Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Dinner Party

Last night I attended a dinner party hosted by my friend Cathy who just so happens to be my "Motherless Daughters" support group leader.  We finished our book last Tuesday night, so we will no longer be meeting in that kind of setting, but all of us have bonded over the summer and plan to get together once a month for dinner.  Cathy and her husband live in a beautiful home in Edmond, and when we arrived, she had the dining room table set as if she were expecting very important guests-- china, glassware, salad forks, was all there.  She prepared a wonderful meal and we spent the next five hours lingering around the dinner table, talking, sharing, and laughing.  We only changed locations once when we moved from the formal dining room to the eat-in-kitchen area where dessert and cappuccinos were waiting for us.  It felt warm and cozy and so nice to be taken care of.
Our after dinner table
The dining room where we talked the night away
Therese, Metra, Renee, and Me; Cathy was taking the photo
We missed you Carolyn and Alice!

And throughout the entire eveing, Cathy's sweet dog, Bogart, made sure to keep us company. 

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

I Feel Naked Without My Phone!

Today was a tragic day for my phone.  It met its end when it was dropped onto our concrete floor this morning.  It didn't shatter or appear broken, but instead just displayed the "white screen of death" as it is called.  Nothing happened.  No calls could be received or dialed.  No apps were visible.  It was just gone.  After a trip to the Apple store, it is clear that there is nothing left to do, but put it out of its misery and move on.  So if anyone tries to call or text me in the next few days, I will not be available!  I totally feel naked without my phone!  I use it to stay connected throughout the day, especially since we got rid of our land line last year.  Mike joked that we need to start learning smoke signals so we can communicate from afar.  I didn't realize just how much I rely on it.  Not just for calls and texting, but for checking email while I'm away, using the map app, and for playing Words With Friends (Sorry, Dad!  I'm sure our game was lost!). 

But then I got to thinking about all the years in my life where I didn't even own a cell phone, much less an iphone.  I got my first cellular phone my freshman year in college.  It was monstrously big and heavy, like something Zack Morris would use on Saved By the Bell!  I was instructed to only use it in the event of an emergency.  No chatting or casual phone calling allowed!  I kept it in the glove box of my car just in case. Eventually the styles changed.  Phones became smaller and more lightweight.  The calling plans became more reasonable.  And then texting came into play.  I only jumped on that bandwagon a about a year ago, but love using it to stay in touch! Now I can't imagine life without my phone! 

So, I'm curious....When did you get your first cell phone? 

Monday, August 29, 2011

Mother's Day Out Monday

Today Lucas started going to Mother's Day Out.  Last year he attended the same program at the same church, but this year he has a new room and new teachers, so he was a little bit nervous.  Scratch that.  He was a lot nervous.  This little guy is a Mama's Boy through and through.  He is like my shadow at home and he's a snuggler too.  It was tempting to keep him home this fall, but my dad offered to pay for him to attend one day a week, so I decided to keep it up.  By the end of the year last year, he was walking right in to his class with a big smile on his face.  I totally forgot to take any pictures of the big day, sad to say. Just know I was juggling a diaper bag, a lunch box, a blanket, and a very clingy little boy who was not in the mood for a photo.  In fact, his face looked a little bit like this....
Only he had big tears rolling down his cheeks and he was saying, "Mama!  Daddy!  Mama!  Daddy!"  It was sad.  But when I picked him up, he was happy and smiling.  His teacher said he only cried about two minutes after we left, then he played and was "very sweet" all day long. 

So for me, Mondays will be my one day of the week where I don't have any kids and I don't have any commitments.  I'm planning on using the day to: 1.) Catch up on housework, 2.) Catch up on laundry, 3.) Grocery shop, or 4.) All of the above.

OR....if all of those things are under control, then Mondays can be my sit-in-a-chair-with-a-cup-of-tea-and-a-book day.  Or since Mike works from home, we could have a  lunch date on Mondays and go out to eat together to enjoy uninterrupted conversation!  We could try all of those not-kid-friendly places we've been wanting to try....

