Tuesday, August 26, 2014

First Day for Everyone

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He had his first day of second grade last Wednesday.  I’m not sure that it gets any easier the older they get.  I miss him so much when he is gone for most of the day.  I am so proud of him for handling the transition back to school with such ease.  There were a few jitters and concerned looks, but overall he was confident about heading back to second grade.  He got a wonderful teacher this year, who seems gentle, kind, and very structured.  All of the qualities that Bradley will appreciate.  He sure does love things structured.  He decided his “Star Wars” backpack was still cool from last year, and since it had held up so well we didn’t replace it.  He mastered nine or ten new rainbow loom bracelets this summer, and picked out a special few to wear on the first day of school.  He also picked out the buzz hair cut for his back to school look.  It wasn’t my first choice, but I am trying to give him more and more chances to make his own decisions for himself.  And a buzz cut was what he wanted.  He came home all smiles and full of stories about seeing old friends and meeting new ones.  I would call that a successful first day of school!

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There was someone else begging to take some first day photos with Bradley.  This pretty much sums up the pictures and their relationship.

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Now that I am mostly recovered from my surgery, today was Ellie and Grace’s first day of Pre-K for Ellie and just plain old preschool for Grace.  They also wanted pictures taken and of course their own sign for the first day…

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One requested an Elsa Braid and the little one requested Kyla’s hair.  Kyla happens to be one of the gymnasts from the US competition that was on Saturday night.  Grace just loved Kyla for some reason, and every time she came on the screen Grace got so excited.  So she got a gymnasts bun!

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Ellie was so very excited to see all of her buddies again.  This year both groups were combined (minus the children that moved on to kindergarten).  Ellie thinks this is fantastic that she gets to see every each day of school, instead of flipping groups back and forth.  She played happily with her friends, swung on the swings, rode bikes, and read books.  She was simply pleased to be surrounded by her friends again and back to “work” at school. 

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Gracie’s first day of school wasn’t as smooth sailing as Ellie’s.  She struggled with the transition of children and mommies in the morning.  I am hoping that she will get used to the busy-ness of drop off and pick up.  She did lots of swinging with Max, and made bubbles in the sensory tub outside.  I surprised as she sat and listened to the books and danced with her friends.  She struggled with sharing and the structure of the morning.  She asked for snack again and again, probably wondering why we have to wait for snack at a certain time when she very well knew how to find a snack on her own.  I need to have patience, she is an entire year younger than Ellie was when I started the preschool last year.  It is hard to share your home and your mama when you are still 2.  I am giving her a month window to get it figured out, but for now we are going to take it day by day.

After everyone left I did curl up and take a two hour nap.  My belly was screaming and so sore from all of the movement this morning.  I hope that each day gets better and I feel more and more like myself. 

That about sums up the first day for everyone around here.  How was your first day?

Monday, August 25, 2014

Full Circle

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I am feeling reflective tonight as I get ready to curl into bed.  Tomorrow I embark on my second year back to work.  This brings about mixed emotions as summer comes to a close.  Teaching last year was so fulfilling and provided me with an amazing outlet for the “teaching” side of me that has been hidden all these years.  I struggled with balancing work and family life, and finding time for everything.  One of my biggest goals this year is to find a balance between my own kiddos and my school needs.  I want to make sure I am still carving out time for my family, to pack lunches, and do some of the other mommy jobs that I really do enjoy.  That being said, I have a lot of new ideas and projects I want to explore this year with the students.  But, balance will be my main goal. 

This summer ended up flying by, but it also was a real treat for me.  I got to be a “stay at home mommy” again, and I really relished the chance to hang out with my kids.  Did they drive me nuts at time?? OF COURSE, Did I want to pull my hair out some weeks?? YEP.  Overall though we had so much fun together.  It was so nice to plan activities with them and enjoy taking them to the pool and the beach.  We made quite a bucket list, and only crossed off about half of the items.  I think I was feeling a little ambitious after working for a year.  I still have lots of summer memories to share here, so stay tuned.

