Friday, July 18, 2014

Last Day of Preschool

Today is Kate's last day of preschool. Yes, her "graduation" was back in May, but being a day care, that grand event is a little anticlimactic when the kids are right back there in class Monday morning! The teachers actually said the Pre-K kids seemed to have "senioritis" this summer, acting wild and crazy for the couple of months between their graduation and their departure for the big, bad world of kindergarten.

Kate's classmates have gradually moved on—one spending the whole month of July with grandparents, others going on family vacation, etc.—and now it's Kate's turn. She's spending next week with my parents and going to a daily tennis camp in Louisville that she's very excited about. The following week will be a staycation of sorts, Mommy and Daddy each taking a day off to spend with her, some time with Matt's parents, etc. The week after that, school starts!

It's not goodbye to her teachers forever, since I'm sure she'll drop in fairly often, joining us to pick up the little girls, etc., but we still wanted to mark the occasion and say thanks, especially to the main teachers of the classes Kate has been in since we moved back to Nashville three years ago.
Kate painted little flower pots for some begonias, and I made little cards showing pictures of her throughout her time at the school (ages 2, 3, 4, and 5, from top to bottom) and the message "Thank you for helping me bloom!" If I hadn't had so many things to do this week, I might have designed it with a flower graphic and the photos going upward, like she was blooming from a two-year-old to a five-year-old, but Mommy's busy, so we went the simple route. (In any case, there's an idea, if you want to do this yourself!)
Kate's teachers were so touched. Here she is with her pre-K teacher, Ms. Cynthia. They were out on the playground when I arrived yesterday to deliver the gifts and take some pictures. (We've got four kids in the house this week, at two different day cares, so Daddy didn't need to worry with flower pots at drop-off time!)
 Ms. Marian teared up immediately and said, "I love you, Kate!" Claire is currently in her class (AKA the "3-year-old class," though it's really about 2 1/2 to 3 1/2). The "4-year-old class" (3 1/2 to 4 1/2) teacher was out yesterday, so we just left her flower pot and card in her room.
Ms. Faye wanted a picture with both Kate and Claire. Kate was only in her class briefly, when we first moved here, before Kate moved up to Ms. Marian's class. Claire was with her until a few months ago, when she moved up. (We'll need a lot more gifts when Claire graduates, since she's been at this school since about 10 weeks old!)
I took some pics of Kate in the pre-K classroom, and then back out on the playground with some of her friends.


Can these kids pose or what? It looks like a catalog photo shoot, and I swear I didn't arrange them at all! (Matt pointed out that it's probably because kids are photographed so much more in this digital age; they are naturally more photogenic! Speaking of which, I saw a sign in Walgreen's the other day saying "We still develop film!" It was funny to see, and I noticed that it takes 3-5 days, since I guess they have to send it out now!)
Kate also wanted to take a few pics herself. This is my latest "fun hairdo" below: two french braids tied back into a chignon. We call it "Elsa's coronation hair," since the girls frequently ask for "an Elsa braid" (one french braid) or "Anna braids" (two braids).

I also snapped pics of Claire and BGC's classrooms on my way out, as they were sitting down for lunch. Here's cutie Claire and her friends, but why bother showing you BGC's class, since I'd have to block out her face anyway? (In any case, we're proud that even though she can't walk yet, she's moved up to be in class with her age level, and sits at the table with her peers! She's made such amazing strides in her 11 months with us!)
Matt is much more emotional than I am about Kate's last day, since he is the one who usually takes the kids and picks them up, and since his office is just upstairs, he can come down and visit during the day. So, I naturally took a pic of him and Kate before loading up the car this morning.
On to a new stage of childhood! My firstborn baby is such a big girl now, tall and insightful, creative and strong. I'm so excited for all that kindergarten will bring.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Day in the Life

Link-ups around the blogosphere give me the motivation I need to get a post up! Today it's a "Day in the Life," a special edition of A Blonde Ambition's weekly "Confessional Friday" link-up, to which I have never contributed!