Okay, I'm starting to really like Mondays!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

My Family

We've got two new family portraits at our house.  One drawn by Leah and the other by Hannah.  And guess what?  I LOVE them.  I love how each girl has portrayed our family.  We are all smiling and happy.  Even Ellie and Tundra made it in the pictures as well. Check them out!
Leah's drawing on the top and Hannah's drawing on the bottom

In Leah's drawing, she has us all holding hands which I really like. 
I love her phonetic spelling of "Lokis" and that she even included our old cat, Sophie, who was around when she was a baby.  Leah gave herself a long, purple ball gown and a blue smile.

Hannah's drawing is similar to Leah's, but different in subtle ways.  Like in the way she drew our eyes, including my blue eyes.  I love our little chubby hands and Mike's capri length black pants.  I'm so glad to be a part of this wonderful family!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Just Because

August 2010

Just because I was feeling nostalgic today, I went back to my August 2010 folder and found this gem.  I cannot believe how much he has changed!  For starters, he has almost 20 teeth now!  He also rides in a front facing car seat, weighs 24 pounds, can speak in sentences, and has lost a little of that cute baby fat.  But two things remain the same-- his sweet smile and the sparkle in his eyes.  I can't imagine what he'll look like this time next year!

Friday, August 26, 2011

An End And A Beginning

This is the last Friday in August, and I find myself in a strange sort of place.  A middle ground of sorts.  We've certainly enjoyed our summer, but I am definitely ready for fall.  For cooler weather, football, shorter days, mellow sunshine, cute cardigans and scarves.  But I sort of don't want fall to be here either.  Because it will be a year ago this fall that my mom went into the hospital and started the horrible, downward spiral.  Up until now, I can think back to a year ago and remember when life was "normal", when we were living our carefree lives together, not worried about the future. But when fall comes, and then winter, I will have to remember our cold, anxious days in the hospital.  The roller-coaster of paralyzing fear and hopeful expectation.  The long days spent sitting in a stale waiting room, or sipping a cup of coffee in the hospital cafe, or watching my mom struggle to breathe.  I am fearful that my good memories will get swallowed up by the bad.  I am fearful that I will forget what my mom was really like, but only remember her in a hospital bed.  It has almost been four months since she died, and with each month's passing, I feel a growing empty chasm between the day I last saw here alive and today.  With each day it grows wider and darker. 

I guess what I am trying to say is that there was an end.  An end to an era in my life.  An end to my life with a mother.  I sometimes get stuck in the end, in the growing void, feeling worried and sad.  But then I remember that this is also a beginning, a beginning of a new chapter in my life.  It is not a chapter I would have written for myself, but God ordained it to be, so I can lift my head and embrace this new beginning.

"Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. "  Philippians 1:6 

Thursday, August 25, 2011

A Job To Do

Today started off with a job to do.  I had put it off for too long and it just had to be done.  No if's, and's or but's about it.  I had to take care of the weed situation in our front flower bed.  With the scalding hot temperatures this summer, I (like a lot of people) just flat gave up on working outside.  I swallowed my gardening pride and became one of "those" people who just let nature take over their flower beds completely.  So today, I declared war on those pesky weeds.  I gathered my supplies, procured a "helper", filled up a water bottle, and headed outside. 
One sad section of my front flower bed.  It's really embarrassing.
My trusty assistant decided to play with his dump truck while I worked. 
In the middle of the project. 
Feeling hot and sweaty, but relieved to actually see dirt underneath the weedy overgrowth.
Cutest assistant ever.
One section finished.  By lunchtime we had the whole front bed cleared out. 

What a relief!  And the temperatures were only in the upper 90's, so it wasn't nearly as bad as I had thought.  That in itself is a sad statement.  I think we are so acclimated to the high temperatures that we are going to break out our sweaters when they drop into the 80's. 

After we were finished, Lucas and I ate lunch, then he took a whopping three hour nap.  I cleaned, baked some cookies, took a shower, read, and had a lovely afternoon indoors.  What did you do today?

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The Guest On Our Porch

We have a new guest taking up residence on our porch.  His name is Andrew.  Would you like to meet him?  Please don't freak out when you do, though.  I can assure you he is very quiet and gentle and has helped control the flying pest population in our front garden.  Oh and he has eight legs.  And he sits upside down.  Ready now?  May I present to you.....

