“The Costume Party”

Todd Posted in Uncategorized,Tags: , ,

We had a great day today, and a great night tonight. I love when spontaneous fun just happens :)

It all started when Jasmine got a game out tonight and asked if we could play. I was about to make some cookies (yummy) but told her I’d be happy to join in once I got them in the oven (toaster oven). She then went and asked Michael if he’d play, and Michael just jumped right in and said yes … the game started with Michael and Jasmine and Trevin, while Kaylee Ann and Spencer helped me out in the kitchen with the cookies. Jill was happily playing some wonderful background music on her new piano. This combination of playing games, cookie making, and music playing created what can only be described as the perfect environment for something spontaneous and fun to occur… and that it did.

After the first batch of cookies came out of the oven, Spencer went and put on a costume, and always creative Kaylee Ann decided we’d have a costume party with cookies and dancing. As I pulled the first batch of cookies out of the lil’ oven, I saw Spencer doing some pretty cool dance moves to Kaylee Ann’s drumming. I figured this was looking like something worth capturing, so I started filming the fun. Jasmine and Michael finished their game right about this time, and decided to join in on the costume wearing, cookie eating, dancing party. After recording a few clips – we all decided it would be cool to record one more final clip to post for our friends and family to see. For your viewing enjoyment… drum roll please … The Costume Party (& Dancing & Cookie Eating Party too of course):

This happens to be a bonus post (yes, for those that read this far – you get an extra little bonus – lucky you!). We had so much fun filming our little dance party, and it got me looking at all our videos we’ve taken since arriving in Beijing. I decided to play around with iMovie some more and created a short movie trailer, “Becoming Beijingers.” We hope you enjoy it:

- Todd

Homeschooling – Never Say Never

Jill Posted in Uncategorized,Tags:

[Okay, just as I was about to post this, "never say never" brought a vague recollection from the recesses of my brain.  And I realized it's the title of the Justin Bieber movie.  FYI...this is not an allusion to, nor does it have anything to do with Justin Bieber.  In case anyone was wondering. :) ]

“Never say never.” (That’s just me giving myself some good advice, that I will most likely forget—again.) And now I will remind myself why I should “never say never” by listing only a few of the times I’ve said it, only to have it come back and bite me in the buttocks.

  1. While mixing and matching first and last names with a group of friends (before I was married) I paired my first name—Jill—with a certain boy’s last name and came up with the name “Jill Giles.” And practically in hysterics I said, “Jill GILES! HA HA HA! Jill GILES! That sounds so retarded! I could never marry a Giles! Ha ha ha!” (If you couldn’t guess, that certain boy was Todd.)
  2. While watching someone’s child throw a horrible tantrum, I remember having the distinct thought, “My child will NEVER behave like that!”
  3. After moving to Arizona, “I think we’ll be here forever! I never want to leave!”
  4. After living in Albuquerque for 6 years and planning my children’s education for the next 8 years, I knew I never wanted to move from there, at least not until the kids were through middle school.
  5. “I would never want an odd number of children because there’s a middle child. So we’ll have four or six.”
  6. When Spencer was 3 years old, “Yep, we’re done! No more kids.” (I guess I didn’t actually say the word never with this one! :) )
  7. And finally, “I would never homeschool!”

“I would go insane!” “I’m not organized enough.” “Homeschooled kids are weird!” And I’ve given a hundred other reasons I would “never” homeschool.  But here I am, married to a Giles, with an odd number of kids, all of whom have thrown tantrums, moved from Arizona and Albuquerque to China of all places, and…I’m homeschooling.

When we made the decision to homeschool the kids I knew it was what I was supposed to do, but Todd and I were apprehensive nonetheless. Todd worried about my sanity. I worried about my sanity, a little, but I worried more about the kids.  What if I failed them in their education?  My first goal for myself was survival. (I set the bar a little low, I know.) And if the kids learned something and didn’t despise me at the end of the day, that would be progress. And if the kids learned a lot and actually liked it, that would be a tremendous success!

We just finished our second month of homeschool, and it has been a success!!! The kids are loving it. That doesn’t mean they love every single thing they have to do, or that every day is perfect, but as far as an overall school experience goes, they have told me they like it much better than regular school. And something I never imagined possible, I love it too!  I may even love it more than the kids do.

Top 10 Reasons I love homeschool (in no particular order):

  1. We can always start the day off right with prayer and scripture study, even if we’re running late.
  2. The kids are learning more.
  3. They’re learning at their own pace (some need it faster, some need it slower).
  4. I can teach them what I feel is most important and timely.
  5. I feel like their education is more well rounded than it was in any of their previous schools.
  6. We make the schedule and can take trips, vacations, and holidays without interfering with school.
  7. I spend more time with my children, and enjoy that time more.
  8. I know exactly what the kids are learning, what their assignments are, and what the requirements are for the assignments. No more guesswork.
  9. The stress levels in our home have actually decreased.
  10. I get to learn new things every day.

I still can’t get over the fact that I’m homeschooling and loving it! I am one happy homeschooling mom.

I have so much more I want to say, but this post is waxing long. Obviously I’m new to homeschooling, but I would love to share our experiences if it might help other families out there. I already have a few ideas for future homeschool posts: curriculum, daily schedule, long-term plans, etc. If you have any specific questions I’ll do my best to answer or include them in a post if several people are interested.  Until next time!


- Jill

A fun way to travel ;)

Todd Posted in Uncategorized

Thanks to "Little.Red.Dot.Sg" for the cool photo ;)

A week or two ago I took the girls (Jasmine and Kaylee Ann) out on a daddy-daughter-daughter date outing (Kaylee Ann doesn’t like going out on a date with her dad, so outing will have to suffice). Aside from eating lot’s of yummy stuff, and doing tons ‘o window shopping (we actually purchased some new earrings as well) – we decided to take a more creative way back home rather than walking or taking the bus. Around our neighborhood, and all of Beijing really, there are these motorized trikes. The passenger compartment’s often feel like they’ve just been patched together out of some spare metal and plastic parts. The driver is in the front, with passengers in back – and they typically charge much less than a taxi or taxi-like service in a car. I sincerely doubt they are licensed to be taking passengers around, and are likely not the safest thing to get a ride in, but for us crazy adventurous types I don’t mind using them for short trips when it’s more convenient and of course to top off the end of a wonderful daddy-daughter-daughter outing :) I apologize for the lower quality of this video, but I didn’t have the nicer cell phone with me on this trip :( Enjoy:

- Todd