Tuesday, August 25, 2009

First Day of First Grade

**Updated** (I forgot about the All About Me bag)

Riley was just so excited about his first day of first grade. I on the other hand, was a basket-case. I was SO nervous for him. He was good until we got to his room. Then he started to get nervous too. We waited in the hall until about 8AM. I guess this is how they do the first day?? We were late last year (got there around 8:05) and they were already in the room and doing the pledge on the loud speaker.

Anyway, he didn't know any of the kids sitting down in the hall, so he just stood there and was doing a little nervous fidgety thing with his hands. I held back my tears and the quiver in my voice and started to talk to him about his new classroom and how the teacher decorated it like a jungle and so on. That helped. Then, his friend walked up ... Yay!! I could just tell by his body language that he felt better.

So, after like FOREVER, they went into the classroom to find their desk. Well, at meet the teacher, Riley picked out what desk he would sit at. For some reason (and I am sure it is a good one) the teacher decided to move some of the kids around. Riley was looking for his desk, found it and then the pouty lip started. Victoria and I rushed over to him before any tears started. I then tried my best to cheer him up. It worked. He was sitting and ready to color within seconds. Phew. Averted a meltdown on the first day.

So, Victoria and I said our good-byes. She was VERY upset that she was not going to the first grade with Riley. She wants to go to school so bad. She would probably do really well in a preschool, but Momma wouldn't yet. So, maybe next year (if funds allow). She didn't want to leave and was just a milla-second away from a screaming crying fit. I then told her I had a surprise toy in the car for her and asked her if she wanted to go play with it (thank you Gigi!!). She whispered yes and we were out the door.

I wanted to burst into tears all the way out the door and in the car, but I held them off. Big mistake ... had a headache the rest of the day. Next time, I will just let the tears fly.

We made our way home and started our day together. I kept very busy so I wouldn't think about how much I missed Riley. Victoria missed him too. She asked me 4 or 5 times where Riley was. She even brought me a shirt to wear. "Air dis shirt. Go in car. Riley." Which means "I want to wear this shirt to go in the car to get Riley right now." This was at 11:30. My family was so great yesterday. My mom called me twice, my dad once and my sister-in-law once to all check on me. They new it was gonna be hard for me.

So 3:00 finally came and we were there ready to see Riley. He ran up to us and was just so happy ... all smiles. These are some of the things he had to say about his first day ...

"It was SOOOO fun."
"The time ran out and I didn't eat all my lunch."
"It is just like kindergarten, but there are no centers."
"I got a star today. You knew I would, right?"
"Lunch is a yellow, so we whisper."
"If I get stars all week, I get a prize out of the zebra box. It doesn't have a head. It just has zebra stripes on it."
"There is a new climbing wall in PE. You sign a note so I can do it."
"We have PE everyday."

That is all we got out of him. That is pretty good for Riley. I usually pull info out of him and get alot less than this. We got all this over the course of the evening. So it seems to me he really enjoyed himself. He didn't get to do his presentation of his "All About Me" bag. They were supposed to bring five things from home that describe them. This is what he brought:

1. Blue goggles - because his favorite color is blue and he likes to swim
2. A lizard - because he likes lizards
3. A picture of cinnamon rolls - his most favorite food (who could blame him)
4. His Bible - because he likes to go to church (can I say how much I love this!!)
5. The case to his Indiana Jones Lego Wii game - because he likes to play Wii and Legos

We probably spent an hour and a half working on his homework. Yep ... first day of first grade and we had homework. There is a class notebook that goes home with each child and we were the first to get it. Riley answered about 20 questions about himself and then made a page all about himself. It took a while for him to write all his answers to the questions. Especially since he had to write it so that others could actually read it. We were a bit out of practice on our writing. Ooops.

He was totally exhausted by the end of the day. Put him to bed around 8:30 and did not hear a peep out of him ... that usually doesn't happen.

He informed me this morning before we left for his second day, that he didn't need me to walk him into the school. He knew where to go. I love that he is starting to have more confidence and independence.

But I still miss him and want to know all that he is doing. I will just trust that the Lord has him safe in his hand.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Gonna miss it

Gonna miss it bad. We had such a great summer and I'm gonna miss it.

Our summer was a bit lazy. That seems to be our family theme for summers around here. I always try to have big plans for many things to do, but we enevitably end up just takin' it easy and enjoying each other. During the school year, I feel like we are just go-go-go. It is a nice break to just stay-stay and maybe go some.

