Sunday, September 16, 2012

"Look Mom, No Training Wheels!"

One of Allie's goals this summer was to be able to ride her bike without the training wheels.  Unfortunately, most of the time spent working toward this goal left her in tears and discouraged, begging for Ben to put the training wheels back on so that she could have fun riding her bike again. 

However, this weekend Allie had a renewed determination to get up on those two more foolin' around...she seriously meant business.

After a few pep talks from Dad...

....she was ready to roll!

She was a little wobbly at first, but ended up cruisin' around the driveway without help in no time!

It just goes to show, Allie-Babe, that when you put your mind to something, I'm pretty sure you can accomplish just about anything!

Granted, you have a pretty awesome teacher to guide you along the way....

In celebration of Allie's two-wheel success we all went out for ice cream.  She is pretty proud of her accomplishment and has spent more time on her bike this past weekend than most of the summer!  She can't wait to tell her teacher and friends tomorrow at school.  Congrats, Allie!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Busy, Busy Week

We've had a busy week with all of our school year activities in full swing, with the only exception being ECFE that will begin for Olivia next Friday. 

Monday, Allie suited up for her first dance class of the year where she made the discovery that one of her best friends from her preschool days was also registered in her class. 

Wednesday morning I attended my first BSF (Bible Study Fellowship) class and was hoping to secure a spot for myself in one of the groups along with Olivia in their children's ministry.  I wasn't feeling so great about my chances after seeing so many new women, but decided not to worry about it, choosing to believe that if God wanted me to participate, then there would be a group for me.  And today I received a call that there indeed is enough room-yay!

Today was spent catching up around the house and tomorrow I definitely need to restock our barren fridge before the weekend. 

Somehow, I've accumulated TONS of pictures of sweet Olivia (probably because she is constantly asking me to take her picture) and I thought I would randomly include those here:

I can't believe how much she is talking now...I mean, we seriously have full conversations...and although she is still my baby, she definitely likes being referred to as a big girl.  My favorite thing?  When she says, "Where momma go?" or "Das is mines.'  or "Momma, I wuv you dis much!" (spreading her arms out wide to give me a hug). 

She LOVES to color, especially with markers, and she can almost always be seen running around the house with a book or a baby doll in tow. 

She is no longer in the nursery at church and we were told she did great in the 2-year old Sunday School class last week. 

Her days in her crib are numbered, a toddler bed waiting downstairs, and soon the jungle animals that have adorned the bedroom walls for the past seven years, looking down upon all three of my sleeping (and sometimes not sleeping) babes each night will be taken down in favor of a big-girl theme:  Minnie Mouse pink polka dots. 

Sometimes I feel a little sad...knowing that our baby days are behind us...but then I realize the sadness I feel is over the end of all those baby snuggles and first smiles and baby laughs...not so much over the poopy blow out, vomit wearing, sleep deprived days I somehow managed to survive. 

Plus, somehow, even as they grow up....they manage to stay pretty darn cute....

And, they get a lot more throw-inside-an-inflatable-bounce-house-and-watch-them-fall-all-over-themselves-fun:

Zach's First Day

This past Monday Zach embarked on his very last, first day of preschool as a proud member of the Blue Class.  He couldn't wait to put on his back-to-school, blinking car shoes (complete with flames on the sides and fronts) and insisted upon sporting his beloved "Packer-Warmer" (see that green fuzzy thing on his right wrist?  Yep, that is the Packer Warmer he has worn every. single. day. since this past February!).

He was a little apprehensive about beginning a new preschool year at first, mostly due to the fact that Allie convinced him that raw broccoli is served daily for lunch and MUST be eaten, but after the preschool's open house and spending some time in his classroom, he had a change of heart. 

He has been looking forward to having Miss Billi and Miss Tammy as teachers ever since Allie was in Blue Class two years ago.  Plus, he is extremely excited to have a fellow Packer-fan teacher.  In fact, upon entering his classroom, he looked right up at Miss Billi and proclaimed, "Hi...I'm Zach and I like the PACKERS!"

Zach was also thrilled to finally be old enough to eat lunch at school with his Cars 2 lunch box that matches his Cars 2 backpack.  Although still a little wary, he did pick a couple days to participate in hot lunch, but told me if anyone makes him eat the raw broccoli, he's never having hot lunch again!

