Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Summer Sanity

We have settled in to a summer routine nicely around here. The kids wanted a very low key summer. However, I also know we are not a family that does well without some sort of routine and structure. So...we created a system:
I made charts and put them in page protectors on the refrigerator. Each box represents five minutes. The schools suggests 20 minutes of reading, 15 minutes of math, and 10 minutes of writing. They also have to do 30 minutes of a parent project. (This week we are deep cleaning the playroom.) They also have space for an hour of brain games on the computer or tablet and an hour of mush time (tv, extra game time, anything else involving a screen). The bottom lists anything extra we have going each day--dance, dojo, library times, etc.

This little system prevents any arguments about screens, and it helps the kids plan their days. It has given them their easy summer but given us all enough structure to avoid melt downs. I think I'll keep it.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Antigone in Flamenco

Saturday, we went to the second of our ADF shows. Daddy had just flown home and was tired, so we took one of Issa's dance friends with us this time. I tried to take a picture of my crew before the show:
 They weren't interested. Evan did have a change of heart, though:
 The show was incredible. It was a Flamenco troupe, and they performed four pieces from Antigone. Yes...you read that correctly. Before the show, the director came out and explained that we would not be seeing the show that was in our programs. Their light board had been hit by lightning the night before, and they only had time to reset one show. So, he proceeded to explain Antigone, the adult show for the evening, to the kids. After the big picture was painted, the dancers and musicians took the stage and proceeded to do the Greek tragedy in Spanish and Flamenco. They subtitled the most important lines, and one of the bilingual dancers did a monologue half way through to connect some dots. It was quite possibly one of the coolest things I have ever seen, and the kids all loved it. Evan loved the battle between the brothers, and the girls loved watching the footwork. We were very close to the stage so we could really see and hear every step.

After the show, the girls even agreed to be photographed:
As a side note, I love this little friend. AliceAnn is more family than friend, and she never fails to make me laugh. I would take her anywhere.

Friday, June 26, 2015


Brad comes home from a conference today, which means it has been just the kids and I this week. I also started teaching my second summer school class, so life has been a bit crazy. Thankfully, Miss Hannah was able to babysit this week. The kids were so very excited to see her again on Wednesday. When I had asked her to babysit, she had said she was volunteering at her church's VBS, but that the kids were welcome to come along. Issa and Evan thought that sounded fun, so off they went.

When they came home Wednesday evening, they were so excited. They had a great time, and they were begging to go back for the final night last night. How do you say no to that?

VBS starts with a shared meal, and the kids and I walked in to a cozy Fellowship Hall. I was taken aback by how many people called my children by name and how excited the kids were to see new friends again. I lost count of how many adults thanked me for allowing the children to come and invited us back to the program on Sunday morning.

I came home while the kids were in VBS, but I had been invited back to see the closing. I watched Evan actually do the motions joyfully to the songs after he walked in with his arm across the shoulders of a new friend. Issa came in laughing and hugged her new friends goodbye at the end of the night.

I can't say enough about the warmth and hospitality of this little church, and we will certainly be there on Sunday. I am grateful for any place that brings people together this way and with such joy.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

I Am My Mother

I had a very exciting development at work yesterday: I got a new laptop! The campus is on a regular cycle, which is good considering two hours after I got my form about ordering a new laptop my old one decided to go senile. I never knew what it was going to do.

Yesterday, they delivered my new laptop and got me all set up with a docking station and backup drive. It was blissful. The real bonus: it's a yoga! That means it's a tablet and laptop in one. I played with the touch screen feature yesterday and congratulated myself that I was navigating all the new software seamlessly.

 Then I went to start my work today...and I realized I am indeed turning into my mother. The one I mercilessly mocked about being a Luddite. I will confess here in the spirit of keeping it real: I couldn't figure out how to turn the blasted thing on. I had to get out my personal tablet and consult the Google to figure out where the power switch was. Thank goodness for YouTube. While there, I also discovered I have a pen, which makes the whole tablet feature much easier! I played with the script to text feature with my finger yesterday, but it's so much easier with a pen!

Suffice it to say, I will never mock my mother again.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Family Father's Day Weekend

This past weekend was absolutely blissful. Friday night, Brad perfected chicken wings in a single evening. In an ironic twist, the whole evening was inspired by celery. Celery is a relatively new crop to NC, and we were getting our very first bunch in our Produce Box. I was trying to decide what recipe to try, when the rest of the family proclaimed the only obvious answer was wings. They were in fact delicious and highlighted the celery quite well.

Saturday, we went to our first ADF performance. Pilobolus was an absolutely amazing performance, and the company uses connections and lifts unlike any other group I have ever seen. It was amazing. Even Evan announced we must go back next summer! 

From there, we headed to the mall for new cell phones because mine decided it couldn't even text anymore. It was pitiful.Then this moment happened:
 Be still my mama's heart.

Sunday was devoted to the best daddy ever. His very first Father's Day, we gave him a hammock, which finally died this spring. So the kids decided to replace it this Father's Day:
 Neela likes it, too:
We fixed all of his favorite foods, and we spent the afternoon hiking in a brand new park three minutes from our house. Brad proclaimed it absolutely perfect, and I proclaimed the whole weekend to be absolutely perfect, too.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Goodbye, Hello

The last of the round up posts! The last day of school!