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I had to postpone the beginning of the school year for some medical issues I have been facing.  Years ago I had surgery to clean up some endometriosis that had built up after having Bradley.  In the two years I haven’t been nursing Grace my endometriosis had come back full throttle.  After trying different types of birth control and a failed IUD I was at my wits end this past school year.  Each cycle was getting shorter and shorter, with tremendous amount of bleeding and other side effects.  After two different discussions with my local doctor she suggested I have a partial hysterectomy.  The first time this surgery was suggested I was shocked.  I didn’t feel emotionally or mentally prepared for this surgery.  But, after another year of suffering we came to the conclusion that this was my bet for a future of health and happiness.  It is hard to believe that the same girl that cried and sobbed about having more children would have three healthy children and seven years later have a hysterectomy.  We traveled to Richmond to a top notch doctor who was able to perform the procedure laparoscopically.  I am still swollen and tender, but I am getting better day by day.  I am looking forward to many years where my endometriosis doesn’t control my life in the way it has in the past. 

Tomorrow my house will be filled with eager preschoolers, and I am so happy to have this behind me and for all of the adventures this year will hold!

Sunday, July 6, 2014

And Just Like That…She turned Four

 

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It is hard to believe that just four years ago, this crazy little thing was once a teeny, tiny baby sitting in the NICU scaring Chris and I half to death.  Of course there was the scary birth…scary transport to the NICU in this thing…

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Then we got to come home, only to face over a month of medical and feeding problems.  She definitely came in with a bang and has kept that same energy for the past four years. 

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She has so much personality trapped inside such a little body.  Usually on most days I want to eat her up with a spoon…usually…

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If you had told me just two years ago that I would be teaching Ellie every day in a preschool I would have told you that was crazy talk.  There is no way this extremely strong willed child would ever take direction, let alone learn from me.  But, here we are one year of preschool down and only one more left to go.  Sure we have had some battles over the school year, but for the most part she has handled the transition of mommy being her teacher beautifully.  She loves her friends from school, she is engaged in the lessons and I think she has really learned a lot from me and from her peer group.  Our nightly ritual at dinner is for Chris to ask the kids about their day and what they learned.  9 times out of 10 she will say nothing, she “just played today.”  Chris has started emailing me requests for parent/teacher conferences since his child isn’t learning anything. 

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Right now Ellie…

loves her big brother Bradley

is starting to play more and more with Gracie

loves non-fiction books,  especially books about animals

loves her family, her little cousins Winn and Brad and her big cousin Sammy

is obsessed with Frozen (what 4 year old isn’t?)

loves her Disney princesses and these are probably her favorite toys

right behind is her Playmobil princess castle and fairy house

is getting really good at putting puzzles together

loves art projects, especially ones without guidelines

can almost swing all by herself

took gymnastics and ballet/tap this year

played tball

loves to build with blocks and magnatiles

is working hard at learning to draw pictures of herself

can write her first and last name

loves to swim

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Happy 4th Birthday Ellie!! Love, Mama

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Spring Spent on the Field

It is amazing how quickly your Saturdays change from weekends where you get to decide what the agenda is, to all of the sudden sports determine your weekend schedule.  We got a sneak peak at that this spring!  With Bradley playing “real baseball” for our local league Ellie decided that she HAD to play t ball like her big brother!  Her little experience with baseball was called blastball.  The children hit the ball and run to first base.  There is a small horn inside of the base, and when they step on it the base the horn sounds.  It is the funniest thing to watch!  Ellie loved hitting off of the tee, but she had no interest in trying to field the ball.  She was the only girl on her team and I was so proud of her for trying something new on her own.

One morning there was perfect lighting and a sweet girl who was hamming it up for the camera:

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Hitting off of the tee…

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The best picture I could get of Ellie and her buddy Kellen after the game:DSC_0116

And this little girl did her fair share of watching blastball and bradley’s baseball.  She was a good sport about hanging around by the field.  Here is Grace testing out the horn sounding base before Ellie’s game. 

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And just some sweet shots of her watching one of Bradley’s last game while wearing an outfit that my Mom made for me when I was little.  How sweet is she?

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And yes, she is in love with band aids right now…that is why there are just under 15 band aids on her legs in these photos!

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Dear My Long Lost Blog

It seems that this year has just gone by and I have left my little blog for too much time.  There is so much to share, important events that I didn’t get to write about and document.  From family fun, birthdays, celebrations, and just life in general that went by way too fast. 