Andrew the Spider
We discovered Andrew on our porch about a week ago, which turned into a perfect science project for the kids!  After some research, we discovered him to be a St. Andrew's Cross Spider (hence the name Andrew).  Originally found in Australia, this particular type of spider is very gentle, not poisonous, and is mainly found in gardens where they spin large webs to trap all sorts of flying insects.  They get their name because they sit upside down on their webs forming a St. Andrew's Cross (more like an X to me).  Anyway, we've seen him wrap up flies and mosquitoes to eat for dinner and that is just fine with me. 

His web is not in the direct path of guests coming and going, so we've decided to let him stay for awhile.  Not forever, but for awhile.  Sort of like our own Charlotte, although we have yet to see any words in his web! The kids have all gotten used to him, and nonchalantly say, "Hey, Andrew," as they come and go from the house.  And since it's been so crazy hot this summer (like 108 today!), we've hardly spent any time sitting on the front porch, so Andrew's presence isn't an inconvenience.  Come fall, if he's still here, he'll need to move on so I can sit in my chairs and not feel his creepy legs crawling on me.  I draw the line there.  

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

So Thankful

For the last two months, I've been attending a support group for women who have lost their mothers.  We've been reading a book entitled Motherless Daughters by Hope Edlemen, and it has been such an amazing experience.  Amazing and painful and emotional and tearful and wonderful all at the same time.  The women in the group range in age from 34 to 86 and everywhere in between.  Some of us lost our moms recently, like me.  Others thirty or fifty or even eighty years ago.  But the common thread between us all is that we all miss our moms.  We all want and need to be mothered.  Tonight we discussed the book's final two chapters, one of which was entitled "The Daughter Becomes a Mother:  Extending the Line".  This chapter explores how becoming a mother helps us reconnect with the mothers we lost as well as brings up a whole new cycle of grief.  We had a lot of interesting discussion.  I cried because I came to the realization this week that no one will love me like my Mom loved me.  I know this because I am a mom now, and as crazy as my kids can act sometimes, I will always love them.  When this thought hit me this week, I just sobbed.  But then I realized that I also have a lot to be thankful for.  Most of the women in my group lost their mothers before they ever had children.  I am SO grateful that my mom was there for each of my kids' births.  She was there in those first few sleepless weeks to help, give advice, or just hold a baby for awhile.  She was such a comfort to me during those critical times in my life, and I never want to take that for granted.

Mom and me at the hospital waiting for Hannah and Leah's arrival.  I look huge and tired (see the dark circles under my eyes?) and my mom was so excited to meet these much anticipated little girls!
December 2004
Shortly after they were born.....Mom holding Hannah and Dixie (my mother-in-law) holding Leah.
This is one of my favortie photos of all time.  There is just so much love here.

Mom gazing at Lucas.  "The most beautiful boy in the world," she used to say.
I think so too.
July 2009

Monday, August 22, 2011


Our girls have been in first grade for eight days now.  And one thing that is already different from kindergarten is homework.  Their teacher said thirty minutes of homework per night (not including Fridays) is appropriate for first graders, and so far they are handling it just fine.  Each night the girls have a leveled book to read from, a math worksheet to work on, and spelling words to practice. 

We are still in the midst of getting into our new schedule, but so far they are getting their homework done without much trouble.  I will say that I have started to notice some different patterns in both girls.  Being twins, this is interesting to me.  Leah is not necessarily concerned with neatness.  Her papers tend to be wrinkled and her drawings erased over and over until the paper rips, but she is very creative and I love her ideas.  Hannah is very neat and methodical.  She takes her time to make things perfect.  Her papers stay crisp and looking new.  However, she is just as creative and unique in her ideas!  I love that both girls arrive at the same place, but just get there in different ways.

How did you handle homework?  Were you concerned with being neat and orderly or were your papers a disaster?  Did you do your homework right away or procrastinate until the last second? 

Sunday, August 21, 2011

I Am Lukey

Today this boy:
1. Blew raspberries on my tummy.
2.  Performed some killer dance moves in a fairly busy restaurant.
3. Drew pictures with sidewalk chalk and got most of it on his arms and legs.
4. Used his pop gun to "shoot" everything in the house including an Oreo cookie.
5.  Spent several minutes on the floor yelling, "I'm Lukey!!" then laughing hysterically.


Saturday, August 20, 2011

Wishing Well

Tonight I asked the girls a question, "If you had one wish, what would you wish for?"
Leah making a wish after throwing her penny in the fountain at a local mall.

