Monday, September 1, 2014

Last Day of Kindergarten, Baylor!

(Yes, I know it is almost the first day of the new school year, but better late than never, right?)

Friday, June 6th marked the end of kindergarten for my dear boy, and though he was really sad about leaving his teacher, Mrs. Murphy, he was excited to start up summer break.  I mean, just look at that smile!

He has come a long way since that first day of school, and I am so proud of him for all he's accomplished and all he has become.  It wasn't always easy, but he made it through and, overall, enjoyed it so much!

At the end of school that day I taught the kids the chorus to the song my dad used to sing to my sister and I on our last days of school, "School's Out" by Alice Cooper, and smiled as I watched them rock out in the back seat of our minivan.  It was awesome and the perfect start to a wonderful summer!

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Field Day 2014

Field day came at the end of May, and Baylor was way more excited about it than I thought he would be.  Sometimes when he gets really excited about a big event like this, though, he ends up getting upset over it for one reason or another and doesn't end up participating.  So, needless to say, I was guarded in my excitement for him about the day's events.  Mollie and I were planning on staying with him the whole day, so I knew I'd be there in case any meltdowns occurred.

There were tons of activities that the kids were going to cycle through and I wondered how in the world we'd manage to get everything done, but we did without much trouble.  Most of the stations were physical activities like those you'd find in gym class, but the first station we went to was in the art room.  The art teacher was having each student (and Mollie ... she snuck in there somehow) color a water bottle that would eventually go in a giant sculpture.

Baylor participated, though I had no doubt he would; he's been all about coloring these days.

Next his group went outside to do a hula hoop relay race.  Baylor ended up being at the start of his line and did an amazing job getting things going.  His line came in a close second behind the other line from his class, and I think they were all pretty excited about it.

The fifty meter dash was next, and though it isn't Baylor's event, I am proud of him for sticking with it and participating anyway.

Mollie got to race as well, in part because they didn't have enough people for the last race.  Unfortunately for her, the race was pretty stacked; the older kids in charge of this station ran the race as well to help fill out the group.  She didn't care, though, and just kept plugging along.

On the way to the next event, the kids held hands.  Instant mom heart happiness right there.

The next event was anything and everything with jump ropes, and imagine my surprise when Baylor, literally, hopped right in.  It was so weirdly wonderful to see him participating without hesitation that soon I barely gave it a second thought, something I never thought I'd say.

After the jump rope area, the kids got to play on the playground a bit before lunch, and Baylor and one of his buddies had a great time climbing all over the dome jungle gym.

We met up with the same little buddy for lunch, and I learned that next year I should bring a blanket for us to sit on.  Our spot in the shade was actually pretty comfortable, though, and we had a good time eating and chatting about all the events.

A lot of our group's afternoon events, thankfully, involved water, the first of which involved trying to fill up a bucket with water by transporting said water from another bucket using a cup with a hole drilled in it.  And they had to hold the cup over their heads.  Mollie wanted to sit that one out, but Baylor jumped right in and had a blast!

Next they had to fill up a bucket using a backpack with a sponge, or some other sort of absorbent object, in it and running it from one side of the area to another.

Mollie again sat out, but she suddenly realized she was without the little buddy she had made earlier in the day and promptly went over to sit by her and chat.

Baylor did really well with the event and smiled so much while he was running with the backpack.  I was so proud of him!

Yet another water event followed the backpack one, and this time they essentially had to play blindfolded tag in teams of two with squirt bottles.  Baylor and his buddy were paired up, but both of them abandoned the other when it was their turn to lead the blindfolded one around.  Still, they had so much fun.  Eventually, the whole group turned on their teachers and ran around trying to squirt them!

Mollie joined in with a couple girls and ran to the next event with them.  I loved seeing her join in, even if it wasn't for the actual events.

The next event had the kids playing pizza delivery people, carrying empty pizza boxes relay race-style in the soccer field.  Unless they walked very slowly, almost all the kids dropped the box at least once.

But, like a lot of the other kids, Baylor eventually found his stride and was able to move a little quicker with it.

Baylor then got to participate in his first tug-of-war!  He was a little blase about it at first.

But he soon got into it pulled with the rest of his class.

