Thursday, November 1, 2012

Happy Halloween!

Halloween 2012 brought a Knight, Super Woman, and a Baby Frog into the Hutchison household :) The baby frog was obviously very well protected!  We had some friends from church over for pizza and trick-or-treating, and had a great time.

Eli is obsessed with the Chronicles of Narnia right now...
thus the inspiration for the Knight costume this year!
Couldn't believe she chose a non-Princess-y costume!
Just had to include this one because it makes me laugh...
Mikayla has been doing this big "fake" smile for ALL of her pictures lately...
she was doing it last week at our family photo shoot, lol!
Not sure why it started but just wanted to remember it because I think it's funny :)

Earlier this week we enjoyed carving our pumpkin (I usually carve it, but Micah decided to do it this year... and well, we have decided to forgive him for cutting the eyeballs out leaving Mr. Jack-O-Lantern with plain old triangle eyes... next year I will resume the carving).

Pulling out the seeds... and the "gunk!"
After the eyeball casualty...

Two L'il Punkins!

We also had fun making frosted sugar cookies with Grandma using Halloween/Fall themed cookie cutters.... yum!  Can't wait for the Christmas batch in the near future :)

Hope everyone out there had a fun Halloween too!!!

Friday, October 19, 2012

All About Mikayla... 6th Birthday, Family Day, Ballet!

Since I am over a month behind in posting pictures from Mikayla's birthday, I figured I would just dedicate this entire post to her and include our "Family Day" celebration, as well as some video of her doing her favorite thing - ballet dancing!

Mikayla asked for a very specific gift for her 6th birthday... she wanted an ipod.  Well, not "technically" an ipod since she doesn't really understand branding yet, but she knew she wanted the tiny music player she could use with headphones (she is known for sitting next to our ancient boombox with headphones plugged in and listening to CD's for long periods of time).  So, the first thing she wanted to do when she woke up on her birthday was open a present (of course I knew which one it needed to be...).

Listening carefully to dad's instructions... 

That evening, we had both sets of grandparents over for some more present opening, and ice cream cake!

Eli reads his card he made for Mikayla... so cute!

We let the kids pick an "outing" each year for their birthday as well, so we spent the following evening eating pizza and playing a gazillion games at Chuck E Cheese :)  I think this might have been one of the first times we hung out at Chuck E Cheese with neither child having a meltdown due to insane overstimulation.  Ha!
Love you sweet girl - Happy 6th Birthday!

And now... presenting, Mikayla Ballerina!  Mikayla started ballet classes this fall at an arts school located in the church where Micah and I met (and where we were married!).  She is really enjoying her class and her teacher, and I love the fact that the emphasis is placed on not only the technical aspects of ballet, but also utilizing dance as an act of worship.  Last week she came home and told me they started learning their dance for the December recital and she LOVED the song.  I asked her what song it was and she said, "I don't know, but it's about Jesus!"  Ha ha, love that!

A little video for your viewing pleasure...

And last, but not least... October 9, 2012 marked our 3-year-anniversary of stepping on to U.S. soil for the first time with our beautiful daughter, and becoming a family of four.  Each year, we do something special to celebrate "Family Day," and this year we chose to feast on Ethiopian food at Cafe Lalibela in Tempe.  We all enjoyed the food, but Eli and Mikayla ate the most by far!

The best part was using injera, instead of silverware, to eat!

We love you Mikayla!!  We pray that you continue to grow into the amazing young lady that God created you to be, and that you use your beauty and talents to honor Him in all you do.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

First Grade "Funnies"

In my last post I described the school my kids are attending on Wednesdays this year, called Eagleridge.  Well, each day when I pick them up they blab on and on about everything they did that day, which has resulted in some pretty funny quotes!  Just had to share a few...

Eli:  "Mom, I sat by my new best friend today!  His name is Luke and we are going to be BEST friends!!"

Me: "Mikayla, did you make any new friends today?"
Mikayla: "Yes, I have LOTS of best friends."
Me: "What are some of their names?"
Mikayla: "I don't know any of their names. Maybe I will remember to ask them next week."