Hannah contemplating her wish.

Hannah's answer was simple and straightforward:  "I would wish for a new toy!"

Leah's answer was more complicated:  "I would wish that our house would be a castle and Daddy would be the King, Mommy would be the Queen, I'd be a Princess, and Lucas would be the Prince, and Hannah would be the Royal Cat!" 

Mike and I laughed at her creativity, but Hannah insisted that she would rather be a princess than a royal cat.  Not sure where that one came from!  I love my silly girls!

Friday, August 19, 2011

If You Give a Mouse a Cookie

For my fifth and final children's book recommendation, I present a classic-- If You Give a Mouse a Cookie by Laura Joffe Numeroff.  Most of you know of or have read this one, I am sure.  Felicia Bond's adorable illustrations are very recognizable and beloved.  And since this first book, many more by Numeroff have followed including If You Give a Moose a Muffin, If You Give a Cat a Cupcake, If You Give a Pig a Party, and If You Take A Mouse to the Movies.

These books all do the same basic thing-- show cause and effect in a very cute way.  "If you give a mouse a cookie, chances are he'll want some milk to go with it."  Each story continues until it has made a complete circle, ending where it all started. 

My girls love all of these books and enjoy reading them again and again!

Reading Connection:  Try writing your own cause and effect story.  For example,  "If you give your Mom a cup of coffee, chances are she'll want some sugar to go with it.  And if you give your Mom some sugar, chances are she'll remember that she's supposed to make cookies for her daughter's first grade class, etc."  I love to see where these stories lead.  Sometimes they wrap up neatly right back where they started, and other times, they end in a funny, altogether different way.  There's no right or wrong. Just have fun creating your own cause and effect book together!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales and The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs!

Today's book is really two different books by the same author, Jon Scieszka, but they pair really well together.  In each story, a familiar fairy tale is told, but with a twist on the original version.  In The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs, the Wolf's side of the story is finally revealed.  He wasn't big and bad and mean, but instead he was suffering from a cold (which made him sneeze ever so violently), and  he just needed to borrow a cup of sugar to bake a cake for his dear old Granny.  It was all a big misunderstanding!  The book begins with the following words:

Everybody knows the story of The Three Little Pigs.
Or at least they think they do.
But I'll let you in on a little secret.  Nobody knows the real story, because nobody has ever heard my side of the story.
--A. Wolf
The Stinky Cheese Man is a collection of fairy tales told with a silly twist.  For instance, instead of a gingerbread man there's a stinky cheese man who runs away from different people, but no one wants to chase him because he stinks!  Then there's the story of "Little Red Running Shorts" and "The Really Ugly Duckling" who grew up to just be a really ugly duck! 

My kids love the humor and the silly factor that each story brings.  I mean, what six year old doesn't love saying "stinky cheese man"? 

Reading Connection:  Make up your own fractured fairy tale!  Choose a well known story, then tell it from another perspective.  For example, how would Red Riding Hood be told from the perspective of the wolf?  Or Cinderella from the perspective of one of the step-sisters?  Another idea is simply add in some silly humor to a fairy tale.  Like exchaning the stinky cheese for gingerbread!  Have fun with it and be creative!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Outside, Inside

Outside, Inside
by Carolyn Crimi

As a former English teacher, I love this book.  It is filled with so many literary devices that I can think of ten different uses for it in my classroom. The funny thing is, I had never heard of this book or the author until I stumbled upon it at a bookstore's going out of business sale several years ago.  The price was right, so I snatched it up hoping it would be worth the little bit I paid for it.  Thankfully, it was worth way more!  Like most good story lines, this one is simple by comparing what is happening outside and inside one very rainy day.  "Outside, black clouds sink down to the bottom of the sky.  Inside, Molly stretches and yawns in her red flannel robe. Outside, tree leaves flap in the crying wind.  Inside, Molly's slippers whisper down the hall." The story continues on comparing outside and inside until the rain ends, Molly opens up the window and lets the outside in! 

