Friday, April 29, 2016

Mountain Adventure

Yesterday, Issa and I headed to school at 6 am to get a charter bus:
 We headed to Grandfather Mountain and Linville Caverns with the entire fourth grade, all 110 of them! We had never been there, and it certainly didn't disappoint. We started our day at the Nature Museum on Grandfather Mountain:
 I got to hang out with Issa and her friend, Melanie, who had never been to the mountains. The museum included a really well done video about the Mountain itself. We then went out with a naturalist to see four of the 13 habitats on the Mountain in the outside portion of the museum. They had been studying animal adaptations, and the naturalist did an awesome job of making those connections. Finally, we walked the Mile High Bridge:
I was just fine until we got to the middle and the bridge started to sway in the wind. Heights are not my friend, but we made it: 
We ate lunch on the way to the caverns, which were incredibly cool! They are living caverns, and our guide did an amazing job connecting the history, biology, and geology of the caverns. We were also able to experience total darkness, which was one of the most surreal experiences in my life.

It was a great trip. Issa is still talking about it. And doing it with Melanie, watching her eyes get wider when she saw the mountain. Hearing her artist's eyes analyzing the many shades of green in the valley. heart grew three sizes that day.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

The Most Adorable Dinner Date

Last night, Issa was invited to go to the UNC baseball game to meet the UNC student who has been her pen pal all year! Each student was allowed to bring one parent, and Issa decided she wanted a Daddy Date. That meant that Evan and I had a night on our own.

We went to the dojo, and then I told him I would take him out to dinner where ever he wanted to go. He chose Maggiano's, and I was so impressed by the staff. The manager who seated us picked up on the fact that we were on a bit of a mother/son date, and he let Evan take the lead, asking him if the table was okay. He also sent a waitress over and gave her the heads up, so she let Evan take the lead for the table. It was adorable.

And...he was the most adorable dinner date:
 We only took the camera out because he wanted to take a picture of his dessert:
Future foodie right there.

We had such a good time. He talked my ear off. We talked about school and his friends and what he wants to be when he grows up. He is so darn funny. I just love him to pieces.

About half way through dinner, he decided he and I should do this more often. Issa and I get lots of girl time, but Evan and I don't get enough one on one outings. I couldn't agree more, and I plan to make it a priority to get a little extra quality time with this little man who is growing up before my eyes.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

At the End of the Day

Yesterday was crazy. Nothing went wrong, but lots of things went slightly sideways. Meetings ran long. Dinner plans fell through. Brad's flight home was delayed. Sideways.

Brad made it home just in time to tuck, and then he and I collapsed on the futon to watch an episode of Turn, our latest addiction (mostly mine).

And at the end of the day, that's enough. No matter how sideways the day went, it was enough to be curled up with him watching our show. Just being together. It's always enough.

Monday, April 25, 2016

On Calves and Kids

Saturday morning, the kids and I headed out to the farm. This time of year we struggle to get out there between dance and school schedules, but the stars aligned and we were able to do Saturday.

Spring is one of my favorite times on the farm. We arrived to see nine piglets, three calves, and two kids. There is nothing more adorable than baby animals. And...we've been working on the farm long enough that we were greeted with, "Great! You're here! The calves need bottles--all three at the same time. Thanks!"

We were too happy to oblige. We bottle fed the calves. These three are much stronger than our poor guy last year, so it was an easy feed. I love watching the kids take care of the livestock. I hope these are moments that they will remember.

Once everyone was fed, we started on the other spring work. Issa set off to harvest. Evan and I weeded a section of the hoop house and planted some edible flowers that the camp chef requested. We then turned our attention to creating two new beds from the ground up. We will plant tomatoes and pepper in them, but I loved the time with Evan. He tends to chat while he's pitchforking wheel barrows of compost. I love seeing the world through his eyes. The three of us also got to on a hike to find logs to edge the new beds. Spring in the woods is glorious.

We ended the day by harvesting for the camp kitchen with the camp chef. Issa was in all her glory chatting with him; she can hardly wait to be in his camp this summer!

I spent yesterday recovering because I way overdid it after the past few weeks of crazy. Exhaustion and sore muscles caught up with me. But, I wouldn't trade that morning for anything,

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Great Friends

I've mentioned before that our street has become a village. We are basically a parenting collective on any given day. But last night I was reminded that it's not just about the kids.