Eli: "We had a new boy in our class today named Matt.  Matt and Nicholas are best friends, but Matt is not very nice to Nicolas.  Matt tried to take Nicolas's book in the library and then they started wrestling on the floor.  Mrs. V said kids are not allowed to wrestle in the library."

(are you catching on to the "best friend" theme of 1st grade???)

Mikayla: "We met a new friend today who is from Ethiopia.  He ran fast like me.  That's because we are both from Ethiopia."

Eli: "I really want to be in 1st grade again next year at Eagleridge."
Me: "Well, next year you will be in 2nd grade and you will move up to the 2nd grade class."
Eli: "Well kids don't ALWAYS have to move up to the next class.  James in our class was in 1st grade last year at Eagleridge, and he got to be in 1st grade AGAIN."

Eli: "Mom you didn't stop at the stop sign."
Me: "Yes, I did."
Eli: "No, Mrs. V. says you have to stop for a long time at the stop sign or a police officer will give you a ticket."
Me: "Okay, thank you for that tip."

Mikayla: "I had a job today at school.  I got to do the calendar."
Me: "Oh that's nice, did you have a job too Eli?"
Eli: "Yes, my job was to be the back-of-the-line leader and look for kids who were talking.  If they were talking I got to tell them to be quiet."
Me: "Oh, did you have to tell anyone to be quiet?"
Eli: "Yes, one girl... but she was singing a song.  I think it was a song her grandma taught her.  So I just let her sing it."

Eli: "You can come pick us up early from school if you want."
Me: "Oh yeah?"
Eli: "Yep, the voice will just tell the class to send Eli and Mikayla over to the office.  That's what happened to a girl today.  She had to go get a check-up so the voice just told her to go to the office."

Saturday, August 25, 2012

1st Grade Is Underway!

Thanks to the new addition we've had in our home the past month, my updates on this blog have been a bit lacking!  I wanted to make sure I got my pictures posted of the kids first day of 1st grade :)

We are choosing to homeschool the kids again this year, but we're taking advantage of an awesome (and FREE) program that the Mesa School District offers specifically for homeschoolers - the Eagleridge Enrichment Program.  Homeschooled students in grades K-8 can choose to attend this program for 1 or 2 days per week, and take part in enrichment classes such as music, art, PE, computers, library, etc.  The primary (K-2) students are self-contained all day with one teacher who takes them as a group to their enrichment classes.  Students in grades 3-8, however, get to choose the courses they want to take that interest them, and they switch classes during the day similar to a middle or high school model.  Some of the courses offered for grades 3-8 include classes such as: Egypt, Creative Drama, Chess Club, Sign Language, Russian, Art, PE, Band, Photoshop, Spanish, Legos (yes, there is a legos course!) etc.  Sounds like fun, doesn't it?  Eli and Mikayla are attending the 1st grade program one day per week, and so far they have absolutely loved it.  They come home each day telling me all the wonderful things about "Mrs. V" and the new friends they played with.  The only complaint I have heard so far is from Eli who asked, "Why does Eagleridge have to last so, so long?" (It is the length of a normal school day)  When I explained to him that most kids who attend regular school have to go to school that long five days a week he said, "I NEVER want to do that!!"  Ha!  I guess he is realizing one of the many perks about our 2-hour homeschool days :)

And now for a random side note about homeschooling... 

It seems like when it comes to homeschooling, many people fall strongly on one side of the fence or the other - some homeschoolers believe public schools are evil and they are fearful about sending their children there, and some parents who send their kids to public school think homeschoolers sit around all day wearing homemade clothes, singing hymns, and have no idea how to socialize with the general population.  I don't identify with either of these schools of thought.  For us, we believe that homeschooling is the best decision for our family, for right now.  We have many good reasons to back-up our decision.  But, we don't believe everyone else is supposed to homeschool.  We don't believe parents are wrong, or somehow "less," if they choose a different educational route for their child.  In fact, the only thing that I would look down upon when it comes to educational decisions, would be to NOT take the time to think through your options and seek the Lord as to where He may be calling you to send your child to school.  Our kids spend so much time there, it's definitely worth giving the choice lots of thought and prayer.  In the end, the "school down the street," might be EXACTLY where your kids are supposed to be.  But, you may also find yourself choosing something different... choosing to drive a little further to attend a school of choice, maybe choosing to invest some money to send your child to a private school, or maybe you would find yourself choosing the option you said you would "never" choose.   :)

I consider homeschooling a "season."  Life brings many seasons, so whether or not the season of homeschooling will last for one more year, or many years, I don't know... but I believe we just need to be open to where God leads and follow his timing.  It's worked out pretty well for us so far.