We did spend at least one day a week over at Pops and Gigi's house swimmin' in the pool. Riley did so great, especially after his swimming lessons at the Saginaw Rec Center. After those many trips to that pool, our backyard blow-up pool managed to loose some of its appeal. He could spend hours goofin' around in Pops and Gigi's pool. Remember those days. The hours in the pool would pass by in seconds. You would get so bummed at the "only 10 more mnutes and then time to get out." Then scramble to get about 20 more jumps in the pool in and a dozen or so more flips underwater. Meanwhile, unbeknowest to you, your parents are melting on the pool deck so desparately wanting to go inside.

Victoria had a few scares in the water one day, so we decided to get her a life jacket. Found a Dora one. Perfect! She wore it around the house for about 3 hours on the afternoon I brought it home from Walmart. There was no problem getting her to wear it at the pool. These are the times that I just love licensed products. Thank you Nick Jr and your merchandising department. She only lasts about an hour in the pool and then proceeds to get undressed right there pool-side. Its pretty cute.

We had some playdates with our school and church chums. Those were lots of fun. VBS was a blast and so were the bounce house places. We also had a good time at the Frank Buck Zoo in Gainesville. That is the perfect size zoo. We went to Chuckie Cheeses for the very first time this summer. That was super fun for the kids, Riley especially loved it. Then there was of course our big family vacation. That was the best! Those are some of the best memories I have from when I was a kid. Vacations in the family car traveling all over the country. So fun! Carey and I are trying to do the same thing with our kids. I think this one was a pretty good start!

We also did plenty of staying up late and sleeping in. My goal for this week was to get us back on schedule. Wake-up at 7AM, lunch at Noon, Victoria's nap at 1PM, dinner at 6PM and bedtime at 8PM. Didn't happen. We are still on summer schedule. Wake-up at 9AM, lunch at 1PM, Victoria's nap at 2:30, dinner at 7PM and bedtime around 9PM. I would say that we could work on it tomorrow, but we have big plans for our last day of summer.

Riley did learn how to pump on the swing set (finally) and we are working on riding the bike without training wheels right now. Maybe we will have it by the weekend. He had his first driving lesson in Michigan on Grandpa's tractor. He was pretty proud of himself.

Victoria can almost play baseball on the Wii and we are still working on the bowling. She was so cute the other day. She had spent her naptime taking almost every book down from her bookshelf. When I asked her if she had a good naptime, she informed me that she couldn't read. She said it with a frown on her face. So cute. I imagine that she was trying to hard to read all those book and just got so frustrated with it. Ya know how it is ... wants to be able to do everything big brother can.

And also, we are officially pacifier free!! We have gone two days with no "shire." This has been a long time coming. What finally worked you ask? We can't find any. We had one left at the beginning of the week. Then its status changed to MIA. I did find it this morning when changing the bed sheets. I need to throw it away. Victoria has adapted well. She has a runny nose today and doesn't feel very well. This is when a shire would be good to have. She is currently sucking her thumb instead. I have never seen her do this before. Whatever works baby girl.

We didn't do all that I had original planned to do this summer. Lack of funds kept us from hitting the local water parks and Six Flags. And me not wanting to take the kids all by myself also kept us from doing that too. Also, Riley didn't read as many books or write as many letters as I hoped we would. Only 25 books (goal was 70) and 1 letter (goal was 30). Oh well.

So our plan for tomorrow is to sleep in just one more time (Yay!!) and then head over to Pops and Gigi's to swim for a bit. Then we are off to shop. I would like to get Riley something brand-new to wear on the first day of school. Then dinner out ... some place nice. Some place other than Sonic. Some place listed on the back of the giftcard I got for my birthday :)

I have loved spending these summer days with my kids! I feel so blessed that the Lord has allowed me to be a full time stay-at-home mom. I prayed for this opportunity the first 4 years I had Riley. Once Victoria was born, we were finally able to do it. It is wonderful. Sure, it would be really nice to have less debt, a nicer vehicle for Carey and the ability to go where we want without having to weigh the cost of it. But none of that is worth the price I would have to pay to not get this time with my kids. I love having my peeps around. They are my most favorite people in the world.

I am sad about Riley going back to school ... just like I was last year. Victoria and I are going to miss him so much. He does LOVE school and misses his little friends. So, I am excited for him to start back. But still sad for me. I am a bit nervous about meet the teacher tonight. I just hope there is at least one of his friends in his class. We didn't request a teacher. I wasn't sure what to do, so I didn't. He is a really good kid, so I am confident that he will do well with any teacher. I just hope she is nice and fun.

