Tag Archives: Olivia

Texas Travels

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My baby girl is back from her Texas adventures,

and she had a wonderful time in the Lonestar State.

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This past winter Grace and her best friend, Olivia, began making plans to take a trip together. Now that they are college students, and gainfully employed, they had the means to make such plans.

They decided to advantage of familial hospitality and crash at the home of Olivia’s Aunt Peggy and Uncle Steven, who graciously invited the girls for a visit.

Living just outside Fort Worth, Texas, made Aunt Peggy and Uncle Steven’s home a perfect home base for day trips around the Dallas/Fort Worth area. Olivia’s aunt and uncle were generous and gracious hosts, spoiling the girls rotten and treating them like adopted daughters during their time in Texas.

Grace and Olivia returned home two weeks ago and we picked them up from the airport. The trip back home was filled with tales of Texas adventures and it was evident it had been a trip for the memory books!

Grace is currently working on one of her awesome travel videos of her Texas travels, but until it is complete and posted I will share some snap shots and snippets from her journal entries of her trip to Texas:

Day 1:

“Eight months of planning has led up to this week. Liv and I have been planning this trip for months and it begins today! We headed to the airport at noon to catch our 2:55 flight. I was a ball of both nerves and excitement; a perfect blend of emotions for travel! We got through security, found our gate, then got something to eat before our flight. Soon it was time to board and off we flew. We were in the air for 2.5 hours. When we arrived in Texas we disembarked and headed towards the luggage area. Suddenly, Liv and I each had an arm around us and Uncle Steve between us.

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We were staying with Liv’s Aunt Peggy and Uncle Steve for the week. We left the airport and headed to their home in Fort Worth where we were welcomed by Aunt Peggy and shown around the house. It was a beautiful house! Our fun day 1 ended with Sno Cones at Uncle Steve’s suggestion. I had Barbie flavored and it was delicious!!”

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Day 2:

“Today was a great day! We woke up, got ready, hopped into Uncle Steve’s truck and I started driving us to Dallas.

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The drive was surprisingly easy and within an hour we were in Dallas, pulling into the JFK 6th Floor museum parking lot. The 6th Floor Museum, housed in the warehouse where the gun was fired, memorializes the life of John F. Kennedy and walks visitors through that fateful day. It was a very interesting museum!

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After the museum we drove over to a cool park that had bronze cattle statues. I loved them! They had so much personality.

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We then decided to start driving to McKinney, Texas, where our friends, the LaFond’s, now live. We were so excited to see Eli after four years apart. At their home we were greeted by different but familiar faces. Eli had changed so much from the 13 year old guy that had been in co-op with us. While there we went window shopping downtown and then had a delicious dinner with the LaFond family. It was so much fun catching up. I am glad we were able to see them again!”

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Day 3:

“Our third day in Texas began with a scary experience on the road but we were soon calmed down and ready to salvage the day with some fun. We spent the day at the Fort Worth Stockyards where we wandered around the many shops until it was time for the cattle drive. It was neat seeing the longhorn steers up close. After the drive we enjoyed the stockyard maze; a cute little maze in the heart of town that was surprisingly tough!

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Dinner was at Joe T. Garcia’s and was incredible! Best Mexican food I have ever had!! The food was amazing but so was the atmosphere. Joe T. Garcia’s had beautiful gardens and fountains. Plus, they had a mariachi band that played for us.

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When we were finished eating  it was time to head to Billy Bob’s for some line dancing. We arrived just as they were starting a line-dancing lesson. We slid on our cowboy boots and headed to the dance floor. It was so much fun! We left feeling like the real deal!”

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Day 4: 

“Today we enjoyed a relaxing morning. Aunt Peggy was home for the day and we decided to go downtown Fort Worth to check out the sights. Aunt Peggy drove us in her convertible. It felt so summery with the top down and our sunglasses on!

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Our first stop was the water gardens. Here we had fun climbing the rocks and messing around within the amazing outdoor water sculptures.

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From there we went to see three art museums located in downtown Fort Worth. My favorite was the Museum of Modern Art. Outside the museum was a sculpture that echoed when you stood inside. We had fun messing around in there…singing, dancing, clapping, etc.

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Next we drove over to a cool shop that Liv discovered online. It was called Pop n’ Cream and it was AMAZING! They had candy, ice cream and popcorn…lots of popcorn! Over 80 flavors of popcorn and we sampled a huge share of them. We all ended up buying a few bags. I bought coconut popcorn for myself and cheesy caramel to take home for the family.

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That night we went out to dinner with Aunt Peggy and Uncle Steve to a restaurant called “Babe’s.” There I enjoyed an amazing meal in a charming environment with awesome people. I had the chicken-fried steak with mashed potatoes and it was delicious!”

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Day 5:

“On day 5 we had Aunt Peggy and Aubrey with us for the day and it was so much fun. We headed to the river to go paddle boarding. Liv and I had never paddle-boarded before so we were both super excited. We arrived, put on our life vests, got a short lesson and then headed out onto the river. Paddle boarding was far easier than I expected and while Liv and I paddle boarded, Aunt Peggy and Aubrey shared a kayak.

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The river ran in front of the city so we were able to enjoy a beautiful city scape in the background while we paddle boarded.

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The entire days was laid back an relaxed as we enjoyed local parks and scenery.