It's hard to believe that this girl has said goodbye to third grade and hello to fourth:
 She had such a good year, and we are so proud of her. She still loves school, and I love that she is staying so true to herself. Case in point: her final writing project was a research paper on anything she wanted. Our girl chose Anne Bonny and Mary Reade. I just love her to pieces.

And this guy finished kindergarten and is headed on to first grade:
 He had a slow start reading, but he is now above grade level and loving reading. He has always loved books and being read to, but now he actually enjoys reading on his own, and that makes this mama's heart very happy.

And these two:

I think we are in for one very fabulous summer.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Evan's Big Fun

 Evan had a lot of fun while Nana and Aunt Shannon were in town. He loved having a few extra cheerleaders at the dojo, and Aunt Shannon did the impossible and actually captured some great pictures:
 Evan is really working hard on his rolls:
 Part of what I love about these pictures is how evident it is that his teachers love what they do. I will be forever grateful that the dojo and these men are part of Evan's little life.

We also had one last sixth birthday party for Evan! He chose an Ironman theme, and I'm so glad Nana got to do this very tricky cake:
Evan was also thrilled by the his new Ironman shirt from Aunt Shannon and Uncle Jeff.
 The best part of the cake is clearly the frosting on the candles:
Evan remains our very chill little guy, but I think he liked being the center of attention for a while. After Issa's recital, he was so thrilled that people were able to see him do his thing, and I was thrilled to see him so happy.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Bahama Bliss

In a weekend that proved miracles do happen and my mom will forever be my hero, Brad and I were able to go on a cruise to the Bahamas the first weekend in June. It was our first vacation alone since our honeymoon 13 years ago. To say it was long over due is an understatement. We took exactly one picture:
The entire four days was blissful. Flying with Brad is so lovely since he has such status. We landed in Miami and Ryan and Felicia picked us up at the airport and we met up for a lovely brunch at a very fun French restaurant. We took a scenic tour of half of Miami and eventually ended up at the port where we boarded the ship--and Brad and I settled in for a lovely nap. We had gotten up at three to catch our flight, and it felt so luxurious to just nap without keeping an ear out or being afraid of what creativity had ensued while we slept.

The first night was my birthday dinner in the ship's French restaurant, and it is certainly in my top five meals. I had a duck pairing that was seared breast and duck confit that was absolutely perfect. Pair that with the lovely cornets for appetizer, champagne, Bordeaux, and a cheese plate for dessert and my life couldn't have gotten any happier. We sipped nightcaps on the deck and watched the wake and the stars--perfection.

Saturday we woke up in time to watch the ship pull into Nassau. It was rainy all morning, but we did make it to the beach to stick our feet in the ocean. We also had lunch at a local place in Nassau--complete with conch fritters! We spent the afternoon napping and sitting on the deck watching the rain roll across the ocean and reading our books. It was so blissfully peaceful.

Sunday we watched the sunrise in Great Stirrup Cay and then went swimming with stingrays. In fact, I snuggled a stingray. They call them the puppies of the sea, and that is so true. They would come right up to rub against our legs and lean on us. We were able to feed them and spend nearly two hours with them. It was an experience I will never forget. We spent the rest of the day playing in the ocean and just enjoying the sun before having a final Italian dinner on board the ship.

It was so purely luxurious to have so much uninterrupted time with Brad. We don't get enough of that. We didn't even call the kids after Friday, which meant we weren't tied to schedules or thinking about bedtime. We both came back so relaxed. And the kids had a blast with Mom. In fact, they announced they didn't miss us at all!

We can't wait to do the whole thing again next year!

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

New Rooms

You may recall that Mother's Day and Labor Day Weekends were spent prepping the kids' rooms for Aunt Shannon's visit. One of her primary missions while she was here was to finish these redos, and boy did she deliver. While I was teaching, she and my mom mastered the art of wall decals:
 And suddenly Evan was protected by a whole team of ninjas and shuriken:

 I'm not gonna lie: the one that crouches on the floor occasionally still startles me.

With that major project accomplished, Shannon headed into Issa's room:
 The butterflies actually lift away from the chalkboard:
 What did the kids think?

 I think the pictures pretty much sum it up.

Monday, June 15, 2015

And I'm Back...

The past two weeks have been a blur of wonderful activity. We had Issa's dance recital, family in town, Brad and I took our first solo vacation since our Honeymoon, and the kids wrapped up an amazing school year. I haven't been blogging about life because I've just simply been too busy living it and soaking up all of these moments. I don't want to forget them, though, so I plan to spend the next few days recapping all of the adventures.

The first big highlight was Issa's dance recital. We have since learned it was her last as a Tiny; she officially made Mini Company! She is one very excited dancer. She also had the largest cheering section at the recital:
Aunt Shannon made the trip in and somehow managed to get Evan to smile in a picture.

Our whole family was of course there to see our favorite bun head shine:
Papa Don and Grandma Nancy made the trip:
As did Grandpa Kevin and Grandma Pat:
And we got the traditional Nana and her girls photo:

Even Uncle Jeff enjoyed the show a bit more this year:

And Daddy made Issa a very special necklace:

It's hard to see in the picture, but the medallion has Issa's silhouette from her first solo competition.

I love watching Issa shine on stage:
She has grown so much this year. She dances with more poise and more grace. And that smile:
Dancing brings her such joy, and I know her dancing brings so much joy to others. We couldn't be more proud of our dancer, and I can't wait to see what the next season holds for this sweet girl.