Yep. Gonna miss the summer. But what makes it easier is that I so love the fall.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Summer 2009 Road Trip

We started our road trip on Tuesday, July 28th. It was just the kids and me. Carey had to work, so he met up with us in Denver on Thursday. The first day was just driving. We managed to drive only 600 miles in about 14 hours. Not good. We travel a bit slow when kids are in tow. Anyway, we made it to Colorado City, CO and stayed in an awful Days Inn ... never again Days Inn. I was afraid to touch the light switch and the carpet was wet??? Not to mention the piece of plywood we slept on. Fortunately the accommodations improved on our trip.

We made our way to Colorado Springs on Wednesday and stopped off at Focus on the Family. So much fun for the kids! They have an area just for kids to play in with a stage and dress-up clothes, puppet show stage, a huge 4-story slide (which we didn't get to do because of the incoming thunderstorm as you can see from the picture at their Pike's Peak lookout), and tons of other really neat stuff. Then off to Denver to settle in at the hotel.

View of Pike's Peak from Focus on the Family lookout.

Thursday was a big day of tux fittings, picking up Carey at the airport, rehearsal and rehearsal dinner and then some late-night bowling fun. Big day and it was so fun that some of our dearest friends were there with us too. Had a blast with them, even amidst the car-sickness of the Colorado mountain drivin'.

Lookout Mountain in Colorado

Red Rock in Colorado

Friday was the big wedding day in Evergreen for my little brother. We were hoping for no rain, but about 30 minutes before the wedding, huge raindrops were falling. The sky cleared up right at 6PM in time to dry off some chairs and get everyone seated. The kids looked so good. Victoria was not happy about getting dressed, but finally resolved to the fact that she was going to wear that dress and that headpiece. And Riley was very excited about wearing his "tux-speedo." Isn't that hilarious?! "Tux-speedo." I just hope on the first day of school he doesn't tell everyone that this summer he was in a wedding and wore a "tux-speedo." Riley and Victoria did fantastic walking down the isle together. Riley carried 2 white roses in one hand and was holding Victoria's hand in the the other. Then Riley stood by Uncle Kevin (the best man) and Victoria sat down with Pops. The rain started up again. Fortunately it only last about 10 minutes and was just sprinkles. The rest of the ceremony was just so sweet and precious. Riley and Victoria really enjoyed the fresh fruit slushes and the sparkling cider afterwards. They had a ton of energy and danced most of the evening. Poor little Victoria had blisters on her heals from her pretty princess shoes.

With Pops

Enjoying fresh fruit slush after she did her job at the wedding.
She cheered up quite a bit after having a couple of these.

Saturday was the brunch at the Father of the Bride's house. The kids got to feed the horses, which they loved. Then off to Mount Rushmore. It is about a 650 mile drive from Denver. It happened to be Sturgis Bike Week, so we saw our fair share of the motorcyclage. Thousands and thousands of them. We also had no, I mean absolutely no cell signal from the border of Wyoming until about halfway through the state of South Dakota. And Carey could not stop talking about wanting to move there. In the middle of no where. I can appreciate living in the country to be away from the hustle and bustle of city-life just as much as the next girl, but no cell phones and more livestock than people ... no thanks! Not to mention I saw no Walmart or Target or mall for that matter for many many miles.

View of the mountains from Aunt Katie's Dad's house near Denver.

Sunday morning was Mount Rushmore. The kids were SO sleep deprived at this point. Riley was standing in front of the mirror at the hotel holding his eyelids open. "They won't stay open, Mommy." I felt the same way. Alot of late nights and early mornings and so much driving. Anyway, he was really impressed with Mount Rushmore, but was ready to head out after about 10 minutes. We stayed about an hour and a half. It has changed so much since I had been there 25 years ago.

Then off to Chicago. We had a 900 mile journey in front of us. We got as far as somewhere in Minnesota by that evening. And let me tell ya, there is nothing, nothing, nothing in South Dakota but a bunch of grass. And there is only farmland in Minnesota. I missed the mountains and civilization.

By Monday afternoon, we were driving into Chicago. I was so nervous. Our plan was to park by Union Station, buy 2 all day commuter passes, go to the top of the Sears Tower, take the L-train and Subway to the Magnificent Mile to shop at the Lego store, grab a slice of pizza and make our way out of town.

