words. Then we made lots of silly sentences.

While my parents were here we got the air conditioners installed, though naturally, the hot weather of the week was the first couple days, it cooled back down on Wednesday, sigh . . . we also got tons of weed-eating done with Dad's weed eater. And YAY dad put in an outdoor water spigot! I have been completely baffled as to why there wasn't one at this house, especially with all the flower beds the previous owners had. The last two summers we've carried water either from the creek or from in the house to water flowers and garden plants, but with the addition of the raised beds, we're very thankful to have an outside spigot now!

Sometime during yardwork I snapped this picture of Ashlyn and Little Bit playing with Moccasin.

On Friday afternoon my parents headed home . . . and took all three girls with them! Rodney and I had a memorial service to attend on Saturday so needed my parents to watch the girls. They opted to take them home with them so they could spend Sabbath visiting the C&O Canal Visitor Center in Cumberland, and then hiking through PawPaw Tunnel, also on the C&O Canal.

Rodney and I enjoyed a rare evening alone, then headed to MD on Sabbath morning to celebrate the life of an amazing man! The dad of one of my close friends, I still can't believe he's gone. While it's the last reason I'd have chosen for going back to our old church, it was very nice to see so many friends from when we lived in MD. Even after living here for 7 years, walking into our old church felt like going home.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Book Review: Motivate Your Child Action Plan by Scott Turansky and Joann Miller

Earlier this year I reviewed Scott Turansky and Joanne Miller's book, Motivate Your Child. I loved it, as I've loved all of their books! So when the National Center for Biblical Parenting gave me the opportunity to review the Motivate Your Child Action Plan, I might have jumped up and down in excitement! 

The Action Plan is a workbook, of sorts to help parents very practically get started with the ideas presented in Motivate Your Child. The Action Plan also comes with 12 30 minute audio downloads, so even if you're an auditory learner, or a mom of little ones who doesn't have time to sit down and read a book, but could listen to audios while doing housework, in the car, or nursing babies, you have that option as well! The audio and the book together are ideal! AND through the end of May, the book is 25%, making it only $29.95!!!

I have to admit, when I first got this book, I dove in . . . I wanted to develop an action plan with all three of my children, but because it's a very child-specific approach, I would need a separate action plan for each child, and I found myself feeling very overwhelmed. Add in a busy season of life (aren't they all?) and I felt overwhelmed. I decided to take a deep breath, step back, and start with one child. I fully intend to use this plan over and over with each of my children as different issues pop up in our lives. Perhaps most importantly, and one of the things I always love about the National Center for Biblical Parenting every time I attend one of their seminars, listen to one of their audio or video products, or read one of their books, is the reminder that God isn't finished with ME yet. That often when I come up against parenting challenges, the change has to start with me. And this book is no exception. I have been convicted repeatedly, going through this book, of things I need to pray more about and do differently. Working through this process has also reminded me of all the amazing things my kids do and are! (and for those parts I did step back and go over those portions as it relates to all 3 of my children, I wanted the chance to be reminded of EACH of my children's amazingness! And I will likely revisit those pages often, especially when I'm struggling. 
After the first couple of chapters, about the same time that I realized I needed to focus on developing a plan for one child at a time, I also realized that as I continued through the book, I wanted to go back and change some of my answers. At that point I decided that, for me, it would work better to read through the entire book before I started actively developing a plan with my child. I also had to let go of timeframes and deadlines (exceptionally hard to do when I'm doing a book review . . . I desperately want to get through the book, and be able to say "this works" (or it doesn't) and here's how I know that! Here's the RESULTS!) There is sooo much in this book, so much to think about and pray about and truly take time at each step along the way. I had to give up my initial idea of "finishing" during the review period. Instead I took time to read through the whole book and now I'm going back through it, and working with my child. Another challenge for our family right now is that each chapter encourages having a "meeting" with your child. Most of the time I love that our family does things together, the girls share a bedroom, much of our school is done together . . . I love that togetherness and have been intentional in encouraging it and fostering it over the year. However, it does make it challenging to find time for lots of one-on-one time with one child, without the other children questioning it. I'm still working on figuring out that part. . . 

So, I'm moving slowly with this one. I'm digesting it, praying a LOT . . . praising God for all the positive things He's reminding me of through this book. I can't tell you the end result of it, but I CAN tell you that it's already helped me so much, and is continuing to do so. I strongly recommend it to parents at all stages!!!