He did sit part of it out, though, and only rejoined when he could see that the boys needed a little help beating the girls in the battle-of-the-sexes type round of the game.

Then my two walked, hand-in-hand, to the next event.  I trailed behind them, smiling like I'd won the lottery.  (Because, in the parenting aspect, I really have.)

I'm not sure I have seen kids so excited to have their next event be "popsicle station".  Eat a popsicle, drink some much-needed water ... win-win!

The next event was a water version of duck-duck-goose, and I watched with bated breath as the boys, one by one, got to be "it".  Baylor was the very last to be chosen, and my heart hurt for him but it shouldn't have; he was happy as a clam, maybe wisely knowing, even more than me, that someone has to go last.

He didn't catch the kiddo who tagged him, but he smiled the whole time anyway.

Then the kids got more play time on the playground, though I'm not sure if they really had any more energy to expend.

Mollie finally, after a long day of exercising her patience, got to ride on the swings!  Hallelujah!

On their way to watch the fourth graders have an epic tug-of-war, an apparent rite of passage at our school, Mollie held hands with Baylor's little buddy!  It was quite adorable and very effortless.

After the tug-of-war, the kids all went back to their respective classrooms to collect their things.  Those riding with parents could go home right away, but my kiddos really wanted to hang out with their buddy a little longer and watch the video the teacher put on for the kids riding buses.

It was a fun, albeit hot, day and I was so glad that Baylor participated so much!

Saturday, August 23, 2014

That's What They Said: Love, Deception, and Misdirection

Baylor: Daddy, I want to tell you about what happened at Oma's house today.
Bryson: Okay, buddy.
Baylor:  Oma's friend, Lory, was there.  I got to meet her.
Bryson:  Yeah?
Baylor:  Yup, I call her Lory 2.  Because she's the second Lory I've met.
Me:  I see.
Baylor:  And ... (with all the warmth in the world) she's the love of my heart.  (sighs and smiles)  She was so nice to me!

Baylor:  Did you know every day is Mother's Day?
Me:  Oh really?
Baylor:  (sweetly)  Yeah.
Me:  Why do you say that?
Baylor:  (sweetly)  Because we're such good kids to you.

(During a playdate with Mollie's little neighborhood buddy, Ainsley ...)
Me:  Ainsley, if you have to go potty, you need to walk through the kitchen.  I can show you where it is.
Ainsley:  She said you didn't have one.
Me:  Wait, Mollie said we didn't have a potty?
Ainsley:  Yup.
Me:  Amalia!  (to Ainsley)  That isn't true.  We have a few.  Just let me know if you need help finding one.

Amalia:  (from the living room while she and Baylor were building Lego sets)  Mommy, what rhymes with "ancestors"?

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Chop Chop!

In late May/early June, I started finding myself getting quite restless with my hair.  It was taking me upwards of fifteen minutes just to wash it, adding quite a lot of time to my morning routine.  I was so very sick of finding super long hair all over the place.  And, beyond all that, I basically looked the same every day, and that look was starting to get a little ... hippy-ish.  (Not that that's necessarily a bad thing ... it's just not what I was going for.)  So I called my hair stylist Aja at Hotel Venus and booked an appointment just after my parents and sister left for Maine.

The big day soon arrived.  Aja decided to take before and after pictures to document the major chop.  So here's my before ...

... and here's the after!

I was a little surprised at how much hair had come off, but I was thrilled to have all that weight off me.

I figured if I was going to be getting rid of all that hair, I might as well donate it to a good cause.

The real tell-tale sign of a good hair cut is if it looks good when you actually get to style it yourself, and this one certainly did.  Whether it was straight ...

(Yes, I know this is basically identical to the one above it, but check out my complexion ... I looked at the picture above that I took first and thought I looked a little shiny and uneven.  Not wanting to take the time to apply makeup, I used a little 5 Second Blur and voila!  Seriously, that stuff is amazing.  I digress.*)

... or wavy, every day was a good hair day.

Needless to say, my mom, dad, and sister were shocked to see my hair when we met them in Florida a few days later, but they all seemed to like the change.  I was even more thrilled with the cut after spending even a couple seconds in the Floridian heat and humidity, remembering how it felt to have a virtual mane of hair clinging to my back.