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That night we had a delicious steak dinner back at the house. The evening was spent hanging out at the house, enjoying the player piano and playing board games.”

Day 6:

“On Sunday Liv and I woke up a bit mopey, knowing it was the last day of vacation, but when Uncle Steven started acting goofy he drove our blues away. The morning began with church with Aunt Peggy and Uncle Steven. When we returned home we were just laying around and relaxing when we came up with the idea of having a girls’ afternoon and treating Peggy to a pedicure. The three of us enjoyed an afternoon of pampering as our feet were beautified.

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The evening (and our awesome vacation) concluded with a family dinner at Peggy and Steven’s daughters’ home, a gorgeous nighttime drive through Fort Worth in Aunt Peggy’s convertible, and an attempt at armadillo “hunting” with headlamps at midnight (none were found.)  🙂 “

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Gracie’s Texas trip was the last big event of a jam-packed summer. School began for Grace the following evening and the rest of the kids will start back to school in the next week. Summer is coming to a close but as I reflect on the last 12 weeks it feels more like 12 months have passed. We have done a lot of living this summer and it has been a season of learning, dreaming, planning, and growth, both individually for each of my kids, but also for the family as a whole.

It was a great summer…

Now bring on the blessings of fall!

Grace and Olivia’s Senior Prom

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senior prom

Friday morning Grace woke with excitement coursing through her veins. It was Prom day!

We have cyber schooled our children for 12 years and the most common question asked after, “What about socialization?” or “How can you stand having your children home all day?” is:

“Don’t you feel like your kids are missing out on the best parts of school not being in a traditional brick and mortar school?”

And I have always been able to answer, “No,” because I don’t. God called us to this model of schooling for our children, and it is the best parenting decision we ever made.

I have felt that through this model of schooling we have really gotten the best of both worlds…all the best parts of homeschooling and the better parts of public schooling.

Through our awesome co-op group, we have been able to compensate for those parts of the public-school experience that they might have missed in their early years like talent shows and holiday parties, Valentine exchanges and field trips.

Our transition to 21st Century Cyber Charter School four years ago was really the missing piece in rounding out our cyber schooling experience. At this school, my older kids found a college preparatory learning experience that mimics a post-secondary learning environment far more effectively then what we saw happening in our local public school.

“But what about prom?!” a young girl from church asked us a few years ago, “Your poor kids won’t get to experience prom!”

I tried to explain that I really didn’t place a lot of value in the prom experience, especially knowing how little of value is found at a high school prom, but I understood what she was saying. She felt it was a rite of passage my kids would be denied.

We didn’t know if prom was in the cards for my teenagers but weren’t concerned given the fact that through our church they have been able to participate in a Spring Formal each spring since they were 14, which offers all the fun of prom without the filth found in some of the local schools’ proms.

But as the end of the school year came closer Grace received information about 21st Century Cyber Charter School’s prom. They hold it the Friday afternoon before graduation so families already in town for graduation don’t have the added burden of two trips.

In the months leading up to prom the seniors began submitting ideas for the prom theme. It would be held at the local country club and the senior class eventually voted a masquerade theme for senior prom.

Grace decided that rather than spending money on a formal prom gown that she will never wear again, she would instead wear the same dress she wore to Spring Formal… her custom-made Downton Abby dress she received for her 18th birthday. (Beautifully made by my dear friend, Wendy.)

Since it was masquerade themed Grace and Olivia decided they would each make their own mask, rather than buy one.

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The mask reveal!

Both girls decided to coordinate their masks to their dresses. Using leftover fabric left from her dress Grace made this beautiful mask that matched perfectly! Olivia created a mermaid themed mask that matched her and her dress perfectly.

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The one thing that doesn’t work out quite so well with a cyber school prom, especially when your school is located 5 hours away, is asking a date to prom. You can’t exactly invite a boy to prom, ask him to travel across the state, and book a hotel for a night or two, just to escort you to prom. 😊

But it didn’t matter to Grace. The Hudaks were staying at the same hotel, and I don’t know that there is anyone else Grace would rather share this experience with than her best friend, anyway.

An hour before they had to leave, Grace and Olivia met in our hotel room to begin getting dressed and dolled up.

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The end results were beautiful!

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What lovely young women they both are.

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A friend shared this quote in the graduation letter she wrote Grace and I think it perfectly exemplifies both these young ladies:

“She was beautiful, but not like those girls in the magazines. She was beautiful, for the way she thought. She was beautiful, for that sparkle in her eyes when she talked about something she loved. She was beautiful, for her ability to make other people smile even if she was sad. No, she wasn’t beautiful for something as temporary as her looks. She was beautiful deep down to her soul.”

– F. Scott Fitzgerald

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After a few pictures, we dropped off these two prom princesses at their senior prom and headed over to the bowling party where the rest of the family was spending the day.

It looks like Grace and Olivia had a wonderful time at prom. Here are some of the pictures they took:

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The venue was beautiful!

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Grace and Olivia with Ms. Cloetingh, Olivia’s learning coach and the girls’ mural club teacher.

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Great food and lots of dancing= Awesome Prom!

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Both girls with their learning coaches. Love all four of these pretty ladies!

 

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The girls enjoyed the “Make your own mocktail” station.

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And then there were ice cream sundaes for dessert…Yum!

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Happy Prom!

 

Almost there, ladies!  Graduation is just 24 hours away!