Sunday, September 8, 2013

Weekly Highlights ~ Exploring the Gulf of Mexico and Time with Family

A Vacation with LOTS of Family! ~ Panama City Beach, FL

 We enjoyed a vacation with lots of family to the Gulf of Mexico. This beach is only about an hour and a half from where I grew up, and it's a favorite destination for all of us!

This is one of my favorite shots! My niece and my two little boys lovin' the waves! The water, sand and sky were all picture perfect on this day. I can smell the salty air...
Our oldest son and my husband spent hours in the ocean. Ryan LOVES the water! Jonathan and Caraline love the sand and looking for seashells the most, but they enjoy the ocean, too. Our whole crew spent lots of time on the beach, in the ocean, and lots of time in the pool! It was so much FUN!

Ghost Crabs
Everyone's favorite activity hands-down is ghost crab hunting ~ at night, of course! We grab flashlights and a sand pail and head out to the shore. No need to bring a net. The best way to catch these fast little guys is with your hands! They live just beyond the waves on the sandy shore. They burrow during the day and scurry all over hunting at night. Everyone is in competition to a) catch the most and b) catch the biggest! The largest ones we've caught are about the size of a half-dollar.

A couple from Alabama caught two of these big guys in shallow water. They gave both to our little ones. We observed them for a little while and  released them.

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Hermit Crab!

This cute little hermit crab was found by Caraline in the ocean. These guys are not the same as the ones found in pet stores or even the touristy shops on the beach. They have to be in a salt water environment. We kept him in a bucket of ocean water and sand to observe for a little while and released him, too. (We've checked out a Eric Carle's A House for a Hermit Crab so many times that I've decided to go ahead and ordered our very own copy of this great classic!)

And, we enjoyed some playtime at an amusement park. Caraline found out she can do triple back flips on the bungee jump. Jonathan loves heights- no surprise! And, Ryan enjoyed the spider climb. Being there with our family was so much fun! ~ I know I keep saying that but it's so true!

My Parents and All of the Grandchildren

And, the absolute best part of our vacation was having my mom and dad there - with all of the grand kids! They are divorced, and they are friends - just friends. We will always be family. It's so nice to finally be able to act like one again! It means so much to be able to do fun things together. If only my brother and his wife could've made it down. They were the only ones missing! Thanks Mom and Dad for spending time together with all of us! It means the world.

Back in Alabama

We made it back to Alabama in time to watch my high school's football game. We have family all over the stands and on the field, too. 

Seeing A Very Special Person!

I just have to share this sweet story with you. I noticed a special sixth grade elementary teacher in the stands. He wasn't my teacher, but I grew up in that elementary school from first to sixth grade knowing him, and he was just a special, special person. I would see him occasionally throughout my jr. high and high school years. He's long since retired. I was sitting next to my aunt and I leaned over to her asked if she thought he'd remember me, after all it's been 26ish years since I was in sixth grade. I began walking down to where he was sitting, and as I walked over to him he stood up and said, "Hope, how are you?" I started bawling right on the spot, in front of everyone. How special for him to not only recognize me, but to remember MY NAME. We talked for a few minutes, until half-time was over and throughout the night I found my eyes tearing up. It meant so much for him to call me by my name.


The next day we went fishing! My sister snagged this big guy and called Jonathan over to reel him in! My brother waded into the water to bring him home. Jonathan was so proud! We put him back into the pond and Jonathan is determined to find him again; when he's even bigger!

This week was filled with lots of bonding and family fun! I'm so glad we were all able to spend this special time together!


 And we did a little bit of school work on the one day we were home. Jonathan is working on a super cute review item for handwriting called Funanoodle. It was developed by occupational therapists.

Caraline had piano lessons and while she was there, I got to chit chat with an inspiring mom that is in our homeschool co-op. They are in the process of adopting a child from Latvia. He's home with them now. It's not easy; they are walking in faith. If you want to be inspired, visit their blog.

Educational DVDs

Liberty's Kids the complete 40 episode series is on sale right now on Amazon for less than $7. I always miss the big sales. I bought this set last month because I knew we were going to be traveling a lot, and I wanted the kids to watch something fun and educational while we were on the road. You can't beat the price ~ think Christmas present!

Geography Apps

Caraline has been using a free app to brush up on her US states geography. It's fun. I like to play it, too. Other fun geography apps we like to play are Stack the States and Stack the Countries.

Compassion International

A letter of advice to your younger self...

This month is Compassion International's Blog Month 2013 the goal is to bring over 3,000 children out of poverty this September. If you've been thinking about sponsoring a child and becoming involved in this ministry, now is a great time to start! Our first blog assignment was to write a letter to our younger self; this is what I had to say.

~ Hope

We are linking our Weekly Highlights with our friends at Homegrown Learners' Collage Friday and Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers' Weekly Wrap-Up   and The Homeschool Mother's Journal.
Homegrown Learners.
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  1. Thanks for the tip about Liberty's Kids! I just mentioned to someone this week how I needed to buy them! Such a fun week you guys had! Love the hermit crabs!

  2. The Fundanoodle products look interesting... I'm looking forward to the review as this might be something I could use with my 4 year old!

  3. What fun you had fishing! This looks like a great week of learning and recreation.

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