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I learned some important lessons this year.  Working and being a mom is tough.  I went to bed many nights exhausted, and feeling like someone was losing out.  The losers usually felt like my family, my kids, and myself.  I found myself thinking of the things I used to do “when I was a SAHM” and feeling sad that my SAHM time in my life was over.

But, despite all of those changes something else magical unfolded in my life.  It was an amazing little place called Crozet PlaySchool.  It was filled with laughing and happy children and a new me that was driven by a new purpose.  My students and their parents became my extended family this year.  I looked forward to school each morning.  I  spent hours and hours pouring over books and the computer developing an on-going curriculum to meet the needs of my students.  I found my love of children and teaching again.  I got amazing feedback from my families and their support was my fuel to keep pushing to create dynamic play experiences in my classroom.  Over the course of the school year I got over 1,000 followers on my @crozetplayschool Instagram account.  They “liked” my invitations to play, asked me questions, and even reached out via email to find out more about my school.  I went back to my Early Childhood Education roots of Reggio Emilia and lost myself in a world of play based learning.  In many ways I found myself again. 

I know that those two paragraphs seem to contradict each other but it is the truth of my struggles this year and the change in our family dynamic.  I had been at home with the kids for seven years, so working five mornings a week plus cleaning up and prepping each afternoon plus major prep for school on Sunday evenings for the week was a HUGE change for us.  Balance is difficult.  I wasn’t able to achieve this year, but I will be working hard to create more of a balance next year with my part-time work and my family. 

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To bring my focus closer to home, I came back to my sweet long lost blog.  I missed writing.  I missed taking pictures of my children for no particular reason other than to document their lives.  I missed sharing the struggles and triumphs of parenting my brood.  My hope is to begin to write again about our daily fun and lives.  I simply adore looking back on my old blog posts.  Bradley loves to read them too.  There is so much we have done as a family and I want to keep this little corner of the internet for my family to enjoy one day.   

 

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Just to make you smile, we made a summer bucket list filled to the brim with crafts, outings, science experiments, and “just for fun” activities.  One of those that Bradley has been dying to do was make a “Stop Action Lego Movie.”  We worked on one today!  He came up with the story line, took all of the pictures, and I helped him put it into Windows Movie Maker. 

Please enjoy Bradley’s Mini Lego Movie:

 

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Oh the joys of lazy summer afternoons mixed with creativity and technology!

Love, Clare

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Back to Reality

Wow!  After writing about sunshine and relaxing I got hit with a dose of reality.  First chris jetted off to Las Vegas for “work” for a week while I manned the fort at home.  A week of school, kids, and jet lag I was exhausted by Friday.  Chris has no sooner landed at home before I started feeling bad on Friday night.  He wasn’t home an hour before I got the most awful stomach virus ever.  Then it slowly picked off each person in our house one by one.  Thank goodness Gracie didn’t get it!  It was terrible, and our second stomach bug this winter!  We have not been lucky on the sickness front at all.  Before I complain too much though, I wanted to share the last few pictures from our trip. 

Chris and I did A LOT of eating while we were in Hawaii.  The food was amazing, and such a mix of American cuisine and Asian influence and fresh seafood.  You couldn’t go wrong…

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Yes, I admit that we became “those people” and we took pictures of our food!  We went to a fabulous restaurant called Roy’s and it was one of the best meals we have ever eaten.  We loved it so much that we actually went back again on Friday with Jessica and Wes just to prove to them that the food was THAT good!  This we my favorite dinner and I am that boring person that ordered it again when we went back on friday; Prawns with lobster ravioli!

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We told them that it was our anniversary and they had a special dessert for us on Friday too!  I still can’t believe that it has been 10 years!

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We did work off all of that food by going running almost every day in the gorgeous weather.  Before we went to our last amazing dinner Friday night Chris and I went on a gorgeous hike up to Mona Falls.  Mona Falls is a National Park right near Waikiki and Jurassic Park and Lost have been filmed there.  I can see why because the forest looks so mysterious and magical.  Unfortunately it rained on us for most of the hike, but we still had fun sliding up and down the mountain of mud to reach the falls.

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This is not the best picture but you can see how soaked we are!

