Friday, August 29, 2014

New Shoes

Gracie and Thomas got their new school shoes in the mail today.  Now, Gracie has gotten a "good" pair of shoes at least once a year (mostly twice a year) since she started Kindergarten. I am not sure when Garren started ordering them from Zappo's, but he and I agreed she needed something better than the Payless I had put on her when it was time for all day school. And, that means it was Thomas' turn too.

Thomas was beyond excited to try out his first pair of "nice" shoes and ran around the house jumping and leaping to try them out.

Ah, I love having easy to please kids :)

One more thing on the ever shortening list of "almost time for Kindergarten."

One Last (Chilly) Splash

It is the Friday before school starts.  Our last "normal" day at home just us 3.  Same for Grace.  So, she suggested finding the splash park here locally that everyone was raving about for a final play date with our boys this summer.

I didn't dress myself to get in the water, but apparently it was freezing. So, cold in fact Gracie would not go and play.

But, Thomas (and Bryce, and Chase & Emmy & Taylor) didn't let a little cold water ruin their fun.

Grace's sister in law brought her two kids to meet up with us as well, and those boys had a blast, and the girls stuck together like glue and had mildly wet fun as well.

This was such a super neat (and hidden!!) place for summer play! I bet they turn the water off after Labor Day, so we will have to remember this locale for next summer.

They even have a dry playground next to it for when you are tired of being wet, or you want to warm up before you splash.

Did I mention it was a park--so it was free!  You know I love free fun!

So, besides forgetting dry clothes for Thomas, and Gracie refusing to play because the water was too cold--it was an awesome last summer hurrah!

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Gracie's New Teacher

Gracie was all smiles today when it was her turn to go to the school's Meet The Teacher Night. 

It may have been because she had spent much of the day at the school with Mary Gray helping our other teachers, making copies, handing out papers and filling out t-shirt order forms.  Or, it could have been the new dress I made her.  Or, the fact that Thomas was hanging out with Bryce so that I could take her alone.

But, I think it was because she was able to see and hug her old teacher yesterday.

Now, you might think it was random chance, but I truly believe that there are times (many) that God steps in and makes things possible.

We were loading up my car yesterday in the Whitlock's driveway, moments away from putting Thomas' carseat in and driving back home after and amazing day at the lake, when who literally walks up the street but Assistant Principal Todd, and Mrs. Mullenaux & new baby!

What are the odds?!  I can't even fathom.  The two (well three) had decided to walk the MES 5K route for some exercise.  Mrs. Mullenaux doesn't even work at MES any longer, but happened to be there that day, and that time and went for a random walk and found Gracie.

I can't not describe what that impromptu (and blessed) meeting did for Gracie.  She was bouncing, she was happy again.  She hugged her teacher twice, and Mrs. Mullenaux is so sweet and just gushed and gushed over Gracie and reminded her she wouldn't forget about her--which is exactly what she needed!

I am forever thankful for that moment for my child. My sweet, sensitive child who loves with her whole heart and more than likely equated "Mrs. Mullenaux isn't going to be your teacher anymore" with "you will never ever see her again."

So, she was renewed and happy when I took her to meet her new teacher Mrs. Madison, who is in the same classroom and will be teaching (roughly) the same class as last year.  And, it helped that she knew who she was! Apparently Mrs. Madison was a Kindergarten or 1st grade teacher at MES, so all of the girls will know her.

So many blessings to make this transition go so much smoother.

Here she is...our 5th grader.  Last year in elementary school. Top dog. Sweet girl.

You don't have to ask me... I have no idea where the time has gone. It has passed far too quickly, and it shows no signs of slowing down.

Cardinal Camp

We have been waiting for this day. Some of us more than others.

It was kind of confusing to Thomas to know that this was not the first day of school, and it would only be for a few hours.  Plus, he couldn't take a lunch or eat in the "food court" or ride the bus.

Today was Cardinal Camp.

Our school offers a Kindergarten mini school day for new to big school kids.