As for our current set-up...

I love the fact that my 6-year-olds still get to spend most of their days playing and exploring... not sitting in a desk.  

I love that we are laying their educational foundation with a Biblical worldview that emphasizes Christian values.

I love that my kids do not spend 35 hours of their week in the care of someone else... not that I don't trust teachers (after all, I was one!  teachers are amazing!), but I just feel lucky that person gets to be ME while my kids are still so young.

Now don't get me wrong, there are days that I long to ship my kids off down the street to the nearby school.  I could certainly get a lot more done around here!  Ha!  Everyone needs a break, right?  I am loving Eagleridge this year for that very reason :)  But, all in all, I truly enjoy being with my kids.  They make me laugh, and we have a lot of fun together.

I also personally, LOVE to teach (thus the reason I chose the career path that I did)!

The kids are also playing special roles right now in the life of the little one the we are caring for... I am so glad they are home each day to experience what it means to love someone simply because Christ loved us, and see what that looks like day in and day out, because it's certainly not glamorous.  The life lesson they are receiving just from this alone, is probably worth more than any lesson they would receive in a 1st grade classroom.

Hence, the choice to homeschool is for US, the right choice.  For right now.

So.... here's to a GREAT year of 1st grade!!

Monday, July 9, 2012

Happy 4th!

We celebrated the 4th of July  by having lunch at Nana and Papa's, as well as playing a rousing game of BINGO... Micah was the grand prize $20 winner!  In the evening we watched fireworks at a local high school with some good friends from church.  I forgot to take my camera :(  But, Micah captured this picture on his cell phone before we left the house... even the dog was happy to have his own glow necklace.  ha!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Disney World Vacation

After a 260-day countdown... it was finally time to go!

Thank you for the charts Bailey... the kids loved putting up their stickers every day!

We had an amazing week visiting Disney World in Orlando, FL.  My grandparents sponsored this trip for our entire extended family in honor of their 60th wedding anniversary, which was celebrated during the trip.  We were so grateful for the chance to go, and make memories that will last forever!  I have almost 200 pictures from the trip... but I am just going to post some of the highlights from our visit, since I doubt any of you really have time (or desire) to be looking through 200 of my pictures :)  Thank you to other family members who posted additional pics that I "borrowed" for this blog post!!

Thanks to a number of our extended family members being active or retired miliary, we all qualified to stay at the military resort on Disney World property.  It was SO nice... rooms were very spacious, beautiful Mickey-shaped pool, homemade ice cream shop, spa, golf course, restaurant, Starbucks coffee, and more!  We thoroughly enjoyed our stay :)

 The kids spent quite a bit of time enjoying the hotel swimming pool...

We spent four days of our week visiting the Disney World parks.  We were thankful to have Park Hopper tickets, as most days we spent the morning at one park and headed to a different one in the evening.  We had "favorite" rides and attractions at each one! :)

Favorite Attraction:  Soarin'
Summary: We spent a half day at Epcot with the kids, which was perfect for seeing the kid-friendly attractions and shows.  A full day there with young kids would have been too long.  We went back for an "adults only" evening at Epcot, and enjoyed touring the "World Showcase" and watching the Illuminations show.  

The aquarium was really neat... dolphins, sea turtles, sharks!
Dale took Eli's hat and became a DBacks fan!
Lunch with Grandma and Grandpa by the water
The Epcot "Ball"
We spent lots of time using the Disney transportation, so we got to know the monorail and bus systems quite well.  It was amazing to me how spread out the parks were from one another, and how large the property was!

Favorite Attraction:  Splash Mountain (Eli), Big Thunder Mountain (Mikayla)
Summary: The Magic Kingdom is a smaller version of Disneyland.  This tied with Animal Kingdom for being our "favorite park."  We love the atmosphere in the MK, and enjoyed so many rides, parades, shows, and characters here!

