Tuesday, September 2, 2014

The Birthday Begins...

We began celebrating Issa's birthday this weekend! My family all flew in Friday for the occasion, and much fun was had by all.

After dinner out on Friday, Issa and Nana got to work on her cake:

 It was by far the most involved Issa has ever wanted to be in the decorating, and I loved watching her and my mom work on it together.

Saturday morning, we girls took Issa shopping. She wanted to check out a new line of Disney clothes, and Nana and Papa thought that taking her shopping might be a bit easier than picking clothes for her on their own. We had a blast. Issa has a quirky sense of style, but she was so fun! She's not an easy one to fit, but she never got fussed when things didn't work. We just kept trying, and we all laughed when she gave pants the jump test to see if they would stay up.

When we got home, Nana and Issa got to work on the cake again:
 Issa did about 75% of the decorating, and she was pretty thrilled with the end result:
 I believe she pronounced it: "Hello Kitty Birthday Bam!"

With the cake finished, Issa provided us with a fashion show of her finds from the morning, and the best big brother proclaimed everything, "stylish:"
 This was the favorite dress:
 Such a grown-up, sweet girl:
 Aunt Shannon and Uncle Jeff also brought some surprises, starting with Evan's new Spiderman jacket:
 He was a little excited.

So was Issa:
 The boots were awesome, but that face was for this dance outfit:
 That's a sports bra under there. She was thrilled. Aunt Shannon is also miraculous because everything fit!

Evan just couldn't wait to give Issa his gifts:

 He got her spy gear--walkie talkies and a laser alarm. The love between these two is palpable. However, they don't quite get the walkie talkies. They spent much of the weekend walking side by side and talking into them.

The rest of the evening was spent enjoying cake and being together. Sunday and Monday offered more of the same. Playing Uno, playing outside, building Legos, face painting, and doing art projects:
 Crayon art is always a favorite:

In so many ways, it wasn't an extraordinary weekend. We didn't run around all over the place. We didn't eat anything extravagant. But it was exactly what Issa wanted--time with her family--time to just be. I will be forever grateful that they made that possible...

Friday, August 29, 2014

Last Summer Adventure

With all of the excitement this week, I didn't get to post about our excitement last weekend. 

We have always tried to do one last hurrah before school starts--just a day trip to celebrate the end of summer. Unfortunately, the weather was not feeling very cooperative. Fortunately, one of Issa's former teachers turned us on to the Greensboro Science Center. It's part science center, part aquarium, and part zoo, and as it turns out, their feature exhibit right just happens to be pirates right now. My people love pirates. So...off we went.

Per usual, I took the camera with grand intentions. I took so few. We started in the pirate exhibit, and we were all terribly entertained by the hurricane tube:

You experience Hurricane 1 winds. Thankfully, there are no pictures of me as I didn't think this through and spent my time in the tube holding my skirt down.

The boys loved sailing the virtual pirate ship through a storm:
But the highlight was this robotic arm. Most of the exhibit features real treasure and pieces of an actual pirate ship. They also have the underwater robot that recovered these treasures from far deeper than people can dive. And...we got to try picking up a coin with the actual arm that they used:
It's way more difficult than it looks.

After a brief tour of the bodies exhibit (from which I am almost recovered), we headed out to the zoo. Of course I didn't take any pictures of the tortoises, tigers, or various primates that we watched play and explore. But I did get pictures of the kids and goats...which we see every weekend at the farm:

The kids still find these kinds of pictures and statues hysterical:
My fierce pirates:
We ended our tour at the aquarium, where we watched otters and penguins play, sharks hunt, and rays glide. And...we got to pet many, many rays. It was the highlight for the kids.

We will definitely be going back to explore the rest of the museum soon! Maybe I'll be a bit better photographer...probably not.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Snuggles and Introverts

My sweet, sweet baby boy...

You are loving kindergarten--every single minute. Your teachers have complimented your kindness and your listening. You talk for an hour straight when you get off the bus. I love that. But I knew last night was coming.

Bless your heart. You hit a wall of exhaustion. Here's a little secret, sweet boy: we are introverts. Interacting with people saps us. We love people. We bond deeply. But...we also need to recharge our souls. We need space and solitude. After these busy days of meeting new people and doing new things, your little battery was just empty. You were out of cope, and all you wanted was snuggles. All you needed was your bed.

So, at 7:30, a half an hour before bedtime, I took you up to your bed, and I laid down with you for snuggles. You cried big alligator tears about how you were not tired and all your wanted was snuggles. I mentioned we were snuggling and you said, "I know but all I want is snuggles." You were empty.