The similes and metaphors are creative and abundant in this story, which I just love, along with personification and onomatopoeia (Anyone know what this is? I'll give you a virtual high-five if you tell me!).  In the book, pancakes slip down a maple syrup mountain and thunder stomps over the hills and meadows.  Descriptive language is so much fun for the ears.  And I can just imagine drawing a Venn diagram to help with the contrast and comparison!  In addition, the illustrations depict both a cool colored "outside" to a warm and inviting "inside."  So it's visually pleasing as well!

Reading Connection:  After reading the story, stop and do an "outside, inside" activity with your kids.  Look out your windows or go take a walk.  Then sit down and list out some things about what is happening outside.  Consider the weather (hot, cold, rainy), the trees (bare, full of leaves or springtime buds), the animals, what sounds you hear (airplane overhead, wind in the trees) etc.  Then look around your own home.  What is happening inside?  Use all of your senses.  What do you see, smell, hear, taste, or feel?  Be creative!  Try to incorporate a simile or metaphor if you can! 

Right now at our house, our "outside, inside" activity might go like this:

Outside, the moon is lighting up one spot in the inky, black sky.
Inside, the house is peaceful and quiet and still.
Outside, cicadas are humming their late summer tunes
Inside, I hear the hum of the air conditioner trying to cool off the house after a hot summer day.
Outside, a large garden spider is spinning its silver web in a corner of the porch.
Inside, our cat is curled in a soft ball at the foot of my bed.

I could go on, but you get the point.  Depending on the day, time or weather, the descriptions are endless! 
What is happening outside and inside where you are right now?

PS-- I have blogged about this book before, but I can't find the post now, so I will link back once I find it.  I guess I really like this one! 

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Joseph Had a Little Overcoat

Do you like a story with a moral?  Well, you're in luck, because this fun book based on a Yiddish folk song, has a great moral in the end.  My girls love the bright, colorful illustrations and the fun cut-outs on each page.  The story is simple.  Joseph had a little overcoat.  It was old and worn.  So he made a jacket out of it and went to the fair.  Soon the jacket becomes old and worn, so he makes a vest out of it.  The vest becomes old and worn, so he makes a scarf out of it.  You get the picture....the scarf becomes a necktie, the necktie becomes a handkerchief, which then becomes a button.  One day, Joseph loses the button.  So he makes a book about it. And this proves that you can always make something from nothing!  Usually, when we finish this book, we instantly hear, "Can you read it again, pleeeaase?!?" 

Reading Connection:  Create your own story by filling in the blanks  "______ Had a Little _______" and then see where this leads.  When you are finished, have your child write and illustrate his or her own book, or do it together as a collaborative project and add it to your library.  For example, we created this story a few nights ago. 

Hannah had a little Pillowcase. 
It got old and worn.
So she made a skirt out of it and danced in a ballet recital.
Hannah had a little skirt.
It got old and worn.
So she made a scarf out of it and wore it on a winter day.
Hannah had a little scarf.
It got old and worn.
So she made a hair bow out of it and wore it in her ponytail.
One day Hannah lost her hair bow.  And she had nothing.
So she wrote a book about it which shows you can always make something from nothing!

We are still working on our book and illustrations, but I'll post pictures when we done!  And go to your library and check out Joseph Had a Little Overcoat by Simms Taback!

Monday, August 15, 2011

The Kissing Hand

I love children's books.  A lot.  My mom was an elementary school librarian, and instilled a love of reading in me at a young age.  She and I spent countless hours reading together, which is something I am so grateful for. She was really great at reading a book, then creating a fun activity to tie the story back into real life.  I love it when  a book comes "alive" this way.  In her library, she loved doing this with her students.  She always made reading exciting.  Making these literary connections is something I try to do with my girls, and so this week, I thought I'd highlight five books that my girls enjoy reading over and over again, as well as an activity or two to go along with them.  Enjoy!
The Kissing Hand, by Audrey Penn is a sweet story perfect for any child experiencing a bit of nerves before starting school or facing any difficult circumstance.  In the book, Chester the raccoon is feeling anxious about going to kindergarten.  He wants to "stay home with his mom, play with his friends, play with his toys, read his books and swing on his swing."  Chester's mother gently reassures him that he will make new friends, and read new books and swing on new swings.  Then she tells him the secret of The Kissing Hand.  She explains that she learned this secret from her mother, and it is something very special.  Then she leans over, opens Chester's hand, and kisses it right in the middle of his palm.  Chester feels him mother's kiss rush straight to his heart and he starts to feel a little better. Mrs. Raccoon tells her son that anytime he feels lonely to place his hand on his cheek and her kiss will be right there reminding him that Mommy loves him.  In the end, Chester feels confident to go to school.

