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. 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.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Ninja Update

Our ninja had a big week:

He earned not only his second stripe but also his belt tying patch! He has been working so hard to learn how to tie his belt on his own, and he was able to show it at the dojo and earn his patch. He has a unique way of doing it, but it works! I have a feeling that may be the story of our lives.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Coolest Kids Ever

I am a big believer in going back to school with clean rooms and organized spaces. I guess it's just the fresh start of it all. So, this week has been declared clean it up week. The kids' rooms looked like a hurricane blew through, and the playroom has one too many projects going. It's time.

Last night, I sent them upstairs to clean, which is a new found freedom for them. They are learning how to put things where they make sense to them, and I'm learning how to let go. It's a happier cleaning experience for them, and it's a growth opportunity for me. One the way up, I told them I wanted to see "significant progress" in their rooms before bath.

When I went up to check, some cleaning had happened, but not as much as I had hoped. Then I was informed they had been rehearsing a play entitled, "Significant Progress" and were ready to stage it in their rooms. I couldn't help but laugh and then settle in for the show.

In the play, Old MacDonald becomes disenchanted with the farm and sets out to find a life where he doesn't have to work so hard and can just buy groceries at the store. He says goodbye to the cow and heads off to Hawaii. At first, he enjoys the beach and sun, but he quickly becomes bored and decides the food doesn't taste very good. Having nothing to do, he launches into a song entitled, "I'm So Lost." At the end of the song, he decides to move back to the farm and realizes he is happiest working and food tastes a lot better when it's local. His faithful cow is there to greet him and they all live happily ever after. The end.

I was fairly impressed. Apparently all our conversations about local produce and work on the farm is hitting home. Their rooms are still a disaster, but I wouldn't trade that moment for anything. I sure do love these kiddos.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

He's Five...

..and he is never wrong. The forecast is for mid-90s. Evan is wearing a sweat suit into my office. Zipped. He does have a t-shirt underneath, but there was no convincing him that he might be warm. Since we will be inside all day, I finally opted to let everyone ask why is wearing a sweat suit and hope, perhaps, that he figures out he's a weirdo.

Monday, August 18, 2014

It Finally Happened week from today Evan starts kindergarten. About now, I will be snapping a few pictures and bundling kiddos in the van. And I have been fine. Really, truly fine. Nary a tear was shed at registration or school shopping.

But it hit me yesterday.

We were having a totally benign conversation about our schedule over the next few weeks, and I just mentioned, "And when the two of you get off the bus the first Friday of school Nana and Papa will be waiting."

Cue the ugly cry. My baby will be getting of the bus with his big sister. Because he will be in kindergarten. How did this happen? Let the adventures begin...

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Girl Friends

Last night, I went out for dinner with four other dance moms. Our little tribe has divided between two Companys this year, but we are still a pretty tight group. I can't remember the last time I've laughed so hard in the midst of truly honest conversations. These are women who know me--really know me--and I know them. We have laughed and cried together and occasionally told each other to get it together. These are the women that I know will pick up the phone, return a text, or just show up. They're a safety net and a push when I need it. We may be so very different in so many ways, but at the core we love fiercely and have a low threshold for drama.

As I raise a daughter, I am so grateful to have other strong women in my life, women who are generous and kind and brave. They're role models for her and for me, and I can't imagine doing this life without them.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

To Issa: On Leadership

Sweet girl, every once in a while in my life as mother, what is in my heart actually manages to come out of my mouth. For a brief shining moment, I feel like I was given the perfect words in a perfect moment to impart a tiny piece of wisdom you truly hear. Last night, we had one of those moments. You had finished your first night of boot camp, and in a quiet moment in the kitchen you and I could talk about leadership. Just in case you forget someday, I wanted to capture it here.

To my leader...

This year, you are the oldest veteran in the Tinys. Tonight, I watched the other Tinys look to you. Your teacher asked you to come to the front to help lead stretches, and I watched you quietly shepherd your team to the next class. Baby, that's called leadership.

There are two kinds of leaders. Some leaders stand in front and shout and boss. They have a commanding presence for a while, but eventually they will find themselves shouting to an empty room.

The other kind of leader, the one I pray you are becoming, is the quite leader. They don't shout or boss. More often, they work a little harder than everyone else. They ask questions. They coach when people ask--either with words or by coming close. They do the right thing. Sometimes, it can be lonely. But here's the thing, people find those leaders. And soon they are doing the right thing, too. They follow because they want to be part of what they see.

Baby, that's what I want you to do this year. You just do the right thing. You encourage your teammates. You work hard and stay focused on your goals. You are a leader; the other girls look to you. I saw it tonight, and I can see in your eyes it's a little bit scary, and I won't lie, it's often really hard. But guess what, I'll be right there beside you, and your team will be right there beside you, too. Just keep doing the next right the studio and in your life.