I'm glad for the motivation not just to blog but to document a typical day in the life of our family right now. I haven't done one for the blog or scrapbook in a couple years, so it's about time!

We've got a pretty laid-back morning schedule these days, given that my husband and I both have flexible jobs (I work from home and he's a pastor) and the kids aren't in "real" school yet. Even if they were, it's summer, so there. Unless somebody has an early meeting or doctor appointment, we wake when the kids start invading our bed, generally around 7 am, give or take a half hour.  (That will all be over in a few weeks! Kindergarten will mean we're out the door by 7:30. Yikes!)

Cereal and yogurt for breakfast, and since the girls got dressed quickly and early, they got to watch some Netflix (some Tinkerbell movie, or as Claire calls her, "Teen-ter-bell")
Our foster baby, (blog nicknamed) BGC, is a late sleeper, so we wake and dress her just before it's time to go. I haven't talked much about her lately, so to update: she's been with us almost eleven months now—more than half of her life (21 months today). Parents are still working their plan, it's just taking longer than expected. She does four therapies a week (hoping she'll be able to pull up and stand soon!) and is starting the process to get cochlear implants.
Once Matt and the kids are out the door for church and day care, I refresh my coffee and maybe try to tidy up a little bit. I laughed at myself this morning, pouring coffee with one hand while I had a laundry basket of random things-that-don't-belong-downstairs under my other arm. Unfortunately, I didn't have a third hand to capture that photo, but here's the scene on my kitchen counter. (Sink full of dirty dishes barely visible behind the laundry basket.)

Then it's upstairs to my office, where I'll settle in for the next 7-8 hours (if BGC doesn't have any therapies or other appointments I need to take her to—Matt and I divide and conquer the weekly appointments—none for me today!)

A plumber came to install a new toilet in the girls' bathroom. Such a nice perk of working from home—just let the guy in and go back to work in the next room!
Lunch: toss leftover couscous, pork, and cabbage into a frying pan with some teriyaki sauce. It was edible. I would have rather had a panini and soup from Panera, but alas.
I had a very productive day editing a manuscript that I need to get back to the author next week—a forthcoming book called Permission Granted: Take the Bible into Your Own Hands, by Jennifer Grace Bird. (Not available for preorder yet, but you can check it out on the author's site here!)
Dinner: another night of random let's-use-up-what-we-have-before-shopping-again. So, the rest of that cabbage became cole slaw, alongside some barbecue chicken and mac & cheese. Nothing fancy, but we did all fight over who got thirds of the mac & cheese. Mmmmmmmmmmmm.
Everybody got home when dinner was almost ready. Claire was in borrowed day care clothes, a sure sign of a potty accident. Oh well. She's making good progress. She then spilled a bowl of dry cereal Kate had abandoned on the counter at breakfast, so I made her (try to) sweep it up. Note Anna and Elsa strewn on the floor in the background.
After dinner, Matt headed back to church for a meeting, and the big girls and I got to work painting pots! Kate and I were preparing gifts for her teachers, since next week will be her last week at day care/preschool. (Two weeks off, then kindergarten starts!) I've got begonias to plant in each pot and we'll stick a card in there saying "Thank you for helping me bloom!"

To keep Claire occupied, I found a bigger pot in the garage and let her paint that "for Mommy" so she wouldn't try to mess with Kate's painting for her teachers. (See the red ribbon at Claire's neck? That's from the red riding hood cape she's wearing underneath her smock. She had a tutu on as well.)
 After putting on jammies and getting BGC to bed, the big girls and I watched "Prince of Egypt" (in a tutu and witch's hat, of course!)
 I painted my fingernails and toenails while we watched, which meant Claire wanted to, too.
When she wanted me to paint other body parts, including her lips, I suggested she find her sparkly princess lip glosses. So she did, and after Daddy came home, she painted his nails with Belle lip gloss. ("It not Teen-ter-bell!" she said, and I had to clarify, "No, it's Beauty and the Beast Belle!")
Superdaddy also put together Kate's new highback booster seat, which arrived today. I was going to wait until the first week of kindergarten, but we're doing respite for another foster family next week and this way, we won't have to move any car seats from the SUV into the minivan to accommodate our new, short-term guest!
After "Prince of Egypt," we put the girls to bed in their own rooms. No surprise, though, they ended up on the floor together in Kate's room, side by side along with several stuffed animals also covered with blankets. And Claire is still wearing the tutu.
That's a day in our life. How about yours?