He was a little sad that he wasn't being dropped off at preschool first, but I assured him we would have plenty of time to get him to class after dropping Allie off at her school.  Sure enough, we arrived in more than enough time for him to hang up his backpack and even pose for a quick picture by his classroom door.

Upon picking him up, he was definitely tired, but said he had a good time.  His favorite things were playing outside (especially riding the bikes) and eating lunch.  However, when I peaked in his lunchbox and realized half his lunch was still inside, I asked him what he even ate to which he responded, "I saved some of my lunch for a snack on the way home!"  So, on the way home, he ate the rest of his lunch, sharing his grapes and pretzels with Olivia.

Although I know I'll miss him on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday mornings, I think preschool will be very good for Zach.  He's already been talking about some of his friends from last year that are in his class and anticipating the upcoming field trip to the farm. 

Plus, when I informed him that Olivia and I were going to be grocery shopping tomorrow morning while he is at preschool he enthusiastically replied, "YES!  I love preschool because that means I don't have to go to any stores with Mommy!"  Kind of reminds me of another male family member that lives under the same roof and also adamantly refuses to consume raw broccoli. 

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

First Day of First Grade

 Allie could not have been any happier or any more excited upon waking up this morning:  The first day of first grade was finally here!  She downed her bowl of Cookie Crisp, gobbled up her string cheese, stuffed her banana in her mouth, and gulped down her full glass of milk in an effort to make sure to leave on time.  To drop her off, we need to leave here by about 9:00 am.  She was ready to go at approximately 7:45 am. 

Thankfully, Aunt Stephanie called to wish her a happy first school day...which bought us some time.  Then, she helped me pack her lunch and decided to start making a ton of paper fans before it was time to make our way outside for the obligatory first-day-of-school pictures. 

We made it to school on time (shocker, huh?) and we walked her to her classroom where she first hung up her backpack and made her way to her desk. 

We all exchanged hugs and I love yous before Zach, Olivia and I made our way back to the car. 

On the way to our car I didn't have a big ugly cry or anything, but I have to admit, once I started to drive away, I felt a little lump in the back of my throat and I got a little misty eyed.  I was actually kind of shocked to be feeling on the verge of tears.  I wasn't really sad...I mean, how can I be sad when Allie's excitement over school is practically contagious?!  Instead, I think I just needed a little time to process the change that the grade school years allow myself to feel a little sentimental over the passing of Allie's early childhood.   

I also felt God urging me to remember that as much as I love Allie, He loves her so much more...and as much as I want to wrap my arms around my little girl and never let her go, He is calling me to loosen my grip, trust Him, and place her in His arms instead. 

Zach, Olivia, and I spent the day running some errands and catching up on laundry.  We all definitely missed Allie and were excited to pick her up.  Although pretty tired, Allie said she had a great first day.  She complained that there was way too much time spent sitting and far too many rules, but recess and lunch was great! 

I think we are in for a little bit of adjustment over the next few weeks, but we made it through the first day! 

Monday, September 3, 2012

School Begins...Firsts and Lasts of the Week

Tomorrow morning I will wake up and drive a FIRST GRADER to school.  Yes, it is true.  Somehow over the summer my kindergartner turned into a grader...and right now she is so excited about school tomorrow that I will be shocked if she even sleeps a wink tonight. 

This past Wednesday we had her first grade orientation and since then she has apparently gotten over the disappointment of discovering there are no toys in her classroom and is instead focusing on the fact that she will have her very own desk situated next to one of her good friends from kindergarten, will get to eat lunch and a snack at school, and (the part that excites her the most) will get to partake in recess on the playground outside.

This past week (our last official week of summer), despite making sure Allie was all set for school to begin, we had quite a few firsts and lasts. 

We enjoyed our first picnic at the park adjacent to the pool before swimming for the very last time this year.

Then, as we were preparing to leave the pool, those around us had the privilege of witnessing, for the first time, Olivia throwing a public temper tantrum complete with kicking, screaming, flailing, snot-flying, choking, coughing, back arching, name it, I'm sure it occurred.  She did not want to leave...and although I sometimes feel the same way regarding the end of summer, I prefer not to take it out on those closest to me.  But, then again, I've had thirty more years to learn to deal with my emotions. 