We enjoyed the Street Parade in the MK, as well as the electric light parade in the evening
You just can't visit Disney without riding Dumbo...

The kids enjoyed MANY character encounters during our stay, and filled their autograph books with lots of signatures... though I don't think they ended up with quite as many as our last Disneyland trip.  They still loved the characters, but this visit they were more into the rides than ever before.  The constant question was, "When can we go on another ride?????" (even if we had just gotten off of one) :)

And going along with tradition... Micah spun the kids like crazy on the teacups.  I was sick just watching them.
One of our favorite shows was an evening light show at the MK where they used high-power projectors to completely change the appearance of the castle, including portions that appeared multi-dimensional.  It was awesome!


Favorite Attraction:  Toy Story Mania and Tower of Terror
Summary: Hollywood Studios was another park (similar to Epcot) that we only really needed to visit for half a day, due to the ages of our kids.  We could have stayed longer and taken in more shows, but instead we hit the big headliner rides and then spent more of our time in other parks.

Ready for Toy Story Mania!
I couldn't believe that the kids rode the Tower of Terror this year... can you spot them???
So proud that they conquered the Tower!
In honor of their 60th anniversary, our family was able to sit in the reserved VIP seating area for the Fantasmic show at Hollywood Studios.  We love this show at Disneyland, and loved it here too - it was fun to pick out the differences between the two :)

Favorite Attraction:  Safari
Summary: We really liked Animal Kingdom because it is unlike any Disney park you can find in California.  We loved the rainforest/jungle atmosphere, and the animal sightings were amazing!  

Yes, we did rent a stroller for the week for our 5 & 6 year old... and we were SO glad we did.
Benefits: carried all our stuff,  kids didn't whine about not wanting to walk anymore, and we could walk at "adult pace" in the parks :)
Eli's new "fish friend" (There was actually a hippo in this aquarium!)
Ummm... don't look now Mikayla, but there's a large ape behind you...
Mama and Baby
This dinosaur ride was pretty scary... the picture is taken right as a scary dinosaur comes jumping out.  I love Mikayla's face (she hated this ride), and I think Eli's eyes are closed :)  In the end, Eli said he loved it.  Go figure.
Another momma and baby :)
You can see "Mount Everest" way in the background... the kids rode the large Expedition Everest roller coaster, and let's just say they weren't quite ready for it yet.  It took them awhile to recover! :)
Doug and Russell!
Ready to watch "A Bug's Life"

A number of us enjoyed attending a Character Breakfast at Chef Mickey's in the Contemporary Resort.  We were greeted by Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Goofy, and Pluto.  The kids (young and young-at-heart) all had a great time!

Is Grandma giving Donald a high five or shooing him away?

Waving our napkins for the party song!!!
We love Grandma!

Some of the guys in our group chose a golf outing at the award-winning Magnolia Golf Course, in lieu of the character breakfast...

Mickey-shaped sand trap!

Love the Mickey golf carts!!

Congratulations to my Grandma and Grandpa who have been married for 60 years as of June 21st!!  That event was the reason behind this entire trip (my Grandpa gives all the credit to my Grandma for coming up with the idea for the Disneyworld trip... he says he just went along with it) :)  We had a lovely lunch reception to honor them, completely with a family trivia Jeopardy game, Maple Tree poem, a fingerprint picture, memory book, and much more.  It was so nice to have everyone together to celebrate and to honor them in this milestone.

Love you guys!
Congratulations also goes out to my Uncle Rob and Aunt Diane, as they "got hitched" at our beautiful resort in Orlando.

The Newlyweds
Bricks in honor of the wedding and anniversary.... so sweet!

The WHOLE Gang... what a great week we had with all of you!  Let's do it again... 2013 anyone???

THANK YOU Grandma and Grandpa for blessing us with such a wonderful vacation.  We enjoyed every moment and will talk about the memories for years to come.  We are thankful for your example in marriage, and hope to one day celebrate our own 60th Anniversary!  Who knows, maybe we'll celebrate at Disney World just to keep the tradition going?? :)