I've gotten it trimmed and reshaped a couple times since then, and I still love it!

Thank you, Aja and the lovely folks at Hotel Venus Salon, for making this all happen and being so enthusiastic about my momentous hair change!

*I was not paid to review this product or make complementary statements about it.  I happened upon this product on my own and wanted to share its awesome results.  

Thursday, August 7, 2014

That's What They Said: Misunderstandings and Sweetness

(upon first seeing him in the morning ...)
Baylor:  Mommy, is it okay if we have harmless, infrared beams in our house?
Me:  (smiling)  What, buddy?
Baylor:  (hopeful)  Is it okay if we have harmless, infrared beams in our house?  It was in the catalog in one of those spy things.
Me:  (smiling)  I suppose that would be okay.
(a few minutes later)
Me:  Baylor, you should ask Daddy the question you asked me.  About if it'd be okay if we had that in our house.
Baylor:  Daddy, is it okay if we have harmless, infrared beams in our house?
Bryson:  (incredibly confused)  What, buddy?
Baylor:  Is it okay if we have harmless, infrared beams in our house?  (grabs the catalog)  Look, see.
Bryson:  Ah, okay, let's read this again ...
Baylor:  (reading)  Harmless, infrared beams of light!  Is it okay if we have harmless, infrared beams of light in our house?
Bryson:  Well, I don't know, buddy.
Baylor:  I want all this spy stuff for my birthday.
Bryson:  Baylor, do you think Mommy and Daddy can afford to get you all this spy stuff for your birthday?
Baylor:  Hm, no.  (looks around the page)  Maybe you could get me something that doesn't take batteries.  Look at this one, "Twenty-seven, ninety-five," and it doesn't take batteries.  (hopeful)  Do you think that one would be okay?

(While pretend playing "Wild Kratts" ...)
Baylor:  (whispering in her ear)  Jimmy, your controller is lost in Central America.
Amalia:  Ahhhhhh!
Baylor:  Now you.
Amalia:  (whispering in his ear)  Jimmy, your controller is lost in Central America.
Baylor:  I like the name Baylor better.  And you can use a different continent, like Asia.
Amalia:  (whispering in his ear)  Asia, your controller is lost in Central America.

(While talking about her afternoon at zoo school ...)
Amalia:  Mommy, my teacher, Miss Bethany, saw you when we went to go see the tigers!
Me:  Hmmm, I don't think so.
Amalia: (with absolute certainty)  Yeah, she did.
(silence as my mom, my sister, and I looked at each other amused but confused)
Christine:  Why do you think your teacher saw Mommy?
Amalia:  Oh, because she said, "Hi, Nicole!"
Christine:  Did you see who she was talking to?
Amalia:  Nope.
Oma, Aunt Christine, Me:  Ahhhhhh.

Baylor:  (looking at me sweetly)  Mommy, I never want to live away from you.  I always want to be with you.
Me:  Awww, buddy, that's so sweet.  I want to be with you, too.
Baylor:  And I don't want to have a job.
Me:  Oh.  Why, sweetie?
Baylor: (sweetly explaining)  Because then I would have to be away from you!
Me:  Ah, I see.  Well, what if I have a job?
Baylor:  (excitedly)  Well ... we could work at the same place!
(Side note: Honestly, I'd be worried if I didn't know that some day he'll not want to hang around me much at all.  I have to store all these sweet things up now to fortify me in the years to come.)

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

My Tiger Cub

Today was Baylor's first outing as a Tiger Cub Scout!  He got all dressed up in his new scout uniform and proclaimed to me in the car, "I am excited to make some new friends!"  In that instant, I am not sure I could have been more proud of him.

Mollie came along for the outing, a nature walk, as well, and she enjoyed hanging out with her big brother like she always does.  She is also now longing for the day when she gets to join the Girl Scouts.  But for now ...

After such a special outing, one must enjoy some Custard by the Dam.  (Well, Mollie didn't enjoy hers; turns out our little lady doesn't like chocolate.)

It was a great introduction to scouting, and Baylor is certainly looking forward to more scouting events in the future.