I was sitting at the dojo when my phone buzzed. I had an incoming call from one of the dads down the street, and he never calls me. Like ever. So of course I answered assuming they were in a major jam. Here's the conversation.

"Oh good! It's not you!"


"Yeah. I just saw a van and a woman that looked like you parked on the on ramp to 85. If it was you, I was going to turn around and see what you needed."

"Nope. Not me. I'm at the dojo. Thanks, though!"

"Yep. Bye."

End of story. Notice he didn't say I was going to see if you needed help. Had it been me, he was turning around. That is a great friend.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Because Why Not

I have recently discovered Amazon Pantry. I love that I can order things we use at a discount and it just shows up on my porch. I have also been able to find some great options for Issa for lunches and snacks with no nitrates or MSG. It is good.

The kids love Amazon pantry for this:
It's a huge box. And last night they decided to do their homework in the box. Because why not.

Monday, April 18, 2016

It's A Wrap

Another dance season is in the books! We finished our last competition on Saturday, and I couldn't be more proud of this girl:
 She has grown so much this year. She made the giant leap from being a Tiny to being a Mini, and she felt herself being stretched. There were new challenges that come with being on a larger, more competitive team, and she rose to them. She has already set new goals for this summer next year, and I will be behind her every step of the way as she works towards those.

After her last dance, she did this:
She put a big old red lipstick kiss on my hand and whispered thank you. Thank you, sweet girl, for allowing me to witness your journey. I love you to the moon and back...

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Happiness Is...

...starting your day with snuggles. I count it as a major motherhood victory that I actually got them out of bed.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

This is why we have pets...

The kids have a half day today. By this point in the year, it's just a cruel trick. They both declared that it should just be a day off. In all fairness, they do get less than three hours of actual instructional time. They are over it. This means getting them out of the bed is a challenge.

I heard Issa's alarm going off, and when I walked in she had turned herself around so her feet were on her pillow. She announced she was not getting up. So I called in Neela.

Neela hopped up on her bed, and immediately went to lick Issa's face. The only problem was Neela was looking at feet where face should be. She started whimpering. I think she was convinced something terrible had happened to Issa over night. Issa heard her pitiful noises and threw the covers off! Neela's tail started wagging, she flopped over, and started giving Issa all kind of kisses--relieved to find her face. Issa cracked up, and we were off for a great day.

Sometimes, these critters drive me crazy. I get so tired of muddy paw prints and hair. We've had our share of pet heartbreak this year. But...those giggles. That love. They are worth everything.

Monday, April 11, 2016


This weekend, Issa and I were at the NYCDA Dance Convention in Greenville, NC. These girls danced their little feet off:
 They danced 5.5 hours on Saturday and six hours on Sunday. Issa decided this was absolutely her favorite convention she has ever been to because she learned so very much! These teachers were truly teachers. They taught a lot of technique in addition to choreography. On the way home, Issa was sharing some of the things she learned that will make her a better dancer, and I can't wait to see her incorporate those things this week.

This was also the most fun convention for me. I remember back to Issa's very first convention where she would turn and look at me every ten minutes with a terrified look on her face. She didn't know which way was up. Over the years, she has looked at me less and she has caught on more. This was the first convention, though, where I felt like she got it! It was fun to watch her dance, and she had fun doing it.

She also had fun supporting her teammates who were competing and spending time with those who were not:
I love listening to her giggle with friends, and I hope they keep dancing through life together.

I also love having the one-on-one time with her. Even though I can't take another minute of Taylor Swift or Disney Channel--the favored down time activities--I loved listening to her talk and think. Long car rides invite opportunities for real conversation, and nights in the hotel room provide opportunities to chat and just watch her little mind work. I do my best to say a lot of yes all weekend and make the time all about her, and I hope that when she's older she will remember that and feel all the love I try to pour into these weekends. She will always be my favorite bun head.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

He Loves Me in the Chaos

This week has been nuts. I think the week after vacation is always a bit of an adjustment, but this one has been a roller coaster.

The highs...Evan graduated to Camo Red belt:
 He is so excited! Issa also lost a molar and found out she doesn't have to go back to the orthodontist for a year. I took a group of students to a nearby retirement community to share their research last night, which was a great experience for all involved. These are all wonderful things.