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Belatedly Wrapping Up Last Week

After all the activities of the previous week, last week was pretty boring. . . but needless to say, we needed to recuperate a bit :)

We headed home from Mama and Papa's on Sunday and dove into all the fun stuff like unpacking and catching up on stuff around the house.

Little Bit came downstairs one morning, and announced she was "Mini Lexie" she'd managed to find an almost perfect match to Lexie's outfit (pink shirt and brown skirt) and changed into it all on her own. She was so proud of herself :)

On Tuesday the big girls went with Daddy to help Grandmom move back home from the rehab center where she'd been recovering from an illness. It was a rather frustrating day for them all with some confusion as to whether or not Grandmom would be released, and then, finally she was released just as Rodney and the girls were getting ready to head home. Rodney said Lexie and Ashlyn were amazing helpers at getting Grandmom's stuff packed quickly so they could help move her home without getting home too too much later than planned.

Meanwhile, Little Bit and I had a day for just the two of us. Early on she asked if she could do art and as I was getting things ready I noticed that the table was in desperate need of a thorough scrubbing. There were stains from both food and previous art projects all over it! So, I shifted gears and asked if she'd like to "make snow" since it was a hot day. She readily agreed and I got out the baking soda and a can of shaving cream and turned her loose. It took her a little while to get past the "eww this feels weird" stage, but once she got into it she had a blast! Seriously spent most of the day playing with it. She got a bunch of her plastic animals out and used them in it and just had fun molding it, adding more shaving cream to it, and generally having a ball. I ended up leaving it out all week and she played with it every day! Note to self, definitely need to be intentional about providing more sensory play options for her :-)

I have to admit, I was abit nervous about music lessons. The girls hadn't practiced as much as usual with all our running around, and Lexie is preparing for her end of book 1 recital. But, apparently slacking off was just what she needed. Her teacher said she played through the whole recital with almost no mistakes!! Woo-hoo!

The weather was great, so we stopped at a park near the music teacher's house and enjoyed a picnic lunch before heading home.

Friday's project was gardening. We have two small cement block raised beds. One we'd already burned a bunch of brush in that one and had a good layer of ash in the bottom so Ashlyn finished prepping that bed with a layer of grass clippings and then a thick layer of last year's compost. Meanwhile we burned a bunch more brush in the other bed to start getting it ready.

And to wrap up this wrap-up . . . a fun selfie with 2/3 of my girlie girls :)

Monday, May 11, 2015

Wrapping Up Our Whirlwind Week

Whew! What a week!!!! The girls and I got home Sunday afternoon and it took us half the afternoon just to catch Daddy up on all our fun, now let me see if I can be abit more succinct in summarizing our week here :)

Sunday was the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival!! We try to go to this every year. It's such a fun day.  We always enjoy the sheep sheering, and sheep dog demonstrations. This year, as an added bonus, the people who do the sheep dog demonstrations had a new dog they were just starting to train, so that showed us how they train a new dog. It was really cool. Little Bit took awhile to decide she liked things this year, but once she got into it, my mom said they could NOT get her out of the sheep barns. She met a sheep with her name (but spelled differently), so thought that was cool. Mom finally convinced her to say goodbye to the sheep by telling her that sissies and I had found baby bunnies! They had angora rabbit babies there. Sooo sweet!!! And bigger angoras that you could pet and hold and feed dandelion greens to. A fun day all around!

Monday our "livestock" fun continued. Awhile back the big girls had remembered how much we used to enjoy feeding the calves at a dairy farm where we bought milk when the twins were little. They asked if, next time we went to Mama and Papa's, we could take Little Bit to feed the calves. So we did that on Monday. Feeding the calves has always been fun, but this time was awesome!

The guy who's in charge of feeding the calves there now is amazing with kids!! After most people had left, he let the big girls teach a brand new baby, born that day, to drink from the bottle. They LOVED it!!!

When Little Bit saw her sisters IN the pen with the calf, she didn't want to be left out, so he let her go in the pen with him and pet the 2 day old calf (one of a set of twins) that he was coaxing to eat.

 And finally, after letting the girls help him give grain to the calves, big enough to eat regular grain, he also got a chick out and let them hold it.

