Wednesday, August 12, 2015

first day of school! first day of school!

I can't type that post title without little Nemo in my head, so excited on his first day of school. Joe even played the clip on his phone for the kids that morning before breakfast…

So, the day is here! For the first time in almost six years both kids are in school all day long. They are excited and I am excited!

We went to open house last Thursday and they carried their school supplies into their new classrooms. Let me just say, I think it's going to be a GREAT year. I really like their teachers and have heard a lot of good things.

Joe and I love the fact that Hannah's class is called "Mrs. May's Monkeys". I mean, seriously meant to be…our Monkey already fits right in!

We made the first day of school signs and had them in their frames and ready to pose with on the steps. Hannah did this last year as well. This year she did the sign completely by herself, me only helping with some of the spelling. Joseph wrote his name and Pre-K.

Like we did for Hannah's, we used a frame from Joseph's bedroom wall, and mounted a white sheet of paper on the same wrapping paper we used for Hannah's frame.

Goodness gracious, how cute is my baby girl?! Those curls! Hannah asked me if she could have curly hair on the first day of school. As long as she was fine with sleeping in sponge rollers than I couldn't say no to that request. I chose the pink dress, to which she (of course) agreed. She chose the boots.

We almost made it to the front steps in the outfit I had laid out the night before… Not a problem, we have several solid colored shirts waiting to be worn. He had his hair cut the day before and looks too old! And he is crazy about his PBKids dinosaur bones backpack from Meme.

All four of us hopped in the car and rushed off to school. No matter how well I planned for the first day, it is just plain chaotic. I woke up early. Joe had breakfast ready: scrambled eggs and cinnamon rolls. Book bags were ready, drink cups and snacks organized. And still we were about 5 minutes late.

However, when we got to school, everything was chaotic so it was fine! There were cars and people everywhere - a lot of excitement and a lot of tears (not ours).

Soooooo love those two.  She is all excited about kindergarten and watching out for little brother, and he is all about pre-K and seeing some of his preschool friends again. He is not worried about a thing, we soon learn.

We walked them to their rooms. Hannah gave sweet hugs, Joseph barely said goodbye. Joe and I hung around for a bit and saw Joseph's class walk to the cafeteria for breakfast. We were going to hit the exit if he seemed upset, and if not we would wave and leave. So funny: he was walking in his little line and when he saw us, he almost acted embarrassed, tilting his head back and throwing his arm in the air! Don't have to worry about him! {Which is a relief when several in his class have been crying in the mornings.}

There were no tears, even from me! Last year was such a big adjustment with our first child in all-day school, the first day was emotional for Joe and me. This year everyone was so excited and I am so happy to have them at the same school again.

I realize how big they're getting and I'm trying to soak it all in, focusing on enjoying the time I do have with them. I will admit that I am immensely enjoying the time they are at school!

At their school you can either wait in the pick-up line (which was really really long on the first day) or you can park and walk up (many people chose that route too). Joe wanted to go with me but couldn't get away, so I walked up and claimed my cuties.

Their smiles tell you how the first day went:

"It was AWESOME!!!" The only negative thing said about the first day was when Hannah told me she didn't get to see Joseph at all. It didn't seem to bother him, in case you were wondering. She enjoyed her first day and likes her new classroom.

Hannah and Joseph will most likely see each other in the halls. Kindergarteners leave their classroom to eat breakfast on their own eventually, but for the first two weeks they'll eat as a class. Joseph will eat first thing with his class. They might see each other then. Recess times have changed this year and they will not likely see each other on the playground. Sad about that; they were looking forward to playing together. Their lunch times overlap so we might try, on occasion, to eat with them together then.

Eating at school brings on a-whole-nother subject. Will Joseph eat? and if he does, what will he choose to eat? Hannah is a great eater. She eats most anything and eats it pretty fast. She's had no problem at big school. On the contrary, Joseph is kind of picky about textures and is more of a leisurely eater. Let me just say it plain…he is slow. We figure he might starve for the first few weeks, but he'll figure it out. We learned on day one that Joseph cannot have a sit-down breakfast at home.