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One of the days we rented a jeep and took a tour around the island just stopping at different places.  Jessica and Wes came with us and she knew about this famous stop called Leis Point.  It is in a lot of movies!  It was breathtaking.  The picture doesn’t do it justice of how crazy and big the waves were when they crashed into the wall of rock.  I think my iphone caught a better picture of how big and powerful the water was there!

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We stopped at Chinamen’s Hat too!

Then we took the Jeep farther up the island to the pipeline and the North Shore to see the big surfing waves!  I have never seen anything like it!  There was actually a competition going on that day, so we stayed and watched the surfers for awhile.

This is a picture from the Pipeline.  It was starting to rain again, but there was actually one guy out surfing in those waves.  Could you imagine?

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I took a ton of pictures at the North Shore, but it is hard to get a sense from the photos just how big the waves were!

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I don’t know if we will ever be back!  It is just so so far away and so very expensive.  We felt so lucky the whole time we were there, and it was just what we needed after such a long year of job changes, worries, and stresses with Gracie.  It gave us lots and lots of time to relax, reconnect, and take in a beautiful world that is so very different from our little town. 

Aloha Hawaii!

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Aloha from Paradise

If I close my eyes, I am still there…..the beach, the waves, the drinks….oh wait I am back home with three crazy kids!  At least I still have the pictures to make me smile!  Chris earned a promotional trip to Hawaii through his new job.  We got a free flight and a free room at the Hilton at Waikiki Beach for 4 nights last summer.  We decided to add onto the trip and stay for a bit longer to really enjoy ourselves.

My parents took care of the kids for 8 long days while we were gone. THANK YOU!!!

I had substitutes lined up at the preschool.

It was an adventure just getting out the door for the trip, but man it was worth it!

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It is amazing how many pictures I choose to take with my phone now!  It is always with you no matter what!  I think I had over 100 photos from my phone on our trip.  My how the times have changed.

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On the third day of our trip we went on a group excursion of whale watching, dolphin sighting, and snorkeling.  This was almost a whole day adventure, and it was one of Chris and I’s most favorite part of our trip.  We LOVED the boat, I got to see whales for the first time in my life, and the snorkeling was alright.  The water was a bit choppy so the swimming was rough and took a lot of energy.  I went out for a long while and then the guide said he saw a reef shark, so I turned my little butt around and headed back to the boat.  I have a pretty scary snorkeling and shark experience from my teen years and I don’t care to repeat it any time soon!

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The boat was gorgeous.  This picture doesn’t do it justice, but the boat was HUGE, the crew was so nice and the views were breathtaking.

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We got to follow along with this school of dolphins called “spinning dolphins.”  They got their name because they like to jump and spin.  We didn’t get to see them jumping because they actually were sleeping.  They get together in groups and get next to another dolphin when they want to sleep.  They turn off the side of their brain closest to the other dolphin while they are sleeping.  Isn’t that amazing?  They were right under the boat though and we got to see them splashing a lot.  There were a few children on our boat including a 4 year old boy.  He was just so excited and happy, it made me miss the kids!

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We went on our trip with Jessica and Wes, our neighbors and friends.  Jessica is the sales rep that earned the trip as well and invited Chris and I along.  Thank you Jessica! 

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Chris and I spent a good part of the morning just sitting on the boat watching the water pass underneath us!

Almost every morning I would go running at a park located down the street from our hotel.  The boardwalk was just breathtaking.  I had to stop every so often to snap pictures.  The running trails were all along the ocean so I would run out to the piers and take it all in.  All of these photos were just snapped on my phone while I was running. 

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The Hilton was located at the end of Waikiki Beach.  From our room on the 28th floor we had views far and wide of the Diamond Head Volcano and the beaches.  One of our favorite parts of the day was watching the whales swim through the bay each afternoon from 5 pm to 7 pm.  We noticed that in the afternoon the bay would be full of sailboats.  It took us a few nights to realize that all of the little spouts of water were the whales blowing.  It was mesmerizing!  We got to see some of the whales jump and crash down which apparently is very unusual.  There were some afternoons we would see between six to eight whales swimming around. 

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I hope to sort through more of our pictures this week and share them soon!  It has been jarring getting back to reality this week with school, children, and of course Chris had to travel for work until Friday.  Solo mama!  Love, Clare