Well, it didn't quite work out for us. The line to go to the sky-deck of the Sears Tower was probalby about 2 hours long. It being about 2PM, we decided to forgo since we hadn't eaten lunch yet and just make our way to the Lego Store. I am kinda glad we did. We since foudn out that Carey's cousin just got a job in that building and has volunteered to take us up next time we visit ... cool! So we make our way to the L-train and purchase two $5 passes for our 1/2 mile journey through town via public transportation with two kids in tow. Scary. I was so afraid we would get on the wrong train/subway and end up on the bad part of town protecting out children for dear life. Or someone would snatch them away from us or we would get separated ... I know, I watch too many Lifetime movies and crime-solving dramas.

Anyway, we did good, except when Victoria went through the turn-style before Carey and he had nothing left on his card. So glad the Subway attendant took pity on us. We (or I) forgot the stroller, so Victoria spent most of the time on Carey's shoulders and I was in charge of Riley.

It is definitely different there. It was kinda neat seeing all the street talent, musicians and singers. Everyone was walking so fast though. We met some people at the Sears Tower and on the subway. Neither were from Chicago ... just visiting. We did grab a slice before we headed out of town. The thick crust pizza was ok, but the thin crust was SO yummy! The kids didn't care for it, so more for me!

On the subway in Chicago.

Sears Tower - I was just about laying on the sidewalk
and I still couldn't get the top in the picture.

We finally made it all the way up to Suttons Bay by about 10PM that night. The kids were SO excited to see Grandpa and Grandma!! And it was nice just to lay low for a few days before hopping back in the car again.

We spent the next three days (T, W, TH) just being around Carey's family. We always enjoy that. Played at the park, road the train, played with cousins, slept late (Yay!!), got new tires for the van, went sailing on Lake Michigan with Carey at the helm, went swimming in the lake (them, not me) and finally went t-shirt shopping. I was so incredibly bummed that we didn't have time to get Colorado t-shirts or sweatshirts, so I went a bit crazy/nut-so getting t-shirts for us in Traverse City. We just had a blast visiting with family and having everyone play with the kids.
Carey got stuck at the playground. The kids are "helping" him out.

Victoria with Grandpa at Lake Michigan.

Sailing with Daddy. She loves the water.

At least one of us is smiling. Not sure what Victoria's deal was.

Swimming in Lake Michigan

It was a bitter-sweet visit though. It was our first time up in the summer without Carey's Grandmother around. We, especially Carey, miss her so very much. Her house was always our first stop everyday. We know without a doubt though that we will see her again in glory and that works for me!

We headed out on Friday morning and made our way to East Lansing, MI. Carey and I lived there our first 4 years of marriage while he went Michigan State University. It is always so great to go back there to visit. We of course bought some more MSU-wear ... can't have too much, and then had some yummy Gyro's at Lou and Harry's.

On the road again and made it to St. Louis by that evening. By this point, my car was a totally wreck. The back seat was covered in milk, juice and cereal bars. I climbed back there to get something out of the ice chest at one point and had food on my leg when I stood up ... so gross!

Our last leg of the trip was on Saturday. We decided to stop at the Meramac Caverns in Missouri just because we were there and we always wanted to do it. Carey had been there when he was a kid and said it was memorable. So we did it. It was ok. I think Riley was impressed and really liked it, so it was worth the $45 and 2 hour detour. Then home. We got home around 9:30 that night. Totally exhausted. The kids hadn't had a bath since Suttons Bay Michigan. My van just reeked.

4500 miles. 14 states. 3 timezones. 12 days. So tired. Lots of laundry. But some awesome memories. Our kids are hilarious and my husband is the best. He is such a great traveling companion. I loved it when the kids were sound asleep in the back seat and him and I are singing Ooops I Did It Again by Britney Spears at the top of our lungs. So fun.

We did have some casualties from the trip ... the diffuser for my hairdryer is at some hotel in South Dakota, one of Victoria's really cute sippy cups is at an Applebee's in Indiana and my pillows are in Suttons Bay, MI. So sad to see those things go, but at least I will get my pillows back at Christmas.

Oh, and the next time I eat a french fry will be too soon.

Big Girl Bed

After months and months of searching and changing my mind countless times and even returning a toddler bed, I finally decided on Victoria's Big Girl furniture. I LOVE IT! It is just so pretty. It looks perfect in her room next to her girly purple walls and all her girly little things.

Big Girl Bed - My Grandmother bought me this quilt about
20 years ago. I love that it looks perfect in her room.
So far we have not had any escapes from the bed in the evening.
Now naptime ... that is a different story.

Storytime with Daddy before bed.

Ready for bed her first night. We didn't have the rails up yet,
so we covered the ground with MANY pillows. She did great!

I love her bedroom so much, that I wish it was MY bedroom.