On a side note, remember when we used to refer to Mollie, when she was still in utero, as "Paco".  Well this little picture set itself up for me today, and I couldn't resist.  

 So that's it.  Wonderful day.  Lovely kids.  Great first experience.  Win, win, win.

Friday, July 18, 2014

That's What They Said: Honesty

(While putting together one of Bryson's old castle Lego sets ...)
Baylor:  (stops and looks at Bryson)  Wow!  You are covered in freckles!

(While driving past an enormous cemetery ...)
Baylor:  What is that?
Me:  It is a cemetery.
Amalia:  I bet it is where you try to get as many flags as you can.  And the one who has the most wins.
Bryson:  Actually, a cemetery is a place where ... okay, when someone passes away, we bury them in a cemetery.
Baylor:  That is gross.

Amalia:  Mommy, who does Anna sing "Love is an Open Door" with?  (from the movie Frozen)
Me:  She sings it with Hans.
Amalia:  Ohhh, that's right.  And it goes like ... (hums a little bit of it while thinking) ... I can't remember.
Me:  That's okay.
Amalia:  And Anna, she sings it really well.  (smiles)
Me:  Yes, she does.
Amalia:  But Hans, he does not.  He interrupts her.  That is not good.  He needs to have a talk with her parents.  (waits a moment)  But they are dead.

Me:  So, Baylor, do you think I should wear my hair straight or wavy today?
Baylor:  Straight.
Me:  Straight?  Okay.  Do you not like it wavy?
Baylor:  (matter-of-factly)  Nope.
Me:  (unable to hide my disappointment)  Oh.
Baylor:  (concerned)  I mean, I only don't like it on Fridays.  You should have straight hair on Fridays.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

May 2014 Happenings

May was full of all sorts of fun.  We celebrated my mom's birthday twice, once with my dad on the weekend and once on her actual birthday.  Mollie grabbed my camera while we were enjoying dessert and snapped a couple pictures for me.

Then Aunt Christine turned the tables and snapped a picture of Mollie with my mom and me.

My sister made these delicious mini bundt cakes for the occasion, and we all enjoyed them thoroughly.

With the weather warming up, Mollie and I were actually able to get outside a bit while Baylor was at school.  One day in particular, Mollie wanted to take her sleepytime pals for a bike ride.  So each one, and there are three of them, got their own ride around our neighborhood.  Needless to say, she was pretty tuckered out that afternoon.

May also included Mother's Day, and with Baylor being in school I had a sneaking suspicion that I might get a school-made gift.  And I was right.  My little man wrote me a poem entitled "My Mom" and brought me a cup with a sunflower seed planted inside.  It was so sweet!  He couldn't even wait to give it to me on Mother's Day, though, and yanked it out of its paper bag wrapping on our way home from school.

We celebrated Mother's Day with my mom the day before the actual holiday, but first Mollie had her swim lesson in the morning.  Baylor kept himself busy with an activity book while his sister swam her heart out.

Afterwards, we went to my parents' house to celebrate.  Mollie chatted with her Aunt Christine, and watching them reminded me just how alike they are.

Then Mollie got a special treat; to let me have a little "down" time, Bryson got to be the one to play Barbies with the little lady!  I think he was a bit disturbed that Aladdin was going to be marrying all these ladies, but the numbers are really skewed in Aladdin's favor so it shouldn't have been a surprise.

Christine, amazing baker that she is, made a cheesecake for the occasion.  It was beyond delicious!

Then it was time to open cards and presents.

Once the kids' cards to Oma were opened they predictably lost interest in what was going on, so Dad kept Baylor busy by helping him make some sort of contraption.

We had a great time celebrating with my parents and sister, but it was weird to not see my mom on Mother's Day.  With that said, I did have a nice Mother's Day the next day.  The kids were quiet in the morning and kept themselves occupied.  Baylor even read to Mollie, something he ordinarily doesn't like to do.

Then I got my cards from the kids.  Baylor made me an ... interesting card.  That's me on the front saying, "PU!" because inside ...

... he's spraying a fart gun at me.  (That's what the green blob is ... a giant fart.)  Then he had me fill in the blanks on the card with it eventually reading, "Hope your Mother's Day isn't stinky.  Baylor".  I'll give him credit, it was a cute card with a cohesive message.  And I was glad to see that, though we looked like giant snowmen, it actually had pictures of people on it.