The lows...well...this happened right as I had to leave last night:
It seems my desk drawer just decided to break. The only good thing about it is I found my big box of pushpins. Tuesday night, we also had a bloody knee, a bloody finger, and a bloody mouth after everyone had been tucked. I can't even.

On the way to school, Issa summed the week up by saying, "I think a line from Hamilton sums it up: 'Blood shed and chaos and screams of revolution!'" Then there's that.

In the midst of all of this, a package arrived for me. Brad had mentioned he had ordered me something on amazon. When I opened the box, I didn't expect to see this:
 He even had it wrapped:
 And then I found this:

I can't wait to read it! He had listened to the audio version and loved it, and he knows I still need to feel the pages. He sent me this copy. I will be forever grateful to be married to a man who loves me--quirks and all--and does little things to surprise me...especially in the midst of chaos.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Back in Time

We had what was quite possible the best family vacation ever for the last half of break. We set off Wednesday morning for Williamsburg! We took the little extra time to arrive via ferry:
  The kids absolutely loved it! I drove up so Brad could work, and that will be the first, last, and only time I drive a vehicle onto a ferry. They pack you in like sardines, and I like a bit more room to negotiate. But, the ride was beautiful!

We started our vacation in Jamestowne exploring the first permanent English colony:
 I love that it is truly a living museum. Nothing was off limits. The kids were not too sure about traveling to the New World as a passenger, but they thought they might be able to do it as officers based on the beds:

 The highlight there was definitely learning about the English soldiers that settled the fort. Issa tried on the armor:
 And we all loved watching the flintlock musket demo. We were so captivated we took no pictures, but we did spend nearly an hour listening to the soldier and learning so much!

Wednesday night, we ate dinner at one of the taverns. The kids loved the entertainment--especially the story teller. Brad loved hearing the doctor speak. The kids also discovered tavern root beer is amazing. Evan also decided he was over pictures:
 I did capture this moment:
 Because why not sleep with your musket?

Thursday and Friday we explored Williamsburg:
 We all loved every moment. We participated in the storming of the palace, and by the end we weren't sure whose side we were on anymore.

We also had lunch at the Cheese Shoppe, which is incredible. While I loved my sandwich, Issa fell in love with their pickles:
 The highlight for me was touring the capital:
 To think we were sitting where Jefferson and Henry and Washington stood was amazing.

We also got into a little trouble:
 The other highlight was watching the mustering of the militia:
It was the first time any of us had seen a cannon fired:
 We were continually impressed by the knowledge of the people everywhere we went! The kids spent a lot of time learning about trades and our history. Brad and I were challenged to think about history in a new way. We even had lunch at one more tavern!

We ended our day with one last visit at the Cheese Shoppe with tavern root beers:
It was truly a perfect trip, and we can't wait to go back!

Monday, April 4, 2016

Happy Easter!

I am slowly easing into reality. The kids had spring break last week, and for the first time I took it with them. This will now be tradition.

Spring Break started with Easter weekend. Although Aunt Shannon couldn't make it, she sent adorable Easter outfits:
 We actually wore them Saturday when we went to brunch.

Saturday afternoon, for the first time, Daddy participated in the egg decorating:
 I lost my mind and bought three kits: golden, marble, and neon. The results were beautiful, though:
 The kids left the bunny a snack:
 And he did not disappoint:
 For the first time, he hid different eggs for each child. Issa had sparkles and Evan had camo. All of the pictures of Evan hunting are a blur.

The highlight of the weekend was having Nana here, though. Friday morning, she and the kids were reading a Lego history book and discovered there was a Lego Ewok village. Next thing I know, it was being over-nighted to our house:

The kids had a blast building it with Nana. And as an aside, real glasses:
 They are just for reading, but Issa loves them!

We didn't quite finish before Nana had to leave on Monday, but the kids and I finished the village Tuesday:
 It is quite impressive!
I can honestly say this was the first Easter that we all stayed in our pjs all day--even Nana. We didn't do a traditional meal. Instead, we ate cheeses, fruit, bread, and asparagus. (I know the last one didn't fit but how do you say no when children are begging for roasted asparagus?) It was a perfect day of just being, and I wouldn't trade it for the world.