I also took the kids to visit our local Humane Society for the first time this past week.  I was looking for something fun and quick to do and thought the kids would enjoy seeing all the animals (plus, it's FREE!).  Olivia loved the kittens the most and absolutely had to touch every single one.  Allie was completely enamored by the dogs and made sure to call each one by his or her name.  She also picked out a little spaniel mix that she is convinced we are going to adopt.  Zach, although quiet and observant, said he liked the dogs best too; however, he had no desire to touch any of them. 

For the first time ever, Ben and I successfully carried a 500 lb file cabinet (or so it seemed to weigh that much) down three flights of steps and loaded it onto his truck, drove it home, and successfully navigated it off the truck, through our back door, and down one more flight of steps into our office.  We've been perusing Craigslist over the past few weeks in hopes of finding an affordable file cabinet because our office space here at home was in desperate need of a makeover.  After getting the file cabinet home, we proceeded to rip apart our office, going through old papers and books, purging most things, and organizing the rest.  The project took a lot longer than anticipated, but it is DONE! 

Although I hate to admit it, this Sunday I think we may have enjoyed eating outside at our favorite local Mexican restaurant for the last time this summer.  There is just something so perfect about indulging in endless baskets of chips and queso under a Corona umbrella shading you from the heat of the  noon-day summer sun  next to a busy intersection with cars and motorcycles rumbling by. 

Olivia said "I WUV YOU" for the first time this past week.  Granted, it was directed toward Ben, but it was completely uncoaxed and I'm pretty sure both of our hearts just melted.  Since then it has become one of her favorite phrases and all of us have been the lucky recipients of her words along with a hug. 

I mowed the lawn for the last time this summer.  Oh yes, I'm fully aware that the lawn is not done growing, but I'm officially done for the year.  No, Ben does not know about this formal declaration...yet. 

Allie and Zach ate the last two popsicles this week.  It was indeed a sad, sad day.  But, I figure they'll get over it this Fall when they have their first taste of hot chocolate of the season and remember that a mug of hot chocolate overflowing with mini marshmallows tastes way better than a popsicle ever could.  (Did I just inadvertantly write a sentence in anticipation of winter?!) 

That's all I can come up with for now.  I better get to bed early because I have a feeling that a certain first grader will be up with the chickens tomorrow morning!

Trip to the MN Zoo

Last Friday we took the kids on one last summer day trip to the MN Zoo.  We chose to go on a Friday, hoping to beat some of the weekend crowds, but it seemed like everyone had the same idea as us.  Regardless of all the people, we still had a great day looking at the animals and viewing the....

The kids were definitely most excited about the dinosaur exhibit.  We have been planning to visit the zoo to see the dinosaurs all summer (before the exhibit closes in September) and the kids have been anticipating the experience since June. 
Before we made our way to the dinosaurs, we made a stop by the kids' playground before it got too hot outside and overrun by kids.

The dinosaurs definitely did not disappoint.  Although some of the smaller kids were afraid of the life-like, roaring, moving creatures, our kids were completely enthralled.  While Allie and Olivia talked non-stop, pointing out each dinosaur, Zach merely walked next to Ben and I in silence, observing each dinosaur quietly.  I was a little worried that he wasn't enjoying the experience, but my concerns were put to rest when he requested a second trip through the exhibit, to which we obliged. 

Apparently, the only other animals I managed to take a picture of with the kids were the cows.

We did, however, have to make a stop for photos at every single fake animal and face hole cut out board:

After a picnic lunch where we almost got attacked by bees ( one got fact, the only bee sting that occured this year was last Thursday evening in the file-folder aisle of Office Max where Zach managed to have a bee sting the bottom of his foot.  Needless to say, he's now a little apprehensive about wearing flip flops to office supply stores.), we headed over to the zoo's splash pad where the kids enjoyed getting wet. 


Then, it was high time for some ICE CREAM!

We spent the rest of the day looking at more animals....
...and ended our time with a stop at the butterfly garden.

We were pretty tired after a full day at the zoo, so we decided on a nice relaxing dinner at PF Chang's on the way home where Zach managed to flip his lemonade straw half-way across the restaurant with his chop sticks. 
Thankfully, it was early bed times for all...including Ben and me!