Tuesday we visited the girls' friends M&N (and the rest of their awesome family). We always have a blast there, and the kids come home WORN OUT! Gotta love that. This time, the weather was perfect, despite predicted rain that never came, and the kids spent all day kayaking and swimming in the pond. They had sooo much fun. 
Little Bit was afraid to trust her life jacket, so she waded near the shore and whined about being bored, despite repeated offers by her sisters to help her go out and see that the life jacket DID work, or to take her in the kayak and promise not to make it feel like it would tip (I think that was part of the problem, she DID go in the kayak at the very beginning but with multiple kids it was tippy and she was scared. If she'd have gone later with just one person who was intentionally NOT tipping it, I think she'd have enjoyed it, but she wouldn't try). Awesome day! 

Wednesday was our "quiet day". We just hung out at Mama and Papa's house and relaxed abit. Lexie took the opportunity to cook a birthday meal for Mama (her birthday was the 10th but since we knew we'd be going home that day, she got her birthday meal early). 

Thursday we headed to DC and the girls completed their Junior Ranger for the National Mall. It's an interesting one. Since there are soo many monuments, you can start anywhere and each of the monuments that has a National Park building by it has a single 2-sided page about that monument. You have to complete 3 or 4 of those sheets to earn the Junior Ranger (the Ranger who gave us the first sheet, and the folder they go in, told us 3, the folder itself said 4, so I'm not sure which it is . . . might depend on the ranger you talk to LOL). Then any of the rangers can give you your badge once it's completed. We weren't sure how it would work (what's online is completely different, and doesn't include instructions), and figured "Survey Lodge" by the Washington Monument was as likely as anyplace to have the information so we started there. The girls ended up completing the pages for the Washington Monument, WWII monument, MLK and FDR. We were going to go on to the Jefferson, but since we had 4, and it was hot, we decided to call it good. We may get the rest of the pages and do them some other trip, just for fun. 

While we were at the FDR monument, Little Bit (my stuffed animal lover), decided to use some of her birthday money to buy a little stuffed dog (modeled after FDR's favorite dog) in the gift ship. She was so excited to pose with the president whose dog it was :) 

Friday and Saturday the big girls and I went to a homeschool convention. They came with me a few years ago, and it was fun, but they were still little girls. Now, they're not little girls. We shopped together, looking at various curriculum, discussing pros and cons. . . they are actively choosing their curriculum now, they know what they want, and need, to study and we were looking for it. While we went to some "just for fun" seminars . . . like the science one where the guy electrocuted a pickle, they listened, and paid attention, and comprehended the other seminars we attended, it was a fun couple of days, and a definite reminder that my babies are rapidly growing into lovely young ladies!

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Worship Through Serving Others

I've seen many articles in the last few years about young people leaving the churches. It's a concern. I don't have any global answers, but I can tell you that one key, for my children, is giving them opportunities to serve. To be active in their worship, and to be giving, not simply sitting and being entertained. . . I'm blogging about this today on the SDA Homeschoolers Blog, come read more!

Monday, May 4, 2015

Motivate Your Child Action Plan . . . GIVEAWAY!!!!!

Motivate Your Child Action Plan Giveaway
You may remember, a few months ago, I reviewed Motivate Your Child, a great book from Biblical Parenting.

Now a companion workbook, the Motivate Your Child Action Plan is being released and I'm privileged to be able to review it too. I'm loving it so far, can't wait to share my review with you in a few weeks.  In the meantime . . .

To celebrate the release of Motivate Your Child Action Plan, we are joining other members of the Launch Team in a wonderful giveaway filled with an iPod Touch, $50 iTunes Gift Card and several biblical parenting products! A value of nearly $350! Here's what you could win: 

Apple iPod touch 16GB Black/Silver  ($195 value)  

  • In the Box - iPod Touch, Apple EarPods, Lightning to USB cable, QuickStart guideFeatures
  • Brilliant 4 Retina display with Multi-Touch IPS technology
  • Front-Facing FaceTime camera with 1.2MP photos & 720p HD video recording.  
  • iOS 6 features - Siri, Apple Designed Maps, Integrated Facebook, Shared Photo Streams, Passbook & more

iTunes Gift Card ($50 value)

 Because you'll need apps and music for that iPod Touch!