On the first day, he ate at home and then had another breakfast at school. I'm not sure he ate any lunch. On day two, Monday, when we picked him up from school, Joe asked "What did you have today?" Excited and energetic, he answered "I had chocolate milk for breakfast…and I had chocolate milk for lunch!!!!!" Yesterday, I was there as he was getting his breakfast from the line. He had French toast sticks (I encouraged him to get plain milk). For lunch he ate "some of my corn, my applesauce and a chocolate chip cookie!!" Progress!

Oh the fun this year has in store for us!

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

at summer's end

Summer is just about over (say what?!) and I have, obviously, been taking a break from this blog! Sorry to all five of you who read this.

I have said it before, but it can be such a chore sometimes and not at the top of my to-do list. I've chosen the time I usually spend writing a blog post reading a book or flipping through a magazine instead. I've chosen to play in the yard and watch movies with my babies, cuddled up on the couch on rainy (or just too hot) afternoons. I've chosen little house projects instead…

And I told myself I would devote my computer time to working on my 2011 Volume II photo book instead. {Yes, 2011 and yes, volume two… I'm trying to catch up! I'm out of order, having done 2013, but never did '11 and '12. Not to mention 2014 needs to be done, too.} Being a perfectionist, I admit those books take me a lot of time to do, but I absolutely love the finished product.

Still, I do want to back up and post some of what we've been up to over the past month and a half… And in case you were itching to know what's been going on, I hope you were following me on Instagram! I do love the ease of that app and sharing pictures via that avenue.

It has been a great summer for the most part. We have played a lot, gone on a few fun trips, and been at times lazy, enjoying these long, hot days together. There has been extended cuddle time in the mornings and later bedtimes.

In random news, it has been a frustrating situation with deer this summer. They have jumped our fence and eaten pretty much everything we've tried to grow in the backyard: vegetables, flowers, plants… Thankful for sweet friends and in-laws, we have received fresh tomatoes, sweet corn and summer squash. We have enjoyed farm-fresh meals many nights.

The kids have built numerous forts with blankets and structures with Legos. We ate lunches at Dairy Lane and enjoyed our share of ice cream. We've played with friends and enjoyed a fun family supper club swim party. I've taken the kids for walks in the double stroller (those days are seriously numbered!) and around the corner to a kind neighbor's pool.

It's also been a memorable summer. I've cried with a friend at the unexpected end of her marriage and I've cried with my mom over the loss of a dear pet. Joe and I reflected over the second anniversary of the day of his accident and we've rejoiced over where we are now. The kids have grown, getting bigger and smarter seemingly by the day and I have absolutely loved being at home with them.

So, here it is: an end-of-summer re-cap…


On Father's Day we celebrated the best daddy ever!

We spent a wonderful (and even relaxing!) week on Sea Island. We played for endless hours at the pool, built sand castles, jumped over the waves, walked on the beach, and read books…well, I did anyway. About an hour from home I realized I forgot my camera bag, so I relied on my phone to capture the memories. I was excited about unplugging for the week, and having my phone on me kinda stood in the way of that, but good thing for airplane mode!

Staying just a few blocks from the beach club, Joe and I walked while the kids rode bikes each day. They were always so excited to strap on their helmets, hop on their bikes and go. Joseph was usually way ahead of the rest of us.

This year could not have been more different for Joseph; he has conquered his fear of the water. Not ready to swim on his own, he stuck close to Momma and Daddy, but jumping in the pool was his thing. He would yell, "Cannonball!" or "Blueberry pizza!!!" and other odd things before hitting the water.

Meanwhile, Hannah is all about swimming. She was constantly in the water. Each day we spent 7 or so hours at the beach club and, unless she was called out to eat lunch or reapply sunscreen, she'd be in the pool the entire time. Her pink goggles pretty much stayed on her head the whole week.

It was a huge treat to get to see my friend, Julie, and her beautiful family. Her husband was there for a conference and she turned it into a family vacation. I loved catching up with her and seeing my godson (her youngest, Jake) and the kids loved playing with MJ, Ty and Catelin.

We ate really well, of course. There is no shortage of good places to go on St. Simons and we took advantage of that! Bubba Garcias, Barbara Jeans and Southern Soul…yum!