So last week, I had two little girls feeling a bit anxious about starting first grade.  Especially one named Hannah.  For some reason, she was just feeling worried.  So we pulled out The Kissing Hand and read it again.  And I gave each girl a big kiss in the palm of their hands.  Hannah immediately placed her hand on her cheek and said, "It's working!" 

Reading Connection: Trace your child's hand on a piece of paper, cut it out, then go find your bright red lipstick (you know you have some), pucker up and place a big kiss right in the middle of the palm.  Then write a little note of encouragement on the back and place the hand in your child's backpack or lunchbox.  Or just let them carry it around.  What a cute little reminder of how much you love them! You could always follow this activity up by eating a handful of Hershey Kisses too.  :)

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Beautiful Things

I've discovered a new band and a new song in particular which have really been impactful to me lately.  The band is called Gungor, which is lead by a husband/wife duo located out of Denver, Colorado. I like the ecclectic sound and the thoughtful lyrics on this album.  But the song Beautiful Things caught me completely off guard the first time I heard it.  I mean, I liked it right away, but it also stopped me in my tracks while I just soaked it in and cried a bit.  The chorus simply goes, "You make beautiful things out of the dust. You make beautiful things out of us."  It just hit me that out of this "mess" of a year--a year of anxiety, fear of the unknown, financial stress and death, God can still make something beautiful.  He takes our broken pieces and puts them back together into a beautiful mosaic-- something we couldn't have put together ourselves, but instead something born of our ultimate Creator. 

Even though I can't see it yet, God, I know you are putting the pieces back together.  And  I know it will be beautiful. 

Check out the youtube video for the live version of Beautiful Things here and the band's website here.  I've included the lyrics below.

Beautiful Things
by Gungor

All this pain

I wonder if I’ll ever find my way

I wonder if my life could really change at all

All this earth

Could all that is lost ever be found

Could a garden come up from this ground at all

You make beautiful things

You make beautiful things out of the dust

You make beautiful things

You make beautiful things out of us

All around

Hope is springing up from this old ground

Out of chaos life is being found in You

You make beautiful things

You make beautiful things out of the dust

You make beautiful things

You make beautiful things out of us

You make beautiful things

You make beautiful things out of the dust

You make beautiful things

You make beautiful things out of us

You make me new, You are making me new

You make me new, You are making me new

You are making me new

You make beautiful things

You make beautiful things out of the dust

You make beautiful things

You make beautiful things out of us

You make beautiful things

You make beautiful things out of the dust

You make beautiful things

You make beautiful things out of us

You make me new, You are making me new

You make me new, You are making me new

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Ice Cream

All nights should end with a trip to the ice cream store.


At least this little boy thinks so. 
And he had the evidence on his face, shirt, shorts, hands and hair to prove it. 

Friday, August 12, 2011

An Important Marker

Last week my dad mentioned that the headstone was finally placed on my mom's grave.  And while we were out running errands a few days ago, we stopped by to take a look.  As much as I wish it weren't there, it is pretty and simple, which is fitting of my mom.  As we stood looking at it, reading the words, examining the picture, I wanted to shout, "This is an important marker!  My mom's life was important!!"  Instead, I let some tears flow freely and shouted the words in my head.  This is my mom.  She was so special.  So loved. Eveyone should be so lucky to have a mom like her.

And I think the best way to proclaim how important my mom's life was, is not just to shout it out, but live my life in a way that honors and reflects the characteristics that made her so special. 
I love you, Mom.  I miss you so much it hurts.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

First Day Success

Well, Hannah and Leah's first day of first grade was a success!  Despite a very rainy and windy start to the day, which meant inside recess, the first words out of their mouths this afternoon were...
Hannah, "We had a great day! I like first grade!"
Leah, "You're right, our teacher was really nice!"
Mike and Lucas and I met them at the bus stop this afternoon, and they came bounding down the bus steps with big smiles and arms open for a hug.  They said riding the bus was "very cool" and can't wait to do it again tomorrow.  They told me all about the reading center and the math center (which has Uno cards in it and that scores super high marks in their opinions!), and about going to art today, and seeing all their old friends from kindergarten.  Hannah forgot to eat her PB&J sandwich that I packed her because she said she was too busy saying "hi" to everyone. And Leah declared that their teacher even gave out stickers! Oh the things that matter to a six year old!   I am so glad they had a good first day!
Dressed and ready to go!  Lucas wanted in on the picture too.