The Christian Parenting Handbook and Companion Guide ($56.95 value) 

The Christian Parenting Handbook contains nuggets of parenting wisdom condensed into 50 short chapters, each one biblical, practical, and relevant for parents of children ages 2-18. Learn appropriate ways to correct, instruct, and set limits. Glean wisdom for dealing with emotions, conflict, and developing closeness in your family… and much more. These 50 strategies provide you with hands-on tools for parenting children of any age.  The Companion Guide is a workbook of 50 lessons along with 50 audio tips to take you through The Christian Parenting Handbook step by step. Each lesson contains advice from Dr Scott Turansky and Joanne Miller in a 5 minute audio tip and then offers teaching, an assignment, a Bible verse, and a prayer to help you apply each idea or strategy in your family. The tips are available to you as MP3 downloads and access to them comes in the workbook.

Family Time Activities Book Bundle ($45 value)

Your kids will have fun learning about God's Word and how it applies to their lives. Science experiments, art activities, and games are all designed to reinforce spiritual truth. Each lesson is clear and simple, yet profound even for parents! You'll teach kids how exciting it is to learn about God and his ways. Your kids will love these books, but more importantly you'll build spiritual memories of Family Time in your home. Titles in this giveaway include:  Seeing Is Believing  Playing for Keeps  Running the Race Enter the Giveaway using the Rafflecopter below! This giveaway is open INTERNATIONALLY to those 18 years of age or older. Void where prohibited by law. a Rafflecopter giveaway Join us for the Action Plan Facebook Party on Wednesday, May 20 at 9:00PM ET. There will be even more prizes and giveaways there and the authors of Action Plan will be present to answer your questions! 

RSVP here for the Party! 

Action Plan Facebook Party

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Wrapping Up the Week of April 26

We had a fun week of playing with dogs and friends :)

Our neighbor had asked us to let their puppy out while they were at work so much to the girls' excitement we "had" to go over to their house and play with the puppy. It was amazing how much faster and more "awake" she was, just from a few days earlier. It was great exercise for the girls to run around with her :)

On Wednesday we went to play at a friend's house. The weather was GORGEOUS! Not too hot, but warm enough, in the sun, for water play. Little Bit had a BLAST playing on the slip'n slide with her friends! We don't have an outside water faucet at our current house, and she was still pretty little when we moved, so she didn't remember the fun of a slip n' slide.

Meanwhile Ashlyn curled up on the garage floor (which she assured me was VERY comfortable . . . cool and smooth and hard, which are apparently all positive attributes) with our friends' 13+ year old Golden Retriever, and happily petted her and snuggled with her most of the afternoon. Needless to say, when Ashlyn DID get up and go anywhere, Sadie was right by her side, which she loved.  Ashlyn's been researching Golden Retrievers ever since, despite my frequent reminders that (a) it doesn't make sense for us to get a dog when we travel so much and (b) our house is MUCH too small for such a big dog even if we COULD get a dog.

When the younger kids weren't playing in the water, Lexie and S (7 yr old) had great fun playing with their other dog, a 1 year old miniature Australian Shepherd. She loves to track S, so Lexie would keep her on a leash while S hid, then Lexie and the dog would "track" him.  Wonderfully fun day!

After leaving their house, we grabbed a quick supper and headed to another friend's house for Bible study, where the kids all wrote/directed/practiced a play on Esther, that they performed for us at the end.

Thursday was another gorgeous day, so in addition to music lessons and errands, we spent some time at the playground.

Friday was a rather hectic day of getting things done at home after all our playing, followed by going to our friends' homeschool co-op spring program that evening.

Sabbath morning the girls and I loaded into the car and headed to my parents' house. After lunch we all headed to my friend V's dad's house. V and her 3 kids had come up to her dad's house for the weekend to visit. AND this weekend was "alumni weekend" for the high school we both attended. While I didn't make it to alumni weekend itself, V's dad lives within walking distance of the school, so various friends stopped by throughout the afternoon. I was especially excited to get to see my friend J, who now lives in Australia! I'm pretty sure the last time we were together was at her sister's wedding when Lexie and Ashlyn were 18 months old! Sooooo fun to catch up! And it honestly didn't feel like it could possibly have been 20+ years since we all used to gather at V's house because she lived so close to school and her parents were always glad to have us!

V used to live near my parents, and her kids and mine always had great fun when we'd get together, but last year they moved to North Carolina and this was the first time we've managed to coordinate visits to our respective parents and get together. The kids took a little bit to warm up to each other but before long they were all having a blast as always. And, to round out our "doggy week", Ashlyn became fast friends with V's dad's dog, Buddy :)