Since Gracie started her big school life in Strasburg, I didn't know the ropes for Kindergarten at MES. In fact, Kindergarten is the only grade at this school I know nothing about. I have no idea where the classrooms are, who the teachers are, what the field trips will be, etc.  So, I feel even more anxious about the whole process.

But, Thomas doesn't.

He was so excited when he got up this morning, he couldn't wait to go to Kindergarten!

I had made the lunch box bow tie more than a month ago when I thought Cardinal Camp had been cancelled and he would just meet his teacher for a few minutes like Gracie, but I wasn't about to change the "look" even though he would be there for 2 hours.

I have to say he looked precious, and I got a lot of compliments on how cute he was. Of course most came from people who were not the least bit surprised he was dressed that way.  Another benefit of having big sister at the school is that so many people have watched him grow over the past 4 years and know his face...and the way his mama dresses him :)

We got to school early and dropped Gracie at the front office to hang out with friend Mary Gray (the principal's daughter) so I could completely focus on Thomas.  Then we found a seat among a ton of Kindergarten parents in the cafeteria. Grace was nice enough to save us a seat, so Thomas and Bryce could sit together.

We got a short introduction and then Dr. Robinson called out names to go with teachers.  Well, we were on the first list, so we followed Mrs. Naff--our new Kindergarten teacher to the classroom!

Thomas and Bryce are in the same class, and I can't tell you how excited (and relieved) I am about that.

Thomas was bopping along as we winded our way through the school and down hallways. I was less bouncy as I was the one weighed down by the massive school supplies I was carrying.

The kids had to find their names at a table. Thomas was initially upset that he and Bryce were at different tables, but he moved on to coloring after spying his friend at the table behind him.

We parents listened to the teacher for a few minutes and attempted to balance school papers in our laps before being summoned back to the cafeteria for more information and a chance to fill out more papers.

Before we left the classroom though, Mrs. Naff instructs the kids, now on the carpet, to blow us a kiss goodbye. No! Of all the things she could have said--not that!!  Well, I had my camera out, and quickly pushed the record button, but didn't get all the kisses.  I saw mine though, and seriously had to fight back tears.

Grace and I sat on the uncomfortable stools in the cafeteria and filled out more than a half hour of paper work and paid fees before leaving.  We would come back at 2 to pick up our boys.

I got back a little early, as I hate to be late, and I wasn't sure how long to allow for parking and walking.  So, I got a few extra glimpses in their day. Their class happened to be in the music room when  I walked past, so I snuck a peek, and a picture. And then I got to see them line up and walk into the room.

The kids sat back on the carpet and Mrs. Naff read them (and us parents) "The Night Before Kindergarten"  At the end they all got a copy of the book and an MES sticker to take home.

Thomas had a great mini-school day. And, while he saw and did a million things, the only thing he will tell you about is getting to sit on a school bus.  He has such a one-track mind!  My crazy kid.

I was less than dignified probably throughout this whole experience, but thankfully I didn't have to do it alone. My kid is excited, and I have 21 other moms who were feeling anxious in some form or another right along with me. One of whom I can at least talk to.  Thanks Grace for going through all of us this with me. It is nice to have someone who understands :)

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

On A Boat...On A Lake

Thomas was over the moon this morning as we climbed aboard for his first ever boat ride. 

It is nice to have friends with connections ;)

It was beyond awesome that Grace's mom and dad invited Thomas (and the rest of us) for a day on their boat.  While we were all glad for the invite, the day couldn't have been more exciting for our 5 year old boy.

He asked "Pap" (Bryce's grandpa) a million and one questions. He wanted to know how everything worked and what this did, and how do you do that.  It went on and on and on. I would wrangle him and make him sit quietly beside me, but he just couldn't keep his curiosity quiet, He would find a way to wiggle out of the seat and back over to the helm.  Thank goodness they are champion grandparents!! (i.e. unbelievably patient and kind!)

We rode the very nice pontoon out to a small collection of islands in the lake. "Pap" pulled the boat up on a sandbar and the kids were able to walk out and swim and jump and splash.