Giving their best "cool first grader" pose.
Backpacks were locked and loaded

Standing outside of their classroom

Here's looking forward to a wonderful year!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

On the Night Before First Grade

Hannah and Leah at Spaghetti Warehouse
Mike and I left Lucas with a babysitter yesterday afternoon so we could spend one last afternoon with our girls before school started.  We ate lunch and went bowling.  We loved every minute of it!

On the night before first grade, I want you to know that I am just as anxious and excited for you as you are yourselves.  I know you are both nervous about being in a new classroom, making new friends, and riding the bus home in the afternoons (for the first time!).  I know you will both settle in and be just fine, but I remember how the first day of school felt for me, so I understand your trepidation.

On the night before first grade, I am reflecting on how it is that six and a half years have flown by since that warm December afternoon that you both were born.  How on that day I became a mother, and now I'm sending my little birdies out of the nest for seven hours a day.  I will miss you girls, but I know you will be busy learning new things, drawing pictures, and playing games.

On the night before first grade, I prayed for God to protect you, guide you and comfort you when you need it.  I know you will both always try your best, but there will be times when you make mistakes or feel embarrassed.  I pray that God uses those times in your life to draw you closer to Him.  To learn and grow and become the young ladies our Father created you to be. 

On the night before first grade, I am so proud to be your mother.  Hannah and Leah you are both sensitive, compassionate, smart, creative, talented, and respectful little girls.  I love you both so much!  "To the moon and back," as we always say.

So on this night before first grade, sleep well, have sweet dreams, and I know you will both have a great day tomorrow!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Western Vacation Recap:: Days Nine and Ten

Day Nine was our last day in South Dakota.  In the morning we drove out to The Badlands, about an hour outside of Rapid City.  The Wimmers came with us, and I got to ride with Maria and chat the whole time which was so nice.  We are definitely kindred spirits!  Once we arrived, we stopped at a scenic turn-out to take in the rugged beauty of the area.  The Badlands were amazing.  So desolate, yet when closely examined, so full of color and interesting geologic patterns.  I haven't been to the Grand Canyon, but I assume it has the same "wow" factor. 
We saw signs for both rattlesnakes and rabid prairie dogs.  Thankfully we didn't encounter either!
So pretty!
Our crew:  Leah, Papa, Hannah, Mike, Lucas, Me
Lucas and Cordelia got to know each other a little better! :)
Me and the beautiful Maria

We followed up our trip to the Badlands with a stop at Wall Drug.  Wall Drug started out as a drug store in the 1930's, but had a very slow start.  Once they advertised "free ice water for thirsty travelers" the business grew tremendously.  Now Wall Drug is a western store/park of supersized proportions.  We strolled around, played outside, ate lunch and enjoyed some of the free ice water.

Trying on some cowboy boots
Maria, Cordelia and I enjoying some free water, but not the "ice cold" water.  That, we discovered, was inside. 

After lunch, we had to say good-bye to our friends and to the State of South Dakota.  It was time to start heading south again.  We drove six hours until we were just too tired of being in the car which landed us in North Platte, Nebraska.  We found a Holiday Inn, ate dinner, visited the pool, then fell into our beds completely exhausted.  Day Ten was a ten hour day of driving through Nebraska, Kansas and into Oklahoma.  We passed cows and cornfields and not much else.  We did stumble upon a fantastic Mexican restaurant in the town of Anthony, Kansas, just a few miles from the Oklahoma border.  It was very authentic, not Tex-Mex, and after all the fast food we'd been eating on the road, it was a very welcome change.  We arrived home by 10:00 Sunday evening.

We feel so blessed to have been able to take such a fun, extended vacation, but the best part of it all was coming home to our cozy, comfortable house-- full of memories and stories to tell for years to come. 

I guess Dorothy got it right, "There's no place like home."