Monday, July 15, 2019

She's Home!!!

Last week was a very big week for our girl! She spent the entire week at UNC Greensboro at Chorus Camp.

Sunday afternoon, we moved her into her first dorm room:
 This camp is so impressive. I can't believe how much of a college experience she had. Issa has always been independent, but they pushed her to be even more so. Check-in started at 1:30, and campers have to register themselves. Parents can kindly wait out of the way. She made it through the line and came back with her room assignment ready to move in.

After much gnashing of teeth, she decided to go with a random roommate. It was everything I prayed it would be! Jane was a super sweet kid, and she and Issa became friends. They settled in together, and by 2:30 Issa told us she was good and we could get on our way. At check-in, she had been given a list of things to do after we left, and she was ready to start checking that list off! I almost held it together as we left her dorm--painfully aware of how soon this won't just be for a week.

We had told her we wouldn't call or text her, but she was welcome to reach out to us. She texted every night at bed time, and I would be lying if I said I didn't anxiously await those texts. We laughed at her pride in mastering the dorm showers, ordering Chinese food for a late night snack, and navigating campus. She got herself up every morning, made new friends, and generally had the time of her life.

Friday, we got to pick her up! My family only slightly made fun of how early we got there, but I was anxious to see her and didn't to have trouble parking:
We ate dinner in the dining hall with her and listened to all of the stories. So many stories. Their concert was truly amazing, and I just couldn't quite believe how very grown up she looked and how at home she was on that campus.

This weekend was filled with lots of snuggling and Gilmore Girls. And I'm just so very happy to have my girl back.

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Our Dancer

There is one part of our vacation that needed a whole separate post. It seems Aunt Shannon started something with the dance photo shoot last year at the beach. This year, Issa was anxious to do a repeat in the mountains. Of the over 300 pictures, here are my favorites...

Our ballerina:

 Dad came in for the assist on this one:

 Issa was beyond thrilled that her firebird is finally captured:
 And her stag jump:
 And this light:
 Just look at how strong she is:

 The whole world is hers:
I still don't have the words to describe all of the feelings captured with these photos, but I am so very grateful we have them...

Monday, July 8, 2019

To the Mountains and Back Again

We spent a very quiet week in Asheville last week! We went with Mom and Shannon, and we enjoyed a lovely home just on the outskirts of town. The back deck was my favorite place, which is evidenced by the one picture I actually managed to take:
 The sunsets over the mountains did not disappoint, and Mom and I spent too much time identifying birds. The kids loved having the basement as their kid cave, complete with air hockey and foosball. They also ended every day in the hot tub. It's not a bad way to spend a week.

In addition to lots of quality time just being, we did have two big adventures!

Tuesday, we took a three hour trail ride that included some real garnet mining:
 Evan loved breaking open the rocks to get out the garnets, and Issa had an eye for the stones in the creek:
 I found nothing, but it was lovely to just sit by the creek and look.

The guide snapped this amazing pic of all of us:
 The horses were beautiful, as were the views. Evan loved this little guy:
 Issa would spend her life on a horse if she could:
 Us on the trail:
 Brad and I had slightly ornery horses who didn't play well with others--hence the gap.

Look at my cowboy:
 Wednesday, we went to Biltmore, where we took zero pictures. We started with a behind the scenes tour where we couldn't, and then I think we just forgot. The tour, though! We got to see the rooms where they do a lot of the archival work and hear more about the history of how the home was opened to the public. The highlights, though, were the time we spend in Edith's closet and in the butler's pantry. These areas are usually closed to visitors, and we have always wondered what was back there! Issa's face when they told us where we were going was priceless!

We spent the Fourth at the house, where we finally finished this beast of a puzzle:
 And Aunt Shannon made sure the kiddos were appropriately attired:
 And we had one more dinner on the porch.
 We also did way too many sparklers:

 Sparklers are so fun as a kid and terrifying as a mom.

Friday, we headed back home, but only after feeding the koi one more time:
I love vacations that are a mix of adventure and just being. It's so rare that we get to just sit these days, and having time to do just that was a true gift...

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

New Office!

I officially have the best family in the world. Last Friday, they came in to help me move my office! I have officially moved into my new job, which means a major change of scenery. A panoramic:
 Brad came in and helped me move all the furniture and technology, and the kids carried everything over! Issa even did my bulletin board:
 And I have all of my office and teaching supplies neatly arranged:
 My books are in their happy home:
 My desk is actually organized and functional:
 And you really can't beat this view:
On to the next adventure...

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Summer Fun

We are knee-deep in summer fun around here! The biggest headline is Issa chopped her hair:
She is loving it, and I think she looks like she's 20!

After several days of our kids taking turns sitting a cooler filled with water, we spent the best $20 ever:
 We have a limited screen time rule, and the kids are enjoying being outside before it's roughly the temperature of the surface of the sun out there. They have literally spend about four hours a day splashing around out there, and I'm soaking up these moments of kid. I have a feeling it won't be long before this isn't quite so thrilling, so we are enjoying it while we can.

The kids and I also enjoyed a weekend with some friends at their lake house:

There is nothing better than sitting on a boat and watching the sun set...especially when you are with great friends.

Monday, June 17, 2019

Happy Father's Day to the Best!

We spent yesterday celebrating the best daddy ever! The kids planned the whole day, and I was super amused by their thought process.

Of course, they started with the meals. They decided we should start with sausage gravy and biscuits, pack a picnic lunch of all gluten-free foods featuring a roast beef sandwich, and end the day with steak. They know their father.

They were also very pleased with their gift idea! They bought a small tackle box and filled in with peanuts, almond joys, gummy worms, and many flavors of swedish fish. On the top, they wrote a note that said, "Hugs and Fishes for Father's Day!" They're so punny.

After breakfast, they wanted to take Daddy fishing:
 Bless him. He spent his morning packing fishing gear, hauling fishing gear, setting up fishing gear, and catching nothing.

We did make a new friend:
This very long black snake joined our picnic! He was super cool to watch.

One day hardly seems like enough for the man that keeps us laughing on the rails. We love you, handsome!

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

So Much Celebrating

We have had a few weeks of much celebrating--so much so I haven't even been able to blog! I thought I would do one quick recap...

We started the weekend after we got back from Italy with Issa's dance recital:
 For the record, I had on heels and she was barefoot in that picture. She danced beautifully, and I love celebrating a successful season with her.

Nana also did really well! Issa wanted a picture of both of them in their tap costumes:
 And Aunt Shannon wanted on of both of them in their sparkly costumes:
 Aunt Shannon made the trip in, and we were all grateful that the only thing we celebrated that weekend was the recital. It was lovely to not try to squeeze in a birthday for Evan, too!
Speaking of Evan, he humored me with a family picture:
 Last week, we celebrated Evan graduating to brown belt! Issa found her own little following during the testing:
 Littles are just drawn to her.

Brad did some coaching:
With all of his travels, Brad and Evan now graduate different months. The first time that happened, Evan wanted to wait. Now, no so much:
 A year from August he will be testing for his black belt!

Saturday, the boys had a video game night while we girls went to see Cats:
 Issa and I loved all the dancing!

And today, we are celebrating the end of the school year:

 So long fourth and seventh grades! Hello, summer!