I think we swam for an hour, maybe longer.

I was much more at ease in the water this time 1) because I wore a shirt the whole time to protect my very nasty, still painful week old sunburn 2) the water was warm & clear  and 3) I packed Thomas' life jacket.  While the jacket was necessary for THIS kid on the boat, it was also great as he could swim fearlessly.

And, my fearless little boy even jumped off the side of the boat--once. He kind of landed on his face, so he didn't repeat is exciting adventure, but he watched as Bryce did it half-a-dozen more times.

We took a break from swimming and jumping and we had some lunch.  I brought my kids food, but "Nana" (Bryce's Grandma) packed "Grandparent food." You know like chips and rolls and cookies (3 kinds!)--so the kids ate very little of what I packed. (These people are saints I tell you!)  But, they ate well. 

And, then they jumped back in for more swimming.

We stayed maybe another half hour and fed the fish the uneaten rolls and set off to explore the lake in the boat. 

What gorgeous homes! Have no idea what you have to do in life to have a house like those or own a gorgeous home, 2 boats and a few jet skis, but clearly their life rocks ;)

We rode around and hit all the "waves" we could before heading back.

Now, I told you about Nana and Pap, but I didn't mention Grace's 90 year old Grandma "Granny."  What a hoot this wonderful lady is.  She seemed to really enjoy watching the kids enjoy themselves, and maybe Thomas being...well, Thomas.

And, if you thought the spoiling couldn't get worse, Nanny insisted on sending money with Grace to stop and get all 4 kids Dairy Queen.

What a day!

Oh and we went under a bridge... ;)

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Nap Mat Practice

See that pile behind his head?  That's ALL his school supplies!  Crazy isn't it?!!

But, he is ready.  All of his supplies are labeled and packed up, and I got that nap mat out of the plastic to help air out the "new plastic" smell.

He looks huge laying on that mat, but at the same time he still looks far too little to be headed to big school.

**Excuse the night shirt he is wearing, I had him come down and give his mat a try before bed tonight**

Monday, August 25, 2014

End Of Summer Preschool Play Date

 There is only a week left to go, so I figured all of us nervous moms might like to get our almost-Kindergarteners together for one last play date.

And, what a perfect morning we had for it!

The temperatures were perfect and cool and the sun was warm.  3 of Thomas' friends joined him at the Kitty's Kids play ground and they really had a great time.

And, they got cupcakes out of the deal too! It was Bryce's 1/2 birthday, so Grace brought in sugar for all of his friends to share.

We also got to see Mrs. Tammy & Mrs. Kim one more time before big school. They were setting up their new classroom for next year's class. (So of course I had to get a picture)

Thomas is really going to miss his preschool friends, and I have had to remind him several times that only Bryce will be going with him to Kindergarten.  But, luckily for us: Paige, Rebecca & Jansen all go to church with us, so we will see them often.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Rough Month

I don't want to linger on the negative, as life is meant to be filled with joy, but a rather rough month + kind of hit somewhat of a climax today. At least I am hoping this the climax--as I mentioned--it has been a rough month.

*I was sick for nearly 3.5 weeks. It took 2 doctor's visits, 2 antibiotics, and finally a steroid to rid my body of a nasty sinus infection and a very persistent and painful cough.

*Daddy is now sick with a bad cough.

*Thomas nearly broke his foot and/or leg.

*A teacher at Gracie's school died suddenly and unexpectedly. She didn't have this particular teacher so my plan was not to even tell her (because I ridiculously shelter my children), but it was all over the news, everyone was talking about it, and makeshift memorial was set up at the school's outdoor sign.  So, I had to tell her about the teacher.

*Cardinal Camp was cancelled for incoming Kindergarteners (and then reinstated as a mini orientation)

*We missed Isaac's Marine Corps graduation

*I have a severe sunburn that is so painful it makes me cry in the shower 4 days later!

*And, today, I had to tell Gracie her teacher isn't coming back from maternity leave.