Some other friends (three pastors' families) were vacationing on nearby Jekyll Island. We went over there one day for some fun in the sun with them.

The weather was really nice most of the time, with only a shower here and there. No one got burnt and the kids got along. That's a recipe for a good summer vacation!

Our last full day…

I love that picture above. We took a long walk on the beach, Joe and I holding hands and the little ones ahead of us doing the same. So thankful for my family. I love them so much!

On our last night, we had dinner at Crabdaddy's. We bypassed naps and opted for extended swim time, so Joseph had difficulty staying up for food to be delivered on a couple of occasions. I'm not sure he ate more than two bites of his fish before curling up on his hard wooden chair and falling asleep. He didn't even wake when Joe picked him up and walked him to the car or even while we stopped for ice cream. He was out! Both kids slept really well for the most part.

We packed up the car on the last morning and spent half the day at the pool before saying goodbye. It was such a great trip in such a beautiful place. We are so thankful for a generous friend who let us stay in their condo.

We've had a lot of work done at our house and managed through a construction zone. The floor in our master bedroom was taken down to the dirt and rebuilt due to some structural issues. {The plywood subfloor had been incorrectly laid parallel to the joists causing a ripple effect over time and some serious shaking. No joke, I would have to stop writing in bed when Joe would walk across the room.} We had to move every single thing out, resulting in a great opportunity to go through clothes and stuff, and relocated to the guest bedroom for a couple of weeks.

While the workers were at the house, we took advantage of the chaos to go ahead and repaint the ceiling in the playroom (den) which had old stains due to leaking, paint our bathroom, and re-carpet Hannah's room which had been badly stained prior to us moving in and covered up by a large rug. There was a lot of dust and it took quite a while to get everything put back together, but we are good!

I've tackled some home projects and crossed some things off the to-do list…

I bought new dining chairs and finally painted over our old kitchen table I've had since college. You know the one, natural wood top/white painted legs. It has been through many moves and continues to be the setting for three meals a day for our family. I decided it needed an update and so I covered it with Annie Sloan chalk paint. The chairs were the result of a long quest to find something Joe could comfortably sit in, having trouble still with his back.

I put Hannah's pink fringe boots in a shadow box and did the same for all of Joe's ranks, insignia and awards from his military days.

The kids and I have taken several trips to Washington County Care and Share - a really great ministry in our community. Taking care of people less fortunate than us is an important thing in our family. I do my best to make sure Hannah and Joseph understand just how much they have and how much it helps others to share our things. They don't always comply when I want to get rid of a certain toy or article of clothing, but for the most part they like to participate. One day we stayed at the Care and Share and helped out for a little while. Hannah met a new friend:


We celebrated the Fourth at home. Meme came and Daddy put on a little backyard fireworks display.

The kids went to Camp Meme the next week. She had all kinds of things planned. They did arts and crafts, went to the park, played at the mall, explored downtown, got pedicures, and ate at fun places. You could say they had a packed schedule! Meme sent us pictures to fill us in.

That picture on the right above has special meaning to us. They are standing at the base of the Harbor Light on Bay Street in Savannah. That light was the icon on our wedding save-the-dates and our canvas welcome bags. It is a historic landmark in our hometown.

I drove to Savannah at the end of the week to pick the kids up. I also got to see my sweet little niece, Stella Mae. We had a picnic in the park.

That night my mom's 15-year-old Yorkie, Spenser, died. He had started losing control of his legs and would fall over when walking in the days prior. He would also get really stiff at times. We think he could have been having pin strokes, his body gradually getting weaker. Just after seven in the morning on Friday his heart stopped beating in our arms.

Spensey was a little fella and he was old, but he was dearly loved and we were all very sad (still are). He was America's Favorite Traveling Dog and did quite a lot in his almost-sixteen years of life. He traveled the country and promoted his books and lived through many family changes and events. He had lots of fans - those that actually knew him and those that felt like they did!