For the first time, baby boy, I realized your arms around me were heavy. No longer little tiny arms I barely felt. You are so big. A few tears ran down my cheek, too, because I love you so very, very much, and I know there will come a day when snuggles is the last thing you will ask for. You are growing up so quickly, and I'm beginning to see glimpses of the man you will become.

Within five minutes, your little eyes grew heavy and you drifted off to sleep. You woke up recharged and anxious to go to kindergarten. Soon, your battery won't empty so fast. But if it does, know I am and will always be here.

Love forever and always,

Your Mama

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Secret Lunch Date

Because kindergarten does a staggered entry, little man didn't have school yesterday. He was pitiful when we dropped Issa off. He wanted to stay so badly, but he held it together and almost sounded like he meant it when he told her to have fun at school.

We went back home, and I got some work finished and mowed the grass while he very happily built train tracks and Lego creations. He played outside and threw the ball with the dogs. In short, he was angelic and let me accomplish a few things all morning. So, he and I blew off my to do list for the afternoon. Nothing says date afternoon with Mom like lunch at the McD's PlayPlace:
He had the place to himself and was in heaven. I did swear him to secrecy because Issa would be so upset she didn't get to go. She is old enough that, "But you got to go to school," wouldn't fly.

After he had climbed all he could climb, we went birthday shopping for Issa. At the one hour mark I really thought my head might explode, but he finally made an incredibly thoughtful choice with just enough time left to get home and get it wrapped before Issa got home.

He really is the funniest kid, and I am so grateful we got a little extra time together. This morning, he couldn't get in his classroom fast enough, and I can't wait to hear all about his adventures this afternoon.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014


Well, I tried:
I never claimed that this was a photography blog, but I did attempt to get a picture of the kids getting off the bus.

I believe yesterday could be summarized as perfection!

Evan came off the bus talking and I don't think he stopped until 5:00. He loved kindergarten. I love his teacher. She sends home a weekly sheet that we fill out daily. She tells us what kind of day he had, what the theme was, and gives us a question to ask to start a conversation about his day--no more pulling teeth when he did "nothin'" at school! Yesterday, he got to go around the school searching for Corduroy's lost button, and they read The Kissing Hand. And...he brought home his first day of kindergarten handprint. So sweet.

Issa woke up this morning and asked if it was the first day of school. I told her it was her second, and she said, "Oh, good! I thought yesterday was a dream!" Perfection. She loves her teacher, and I love that she already feels a sense of community in her classroom. They did a lot of team building yesterday, and they learned how to write on their desks with Expo marker. Life doesn't get any better. And...she got her first agenda. In case you were wondering, she is very grown up.

I truly believe we are in for a wonderful year!

Monday, August 25, 2014

And They're Off!

We are off for the first day of school in the outfits they chose themselves--right down to the shoes!
 Issa is so excited about third grade:
 With her purple zebra backpack:
 She is really hoping they do a lot with history this year, and she's most excited about writing on her desk with an Expo marker. It's the little things with her.

Evan could hardly wait for kindergarten with his Batman backpack:
 This may be my favorite picture of our little man ever:
He is so excited about all things kindergarten--especially the math center that has all manner of blocks in it.

We had strict instructions from Issa about how drop-off was to roll. Walk her in, give her one hug, and go. She could totally handle all of her supplies and was anxious to just get to it. She was the first one in the room, which suited her just fine, and as we left I heard her chatting to her teacher about her pencil box. All was well.

Evan didn't have a plan, but we walked in, he put his bag in his cubby, and he told us we could go. Thirty seconds in the room. As I looked back over my shoulder, he was settling in at his desk to color looking very big. I didn't cry until we were out of the building, and even then it was just a tear. I don't even really know why. I know beyond a shadow of a doubt he will be safe and loved and will learn so much this year. I know he is confident and ready for this new adventure. I think he's just so very big it makes my heart hurt a little.

Now...I wait for the bus and the stories!

Friday, August 22, 2014

Cave Dwellers

The kids have been coming in to work with me this week. I love that I work in a place where I can do that. I tend to feel a bit frazzled trying to be Dr. Bower and Mom at the same time, but they really do well. As the week progressed, more and more stuff needed to come in with them. Yesterday, this happened:
My big conference table in under there, and they had a perfect cave. They stayed there all day. It was brilliant. At a couple points, a couple of my students even joined them. Issa made origami frogs for my class, and one of my students made her a swan. In short, it was a perfect day for them.

I loved having them there, and it is going to be too quiet next week. I love hearing them giggle or run in to show me something. I won't miss feeling pulled in two directions, but I will miss them.

The other hidden bonus: I think having them around really helped my freshmen. Many of them left little siblings or babysitting jobs, and many of them said it was nice to have some kids to talk to. I even heard a couple talking to Evan and Issa about missing home. Kids and puppies: very non-threatening. This may need to be a tradition.