To be honest, it was in the back of my mind all summer.  I know what a blessing my babies were and are and how grateful I am that I can stay at home and be with them all the time and see every first, and revel in every moment. I was sure that the idea to stay at home permanently would likely entice one of our favorite teachers.

So, while I was prepared for her not to return, still the reality hit hard for me, and knowing I would have to tell my daughter who adores her teacher was sickening.

So, I put it off. I didn't want to bombard her the day before Meet The Teacher night, but I knew how upset she would be and I wanted to ruin as little of her summer as I could.

I found out through sources mid-August, and I received the official letter from the school 2 days later.

Mrs. Mullenaux is not staying at home with her baby, but she is taking a different job in the school system. She won't be at MES at all.

Gracie took it very, very hard.

I hope that the pain will subside by Thursday when she meets her new 5th grade teacher.  We have talked about lots of things in this life "lesson," but the biggest one was to be sure to give this teacher a chance. She wants to teach and mold them and she needs to have a class who will at least try to love her.

So, while I was in need of prayers for a Kindergartener, my 5th grader will need some extra ones too.

School Bus Test Drive

It was just a test run on the school bus, but Thomas will take any opportunity to ride on a bus..or a train...or a truck...trolley...or a different car...

You get the idea.

Today was the back to school celebration at our local library.

This is the second year my kids have been. And, even though Thomas wouldn't be riding a school bus to preschool it seemed like a great opportunity to let him finally ride a school bus like his big sister.  And, this year, it was a great way to warm up for his first "official" school bus ride in 9 days.

9 days!!

Having done this activity last year with the kids, I knew it was a great program and I loved that the school bus driver talked to all of us parents and answered fears and questions--so, I invited all of Thomas' preschool friends and parents to come too.

How thrilled were we that 5 friends came to ride the bus and play with Thomas!

Of course best friend Bryce was there first, and he and Thomas quickly claimed a seat.

Yes, I talked him into taking that backpack. I knew there would be activities and goody bags so I figured it would be practical, but lets be honest, I did it for the photo ops!  I didn't want him to take his actual school back pack, so I used the precious Curious George one Grandma got him last summer. Plus, Chewey would need a place to ride until he got to the bus.  Chewey has always wanted to ride the school bus too!

 After a ride on the bus and many, many pictures later, we checked out the other activities.

The kids liked the obstacle course and active games with Stretch and Grow, and Jason took the boys to do a craft while I waited with the girls to get face paint done.  Emmy choose a yellow butterfly, and so Gracie decided to match her.

Thomas and Bryce also got a chance to visit with firefighters and climb aboard the #7 fire truck. (Number 7 station is across the road from us, so Thomas was extra excited)

This is a great program that the library does at the end of summer, and we loved sharing it with friends!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Annual Beach Trip With The Whitlocks

I figure it is "annual" since this is the second year in a row we have gone.  Makes sense--right?

Just like last year, the beach was awesome, the sky was beautiful, and the weather was perfect!

Well, it got closer to perfect after we moved the whiny kids (mostly Gracie) away from the more seaweed infested area to a less seaweed infested area.

The kids loved the sand and the water, and this year those boys got super brave and spent most of their time at the rope.  They wanted to jump the waves the boats and the wind created.

Yorktown beach is technically a sandy edge of the York River, but it is salt water has seaweed and jellyfish, seagulls and tons of shells--so really it is the best (and worst) parts of the ocean front without the loud (and dangerous) waves!

While Emmy spends most of her beach time snacking, playing in the sand and napping--she got brave and let me carry her out to the deeper water and "jump" the waves.  She loved it as much as her big brother did.

Now, despite the worst sunburn I have ever gotten taking up my entire back, it was a wonderful day.

We stopped for overpriced ice cream, we looked around in the cute little shops, and we stopped for BBQ on the way home.  Oh, and we rode the trolly as well!

I love days like today.  While I prefer to lead a very solitary life with my kids, I truly enjoy sharing these adventures with Grace and her precious family too.

**I have more pictures than I do commentary, so enjoy all of the scenes from our day!**