I was so proud of you tonight--so proud--and I always will be.

Love you forever and always,

Your Mama

Monday, August 11, 2014

Date Night

We had a great weekend, but the highlight was absolutely date night Saturday night. Brad and I hadn't gone out in about forever, and we had a whole French themed evening.

We went to dinner at Vin Rouge, which was a new find for us. We sipped red wine over a duck confit frisee salad and a trifellette that was said to be for two but was really for an army. They were both so decadent and lovely, and it was made even lovelier by eating on the patio listening to the rain. From there, we went to see "A Journey of 100 Steps," which I loved and Brad declared awful. It was admittedly predictable, but I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Even more than the fabulous food and a movie, it was great just to have time together. We talked about all manner of things, laughed, and got caught in a rainstorm that left us both soaked on the way home. It was lovely--even lovelier because this is a crazy week. It's campus kick-off week for me and Boot Camp for Issa. Thankfully, Brad was able to be home all week or I don't think we would have made it. I have a feeling I'll be thinking back to Saturday all week and wishing for duck confit and a quiet moment with my husband...

Thursday, August 7, 2014

His Heart

I've heard it said that if you truly want to know the character of a man watch how he treats animals and small children:
This man's heart and character...well...I think you can see. The poor guy just wanted a little nap yesterday, and Neela would have none of it. Instead of pushing her away or getting upset, he snuggled. She licked his face and he laughed. I think I'll keep him...and her even if she is going to be a pony.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014


In a bizarre twist of fate, I woke up this morning with a twinge of vertigo. It's been forever, and I was fairly certain I could function, but the best husband ever offered to be my chauffeur. We took the kids to camp, and then he dropped me off at the office. I'll work here, and then he'll pick me up and we'll reverse the process. I am so grateful for a man that shifts his day on a dime to take care of me.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014


The goods news is the kids loved, loved, loved camp. I knew Issa would, but to hear Evan talk about it was hysterical. The details are so fuzzy, but I know he had a blast and learned about spiders and Spiderman.

I love that my kids have the experience of summer camp--I really do. But this week is so draining for me. I feel like all I do is drive. Yesterday, I drove the kids 20 minutes to camp, 30 minutes on to my office, crammed in some work, drove 30 minutes back to camp, 20 minutes home, was there for an hour, drove 20 minutes to ninjitsu, was there for 30 minutes, and then drove 20 minutes home. That is a grand total of 140 minutes in the dang car. I'm trying to find the joy in listening to their chatter and the quiet time when I am alone, but it's so hard...and the thought of the rest of the week is just soul crushing. Just keeping it real. I'm hoping that if I say it out loud here I can move past it, refocus. I can do this...

Monday, August 4, 2014

Our Superheroes!

Another milestone this morning. Evan set off for his first week of summer camp. Issa is a pro at camp at our museum, and she was the best big sister ever. While they are in different classrooms, they are both at Superhero camp this week, and they will be exploring similar things. Evan was a bit nervous, but Issa talked him through the days. This morning, they set off with matching camp shirts and packed lunches.

We dropped Issa off first, and Evan had a death grip on my hand. We walked to his classroom, and I was thrilled to see one of Issa's past camp teachers in his room. It did this mama's heart good. She had a bin waiting with his name on it for his backpack and lunch, and he bravely introduced himself and stashed his gear. I got one big hug, our handshake, and he was off to play. He didn't even look back, and when I peaked through the window he was happily settled in for camp. And I want major mom points for not crying when I got to the car. I'm sure our little superheroes are destined for a fabulous week.

Friday, August 1, 2014

The Big Kid

In my eyes, Issa is still my little girl, my baby girl. But there are moments when I realize she is not so little any more, and they always take my breath away.

This week, I have watched her be the cool big kid across the street. Parker has been coming over to play with Evan, and Issa has invited Lauren to come, too. Lauren is three and is pretty sure Issa walks on water. I have watched Issa be the cool big kid who gives her lip gloss and does her hair. I have watched her play whatever Lauren wanted to play knowing full well it wouldn't be her choice. When I realized she was so big, though, was when Lauren tripped and I saw Issa simply scoop her up and make it better. I took two steps and then realized I wasn't needed. My baby had scooped a toddler with ease and was making it all better.

I have been so grateful to be able to watch the interaction this week, to see Issa's giant heart and Lauren's adoring eyes. If I'm truly honest, I'm struggling more with Issa going to third grade than with Evan going to kindergarten. She's just growing up so fast, and I'm trying to drink in every moment.