Then he gave me a brief activity sheet with math problems on it.  I didn't have the heart to tell him I despise math (and guns), so I worked my way through the problems and thanked him for his efforts.

Mollie made me a more artsy card with a convoluted maze on the front, which I was not intended to solve.

On the back she wrote out names she knew how to spell without help, "Amalia", "Mom", and "Oma".

Then on the inside she drew pictures of all of us, except "Daddy because he was at work".  I'm the one farthest to the right with the gigantic smile that goes several inches beyond my head in both directions.

We saw my in-laws later in the day on Mother's Day, and overall it was a really good day.

Every year since we've been "grown up", my sister and I have gotten my mom hanging baskets for her Mother's Day gift, part of the gift being that we go with her to help pick them out.  The kids have gotten to join in the fun since they came along, and this year was no exception.  We went to a few greenhouses this year, and the kids had a lot of fun at Koetsiers' in particular.

It helped that the store had a kids play area with a gigantic play house!  Oh, and lots of chalk!

Mollie must have been moved by the spring spirit because, days later, she jumped at the chance to help Bryson spread mulch.  Well, the spring spirit and her intense desire to use her gardening gloves for the first time.

Baylor didn't want to help with the mulch, but he did pick me some flowers!

What a little sweetheart!

Springtime is just perfect for blowing bubbles, and the kids were happy to finally be outside making all sorts of bubbles in the breeze.

My dad bought a bubble blower for the kids to try out, and Baylor loved it.

The next day we spontaneously took in a local baseball game.  The weather was perfect, not too hot, not too cold, and wonderfully sunny.  We got lawn seats, a first for me and the kids, and it worked out really well as Mollie is in a squirmy sort of stage.

I brought tons of activities for the kids to do in case they realized baseball can be a bit boring to watch at times - and they realized this quickly - and they enjoyed coloring and writing in the spring sunshine.

The kids got a free hot dog meal, including chips and a fountain drink, and at first I thought they wouldn't eat it because they had JUST eaten lunch before we left.  But I was wrong.  They scarfed it down like little champs.

Baylor even ate the chips, a big deal as he usually hates chips with a passion because of their natural crunchiness.  I was mostly thrilled to see him branching out his "likes", but I was a little bummed because I thought those chips were going to be mine.  I was a smidge on the hungry side of things, I guess.

After lunch it was back to the activities.

Then Mollie found out her cousins were also at the game sitting on the outfield deck, so she spent a bit of time looking for them.

After the game, Mollie ran the bases with her cousins and uncle and rolled down the hill with the kids a bit before it was time to leave.  All that fun really tuckered her out, though, and she fell asleep in the car not long after we were out of the stadium parking lot.

Baylor didn't fall asleep, but by the looks of his face I could tell he'd gotten a bit warm at the game.

The weather eventually warmed up to the point that the kids wanted to go swimming in my parents' pool, so we slathered them with sunscreen and sent them in with Grandpa E who was willing to brave the not-so-warm water for them.

Mollie even let Grandpa E throw her around a little bit like he used to do to my sister and I when we were kids.  Just look at that form!

Once the swimming was over, Mollie's hair needed to be brushed, but she wasn't too keen on that, so Aunt Christine proposed a compromise that Mollie was okay with.

For a few days during the latter part of May, Mollie decided that she needed to up her style game, so she wore nearly every piece of jewelry she owns everywhere she went.  It was awesome, but occasionally she would want to shed all the jewelry and it was up to me not to lose a single piece of it.  Finally I started requesting that she bring one of her small purses with her in case she needed a place to store her many jewels, and that ended up working pretty well.

The month ended with a sweet surprise in my parents' backyard.  The kids and I were over having lunch with my mom and sister one day when someone noticed a deer way out in the weeds.  A few seconds later, we realized she wasn't alone.

Her little fawns were so little, so new, in fact, that they still hadn't quite figured out how to walk yet.  Their little legs were wobbly and she seemed very protective of them, and we guessed that they had just been born either that morning or the day before.

It was a wonder to witness and a great way to end the month.