I love what my mom said on Facebook:
Good-bye to my little friend and faithful traveling partner. My empty-nest partner who saw me through five college graduations, three weddings, the birth of three grandbabies, and made visits with me to all the states, raised many dollars and collected much food for hungry little ones, and received love pats from hundreds of school children. You made a difference, Lord Spenser of Chipperhouse. RIP, my buddy. There is a hole in my heart today.
I am so thankful that I happened to be in Savannah. I am thankful that my mom was at home, and not on the road working. He was surrounded by love as he took the journey over the Rainbow Bridge. I'm also thankful that the kids were there. They were really sweet to Meme and provided some distraction, too.

We took the kids downtown to play. Joseph had been wanting to ride the city bus, so we hopped on the Dot express shuttle that circles around the historic district and went for a ride. It was exciting! After that we went down to River Street and ate fried shrimp at Tubby's.

The next week Gran Gran came to visit.

Hannah and Joseph love when Gran Gran comes to visit for a few days in the summertime. (Joe and I do, too!) She has a lot of energy and they love to be outside with her as she fusses around in our yard, cleaning, trimming and watering. They also pulled out the kiddie pool and slip-n-slide, as well as the sprinkler ring. They had so much fun, and when it got too hot to play in the backyard or go for a walk, they'd come inside and play games, dress up, and watch Scooby Doo together (a surprise she bought Hannah at Walmart). We went swimming one day and Gran Gran jumped off the diving board. I so wish I had a picture of that. The kids were thrilled! {She also brought food and cooked for us. What a treat!}

Later that week, we drove to Savannah and had a little family get together to remember Spenser and bury his ashes. We have a great family and they showed up big time to support my mom. {I took the picture and the quality is not good.}

Then, Joe and I got away for a night and went down to St. Simons for a dinner cruise with pastor friends. It was a beautiful evening to float around on the water and enjoy a delicious low country boil. The sunset was picturesque and dolphin were swimming all around us.

We traveled to Banner Elk, North Carolina for a family reunion in the mountains. Hannah and Joseph got a lot more time in the pool and I enjoyed catching up with cousins. 

Above: Hannah swam, as you would expect, nonstop and she loved when Aunt Katie joined her. She also liked making baby Stella laugh.

On Friday night the four of us and my mom drove to Boone for dinner. We all happened to be wearing shades of pink. {Only the kids were planned!}

They crashed at night!

Saturday morning Joe and I went for runs. It is just beautiful up there in the mountains, and I had to stop and snap a few pictures.

Joseph hit a milestone in the pool while there. Not only does he jump in to more than just Joe or me, he will now put his head underwater. Progress!!

That's everyone in attendance above. Believe it or not there is more! My mother's mother was one of eleven children. Below is our part, my grandmother's family (we are missing a few):

It was a nice time with family but a miserable ride home, pulling over often with Hannah getting sick. At first we thought it was car sickness but then it continued after arriving back home. A very nasty, but short-lasting tummy bug.

My Monkey started taking gymnastics and she is crazy excited about it. She is going to take ballet and tap again in September, but we've decided to do this too. Gymnastics is something that Joe and I did not totally agree on. He is afraid she is going to get hurt, but I want her to learn to do things the right away. She flips and rolls around her bedroom and is completely fearless about it… I figure if she's going to do all this, she might as well learn technique. I'm not signing her up for 10 years of practice at this point in the game, but she is super pumped about taking now.

This past weekend we were in Savannah for Joe's first triathlon since the accident. We stayed out on Moon River with his parents and the kids even got to fish for the first time (Joseph caught a very strong-willed crab!). The highlight for Joseph, however, was probably the boat lift.

Joe did awesome at the race, a sprint on Skidaway Island. He finished third overall on the swim and run. He was second place in his age group. More importantly, he felt good and had some terrific fans there.

Before leaving town, Hannah played dress up in Gran Gran's old dresses and Aunt Sarah's old dance costumes. I don't know who had more fun - Hannah or Gran Gran.

I have also pulled out some of my old costumes this summer and Hannah has provided us with great entertainment, dancing around the house. 

I can't believe it is now time for school to start (Friday!). Hannah will be in kindergarten and Joseph in pre-K. They will be at the same school and both going full day for the first time. What will I do?!? It's bittersweet but I am super excited, too. They are over the moon! 

Well, I can't believe I did it. It took quite a while but I am current. Yippee for me!