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Vacation-Staycation

This post has sat as a half-finished draft for over a month. I'm just not that into blogging this year. But, given that summer is nearly over (yes, school starts in less than a month!) let me finish telling you about our pseudo-summer vacation. . . . .

We'd thought about going to the beach this year, but after various large expenses this spring, we decided to downsize our plans with a short, close trip strategically timed for max relaxation: the Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday following Memorial Day, so we had a three day weekend before going out of town and after we returned. We made sure to fill those six days at home with fun stuff, making those nine days our "vacation-staycation" of 2014!

We spent most of Memorial Day weekend at the pool. Kate is swimming a little more independently, especially if she has a vest on, so she's moved beyond the "catch me!" game that Claire plays over and over, running a constant cycle of jumping in to Mommy (with an adorable "get ready, get set, JUMP" recitation each time), kicking as I escort her to the steps, then running around to jump again). We went over to Matt's parents' house for dinner on Memorial Day. Opa taught the girls to play golf and Granna showed them her new "secret garden."

Tuesday, we took off for Wilderness at the Smokies, a water park resort in the Smoky Mountains, near Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge, Tenn. There are indoor and outdoor water parks there, with slides, wave pools, a lazy river, and other water fun. And kids eat free! So, it was a good place for a mini-vacation with kiddos!
It would be most ideal for families with elementary age kids, since most slides required kids to be at least 42-48 inches tall. Kate went on every slide she was tall enough for a million times. Many required a parent to go with her, so Matt and I spent a lot of our time sitting with Claire while the other parent went with Kate on a slide. Then we'd switch off.
She went on these racing slides at least twenty times. You go down them head-first on a little foam mat, but she was fearless. As she told me when I commented on her bravery:
"I'm not scared of anything. . . Except things that I'm scared of."

Claire was not so into it. There were a couple areas designed for small kids, with small slides she could go on, but she wasn't having any of it. She liked a bouncy-swing thing that let them dip in and out of the water, but refused the slides. It didn't really cramp our style, because she didn't throw a fit about it or refuse to go in the water at all. We took her in the wave pool and on the lazy river, and she just sat there on my lap, stone-faced as we floated around. Our serious little girl.


 FYI, if you go: don't bother packing a pool bag with your own towels, floatation vest, etc. They provide towels and vests and all that, included, so you can go to the water parks without carrying anything (except your room key, which of course fell out of Matt's pocket our first time out).
We'll have to come back when the girls are a little older, so Kate can do more things by herself and Claire might be a little braver! (She's always been more cautious. At bouncy places, Kate was climbing up the huge slides and sliding down at 18 months, but even at 2 1/2, Claire just stands in one place and jumps, if she gets in the inflatable apparatus at all.)

The rooms at Wilderness are fun, with the feel of a mountain lodge. We got a room with a bunk bed separated from a queen bed by a partial wall. The queen bed was on the side near the balcony, so Matt and I could have some privacy from the kids after bedtime, without spending more on a suite with multiple bedrooms. 
We took a little afternoon siesta in our room the first day. Claire wanted to read a magazine, just like Mommy. Fitting that she read an old copy of "Working Mother" with the cover story "Take Back Family Time." :0)
Returning from our mini-vacation meant three more days of staycation in Nashville. We went to a baseball game and spent more time at the pool.  There were fireworks after the ball game, and the kids were invited to run the bases, as I recall doing as a child in Louisville. Kate ran faster than Claire, of course, but after turning third base, Kate stopped and went back to meet Claire, so they would cross home plate hand-in-hand. So sweet!


Hopefully next year we'll make it to the beach, but for this year, our "vacay-staycay" was a great kick-off to the summer.
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